In continuing a trend that has started to take hold in cities and towns across Minnesota and the nation, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will incorporate new flashing yellow arrows when it replaces traffic control signals or installs new ones.
Today, the department is installing the relatively new feature at the intersection of Hwy. 65 and Bunker Lake Blvd. in Ham Lake. The work is expected to be finished by mid-afternoon, said T.K. Kramascz, a MnDOT spokesperson.
The flashing arrows allow motorists to make left turns after yielding to all oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Unlike with a solid yellow arrow, oncoming traffic will still have a green light, so drivers making a left turn must wait for a safe gap in the traffic before completing their turn.
The arrows have been shown to lower driver confusion and keep traffic moving with increased opportunities to make left turns. The arrows have been shown to lower driver confusion and keep traffic moving with increased opportunities to make left turns according to traffic studies.
"Why wait at a red arrow when there is a gap?" Kramascz asked.
Flashing yellow arrows first appeared in Minnesota in 2006, but their numbers are just now growing. The innovation showed up as an experiment in Minnesota, but now that they are approved by the Federal Highway Administration, they are becoming the new standard for controlled intersection.
According to a survey of cities, towns and counties, there are now more than 133 intersections that feature the flashing yellow arrow. Expect to see more in the coming months and years. MnDOT will install the feature at most intersections that require new traffic signals or have signal systems that need to be replaced, said Jerry Kotzenmacher, a traffic systems specialist for MnDOT.
In recent months, Bloomington began adding the signals, joining Eden Prairie, Burnsville, Blaine, Woodbury, Eagan and other metro cities.
The arrows are no more expensive to install than signals with the traditional solid turn arrows, Kotzenmacher said. Simple installations begin at about $10,000 but can reach up to $200,000 depending on the complexity of the intersection.
"We will only install them if there is a benefit in terms of traffic efficiency and it's fiscally responsible," he said.
Kramascz said the arrows have been popular with drivers, and some cities have sent requests for the arrows to MnDOT.