Over the years the Royal Oak Police Department has received a number of calls regarding the intersection of Coolidge Highway and Woodward Avenue. Drivers heading west on Coolidge would ring police wanting to know if it was OK to turn left on a red light after traffic cleared.
A new "No Turn on Red" traffic sign installed by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) in mid-June definitively answers the question, but it's raising other concerns.
"We would get calls from drivers saying 'I always turn left on red. Am I going to get a ticket?' and then other drivers said, 'I never turn on red and the cars behind me always start honking,' " said Sgt. Al Carter of the Royal Oak Police.
Carter said the answer used to be yes – you could turn left onto southbound Woodward Avenue on a red light once traffic cleared, but the sign has changed that.
New sign makes drivers see red
Now that the new road sign has cleared up the turning debate, drivers are calling to say without the ability to make that left on red, traffic is backing up on Coolidge and blocking northbound Woodward.
"The police and the city do not have anything to do with the sign," said City Engineer Matt Callahan, calling it problematic.
All the traffic lights in the Woodward and Coolidge area are carefully timed together to avoid congestion, Callahan said. The timing is going to have to be looked at now that the sign is there, he said.
MDOT brings in roads scholars
MDOT also has received a number of calls about the Coolidge/Woodward intersection, according to MDOT traffic safety technician Mark Brinker.
"We received complaints. People were calling in and telling us no one knows what to do," said Brinker.
Because of the dual left turn lanes and some sight distance issues with traffic heading west on Coolidge, the original intent of MDOT was to not have drivers turn left on the red light, Brinker said. The sign clarifies that position.
"We sent our signals division to study the intersection," said Brinker.
Approximately 70 percent of drivers never turned left on red – even with the honking, he said.
Brinker said MDOT will be back again this week to look at the timing of the lights and "do some tweaking if necessary."
Correction: Drivers heading west on Coolidge were confused about turning left on Woodwad Avenue.