Why are Highway 305 HOV lanes on the outside?

The in basket: Retired Army doctor John Newton is alarmed to see the new HOV lanes doing double duty with right turners along Highway 305 in Poulsbo.
The HOV lanes, the first in Kitsap County, are on the outside, not the inside, where one sees them on almost all freeways.
It will lead to a bad accident, John believes.


The in basket: Retired Army doctor John Newton is alarmed to see the new HOV lanes doing double duty with right turners along Highway 305 in Poulsbo.
The HOV lanes, the first in Kitsap County, are on the outside, not the inside where one sees them on almost all freeways.
It will lead to a bad accident, John believes, either as someone slows down in the inside lane to make sure it’s safe to pull to the right in preparation for a right turn, or as someone pulls into the right lane to make such a turn and is hit by a vehicle moving at highway speed in that lane.
He’s one of many wondering why, if an HOV lane was desired, it was put where it was.
The out basket: Wendy Clark-Getzin of Kitsap Transit said there were two reasons.
Transit has its large transfer center on the shoulder of the southbound lanes and having the HOV lanes, where the buses will travel, on the outside minimizes lane changes, so is safer.
Secondly, for technical reasons an HOV lanes next to the center barrier requires more highway width that putting it on the outside next to the bike lanes, she said. Minimizing impact on Dogfish Creek and other wetlands along the highway was a key goal in the planning of the project, so they went with the design that required the least width and impervious surface, she said.
As for John Newton’s concern, he and others alone in their cars during the five hours each weekday when use of the HOV lanes is restricted will just have to treat the HOV lanes as an acceleration lane when turning right onto the highway and deceleration lane when preparing to turn right to leave the highway.
Sadly, the law doesn’t say how long a person can drive in the HOV lane while using it as an accel or decel lane, so officers will be kind of winging it when they start enforcing it. Certainly a driver would want to use it long enough to make a safe lane change.
Enforcement is a work in progress and both WSP and Poulsbo police spokesmen said this week they aren’t pulling violators over yet. Poulsbo police Sgt. Howard Leeming told the project steering committee Monday that rather than seeing a lot of violators, he’s seen people who could use it staying out of it. Uncertainty probably is part of the reason, and its rough ride while final paving is pending probably is another.
It’s an HOV-only lane for only two hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon on weekdays. It’s just another all-purpose lane at other times.
It’s kind of a test project that may be modified once the state and city see whether it’s accomplishing its goals.
Already, they are talking about whether there is any need for limiting use of the outside lane to HOV’s in the northbound direction in the morning, when traffic is light.

One thought on “Why are Highway 305 HOV lanes on the outside?

  1. A better question is why have HOV lanes at all for this short portion of SR 305? This section of SR 305 is a commercial corridor controlled by five traffic signals at five crossroads. It also has several uncontrolled entrances and exits to retail and commercial shops as well as the Kitsap Transit transfer center and two private driveways.

    It has only been due to the caution used by the locals driving through this area that few accidents have occurred to date. Just wait until the tourist season arrives.

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