Disparate signal operation on Highway 303 puzzles reader

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.”

4 thoughts on “Disparate signal operation on Highway 303 puzzles reader

  1. I never shop at Walmart for ethical reasons so turning there is never an issue, but i do most of my grocery shopping at Fred Meyer, and it is the longest i have ever spent at a red light, EVER. But, even late in the morning there is solid traffic in both lanes coming north on Wheaton so i can understand the long wait. What i’m always puzzled at is, where is all this traffic coming from north on Wheaton? Downtown Bremerton is still half a ghost town, and doesn’t the shipyard work in shifts? I’ve seen less traffic in major cities.
    In any case, my suggestion for anyone sitting at this left turn for what seems like an eternity, when the light turns green, MOVE, don’t sit there for 3 or 4 seconds wondering if it’s finally ok to GO.
    And thank god they don’t have those flashing yellow left turn signals like in Silverdale where there have been several serious accidents recently resulting in one death, they’d be scraping bodies off the road at Wheaton and Fred Meyer every day.
    And yet the WSDOT continues to defend these flashing yellow signals as a great solution to improving traffic flow, when anyone who frequents Silverdale like i do knows for a fact this is total BS. The WSDOT should be investigated for incompetence.

  2. You know Mikey as someone who lives in Silverdale and am always in and about Silverdale, I do believe that there has only been one known accident caused by the yellow flashing caution lights and yes it did cause a fatality to a very good friend of my wife, I do believe that there are more accidents from tholse drivers who blast through the red lights. I mean on average there is at least 3 cars that go through them after they are red. I have sat at a green light and watched a T-Bone happen due to red light runners. I think the blinking yellows are a great tool for drivers if they just had a little patience. Now while I dont even think I have ever been in the Fred Meyer parking lot, I do believe that if I knew that the light was slow changing and then quick red, I think I would find another entrance to the parking lot, and not complain about it. There are several lights throughout Kitsap County that are slow changers and then quick reds. Like the light on 303 that turns left to go to Safeway. I have sat in that lane for 3-4 lights before. It is sometimes caused by drivers who sit there not paying attention before they realize its green, but that the chance drivers take. If traffic is backed up there I just turn right into the carpool lot and do a u-turn and hit the light to go across. Problem solved. Or sometimes the light to turn left off 303 to go to Lowes. That one can also be slow and fast. I just go to the other side of the lot and turn into the lot. Problem solved. If I leave Papa Murphys or even Jack in the Box and the traffic is heavy and I have to jump across the road, well rather than wait for an opening I just drive behind Goodwill and go to the light and wait for it to change. Less stress of waiting to time the traffic. Problem solved.

    The biggest problem with drivers around these parts is the fact that they drive with such tunnel vision that they dont realize that there are other ways to solve their issues but cant see them…

  3. PS. WSDOT does not use, defend or operate the flashing yellows anywhere in the State. These are Kitsap County systems.

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