The in basket: Jo Webb has a suggestion for where the three lanes of Highway 304 leading out of Bremerton constrict to one at Highway 3.
“I work in Bremerton and have the misfortune of commuting via Highway 304 (the Navy Yard Highway) regularly,” she said. “As you are probably aware, there (is) one exit-only to Silverdale, one HOV lane, and the one lane that merges with the HOV lane, heading to Tacoma.
“In addition, I am sure you are aware of the backup of traffic in the merging lane, the little use the HOV lane gets, as well as the lack of enforcement by the police…. Coupled with this are those who pass everyone on the right in the exit-only lane and then rudely pull in front of people who have patiently waited. Tempers flare.
“My question,” she said, “has it ever been considered to put in metered lights, i.e., (red) lights for the two lanes allowing so many cars through for one lane and then switching, allowing the same number of cars through from the other lane? It seems to me it would reduce the congestion and move the traffic through a little more efficiently.”
The out basket: The big news in this reply is in the final two paragraphs, so be sure to read on, or at least skip down to there.
I occasionally hear requests for metered signals in that area, including five years ago when Joel Dahlke suggested them on the lanes coming south on Highway 3 and merging with 304. I have to report that cameras to show the signal operators how traffic is flowing are an integral part of any metering system, so they can set the best interval for the changing of the lights. There are no traffic cameras at that interchange.
It also seems to me that the suggested change would create ideal conditions for rear-end accidents as unexpected stopping of traffic would result.
But Steve Bennett, operations engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways, had a different reasons to say no this time.
“The first reason is that there are no funds identified by the Legislature in which to construct such a system,” he said. “Secondly, metering the HOV lane defeats the purpose of the HOV lane by eliminating any advantage that lane might have over the general purpose lane.”
But there is other, good news about those 304 HOV lanes. The state has finally concluded it can make them HOV lanes only during rush hour, Steve said.
“Because of requests from Navy and the city, we have agreed to change the HOV hours from all day to 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday,” he said. “In other words, during non-peak hours that lane will operate as a general purpose lane. We expect the switch over to occur in mid-November.”