Drivers in Chisago City, Minn., have been trying to make sense of a sign controlling left turns at a busy intersection that appears to convey a contradictory message.

The white sign affixed to the traffic light on Hwy. 8 at Johnson Lane reads “Left Turn Yield on Green” with a picture of a green dot. It implies that left turns are permitted when the signal is green.

But the sign is attached next to the signal that gives drivers a green arrow when they are allowed to make left turns off Hwy. 8 onto Johnson, and a red arrow when they are not.

The sign’s placement has touched off a friendly disagreement between Drive reader Judy Elks and her husband over what the sign means, and it’s likely introduced some confusion for other drivers, too.

“Does it mean we can turn left on a green light even though the turn arrow is red?” Judy wrote in an e-mail to the Drive. “We can often sit at the intersection for up to three light changes without getting the green left turn arrow.”

Well, Judy, if the arrow is red at this intersection — or any intersection — you’ll just have to wait. Drivers are not permitted to make a left turn on a red arrow, even if the light for through traffic is green, said Kent Barnard, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Drivers on Johnson Lane do not have a turn arrow and are allowed to turn left onto Hwy. 8 after yielding to oncoming motorists when the traffic light is green. The sign Judy questioned went up recently and was supposed to be on the traffic light facing Johnson Lane, which runs north and south, Barnard said.

The work order was transposed, Barnard said, and that led to the “Left Turn Yield on Green” sign incorrectly installed on the east-west running Hwy. 8. MnDOT put in an emergency work order to fix the gaffe, he said.

“It is being remedied,” he said, noting that mix-ups on sign placements are rare.

Long walks ahead

St. Louis Park residents who use Wooddale Avenue near Hwy. 7 are sure to get their 10,000 steps in if they follow the marked pedestrian detour that will be put in place this spring when a short segment of the road is closed during construction of the South Cedar Lake trail underpass.

Wooddale Avenue will be closed for five weeks between W. 36th Street and the frontage road on the south side of Hwy. 7, a distance of a tenth of a mile. When Wooddale is closed, pedestrians will be routed more than 2½ miles around the construction zone, using Alabama Avenue, Excelsior Boulevard, Louisiana Avenue and Walker Street.

Sam O’Connell, public involvement manager for the Southwest Light Rail project, acknowledges that the official detour can look jarring when viewing it on a map.

“We want people to have the quickest way,” she said. “We have to do the safest route. This is the best we can come up with.”

With few north-south roads that cross Hwy. 7 and the need to keep pedestrians from walking across an active railroad, O’Connell said finding a safe detour was challenging. The detours for motorists are not suitable for pedestrians because they take them along Hwys. 7 and 100, she said.

Lane closures began Thursday. O’Connell did not have a specific date when the full closure will be put in place, but that will happen in late spring.

The tunnel that will pass under Wooddale is being built as part of the Southwest Light Rail project.

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