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Traffic congestion from the drive-thru

LAWTON, Okla._Lawton drivers are tired of the traffic congestion throughout most of Lawton's roads and even the drive-thru line for morning coffee at Starbucks.

Lawton has its fair share of traffic jams to deal with, thanks to nearly non-stop road construction on city streets and the turnpike, but some drivers are really fed up about the long line of cars at Starbucks on the corner of 40th Street and Cache Road, especially during the early-morning commute.

The backed up traffic Friday morning wasn't that dangerous looking, but it can be a dangerous situation. Two years ago, Starbucks did some work on their parking lot, which also moved the drive thru menu closer to 40th Street and that has led to some serious congestion.

After the changes to the lot, and after seeing the impact it had on the traffic, Lawton and Starbucks officials met to see if there were any noticeable impacts and what could be done to improve the flow. The city did have a solution; they wanted Starbucks to move their drive thru menu closer to their drive-thru window. The city believes that change would create better stacking, limiting the traffic.

At the time, Starbucks was unable or unwilling to do. After that, the city took it to the traffic commission to get a sign posted to help. The sign says "Do Not Block Thru Traffic." Every car that comes down 40th Street sees the sign, yet they have to stop to pull into the Starbucks drive-thru. That's left some people with citations written by the Lawton Police Department for failure to obey traffic signs.

A sign designed to keep the traffic flowing, but it goes largely ignored so legally, right now, Starbucks is in complete compliance with city ordinances

"Currently the way the ordinance is that they have to have stacking or a queue for six cars from their place of where they pick up the order," explained Jerry Ihler, Public Works Director.

And it looks like Starbucks has room for about eight to ten cars which meets the minimum requirement. To prevent future congestion like what's at Starbucks, city officials are eyeing a new plan.

"What we are looking at, is that instead of making the queue go from the pick up window, we are making it from the point of order," said Ihler.

Even if the city was to pass that new ordinance, Starbucks and all other current restaurants with a drive-thru would be grandfathered in.

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