Getting There: Missing ‘tracks’ can lead to trouble - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Getting There: Missing ‘tracks’ can lead to trouble

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Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2007 8:30 pm | Updated: 6:33 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

I was waiting to see how long it would take for another driver to notice something was wrong at Loop 101 and Broadway Road between Tempe and Mesa.

GRAPHIC: East Valley road work update

And then a voice mail came on Wednesday, noting what I’ve seen.

Or rather, haven’t seen — the little stripes that guide drivers as they make a left turn.

They’ve worn off the concrete, making it tough for drivers to stay in the correct lane, as two lanes of southbound traffic turn left onto eastbound Broadway. Some drivers don’t know just where to stay and veer into the wrong lane — nearly colliding with the vehicle next to them.

The lines are called “chicken tracks,” said John Brusky, a traffic engineering analyst in Tempe.

Those lines can fade quickly as thousands of vehicles a day drive over them and erode the paint. The city typically repaints stripes twice a year, he said, but some areas need touching up even more often, he said.

“It’s amazing how quickly lines can fade or wear out,” Brusky said.

Though the chicken tracks aren’t as common as regular lane markings, Brusky said drivers usually don’t get confused by them.

But there are notable exceptions.

He recalled getting a call from a woman who said she followed the chicken tracks at an intersection and ended up in lanes of opposing traffic. She was convinced something was wrong.

Brusky quickly drove to the spot to determine if a painting crew inadvertently created a hazard. He discovered they were fine and that the woman must have followed the wrong lines.

As he called back to inform her, she apologized before he could explain anything. She explained she returned to the intersection and figured out she made a mistake.

Brusky said the story shows how the city checks out the public’s tips on road problems, even when the tip sounds iffy.

“Very often, our best source of information, whether or not there is a problem, is the public because they’re the ones who are out there every day,” Brusky said.

As for the stripes at Loop 101 and Broadway, Brusky said somebody will inspect the area soon.

GOOD, BAD NEWS AT HIGLEY, Q.C. ROADS

There’s good news and bad news for anyone who has endured the months-long restrictions near Queen Creek and Higley roads.

The good news is the westbound restrictions on Queen Creek Road are going away Monday. Crews were striping the road Friday as part of construction associated with the Lowe’s Home Improvement Center going in at that corner.

The change should be a welcome one to drivers who were routinely caught in the heavy backup at the intersection.

The bad news is that those restrictions will move to the other side of the intersection as crews begin working on the northbound lanes on Higley, north of Queen Creek Road.

You might want to avoid Ocotillo Road between Val Vista Drive and Lindsay Road until Jan. 18. Crews there will be working on the intersection and installing a water main under the roadway.

Local access will be maintained, but no through traffic will be allowed.

Also, the Roosevelt Water Conservation District will be emptying area canals soon to clear the way for several road projects that will be causing traffic restrictions in the next few weeks, town officials said.

OTHER RESTRICTIONS

In Queen Creek, traffic in the area of Ellsworth and Chandler Heights roads will remain restricted as crews work on a sewer line.

A police officer will be directing traffic during peak times, and flaggers may also be present to shut down traffic on the north side of the intersection, town officials said.

Construction at Ellsworth and Queen Creek roads has forced turning restrictions.

Westbound traffic on Queen Creek Road cannot turn south onto Ellsworth for the next week as crews improve that intersection, officials said.

The restrictions at Hawes and Ocotillo roads will continue while a new waterline is put in. A police officer is expected to be there during peak travel times. Flaggers will control traffic heading into the intersection, and left turns from Hawes onto Ocotillo may be restricted at times.

The Arizona Department of Transportation reports that no freeway construction closures are scheduled in the Valley through New Year’s Day.

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