Jan from Denver writes, “What is driving you crazy? The 2 lanes on Buchtel going east when you come up to Downing. There needs to be a sign, right lane right turn only as when you go across Downing the lane goes to one lane. Such a mess now that Buchtel seems to be a small highway anymore. Please HELP!!!”
Buchtel is a very popular road that parallels I-25 just to the south of the interstate. I’ve always been a big fan of Buchtel. It runs diagonally from Logan to Colorado Blvd and used to be a fantastic alternate to avoid some of the southbound I-25 jams before so many other drivers started using it to get around traffic in 25. I use part of it every day on my way home from work, from Logan to the entrance onto I-25 just before the Downing squeeze you mention.
Just after Downing, Buchtel is reduced by one lane until after East Mexico Ave when the second lane appears again. It really isn’t that big of a deal most times because traffic is usually light enough for drivers to figure out how to merge peacefully just after passing Downing without delay.
As you mention, many drivers use the right lane at Downing to make the right turn to go south and not continue to drive East on Buchtel. That lane is not a “right turn only” lane because drivers are allowed to continue east on Buchtel. That can be a big source of frustration when someone is waiting to turn right on Downing behind a driver waiting for the light to change to go east on Buchtel. That cycle can back up traffic longer than if the right lane was just a turn only lane. Changing that lane could also affect drivers trying to get on Buchtel from Florida or Corona.
As you can see from the pictures I took of the area, there are markings and signs warning drivers that the lane is ending just before and just after you pass Downing. There is one yellow lane merge sign about 100 feet before the Downing intersection. There is another merge sign just after Downing and two large merge arrows are painted on the lane that ends. The signs are a suggestion to drivers to move over early if possible but it isn’t mandatory.
When I asked Denver Public Works about your concern, they didn’t see this as a problem. “Currently, there are two “right lane ends” signs posted on Buchtel Boulevard before and after Downing Street to warn drivers about the lane reduction. There are also arrows painted in the street on Buchtel just before Marion, indicating drivers should merge into one lane,” said Heather Burke with Denver Public Works.
Heather told me they don’t receive complaints about this merge but they will send out a traffic engineer anyway to specifically check out this stretch of Buchtel to see if any other adjustments could be made. The only other help I can offer is for all drivers to read and follow my advice from my previous stories about how to merge correctly. The zipper merge helps make traffic at any choke point flow better and more quickly with fewer drivers getting frustrated at these merge points.
Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Podbean.