New traffic lights signal confusion for some drivers – Yukon News
As efforts continue to plan long-term changes to the Alaska Highway at Robert Service Way, the Yukon government has made further changes to a new signal at the intersection.
The changes are due to confusion over the light which was installed in March.
In an April 26 letter responding to Yukon Party MPP Scott Kent about new Minister of Lighting, Highways and Public Works Nils Clarke, noted that the territory was working on a complete overhaul of the intersection with a consultant now in place looking at the benefits of a roundabout versus a realigned intersection with signals.
While this is in progress, the Protected Left Green Light has been installed with the aim of stopping oncoming traffic while the green traffic light is on, protecting those turning left onto Robert Service Way, the gate Highways and Public Works spokesperson Krysten Johnson explained in an email.
Dealing with Confusion
The new signal has been the subject of discussion on social media with a number of residents saying that having a green light for the left turn lane when the next lane has a red light creates significant confusion. . The new signal also made fodder on the Yukon Memes Facebook page.
Many of the approximately 130 comments on the meme agree that the new lights are confusing.
“When you need an instruction sign next to a traffic light, something is definitely confusing,” one comment read.
Others argue that it is the drivers and not the lights that may be the problem, with some offering advice for those using the intersection.
“Green means go, red means stop, if it’s red in your lane…..go now you get this,” another comment states.
Kent referred to the confusion in his correspondence with Clarke. In her response, Clarke acknowledged the situation.
“Making this intersection safe to use is a high priority for the department,” he wrote. “We made some changes to signage and lighting last weekend to provide more clarity for drivers and will continue to monitor over the next few weeks to determine if any further adjustments are needed.”
Johnson said the department was quickly made aware of the confusion, so modifications and signage needed to be put in place. Among the changes were the repositioning of the left turn signal head to better align with the turn lane; add a left turn arrow sign; and the addition of two crossing signs.
“We are constantly monitoring the intersection to make it as safe as possible and will make further changes if necessary,” she said. “We would like to thank residents and drivers for their patience as we work through these changes.”
Long term projects
Long-term planning for the intersection is part of the Yukon government’s efforts to make improvements to the Alaska Highway through Whitehorse.
Plans for 2022 include work between Lodestar Lane and the Whitehorse scales, north of the Robert Service Way intersection, including safer access to and from the scales, improved lighting, additional lanes and the completion of a multipurpose trail.
In 2023, from Robert Service Way to Philmar RV, intersection improvements will be made, frontage roads will be put in place to connect businesses and provide a new school bus transfer station, and there will be additional work to a trail and to add lanes.
Johnson said further details on the exact changes that will be made to the intersection will be announced once analysis of the intersection is complete later this year.
The 2021 season saw improvements to the Hillcrest area of the highway with new lanes, a pedestrian traffic light at Burns Road, a new paved path alongside the highway, and improved turning lanes.
Work is also planned for the freeway near Porter Creek and Crestview, although project timelines have yet to be announced.
This work is expected to take two years and would result in realignments of Centennial Street and Lodgepole Lane as well as 15th Avenue and Birch Street. Laberge Road would be directed to a frontage road rather than directly to the freeway, with drivers then accessing the freeway from there at MacDonald and Wann Road.
As the Government of Yukon has noted on its Highway Plans webpage: “Over the past few years, Yukoners have raised a number of safety concerns about the Alaska Highway through Whitehorse. That’s why we’ve prioritized several areas along the Alaska Highway to improve safety.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at [email protected]