The Commute

An informative and entertaining discussion on our ferries and highways with Kitsap Sun reporters.
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Highway 3/304 mess getting a look

February 21st, 2012 by ed friedrich

The state is looking into fixing the Highway 3-Highway 304 interchange, the worst bottleneck in the county.

That’s where Highway 3 comes south from Silverdale and merges from two lanes to one as it passes the car dealerships and sewer plant. Highway 304 whittles from three lanes to one if you count the carpool lane. Then they meet, with Highway 304 going over Highway 3 and becoming the right lane of Highway 3. It’s a funky connection, but not really the problem. The problems are the merges themselves. During the evening commute, cars get all backed up on both highways.

I hadn’t heard any plans for a fix, then it shows up this morning in the state Senate’s proposed supplemental transportation budget. Eleven projects would split $27 million for very preliminary design, engineering or to buy right of way. Highway 3-304 would get $500,000. This would be the first step, and who knows when if ever it would get done, but at least they’re thinking about it.

I vaguely remember writing something years ago about a study on blasting more lanes out of the basalt cliff. I think they determined it’d be too expensive, or dangerous. In fact, I think there was argument that a bridge across Sinclair Inlet would be just as cheap.

Ron Landon of Olympic Region DOT said they want to eliminate the “drop lane” coming down Highway 3 from the car dealers.

“The $500,000 would be to start some preliminary engineering to see how best to reconfigure that intersection to take away that drop lane and keep a good level of service on the leg coming in from 304,” he said.

 

15 Responses to “Highway 3/304 mess getting a look”

  1. fletc3her Says:

    Reconfiguring the exchange so that Highway 3 was continuous and the shipyard traffic came in through normal on-ramps would be a great first step. The merges now ensure that traffic gets backed up even when there are relatively few cars using one approach or the other.

    However the only real solution to the bottleneck is going to require building some sort of bridge to bypass Gorst. The natural flow of traffic is between Highway 3 and Highway 16. Allowing the main flow of traffic to bypass Gorst so only Belfair bound vehicles need to travel through there would allow Gorst to be rebuilt and would cut minutes off transit times between North and South Kitsap.

  2. John O. Says:

    Hallelujah! That confluence of roads has irked me for years. My question: What did the writer mean when referring to eliminating the “drop lane” coming down Hwy. 3 from the dealerships. What is a “drop lane?” Anyone know?

  3. marvin Says:

    Sure. The “drop lane” is the single lane from 304 that “drops” onto 3. Look at it from an SR-3 perspective. As a driver you must merge three lanes to one on SR-3 to travel beneath the bridge that takes 304 traffic and “drops” it behind you as you come out from beneath the bridge. You have to go clear around the curve before you can legally merge over to the right lane, making sure no cars are behind you. You must merge by the time you hit Gorst unless you want to go to Port Orchard. If you want to continue on 3 to belfair you must move into the far riht lane as soon as it appears in Gorst. That lane will also take you around the bend onto SR-16 where it will wind up the rightmost lane on 16 going toward Tacoma.

    From 1 SR-204 pespective you have to merge into the car pool lane out of the shipyard to travel on top of the bridge where you then “drop down” onto SR-3 as the far right lane, watching for all those cars already on 3 that want to merge into your lane so they do not go to Port Orchard. Not that it is overly dangerous, but you do have to pay attention from whereever you come and both approaches are often backed up severely.

  4. sleepyjean Says:

    Malfunction Junction for sure! I still cannot believe that it was even designed as it is now. What were they thinking? Glad to hear that someone somewhere understands the problem. In the meantime if folks would just simply merge one and one from each lane it would go a whole heck of a lot faster that it does now. Most drivers seem to be so intent on making sure nobody gets in before them, or instead of them, that they hang on the bumper in front of them or run the middle line. What’s that all about anyway? It’s like they need to punish others for being in the right lane or coming on in the drop lane.

  5. D.Rafael Says:

    Just another of the long list of poorly planned projects from WSDOT. I nominate Hwy 3 & 304 exchange at Silverdale for 2nd.

  6. marvin Says:

    I think you mean 303

  7. Monty Says:

    Anyone else irked by the disrespectful douchbags that exit at Loxie Eagans, shoot across the intersection( even though the signs say”right or left turn only”) and get back on Hwy 3, cutting in front of others trying to patiently(and legally) wait for traffic to move through the bottleneck?

  8. Dustin Says:

    About fricking time. This needs to be in the top 10 in the state. The entire economy of the Olympic Pennisula is stymied by this poor connection of the county. Every City, County and pseudo government agency on this side of the water should be screaming at the state non-stop until this is adaquately fixed.

    Sleepyjean, you are correct about 30% of the problem is drivers who don’t know the rules of the road.

  9. Mitch Says:

    Oh, I do that all the time. Not really a cool thing to do, but it works. And why not? Same could be said for every person who exits Loxie Eagans, takes a right and then a left turn to go up the hill and down the back streets. Those A-holes jack up that entire area for folks just trying to get to their house/apartment.

  10. Robin in Manette Says:

    When you have five lanes converging to two lanes I’m not sure how you fix it? A very simple idea would be to force drivers south bound on Hwy 3 to merge into one lane prior to Loxie Eagans. That would foil all the right lane racers. Meter the on ramp from Loxie Eagans during rush hour traffic. Stagger work shifts at PSNS.

    There, I just saved the state several million in expensive studies. ;-)

  11. Casey Burns Says:

    How about putting in a big roundabout? That seems to be the transportation solution in vogue these days – though personally I can’t stand them!

  12. Fred Says:

    How about? (this is fun)
    First of all, that damn yellow sign south bound on 3 north of Loxi and says “right land ends-merge left” What’s with that? Grandma sees it and taps the brakes to move over when she has nearly a mile of her own lane left to use. Brake-tappers cause stalled freeway traffic after about 20 minutes.
    Suggestion: Change the sign. Use a graphic that resembles a ZIPPER. The text would say something like “merge together ahead”. Sound good? It only would take as much brain power as using a round-about. (Well, not a good example) Of course the famous Washington State “onramp to closing lane” is always good for obscene gestures.

  13. Scott Says:

    I used to be the guy in the left lane waiting patiently and then i read a Road Warrior here and saw that it is OK to merge at the last minute, not advised but “OK”.

    Now I stay in the right lane and try to merge to expedite traffic but those people sitting in the left lane are illegally following too close for fear of losing their spot.

    It makes no sense because in less than 2 minutes they’ll be free in wide open traffic.

    If people would equal the load, merge every other car, there would be no problem.

    But when you have left lane slow drivers that STAY there and you end up passing everyone on the right- they should NEVER complain or honk or flip you off or ride someone’s bumper because you are trying to merge….

    If you are not in a hurry, not doing the speed limit, and driving in the left lane then shut up and let people merge in!

  14. Richard Topness Says:

    Ed Friedrich,
    Just out of curiousity, have you ever heard about the bridge that used to run from the vicinity of the sewer plant over to just past Ross Point (acually near to the ‘Crab Shack Restaurant)? My neighbor
    Mr Charles Anderson, told me when I was much younger 1958/1959) that he had watched the bridge burn down in 1904. Mr. Anderson was about 84 at the time. He described it as being a privately owned, one lane
    causeway for wagon traffic and it required a toll. I have never researched the bride and only have his account to go by. He was not a ‘story teller’. If you should find any info about this would you please pass it back to me. Thanks Richard Topness

  15. Tracie Says:

    While they are at it, why not fix the crazy overpass in Silverdale. People don’t know where to turn or what lane to get into. IT IS A JOKE!