Why the difference between Sixth & 11th at Warren?

The in basket: Bunny Lee of Bremerton asks about the differences in what is permitted westbound on Sixth and 11th streets in Bremerton. 

“If I come down Sixth Street to Warren,” she said, “driving toward downtown and the Manette Bridge, I can turn left or go straight ahead from the middle lane. At 11th, I can only turn left onto Warren and CANNOT go straight ahead to the Manette Bridge from that middle lane

“Why?” she asks. “There is no on-coming left turn lane so the traffic would not conflict. It just seems silly that the arrows do not allow drivers to go straight ahead at 11th and Warren from that middle lane. 

“Of course, you can go into the far right lane and go straight ahead from there.  I just sometimes forget, so end up in that middle lane.”

The out basket: Both intersections operated the same way before Burwell Street was closed east of Warren for construction of the ferry tunnel. Then city traffic officials changed the restriction in the middle lane of westbound Sixth to allow either movement to compensate for the reduced access to downtown. 

The only explanation I have ever gotten for not allowing straight-ahead movements as well as left turns from the middle lane is that it contributes to rear-end accidents. I don’t recall being told why that would be true, and can’t figure it out on my own. It came from city traffic officials long since moved on. 

Larry Matel, the current traffic engineer who came to town just about the time the middle lane limitation was removed at Sixth Street, says only,”I am not aware of any problems at Sixth and Warren related to these lane assignments, but will request a traffic accident history from the Washington Department of Transportation to check.” 

He added that he expects the ability to got either straight or left from the middle lane of Sixth to be preserved after the tunnel is finished and Burwell reopens.


As for 11th and Warren, that intersection is scheduled for a revision “to accommodate a longer right-turn lane for southbound Warren Avenue traffic to turn right at 11th. This should reduce long backups on southbound Warren at various times of the day.” he said.

“We can look at the request for a similar lane assignment on 11th during this project’s development,” he said.

While the disparity is curious, I can’t say I’ve ever seen so much straight-ahead traffic at either intersection that the right lane was insufficient. I would think it would take something that stopped a right turner from making his turn with straight-ahead traffic trapped behind him to actually inconvenience anyone.

3 thoughts on “Why the difference between Sixth & 11th at Warren?

  1. The 11th & Warren intersection has bounced back and forth. Years ago you could go straight on 11th in the middle lane. When they resurfaced the hill there they made the middle lane left-only. This was also many years ago. I remember because I drove straight through–not realizing the change had been made, much to the consternation of my passenger. Presumably there is a lot more traffic turning left there, but the restriction seems non-sensical because there is no downside to allowing the middle lane to travel straight through OR turn left onto Warren northbound.

  2. Just more of the “we have a good reason why we don’t want to change it” from the powers that be when there is absolutely no reason to not change it.

  3. Prior to the change I experienced several times the situation of coming down 11th street hill in the right lane and the left turn turned red and the car following the left turner that had to stop suddenly moved into my lane to be able to go straight through. That is a dangerous move at amy time, but especially so when traveling at a safe distance from the car in front of you and it slows way down to make a right turn onto Warren Ave. That just very quickly cancels your safety margin. I saw some accidents caused by that maneuver, but never got involved in one.

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