Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Washington will convert Hwy 92 to 3-lane
Officials say change is safer than current 4-lane setup
WASHINGTON — Members of the Washington City Council voted at a meeting Tuesday to cut down East Washington Street and Highway 92 from four lanes to three, in an effort to make the road safer, and easier to turn onto.
“I think our constituents will be really, really happy,” Council Member Illa Earnest said. “Since they’re used to the three lanes on Madison, I don’t see a big problem with East Washington going to three either. And they may find it very convenient to have that turn lane.”
The change will not reduce the size of the road, but repaint its lines such that traffic flows through one lane in each direction with a shared center lane for turning. Excess space on the sides could be used for bike lanes or other purposes.
An informational video from the Iowa Department of Transportation said the conversion reduced crashes by up to 47% in some cities, since cars that needed to suddenly slow down and turn could do so out of the way from other traffic.
The same video said 3-lanes had lower crossing risks for pedestrians, easier passage for emergency vehicles, and only minimal downsides for large agricultural equipment and semis using the road compared to 4-lanes.
Leland Belding, a consultant hired by the city, showed a model suggesting that the move would cause some congestion at intersections around rush hour, but that plans to install a stoplight at Highway 92 and 12th Avenue would largely offset that by “platooning” vehicles to create more openings at other intersections.
It would also reduce wait times for commuters going to and from their driveways along the often-busy highway.
“If somebody wants to enter their driveway, they just pull into the middle lane, wait for a gap in a single lane, and pull in,” Belding said. “When they pull out … all they have to do is wait for a gap in the near-side traffic, pause, wait for a gap, and they keep going.”
The change would come with at least one pedestrian crossing at the 12th Avenue intersection, in addition to the stop lights which the city expects to construct next spring. The lane conversion may happen earlier, but the city has not yet named a date for contractors.
City officials said they expected the new lanes to come with a learning curve, but ultimately prove beneficial.
“I’ve been through a lot of different cities that have done that,” Council Member Elaine Moore said. “At first, it threw me off … but I really felt it was pretty easy, slowed traffic down, and I didn’t have any trouble with it in different cities that I went through.”