That was fast. This morning, City Commissioner Don Selvage asked a transportation planner about criticism that recent changes to Massachusetts Avenue downtown have confused drivers. The planner said he’s heard the same, and that a solution is in the works. This afternoon, the solution was announced.
The city will be painting the stripes differently and changing some turn lanes in order to keep drivers flowing in a straight line instead of weaving as they travel between Main Street and Pine Street, Communications Director Kevin Cook said in a news release.
“Separate right- and left-turn lanes at the Cedar Street intersection … will allow through traffic to continue straight,” he said.
The news release included this chart showing the current traffic flow (top) and the proposed changes (bottom):
The realignment has added 40 parking spaces to Massachusetts Avenue, but the new plan eliminates four of those spaces on the east side of the street near Cedar and Main to accommodate a right-turn lane onto Main for northbound traffic.
Construction is planned for January and will require limited lane closures, Cook said.
This video posted to Facebook in October by LkldTV illustrates the zig-zag weaving action between Main and Pine:
Comments posted to the video were largely critical of the current traffic pattern, with one person saying he had nearly gotten into a head-on collision.
At this morning’s City Commission meeting, Selvage told Transportation Planner Chuck Barmby he was asking on behalf of a southside retiree who travels Massachusetts Avenue three times a week on his way to help at Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine.
“He can be rather be blunt in assessing how we’re doing as a city, but he’s not prone exaggeration or hyperbole,” Selvage said. “He calls the Massachusetts changes a disaster. What feedback are we getting?”
Barmby responded that the Public Works Department was designing changes to the stretch between Main and Pine, and indicated they’d be ready in several weeks. Among other things, the changes will allow northbound drivers to turn right onto Main and go along Lake Mirror to avoid trains crossing Massachusetts, he said.
Positive feedback includes the additional street-side parking on Massachusetts and the ability for pedestrians to cross more easily, Barmby said.
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