Friday, October 23, 2020

Staying Jolly in Holiday Traffic

Traffic lightsAs wonderful as this time of year can be, the holidays can be stressful.  One of the biggest challenges we face during the holidays is the increased traffic in and around shopping areas.  The City’s Office of Traffic Management (OTM) has been working to minimize the impact of the season’s higher-than-normal traffic volumes on Southlake’s major arterials.  Here are some things you should know about the OTM’s efforts.

Extra police officers will be on duty through the holiday season.  The extra officers will be assigned as needed for traffic management, as well as crime prevention duties.

Southlake Boulevard signal timing has been adjusted.  Using traffic count data, the City has been working with TxDOT to increase the signal timing between Tower Boulevard and Nolan Drive.  The cycle has been increased by 20 seconds, during the holiday season, primarily helping traffic with left turn movements.

U-Turns on major streets.  The Office of Traffic Management has received several questions about which driver has the right-of-way when making a legal U-turn.  Here are some U-turn fast facts:

  • U-turns are legal, unless there is a posted “No U-turn sign.” 
  • U-turns are not allowed within 500 feet of a curve or a crest of a hill, since that makes it difficult to see oncoming traffic.
  • Anyone attempting a U-turn near a median should keep in mind that the driver with the green light has the right of way (Right turn on red must yield to U-turn driver.)
  • It is important to remember that a driver attempting to turn right on red can do so legally only after stopping and determining that it is safe to make the turn. Failing to do so can result in a “failure to yield, right on red” citation.

Traffic management plans are being developed for the opening of new retail shops.  Many of the City’s new retailers are interested in hosting grand opening events and the OTM is working closely with them to address the anticipated traffic that will be generated as part of the event.  This effort includes identifying routes, parking and providing on-the-ground oversight and support.  You can expect events at PGA Golf and Basset Furniture in December.

Signs and maps are being used to direct out of town visitors to their destinations.  Bringing in shoppers benefits the Southlake economy, but often these visitors are unfamiliar with the best route to their destination or to parking areas.  Directional signs will help, as will published maps.  Our goal is to move this traffic efficiently through the City.

A new traffic signal will soon be installed at Carroll Avenue and Federal Way.  The new signal will increase safety for Carroll Avenue travelers and motorists leaving Town Square.

Pedestrian safety is important too.  The OTM has placed vertical panels at the crosswalks of key intersections in Town Square, reminding motorists to pay attention as shoppers cross the streets.

Accident clearance protocols are in place.  Accidents can slow traffic when lane closures are necessary.  The Police and Fire Departments have protocols conducive to clearing accidents from the roadways as quickly as possible, allowing normal traffic flow to resume.

These efforts have been designed to keep traffic flowing through the holidays.  The Office of Traffic Management is dedicated to alleviating the frustration of holiday traffic congestion using many different tools.

Happy holidays…and drive safely!