QUESTION: The left-hand turn lane on Florida Boulevard at Foster, to turn south on South Foster, is one of the worst turn lanes in Baton Rouge. The lane is not extended long enough and there often is a large gap left as vehicles cannot get in the turn lane due to the westbound Florida Boulevard traffic stopped at the light. Any number of other vehicles could make the turn during that light cycle if the two turn lanes were extended. Secondly, the green light cycle never lasts long enough around 5 p.m. Not every vehicle already in the turn lane gets to turn left onto South Foster. I see more road rage at this intersection than anywhere else I travel in Baton Rouge.

ANSWER: City-Parish Chief Traffic Engineer Ingolf A. Partenheimer has, in a previous Ask The Advocate, addressed the issue of how traffic lights are timed and controlled. Here’s a refresher: “Traffic signal green time is based on volumes of traffic per lane per approach. ... As the roadway gets more cars, it gets more congested and the traffic signal needs multiple cycles to get everyone through. It is our goal to not have more than two cycles worth of wait time on any approach within the city and parish. The last timing change based on the volumes at the intersection was on July 20, 2014.

“Due to the geometry of side streets in the intersection, the traffic signal is forced to run in an inefficient mode called split phase. Simply, this means that first one side of Foster gets a green for the lefts and thru’s and then the other side gets its time. This type of timing sequence reduces the efficiency, but improves safety and keeps the left turners from overlapping. The best long-term course of action for this location is to look into a minor redesign and see if we can get rid of the split phase operation.”

QUESTION: Why are there almost always large depressions or potholes before and after most bridges and overpasses?

ANSWER: Dustin Annison, public information officer for the state Department of Transportation and Development, notes: “Bridge approaches are essentially transitions constructed to facilitate the movement of traffic from a bridge structure to the adjacent roadway. Over time, due to soil conditions, the roadway may settle at a faster rate than the bridge structure and cause a grade change at the transition point. This is mostly an issue the department sees in the southern part of the state due to soft soils.

“Over the last few years, we have worked with the Louisiana Transportation Research Center to develop improvements that can be made to prevent this from happening. We are currently in the process of implementing the new specifications.”

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