Hubby and I recently spent some time in Fargo with my Mom, niece and other assorted friends and relatives. Mom had a list of errands so off she and I went to check off the stops one by one. Shortly after leaving her home in north Fargo, I encountered a new happening in my driving experience – the disappearing right turn lane.
In case, you’ve missed the weather reports the past few weeks, Fargo and the surrounding area have had a LOT of snow this winter. Like many other cities in the area, the Fargo Street Department is working overtime to remove all the white stuff from the streets and allow the in-town residents plus us out-of-towners to rush off to our chosen destinations. There are higher than usual snow banks at corners causing drivers to cautiously peek out before turning onto a roadway but slow and sure usually wins that battle so nothing unusual there for wintertime driving. There are slippery spots on roadways and anything with the slightest incline could be a beginner skier’s first slope but again, nothing new for wintertime driving in ND and allowing extra space for stopping takes care of that winter driving obstacle.
So driving seems to be under control – chat, chat with Mom, check rear view mirrors, turn blinker on, move into right hand lane in anticipation of a right hand turn at the next intersection, drive about ½ block in the right lane and then suddenly – NO MORE LANE. It just disappeared under the creeping whiteness extending from the curb; leaving me to come to a complete halt with no place to go forward and the lanes to my left full, full of traffic. Eventually a good-hearted fellow driver took heart on my flashing left turn blinker and let me in. I quickly advanced to the intersection and found the right turn lane had reappeared – or about one car length of it had. Zipped over to it, turned right- success!
Mom and I talked about what happened (of course!) and decided it must have been a fluke of the street cleaning crew at that particular intersection and went on our way. Eventually it was time for another right hand turn. Check rear mirrors, turn blinker on, drive ½ block and……. another disappearing lane! Repeat process of finding a cooperative driver in the left lane and a repeat of having the lane reappear just at the intersection.
By now we out-of-towners have determined something is consistently amiss and began to take a tally of the intersections we crossed. At all but ONE we found the disappearing right turn lane in place. Apparently clearing all the lanes all the down the roadway was not a possibility so it was somehow determined that faking an open lane was the next best choice. We watched other drivers become stranded in its no-man’s-land end and in two cases were even the Good Samaritan who let them into a moving left lane.
When we returned home, the typical questions of “Did you find what you wanted?” and “Where did you go?” were asked but the only answer we had was how many right turn lanes do not currently exist.