Tag Archives: left-turn signal

Left turn signal at Manette Bridge is oddly positioned

The in basket: Jim Wieck and Katherine Adams both say the left turn signal for those heading south on 11th Street at the Manette Bridge in Bremerton is easy to miss.

Jim says, “As you approach from the north, the two traffic lights for the inside and outside Washington Avenue lanes appear to be located too far to the left side of the lanes.

“The inside lane traffic light appears to line up with the turn lane. Although there is a turn light directly above the turn lane, I have seen drivers not recognize that light but use the inside Washington Avenue light to determine when they can proceed, which can result in running the red turn light.

“I’ve probably done it,” he said. “While riding with my wife she did it and I have observed a car in front of me do the same.

“If this illusion is not corrected, I can imagine future accidents caused by drivers responding to the wrong traffic light.”

Katherine writes, “The left turn light is sometimes not seen and the drivers follow the light for the through lane. Maybe it isn’t located correctly?

“This happened to us once so we are very careful and I have seen it happen numerous times and it is scary if you are driving through on Washington going north and a car turns in front of you.

The out basket: In my few times through there, I haven’t reacted to the wrong signal head, but apparently a lot of people do.

I see a possible explanation in that the left turn signal isn’t mounted on the same crossarm as the two through signals. Instead, it’s mounted on the back of the crossarm for the signals controlling oncoming traffic. I haven’t been able to get an explanation for the unusual design.

That signal was designed by the state, but it’s operation is controlled by the city. Street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson says they changed that left turn signal to go green at the same time as the two through signal heads, rather than following them as was the case when they first went into service. They did it because a number of vehicles were running the red while turning left, he said.

That will eliminate the problem described by Jim and Katherine except when the left turn signal “times out” for lack of traffic and goes red while the through lights stay green.

“It sounds like we still have a little issue,” Gunnar said. “We have discussed adding a secondary display for the turn on the signal pole itself, but have simply not had the time/resources to do so yet.”

Flashing yellow at Lund & Jackson worries reader

 

The in basket: Harry Mock e-mailed to say, “I have noticed that there is a recent change to the traffic light at the Jackson/Lund intersection (in Port Orchard) which is marked by a sign saying “Signal Revision”.  

“Specifically, the left turn lane arrows off of Lund and onto Jackson (both directions) blink yellow at times and, at other times, operate normally (green, yellow red).  Considering the volume of traffic at that intersection, it seems dangerous to have a blinking yellow turn arrow at any time. Can you say what caused this revision?”

The out basket: Kitsap County is putting these signals all over the county. Mile Hill Drive got them last year, and they are in Silverdale, too. North Kitsap has yet to get its first one, though.

The blinking yellow means the same thing as a sign saying “left turn must yield” when facing a green ball signal. They apply to intersections with “permissive” left turns rather than the “protected” left turn where a red arrow disallows turning against it and a green arrow means no oncoming traffic may proceed

Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer says, “The flashing yellow arrow safely increases capacity for signalized intersections. The concept of a permissive turn has always been around with a green ball indication. The green ball  is sometimes misunderstood by motorists, thinking they have the right-of-way to turn in front of oncoming traffic. It gets even more complicated when the signal changes from a left-turn arrow (protected left turn granting right-of-way) to a green ball (permissive left turn – you must yield).  

 “The flashing yellow arrow is better understood by motorists, according to studies,” Jeff said. “We can program them to eliminate the permissive turn if traffic volumes warrant.  

“A major complaint from motorists is having to wait at signals for a green arrow when no oncoming traffic is present,” he said. “The limited application of flashing yellow arrows has been well-received by area motorists. No accidents have been reported where the signal has been installed, and  queues in the left turn lanes have been eliminated or decreased.”

Dave Dahlke read this column on the Road Warrior blog and commented, “I wonder if this is being enacted all of the state or is this only a Kitsap County action.”

I haven’t asked that specifically, but Don Anders, head of the Olympic Region signal shop, says he likes the flashing yellows. “I feel this gives the public a better indication of a caution or yield movement,” he said.  Federal highway officials have allowed “this display to be used on a trail basis and many agencies are putting these into use,” he continued. “Some older signal controllers will not do this flashing operation without some modifications, so many agencies will not use it until they can upgrade equipment.  WSDOT has approval to use this type of display, but we have not used it here in the Olympic Region.”