Timing of signals at BI ferry explained

The in basket: Dave Richards of Bainbridge Island writes, “It seems several months ago, the timing of the traffic light at the corner of 305 and Winslow Way near the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal was ‘reset’ so that it stays green until pretty much all the vehicles have driven off the ferry and onto 305.

“This has caused huge backups near the terminal and leaves many cars trapped in the Diamond Parking lots for upwards of 20 minutes or more.  Would you have any information as to what’s going on?”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says the change was made November of 2012, and “the signal system is configured to give off-loading ferry traffic three minutes of uninterrupted green time at both Harborview Drive and Winslow Way between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. each weekday.

“After three minutes, the signal then cycles to allow all other phases to proceed (vehicles and pedestrians) at both intersections. Then it returns to the three-minute phase for off-loading the ferry. Rarely will a weekday sailing between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. completely unload in 3 minutes,” she said.

The other directions at those two signals get 123 minutes of green time combined for cross-traffic and pedestrians between the three-minute time spans, depending on the detection of traffic.

The three-minutes for off-loading ferry traffic, both the first one and the second one, aren’t reliant on traffic detection and run all 180 seconds.

“Since 2008,” she added, “at the request of Ferries, we have tried various signal timing scenarios to more effectively balance the needs of local traffic with off-loading ferry traffic. This current operation seems to work pretty well.

“After we received your question, we checked the system to ensure it was operating as programmed, and it was,” she said.

 

One thought on “Timing of signals at BI ferry explained

  1. Doug Rauh’s comments:
    How do both signals know when the ferry has arrived?

    After a pedestrian trips the signal by the toll booth the two signals are out of sync leaving unused space between the toll booth signal and the Winslow Way signal.

    If adaptive traffic control system were used instead of time of day the ferry unload would proceed faster thus allowing the cross traffic to begin using the intersection quicker.

    If Washington State Ferries allowed passengers to exit to the South instead of only to the North then no passengers would have to cross Olympic Drive (SR-305) which could allow both signals to be in sync during the ferry off load.
    When WFS rebuilds the pedestrian gangway in the future this would be the time to redesign how WSF offloads pedestrians to make the process more efficient for both the pedestrians and the vehicles.

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