Readers weigh in on new Silverdale interchange

The in basket: The storm over the new Silverdale interchange where highways 3 and 303 meet doesn’t seem to have abated. Mostly, it’s discussed on the Opinion Page and I try to stay out of it. South Kitsapers like myself are among the main beneficiaries of the changes. And I have yet to drive there on a rainy night, which is when the critics say it is the worst.
I did pass along to Brenden Clarke, the project engineer, an e-mail from Dave Waller testifying to something that seems to justify one of the most common fears. It is that the left turn signals to turn north onto Highway 3 are so positioned that a confused or impaired driver might turn down the oncoming off-ramp and drive into oncoming freeway traffic.
“I was traveling south on my motorcycle at about 11:15 p.m.
coming from the Bangor Main Gate,” Dave said on March 21.
He was approaching the off-ramp to Silverdale Way/Waaga Way.
“I had just passed a car and moved back into the slow lane when a car passed by me. He was traveling north in the southbound fast lane!
“I was very surprised! So were co-workers of mine who had to dodge the northbound intruder.
“Once the car in error had some breathing room, it turned around, to head south. I can only surmise that the car made the wrong turn on the overpass.”
A number of letter writers have claimed to be so fearful of the new interchange that they travel the county roads between Poulsbo and Silverdale to avoid it.
Others say they pass up the two-lane left turn from westbound Highway 303 to southbound Highway 3 and proceed past Clear Creek Road and make the gradual right onto another on-ramp to southbound 3 there.
Vince Mattson, a retired engineer living on Bainbridge Island, sent me a copy of a letter he’d sent the state back in 2004, predicting some of the problems the proposed new interchange would create if built. He then advised against the two-way turn onto the ramp to Highway 3.
He now suggests that that ramp be closed and all westbound Highway 303 traffic wanting to go south on Highway 3 be required to use the right turn ramp many say they are using already.
I asked if there have been many accidents on the new interchange, if traffic on those county roads is up, and whether closing the two-way turn lane onto the ramp to southbound 3 is a good idea.
The out basket: Steve Bennett of the state’s Olympic Region engineers says “Since the opening of the new interchange in mid-November of last year through mid-February of this year, there have been four collisions
within the interchange area. Two were non-injury collisions and two were possible injury collisions.” Figures for the two months since weren’t gathered yet.
From Jan. 1, 2001 through Dec. 31, 2005, there was a collision within the interchange area about 3.5 times per month, he said.
“While it looks promising, with only three
months worth of ‘after’ data, it is still too early to draw any
substantial collision comparisons between the new and
old interchanges,” he said.
The county’s traffic counts on Silverdale Way and Viking Way, the most likely route between Silverdale and Poulsbo other than the freeway, show an increase in use during construction of the new interchange but that traffic counts are back to what they used to be before the project started.
Finally, Brenden says the two-lane turn onto the southbound ramp to Highway 3 will become more important next year. That’s when the county hopes to complete a new road between Clear Creek and Old Frontier roads, providing a new way to and from the interchange for traffic on Anderson Hill, Provost and Old Frontier roads.
It will increase traffic on Clear Creek at the new light, he said, requiring longer waits for those on Highway 303. That will make continuing on to the right-turn on-ramp less attractive.
It probably will be another irritation for North Kitsapers, as well. The project already has eliminated their direct access from Kitsap Mall Boulevard to Highway 3 northbound, requiring that they pass through the Clear Creek light.

2 thoughts on “Readers weigh in on new Silverdale interchange

  1. One of the goals of this interchange was to reduce congestion on surface streets in the Silverdale area. If traffic counts have returned to pre-construction levels then the project has failed! Check the traffic counts on the Newberry Hill/Bucklin Hill route (a popular bypass to and from East Bremerton), you will find that traffic is heavier than it was before the interchange was built.

  2. Thank you for your article today that keeps the discussion going on the Waaga Way Intersection. Include my wife and I in the number that are dismayed by the way the project was designed.
    We are not impelled by a mob mentality; my wife’s reaction on day one was, and continues to be, one of apprehension; I was incredulous at the design (this is a serious design?–what did
    we do here in Kitsap to deserve this?). She will not use the route to this day–finding other ways as you say some others do. I avoid the intersection but take it once in a while, as a challenge,
    if necessary. I never use it at night.

    We are concerned that little or nothing is being done to correct the situation, and probably won’t be, until there is a serious accident.

    It would make us and everyone in Kitsap, I think, feel better toward our government if those responsible were more open to admitting their errors in the design and submitting a plan to make the interchange simpler and safer.

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