The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 28, 2013

Tricky Highway 14/Victory Drive interchange to get new signal

MANKATO — An inconvenient Highway 14 interchange gets another traffic light this summer, and it will include a new type of signal.

The westbound on- and off-ramp to Highway 14 at Victory Drive will get a signal, helping drivers who were having trouble finding a gap in traffic to take left-hand turns.

As it stands, drivers taking a left there sometimes choose to take a U-turn at a nearby intersection to the north. That’s not illegal, but those drivers are compounding the gap-finding problem.

“You’re benefiting from the disadvantage to your neighbor,” said Scott Thompson, traffic engineer at the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The signal will include a yellow flashing arrow, the first of its kind in MnDOT’s 13-county 7th District.

Yellow arrows mean the same thing as a regular green light: They allow for left turns, but oncoming traffic has the right of way. Thompson said studies have shown that the yellow arrow is more easily understood than the green ball.

The new signal type with the yellow arrow also will be installed at two nearby Victory Drive intersections: at the eastbound ramps and at Raintree Road.

Finally, the project will improve crossings at Raintree Road and Victory Drive for people with disabilities.

Improved ramps, especially helpful for wheelchairs, will be added to each corner, along with new push-to-walk buttons. The old buttons didn’t meet standards in part because they were located on the same pole — making it difficult for a blind person to tell which one was which.

The new buttons will be mounted on eight separate posts. And because they are separated by more than 10 feet, a constant tone is not required, Thompson said.

The city will pay the $30,000 or so for the disability improvements, and the other $300,000 or so will be split equally between the city and county. The project is slated to start in July and finish this fall.

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