From Monday’s P-I “Getting There” column. If either the PI reporter or the traffic engineer had gone out to look at the intersection (or used Google maps), they’d have seen that the desired/proposed No Left Turn sign is already there: it’s on the overhead traffic light gantry on the south side of 23rd, between the sets of lights. What part of “no left turn” don’t they understand?
Question: Erin Weible sees a “serious issue” on 23rd Avenue East in Seattle — southbound drivers crossing over Madison and then quickly trying to make an immediate left turn across traffic onto East Denny Way, “about 5 yards” past the intersection. “Since there is no left turn allowed on Madison, drivers will not turn on the indicator until they are through the intersection and then immediately stop. Traffic is heavy along 23rd at all hours, so it can take several minutes for an opportunity to turn. Other southbound drivers following the left-turning vehicle are left hanging out to dry on Madison. It seems another ‘No Left Turn’ sign could be posted, or perhaps (the city could) forbid left turns along the entire block?”
Answer: The city says neither of those things is needed and that adding a signal might have other, undesirable results. Eric Widstrand, Seattle’s traffic engineer, said he understands the difficulty of making that turn, “however, there have been no reported collisions related to left-turning vehicles. Based upon this information, the section of 23rd Avenue East at East Madison Street (and) East Denny Way seems to be operating safely and efficiently.” Asked about congestion at the intersection because of the turns, Widstrand said there’s “none perceived.”
“A signal at the 23 Avenue East and East Denny Way intersection is not warranted and installing an unwarranted signal can, in fact, be a detriment to efficient movement in an intersection, causing congestion and unnecessary delays as well as the potential for an increase in rear-end collisions,” Widstrand said. “An unwarranted signal can also have the adverse effect of increasing cut-through traffic into a local neighborhood. Also, signs restricting left-hand turns could increase cut-through traffic as drivers seek another location to make the turn.”