Over the years, I have occasionally pointed out traffic engineering projects that have led to a significant reduction in motor vehicle crashes. I am convinced by these examples that good engineering is by far the most important factor in crash-reduction. There is a recent change at an intersection along my commuting route that I think is destined to have a dramatic impact.
The location in question is the notorious triple intersection of S. 14th Street, Old Cheney Road, and Warlick Boulevard. I usually refer to it as the Bermuda Triangle. There are lots of traffic conflicts, and it is the scene of many collisions. Many of those crashes are in the red rectangle, where 14th Street traffic headed north must merge with the northeast-bound traffic coming in from the left on Warlick.
Here's what happens several times every year: a northbound driver on 14th ( vehicle A) looks over the left shoulder, and sees traffic approaching in the outside lane of Warlick (vehicle B). Unable to merge at the yield sign, vehicle A slows dramatically or comes to a complete stop. The driver behind him, also looking over his shoulder to assess the possibility of a merge, collides with the stopped or nearly-stopped vehicle A. Back in 2008, I got nailed here myself, when a Dodge Ram pickup lived up to its name, and set my teeth a-chattering.
The fix implemented in August by the Public Works Department involved striping the outside lane of northbound Warlick Blvd. beginning back at Old Cheney Road, thus forcing all the Warlick traffic into the inside lane. This effectively eliminates the need for the northbound 14th Street traffic to stop or slow drastically, and leads to a smooth merge between these two traffic flows. Any drivers that need to change lanes in preparation for turning movements at the next major intersection have close to a mile to get things sorted out amicably.
It will take awhile for the data to prove my assertion, but as a regular user of this route, I am certain that there will be an immediate and long lasting reduction to the types of rear-end collisions that impacted me and about 100 other motorists in the past decade at the Bermuda Triangle. This will all be accomplished by the application of 50 bucks worth of paint.