Plano Abandons "Michigan-Style" Left Turn

By Catherine Ross
|  Friday, Jan 31, 2014  |  Updated 10:03 AM CDT
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Catherine Ross, NBC 5 Collin County Reporter

The "Michigan-style" left turn model will no longer be in place at the intersection of Legacy Drive and Preston Road, the traffic pattern never gained traction with drivers.

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After nearly four years using the "Michigan-style" left turn model, the City of Plano is abandoning the model — for now.

Plano began using the design, also called a "median left turn" exchange at the intersection of Legacy Drive and Preston Road in 2010 with hopes of improving traffic flow.

In that way, transportation engineer Lloyd Neal said it was a success.

"This was a well-thought-out process," Neal said. "It's been very effective at reducing delay and congestion."

Neal said the area has also seen a dramatic decrease in traffic crashes.

However, city data also shows that up to 75 percent of left turn movement at that intersection abandoned the area — in favor of other exchanges.

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The problem: it was simply unpopular, often called "confusing."

"I dread it every day," said Carly Payne, of Carrollton. "I just go out of my way and totally avoid the whole intersection."

The design was the first of its kind in Texas.

It prevents drivers headed east or west from making a common left turn. Instead, for example, a driver heading south may have to head north first, before making a U-turn, stopping, and heading in the proper direction.

"We thought this would work and from an operational standpoint, it works very well. It's just the public has not accepted it," said Plano Public Works Director Gerald Cosgrove.

Public acceptance is the reason the city will revert to the original intersection design on Feb. 5.

Between now and then, they are changing signage and road buttons to properly mark the lanes.

While the original project included an expansion of state Highway 289, or Preston Road, costing a total of $1.8 million, the city said this will be an easier fix, totaling about $50,000 in reinvestment.

"When we did the original design, we took into consideration that we might want to change it back," Cosgrove said. "So we left the original pavement in the intersection so it'd be easy to switch back if we needed to."

City numbers estimate that the intersection sees upward of 80,000 vehicles per day and there are concerns that with the new design, traffic backups on Preston Road may actually increase during rush hour.

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