Slow turning trucks at Pioneer Way and SR3 in North Kitsap

The in basket: Dan Godecke again raises an issue he brought up in late 2008 about the signal timing at Highway 3 and Pioneer Way in North Kitsap.

He said then that “when a truck makes the turn from Pioneer to 3, the sensors in the road were not picking up the truck between the time the truck axles passed over them and the trailer axles passed over.

“You helped out by contacting someone that set the signals and they lengthened the time before the light would turn yellow if no cars passed over the sensor,” he told me. “This fixed the problem and all was good…until someone set it back to the original short time setting.
“Now we are back to the same problem again,” he said. “If a truck with a trailer makes that turn, the light turns yellow before another car can follow it into the intersection.  When a truck is the first vehicle in the line it is the only vehicle to make it thorough the intersection regardless of how many cars are in line.”
There is a lot of truck traffic from the Twelve Trees industrial area, he said, and the trucks have to make the right turn slowly to avoid cars waiting at the northbound light.

“The afternoons are the worst time of the day,” he said. “The traffic to the light on Pioneer is heavy and trucks are mixed in that load.  I did notice the moving van trucks with the low center section on the trailer don’t have the same effect on the light.  Only the higher flatbed tailors are the problem ones.”
The out basket: Jim Johnstone of the Olympic Region signal shop, which is responsible for the signals on state highways here, there has been no recent change to the timing of that light.

They had a crew visit the light and “we watched several cycles where trucks came off the Pioneer approach and never saw a problem with the operation,” he said. “We verified that the sensitivity level of the detectors was appropriate to detect all vehicles on the approach and never saw it miss or drop a vehicle.

“The maximum (green)time for that approach is set at 25 seconds and the gap time is set to 4.0 seconds.  Originally the gap time was 3.0 seconds and after Dan’s initial inquiry in 2008 we increased it to 4.0 seconds. Gap time is the length of time between vehicles that tells the llght controller there are no more cars waiting to be served.

“My only conclusion is that if it is taking 10 to 15 seconds for a truck to make that turn then there is not much time left for others to make it through the intersection.  If this is occurring during afternoon peak, as Dan suggests, we are not left with much to remedy the problem.  If we start increasing the max time or increase the gap time beyond what we already have then we impact mainline movements.

“I’m sure everyone is aware of the volume of traffic on SR 3 at this location especially during the PM peak and the need to keep that traffic moving.  When we delay the SR 3 southbound uphill approach too much, traffic backs up and the large volume of trucks has a difficult time getting started again causing operational issues on the mainline.

“We will continue to spot check this intersection, and ask our Lofall crew to also keep an eye on it for any unusual operation They drive through this signal daily also.”

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