For a simple action, turning left at the intersection of S.R. 43 and Fairchild Avenue is getting a fair amount of attention from city officials — and for good reason.
Whether or not you can make a left turn at the intersection depends on where you're coming from and where you're going.
Right now it's illegal for drivers traveling south on S.R. 43 to turn left onto the new Fairchild Avenue Bridge. You can turn left from all other directions, but if you're heading east on Fairchild Avenue, turning north onto S.R. 43 is sometimes easier said than done.
Kent Safety Director William Lillich said the city chose to prohibit left turns onto the bridge during road construction because there's only one southbound lane heading into the intersection.
Despite warning signs, drivers are still making the illegal turn. As a result, Lillich said he's seen Kent police cruisers pull drivers over for the illegal turn the past five working days. Drivers trying to make the turn during rush hour slow traffic to a crawl.
"I've seen it backed up for blocks," he said.
About 23,000 cars drive through the intersection daily, according to 2009 traffic data from AMATS. The turn is expected to be prohibited throughout construction.
Lillich didn't have numbers for specific citations issued for the violation, but he said police are enforcing the no left-turn law — often by parking in a conspicuous area near the intersection. But it can be difficult for officers to police the intersection during rush hour, which is often a peak time for emergency responses throughout the city.
"They're trying to have an impact by doing what they can when they can be there," Lillich said. "We continue to have a concern about it."
The other left-turn proving a conundrum for drivers is when they make the turn north onto S.R. 43 after driving east on Fairchild Avenue.
Ruller said that left-turn arrow in the traffic signal was removed partly because the number of left turns from Fairchild Avenue to northbound S.R. 43 has dropped — thanks to the new bridge — because it's no longer necessary to make that turn to cross the Cuyahoga River, as was the case when the Crain Avenue Bridge was open.
"We are still getting periodic requests to install a left turn arrow from eastbound Fairchild to northbound (S.R.) 43," Ruller said. "Although the amount of wait time seems longer, the new timing (without an arrow) actually provides less total time to clear the area due to the elimination of the second light at Crain Avenue. So although it may seem longer, most people who are turning are getting through the impacted area much quicker than they did prior to the beginning of the project when two signals were in use."
Ruller said adding such a left-turn arrow would cut the green-light time for all the other directions of the intersection, thus reducing "the overall improvements that are anticipated from the new traffic patterns."
He said it may take some time to complete the analysis.
"But this type of analysis is typically required before instituting a change," Ruller said. "This is especially true when the change involves a state route and a state-managed improvement project."