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Author Topic: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?  (Read 3657 times)

kphoger

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2021, 01:00:19 PM »


But itís still a factor.  It probably is a more difficult sell to plan an arterial road with a huge median versus one that follows a more conventional width.  That wide median means less room for development along the arterial highway.

I didn't think about that. Who needs enormous improvements in throughput and safety? Won't someone think of the strip malls and car dealerships!

If the road isn't a freeway to begin with, then I must assume access is actually important.  Access to what?  Homes and businesses.  Take away the space for said homes and businesses, and you're defeating the function the road serves to begin with.

Notice how the title says new arterials.

On top of that, they can get so aggressively wide and take so much land, they simply aren't practical in some areas. Land is so expensive in the Seattle region that building a Michigan Left corridor is basically out of the question. Too much land

So it costs more to construct, and it reduces the amount of room for revenue-generating businesses to be built.  Golly, why aren't these things everywhere?


Michigan Lefts are a pain ... trust me on this:  You don't want them everywhere.

Try experiencing life without them.

wut

I experience life without them every day.

Do new arterials really need the capacity offered by Michigan Lefts? Or is a five lane road with TWLTL sufficient?

An underappreciated point.  Michigan lefts add a layer of complexity for meager (or was it "massive"?) improvement to traffic flow.  The list of places where they're actually needed is smaller than "everywhere".
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jamess

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2021, 09:52:40 PM »

Lets see, they cost more to build, reduce tax-productive land, increase VMT, decrease bike and ped access.....for a few seconds of travel time savings for other drivers?

Seems like a bad deal.
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Ned Weasel

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2021, 06:49:46 AM »

Or is a five lane road with TWLTL sufficient?

I'd really rather move away from the undivided five-laner.  I realize Michigan Lefts take up huge amounts of space and make them infeasible in most places, but, as for the rest of the road design, I'd much rather see a raised median and with the only unprotected cross traffic being well spaced left turns from the arterial.  I'd rather see everything else be RIRO except at signalized intersections.

Quote
They are also miserable experiences for pedestrians. The lack of consistent four-way intersections creates long distances between "given" crossing points (those created by the simple intersection of two streets).

Simple intersections of two streets are not good pedestrian crossing points, though, if you're talking about non-signalized intersections involving an arterial road.  Sure, they often have legal crosswalks, usually unmarked, but it's no fun trying to cross 35-to-50-MPH traffic that isn't going to stop any time soon.

I really would like to see more left turn alternatives to allow two-phase traffic signals, as opposed to three or four phases, on expressways that have signalized intersections.  It's very pertinent to ask, what is the best way to handle left turn phases at signalized intersections on expressways and superstreet arterials?  I feel like a lot of departments of transportation don't spend a lot of time asking this question.  The main downfall to Michigan Lefts and jughandles, however, will generally be the amount of land they require.
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Flint1979

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2021, 08:27:57 AM »

Michigan lefts aren't that bad. I went through one yesterday at Rochester and Big Beaver in Troy and just had to wait for the light at Rochester as the one to turn right was green and the turn around was green when I got there. I was going for NB I-75 and the exit at Rochester is closed so I had to go up to the Big Beaver exit.
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tradephoric

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2021, 08:31:03 AM »

In 1924, the Rapid Transit Commission proposed the Super-Highway Plan for Greater Detroit which featured 204-foot "Super-Highways" which was enough space to fit 8-lanes of vehicular traffic and inter-urban rail running down the medians.  Then in 1967, decades after the first "Super-Highway" was built, the first Michigan left was installed at 8 Mile & Livernois.  But from the start the wide-medians were designed to move rail and not a design feature of the "Michigan Left".






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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #30 on: July 23, 2021, 08:34:35 AM »

Jughandles don't have to take up much space. (Note that while it's a large intersection for the Northeast, only a small portion of it is a jughangle. You're looking for the "turn right to turn left" portion.)
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Flint1979

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #31 on: July 23, 2021, 08:37:06 AM »

In 1924, the Rapid Transit Commission proposed the Super-Highway Plan for Greater Detroit which featured 204-foot "Super-Highways" which was enough space to fit 8-lanes of vehicular traffic and inter-urban rail running down the medians.  Then in 1967, decades after the first "Super-Highway" was built, the first Michigan left was installed at 8 Mile & Livernois.  But from the start the wide-medians were designed to move rail and not a design feature of the "Michigan Left".


You have the right intersection for the first one but it was in the early 60's that this one was built.
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tradephoric

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #32 on: July 23, 2021, 12:19:43 PM »

The wide streets of Detroit extended into the city center too.  It all harkens back to the Governor and Judge's plan for Detroit introduced by Augustus Woodward in 1807 after a fire in 1805 burned the city to the ground.  The N/S streets were designed at a whopping 200 feet wide with the radial avenues at 120 feet wide.  This is the result of the plan:



« Last Edit: July 23, 2021, 12:22:37 PM by tradephoric »
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jakeroot

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #33 on: July 23, 2021, 02:13:07 PM »

Or is a five lane road with TWLTL sufficient?

I'd really rather move away from the undivided five-laner.  I realize Michigan Lefts take up huge amounts of space and make them infeasible in most places, but, as for the rest of the road design, I'd much rather see a raised median and with the only unprotected cross traffic being well spaced left turns from the arterial.  I'd rather see everything else be RIRO except at signalized intersections.

I'm fine with that design too. My point wasn't to say that five-lane undivided roads were inherently superior to all other designs, just that it works just as well as Michigan Left corridors under most circumstances. They can be a little sketchy sometimes, but overall are not immediately dangerous and are much more compact and thus significantly cheaper.

Corridors with constant medians and occasional left turn pockets are fine, but they introduce additional issues: drivers have to go further to do simple maneuvers; U-turns are now a required feature, so hopefully the road is wide enough to do that without bulb-out points; U-turns at every intersection also eliminate the possibility for right-turn green arrows, which reduces capacity; worst of all, they reduce crossing points for pedestrians down to just major intersections, where they are likely to interact with other vehicular traffic as well (this can be mitigated with mid-block crossings, but these don't seem to be as common as they should be). That also relates to your second point...

They are also miserable experiences for pedestrians. The lack of consistent four-way intersections creates long distances between "given" crossing points (those created by the simple intersection of two streets).

Simple intersections of two streets are not good pedestrian crossing points, though, if you're talking about non-signalized intersections involving an arterial road.  Sure, they often have legal crosswalks, usually unmarked, but it's no fun trying to cross 35-to-50-MPH traffic that isn't going to stop any time soon.

Simple intersections are not perfect, but they at least provide a crossing point for regular, if not agile pedestrians. Michigan Left and RCUT/J-Turn corridors basically force everyone down to the just the major intersections, making walk times much, much longer than skipping across the road at this or that intersection. You can run across the median and hop over whatever may be in the way, but that's not exactly a feature. At least busy non-signalized intersections can have part-time signals or crosswalks painted if they become major crossings over time. No such option along median corridors without comparatively expensive construction.

I really would like to see more left turn alternatives to allow two-phase traffic signals, as opposed to three or four phases, on expressways that have signalized intersections.  It's very pertinent to ask, what is the best way to handle left turn phases at signalized intersections on expressways and superstreet arterials?  I feel like a lot of departments of transportation don't spend a lot of time asking this question.  The main downfall to Michigan Lefts and jughandles, however, will generally be the amount of land they require.

I think it's quite likely that "alternative" options do come up, but they are very quickly eliminated for exactly the reasons you mention. Practically speaking, jughandles and Michigan Left corridors require a lot of land. As previously mentioned by myself, they just aren't practical as a feature for an upgraded urban or even suburban roadway unless land is cheap and there is little in the way of existing structures. Otherwise, the best you can do, realistically, is adding left turn capacity.

One option not considered enough is reducing phases without adding something else to replace it. If you need additional left turn capacity for this approach, maybe reduce the capacity for another approach to make up for it. This was done westbound along BC-97 in Kelowna, at the left turn onto Pandosy: the city added advanced lefts to a few intersections, but had to remove the advanced left (original design) to make up for the additional green time needed elsewhere. Is this ideal compared to total reconstruction of BC-97 to keep that advanced left? I would argue: yes. Total reconstruction is insanely expensive and intrusive. If you really need that much extra capacity, consider a bypass or new corridor instead. In my humble opinion.
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Ned Weasel

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #34 on: July 23, 2021, 09:03:40 PM »

Jughandles don't have to take up much space. (Note that while it's a large intersection for the Northeast, only a small portion of it is a jughangle. You're looking for the "turn right to turn left" portion.)

That's about on par with the ones in Spain, which is fine if they're only used to make U-turns.  But if you're using them to connect to a cross-street, you probably want them farther from the main intersection.

U-turns at every intersection also eliminate the possibility for right-turn green arrows

I beg your pardon!  https://goo.gl/maps/2Rqzts3Mi96kcTiT6 , https://goo.gl/maps/Ae18hxRUwHwYKGvR7 , https://goo.gl/maps/iaXCscQnstRkuaEYA .  Frankly, though, I prefer FYAs for that purpose, as are now used at this intersection (Street View needs to catch up here): https://goo.gl/maps/dP6beDoG9afRZMSr6
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Flint1979

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #35 on: July 23, 2021, 09:26:19 PM »

The wide streets of Detroit extended into the city center too.  It all harkens back to the Governor and Judge's plan for Detroit introduced by Augustus Woodward in 1807 after a fire in 1805 burned the city to the ground.  The N/S streets were designed at a whopping 200 feet wide with the radial avenues at 120 feet wide.  This is the result of the plan:




Detroit is a very old city and up until about 100 or so years ago only extended out to Grand Blvd. and then to 8 Mile in the 1920's. It was modeled after Washington, DC which had just been planned not too long prior. Downtown can be somewhat tricky to navigate if you don't know where you're going due to the street system. And it's been altered in places as well.
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jakeroot

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #36 on: July 23, 2021, 10:36:50 PM »

U-turns at every intersection also eliminate the possibility for right-turn green arrows

I beg your pardon!  https://goo.gl/maps/2Rqzts3Mi96kcTiT6 , https://goo.gl/maps/Ae18hxRUwHwYKGvR7 , https://goo.gl/maps/iaXCscQnstRkuaEYA .  Frankly, though, I prefer FYAs for that purpose, as are now used at this intersection (Street View needs to catch up here): https://goo.gl/maps/dP6beDoG9afRZMSr6

But we both know that such setups are inadvisable along corridors where there is an expectation of frequent U-turns. Tucson got around this for years using a right-facing FYA that was active during the overlapping left turn green arrow, but I don't know if they still install them.

I think Metro Vancouver does it right. Medians are very common here along arterial corridors, but they don't go for hundreds of meters between gaps in the median (King George Blvd in Surrey is a decent example). This is perfect: (1) it doesn't intentionally create lots of need for U-turns (which can become problematic at intersections), (2) it maintains a somewhat-regular interval of crossing points for pedestrians, and (3) somewhat eliminates the free-for-all of two-way turn lanes (though waiting in median gaps to merge is pretty common). Additionally, (4) add-lane-style slip lanes are used at busy intersections, allowing right turns and U-turns to occur simultaneously (example).

What I like about these setups is that they are easily implemented along existing totally-flush corridors but still exhibit some upsides of the Michigan Left-style corridors. You still have some driveways and some streets that require right-in/right-out, but not so many that you need to consciously design every major intersection with the intent to provide U-turns, resulting in an over-abundance of jughandles or bulb-outs which require massive ROW acquisition and can easily skyrocket the cost of a project.
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Ned Weasel

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #37 on: August 17, 2021, 06:44:04 AM »

I'm not sure, but I'm starting to think maybe complex intersections for the sake of reducing signal phases really are sometimes more trouble than they're worth.  Most of them require some kind of regulatory control other than a traffic signal, usually a left turn prohibition, and you kind of just have to trust that most people will obey that.  I started changing my mind about this after I started driving through a continuous-flow intersection on a regular basis, and noticing that people really do screw up navigating it in almost every way imaginable.

This honestly makes me wonder how many Michigan Left and/or Jughandle intersections might be better off with a plain old left turn lane and a protected-permissive left turn signal.  My other concern, though, is there still needs to be a good way to facilitate U-turns.  Often, when you're trying to make a left turn from a business, driveway, or minor side street, onto a major arterial, it's so much easier to turn right and take the next U-turn than it is to try to turn left across two directions and several lanes of traffic.  And I still can't say I've seen most places do as good of a job facilitating U-turns as New Jersey and Michigan often do on their arterial highways/major arterials.
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ET21

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #38 on: August 17, 2021, 09:49:31 AM »

Left turns are the bane of traffic engineers, ruining the otherwise perfect signal precession that could guarantee drivers green lights.

But in the 60s, Michigan solved that problem by incorporating u turns into the medians of divided highways to all for left turn movements while prohibiting them from the main intersection


Studies have shown they result in enormous improvements in safety and traffic flow. Because they also require the use of a wide median, they offer space for landscaping and stormwater drainage.

Imagine if this had become the standard design for new arterial streets all over the country, and perhaps the world. Think of all the time, money, and lives saved.

Why the f*ck aren't these everywhere?
Michigan Lefts are a pain ... trust me on this:  You don't want them everywhere.
Try experiencing life without them.

I do, life goes on without them just fine
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tradephoric

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #39 on: August 18, 2021, 12:38:23 AM »

After 20 minutes cruising down Woodward Avenue you are about 6 miles ahead of the guy cruising down US 192 in Kissimmee.

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formulanone

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #40 on: August 18, 2021, 09:01:32 AM »

After 20 minutes cruising down Woodward Avenue you are about 6 miles ahead of the guy cruising down US 192 in Kissimmee.


US 192 is an orange-picked example; loads of wide intersections, lots more tourist traffic, ginormous distractions, and no timing of lights (something Michigan does well at).

Kissimmee is the worst type of example because it excels at...cheap T-shirt shops and lots of timeshares. Pretty sure putting in a bunch of Michigan Lefts there would just create more uncontrolled U-turns into what appears to be much more traffic for which traffic light timing is an afterthought.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2021, 09:06:58 AM by formulanone »
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tradephoric

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #41 on: August 18, 2021, 11:28:17 AM »

In regards to Florida, they originally had plans to build a Median U-turn at Rinehart Rd & Co Rd 46A as part of the I-4 "Beyond the Ultimate" project.  It sounds like that project is getting scaled back/delayed so we will see if they actually build it or not.  Here was an aerial rendering of the intersection they had originally planned:



Also, it looks like Pinellas County leaders are considering a Median U-turn at Gulf to Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road.  They were receiving public input on the plan back in September of last year.  Here is a rendering to that project:

County to take traffic solution for Gulf to Bay intersection on test drive
https://www.tbnweekly.com/clearwater_beacon/article_b73b2996-f84f-11ea-875c-cb2ab038a18b.html



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tradephoric

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Re: Rant: Why aren't Michigan lefts the standard on new arterial streets?
« Reply #42 on: August 18, 2021, 11:31:08 AM »

Found a youtube video that includes a model of the Gulf to Bay Boulevard Median U-turn that is being considered:

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