Two 'indirect left turn' intersections will be ready for traffic - Tucson News Now

Two 'indirect left turn' intersections will be ready for traffic in September

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The shape of things to come is taking shape at some Tucson intersections.

Expect a learning curve for drivers.

Sooner or later you will make an indirect left turn.

So-called indirect left turns or Michigan Lefts are going in right now at two area intersections.

They are Ina and Oracle on the northwest side, and Grant and Oracle in midtown.

Traffic planners contend it's safer and more efficient.

The way planners want us to remember it is with a little poem.

It's on fliers around town.

"Go through.

Make a U.

Then right at the light."

A lot of motorists are a little confused about how it will work.

"It'll have to be explained or with correct signs, I think, so people know how to use it. And apparently it's worked in other cities so we'll see how it's going to work here," says Tucsonan Elin Rose.

With construction still in full swing at the two intersections, it might be hard to imagine how this indirect left turn will work.

But, yes, there will be signs and other ways people can learn to navigate the new intersections.  See an animation here.

With the indirect left turn, motorists going east and west can't turn left at the intersection.

They go through it to a traffic signal that stops oncoming traffic so they can make a U-turn, double back to the intersection and make the turn.

Here's another animation

If all goes according to plan, there should be fewer accidents.

"We're going to be reducing the congestion. It's going to improve the safety of the operations in terms of less accidents because there are fewer points of potential crash locations," says Pima County Transportation Director Priscilla Cornelio.

"But I think one of the biggest things, as I said, the safety improvement and the reduction in congestion. So people, again, their wait times will be reduced considerably. About 40%," Cornelio adds.

That's at the intersection of Ina and Oracle where Cornelio says less congestion will make it easier to get in and out of business parking lots near the intersection.

She says about 96,000 vehicles a day go through the Ina/Oracle intersection.

Expectations also are high for the intersection of Grant and Oracle.

Eventually widening work will add six indirect left turns on Grant, from Oracle to Swan Road.

They will be at Oracle, First Avenue, Campbell, Country Club, Alvernon and Swan. 

"It'll be more efficient for the east-west travelers--the traveling public, motorists. It'll be safer for pedestrians and it'll be safer for bicyclists," says City of Tucson Spokesman Mike Graham. "Certainly safer because we see anywhere from a 20 to 20 percent reduction in collisions at an intersection. Typically, the collisions that occur at an intersection are that left turn into the through lane."

The indirect left turn intersections on Grant Road will have special spots just for bicyclists to make a left.

And, no left turn arrow means more time under the green light for people going straight.

City and county planners believe it all will run smoothly once we get used to it.

"I think I would like the idea of what it's supposed to do, especially to make a left turn. There's a lot of traffic here and I've gotten hit here actually," says Tucsonan Carolyn Olivas.

The construction is being done through the Regional Transportation Authority voters approved in 2006.

The Ina and Oracle intersection is set to open next week.

Cornelio says the county will assess the intersection at the six-month point to see if the intersection has helped reduce the number of traffic accidents.

Grant and Oracle will open later in September.

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