Ask a trooper: No stop on right turn at Woodland and 21st Avenue EastQ: When a motorist in Duluth approaches the top of 21st Avenue East and is proceeding onto northbound Woodland Avenue, are you required to stop?
By: Trooper Scott Parker, Minnesota State Patrol
Q: When a motorist in Duluth approaches the top of 21st Avenue East and is proceeding onto northbound Woodland Avenue, are you required to stop? The stop signage is confusing, and many motorists stop rather than merge onto Woodland Avenue. I assume that you do not stop, as there is a designated lane above 21st Avenue for those entering Woodland Avenue, and motorists traveling north on Woodland Avenue have their own lane. As you near the top of 21st Avenue and are looking to your left for oncoming traffic, I have had to abruptly stop on numerous occasions to avoid an accident as cars ahead of me stopped before entering Woodland Avenue. Who is correct?
A: The intersection at 21st Avenue East and Woodland Avenue is definitely one of Duluth’s more unusual intersections.
The stop sign for upbound traffic applies only to motorists crossing Woodland Avenue or turning left. The right lane of 21st Ave-nue never enters the intersection controlled by that stop sign and has no “stop line.”
Due to the unique characteristics of the intersection and heavy traffic volumes, the city of Duluth has designed the roadway so that upbound Woodland Avenue traffic and upbound 21st Avenue traffic each have their own lane. There is no “merging” required or allowed.
The solid white line between the right and left lanes of Woodland Avenue makes it improper to change lanes until the line turns to the normal dashed line near Garden Street.
Numerous motorists make sudden and improper lane changes over that solid line resulting in sudden braking that sometimes causes crashes at that
I can see where a motorist not familiar with the area might slow down or stop to ensure they are not making unsafe or illegal movements in the intersection. The safest course when approaching the intersection would be to ensure you have a safe following distance in case the driver ahead of you slows or stops.
Remaining two to three seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you allows for those types of events. It also allows for a safety buffer in case other motorists improperly cross the solid white line, giving you distance and space to react.
Trooper Scott Parker is a member of the Minnesota State Patrol.