Turn lanes are not meant as shortcuts

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 7, 2014

U.S. Highway 11 is a dangerous road, especially between the areas of Hide-A-Way Lake and the intersection of Miss. 43 N.

The biggest safety issue with that stretch of road, which was especially evident immediately after Hurricane Katrina, is the improper use of the turn lane.

No one wants to be stuck in traffic, and when traffic backs up to the intersection of Richardson Ozona Road drivers are tempted to use the turn lane as a shortcut to escape the long line of cars, and get to their destination more quickly.

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The problem with utilizing a turn lane as a shortcut, is that cars traveling in the opposite direction also need access to the turn lane. At those times needs conflict and accidents occur.

One good example occurred just this week. A car pulled out onto U.S. 11 in an attempt to head north, but was hit by a car traveling south in the turn lane. In no way is fault being assessed, it appeared as though line of sight played a major part in the accident. The point is, the incident highlights the dangers of that turn lane.

Several years ago, in the post Katrina population boom, officers with the Picayune Police Department set up traffic surveillance points on that stretch of U.S. 11 and tickets were issued for improper use of the turn lane. Drivers were traveling a quarter to a half mile along the turn lane to get to Stemwood Drive or the intersection of U.S. 11 and 43 N. Officers issued citations because that act essentially closed the turn lane to northbound traffic. The police department may want to consider conducting such surveillance again, if manpower allows.

A permanent fix would be for the Mississippi Department of Transportation to complete plans to widen the road, as they have proposed for years. MDOT’s proposal was to widen the road to four lanes and install a median from Hide-A-Way Lake to the intersection of 43 N. We’re still waiting.