Blinking yellow arrow

The temporary traffic lights that dangled from wires near Menards on Fifth Avenue South in Fort Dodge for nearly a decade have come down.

The light fixtures that went up Thursday in the 3300 block of Fifth Avenue South are intended to be permanent. And they have a new feature that is the emerging national standard for traffic signals.

Drivers heading west on Fifth Avenue South who want to turn south into Menards or the nearby Casey’s General Store will be guided by a blinking yellow arrow pointing left.

Such blinking arrows are the new standard, according to Chad Schaeffer, the city’s director of engineering, business affairs and community growth.

He said drivers are to yield to any oncoming traffic and then proceed with caution when they see the blinking yellow arrow.

The new signal on Fifth Avenue South is the first one in the city to have that feature, according to Schaeffer.

Todd Knox, a project engineer for Snyder & Associates of Ankeny who designed the Fifth Avenue South project, said the blinking yellow arrow resulted from university research on how drivers interpret signals.

“They found out that more people understood the blinking yellow arrow than the green ball when it came to making a permissive left turn,” he said. “In most situations, they determined that the blinking yellow arrow should be used.”

The new LED traffic signals were installed as part of a project that converted Fifth Avenue South from Menards to the eastern city limits from four lanes to three. A new right turn lane for eastbound vehicles going to Menards was also constructed. Putting up the lights was the last piece of the project to be completed, Schaeffer said.

Fort Dodge Asphalt had a $575,200.60 contract for the job. Voltmer Inc., of Decorah, installed the traffic lights.