LETTER: A few ideas to improve traffic flow on Huntmar

Intersection of Huntmar and Maple Grove. Heading northbound, one lane combines straight-through and left turns. The other is for right turns only.

(Here’s a letter that Andre Hallam wrote to councillor Shad Qadri, with some ideas for improvements to Huntmar Drive.  Pictured above is the intersection of Huntmar and Maple Grove, recently reconfigured with new traffic lights.)

I am writing to suggest changes to Huntmar Drive that could improve traffic flow drastically.

First, with the new lights at Maple Grove, they have now split the northbound lanes on Huntmar into two – one combining straight-through and left turns, and the other for right turns only. This results in people wanting to go straight being held up and waiting for people to turn left, which can be a long time. That’s just silly.

Swapping this to combine straight-through with the right-turn lane would make far more sense, since people turning right don’t have to wait on a green light, and that lane flows better. Straight-through traffic needs to keep flowing, and should not be held up – this is actually worse than the four-way stop sign, as you are there much longer than you should be… and often you never make it through the green light at all before it changes red again!

Second, going south on Huntmar at Hazeldean has issues. If you want to turn left/east onto Hazeldean, you are slowed by two things:

1) The left turn arrow only works on weekends, not on weekdays at all, never mind at rush hour, and not based on the number of cars waiting. I don’t get this logic of assisting our turns on weekends.

2) Cars coming northbound on Iber turning right (east) onto Hazeldean always have the right of way, thus making the people turning left wait even longer. This also causes some people turning left to “steal” the right of way, cutting off the people turning right. This is very dangerous, but it happens every day as people want to make their turn before the light changes. I’ve been tempted myself, but hold off.

Obviously the fix for #1 is to enable the left arrow on weekdays. I don’t think we really need it on weekends. It simply doesn’t make sense. Alternatively/additionally, install a loop/sensor in the road to detect when there’s people waiting in the turn lane. Or even better, make it like the Hazeldean lights, which are fully controlled, having turn cycles separate from the green cycle. That would make the intersection safer now that traffic levels are increasing on Iber.

The fix for #2 is to make a little right-turn ramp with a yield sign for cars turning right off Iber – like the one on the opposite corner on Huntmar.

I know that “engineers” have probably already looked at all these things, and made their best decisions, but I drive on Huntmar daily, and I can see that these decisions don’t work, and these simple changes would make things work a lot better.

Andre Hallam
Stittsville


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4 thoughts on “LETTER: A few ideas to improve traffic flow on Huntmar”

  1. Dead on about the Huntmar/Maple Grove intersection. Very poorly designed.

    The Huntmar/ Hazeldean intersection probably needs left turn arrows all the time, but if you are turning left onto Hazeldean, it is a simple matter to keep to the lane closest to you on Hazeldean. Cars turning right from Iber need to keep to the lane closest to them, and everything is good. I believe those are traffic laws, not just my recommendations.

  2. Excellent comments Andre.

    What a mess the traffic lights have created. I love this comment because it’s very accurate this is actually worse than the four-way stop sign, as you are there much longer than you should be.

    I’ve sat though three light cycles waiting for northbound vehicles turning left headed to get through. I like the idea of merging the right and center lanes.

    I’m sure there was a traffic study done for that intersection which led to the light being installed but what about option #3 remove the lights and put in a roundabout 😉

  3. I’m confused about what intersection was being considered for a roundabout, but if this intersection hasn’t been part of those discussions, then a roundabout should obviously be considered. I think it might make sense having a roundabout there. You never feel like an idiot waiting for a light when noone’s around. It goes smooth, and it calms traffic. Not sure how well it works for bikes though. But looking at the picture, look at the bike lane the way it is right now… Ok, so the bike gets the middle lane. It pushes the left/straight lane too far to the left…. Alrighty then. Lets go straight. Car and bike at the same time. Crunch?
    Sorry, but I might just well bike on the pedestrian sidewalk way off to the right, and then across the intersection, on the side way as well. Is a cop really going to call me out on this? “Oh, you’re no supposed to ride you bike on a sidewalk…”. But I’m trying to save my life! I can’t risk my life on a squiggly road with those wonky lanes! You’re kidding me right?

  4. Re: roundabouts – I was asking about this prior to the lights being installed. The answer was that there is no room for a roundabout.

    I suggested a mini-roundabout – just like all over the UK, and was told that the anticipated traffic at this intersection would be too much for a mini-roundabout.

    I think that’s nonsense, as I have driven extensively around the UK and found that they work extremely well. Some are as small as a painted bump with markings on the road, yet they still work.

    It seems that we can’t convince city planners.

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