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Concerns and thoughts on Bonners Ferry's only traffic light
March 7, 2018
28 February 2018

To the Editor:

Bonners Ferry has just one stoplight, and as such we should treat it right. Sadly, we are not doing our lone signal justice. I realize there are two lights in the county, but the Three Mile stoplight is not technically in Bonners Ferry, nor do I have an issue with that light. My attention is focused solely on the light within the official Bonners Ferry city limits.

In most cases the stoplight’s functions can be tolerated although during much of the day, and especially on weekends, I wish the arrow stopping left-turning, southbound traffic would simply blink yellow when north and southbound traffic have a green light. I have seen this done in other places and long for its application in Bonners Ferry while I am waiting to turn left onto Alderson Lane without a northbound car in sight.

Waiting unnecessarily at a stoplight is, of course, a minor nuisance. I hope it gets fixed, but if not, I hope that those with the power to make changes will at least seriously consider my second complaint, because we are lucky there has not yet been a serious accident.

There are times when north and southbound traffic get a flashing yellow light while traffic turning onto the highway from Alderson Lane get a flashing red light. Curiously, though, the traffic turning onto Alderson Lane from the highway also gets a flashing red light. The problem is caused when one car is trying to turn left onto the highway while another is trying to turn left onto Alderson Lane at the same time.

The laws are a little ambiguous on exactly what is supposed to happen. Obviously, the flashing red light equates to a stop sign but who has the right of way is a little unclear. I checked the official Idaho Driver’s Ed manual and several other traffic law sites. All explain the laws for four-way stops but not for adjacent stops. I think four-way stop rules apply here, though. The car who arrives at the signal last yields to the car which arrives first.

At our busiest time, when school is let out, this turns into a mess. Drivers don’t always seem clear on who has the right of way, cars are backing up in the left turn lane making it impossible for those turning onto the highway to see oncoming traffic, and the window to make that turn is often small and fleeting. It turns into a stressful situation.

The simple fix is to make that blinking red light for traffic turning left onto Alderson Lane a blinking yellow light. That would restore the natural order of yielding instead of the unnecessary and dangerously ambiguous right of way game that occurs every weekday at 4:00.

Adam Newhouse
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