Lane change has been overwhelmingly positive for Danville

Published 8:33 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2019

EDITORIAL

The Advocate-Messenger

The new Main Street lane configuration in downtown Danville should be made permanent.

The lane change was put in place by the state Transportation Cabinet over a month ago. During the past five weeks, we’ve gotten a real-world test of what effects would be felt by the change — not a simulation or an estimate, but actual experience.

We would like to see the hard data collected by the state on what the lane change did to traffic flow. Statistics would provide solid ground on which to substantiate what seems to be the case. But we also don’t need the hard data to know things are better. The difference can be felt just by driving Main Street once.

There are no more vehicles jockeying for position at Fourth and Main by changing lanes as they fly through the intersections at Second and Third streets. There are no more tense merging moments after traveling west on Main through the Fourth Street intersection. There’s almost no waiting behind left turners if you’re trying to go straight. And left turners at Fourth Street are no longer waiting multiple light cycles during rush hour, just for a chance to gun it through the intersection on orange.

It all adds up to the main goal: Traffic makes it through downtown in less time, but does it at slower peak speeds. That improves safety for pedestrians and reduces stress for drivers. A friendlier, less stressful downtown has benefits for tourism and business, as well.

Most of us remember the feeling of dread that could come over you when you realize you need to take Main Street at 5 p.m. You would have to debate whether to be in the right lane or left lane at Second Street; whether to change lanes between Second and Third; whether you can beat that flatbed truck to Third Street so you can cut in front of it before reaching Fourth; whether there are any left turners sitting in purgatory at Fourth Street (and whether you have to be one of them).

Now, you can drive straight through downtown without strategizing. If you want to go straight, go straight. If you want to turn, use a turn lane. Simple as that.

We wish this change had been made years ago, when conspiracy theories and outrage over poor handling of the plan scuttled it before anything happened. Now that it’s here, we hope it stays and lets all of us feel a little saner when we go downtown.