Rush-hour incidents in Silverdale blamed on noise wall

The in basket: Dave Matney sees a problem with the southbound off-ramp from Highway 3 to Highway 303 and Silverdale.

“This off-ramp makes a blind turn around a tall concrete wall, then opens up and splits into three lanes leading up to the signal. Normally this process flows smoothly, (but) occasional traffic will back up onto SR-3 well before the blind turn. This happens very quickly and violently, one second you’re cruising in the outer lane doing 60mph, the next instantly slamming on your brakes to keep from rear-ending the guy in front of you.

“The signal changes, everybody starts to flow and the traffic clears out. Except the ones that did not get stopped in time. The second time this happened to me,” Dave said, “I was not going to stop in time, swerved to the right shoulder and came to a stop next to the car in front of me. The car behind me came to a stop behind the car in front of me, where I should have been. I heard a screeching sound and looked in my rear view mirror in time to see the off-ramp sign fall backwards with a car on top of it. My quick action saved the three of us from being in an accident.”

State troopers and tow trucks were on the scene when he came back the other way, he said.

“Over the last year, I have had this happen to me three times and have witnessed three other occurrences,” Dave says. “It always happens in the afternoons, between 3 and 5 p.m., coinciding with the Bangor commute that starts at 3 and lots of traffic is flowing out of both the Trident and Trigger avenue gates heading south in the outside lane.

“What is the purpose of this wall? Normally these walls are built for sound dampening when the freeway backs up to a housing development. But in this case there is no housing, just a ball field. The sharp turn with a wall blocks the driver’s sight line from seeing the traffic back up.

“Has the state patrol starting noticing this trend at this location?

“Maybe a warning sign,  ‘Traffic can backup suddenly.'”

The out basket: It is a noise wall, designed to reduce roadway noise from reaching the play field behind it, says Claudia Bingham Baker of the state highway department. She says she’s unaware of any plans to modify it.

State Trooper Russ Winger says, “We have not observed abnormally high collision numbers in this area. Collisions do occur there but many of those occur at the right turn yield sign (at the top of the off-ramp).

“We have had collisions occur in the straight section on SR3  when traffics backs up during heavy volumes and anywhere in between up to the intersection. The bulk of these collisions – rear end type –  are usually attributed to A) following  too closely. B) speed too fast for conditions. C) driver inattention.

“I am not so sure it is a sight distance problem rather than a driver awareness problem. Traffic can and does back up here during peak traffic times and I’m sure there are plenty of close calls that go unnoticed but it does not appear to be greatly different than other congested urban sections in Kitsap County.

“We have a fairly high collision rate on SR303 at the various intersections between Riddell and Fairgrounds roads. These are straight roadways with long sight distances. Many of the collisions are also rear-end collisions with some intersection collisions. Again, the various contributing factors noted above are the causing factors, along with running signal lights.”

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