Poulsbo’s 305 HOV lanes deemed effective

The in basket: Some months ago, a reader told me she believed the timing of the traffic signals on Highway 305 through Poulsbo was to be reviewed at some point after completion of its widening project and the establishment of the HOV lanes.

The Poulsbo City Council has opted for fairly long red light wait times on the side streets to keep the through movements flowing.

I didn’t recall ever hearing of such a planned review of the signal timing, but did report back then that the unorthodox placing of the HOV lanes on the outside rather than against the center barrier was to be reviewed at some point – five years after they opened, as I recall.

The outside lane was chosen to be the HOV lanes to make it easier for transit buses to get to and from the roadside to pick up and discharge passengers.

I asked Andrzej L. Kasiniak, Poulsbo city engineer, what he recalled. And I asked Olympic Region officials for the state Department of Transportation if the HOV lane review had ever been done.

The out basket: Andrzej said he was unaware of a council pledge to review the signal timing at a particular time.

Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region, replied, “While no formal study was done, we did look at the numbers and types of collisions that occurred within the limits of the HOV lane and the numbers and types of complaints we received about the lane, especially over the last five years.

“An informal before-and-after study showed a drop in collisions of about a third throughout the corridor. “Similarly, while there were a handful of complaints soon after the lane was constructed, there have been a very small number in the last five years.  From this, we feel the HOV lanes are working fine and plan no further study.”

6 thoughts on “Poulsbo’s 305 HOV lanes deemed effective

  1. If collisions are the measure of success of the HOV lanes, why not open these lanes up to all drivers? If collisions don’t increase, they are still successful.

  2. I agree with Maseace. The “study” begs the question. Is there a need for HOV lanes in the first place? This is social engineering gone amok.

  3. If the HOV lanes are working so great, why are there always only 2 or 3 cars in that lane and about 9 or 10 in the regular lane during HOV times? Does anyone remember when the HOV lane from Poulsbo to Hwy 3 almost extended clear up to the highway when it first opened and what an ungodly mess that was, with tons of cars struggling to get over in time to make the highway entrances? My guess is that they redid the HOV lane there and pulled it back because the commuters would have repainted it themselves out of sheer frustration.

  4. I usually enter 305 from Bond Rd and I have always found it odd that I would have to risk two lane changes in a few hundred yards in order to not be driving in the HOV during the specified hours. It seems like it is more dangerous than simply turning right onto the HOV lane and quickly exiting since the exit is on the right side.

  5. I would argue the the reason there are fewer accidents is because of the extra lane on 305 through Poulsbo, not because one of them is an HOV lane. The HOV lane is stupid, rarely enforced, and rarely used legally, during the hours it is designated to be an HOV lane. Several times recently, when I have had to move into it to make a right turn off the highway, I have had difficulty doing so because the traffic generally is moving much faster in that lane making the merge safely difficult at best. My experience is that at least half the vehicles driving in the HOV lane during the designated hours are doing so illegally. With two lanes open to all traffic at all hours, it is my belief that traffic would move more smoothly and it would be safer.

  6. I got a $124 fine today for driving a couple of blocks in the HOV lane at 7:53. The traffic was light and I had just turned into the center lane when the motorcycle officer pulled me over south of Hostmark on my way to the ferry. I think HOV lanes are good in high traffic areas and as encouragement to share rides. I doubt whether anyone would form a carpool just to drive a mile and a half in Poulsbo’s HOV lanes. Usually the right lane is empty except for those turning right anyway. I think the HOV lanes in Poulsbo are just a revenue source for the city like a small town speed trap, and $124 is a large fine for an infraction that has nothing to do with public safety

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