A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On Ellsworth, dashed line doesn’t cut it

Written October 3rd, 2018 by Hasso Hering

This recently changed lane configuration on Ellsworth Street near Ninth in Albany looked as though it might solve a problem. But it has exchanged one problem for another, and ODOT should fix it as soon as it can.

The dotted lane marker on this block of the state highway was supposed to funnel traffic into the left of two turning lanes so that drivers in the right lane could change to the middle so they, too, could turn left on Ninth toward the highway underpass.

Instead, I’ve seen drivers ignore the dotted line and keep rolling straight into the middle, the way we’ve done it for years. So if someone in the right lane starts pulling into the center to make the turn, it’s highly possible that sheet metal will get bent. Or worse.

This was not the idea. The idea was to allow traffic to use both lanes of Ellsworth from First to Eighth with the assurance that cars in the right lane would also be able to make the turn. But this won’t happen as long as that line stays dashed. It ought to be repainted as a solid line at least.

Ron Irish, the city of Albany’s traffic engineer, told me last week he would ask ODOT to repaint the line solid. As of Wednesday, though, ODOT had not yet made the change. (hh)


10 responses to “On Ellsworth, dashed line doesn’t cut it”

  1. @CorvalliSteve says:

    Gimme a roller and can of Akzo Nobel white. I volunteer to paint it.

  2. Tim Hanson says:

    Not only should a solid line be painted, but ODOT ought to have put up a sign indicating traffic lane change ahead.

    • Cher K says:

      I agree. People will keep using the lanes like they have previously unless there are clear signs letting them know there has been a change made.

  3. Avid Reader 1 says:

    A solid line is still going to direct me into middle lane. I would still have to risk a wreck if I decide to get from middle lane to far left lane. How does a solid line tell me to get as far left as possible? …that is, into the left lane, not the middle lane, which the line, solid or dashed, directs me to. In fact, in my mind, a solid line would tell me to get into the middle lane and not into the left lane.

    • Melissa Lea says:

      A solid white line usually means not to cross it. This lane configuration is stupid and confusing. If you want to ‘funnel’ traffic you should have started 3 blocks back.

  4. Out Of Towner says:

    Why did they change it? Not from the area, but I have never had a problem with it. I get more confused in the Geary street area.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      They changed it in order in response to a suggestion intended to ease the traffic flow. Many times, the left lane on Ellsworth was full and the right lane almost empty because drivers anticipated having to be in the left lane in order to make the left turn on Ninth, which it where the majority of the traffic goes. The change was to enable drivers to stay in the right lane most of the way and still be sure of being able to enter the middle left-turn lane just before Ninth. This would even out the usage of both lanes on Ellsworth, thus increasing the capacity of this stretch of highway.

  5. Lemmbano says:

    There is still the old traffic lane sign indicating the lanes. It is on the right side of the street on the North edge of the Catholic Church.
    It still directs traffic the old way with the left lane access to the middle lane. Not the new configuration with the right lane access to the middle lane.
    That sign needs to be updated or removed.

  6. Lundy says:

    Dotted or solid, the line should be straight — parallel to the roadway — and not angled. That would at least make things somewhat more clear.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The point of the angled line is to induce drivers to go into the left lane to make room in the center lane for drivers from the right lane who want to make the turn. Because it is dashed, though, drivers feel they can ignore it. ODOT managed to make the situation more dangerous than it was.


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