Merge problems on Warren Avenue Bridge

The in basket: Two readers have written me about problems they’ve had with drivers merging onto the Warrren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton at the very short off-ramp from Callahan Drive to proceed south toward downtown..

Archie Fuhrmann and William, who asked that his last name not be used, both told of drivers who merge without looking, signaling or …..  (egad) stopping. Bill advocates a stop sign on the ramp and Archie proposes a flashing light on the yield sign there.

The out basket: I’m thankful that I rarely see a driver stop on that on-ramp because of traffic already on the bridge. I regard stopping on an on-ramp, even on one that short, as clear evidence of a timid, fearful and inexperienced driver.

I often use that ramp and have never had a conflict I couldn’t resolve by either speeding up or slowing down slightly to avoid the other car in the bridge’s outside lane.

The state law requires any driver merging there or on any on-ramp to signal and anyone who doesn’t risks a ticket. Still, I don’t know what it adds to safety. There’s nothing else a driver on the ramp can do but merge left.

When I’m on the bridge, I prepare to merge to the inside lane if I’m not already there and I see a car coming up that on-ramp. I encourage others, especially those who  find that spot scary, to do the same.

A stop sign would just make things worse. It would keep all merging drivers, not just timid ones, from maintaining a speed that provides the flexibility to either speed up or slow down as the situation requires.

The Yield sign there is on a street light pole. I suppose a  flashing light could be added, but it seems to me that Bremerton, which would have to add such a light, has numerous other shortcomings on its streets more deserving of its street money.

7 thoughts on “Merge problems on Warren Avenue Bridge

  1. It is a place that, if you are not familiar with it, looks more dangerous that it is. People new to the area don’t realize they CAN see the cars on the bridge deck as they approach, so they don’t really look until they are up on the bridge and trying to look back. I have even witnessed an accident there when the lead car suddenly decided to stop and the car behind, expecting the lead car to go, was looking back to gauge their entrance to the lane.
    It is a place where it doesn’t pay to be timid, and I also try to travel in the left lane when coming down the bridge deck from the light at Sheridan.
    I don’t know how you could improve the view for people coming up the ramp, but it is also plagued by the same impulse that has people on the highway going too slowly on highway on ramps(not getting up to road speed to merge), and slowing down a mile before they get on the off ramps. Drivers Ed told me you use the ramp to speed or slow in those situations!

  2. As usual, straightforward common sense from the Road Warrior. After a certain point, all the bells and whilstles in the world won’t solve the situations created by drivers who are either too timid or so careless that they seem to believe they are alone on the road. As for signalling: well, it seems to be going out of fashion in ALL the situations where it’s required.

  3. Travis, as always you are spot on. Here is another part of the problem.

    That ramp is designed with a 35mph speed limit and safe spacing between drivers. Reality is you’ll be merging with traffic at 50mph with a 2 car length gap. You better be going about 50 and have balls of steel when you hit the end of that on ramp. Here is a paragraph out of the WA. Drivers Guide.

    http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/driverguide.pdf

    “Entering into traffic – When you merge with traffic, signal
    and enter at the same speed that traffic is moving. Highspeed
    roadways generally have ramps to give you time
    to build up your speed for merging into traffic. Do not
    drive to the end of the ramp and stop or you will not have
    enough room to get up to the speed of traffic. Also, drivers
    behind you will not expect you to stop and you may be
    hit from the rear. If you have to wait for space to enter a
    roadway, slow down on the ramp so you have some room to
    speed up before you have to merge”

    Folks who want to speed across the bridge should get in the left lane. If they are going 20 over the speed limit and passing folks in the right lane, it’s not the poor guy trying to merge causing the problem.

    Here is a good video about merging.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-OmDGydsHc

    As always, thanks for your common sense answers.

  4. All this discussion about merging and merge lanes is fine but everyone needs to understand the difference between a merge lane and a yield intersection. The yield sign at that ramp is there for a reason, which is for the traffic coming off Callahan Ave. to yield to the traffic on Warren Ave. Occassionally the traffic in the southbound lanes on Warren is such that you cannot move out of the way or slow down to allow the traffic from Callahan to flow in easily no matter how couteous you want to be. So to quote the DOL Drivers Guide for a yield sign, “It means you must slow down and yield the right-of-way to traffic in the intersection you are crossing or roadway you are entering”. The RCW (46.61.190) for “Vehicle entering stop or yield intersection” also states in sect. (3) that “The driver of a vehicle approaching a yield sign shall in obedience to such sign slow down to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions and if required for safety to stop”.
    Unfortunately the ramp is so short and the traffic on the ramp is trying to look in to many directions at once that it can be quite tricky. I have also witnessed on more than one occasion a rear-end collision on that ramp. I’m not sure what the solution to this tricky situation is other than making drivers more aware of the fact that they need to yield , if necessary, by moving the yield sign back further up the ramp. But all drivers need to understand that this ramp is not like a merge lane onto a freeway.

  5. It’s exactly like a merge lane on a freeway it is not a yield intersection. When I’m merging there, I’m going to speed up to 50 turn my blinker on and I’m coming over, so I hope your ready.

  6. The point is clearly noted: This is specifically a ‘yield’ marked ramp. It is not marked as ‘merge’. This clearly defines the rules of the road that have to be followed.

    Your incredibly poor attitude to this legal fact indicates you are going to endanger me or any other driver during peak traffic periods simply to suit your ego.

    This problem is going to be compounded the fall when the Manette bridge is closed and any traffic that would be routed there will now have to use Warren Avenue. Many of those drives will be coming up this ramp, others will be coming down Warren avenue itself.

    A rear end accident is the fault of the following driver being incapable of maintaining control of their vehicle at all times. This ramp does not exclude any drivers from any safe driving practices. All drivers must be aware of the situation they are operating in and drive accordingly.

    As a final point: the Warren Avenue bridge is posted as a 35mph zone. Absolutely no one should be driving there vehicle at 50 mph, whether attempting to force a merge event to occur, or when transiting the bridge even if its a downhill slope and they let their speed build up due to inattentiveness.

  7. “The point is clearly noted: This is specifically a ‘yield’ marked ramp. It is not marked as ‘merge’. This clearly defines the rules of the road that have to be followed.”

    This is a silly comment because any ramp, whether posted with a yield sign or not has to yield. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a ramp and drivers have to merge. If drivers on the bridge are doing the speed limit, keeping a safe distance between vehicles, then there will be no trouble merging.

    The drivers handbook clearly says “When you merge with traffic, signal and enter at the same speed that traffic is moving…” If I got pulled over for going 50 on that ramp, I’d hire a lawyer and quote this fact. If I tried to merge at 35 when prevailing traffic was going 50 I’d most likely cause an accident.

    Just because you want to be a road hog and refuse to let other people merge does not mean I should cause an accident on the ramp. Once again I quote the drivers handbook, “Do not drive to the end of the ramp and stop…”

    If drivers follow my advice and you refuse to allow them to merge rear ending them in traffic, you will be at fault. Good luck with that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Enter the word yellow here: