Coralville City Engineer: PLEASE Zipper Merge

CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Traffic engineers say drivers aren't being rude when they wait until the last second to merge into one lane traffic. They say it's actually the most efficient way to move traffic.

The city of Coralville wants drivers to do something called a zipper merge during one of its summer construction projects. This happens when cars going from two lanes to one take turns merging, instead of all getting one long lane of traffic.

In Coralville, crews are widening the lanes on First Avenue from Highway 6 to the Interstate 80 on-ramp. City engineers say traffic has impacted other roads besides First Avenue.

The city of Coralville says business from the Iowa River Landing alone can cause traffic backups along First Avenue. That's why crews put up signs, encouraging drivers to zipper merge.

"We really want people to get into that open lane go up until you see the merge sign slow down and put on turn signal and politely let someone in,” Assistant City Engineer Scott Larson said. Larson says the city had to come up with this option after watching traffic patterns. He sometimes monitors traffic through live stream cameras.

"We were sitting watching traffic line up one by one and traffic was backed up through Highway 6 and we were watching traffic and there were no cars in the right lane."

Larson says traffic will move faster along First Avenue if people use both lanes. He says it'll also prevent jams in other areas.

"The last thing we want is our project to back up traffic on i-80 interchange and potentially exit ramps."

There are two main parts to the First Avenue Construction project. The first includes making a four-way intersection with a traffic light at First Avenue and 6th Street. This part should be done by the end of July.The other part includes widening First Avenue to four lanes with a central turn lane. This should be done by the end November.