Winners and losers at new Silverdale interchange

The in basket: Pat, who didn’t provide a last name, encountered the nearly complete new interchange where Highways 3 and 303 meet in Silverdale and declared it no improvement.
She was surprised to find the northbound Highway 3 on-ramp from Kitsap Mall Boulevard gone.
“I thought I would exit easily onto North 3 by Applebee’s, but no, I had to go over the freeway and turn toward old Bremerton. After waiting a long wait at the stop sign (that we never had to do before….) or get hit by traffic coming from East Bremerton, we could proceed north to the Hood Canal Bridge.” 
“Was that the original plan?” she asked.

The in basket: Pat, who didn’t provide a last name, encountered the nearly complete new interchange where Highways 3 and 303 meet in Silverdale and declared it no improvement.
First she missed the new southbound off-ramp into Silverdale as she drove south and had to continue on to Newberry Hill Road and double back. Then she was surprised to find the northbound Highway 3 on-ramp from Kitsap Mall Boulevard gone.
“I thought I would exit easily onto North 3 by Applebee’s, but no, I had to go over the freeway and turn toward old Bremerton. After waiting a long wait at the stop sign (that we never had to do before….) or get hit by traffic coming from East Bremerton, we could proceed north to the Hood Canal Bridge.” 
“Was that the original plan?” she asked.
The out basket: Yes, that has been the plan from the beginning. I expect it to be a noticeable improvement overall when it’s finished but it’s still a work in progress. And one group of users, those making the northbound trip out of Silverdale that Pat mentions, will find it much less easy.
The big winners in the finished project will be those coming north on Highway 3 wanting to head toward Bremerton on Highway 303. They’ll have a direct ramp with no traffic signals, replacing the existing left turn, right turn and two traffic signals.
Those heading into and out of Silverdale on Highway 303 will have it a little easier, with no right angle turns any longer, but three traffic signals where they used to encounter two.
With all the 3-to-303 traffic removed from the traffic signal at the end of the northbound Highway 3 off-ramp, it will cycle more quickly, making for shorter waits there.
But there are losers. Those coming and going from Clear Creek Road now must pass through a traffic signal.
And those like Pat who are coming out of Silverdale and want to go north on Highway 3 have lost their direct access just past Applebees and now must cross over Highway 3 and pass through the three traffic signals before making a left turn at the third one to get on the freeway.
I asked Brenden Clarke, state project engineer, why they didn’t leave the on-ramp near Applebee’s in place, not to retain northbound freeway access but to allow those leaving Silverdale heading for Bremerton to merge with cars on the new 3-to-303 ramp. That would save them the trip through the three traffic signals and reduce traffic at those signals. He said the difference in speeds between those coming off Highway 3 at 50 or 60 miles per hour and those who had just turned off Kitsap Mall Boulevard would make such a merge an unacceptable accident hazard.
As for Pat’s missing the new off-ramp heading into Silverdale from the north, Brenden said she’s not alone. “We have had some motorists drive by the new ramp, expecting to use the old ramp and miss their exit. The new ramp is well signed but people are creatures of habit and it will take some adjustment for motorists to get used to the new location of the ramp.”


19 thoughts on “Winners and losers at new Silverdale interchange

  1. I don’t understand how this can be seen as an improvement at all.

    People who live north have a much worse time of it. Coming from the north you used to go under 303, swing around 135 degrees in a classic cloverleaf, and head onto Wagga Way with NO STOPS. Now you exit and immediately encounter a light you can’t even see if you are a few cars back.

    Going TO the north you used to come off Ridgetop Hill and swing lazily onto 3 with no stops and no need to even merge for another mile or so. Today, you come to a stop, and swing hard right to get back on 3 north.

    How is that an improvement? It is a clear step backwards. How many millions of dollars were spent to shove the clock backwards? They’ve made drivers from the north encounter numerous obstacles they did not have in favor of an off ramp from the south? It makes no sense.

  2. So we can no longer leave Silverdale and head north as we used to? We must now negotiate three traffic signals before allowed onto highway 3?
    Wonderful planning. And this is to allow easier access for drivers heading north on 3 to get to Waaga Way, and head south?

    You won’t recall, but I questioned this when the new interchange was first published; my question concerned right turns and stop signs in an interchange. This seems even worse. (This mess has made Seattle news, by the way).

    I have noticed that heading south, one must pass under a large underpass, in a curve, and, regardless of lighting or visibility conditions, either continue in the curve, or immediately tighten the turn to take the off-ramp suddenly looming.
    Stand by for accidents in this spot.

  3. “…it will take some adjustment for motorists to get used to the new location of the ramp.”

    Yes, it did. The first time, I found myself having to use the Newberry Hill exit!

  4. I too am confused as to how they thought the interchange was an improvement. I also missed the exit while heading south on Hwy 3 as it said “East Bremerton” and not knowing what was up with all of the changes, thought that it would be E Bremerton only. So I missed my exit and continued to Newberry Hill, where you meet a tremendous wait trying to turn east and go back to Silverdale.

    I sure am hoping the improve the signs for the new interchange, as it is very confusing, and I don’t see it as much of an improvement over the old configuration.

  5. $16.7M for three traffic lights, confusing signage, a ramp that didn’t need to be moved. Welcome to the dark ages of progress.

  6. When going through Silverdale last week, I noticed that many drivers seemed to be trying to avoid that mess. It was gridlock all around that interchange. Traffic was backed up everywhere as a result. A 20-minute drive took me almost 50 minutes! I’m thinking this “traffic improvement” ranks up there with the barriers on Hwy 303 (removal of the center turn lane) that created bumper to bumper traffic on that end of town.

  7. How is traffic circulation speeded up with additional stoplights? Combine this disaster with the Belfair exit onto SR106 being turned into a hard right AFTER a stop, Gluds Pond road open to the SR303 vice Brownsville Highway, and the SR303 mile-long planter box, someone needs to be fired.

  8. I guess I’ll be shopping at the Poulsbo Walmart now and avoiding Silverdale shopping. Idiot engineers and planners had too much time on their hands to design this major mess. FIX this mess!

  9. I just had to add my comments to those of your column this morning re: the new Silverdale interchange.

    I am one of those unfortunate commuters going north on Hwy 3 at the end of the day. What a mess–and it will remain a mess! I have made this commute for 17 years–first from Bainbridge and now from Indianola. It seems that the design of this new “interchange” is meant to accommodate travelers to East Bremerton and to actually hinder northbound Hwy 3 traffic. I realize it is a work in progress at this point, but it won’t improve much for northbound traffic when the project is complete.

    Traffic to and from Kitsap Mall Blvd always backs up during the holiday shopping season, and it will be much worse this year. Before, northbound traffic coming from Silverdale at least had a lane from Randall Way and then could merge directly onto the freeway and not use the overpass. Now, they have to merge into the single lane of traffic crossing the overpass–causing long, long back-ups down Kitsap Mall Blvd and Randall Way–it’s been horrible and it’s not even the holidays!

    I am finding it easier — and faster — to use Silverdale Way out of town. Isn’t that ridiculous that a surface street is faster than the freeway?

    They apparently gave no thought to the impact of traffic in Silverdale–shouldn’t the right lane of Kitsap Mall Blvd at Randall at least be designated right turn only so that we don’t have gridlock at that light when drivers realize they all have to merge into one lane immediately after the light? We have drivers from two lanes on Kitsap Mall Blvd and drivers turning right from Randall Way by Applebee’s and turning left from Randall Way by Target all trying to merge into one lane. It’s daily anarchy! All I can say is…I want my “nickel” back!

  10. I have to take some of the responsibility for this mess, since I did not attend any of the meetings. However, I also feel that I have a right to expect professionalism from the highly paid engineers and designers involved in this fiasco to actually plan a trip through the area without any stop signs or signals.

    While it may meet some type of esoteric design criteria, it certainly does not make my transit any easier or faster. Which in the end is what we all expected!

  11. I, too, have been watching this mess from the beginning. This design basically fixes one big problem (E 303 to S 3 and Silverdale) and replaces it with – a lot of smaller problems for everyone. Not a big improvement in my mind. Why didn’t they go with full blown overpasses?

    A lot of people leaving the Bangor Navy base for East Bremerton like me are doing just what I’ve started doing – I go home via Brownsville, and most days I get to work that way too.

    Guess how long it’ll be before the residents of that route start complaining about the increased traffic? Then we’ll see another brilliant project like the Tracyton Blvd speed reduction monstrosity.

  12. The new intersection at Hwy 3 is terrible. What in the world were the engineers thinking when they removed the Hwy 3 northbound ramp? Traffic used to be able to merge into N. Hwy 3 easily, now it’s a nightmare.

  13. We have driven it several more times, and have seen a lot of people having problems navigating the new routes. I read, with interest, the letter in the paper about the people who are avoiding going there because they believe its dangerous.

    We were going north at night (raining) and had to pull off to figure out what lane we should be in. Others
    were switching lanes also. We have decided to avoid it, especially at night until it gets finished. I agree
    with the letter writer that it is unsafe, and the signs are poorly placed or non-existent.

  14. The new Waaga Way Interchange is a disaster. Can the (so called) Dept. of Transportation do anything to fix it? Can they find ways to bypass the blind merge from the southbound SR3 ramp on to the westbound “flyover” at the big intersection? The southbound traffic has an abrupt and unavoidable merge into a stream of traffic that the southbound driver can not see.

    I wonder who designed this whole disaster? With designs like this our highways can only get worse, no matter how many millions of dollars we waste on them.

  15. This weekend while returning home from Silverdale I saw what looks to me like a potential disaster.
    I was showing my wife how to get from Silverdale to northbound SR3 using the new overpass although I hadn’t done it yet. While waiting for the left-turn arrow light, my wife insisted we should turn as soon as we passed under that light (which would have sent us down the off-ramp from southbound SR3). I said we have to cross the freeway first. In doing so we crossed into the oncoming lanes (looked scary).
    I believe the lights that are now left-turn arrows should be round lights and have arrow lights on the back of the oncoming lights that are synchronized to the red and green lights on the oncoming lights. It’s true that the green arrow would come on before the oncoming traffic was clear but the left turn traffic would be stopped at the round lights. If someone turns down the off-ramp and into oncoming traffic it could be a disaster.

  16. Yes. It is dumb, stupid and anything else that fits in that catagory. I do not use it at all anymore and it will not improve when completed. Why is it that engineers can only engineer a project with no forsight as to it’s ending value. I want my money back on the thousands of dollars spent on the signs telling us how well they are doing with our nickels. We certainly did not OK that junk either.

  17. I am happy to say it does help to complain. On Oct. 29, I suggested that they change the left-turn lights for the on-ramp from Waaga Way to northbound SR3. Today I saw that they did something similar. Job well done!!!

  18. What a disaster this “new” interchange is!

    Going from Silverdale to northbound 3 is a huge accident just waiting to happen.

    Whoever heard of left turn arrows that first point toward an on-ramp? If you get past that to the real ramp to northbound 3 you find yourself being directed to the left (wrong) side of the highway, facing oncoming traffic before you can actually make the turn.

    Can you see an older confused driver ending up going north on the southbound side of 3? Can you see a drunk driver doing that same thing ?!

    Can you see a drunk driver run the red light and hit someone head-on who is directed to the wrong side of the road in that bridge? Remember, too, that all this takes place on a bridge, a bridge that gives the poor victim no way to escape.

    Can you see a HUGE law suit over how traffic is directed in this mess?

    It makes me wounder if the DOT engineer that designed this mess even has a driver’s license!

  19. I come from the Fairgrounds area. When going south (to Tacoma or even to the Pendergast fields for softball or soccer) I used to go out to Waaga Way, over Highway 3, turn left at one stop sign, then merge onto southbound Highway 3. The only time the traffic was bad was around 4:30 to 5:30, waiting at the stop sign!
    Now I go through Bremerton most of the time, because of the time spent at the light, or just the plain confusion of other drivers, especially when you have three lanes merging into one on the on-ramp, two from us (East Bremerton) and one from Silverdale Way.

    With all the brain power people have, I know they could have done better!

    I think I will start a website and start posting ACCIDENT Pictures!

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