Tag Archives: off-ramp

Lack of stop sign at Silverdale off-ramp questioned

The in basket: Sharon Clark expressed concern a few months back about the Yield sign that controls vehicles coming off southbound Highway 3 via the off-ramp to Highway 303 north of Silverdale.

“I experienced a close call when exiting southbound to Silverdale, making a right turn at the yield sign,” she said. “Surprise — there’s no merging lane with traffic that’s fast-moving along the the far right lane.

“To make things worse, the visibility is bad. Small cars are hard to see when they’ve picked up speed from the traffic light zone, and are close to the overpass wall.  “Don’t most motorists expect there to be a merge lane, when yielding onto a four-lane road, coming off a freeway?” she asked. “Why not a stop sign instead?”

The out basket: I sent Sharon the explanation for the alignment at that location that I got from Project Engineer Brenden Clarke back in October 2007 while the interchange still was under construction. And I promised I’d ask for accident figures there since the ramp opened.

Brenden said then, “The sign there is a yield sign, not a merge sign.

“Traffic coming from southbound SR3 to 303 should not be merging,” he said. “It is either a signal-controlled or yield condition. Traffic heading toward Bremerton is controlled by the new traffic signal. Traffic heading toward Clear Creek or the Mall should be looking at the traffic signal as they approach to give them guidance as to how to proceed.

“If it is green, they obviously have the right-of-way and if it is red, they should be abiding by the Yield sign that is in place on the ramp and looking at oncoming traffic before they proceed.”

They didn’t install a stop sign for the right-turn movement, he told me then, because that would require traffic to stop even when the light is green for that movement. “The result of a stop sign would be a drastic decrease to capacity.  The yield sign allows traffic to proceed unencumbered while the signal is green, but it does not allow a merge.

“An added acceleration lane would have been nice,” he added. “but we did not have enough right-of-way to accommodate the widening for the added lane.”

So, have there been a lot of accidents at that yield since the ramp opened?

Geneva Hawkins of the state’s Collision Data & Analysis office says there had been 20 accidents at that location between the ramp’s opening Nov. 29, 2007, and the end of June this year, the most recent figures available.

All 20 have been rear-end accidents, 15 on the off-ramp (ruled as the result of following to closely), the other five on Highway 303, called the result of inattention. They were distributed evenly, with seven in 2008, eight in 2009 and five the first half of this year.

Four people had injuries, none serious, three of them in a pair of crashes in 2008. There have been no fatalities.

What is speed limit approaching Warren Avenue Bridge?

The in basket: Julia LaFontaine of Tracyton says there was a 35 mph speed limit sign on southbound Wheaton Way as one approaches the Warren Avenue Bridge, a bit past the intersection with Sheridan, before the city of Bremerton built its off-ramp there a couple of years ago. 

“I’m guessing it was in the way of construction of the new off-ramp to the Sheridan Park area,” she said, ” but . . . where is it now?  There’s no sign now from the intersection to the other 35 mph sign just where the bridge deck begins (after the on-ramp there). 

“I use that route (along Tracyton Beach Road and up Sheridan) three to five times a week,” she said. “I’m a rules follower, and whatever the speed limit is, that’s what I go on surface streets. I do sometimes get up to 65 on the freeway, but on surface streets and rural roads there are always joggers, people crossing to a mailbox, animals, hidden driveways, all kinds of unexpected things possibly just around a curve.  

“When turning onto the bridge I’ve been using the 30 mph of Wheaton as my guide, until I get to the further sign, but people are always on my tail or rushing past in the left lane. 

“Will they ever replace that sign?” she asked. ” Or is 30 intended to be the correct speed until you reach that second sign? There was a long stretch at 35 before reaching the second sign.” 

The out basket: Brenden Clarke, head of the state’s local project office, says Julie is mistaken, that there was no 35 mph sign where the city built its off-ramp to Callahan Drive and Lebo Boulevard. He included a photo of the spot taken prior to the construction, he said, viewed from the north, and no sign is visible.

I don’t have any contrary recollection of the speed limit history there. 

“The correct speed limit at this location is indeed 30 mph,” Brenden said. “It’s 30 mph until you reach the 35 mph speed limit sign at the bridge.”

I’m not surprised that Julia feels pressure to speed up from drivers behind her.  Most drivers don’t adhere to the speed limit like she does, especially on straight stretches like that approaching the bridge. But they can always pass her if they want to go faster.

Kitsap freeway exits aren’t numbered – so far

The in basket: It’s funny how important sources of information on highways where a driver is unfamiliar become just background noise in that driver’s home area, where  he doesn’t need the help. 

That’s true of me, so I was caught by surprise when Bill Vale of Suquamish asked why the only freeway interchange in Kitsap County at which the off-ramps are numbered is the new one in Silverdale. 

As much as I use freeway off-ramp numbers to find motels and restaurants when traveling, they are so unimportant to me around here than I hadn’t noticed their absence until Bill wrote. 

“I notice at the Kitsap Mall exit, it is Exit 45,” he said. “Going north, you have exit 45A and 45B.   

“These are the only signs that I have seen in the county that actually utilize the mile marker,” he said. “Poulsbo could be exit 54 A (Finn Hill) and 54B (Highway305). 

“Is the county beginning to use this system? Or why did they designate Waaga Way as Exit 45?” he asked.

The out basket: It’s the state, not the county, that manages the freeways and their off-ramps, and, yes, it is moving gradually toward adding them. 

“For years, maybe decades,” says Steve Bennett, the Olympic Region traffic engineer, “we numbered only Interstate route exits.  Several years ago, we decided that policy didn’t make sense and began, as new construction came to a corridor, to add exit numbers to all multi-lane divided freeways.”

The Highway 3-303 interchange is the most recent one substantially modified here. I would assume the Burley-Olalla Road interchange will have its exits numbered,corresponding with the nearest milepost marker, when it opens later this year.