After further review, MnDOT has determined that it's safe to activate a flashing yellow arrow at the intersection of Hwy. 7 and 5th Avenue/Oak Ridge Drive in Hopkins. The light was recently activated, allowing motorists to make left turns off of Hwy. 7 onto the arterial streets without having to sit through an entire light cycle when no traffic is present.
The intersection just west of Hwy. 169 was equipped with a flashing yellow arrow and signs telling motorists one was there. But it had not been turned on, and several residents asked why.
A few weeks ago I explained the MnDOT has been installing the flashing arrows at intersections across the state when new signals systems are installed, or old systems are replaced.
However, just because an intersection is outfitted with the new equipment, doesn't mean it will be used, said Jerry Kotzenmacher, a MnDOT traffic systems specialist. He explained that a number of criteria are taken into account before a flashing yellow arrow is turned on.
"Signal operators consider many factors when allowing the flashing yellow arrow to be used," Kotzenmacher said. "Speed and volumes are likely conditions that limit the use of the flashing yellow arrow at the signal in Hopkins. It can also be difficult to pin point exact times when conditions are favorable to use the flashing yellow arrow. Generally, operators will be more restrictive on the flashing yellow arrows use, favoring the safer but less efficient green arrow “protected” indication."
After taking those factors into account, MnDOT determined that signals at Hwy. 7 and 5th Avenue/Oak Ridge Drive can flash yellow during the late-morning, late-evening and overnight hours, said Kevin Schwartz, a MnDOT signal engineer.