FAIRBANKS — November brings Alaskans many welcome sights: powdery snow ready for skiing, snowboarding and snowmachining, the start of several winter sports seasons and evening skies full of northern lights.
This year, Fairbanksans will have a new sight to look forward to: the opening of Illinois Street. This Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities project, 30 years in the making, will improve traffic safety in the downtown area.
One large part of improving safety in this corridor is a modified traffic signal: FYA, or flashing yellow arrow, new to Fairbanks. These signals function exactly as their name indicates. As you drive through downtown Fairbanks, you’ll begin noticing these signals at some left-hand turns. On Wednesday, the flashing yellow arrows will be functioning at three intersections: First Avenue and Cushman Street, First Avenue and Barnette Street, and Illinois Street and Minnie Street.
On Nov. 12, when Illinois Street opens to two-way traffic, you’ll see these signals at two additional intersections: Illinois Street and Doyon Place/Terminal Street and Illinois Street and Phillips Field Road.
The new flashing yellow arrows tell drivers they must yield to traffic and pedestrians before making a left turn. Other arrow signals remain unchanged: A solid red arrow means drivers must stop. A solid yellow arrow means drivers must clear the intersection or stop if it is safe to do so. A solid green arrow means drivers have the right of way and may turn left.
Research has shown flashing yellow arrows increase safety for the driving public. Several studies have indicated that flashing yellow arrows are more intuitive to drivers, which reduces traffic delays.
These signals also help DOT meet its objectives for the Illinois Street project, which include reducing the accident rate, improving sight distance, reducing pedestrian accidents, reducing traffic delays and correcting confusing lane configurations.
DOT will continue efforts to improve safety for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists by installing flashing yellow arrows at new signalized intersections with dedicated left turns. In 2013, approximately 35 intersections throughout Fairbanks will receive new FYA signals.
When greeted with a flashing yellow arrow, a driver must yield to traffic and pedestrians before making a left turn. Abiding by the new signals will help improve safety in the downtown area, as well as reduce delays for the driving public.
DOT is proud to bring this new traffic feature to Fairbanks and welcomes the community’s questions. Please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff will be happy to respond. More information is available online at www.FlashingYellowArrows.alaska.gov.
DOT looks forward to providing Fairbanks with a safer, more efficient downtown experience for drivers and pedestrians in Alaska’s Golden Heart City.
Steve Titus, P.E., a longtime Fairbanksan, is the director of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Northern Region.