Intersection clogs frustrate drivers

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson More than 16,000 drivers pass through the intersection of Commerce and Prince streets in an average day, according to the city’s traffic division. Traffic often bottlenecks as vehicles turn north onto Prince Street, though motorists are cautioned against blocking the intersection.

Kevin Wilson

Bernice Ragland and her husband Loyd were visiting Clovis two Wednesdays ago to have work done on their vehicle, and they were planning a quick lunch before they headed back to Logan.

Before they got to a restaurant, Bernice made a turn in her vehicle from Commerce Street onto Prince Street, and found the traffic had stopped flowing.

“There was only one car in front of me,” she said. “I turned immediately after they did. I turned, and it wasn’t moving. I wasn’t the only one.”

A few minutes later, she had a $71 ticket for blocking the intersection and a great deal of frustration.

The Raglands were one of about 16,300 cars that went through the Commerce-Prince intersection that day. That’s the daily average, City Engineer Justin Howalt said. About 9,200 cross the intersection while on Prince; the rest come east from Commerce or west from the parking lot where the street ends, which contains Hobby Lobby, Hastings and other stores.

There are natural spikes to that traffic, Clovis Police Capt. Patrick Whitney said, and those spikes are higher now that school is in session. The intersection’s highest amount of traffic comes from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and two separate afternoon spikes for schools (3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and people coming home from work (4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.).

Whitney said there are large signs at the traffic lights instructing motorists not to block the intersection, because those intersections should be easy to clear for emergency vehicle access. He said a motorist has a responsibility to be aware of the traffic, and not to just enter the intersection because the light is green.

“They just to have to look over there and see,” Whitney said. “The bottom line is you’re not allowed to block the intersection.”

Ragland said she mailed her payment to the magistrate court already, but wrote a letter to city officials airing her frustration and suggesting officers instead help direct traffic during such jams instead of first writing tickets