If you’ve ever driven down a Texas highway, realized you were going the wrong way and used the left lane on the frontage road to turn around, you probably didn’t think twice about the luxuries this state has afforded you.
Or at least when it comes to U-turns.
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Wired recently took a closer look at the Texas U-turn, or the “mysteriously feel-good ‘Texas turnaround,’” as it is often called, and why our state is equipped with the “sublime, forgiving bit of infrastructure” that you’d have to work to find elsewhere in the country.
According to Wired, it’s still “a mystery exactly who came up with protected U-turn lanes,” but infrastructure engineer Dewitt C. Greer, who insisted on frontage roads along every Texas highway, and research by Marcus Brewer, who found that left turns at intersections are the most complicated and time-consuming, both contributed to the state’s widespread adoption of the special lanes.
The Texas Department of Transportation estimates there are anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 Texas turnarounds in the state, Wired reports.
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Although the special lanes continue to fuel “a cost benefit debate that even the Lone Star State has begun to question,” Wired concludes, “like so much in Texas, they certainly feel good, even if nobody can quite explain why.”