LACONIA — Starting next week, the intersection of Elm Street, Union Avenue, and Clinton Street — one of the busiest in the city — will undergo a major change in traffic pattern.
Clinton Street and Elm Street are essentially the same road. It is called Clinton Street east of the intersection, and Elm Street to the west.
Currently, when Elm Street drivers get the green light, Clinton Street drivers have a red light, and when Clinton Street drivers get the green light, Elm Street drivers have a red light.
That is going to change, so drivers on both streets will share the green light and will have to yield to one another when making left turns.
Signs will be placed on the arm that holds the traffic signal, warning drivers turning left that they must yield on green.
Drivers on Clinton Street will no longer be able to make a right turn on red, due to poor visibility looking left in that area, said Public Works Director Wes Anderson.
Cars turning left onto Elm Street from Union Avenue now have a green left turn arrow. They will continue to have that arrow, but they will also have a solid yellow left caution arrow and a blinking yellow left arrow, requiring them to yield to oncoming traffic.
“This is the newer standard in how to do it,” Anderson said. “It gives drivers making a left more information on what they should do regarding oncoming traffic.”
Anderson said Thursday the change was suggested by a traffic consultant to make the trip through the intersection quicker for the thousands of vehicles that use it daily.
Also being upgraded in the project are the intersection’s pedestrian signals, sidewalks, and crosswalks, in order to be compliant with disability regulations.
The pedestrian signals include the countdown feature that is common elsewhere in New Hampshire.
A new video system will detect vehicles in order to optimize traffic signal timing. Loops in the pavement that had detected traffic are subject to failure, causing a default to timed operation and increased waiting times.
The new system also has a preemption feature to give a green light to emergency vehicles responding to calls.
The changes are being implemented as part of an overall road project in the area and should also benefit traffic attracted by the nearby Chaos & Kindness store and by the planned redevelopment of the Opera House building.
“The city asks that all drivers be cautious when using the intersection for the next few weeks as users become used to the new signal pattern,” Anderson said.