Why the long wait for a left turn at Clover Basin? – Longmont Times-Call
Dear Johnnie: The timing of the turn signals at the airport and Clover Basin is ridiculous. Heading south on the airport, the left turn signal turns red. The northbound traffic fades and you cannot turn left. You can see until the next light in Pike and it’s safe to turn, but the turn signal is red.
Why isn’t it flashing yellow like in Nelson Road? This intersection is a huge waste of time and gas. – Ray
Dear Ray: I cross this intersection on average a few times a week, and the few times I took a left from the airport heading south towards Clover Basin heading east, I noticed the long wait.
I had never timed it, so I sat down and looked at the intersection around noon on Saturday, for eight cycles. The time between the protected left arrows – north and south, with cars present – ranged from about 1 minute, 15 seconds to about 1 minute, 50 seconds. During a cycle, when there were no cars in the southbound left turn lane, approximately 3 minutes 25 seconds elapsed between the protected left arrows. The arrows on the left were green for approximately 10 seconds in each cycle.
To be clear, it was just me with a stopwatch, so take those times as estimates. In some cases pedestrians were present which may have affected the timing. But obviously, some motorists were impatient with the light. I watched a northbound pickup follow the red left turn arrow as cars continuing north had a green light. There was no southbound car in sight.
I have included this information not to criticize the timing of the lights but to note that your observation is correct: It’s a long wait, especially when you don’t see other cars coming.
I turned to the city for answers and got an email from Transportation Engineer Tyler Stamey thanking you for your comments.
“The intersection of the airport and Clover Basin was actually the first intersection in Longmont where we installed Flashing Yellow Arrows (FYA),” he said. “We have moved from Operation FYA to a Protected Only Operation (meaning vehicles can only turn on a green arrow) in response to several serious crashes at this intersection.”
Stamey said the crashes were not attributable to the blinking left arrow, but were the result of “permissive left turns and consisted of vehicle / vehicle crashes and vehicle / pedestrian crashes.”
A permissive left turn is one in which a motorist has a green ball signal and takes a left turn while there is a gap in traffic.
“We understand that the current operation may not be the most efficient for traffic. Having said that, this operation was successful in reducing accidents with injuries, ”said Stamey.
You may recall that I wrote about another inefficient intersection, 21st Avenue and Francis Street. Here, the goal is safety, not efficiency.
Johnnie St. Vrain: The Safe and Ineffective Intersection of 21st and Francis
Stamey told me that there are 18 flashing yellow arrow intersections in Longmont, out of about 100 signposted intersections in Longmont. He said the city planned “to install them in a lot more in the coming years.”
And, he recalled, city traffic staff regularly assess the traffic light schedules and review them for any changes to be made.
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