Road Warrior

Travis Baker blogs about the problems and idiosyncrasies of Kitsap highways and byways.
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Can Fauntleroy ferry terminal get a traffic light?

August 8th, 2014 by travis baker

The in basket: Raymond Craig of Port Orchard writes to say he misses the days when a state trooper was posted at the  Fauntleroy ferry terminal during rush hour.

“Getting off or on the ferry was a breeze because the officer efficiently metered traffic to match the boat off-load,” he said.

“With no traffic control, the ferry off-load gets bogged down on the ramp and during peak commute times this results in extensive delays. It is frustrating to see 50-plus cars idling on the dock while crossing traffic dribbles by on Fauntleroy (Avenue). With a bus stop at the top of the dock, adding a Metro double bus in the midst of the commute makes things even worse.

“More importantly,” he continued, “the exit at the end of the Fauntleroy ferry dock is a ‘triple point’ of safety issues. Cars, trucks, metro buses and pedestrians are all trying to cross without control or monitoring.  It is a dangerous crossing where sight lines are limited and drivers compete with Metro buses and pedestrians.

 “I have asked managers at WSDOT why they don’t install a traffic light to help the situation.  They tell me the Fauntleroy community will not allow the light to be installed because they don’t like having the ferry dock there. The community would like the terminal to be removed and resists any effort that will aid the ferry system.

“It makes no sense that the personal priorities of the Fauntleroy community could override a serious traffic safety situation,” Raymond said. “If a pedestrian or bicycle rider is injured at the ferry terminal crossing……you could logically blame the lack of traffic light as the cause.  With the emphasis today on the environment and safety, how can WSDOT not override the community and install a traffic light.”

The out basket: The city of Seattle has the whip hand on this and is sensitive to the feelings of city residents who live near the terminal. But Rick Sheridan of the Seattle Department of Transportation says the city is willing to consider ways to make the intersection safer if the ferry system provides the money.

First, though, Marta Coursey of the ferry system’s public affairs office sent along these thoughts: “In 2011, Washington State Patrol’s budget was reduced significantly, resulting in the loss of officer traffic control at the intersection of Fauntleroy Way and Fauntleroy Terminal in West Seattle. The Fauntleroy terminal presents many challenges and the officers were extremely helpful to us in providing safety, security and traffic control around this terminal.

 “Because Fauntleroy Way is also a city street, not a state highway, the state has no jurisdictional control over the intersection. In order for the state to install a signal here, we would need to get a permit from the city.”

Which brings us back to Rick Sheridan’s reply: “Our traffic engineers reviewed the intersection that supports the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal,” he said. “The City of Seattle is open to the idea of modifying this intersection. We would be happy to explore changes that can better facilitate ferry terminal operations while also ensuring a safe roadway for all users.

“As this request is driven by their operational needs, changes at this location would need to be funded by the Washington state ferry system. We will reach out to them to share our perspective on the matter.”

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You can reach Travis Baker at tvisb@wavecable.com

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