Another Austin Drive user finds merging difficult

 

The in basket: Brenda Brunson has sounded a common complaint, that getting onto Highway 3 southbound at Austin Drive is scary and dangerous, due to the short, curving on-ramp and underbrush between it and the main traffic lanes.

She suggested a couple of fixes that don’t seem too practical, including moving the 50-mph speed zone even farther back, to before southbound traffic reaches that on-ramp, and removing the Yield sign on the on-ramp.

“It’s nerve-wracking trying to accelerate on the downhill acceleration lane from Erland’s Point/NAD Park,” Brenda said, “while watching for oncoming traffic with which I’m trying to merge (through the high weeds on the hill to my left), while wondering if the car ahead of me, out of view, and around the curve at the end of the acceleration lane is stopped, yielding!

“So far, I haven’t seen anyone stopped but that doesn’t mean it’s never happened,” she wrote. “Or that it won’t.”

The out basket: I drove this on-ramp twice more before writing this, as it’s not somewhere I often go. There was a steady stream of traffic in the outside lane both times, but by accelerating at the proper time, I was able to glide into the mainline traffic without trouble. 

But since so many people share Brenda’s concern, I asked the state how many accidents actually happen there, and for comparable stats for the on-ramp going the other way from Austin Drive and the two on-ramps one interchange north, at Chico Way. 

Steve Bennett, the Olympic Region traffic operations engineer, says there were no merge-related accidents reported at the southbound Austin Way ramp in the five years just past, just one on the corresponding northbound on-ramp, and two at Chico Way, both on the southbound ramp.

I get complaints that the 50-mph zone starts too early, that it shouldn’t encompass Kitsap Way’s interchange. Brenda is the first to suggest it be enlarged.

As for the Yield sign, it was put there because of the complexity of that on-ramp. Most on-ramps don’t have them. I’d hate to think there are drivers who would construe it to mean they should stop if they don’t see a gap in traffic they can use. Escaping onto the wide shoulder there and waiting for another opportunity would be a lot smarter.

I’ve forwarded a copy of this column to the state maintenance office for consideration of getting the weeds mowed at Austin Drive. They do make for a partially obstructed look at southbound traffic on the mainline for merging traffic.

 

One thought on “Another Austin Drive user finds merging difficult

  1. Thank you for forwarding that for weed control on Austin Drive. While I find the off ramp suitable for merging, the weeds are out of control. That would include all four onn/off ramps, and the bridge. Looks like the land that the county forgot about this year.

    Thanks again!

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