7th Street is westbound only

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Twice this week I have been driving west on 7th St. downtown (which is the only direction you're supposed to drive on 7th St. downtown) and have encountered another driver headed east.

A couple of days ago, at about 6 pm, I was in the left-hand lane on 7th approaching Elgin and another car was between Detroit and Elgin headed toward me in the same lane. The car stopped when it got to Elgin, I honked and proceeded through slowly, driving around the disoriented car, shouting, "It's a one-way street!"

Today was worse. At about 4:50 I took the 7th St. exit from US 75 northbound. Just past the top of the flyover curve, there was a woman in a VW convertible, and the car was almost sideways as she attempted to make a K turn to head back the right way.

The curve of the narrow overpass, the high side barriers, the fact that the car's top was down, and the car's white color all made it hard to spot. Thank the Lord I didn't blink, sneeze, or yawn at the wrong moment, or I'd have plowed right into her.

It doesn't speak well for the vitality of downtown (at least of that part of downtown) that the traffic is so sparse you could be headed down the wrong way on a one-way street or exit ramp and never know it.

Looking at the Google Maps image of the off-ramp, it's easy to see how the driver might have been confused. The off-ramp from southbound US 75 is separated from the northbound US 75 off-ramp by a concrete median. DO NOT ENTER signs look like they apply only to the left side, as if you were on a two-way divided road. There's a WRONG WAY sign, but not until you're pretty on to the off-ramp.

Some big DO NOT ENTER signs just west of Elgin, on both the north and south sides of the street, might help.

MORE: Reader Paul Uttinger provides photographic evidence (from the Beryl Ford Collection) that 7th was not always one-way. This is looking east along 7th from the alley between Detroit and Elgin.

The three-story building visible behind the policeman's face is the only thing in that photo that's still standing. Everything else was gone by the last Sanborn Map update in 1962.

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Paul said:

I think the new wayfinding signs contribute to the confusion for drivers on one-way streets downtown. Most of these signs have large text printed on both sides, so drivers headed the wrong way are facing "Thanks for visiting!" or "Downtown Tulsa" messages.

There's no useful purpose for those signs to express thanks to anyone driving east on 1st, west on 2nd, or north on Cincinnati. "WRONG WAY" would be a more appropriate message. "WRONG WAY" signs could serve as warnings about potential head-on collisions with drivers who ARE going in the correct direction, but who might be a little distracted while deciphering information about "Perf Arts Center" or "Tulsa Comm Coll."

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 23, 2009 6:34 PM.

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