FAIRFIELD – Fairfield residents will notice something different about Second Street near the downtown.
The Iowa Department of Transportation has added a right-turn lane for southbound traffic where Second Street meets West Burlington Avenue. Fairfield City Engineer Melanie Carlson said the road is wide enough at the intersection that many drivers “created” a right-turn lane even though it was not painted as such and thus not legal.
Now, the DOT has painted a right-turn lane and added a sign next to the stop light indicating the right lane is a turn-only lane.
Carlson said that section of road is part of Highway 1 and thus the state’s responsibility. However, the city played an important role in encouraging the state to create the turning lane. Carlson said she witnessed an accident at the intersection last year where two cars were side by side facing south, and they both turned right onto Burlington Avenue, where they collided. Carlson reached out to the DOT after the accident to tell the agency something had to be done about the intersection.
Carlson said city officials and members of the DOT went back and forth trying to find a solution to the problem, and ultimately landed on painting a turning lane onto Second Street.
“We thought that would work in solving the problem and continuing to allow the traffic to flow,” Carlson said.
The city and state agreed on the concept earlier this summer but had to wait until the DOT brought its painting crew in the fall. The lines were painted in mid-September. Carlson said she hasn’t received much feedback yet on the new lane, except from a few drivers who told her the lanes feel narrow.
“You might feel it’s tight, but it is acceptable and safe. It meets the DOT’s standards for lane width,” she said. “It may feel narrow because we’re used to it being wide open.”
Carlson said motorists will need to be especially vigilant about watching for pedestrians at that intersection, since the southbound traffic on Second Street may have to look around a vehicle waiting next to them.
Carlson also wants to remind motorists that they must stop on a red light and yield to cross traffic, even when they are turning right.