The prohibited left turn onto Highway 67 in Elkhorn causing issues

By Kellen Olshefski

Correspondent

While road improvements in recent years at Commerce Court and Highway 67 were meant to alleviate traffic concerns, some drivers just can’t follow the rules of the road. That’s led to City of Elkhorn officials now looking into ways to prevent drivers from turning left at the right turns only intersection.

At the City of Elkhorn Common Council’s March 18 meeting, alderman Frank Boggs brought forth concerns about vehicles making left turns off of Commerce onto Highway 67, where improvements in recent years restricted that intersection to right turns only.

Boggs, who said he frequents that area daily, noted that the no left turn sign on the median of the road has been knocked down at least three times by vehicles making left turns off of Commerce – from both sides of the crossroad onto Highway 67.

City of Elkhorn Public Works Manager Matt Lindstrom confirmed the sign does get hit frequently.

Lindstrom said when the road projects were underway, those involved had conversations with mapping agencies to ensure that things like GPS wouldn’t lead drivers to attempt to make left turns off of Commerce Court.

“I think all of that’s been adjusted now, to where it will tell you to head south on Tasch and then come down to O’Connor and use the signalized intersection to head north,” he said.

Lindstrom said he’s seen vehicles – including semi trucks with trailers – take a left turn and essentially “jump” the median rather than turning right out of the intersection. In some of those instances, the trucks knock down the no left turn sign.

“The curb at the median was painted yellow; it’s all black now,” Boggs said. “I don’t know how it gets black without people driving over it.”

While Lindstrom noted that the east side of the intersection has a widened median that directs traffic to the right, Boggs said he was recently behind a vehicle that began to turn right and then made a sharp left turn to “snake” through the median and turn left into the southbound lane of Highway 67.

Lindstrom said when Traffic Analysis and Design Inc. evaluated the area prior to the road projects, they determined the intersection was too close to the Interstate 43 signalized intersections to put in a traffic signal at Commerce Court. With the volume of traffic at the intersection, TADI representatives recommended a left turn only at that location.

In looking to offset the no left turn, city officials had extended Commerce Court to connect to Koopman Lane and O’Connor Drive, giving drivers a similar option on the east side of Highway 67 as they had with Tasch and O’Connor on the west.

“I think a lot of us know that before the signalized intersection, you’d go out there and try to take a left turn in the middle of the afternoon, and it was near impossible at times just because of the volume of traffic out there,” Lindstrom said, noting that the hotel and planned restaurant are sure to draw even more traffic.

While Mayor Bruce Lechner questioned the possibility of making Commerce Drive a one-way street between Highway 67 and Tasch, Lindstrom said that option was something not recommended by TADI.

Police Chief Joel Christensen also noted that a one-way street typically requires a second one-way street headed in the opposite direction at the next intersection. In this case, that scenario would restrict right turns to the hotel and Rotary Soccer Complex.

“If you’re one-way one street, your next street is one-way the opposite (direction,)” Christensen said.

“I don’t think you necessarily want that because you want people to be able to turn to go down to the soccer complex or the hotel without having to make that first turn by Loves,” he added.

Christensen said they have stopped and cited drivers for making left turns off of Commerce, but noted that many of those not following the signs are not necessarily local traffic and a lot of times it’s people from outside the area.

“The majority of what I see is out of state licenses,” Christensen said.

Lindstrom said the City of Elkhorn has added some “trailblazing signs” in an effort to direct drivers to only make right turns at that intersection.

Boggs said he doesn’t personally see a solution to the problem at this time, however, Lindstrom said the city officials would look into possibilities to potentially help alleviate the issues and when there is more information available, it will be presented to the council.

 

 
 

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