New Union Cross intersection jams GPS [Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.]
(Winston-Salem Journal (NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 02--Imagine driving an 18-wheeler south on Union Cross Road and -- following the directions on your GPS device -- you turn left at the Wallburg Road intersection to get to the big business park down that way.
Then, imagine, instead, you've turned onto a minor service road that comes to a dead end. And you can't turn around.
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That's the scenario highway officials are trying to prevent with electronic signs they've put up at the redesigned intersection of Union Cross and Wallburg roads.
"Once the 18-wheelers get to the dead end, they can't turn around," said Wright Archer, an engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation.
The electronic signs tell drivers how the new intersection works.
"This is a problem that you typically have when new roads are built and GPSs are not updated to reflect those changes," said Pat Ivey, the divisional engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation in Forsyth County.
Under the old alignment, Wallburg Road intersected Union Cross Road in an angled "T" intersection. To get to Union Cross Business Park on Wallburg Road, truckers and others driving south on Union Cross Road had to turn left onto Wallburg Road.
Now, Union Cross Road simply becomes Wallburg Road -- and vice versa -- without drivers having to make a turn.
"The way GPS is set up, when you got to the intersection you would turn left," Ivey said. "It is apparently telling people to turn left and they are turning on Hayes Road."
Hayes Road is a service road that runs along U.S. 311 until it comes to a dead end. The road's former intersection with Union Cross Road had to be closed because of the Union Cross widening project, so planners made it come out at the redesigned intersection where the electronic signs have been placed.
The intersection now works like a standard four-way intersection with a traffic light. The catch is that Union Cross Road goes north and west from the intersection, with Hayes Road heading east and Wallburg Road going south.
Ivey said he's heard nothing but positive reactions to the change, but he obviously hasn't talked with Tammy Spates, who runs the B&T Grocery with her husband Bobby Lee. The B&T is on Union Cross Road just west of the redesigned intersection.
"It is more of a safety hazard now than before they changed it," Tammy Spates said. "People are so used to it the way it used to be."
Spates said there have been three wrecks at the intersection since it was changed -- a claim that could not be confirmed on Friday. DOT officials said they know of no accidents at the intersection since the redesign.
A glance at traffic-volume maps quickly shows why the DOT changed the alignment. The great majority of drivers who go through the intersection are using the Wallburg-Union Cross route as a north-south path of travel.
How long it will take for someone's GPS to reflect the change depends on who supplies the map in the system and how it is updated. Some devices allow a user to make on-screen corrections. GPS devices rely on privately-maintained digitized maps to show roads, so it can take time for changes to show up.
Deanna Yick, a spokeswoman for Google, which provides a map application used in many smartphones, said the company will be making an update to its mapping program that takes new intersection into account, but could not provide a timetable. The map program provides a link for users to report road reconfigurations.
"We want Google maps to be as comprehensive and as accurate as possible, so we encourage people to let us know when something needs to be changed," Yick said.
(c)2013 Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, N.C.)
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