ODOT has followed through on changing an important lane marking on Ellsworth Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues. Now let’s see if Albany drivers get the hint.
After ODOT repaved the downtown couplet of Highway 20 this fall, it went along with a suggestion by city traffic engineer Ron Irish (and me, some time ago) to allow both lanes of Ellsworth to make a left turn at Ninth. It painted a broken or dotted diagonal line to allow this. But the dotted line was widely ignored.
On Thursday, though, the broken white line had been made solid, requiring drivers to stay in their left lane. Now drivers in the right lane on Ellsworth have the right of way to drift left after Eighth and get into the center lane to make a left at the Ninth Avenue light. In theory, anyway, this should eliminate the need to get into the left lane as far back as the Ellsworth Street bridge, and this should add to the capacity of Ellsworth without any actual expansion.
But on Thursday night, during a couple of minutes of observation, the newly solid lane marking had not caught all drivers’ attention. Several vehicles including two school buses sailed straight ahead, crossing the line as though it wasn’t there. In the interest of preventing sideswipe collisions, maybe a couple of those warning signs upstream — “Traffic control change ahead” — might help. (hh)