The in basket: Robert Arper e-mails to say, “I am curious why the left turn lane into the East Bremerton Fred Meyer is programmed so differently than the left turn lane into the East Bremerton Walmart.
“Right now it would appear that Walmart shoppers are getting preferential treatment but Fred Meyer shoppers are getting the shaft. Yet it is the motoring public that is paying the price in the form of delays in both cases.
“Those of us waiting for the light to turn to allow us to turn into Fred Meyer have to wait forever while traffic heading north on 303 gets the green regardless of the amount of traffic.
“Those of us traveling south on 303 are delayed by those wishing to turn left from the northbound lane into Walmart even if there are only one or two cars in the left-turn lane. It would seem that the people programming the lights at these two intersections are not the same person or they just want to make it difficult for the motoring public.”
The out basket: The history of those intersections is quite different, accounting for the difference in treatment.
Former officials in the Olympic Region signal shop for state highways have told me that when Fred Meyer wouldn’t agree to shift its main entrance when the store was built, the entrance didn’t line up with the existing road across Highway 303, creating an offset intersection.
As a result, the two opposing left-turns onto 303 must happen separately, prolonging the wait for those wanting to make other movements. I often hear complaints about the left turn into Fred Meyer being annoyingly short when it finally does come around, but in my experience, that comes and goes and isn’t always the case.
In front of Walmart, the center barrier installed there between McWilliams and Fairgrounds roads to eliminate left-turn accidents at other intersections near there was finished during the holidays and heavy traffic into Walmart soon spilled out of the left turn lane into the inside northbound through lane.
So the signal shop gave it an extra left turn opportunity in each cycle to eliminate the danger of rear-end accidents that created. It’s been that way ever since, though watching that turn lane, I’m not sure I often or ever see enough turning traffic during the two cycles combined that it would fill up the turn lane. But I’m not often there during the holidays.
Nonetheless, the Olympic Region signal shop and the city of Bremerton are considering whether changes should be made in the timing of signals between Fred Meyer and points south.
Ken Burns of the signal shop says, “Robert’s assessment of the signals’ being operated by different people is correct.” The city has one and the state the other.
“(We) are working together on a corridor analysis for the system on Highway 303 from Sheridan Road to the Fred Meyer/Furneys Lane signal,” Ken said. “This analysis will examine left-turn volumes, pedestrian crossing clearance times, as well as the overall delay at the intersections in this corridor.”