A person on a staycation (such as yours truly) in Madera soon learns to avoid the intersection from heck. That is where Cleveland Avenue mashes up with the off- and -on ramps of State Route 99, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, Gateway Drive and Country Club Drive, not to mention all the driveways of all the businesses that stand hip-to-hip, shoulder-to-shoulder and belly-to-belly at that spaghetti bowl of streets.
Here is a common scenario: A driver is heading east on West Cleveland, and begins to pass the Madera County Fairgrounds from which cars are exiting, trying to make their way into the eastbound traffic, just as cars going westbound are coasting like sprinters ready to run in the left-turn lanes that will take them into the fairgrounds.
The best way to avoid a collision with parallel traffic is to stay in the left lane, but then the danger of colliding with oncoming traffic arrises, especially if one wants to turn left into the motel, the Perko’s Restaurant parking lot of the Chevron station. If you do turn left into the Chevron station, you are likely to find yourself face-to-face with cars coming off the freeway. Confused? So are the drivers.
As you head further east on Cleveland and cross the freeway, if you happen to be in the right lane, you will have to turn right on Gateway, or move left into a lane already filled with traffic. Meanwhile cars will be trying to squeeze off the freeway ramp into one of the left lanes of traffic that will allow them to get in line to cross the tracks. Phew!
Once one gets to the light at Gateway Drive and Cleveland Avenue, one will find oneself in a face off of six lanes of traffic — seven if a train happens to be rumbling through. Once there, one must decide whether the traffic on either side is going to bolt into the intersection to get a place in line before the light changes. Some people bolt long after the light changes.
If one has done this a few times, one knows which lanes to get into and when, but one always needs to be on the lookout for newbies or amateurs who invariably seem to do the wrong thing while trying to navigate the intersection. The good news is that opening the Ellis Street overpass has made it possible to bypass the intersection from heck. I have started using it, and it is very useful. I recommend you do the same when it will work for you.