May 24, 2012 | Vol. 42, No. 21

Lowe: New 'T' intersections unsafe

Haines Borough officials say they want to meet with state road engineers before the Department of Transportation starts working on a Y-shaped intersection at Old Haines Highway and Front Street.

Road improvements there include realignment to create a “T,” but borough police chief Gary Lowe told the assembly May 8 that similar efforts at two other intersections in recent years haven’t worked.

Lowe pointed out work done at Front Street and Lutak Road, and at Second Avenue and Young Road. Both projects were intended to create safer lines of sight for motorists approaching from side streets, who previously needed to look over their shoulders for oncoming traffic.

“Both of those are terrible intersections – they’re totally unsafe – with the way that the state has created that ‘T’ intersection. As you’re coming into town past Picture Point on Lutak, if you were turning onto Front Street, it looks like it’s a straight shot, but it’s not. You slow down and make a hard left and then another right to make that intersection,” Lowe said.

The problem at Young Road is that motorists approaching the intersection don’t see a bulge put into the road to create the “T,” Lowe said. “It looks like it’s a straight shot, and the number of people that have run over that little island that they’ve created there is just tremendous.”

“What they’re intending to do hasn’t turned out to be safe the last two times,” Lowe said. “When you’re taking a curve on a grade into a ‘T’ where you can’t see what’s coming up before you, perhaps if they would provide some better signage or some guard rails or something so that you know what’s before you.”

DOT regional traffic engineer David Epstein said he hasn’t heard from the borough but said he would take a look at the intersections at his next visit here. He said he was aware of only one accident at the two, reconfigured intersections. That involved a motorcycle at Front and Lutak that crashed during construction and before lines were painted on the new surface.

Signs and markers have been added to make that intersection more safe, he said. Perpendicular intersections are inherently safer than ones at other angles, Epstein said.