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‘Sweeping arrows’ on highway indicate two-way left-turn lanes

Between Talent and Ashland, the Oregon Department of Transportation has painted sweeping arrows facing each direction in the new center divider. Many of them lead nowhere. It’s actually kind of scary how they could be interpreted to be used. Please help us understand their intent.

— Brad R., via email

Those spooky arrows are part of ODOT’s Highway 99 project that spans from about Rapp Road to the Ashland city limits, Brad. And we want to tell you not to worry too much.

That’s a two-way left turn lane, according to ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming. There are some homes in that section, and access to the Bear Creek Greenway, too.

“In the areas where there is ‘nothing,’ it helps delineate that it’s not a travel or passing lane, but a center turn lane,” ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming told us via email.

According to the ODOT Traffic Line Manual, these specialized lanes “are used to provide left turn access to and from adjacent properties and roadways while minimizing impacts of left-turning vehicles on thru traffic.”

It continues: “Two opposing lane-use arrows (instead of one) are needed in two-way left-turn lanes because the set of two arrows communicates the two-direction function of the lane. A single arrow sends a conflicting message and has been prohibited.”

If you’re looking for some exciting reading, you can turn to pages 103-106 of the ODOT traffic line manual. You’ll learn more than you ever wanted to about things like “spacing between opposing arrow sets.” It’s all at www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Engineering/Documents_TrafficStandards/Traffic-Line-Manual.pdf

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com.