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Little love for 'Michigan left'
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Little love for 'Michigan left'

Love it or hate — and many of you say you hate it — Michigan Left turns are here to stay in the Old Pueblo.

Six weeks after the first intersection using the indirect left-hand turns opened up at Ina and Oracle roads, we asked our online readers to take a simple poll on the controversial intersection.

The Michigan Left, in case you haven’t seen one firsthand, requires drivers on Ina to go through the Oracle intersection to the next stoplight — one block down — where they can make a turn-arrow-protected U-turn before doubling back to Oracle and making a right turn.

More than 425 people had responded to the online poll by late Friday afternoon. Roughly 80 percent thought the new intersection was a step in the wrong direction in trying to address long-standing problems at the busy intersection.

Roughly 10,000 cars use the intersection on a daily basis.

Those who chose to submit comments, mostly anonymous, were harsh in their criticism.

“Stupidest idea I’ve seen in Tucson.”

“Worst imaginable idea possible.”

“Must have been designed by someone from ASU.”

Over the course of a few days, however, those who like the new intersection began to make some noise — and were more likely to sign their names to their comments.

Marcia Ring wrote in to say she likes the intersection, noting she gets through the intersection in one light, rather than the three it used to take. Those turning onto Oracle from Ina used to back up traffic all the way to Westward Look, she said.

Gary Zimnoch, the owner of Northwest Pet Clinic on Ina, believes he has lost customers over the years, who have long complained it was difficult to get into his parking lot just east of the busy intersection.

With a new signal designed to let people make U-turns as part of the indirect left turn near his business, Zimnoch said, comments from his customers have been overwhelmingly positive.

A traffic engineer wrote to say the real proof whether the intersection is working will be in traffic counts in the coming months, not in the complaints generated by those who don’t want to make three turns instead of one.

Although to be fair, many who have submitted comments said they now actively avoid the intersection.

Safety was another concern for many.

It is too early to tell whether concerns about the intersection being unsafe are valid, although a records check with law enforcement found only a handful of traffic accidents, mostly minor, since the implementation of the indirect left turns at the intersection.

Pima County officials, who have spent roughly $5 million on the intersection, say the traffic flow will improve in the coming weeks as sensors are tied together.

The new equipment will count cars and adjust the traffic lights, eliminating the current problem of traffic backing up into Oracle Road as drivers wait to make their (indirect) left turns.

Love it or hate it, another Michigan Left turn is coming online soon.

City officials are putting the finishing touches to the West Grant Road and Oracle Road intersection.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFerguson.

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Reporter

Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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