Inside the SR3-SR304 tangle

The in basket: Marty Buswell sounds a frequent complaint when he writes, “How long must we suffer the idiocy of Highway 3 merging to one lane going (toward) Gorst. One day last week, it was backed up all the way to Kitsap Way. I have seen cars leave at Loxie Eagans only to exit the other side to cut in line further up.
“Our Commissioner Ray Aardal back 20 years ago had lined up the old Evergreen floating bridge for pennies on the dollar to bypass the metropolis of Gorst,” Marty said, “but was shut down because some politicians owned property around Gorst (Rumor has it).


The in basket: Marty Buswell sounds a frequent complaint when he writes, “How long must we suffer the idiocy of Highway 3 merging to one lane going (toward) Gorst. One day last week, it was backed up all the way to Kitsap Way. I have seen cars leave at Loxie Eagans only to exit the other side to cut in line further up.
“Our Commissioner Ray Aardal back 20 years ago had lined up the old Evergreen floating bridge for pennies on the dollar to bypass the metropolis of Gorst,” Marty said, “but was shut down because some politicians owned property around Gorst (Rumor has it). They did not want to loose any property value even though it was far better for the people and this county to do so. Please tell me this will change sometime soon!”
The out basket: No realignments or construction are planned to make it better, but it seems to me that events have lessened the annoyance there a little.
I’m not a daily or even weekly commuter through there, but my few trips through the backup suggests that what used to be a 12-minute delay from when I had to stop for traffic to when I reached the 304 merge most afternoons is down to about eight minutes.
The one change I’ve noticed is that the white “Merge Left” sign that used to adorn the center barrier is gone. I haven’t found who removed it or when or why, but it’s missing.
There’s still the big yellow “lane ending, merge left” sign farther down, but I’d long advocated removing the white sign. I think it caused most of the unhappiness there by causing polite drivers to move over prematurely, making them feel abused by right-lane drivers who didn’t. Now the two lanes fill up more equally, it seems to me. And I submit that that somehow moves the traffic better, as measured by my stopwatch.
Curiously, someone in officialdom seems to agree.
Two years ago, Richard Nerf of Madrona Point in Bremerton came across the following in what’s called a “Transportation Discipline Report.” I’m not sure what it has to do with the downtown Bremerton tunnel, for which is was prepared, but it said this:
“When a merge point is required ahead, many drivers try to be polite by merging early,  and then they punish those who choose to merge further down the road by refusing to  allow them in. This behavior undermines traffic engineers’ intention that both lanes be  used right up to the merge point to take advantage of extra storage. 
“A clear example of this occurs at the west end of SR 304 where it merges with southbound SR 3,” whoever wrote the report said. “Both the SR 304 westbound and SR 3 southbound legs of the interchange typically suffer from extensive one-lane queues filled with polite drivers. These queues often extend beyond the next closest interchange or intersection even though there is an empty adjacent lane.”
I’ve had no luck learning whether the author was a maverick within the state transportation department and stated department policy, but it would explain removal of the white sign on southbound 3.
As for the floating bridge envisioned to cross Sinclair Inlet to bypass Gorst, my recollection is that the steep slope from the hill on the south side to water level, the cost of approach highways and probably environmental concerns doomed it, not Gorst property interests.

6 thoughts on “Inside the SR3-SR304 tangle

  1. If people getting into the left lane sooner than needed is the problem, why does the traffic slow down when the right lane merges and not before?

    It’s kind of funny, in a construction zone you’re expected to slow down before absolutely necessary, but apparently not when merging two lanes into one.

    Face it, people stay in the right lane not to take their turn at merging, but to beat the traffic in the left lane to the merge point. They even speed up to make sure. It happens every time there’s any reason a lane is cut off – some jerk always tries to get to the head of the line before everyone else.

    I’m tired of people who speed up to get around me and the other traffic and then expect me or someone else to yield to them when they’re ready.

  2. You never answered her real question – and I think it’s a good one – why does it go down to one lane?

    There’s certainly room for it to remain two lanes all the way.

    I’m guessing their logic is to do the merge in two steps. Two lanes merging into two lanes would be too much, so first you merge two to one on SR3 then merge that one into the two lanes on SR304.

  3. As a daily commuter through Gorst, I was very interested in your article in today’s Sun about the infamous merge on Highway 3. One thing in your article surprised me…but it wasn’t the part about how no one wants to fix it.

    I got the definite impression that the intent of the article was to pin some serious blame on the polite drivers who merge left early, as if their politeness was at the heart of the backup. I very much disagree. I look at getting through the choke point of the merge the same way I look at getting through just about anything else: First come first served. How does this work out in real life? You get in line and wait your darn turn.

    If you push past 20 people at WalMart to get to the head of the line, someone is likely to sock you in the mouth. Being in a car does not make rudeness OK, does it? A lot of people apparently think it does. I get very tired of watching some jerk in my passenger side mirror racing past 40 cars right up to the merge point and cutting in without so much as a turn signal. If this were just something that happened occasionally, it wouldn’t upset me so much…but I see it all the time. Am I wrong for resenting this kind of selfish behavior?

  4. Complaints about the merge point are valid, but the article misses the point
    about the true cause of the tangle: the merging of four lanes into two. The
    county and state would have been much wiser to add a lane to southbound
    Highway 3 between the subject merge point and Gorst. Why squander $30 million for a limited use tunnel in downtown Bremerton (despite having to replace
    the railroad overpass in Gorst)?

    I’m willing to that more than a hundred times more cars now use the stretch
    of Highway 3 I mention than will ever use the tunnel. No bang for the buck
    in the latter.

  5. The powers that be need to UP the speed limit to 60 through that area, the slow down is mostly caused by people slowing down instead of just continuing through. Even when there is little traffic in the middle of the day, the cars will back up just because of the braking by those worried about getting a ticket.

  6. Both sides are valid (pun intended), but I agree that the burden of guilt shouldn’t put on the “polite” drivers (we’re the majority).

    Susan is correct in her statement that most of the drivers in the right lane are there for one purpose only: to make sure they get ahead of as many cars as possible in the left lane, and they’ll speed up to make this happen.

    One of the best areas to witness this very selfish act (that I’ve termed “chiseling”) is northbound highway 305 out of the Bainbridge ferry terminal where the two lanes funnel down to one just several feet north of the High School Road intersection. You’ll see some major engine-revving, screeching tires, and posturing with fingers and fists here with every ferry offloading.

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