Innovative Lane Use Coming with Completion of the Rockside Road Southbound Ramp Widening
The major widening project that has been ongoing since August is nearing a project shut down due to winter weather; however, the Engineering Department would like to take this opportunity to inform stakeholders about some new features that will be implemented with the completion of the widening project.
FLASHING YELLOW ARROW (FYA)
In the summer of 2015, ODOT listed the area adjacent to the I-77/Rockside Road interchange as one of the most dangerous driving locations in Cuyahoga County based upon accident data. On average, 60,000 vehicles use this interchange daily. In an effort to improve traffic flow, ODOT and the City of Independence are partnering on a unique safety feature in this area. The City and ODOT are working together to install Flashing Yellow Arrows at key locations near the I-77/Rockside Road interchange.
In particular, FYAs will be installed at two intersections including the Rockside Road/West Creek/Summit Park intersection for left-turn movements of westbound Rockside Road traffic to southbound Summit Park Drive and also for westbound Rockside Road traffic turning left onto the I-77 southbound ramp. The challenge for motorists desiring to turn left at these intersections under the permissive “green ball” signal indicator is adequate sight distance and the ability to safely view and yield the right-of-way to and across three lanes of opposing eastbound Rockside Road traffic. Accidents occur because stopped eastbound Rockside Road traffic obscures the sight-lines to vehicles traveling along both the curb lane and second-lane from the curb (of the eastbound Rockside Road traffic lanes). In response to this issue, ODOT District 12 is formally implementing the use of signal heads containing FYAs to improve safety by exaggerating the need for motorists to use caution and to yield the right-of-way when making permissive left turns.
FYAs have been successfully used through the nation, but not yet in Ohio, until now. The attached exhibit includes a sample signal head configuration utilizing a flashing yellow arrow. This link is a video comparing a traditional 5-section protected/permissive signal compared to a flashing yellow arrow.
VARIABLE LANE USE
ODOT and the City have also collaborated to make the most efficient and cost effective use of the existing pavement lanes of westbound Rockside Road, at the I-77/Rockside Road interchange, to improve traffic flow and minimize congestion through the installation of a Variable Lane Use designation.
Presently there are four (4) westbound pavement lanes at the intersection of the I-77 southbound exit and entrance ramps, configured as one (1) single left turn lane, and three (3) westbound through lanes. This configuration serves the morning rush hour well, as the predominant flow of traffic on Rockside is westbound at this intersection.
However in the afternoon rush hour, the predominant movements in this area are left turns onto I-77 southbound. In an effort to improve traffic flow during the afternoon, ODOT and the City are implementing the variable use of the westbound through-lane next to the single left-turn lane. This means that during the afternoon this westbound through-lane will become a “second left turn-lane” to I-77 south.
The variable lane use feature will be controlled with pavement markings and changeable overhead L.E.D. illuminated traffic control signs. Stay tuned for upcoming information regarding the implementation of these safety and lane use features.