Changes to Omaha intersection cause confusion amongst drivers

Changes to a busy Omaha intersection at 132nd St. and Sterling Ridge Dr. are causing confusion for drivers.
Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 10:35 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - After leaving work the same way for seven years, Bob Kenny welcomes the city of Omaha’s changes to the exit intersection, but he says getting drivers used to it has taken a turn for the worse.

“People are conditioned to turn left from the center lane and even though they’ve changed the direction of the signal, people are still turning left,” Kenny said. “Someone in this lane turning left could collide with them.”

He’s talking about the intersection at 132nd Street and Sterling Ridge Drive in Omaha.

After complaints of delays, the city’s traffic engineer says data showed that two turn lanes are no longer needed.

Reducing it to one allows for more stop light efficiency both ways, meaning less wait time for motorists. But many drivers are still seeing double.

For years, drivers leaving the Trendwood neighborhood expected vehicles across from them in the middle lane would turn. Now, most go straight.

“People coming out of Trendwood have close calls with people turning left,” Kenny said.

New signs above the traffic signals tell drivers to stay in their lane, but the scraped-off middle turn arrow hasn’t faded from view.

“A straight arrow instead of a curving arrow in the same place, so people don’t get confused about which way to go,” Kenny said.

City officials say engineers will look into adding a straight arrow and monitor how drivers are adapting to the change.

Some drivers have adjusted, but many haven’t judging by the number of double turns 6 News recorded over just a few hours.

The city put up a sign with warning flags to tell drivers that the center turn lane has been scratched out, but its location can make it difficult for approaching traffic to see it.

Beautiful trees line the street from the Sterling Ridge Office Park.

“We’re in the middle lane and you still can’t see that sign,” Kenny said.

And branches hide the sign until drivers are getting close and happen to see it.

“I noticed the flags on the sign that are supposed to alert you that something changed,” said one driver passing by.

The middle is no longer a turning lane, but now a through-lane, and Bob Kenny and others suggest more marking is needed to tell the drivers they must travel west as straight as an arrow.

Omaha’s traffic engineer says he’s satisfied with the changes and everything a driver needs to safely navigate the intersection is there.

However, he recognizes it can take some time for old habits to become new ones.