Twin signals puzzle pair of readers


The in basket: Today I group a pair of seemingly unrelated reader observations because the explanation is the same for both.

Rob Gossett says that the traffic signal on Kitsap Mall Boulevard at Silverdale Way shows a pair of green arrows for through traffic going across diagonally to Ridgetop Boulevard. There is only one lane of traffic, but the twin signal heads “give the impression that both lanes can go straight,”  he said. The other lane is the left turn lane to go north on Silverdale. He had a conflict with another car trying to go straight from the left turn lane, but it didn’t result in a collision, he said. 

Lois Fetters watched the installation of a replacement signal at Bay Street and Sidney Avenue in Port Orchard the past winter and noted two through-traffic signal heads in each direction where there is only one lane. Then she noticed that’s true with all signals on two-lane roads and streets.

“Why is that needed,” she asked. “It looks like a waste of money.”

The out basket: Silverdale is Kitsap County’s responsibility, and the state put in the new signal in Port Orchard. Both are governed by the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a federal document.

“The double signal head is required by the manual,” says Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer. “It requires a minimum of two signal faces for the major movement on the approach. They require the redundant signal in case one of the signal heads malfunctions. It is not an indication of the number of lanes present.”

“Pavement markings clearly delineate the traffic flow there,” he added.

One thought on “Twin signals puzzle pair of readers

  1. Monday’s column concluded with the Jeff Shea’s statement “Pavement markings clearly delineate the traffic flow there”. If motorists in and around Port Orchard, where I do most of my driving, have to rely on pavement markings to tell us where lanes are, we are all in trouble.
    Mr. Shea explains that the second traffic light is required in the event of the failure of the other light. Where is the backup when pavement markings fail?
    As a driving instructor I spend 20-30 hours a week on the roads around Port Orchard. Imagine trying to instruct inexperienced beginning drivers in the rain and in the dark on roads where even veteran drivers have to guess their place on the road.
    I know this issue has been addressed in your column before but I would suggest to the city/county/state maintenance departments that a once a year paint job for pavement markers is inadequate. If a collision were to occur on these roads due, at least in part, to inadequate pavement markings who is liable? Drivers have a responsibility to drive safely, but government has a responsibility to provide drivers with a safe environment in which to drive. Our poorly marked roads are not currently safe!
    Mike Cassidy, owner
    Advantage Driving School
    Port Orchard

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