Study finds reverse traffic lanes north of downtown Phoenix are essential

Jan 6, 2022, 8:00 PM | Updated: Jan 9, 2022, 11:12 am
(City of Phoenix Photo)...
(City of Phoenix Photo)
(City of Phoenix Photo)

PHOENIX — A study conducted to examine the reverse lanes on Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue north of downtown Phoenix found the corridors are essential for traffic flow.

The center lanes on Seventh Street between McDowell Road and Dunlap Avenue as well as Seventh Avenue from McDowell Road to Northern Avenue are reversible Monday through Fridays during peak traffic hours.

The southbound direction is used between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. while the northbound is used from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The lanes are used for left turns at other times.

The study found the removal of the lanes would create operational delays, slow down travel times by more than 40% and increase the potential for crashes associated with traffic congestion.

The average daily traffic on Seventh Avenue varies between 35,000 cars and 62,000 cars, according to the study, while those numbers slightly increase on Seventh Street to 46,000 and 65,000.

Improvements for the corridors were also put forth by the study, such as replacing the existing reverse lane static signs to fix inconsistencies in signage.

Other suggestions included intersection improvements, dynamic lane control signs, corridor restriping and pull-out bus bay constructions.

The static sign removal and replacement would cost the city just over $1 million for each corridor, the study said, while the full improvement recommendations would cost just under $20 million for Seventh Avenue and nearly $25 million for Seventh Street.

The city said in a press release that staff with the Phoenix Street Transportation Department are considering how to integrate recommendations into the capital improvement plan and that a project timeline or specific funding for the lanes have not been identified.

The study determined most of the drivers using the corridors are generally familiar with using the reverse lanes, but there were numerous unsafe maneuvers.

This includes turning left where prohibited or turning into the reverse lanes from side streets when the lane is operating as an opposing through lane, the study said.

The reverse traffic lanes have been around for decades, first coming into existence in the late 1970s and early ’80s to address traffic concerns as downtown Phoenix was growing.

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Study finds reverse traffic lanes north of downtown Phoenix are essential