Readers chime in on confusion over flashing yellow turn arrow - Albuquerque Journal

Readers chime in on confusion over flashing yellow turn arrow

FLASHING-YELLOW FEEDBACK: After last week’s column on what a flashing yellow turn arrow means (proceed after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians), readers are weighing in.

Robert Macias emails “I’m new to town and was stunned to read that flashing yellow arrows mean that oncoming traffic has a green light! I hope you will follow up with (the city) on its dismissive and substance-free comment about these dangerous lights being ‘the city’s new standard.’ Uh, why? Why would you create a situation where a solid yellow light and a flashing yellow arrow mean two completely different things? My assumption has always been that yellow lights mean that you can still proceed safely but time is running out. Apparently, in Albuquerque it means ‘time’s up and you’re about to die.’ ”

Duane Meneely shares “you caused quite a flashback with your Road Warrior item on March 20 concerning the close call a reader had at the intersection of Fourth and Alameda, thanks to the confusion caused by the flashing yellow arrow. In 2018 I got clobbered at that intersection when another driver suddenly started a left turn right in front of me. She stated she thought the flashing arrow met she had the right of way. The collision was investigated by a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy, who told me he sees lots of confusion concerning flashing yellow arrows.

“I vote to save us all the expense, to say nothing of the confusion,” Duane says, “by scrapping the whole dumb idea of flashing arrows.”

And Betty called to say “why does the bureaucracy figure it has to create a problem where one doesn’t already exist? We know if you’re in the intersection, you just get out of the intersection as fast as you can. You don’t need a stupid bureaucracy-arranged light to tell you it’s yellow. What we need to do basically is get rid of a lot of government bureaucrats who do a little and get a lot of money. … Too much bureaucracy and too many stupid ideas like flashing yellow lights.”

According to the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, “research found that the most easily understood and most effective permissive display is the flashing-yellow arrow in an all-arrows separate turn signal face for the left turn. A follow-up study found converting circular green permissive left-turn displays to flashing yellow arrow improved safety.”

WESTSIDE BOULEVARD IS OPEN: Drivers have likely noticed the lack of orange barrels on Westside from N.M. 528 to Golf Course.

Albuquerque officials cut the ribbon recently on the $10 million project, which started construction in March 2021. Progress was stalled in March 2022 so the Water Authority could install a new 20-inch raw water transmission line on the south side of Westside, and again in late summer by supply chain issues.

A city spokesman has explained in prior columns the project would widen “Westside to a four-lane section and will include the construction of new medians, curb and gutter, bike lanes in each direction, sidewalk along the south side of the roadway, intersection improvements, striping, and a multi-use path and retaining wall along the north side of the roadway. We are also installing irrigation, with median landscaping to follow after construction. This project is federally funded with local contribution and is being coordinated with both the N.M. Department of Transportation and the city of Rio Rancho.”

According to the Mid-Region Council of Governments, Westside handles between 17,000 and 22,750 vehicles on that stretch daily. The news release on the March 3 ribbon cutting says the improvements are projected to reduce congestion by increasing capacity on Westside by over 50%.

KEEP THE NEW WESTSIDE LIGHTING COMING: Meanwhile, Randy has a compliment and a request. He says “Westside Boulevard from Golf Course to N.M. 528 is wonderful and is very well-lit. A suggestion for the cities of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho would be: extend this great lighting west to Unser and beyond. Then they could begin to replace/renew the lighting in the many other very dark areas.”

Peter Wells, Rio Rancho’s deputy city manager, explains “Westside Boulevard from N.M. 528 to approximately Golf Course Road is in the city of Albuquerque, (which) just completed (the aforementioned) widening project on this section which included lighting. Westside from approximately Golf Course to Unser and beyond is in Rio Rancho. At the present time, no widening plans, new lighting, etc., are scheduled for the Rio Rancho section.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

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