Where and when of Highway 304 changes are questioned

 

The in basket: Lena Swanson of Bremerton wants to know why the planners of the Highway 304 improvement with the HOV lane at the west end of Bremerton didn’t carry the inside two lanes over the bridge that crosses Highway 3, where only two lanes would be merging instead of three, as now.

And Glen Adrig of Bremerton and Bob Edwards of Manchester ask why that HOV lane is in effect 24 hours a day, while in Poulsbo, the new ones on Highway 305 are in effect only during the morning and evening rush periods.

“Everyone … who has ever spent time in Bremerton realizes that the only traffic backup on Highway 304 occurs when the shipyard releases workers on a typical … weekday afternoon,” Glen said..

“It seems like the only logical HOV restrictions should occur Monday thru Friday between about 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., which would allow early and late leaving shipyard workers to use the lane.”

Bob also cited shipyard workers required to come early or stay late who are unable to car pool as disadvantaged by the 24-hour enforcement.

The out basket: Lynn Price, with the Bremerton city engineer’s office, said “We did look into merging the lanes on the south side of the … interchange but (state highway officials) recommended against it due to a prior experience with a two-lane merge at that location. 

Steve Kim, state traffic engineer for the Olympic Region, elaborated. “We were concerned about the merge point being located on the structure over (Highway) 3. The structure is on a horizontal and vertical curve. We didn’t think it would be desirable in terms of driver’s expectancy as well as safety.”

As for the 24/7 HOV limitation, Steve said, “The time of day HOV operation is an on-going issue statewide.  (Our) current HOV policy so far is 24/7 with a few exceptions as an experiment. Highway 305 Time-of-Day HOV was designed with the TOD concept in mind from the beginning of the project and is supposed to be a two-year pilot project.  Other state routes such as Highway 167 HOT in Kent and I-90 HOV are the exceptions at this time. 

“I think we will eventually modify our policy to allow TOD HOV operations,” he said.  “I would rather see a statewide policy than implement it case by case. 

“Based on my observation, I think the general purpose section of Highway 304 was flowing freely during the off-peak so there is no incentive of having two general purpose lanes during that time period,” he added. 

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