The in basket: It was irritating during the closure of Highway 166 for the Gorst culvert replacements to pull up to the red light on Port Orchard Boulevard, the designated detour, at Tremont Street and watch timid drivers wait to turn right onto Tremont’s inside lane despite the presence of a perfectly good outside lane that would hold a few of them and allow those farther back in the line on the boulevard to pull forward.
Often the traffic was so heavy that even when the light turned red on Tremont and green on the boulevard, the backup from the next light ahead on Tremont, at Pottery, left no room for boulevard traffic to get into the through lane on Tremont. Once again, the outside lane, which can hold four or five vehicles and from which cars can merge into the inside lane when Tremont traffic began moving again, went largely unused.
I asked Port Orchard police whether there is anything illegal about using that outside lane, which ends a couple of hundred feet from the boulevard, as a merge or acceleration lane.
While I was at it, I asked if there is anything illegal about using deceleration lanes, such as those in front of Fred Myer on Sedgwick Road, to accelerate into eastbound Sedgwick traffic. There are right turn arrows on the pavement, but they don’t say “only.”
The out basket: Commander Dale Schuster of PO police says that not only is use of the outside lane on Tremont legal, as a matter of law, it’s required.
“Yes, the detour route via Port Orchard Boulevard was a mess during the culvert construction,” he said. “Thank God that part is over.
“Technically, when you turn right onto westbound Tremont Street from Port Orchard Boulevard you need to enter as far right towards the curb as possible which would obviously mean the closest lane. (RCW 46.61.290). In this case, it would be the acceleration lane you are referring to.
“You would then signal left and merge into the main lane of travel. Of course, you are relying on the courtesy of other drivers to let you in during heavy traffic. So, in short, it is perfectly legal to turn right in the acceleration lane then merge into traffic, or wait in the lane for an opening.
“Regarding your question on Sedgwick Road at Fred Meyer…I see no reason why someone exiting the Fred Meyer lot could not use that lane as an acceleration lane to merge into eastbound Sedgwick Road. Since there is no “island” there, the motorist would need to make sure he/she yields the right of way to someone in the deceleration lane already eastbound on Sedgwick Road. I am willing to bet most motorists exiting Fred Meyer are already using it as an acceleration lane.”