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Dryden and Northwest Highway Intersection Safety

Sun December 10 2006 8:37 am
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Dryden Place and Northwest Highway Intersection (North is top)

The Dryden Place and Northwest Highway Intersection is complex with a sharp angle turn from southeastbound Northwest Highway to northbound Dryden. Current pavement markings are confusing and some signs are neglected at the intersection and at locations approaching the intersection. The intersection is also complex because there are several nearby driveways (some with DO NOT ENTER, NO LEFT TURN or RIGHT TURN ONLY prohibitions) in and out of Walgreens on the northwest corner of the intersection. There are several safety issues that increase the risk of serious automobile accidents or car versus pedestrian or cyclist accidents at this intersection (the intersection does have a history of accidents). Also, unnecessary congestion and wasted idling issues are likely at this intersection.

Problem 1 — Lane Directions Are Vague for Dryden Place at Northwest Highway. The southbound Dryden markings angle left, which could cause impaired southbound Dryden Place drivers to mistakenly think that the beginning of the northbound Dryden lane is a southbound left turn lane to southeastbound Northwest Highway.

A driver mistakenly waits to make a left turn from the northbound Dryden Place lane on January 29th, 2007 at 3:45 p.m. The school bus is in the left turn southbound lane for Dryden Place at this intersection.

RECOMMENDATION: Place directional white arrow pavement markings on Dryden Place near the Northwest Highway intersection. The southbound Dryden Place lane should maintain the ONLY marking with a left turn arrow toward southeastbound Northwest Highway. Salt and wear and tear decrease the visibility of the southbound LEFT TURN ONLY pavement marking. The northbound lane of Dryden Place should have a straight arrow pointing in a northerly direction. Consider a median to divide northbound and southbound lanes of Dryden Place at the Northwest Highway intersection.

Problem 2 — Entrance to Dryden Place from Southeastbound Northwest Highway Is Confusing. Southeastbound Northwest Highway drivers who are considering a left turn to northbound Dryden are faced with confusing pavement markings. The southbound Dryden markings angle left … away from the southeastbound Northwest Highway drivers. The confusion could cause southeastbound Northwest Highway drivers to hesitate, and worse, choose the wrong lane when turning left (north) to northbound Dryden. The intended lane into northbound Dryden just does NOT appear to be the correct lane because of the angle away from the southeastbound drivers on Northwest Highway. The southeastbound ‘ONLY’ left turn arrow lane pavement marking is also set further back (a necessary early alert) from the actual intended path into northbound Dryden Place. In fact, the ‘ONLY’ left turn arrow lane pavement marking from southeastbound Northwest Highway to northbound Dryden Place points to the southbound Dryden right turn lane to northwestbound Northwest Highway. This single ONLY arrow could cause drivers to enter the wrong way into the right turn lane, especially since the intended turn lane into northbound Dryden Place angles away and doesn’t look like a natural turn to go northbound on Dryden.

RECOMMENDATIONS: (a) Parallel dashed white lines to indicate the intended curved turn path from southeastbound Northwest Highway to northbound Dryden Place. (b) A second ‘ONLY’ arrow pavement marking further southeast and closer to the white stop marking, which is closer to the intended path into northbound Dryden Place. (c) Place a WRONG WAY sign in the parkway adjacent to the right turn lane from southbound Dryden Place to northwestbound Northwest Highway. The WRONG WAY sign should face the drivers that are intending to turn left from southeastbound Northwest Highway to northbound Dryden Place. (d) The recommendations for arrows for the Dryden Place lanes of Problem 1 will help clarify the proper turning lane into northbound Dryden Place from southeastbound Northwest Highway.

Problem 3 — ‘Off Ramp’ Red Light Confuses Drivers from Northwestbound Northwest Highway to Northbound Dryden Place. There is no GREEN TURN RIGHT ARROW for northwestbound Northwest Highway to northbound Dryden when southbound Dryden has a GREEN LIGHT. The right turn lane from northwestbound Northwest Highway is actually like an off-ramp toward northbound Dryden Place. Traffic on this ‘off-ramp’ does not interfere with southbound Dryden Place traffic that is entering Northwest Highway. The off-ramp stoplight is at an unlikely location for a stoplight, near the pedestrian crosswalk about half way into the curve of the ‘off-ramp.’ The stoplight is really needed for pedestrians, not for traffic regulation. A REDLIGHT appears for the right turn ‘off-ramp’ from northwestbound Northwest Highway to northbound Dryden Place when southbound Dryden Place drivers have a GREEN LIGHT and unnecessarily stops the traffic to northbound Dryden Place, putting these drivers at risk of a rear-end collision and wasting time and gas idling. The design of the stoplight has the potential of causing drivers to ask themselves, ‘Where am I supposed to stop’ or ‘Why am I being stopped here’ and ‘Are the drivers behind me going to be confused … and possibly rear-end me?’ Common sense would indicate to drivers on this ‘off-ramp’ to northbound Dryden Place that there is no reason to stop while southbound Dryden Place drivers have a GREEN LIGHT to enter Northwest Highway.

RECOMMENDATION: (a) Change the ‘off-ramp’ stoplight to a RIGHT GREEN ARROW and allow that GREEN ARROW when southbound Dryden Place has a GREEN LIGHT and when Northwest Highway has a GREEN LIGHT in both directions. The northwestbound Northwest Highway-to-northbound Dryden Place ‘off-ramp’ would only be a RED LIGHT when southeastbound Northwest Highway drivers have a GREEN ARROW to northbound Dryden Place or when pedestrians activate a switch to activate a RED LIGHT so that they can use the crosswalk to cross the ‘off-ramp.’

Problem 4 — No Signs Notify Drivers that Dryden Place Ends at Northwest Highway. There are no signs for southbound Dryden Place drivers to indicate that the Dryden Place – Northwest Highway Intersection is a T-formation intersection that ends Dryden Place. There is no diamond warning ‘T’ sign as you approach the intersection southbound on Dryden Place. There is also no double arrow or reflective barricade on the south side of Northwest Highway to indicate that Dryden does not continue across Northwest Highway. This is especially a safety hazard at night or in fog or snow. There is a risk that drivers could continue southbound and crash into a tree or end up on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks that run parallel to Northwest Highway. A speeding driver, unfamiliar with the intersection, could completely cross the railroad tracks and become airborne and land on Davis or in the residential property directly south of the railroad tracks. The situation is especially hazardous to visitors of Arlington Heights who are not familiar with the intersection.

RECOMMENDATIONS: (a) Install a Diamond ‘T’ Sign for southbound Dryden Place drivers approaching Northwest Highway. (b) Install a reflective barricade and/or a Horizontal Double-Arrow Sign indicating right or left options to Northwest Highway, but NOT a straight travel option across Northwest Highway. (c) Change the SOLID GREEN LIGHT CIRCLE for southbound Dryden Place driver to a LEFT GREEN ARROW and a RIGHT GREEN ARROW.

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