Zipper merge still an issue for Saskatoon motorists

Watch above: Construction season is underway in Saskatoon which means the return of the zipper merge. Meaghan Craig looks at why the zipper merge isn’t working and what motorists need to know to do it properly.

SASKATOON – Two years later and the zipper merge is being introduced once again in Saskatoon construction zones, but do you know how to use it? From April 27 until Friday, May 8, there is one located at the cloverleaf at highways 11 and 16.

City officials couldn’t confirm any other sites it will be used during the upcoming construction season and say drivers will need to adjust their driving habits when need be.

That’s something motorists Global News spoke with say hasn’t happened yet as this year’s roadway construction season gets underway.

“People think you’ve jumped the cue so they don’t want you to get back in so then they make it difficult.”

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“People don’t want to let you cut in, I don’t know people don’t understand it.”

“It’s still a learning curve I guess.”

READ MORE: City of Saskatoon maps out 2015 construction plan

City officials say they are aware of the old driving habits motorists are going to need to shake in order to effectively “zipper” two lanes of traffic together.

“People in Saskatoon are often polite and they don’t want to feel like they’re sneaking to the front of the line and conversely we also have people who don’t to let people in,” said Angela Gardiner, the city’s transportation director.

Typically used on higher speed roadways, the zipper merge was first introduced in Saskatoon in 2013.

It’s a technique first adopted in states like Minnesota and is said to reduce the overall length of traffic backups by as much as 40 per cent.

Watch below: Do the Zipper Merge instructional video from the Minnesota Department of Transportation

“In order to provide more efficient merging prior to a construction zone we introduced to it, one of the other benefits of the zipper merge is to have a more safer merging movements,” added Gardiner.

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City officials say prior to the zipper merge, drivers would speed in the vacant lane and merge at a faster pace. This led to dangerous lane switches and inconsistent driving speeds in advance of construction zones.

“The intent is stay in your lane if everyone merges sequentially at the merge point than it is a lot more efficient anyways going through the construction zone for everyone,” remarked Gardiner.

When the zipper merge was first launched, there was a massive education campaign to go along with it informing drivers of how to properly use it.

Officials say based on the problems it has seen this year with the zipper merge more may need to be done to raise awareness on the intent of the zipper merge and how to use them appropriately.

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