By Kevin Kelley
Soon motorists will no longer be permitted to make a right turn on red from Clemens Road to Crocker Road during evening rush hours.
Westlake City Council unanimously passed an ordinance July 19 outlawing the right turns on red between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m. on weekdays.
At a council committee meeting, police Chief Richard Walling explained that the stacking area for vehicles to get onto I-90 is too short, resulting in traffic jams.
Mayor Dennis Clough said Rick Kirk, director of operations at Hyland Software, which is located at the east end of Clemens Road, called him personally to request that something be done about the rush-hour congestion.
Describing the traffic backup as “severe,” Kirk told West Life that the unwanted delays add up to 20 minutes to his employees’ commutes home from work.
“People change their schedules in an attempt to accommodate the traffic, which they should not have to do,” Kirk said. He added that he appreciates the city’s willingness to attempt a temporary remedy.
A construction project that will encourage motorists to use two planned bypass roads instead of Clemens Road won’t be completed until some time next year. By diverting traffic to the bypass roads, which will be farther north than Clemens, planners hope to create more room for vehicles seeking to enter I-90 from Crocker Road.
The long-term plan, approved by council last year, involves the addition of traffic lights and placing limits on drivers’ turning options at the Clemens-Crocker intersection.
City Engineer Bob Kelly said the city is currently obtaining rights of way for the project. Construction is scheduled to begin early next year, he said.
Westlake police Capt. Guy Turner said his department did not have an exact date when the new traffic law will go into effect. A few days are needed to post new signs stating the prohibition on the rush-hour right turns, he said. Checks must be done to ensure signposts do not rupture utility lines, he explained.
Once the signs are up, Turner said the police department will allow motorists to get used to the new regulation and issue warnings instead of citations for a week or so.
The heavy congestion at the intersection will not prevent officers from enforcing the new law, Turner said.
“We’ve got some ideas on how to catch people who flout it,” Turner said, refusing to divulge the department’s enforcement plans.