Why doesn't this busy intersection have a turn-only lane?

Tierra Este and Zaragoza in far east El Paso. Credit: KFOX14 / CBS4

A KFOX14 viewer named Daniel sent me this question: “Why is Tierra Este the only street that doesn't have a turn-only lane on Zaragoza past the loop?"

He complains that traffic congestion gets bad at the intersection because the right lane can be used by drivers who are going straight, as well as those who want to turn right.

That means many drivers who want to make a right turn often get stuck behind cars that are not turning when the light's red.

But on the opposite side of the Tierra Este/Zaragoza intersection, there is a turn-only lane for drivers making a right turn.

I took Daniel's concerns to the city of El Paso's lead urban planner, Nelson Ortiz. He told me that the problem is that the side of Tierra Este without a turn only lane dates back to 2001, when the Tierra Del Este residential area first began developing and the neighborhood was much less populated.

That side of the street is less wide than the other side of Tierra Este, which was built years later, when the area's population was booming.

Ortiz said the city would have to buy land to widen the older side of Tierra Este in order to create a turn-only lane on that side of the street. He said because that would cost a lot of money and the city has bigger traffic priorities in far east El Paso, it's not something he believes will happen anytime soon.

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