Jackie from Longmont writes, “What's driving you crazy? Hi Jayson. Heading north on highway 93 just before 82nd Ave/Leyden Rd, the road goes from two lanes to one lane. The sign says merge left, the arrows on the road show merge left but truth is the road merges right, so everyone tries to get left only to sway back right. Once I realized it, I always stay right and it’s so much easier especially with the blacktop splitting left.”
A merge point where two lanes come together into one can be handled by a state DOT in many different ways. The way that merge is laid out on both the northbound and southbound side of State Highway 93 north of Golden is that the road just squeezes down equally from the left and the right creating the one lane configuration. Basically, the center dashed lane line just ends allowing someone who stays in the right lane like you to merge a touch left while also allowing for someone who is in the left lane to move a touch to the right to get into the new single lane.
The reason the merge arrows are placed on the road surface that way, Jackie, is that most times when two lanes come together there is a definite ending of one lane, whether from the right or left. Most often it happens from the right. Just think of any ramp lane onto an interstate where the right lane ends as traffic merges into the right most through lane.
“We typically post lane drops from the right due to the driver and mirror positions in left-hand-drive vehicles making this a simpler maneuver,” says Ben Kiene, CDOT’s Region 1 Traffic Operations Engineer. “It’s also to accommodate driver expectation of lane drops from the right.”
That driver expectation might be the reason some drivers merge early to the left lane before coming back right after the merge point. Seeing the arrows might give them the impression that the right lane is indeed ending so they need to merge left before the ending of the lane stripes not knowing how the highway is really configured.
“We can look at some striping adjustments on future re-striping opportunities to make this more intuitive,” says Kiene.
As you discovered on your daily commute, it is just as easy to stay in that right lane and not merge left first. Either way, that is a beautiful section of roadway no matter how you merge.
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 25 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, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on any podcast app including iTunes , Stitcher , Spotify and Podbean.