A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

New lines may ease Ellsworth traffic flow

Written September 25th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

On Ellsworth, approaching Ninth, between 8 and Tuesday morning when traffic was light.

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)

Drivers in the right lane can now get into the turn lanes as late as past the crosswalk at Eighth.

Posted in: Commentary, News

11 responses to “New lines may ease Ellsworth traffic flow”

  1. Gothic Albany says:

    This is something that should have been done a long time ago.

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    It would also work more efficiently if folks who stop at the light actually make the left turn “on the red” as they are allowed to do if no oncoming traffic on their right…

    • DSimpson says:

      Yes, this. I wish they could put in a sign that says, “Left turn allowed on red light, yield to traffic from right”, or something along those lines. Alternatively, a blinking yellow and a sign that says “yield to cross traffic” would work. Anything to keep people from sitting at the red when there is not cross traffic.

      • Melissa Lea says:

        People don’t sit at the red light if they know how to drive in Oregon. A left turn on red is allowed from a one way to a one way.

    • ND says:

      The KEY piece of turning left on red is to make sure there is NO cross traffic. I can’t tell you the number of times I have come thru on 9th and needed to cross over to the far left (which shouldn’t be done IN the intersection) only to have someone who turned left on the red and be in my way.

  3. Avid Reader 1 says:

    So, making the line solid, rather than dashed, means what exactly? With it dashed, does that mean that drivers from the far left and far right can decide they want in that middle lane, which is now a turn lane, and they can possibly collide? If it is a solid line, then does that mean that drivers from the left cannot cross over it? I thought a double solid line was the configuration that you cannot cross.

    • ND says:

      Wide solid white line –
      Used to direct
      traffic into specific lanes, such as turn
      lanes, and to separate bike lanes
      other traffic lanes. Crossing a wide solid
      white line is permitted but discouraged.

  4. J. Jacobson says:

    Given the level of angst Hering’s story has stirred-up, one wonders how immensely difficult it must be for Albany to make such simple changes as this one and what that says about us.

  5. Bob Bush says:

    And no one says anything about under the overpass and up the overpass to a Engineer’s choke point that is left to the drivers to fight out like first graders. And painting a few lines differently is suppose to help ease congestion. A big share of people don’t look at the lines, they don’t or can’t read the signs and they just don’t care. Example: The new Starbucks at Santiam and Waverly, DO NOT ENTER, but they do anyway. Hide and watch.

    • Avid Reader 1 says:

      I haven’t checked out yet how to drive into the parking or drive-thru (whichever) for the new Starbucks at Santiam and Waverly. It seems an awfully congested area and now a Starbucks is added to the mix.


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