Redundant traffic lights on Highway 238 added for safety

New traffic signals were recently installed on Highway 238 and North Ross Lane. Going west on 238, the intersection has three lanes and four lights. I have noticed on more than one occasion where a motorist in the middle lane expected that lane to continue straight ahead because the two right-hand lights were both green. Motorists then discovered they were in the left-turn only lane. So why the extra light?

— Tim A., Jacksonville

A good question, Tim. Maybe they were just getting in the Christmas spirit and wanted to put up more red, green and yellow lights?

But, probably not, so we checked in with Cory Crebbin, Medford's public works director. Like most cities, Medford adheres to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. This wonderful sounding manual is followed by traffic engineers around the country. Crebbin said it helps provide motorists with the same traffic experience in Medford as they would get in San Diego, Calif.

One of the goals is to provide a redundant signal for the majority of the traffic, which in this case continues west on Highway 238. As a result, you see two traffic signals for the one lane of traffic.

"In my own personal opinion, the wider the street the more confusion it creates," Crebbin acknowledged.

At the intersection you are talking about, Tim, there are two lights for motorists heading west and one light for each of the two left-turn lanes.

We decided to dig even deeper on this one, Tim, so we checked in with Gary Leaming, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Leaming said the signal at North Ross Lane was part of an agreement with the developers of the Northgate Centre. As part of the development, the developers agreed to foot the bill for traffic lights at North Ross Lane and other nearby intersections.

Leaming said having two signals helps in case one fails.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501or by e-mail to

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