New left turn light on East-West Connector has 4 signals
by Jon Gillooly
March 21, 2013 12:49 AM | 4844 views | 8 8 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print

A new kind of traffic signal is getting its debut in Cobb as part of an effort to improve safety on county roads.

The left-turn signal, called a flashing yellow arrow, will become operational next Wednesday at the intersection of Cooper Lake Road and East-West Connector.

The device has four phases: a steady red arrow, a steady yellow arrow, a flashing yellow arrow and a steady green arrow. The flashing yellow arrow indicates to left-turning traffic to first yield to oncoming traffic before turning.

David Montanye, operations division manager for the Cobb Department of Transportation, said the reason behind installing the new light is to improve safety, since there have been a high number of crashes for westbound vehicles turning left at that intersection.

This is Cobb’s first flashing yellow arrow signal and, as far as Montanye knows, the second in Georgia, with the city of Johns Creek already using one.

Montanye said the cost of building a traditional signal from the ground up and one with the flashing yellow light is about the same, typically $150,000. A signal with the flashing yellow light display may cost slightly more where a longer mast arm may be required, he said.

County Chairman Tim Lee called it a new technology that’s gaining support across the country.

“It’s like a roundabout,” Lee said. “The first time you go through, it seems uncomfortable, but after you’ve done it once or twice, you fit right into the groove.”

Lee said he believes it will increase safety.

“I’m glad to see us moving toward that technology because I think it’s a clearer way to ensure increased safety at intersections,” Lee said. “So I think it’s a step in the right direction … at those intersections where a left turn could be a conflict with ongoing traffic.”

The Cooper Lake Road project cost about $60,000 and included replacing a mast arm and upgrading the traffic signal cabinet, which was needed as a part of a general upgrade, Montanye said.

The county plans to request approval from the Georgia Department of Transportation for two more locations, on Dallas Highway at The Avenue West Cobb and at Casteel Road, pending approval from the Cobb Board of Commissioners. The process may take a few months, Montanye said.

The Cobb Department of Transportation maintains 540 traffic signals throughout the county.

Comments
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JR in Mableton
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March 22, 2013
This is awesome. I bet the critics are the same one who complained when we went from a red-green traffic light to a red-yellow-green traffic light. I would also bet that most of these folks stop on a flashing yellow too!!!
Loren Bagby
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March 28, 2013
Nope didn't complain when it changed to red-yellow-green. That might be cause I am no where near as old as you grandpa. So I wasn't even close to driving when that happened.

And I don't stop on a flashing yellow, but I do slow down a little to watch for the ever-so-intelligent drivers that think a flashing red for the other direction means floor it.

My problem isn't the change, it's that it's not going to help, and the thing that would help (fixing the alignment of the lanes) wasn't done. Also, adding a flashing yellow arrow is just going to confuse the people who have trouble with red-yellow-green already even more.
Loren Bagby
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March 21, 2013
How on Earth will this make it safer or more efficient? It won't. I live by there, and the problem is not the traffic lights, the problem is that the alignment of the opposing left turning lanes. The south-bound left turning lane lines up in such a way that if there is a car in it, it makes it hard to see oncoming traffic for the people in the north-bound left turn. And that is if the people are in the center of the lane. A good majority of them hang to the right of the lane, so it makes it even harder to see. I do not understand why the morons do this as I turn left there sometimes too, and there is no need to hang to the right. Plus I would be worried about getting side-swiped by other morons going 65 in a 45.
Pam J
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March 21, 2013
There are a lot of screwed-up traffic lights in this county. I'm sure they are tired of my e-mails! I hope this one works, although I can only imagine the confusion associated with it the first time people see it. I guess that as long as you know that yellow is still legal to go through, two yellows will, at first, seem a little redundant.
Just Wait
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March 21, 2013
Now are they going to install a series of "Burma Shave" signs prior to intersection to explain to drivers how the signal works?
Rick Z
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March 21, 2013
This isn't the breakthrough that VFP42 thinks. The flashing yellow is merely the equivalent of a green light, without an accompanying green arrow, in the left-turn lane. You may turn, but must yield to those whose right-of-way takes precedence. Is it worth spending a lot of money replacing traffic lights throughout the county? I suppose the experiment with one light, or maybe a couple more, is worthwhile to see if it makes any difference. But I think the basic issue here is still just driver behavior, not new technology.
VFP42
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March 22, 2013
No it is not a breakthrough. It is catching up with the rest of the world. We will finally stop being forced to sit and wait for green left turn lights thanks to this contraption.

Prior to this, the traffic engineers mandated red left turn signals because drivers here were deemed to be too stupid to realize that "a green light, without an accompanying green arrow, in the left-turn lane" meant they could go when possible, yielding to oncoming traffic.
VFP42
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March 21, 2013
Finally. Thank goodness. Can we please replace all left turn arrow signals that turn red for no apparent reason with these new fangled contraptions? The "sit and wait merely because I am in charge" red arrows are a huge contributor to road rage. Do you remember any road rage at all prior to the nanny turn signals being installed everywhere?
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