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‘Flex lanes’ aid traffic flow — and are proving safe
Traffic » Stretch of reversible-lanes on 5400 South shows improved flow and, so far, fewer crashes.


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"Statistically," Miles said, "there’s not a higher percentage of traffic accidents happening per length of roadway" in the flex-lane section.

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Dangers » But Jason Jo, manager of a 7-Eleven at the corner of 3200 West and 5400 South, said he sees plenty of close calls.

"People who use it every day understand it. But people who are new to it don’t," he said. "Some stop and wonder if they are in the right lane and get hit from behind."

One problem, he said, is that at intersections, turn lights and explanatory signs are not exactly over the lanes they affect — but overhead gantries do have lane-control lights exactly over lanes affected. Jo said the difference seems to cause drivers to stop because they wonder if they are in a correct lane.

Hoyal says motorists do need "to be just be a little more alert as they are driving through the area."

Miles said UDOT will continue to closely monitor the performance of the flex lanes.

"We’re still learning more about where [else] we can apply this concept and be successful. We’ve definitely learned a lot with this one."

One lesson was learned soon after the new system was activated when UDOT realized it had installed too many control lights too close to one another on overhead gantries.

When the section opened, some drivers complained that there were so many red, green and yellow lane-control lights — every 500 feet — that some had trouble discerning regular intersection signals and unwittingly ran red lights or slammed on brakes at the last moment.


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So UDOT turned off, and later removed, the two outside lane-control lights, where traffic never reverses anyway, just before and after each intersection to help traffic signals stand out more.

The overhead gantries have green arrows in lanes where traffic is allowed, red X’s where it is not, yellow X’s where traffic should begin moving out of lanes because directions are about to change, and yellow left-turn markers for the middle turn lane.

ldavidson@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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