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R.A. Smith National, Inc. Knowledge Blog

Why Are Some Left-Turn Arrows Now Flashing Yellow?

by John Bruggeman 11. July 2012 09:26

Have you noticed the flashing yellow left-turn arrows in Wisconsin? They’re popping up at several intersections including 51st Street and Brown Deer Road, village of Brown Deer; USH 18 (Bluemound Road) at Sunny Slope, Elm Grove Road and Underwood Creek Parkway in the city of Brookfield; STH 50 at STH 75/STH 83, town of Salem; I-43 ramps at Good Hope Road, city of Glendale and more.

The flashing yellow left-turn arrow indicates “yield to opposing (oncoming) traffic” as a substitute for the traditional green circular indication for left turns. Researchers have found that the flashing yellow arrow improves driver safety and awareness. Drivers should expect to see more of these in the next few years since the flashing yellow arrow is supported within the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), a design manual published by the Federal Highway Administration.

I was involved in the traffic signal design at 51st and Brown Deer as part of R.A. Smith National’s on-site services at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). This intersection utilizes flashing yellow left-turn arrows on all approaches and was one of the first of its kind in Wisconsin. As part of WisDOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), the improvements were completed to address historical crash problems at the intersection.

For more information visit the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s website at





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Trimble SketchUp Brings Projects to Life

by Tom Mortensen 3. July 2012 05:19

More and more, we’re seeing projects come to life using Trimble SketchUp as a 3D modeling design tool. As a landscape architect, I don’t necessarily use it as a final rendering tool for presentation graphics as the color rendering capability is not that sophisticated, but where it has been very helpful is in the design development and decision-making process on complex projects.

As an example, SketchUp became an invaluable design tool when our team was exploring some of the spatial relationships on the recently completed Summerfest project. This tool allowed the design team to relate to each other’s respected disciplines in 3D, making the meetings very productive. We also used SketchUp recently for a series of design charrettes for a large, regional park planning project in the village of Sussex, Wisconsin as a “live” design and visualization tool at public meetings. Participants were able to make decisions and draw consensus through the use of 3D imagery, while the park design was being developed in real time.

We also used 3D laser scanning technology along with SketchUp to build a series of renderings for a large courtyard plan for the Veteran’s Administration in Tomah, Wisconsin. For video tutorials on how SketchUp works, visit

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