The Investigators

Jul 22, 2013 9:05 PM by Nichole Szemerei

Off ramp risks

TUCSON - A News 4 Tucson investigation leads to changes at a well-traveled intersection. We took the problems from the Speedway ramp and intersection, coming off I-10 westbound, to officials.

We showed them video taken from three different mornings during rush hour where drivers are getting stuck, with no place to go.

Day after day, it's the same story, the typical driver on the frontage road not yielding to ramp traffic. There's also a back-up of drivers trying to turn right.

In our meeting with TPD, the city, and Department of Transportation, we first focused on yielding. For this, everyone agreed it's driver error.

"It's a process of education and the drivers should be yielding the right of way to the ramp traffic," says Rod Lane, ADOT District Engineer for the Tucson District.

These signs were changed from stop signs about 4 years ago after the I-10 widening project was complete. Going back isn't an option.

"The challenge with that was the speed differential. So if you have people stopping on the stop sign, they now have to come up to speed and now you've got someone coming at a greater speed right down so it was a less safe condition that way."

In the video, you can also see drivers crossing the solid white lines, also known as gore lines. This is illegal, but it looks like they have to.

"It may be that these particular drivers feel that there is no other choice but for them to cross those solid white lines in order to get all the way to the right lane in order to make the right turn they want to make onto Speedway, however at the end of the day, what they're ultimately doing is creating the chain reaction effect where there's a number of people behind them that are going to do the same thing," says Sgt. Maria Hawke with the Tucson Police Department.

The biggest issue we noted was the inability for drivers to merge all the way over to the right lane. After seeing this in the video, Tucson DOT adjusted the detection system. These are the cameras on the light posts that allow immediate changes to be made to lights if necessary. It is also adding more "green time" for northbound and turning traffic. But why are we just now making these changes?

"It's one of the problems that we've got, is we've got 4 or 500 traffic signals in the city and really only a couple of full time staff," says Bob Hunt, who is retired, but still helps the city with these issues.

"We just don't have the staff that's out there, so I rely on bus drivers. I have a lot of bus drivers who will call and school bus drivers and just drivers in general that'll call," says Michael Hicks, ITS Manager.

You can report a problem with any of our Tucson roadways by calling 520-837-6666 or 602-712-7355.

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