Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
In 2006 voters approved a package of road improvements, bus pullout improvements, and bicycle path improvements and the creation of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) to oversee the projects.
RTA construction projects have been popping up all over town– like the bus pullouts at Fort Lowell and Campbell, which seemed to take forever to complete. Whew, glad that one’s done, but look for more cumbersome transportation “fixes” in the near future, as “planners” implement multiple clusterf**ks on our roadways.
Back in March, the local news reported that “planners” want to “fix” the intersection at Grant and Oracle Roads by eliminating left turn options unto Oracle. People who want to turn left will have to go through the intersection and make a u-turn down the road. (People driving westbound on Grant who really want to go southbound will be jockeying for position with hundreds of others who are trying to get to Interstate 10.) This will be a MESS at rush hour. Have the “planners” traveled that stretch of Grant Road between Oracle and I-10 recently? Traffic backs up long before you reach the multiple stop lights near the freeway. Add people driving westbound who really don’t want to go that direction to the mix, and what do you have? Yes, a cluster.
Initially, the local news reported that only Grant and Oracle would have u-turn solution to traffic “management.” Now we find that transportation “planners” are planning to implement the same “fix” at the intersection of Ina and Oracle Roads. Monday’s Arizona Daily Star reported that “planners” have proposed the same stupid solution for traffic that backs up at the Ina and Oracle intersection– eliminate left turns onto Oracle and force people to drive out of their way to wait at u-turn bays to go back to the light they just went through and wait in a right-turn lane to go the direction they really wanted to travel.
Who’s idea was this? Is this the best idea RTA planners can come up with?
This u-turn mania is reminiscent of the dance Tucsonans used to do on Grant Road when those stupid cones were in place. For people who are new to town, for more than 15 years, Tucson had a ridiculous system on Grant Road and 5th/6th Street in which no left turns were allowed during rush hour, and the left turn lane became a temporary a through lane– aptly dubbed the “suicide” lane because it went west in the morning and east in the evening. Drivers who wanted to turn left off of Grant had to turn right, make a u-turn and then go the direction they really wanted to go. Grant Road was a disaster because people were always trying to make illegal left turns– particularly around midtown where the big grocery stores are. (I used to ride the #9 Grant Road bus everyday when I worked at the University. I routinely witnessed people trying to make illegal lefts; others would honk; and oncoming traffic would come to a screeching halt to avoid smashing into the stupid motorist sitting in the turn-lane-turned-through-lane. One night, I witnessed a full head-on collision.) Why would be go back to this?
I agree with this article: Blame not so easily placed on ‘stupid motorists’. It talks about the dumb idea of paving washes which routinely flood during the monsoons. Arizona’s Stupid Motorist Law says if you get stuck in one of those flooded washes, you have to pay a heavy fine if a rescue team is called to fish you out. From the Star…
The monsoon always brings a flood of stories about “stupid motorists” who drive through flowing washes – but the really stupid practice is paving dips and washes and calling them streets, says a UA researcher.
Most motorists who drive through washes have very rational reasons for doing so, said University of Arizona researcher Ashley Coles.
“The irrational ones are the ones who designed the streets,” said Coles, a Ph.D. candidate in geography… [Emphasis added.]
Whether it’s paving washes and pretending they’re safe to travel or creating unnecessary u-turns which are not only dangerours but also waste time and gas, the RTA needs better planning and fresh ideas to Tucson’s transportation issues. Unnecessary u-turns are a temporary solution at best. The cones were supposed to be short-term, and they cluttered our roads for more than a decade.
What happens when motorists start suing the RTA for accidents caused by the u-turn design? Will that force the RTA to come up with real solutions?