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Travis Baker blogs about the problems and idiosyncrasies of Kitsap highways and byways.
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Has work on Bethel-Burley at Mullenix helped?

February 11th, 2014 by travis baker

The in basket: Carol Dudley thinks the recent reworking of the intersection of Mullenix and Bethel-Burley rods in South Kitsap has made things worse.

“The problem,” she said, “was a dangerous left turn off of Mullenix onto Bethel-Burley or a left off of Bethel-Burley onto Mullenix.

“We had months and months of reconstructing the entire corner to add a turn lane on both Bethel-Burley and Mullenix and a free right turn lane on Mullenix.  The road (was) built up to accommodate the new reconfiguration.

“While the increased lighting is a plus I feel no safer turning left off of Mullenix on to Bethel-Burley as I have to  consider two lanes of traffic and a blind spot.

“As I sit on Mullenix waiting to turn left, the combination of the cars on my right pulling forward to turn right and blocking my view and then when there are more than two cars waiting to turn left onto Mullenix, I cannot see cars coming down the hill south doing about fifty miles per hour.

Add to that the common occurrence of a large truck coming out of Morrison Gravel and to be safe you can wait a long time to be sure you see everything.

“In my view, the Bethel-Burley intersection prior to this fix felt safer and a blinking light would have added caution to the situation.

The out basket: I grew up about a hundred yards from this intersection, and was amazed at the amount of traffic there as I watched it one Monday afternoon, It’s certainly not the quiet little corner I remember.

Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer, says, “The driving force for the project was the number of rear-end collisions that occurred for southbound traffic turning left onto Mullenix.

“The left turn lane was designed and built to get turning traffic out of the way of through traffic on Bethel-Burley.  A flashing beacon would not have been a good fix for this particular situation.  It isn’t a matter of knowing that the intersection is there, but that traffic has stopped at the intersection to make the turn.

“The added left turn lane on Mullenix addresses capacity for those waiting to turn southbound onto Bethel-Burley.  We understand the dilemma of seeing around cars adjacent to you, but there isn’t a good engineering fix for this situation. Adjusting the stop line on the lanes won’t improve the sight lines.

“We recommend that motorists make the turning movement when the gap between vehicles on Bethel-Burley ensures it is safe to pull out,” Jeff said.

 

 

 

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5 Responses to “Has work on Bethel-Burley at Mullenix helped?”

  1. RM Parker Says:

    I live near this intersection and have really mixed feelings of the work that has been done. I think the county only approached part of the problem. There is a double issue for the neighborhood.

    Issue #1 Mullinex and Bethel-Burley is a little better but not optimum.

    Issue #2 Bethel-Burley at Shadowood should have been addressed while solving the overall problem. There is a blind low spot when heading south on Bethel-Burley just before you pass Shadowood. When traveling the speed limit of 45 the timing and distance is perfect that a car heading south is in the blind for a car making the left on Shadowood just before the crest of the hill. Perfectly timed set-up for a T-Bone if the car making the turn doesn’t come to a full stop to look or pay extremely close attention. Most of the neighborhood is well aware of the high risk but visitors get close calls all the time and a larger than normal amount of accidents happen.

    I asked about the accident data a couple years ago and was told that the Shadowood/Bethel-Burley data may show with the Mullinex/Burley data as it is so close, at most a couple hundred feet. Think the neighborhood was hoping for a Shadowood solution more than the Mullinex project.

    I think the reasonable solution is to lower the speed limit and slow the traffic down through signage and adding illumination to the Shadowood/Bethel-Burley intersection.

  2. Keith Says:

    “We recommend that motorists make the turning movement when the gap between vehicles on Bethel-Burley ensures it is safe to pull out,” Jeff said.

    Uh, don’t they teach that in Driver’s ed? Maybe some folks are just too much in a hurry. Also, if you are going to make the right turn on to Bethel-Burley, it’s only a matter of courtesy that you give the left laners the view. Hang back a little so they can see for Pete’s sake. And if you’re gonna turn left into Shadowood, hit your blinker as soon as you pass Spencer, and slow to 30 MPH. Once you crest the hill, wait for south bound traffic to pass, then turn left.

    Slow the heck down people. You’ll live to get home.

  3. Sue Felix Says:

    While trying to resolve one problem, other problems have been created with this road work. I live on Mullenix and as a result of Mullenix Rd being shifted more to the south (with the new turn lane), the visability to see traffic that is turning from Bethel Burley northbound onto Mullenix is now none existent unless your almost in the middle of the street from my driveway. I have a hill that was not shaved back to accommodate this change. Its an accident waiting to happen.

    I have lived here for 33 years and never had an issue with visiability until now. Plus, drivers think when they make the turn onto Mullenix that they are already on the freeway. Speeding has increased dramatically.

    I have called the County twice, with no response back about this problem. I think they need to come back and shave the hill that is now in the way of being able to see this oncoming traffic. Also, I think the road needs speeding enforcement now more than ever. I would have put in a roundabout to solve “the problem.”

  4. Grog Says:

    Sounds like the answer was pretty accurate. I drive this daily and wasn’t expecting the reason behind the “fix” to be prevention of rear end accidents for s/b traffic. What was done makes sense for the problem being addressed, but seems worse for all of the other problems with this intersection.

    Shadowood has always been an issue, but you can make that left to or from that street if you stop and look. The left/right from Mullenix is definitely better than it was before. The turn onto Mullenix is easy as well, as n/b traffic is making a right and s/b traffic has a dedicated turn lane so long as it isn’t occupied…

    Oh the hilarity of trucks turning right from the left turn lane on Mullenix, into oncoming traffic in the s/b left turn lane on Bethel-Burley so that it can then turn left onto Spencer from the wrong side of the road, a maneuver that would not be complete without severely cutting into the oncoming traffic on Spencer as well.

    Seriously, twice I have seen trucks make this maneuver forcing no less than four vehicles on three different roads to the shoulder or into oncoming traffic to avoid a collision.

  5. Sharon Howard Says:

    We live just south of the newly modified Mullenix/Bethel Burley junction in South Kitsap, and I would like to concur with an earlier writer that, in some ways, the improvements to the intersection have made it more dangerous.

    There are two endemic issues with the intersection. It sits in a bowl, limiting visibility of traffic zooming along at 45mph (or higher), and the second problem is that Spencer Road intersects with Bethel Burley from the west about 60 feet north of where Mullenix intersects from the east. Large quarry trucks use Spencer, and generally want to get to Mullenix and then Highway 16.

    The new turn lane configuration has set up a new and dangerous situation for the drivers coming from Mullenix who want to turn south on Bethel Burley. From the left turn lane on Mullenix, driver sight lines are very limited if there are vehicles (including large trucks) in the left turn lane on Bethel Burley. Those vehicles block visibility of cars and trucks traveling at road speed cresting and coming down the hill from the north, and vehicles coming from Spencer are completely invisible.

    Many bad results are possible. Cars turning south when there are still fast-moving vehicles coming from the north. Or worse, what happened to us a week ago — a driver pulled out from Mullenix to turn south and was so involved with seeing and judging traffic from the north that he never looked to the south to see oncoming traffic. We narrowly, and I mean NARROWLY, avoided a collision.

    I appreciate that the county and state worked hard to improve the intersection. The new lighting is great. And at low traffic times the turn lanes are a real plus. But at high volume hours, which these days is 6AM to 6PM, the intersection is dangerous.

    It would be lovely to hear the traffic gurus reply with something other than “drivers will get used to it.” Many of those drivers will end up in the hospital or worse.

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