Ask an Official: Chief Bennett discusses proper use of Center Ave turn lanes
This week’s featured question is asked of Merrill Police Chief Corey Bennett
The question reads:
“What are the rules for entering the center turning lanes now on South Center Ave in Merrill? I thought drivers are not to be in that lane for longer than 300 feet. I’ve seen people enter it at the open end of an intersection and drive it like a passing lane until they turn left. I’ve almost gotten clipped by someone in the lane for a long time & coming up more quickly than I.”
Answer as given by Chief Bennett:
“I have also heard of and witnessed some interesting uses of the new center turn lanes. This includes people using it as a passing lane and also avoiding using it as the left turn lane it was intended to be. Both of those examples are violations of traffic statutes. It’s intent is to relieve the traffic stoppages caused by left turns from a travel lane. It also allows a tight four lane road to be widened into two wider travel lanes with the combination of the center left turn lane. It is also safer for pedestrian crossings when used properly.
“There is not necessarily a maximum measureable distance to operate within the center turn lane, however an operator cannot cross through an intersection if the center lane is no longer marked through the intersection. So there is a limit as to how far you can travel in it which is up to the point the road markings are no longer present. The turn lane is not a passing lane as that would be operating contrary to the road markings and the same speed limit does apply too. The proper use of the turn lane is to enter just prior to your left turn providing yourself enough space to safely slow down while providing signal of your intended turn. Extended operation in the turn lane could obstruct drivers intending to turn left from the opposing lanes in the same block.
“I hope that answers some of your questions. Be safe out there Merrill!”
Have a question or concern you would like to address? Simply send your question or concern to firstname.lastname@example.org along with an indication of which entity your question or concern pertains to. Current participants are the Merrill Police Department, Merrill Fire Department, Tomahawk Police Department, Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson, Merrill Area Housing Authority Director Paul Russell, Lincoln County Clerk Chris Marlowe, Merrill area DNR Conservation Warden Curt Butler and Merrill Area Public Schools (MAPS) Superintendent Dr. John Sample. Please note: Those who submit to the ‘Ask an Official’ feature remain anonymous.