Thursday, May 16, 2013
Plano will reconfigure unpopular median left turn at Preston and Legacy
But, some worry that the change will result in increased stacking and traffic congestion.
PLANO When the Plano City Council last discussed the controversial median left turn at Preston Road and Legacy Drive, the plan was to put the brakes on bringing the design to other city intersections but keep the existing intersection as it is.
But in the three months since that meeting, city leadership has shifted course and is now taking steps to restore the intersection to a more traditional configuration.
Gerald Cosgrove, public works director, said his department first contacted the Texas Department of Transportation about the reversal "a couple of weeks ago" at the behest of Deputy City Manager Frank Turner.
Since TxDOT owns Preston Road, the city must meet that agency's requirements before going to work on the project, and it is still too early to tell how long it may take to reach an agreement, Cosgrove said.
"I'd like to get it done by the end of the year, but right now I can't guarantee anything," he said.
At Monday's preliminary meeting, Cosgrove told the council the process could involve as few as five or as many as 60 engineering documents.
A reversal would likely involve the removal of signals in the intersection's two U-turn lanes, with a yield or stop condition to allow continued use of the lanes. The project will also likely include the removal of signage and pavement markings associated with the median left turn, Cosgrove said.
"When we did this project, we said we wanted to have the ability to go back and return it the way it was, so we did not take away the pavement; we just striped it off," he said. "We'll have to remove that striping, put down the buttons for a left turn lane, put down some thermal plastic markings and get that work done as well both for eastbound and westbound."
City Manager Bruce Glasscock said while the city is proceeding with the removal, staff members feel the reversal will cause additional traffic congestion.
"We're trading one issue for another, but let's be clear that by doing this we're going to see increased stacking and traffic congestion issues as a result," he said.
Cosgrove, who admitted earlier in the meeting that the public has "not accepted" the median left turn concept, said engineering roadblocks will make a second left turn at the intersection very unlikely, though the left turn bay may be extended for westbound Legacy traffic.
Motorists should steer clear of the intersection for the first 30 days after the reversal, Cosgrove said, since prior traffic changes have shown drivers are easily confused by such changes.
"Part of this is that we are going to put a big education component together, just like we did when we switched it originally, but again, it will take awhile for people to get used to it," he said.
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