Highway 304 HOV lane violations said still to be rampant

The in basket: David Barr writes to say he found a Road Warrior column from 2011 about widespread flouting of the rules in the HOV lanes coming out of Bremerton heading toward Gorst and “sadly I can report that the situation has remained completely unchanged and I believe revisiting this story is warranted.

“A few times a week I leave Bremerton around 4 p.m. when shipyard traffic floods the area, and I consistently see a significant portion of people occupying the HOV lane do so without meeting the requirements of that lane.

“It has to be true that enforcement of the rules during the 3:45-5:30 peak commuting time would only complicate the congestion situation. Can you imagine pulling 30-50 people over in a half an hour in that location?  It would not only be a nightmare for traffic, but also for the safety of the troopers.  Additionally, the state patrol would be likely be exposed to public outcry for making the commute more difficult.  Its a lose-lose for them.

“I can’t help but feel that these conditions contribute to the lawlessness I perceive when it comes to these particular HOV lanes,” David said. “A practical person would simply conclude that it seems unsafe to enforce the rules during these heavy commuting times and this is why daily commuters have little motivation to follow the rules.

“Does the state patrol have any plan to fix this?”

The out basket: I see the same thing when it’s light enough to see into the vehicles passing me in that HOV lane. One recent night when it was raining heavily that wasn’t possible, but the stream of vehicles in the HOV lane was so heavy I had to assume that most were breaking the rules.

Still I could get upset only on principle as their behavior really wasn’t delaying me much. I suspect that that HOV lane was created more to qualify for federal money for the Gateway improvements than to help with traffic.

State Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the state patrol here, says, “It is true that enforcement during this time would probably contribute to slower traffic movement. Emergency lights on the shoulder tend to do that. This does not mean our troopers are going to shy away from enforcing the law. Regardless of a driver’s rationale for violating the HOV restriction, it is still illegal. Assuming that we are going to avoid the area and enforcing the law because of ‘public outcry’ is incorrect.

“As to your reader’s question of do we have a plan to ‘fix it,’ no, we do not. The only real ‘fix’ is more lanes and fewer vehicles. Not likely soon.

“Making traffic stops out on the highway is dangerous, period. That comes with our job. Our troopers will continue to enforce the speed and HOV law here when they can and at random times.”


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