Wide yellow stripe prohibits left turns

The in  basket: The state repainted its highway striping in the Port Orchard area late in May, and I thought they had done something different with the center line on Highway 166 in front of the South Sound Cinemas.

They painted a broad yellow stripe, which prohibits left turns across it, so no one headed uphill can turn left into the theater legally.

There used to be a No Left Turn sign on the shoulder there, but it went away some time in the past.

A month or so ago, I was a few cars behind a car that stopped in the inside lane, signaling to make that illegal left turn and waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. It’s a dangerous thing to do, as drivers in that lane are already looking back over their shoulder for outside lane traffic, knowing they’ll have to merge right very soon as the left lane ends. It’s a set-up for rear-end crashes.

Among that oncoming traffic was a Port Orchard police car, I noted after merging right and continuing uphill.

“This should be interesting,” I thought, and turned around to go downhill as soon as I could to see what the officer did. Alas, it took too long, and there was no sign of the turner or the police car when I got back to the scene.

It all reminded me that a similar wide yellow stripe had been added in front of what then was Silverdale Baptist Church on Highway 303 (aka Waaga Way) a couple of years ago. I kept forgetting to call the church (it’s been renamed Grace Point Church) and ask if it was their idea or the state’s.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker, of the Olympic Region public affairs staff, says the wide stripe in front of the theater has been there since 2008. “It was placed there to prevent left turning accidents,” she said.

Even though I drive past there at least twice a day, it took the new coat of paint for my brain to register it, I guess.

Wendy Fox of Grace Point Church tells me the state required the broad stripe in front of the church when Silverdale Baptist  asked for a second access in and out. It led to the current alignment of an exit-only north of the entrance to the church. The stripe forbids left turns into the exit.

Incidentally, those who believe that left turns are forbidden across double yellow lines of normal width are in error. Without the extra width of the stripes, such as in  front of the theater and church, cross-hatching between the lines on the pavement, a raised barrier or a sign forbidding them, left turns are legal. It’s a good thing, too. Otherwise thousands of people wouldn’t be able to turn into their driveways

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