It's ugly. It's weird. It gives you 30% more green lights.

It feels very weird to start making my left turn early. Like, 500 feet before I even get to the cross street. But more cities may find the weirdness is worth the time saving. It adds 30% more green light time.

It’s called a Continuous Flow Intersection. I was recently in Orem, Utah where I tried one out at Sandhill Road and University Parkway. Memories of 2008’s terrible traffic at the intersection washed away as I casually flew through an easy left turn in mere seconds.

Improvements never come without costs. It is now impossible for students at the nearby college to cross the street without using the (included) pedestrian tunnel. Out-of-town drivers may find the displaced left turn confusing.

But at 1/5th the cost of grade separation (freeway-style bridge and off ramps), this looks like an attractive option as engineers work to keep traffic flowing.

Road Guy Rob

A 12-year veteran public radio reporter and producer. Rob covered transportation and urban issues. He earned a graduate degree in Civil Engineering (MS) in 2018.

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