On Ellsworth Street in Albany, which as reported yesterday just got lane-sharing “sharrows,” ODOT made another change that may actually lessen congestion on this downtown route.
After repaving both the Ellsworth and Lyon Street legs of the Highway 20 couplet, the state transportation department put down new lane markers where Ellsworth approaches Ninth Avenue. The new lines enable drivers to make a left on Ninth after remaining in the right lane for most of the seven blocks from First to Eighth.
Until now, the left lane of Ninth has often been congested as drivers stayed there rather than risk having trouble changing lanes later, in heavy traffic. This made the left lane much busier than the right.
Years ago I suggested to the city that enabling both lanes of Ellsworth to make the left turn on Ninth would help drivers. Now, with the opportunity created by the repaving, Albany city traffic guru Ron Irish again put the proposal to ODOT in the form of sketch that showed the idea rendered with a “big red Sharpie.”
What Irish drew is the lane configuration that was painted on the asphalt. To make this work better, the dashed line should really be solid to make sure the extra turn lane is free for drivers coming over from the right. Irish says he ‘ll ask ODOT about making that change.
The upshot: Traffic for the underpass can use both lanes of Ellsworth, which should enhance the street’s capacity. This in turn should relieve upstream congestion during busy times, even extending as far as Highway 20 on the Benton side of the bridge. (hh)