Tag Archives: Highway 305

Forest Rock left turn signal will stay as it is

The in basket: Mary Corbin writes about the left turn signal on southbound Highway 305 in Poulsbo, that allows turns toward Central Market at Forest Rock Lane.

It used to be that after a green arrow allowed left turns, others who wanted to make the turn could do so if they stopped and waited for on-coming traffic to clear, she said. 

“Now, since the new road opposite the Central Market store (Seventh Avenue) was constructed, there has been a major change in that turn signal,” she said. “The green arrow is very short, allowing only four or five cars to turn. Then the arrow turns red, and no one is allowed to turn toward Central Market, even (when) there are no cars approaching from the other direction.

“Sometimes the oncoming path is clear for a long time, and still we all just sit there waiting for the light cycle to finish and we get the green arrow again.

 “Last Saturday was exceptionally irritating,” she wrote. “That light went through several cycles allowing all forward moving traffic to head along Highway 305, but the  turn arrow for Central Market turned green only once out of four cycles.  We sat there for at least FIVE MINUTES (at that point I stopped counting).  Finally some cars simply went through the red turn signal, since there was no oncoming traffic.

 She wondered why the state didn’t go back to the old way.

The in basket: Not going to happen, says the Olympic Region signal shop, which changed  the left turn into what is called a “protected” turn, meaning it can only be made on a green arrow light,  when oncoming traffic has a red light. 

They did it during the widening of the highway, in the interests of “consistency”  in that traffic corridor, they said.

Don Anders, head of the signal shop says that hasn’t changed. 

“The more consistent we can operate a corridor the better driver expectancy is met,” he said. “This leads to less confusion and better overall traffic movement.  When the fourth leg of the intersection at Forest Rock opened it was best we changed this operation to match the corridor.” 

He also said they have no record of the signal malfunctioning on the Saturday Mary describes.

Right turners blocked at Forest Rock Lane


The in basket: Patty Tompkins was the latest, back in March, to complain about the alignment of Forest Rock Lane where in intersects Highway 305 in Poulsbo. 

She estimated that 95 percent of the traffic on Forest Rock turns right to go north on 305, but the outside lane is marked for both right turns and those wanting to go straight. When the rare driver who wants to go straight is there, it blocks all those right turners until the light turns green. They otherwise could have been on their way after making a right turn on red. 

The inside lane is reserved for left turns. 

She and others before her who also have noticed this suggest dedicating the inner lane to left turns and straight through traffic, leaving the outside lane for right turners. 

The out basket: When I drove this intersection several times late one afternoon, I found that Patty’s estimate of the percentage of right turners, at least among those in the outside lane, might even be conservative. I never saw a car pull up in the outside lane wanting to go straight. 

So I did it myself, and was able to pull far enough forward that right turners still could get past me and make their turn. But two cars wanting to go straight would block the lane.

Patty told me a lot of drivers don’t have that much consideration and others are in vehicles that take up more room than my Mazda 3.

Jim Johnstone of the state signal shop that handles all the signals on Highway 305 said in March they were considering restriping the intersection to create three lanes, one each for left, straight-ahead and right turn traffic. They found enough width for that, but “we can not achieve the necessary turning radius to accommodate a semi-truck turning into Forest Rock Lane,” he said. “So option one is out.”

They’ve decided to make the signal a “split phase” light, in which side street traffic on Forest Rock and that on Seventh Avenue across the highway will get green lights at different times. The outside lane will be for right turns and the inside lane for straight-ahead and left turn traffic. It’s similar to what drivers see at Liberty Road just south of there, he said.

“This option adds additional delay to the overall intersection operation,” he said, but does get other traffic out of the way of right turners.

“This revision will be subject to fitting it into our schedule, which could take several months,” he added. .

Hostmark/Highway 305 lights are too short, bus driver says

The in basket: Michael Courtright, a school bus driver for North Kitsap schools, says he is happy with the improvements to Highway 305 through Poulsbo. 

“A trip that could sometimes take up to 15 minutes (and that was before the construction started), now takes less than five minutes,” he said. “Even if I catch the lights out of sequence it still takes a lot less time than it used to – and is a lot less frustrating than the stop-and-go traffic that resulted from the old two-lane road.”

But he finds that the left-turn arrows from the highway to go uphill on Hostmark and those for left turns from Hostmark to go south on 305 to be awfully short in the afternoons. Only about three vehicles can make it through before it turns red, he said. 

More, including school buses, get through on those turn lights in the mornings.  He wonders if it can be improved. 

The out basket: We’ve discussed in a past column how and why the needs of side road and left turn traffic are intentionally subordinate to through traffic on 305.

But the timing of the lights remains a works in progress, says Jim Johnstone of the state’s signal shop, and that was complicated until recently by a broken in-pavement detector at Hostmark. That has been fixed and “we are developing a time-of-day plan to operate from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. which will give more time to both of the left turns mentioned by Mr. Courtright,” he said.

“This is all part of the retiming process. We put in our starting point times, tweak those to what we like and then see what kind of complaints we get and then address those as best as we can,” Jim said.

Changes at 305-Bond light have fouled traffic

The in basket: Patty Hill of North Kitsap comments quite often on the operation of the traffic signal on Highway 305 at Bond Road in Poulsbo, and now says the lights for left turn traffic onto Bond Road northbound have taken a turn for the worse.

“Within the last few months, they changed the way the lights work,” she said. “If you’re heading towards Bainbridge Island on 305 and you want to turn left onto Bond Road heading towards Kingston, the two left turn lanes always came on first, then the other two lanes going straight into Poulsbo came on and then both stopped at the same time. 

 “Now,” she said, “they are set up so that the two lanes heading straight to Bainbridge come on first, then the two left turn lanes and then they shut down together (usually).”  The left turn lane green time is shorter than it used to be, she said, so more and more cars continue to turn as the light goes yellow and red. They also rush through in the right-most of the two left-turn lanes, trying to get ahead of those in the other lane as they turn, she said.

“What happens is more people are being left behind again,” she said. “My husband and I take that route every night from home.  When they first opened up all the lanes after the paving was done, we never once waited for the light to change other than when we first pulled up there. Now we are waiting for two and three changes before we can go through.

“We prefer not to get in the (right-most) turn lane because of aggressive behavior from drivers in the (left-most) turn lane thinking we’re trying to edge them out).

 “Then if you’re coming from Kingston towards Poulsbo on Bond Road and you want to turn left onto Highway 305 heading towards Bainbridge, guess what.  Those changed, too, and when the people turning left from Highway 305 onto Bond Road rush through while the light is going back to red, those of us turning left from Bond onto the highway now have to wait when ours turns green for them to stop driving through.”

She said she has been in a line of only five cars on Bond at the light and it took her three light changes to make her left turn.

“Can you find out if someone made the change and either doesn’t know what they’re doing, if they think it’s working or is there a chance to go back to how it was before?” she asked.

The out basket: Left turn lights can be either “leading,” as this one used to be, or “trailing” or “lagging,” as it is now, usually based on what computer simulations say will move the most traffic through a given corridor. 

Jim Johnstone of the Olympic Region signal shop said they went to watch the light and confirmed Patty’s observations.

“We did make the left turn from southbound 305 onto Bond Road a lagging left,” he said. “This was done for progression purposes and to ensure that the left turners have arrived at the Bond Road intersection before giving them a green. We are going to make some adjustments to the timing at Lincoln/Iverson and also Bond Road,” he said.

But the changes won’t include a return to a leading left at Bond Road, he said. 

“Since everything is coordinated now from Viking through Hostmark, the traffic being released from Viking arrives at the start of green on the mainline at Bond.  So as this traffic progresses through Bond Road, the left turns filter out of the platoon and are served at the end of the Highway 305 mainline green. 

“If we were to lead the left turn signal at Bond, the vehicles wanting to make that left would not have arrived yet and would have to wait for the signal to cycle back to the leading left turn,” he said..

Agate Pass Bridge and bicycles


The in basket: M.S. Marimon writes to say, “My husband and I moved to Bainbridge Island over 34 years ago. At that time, the Agate Pass Bridge was posted ‘Bike Riders Must Walk Over the Bridge.’ 

“That sign disappeared long ago and many times we have had to watch carefully for bike riders that insist upon riding over the bridge. We are considerate with our driving, especially where they are no bike lanes, but it is an accident waiting to happen with the heavy commuter traffic traveling north from Bainbridge.

“What will it take to have the sign posted?” she asked. 

The out basket: Probably it would take a major shift in government and societal attitudes toward bicyclists, who have grown more numerous and politically influential in the past three decades. Increasingly, they are encouraged to serve as alternatives to automobiles, even and perhaps especially during rush hour.

But there is more direct reason for the sign’s removal at Agate Pass, says T.J. Nedrow, a transportation planner for the state and the go-to guy for bicycle issues here. 

“We would all like to better accommodate both the cyclist and the traveling motorist crossing the bridge,” he said, “To date we’ve been able to do little more than continue to analyze opportunities, provide education measures and respond to inquiries and complaints.

“We’ve stopped short of prohibiting cyclists on the roadway,” he said. “For starters, access to the sidewalks has been made difficult with recent safety improvements (made with motorists in mind).  Bridge railing safety improvements have also made it more difficult to walk the bikes across the bridge.  

“The sign that was removed stating bikes had to be walked across the bridge was unenforceable since it wasn’t codified in (state law).  

“(We) researched the possibility of constructing a cantilever shared-use path section to the bridge but found the historical nature of the bridge to trump that notion. The additional weight was a serious concern for the bridge folks, as well. Lastly, we had no funding.

“Yes, the section of highway does present challenges to the cyclists using the roadway,” he said,”but to my knowledge we’ve not had a recordable car/cyclist collision accident. And the complaints have fallen off fairly significantly.  

“One could conclude that the mixture, when it does occur is being dealt with due consideration to the bicyclists (on) the roadway. That said, the cyclist would be prudent to wear highly visible clothing, ensuring that they are seen cycling upon the roadway section on the bridge.”

Are Highway 305 traffic detectors working?


The in basket: Patti Mitchell thinks there is something wrong with the traffic detectors on the side streets crossing Highway 305 in Poulsbo and left turn pockets there.

The in-pavement detectors were cut during the lengthy widening of 305 the past two years.

“Well, that work has been completed for several months and the automatic signal system is either not activated or is totally out of adjustment,” says Patti. “For example, one can spend what seems like two minutes waiting to turn left off of 305 onto Liberty without one car ever going by on 305 either way.” 

She encounters the same delays on the side streets all along that stretch, she said.

“I see people get frustrated all of the time and some even proceed through a red light after waiting a long time without any cross traffic.”

The out basket: Jim Johnstone and Don Anders of the state’s Olympic Region signal shop say waits that long on Highway 305’s side streets and left turn pockets in Poulsbo are entirely possible, and the signal timing that results in those waits is intentional.

The lights are coordinated with one another to move the maximum amount of traffic through the city. “One of the most important elements of this timing plan is to flush mainline traffic through Poulsbo,” Jim said. “This is based upon input from the Poulsbo City Council and their desire to coordinate the signals to maximize mainline flow.”

“We warned them they’d see complaints on the side streets,” added Don, but the council asked for the timing scheme that is in place.

Jerry Moore, project engineer on the widening, says, “With the exception of one side street loop at Hostmark, all of the detection along (Highway) 305 through Poulsbo is operational and the signals are operating as intended. 

“The signals through Poulsbo are coordinated from 6:45 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. weekdays and 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on weekends,” he said, “and are operating a 120-second cycle length during coordination.  

“When the ferry offloads the 120 seconds is not always enough for the traffic demand on the mainline and during non-ferry times the 120 seconds can seem excessive because of the left turn and side street delay,” he said.

Moving in and out of coordination to match ferry traffic pulses, something they tried years ago, resulted in confusion and problems when ferry arrivals were off schedule, Don said.

Outside the hours of coordination, the detectors will react to waiting traffic on the side streets and turn pockets much more quickly, he said. 

A primer on signal coordination can be found on line at www.wsdot.wa.gov. Fill in Signal Coordination in the search box. Don also says he’ll be happy to show citizens around the signal shop in Tumwater and explain what they do and how they do it. He’s at (360) 357-2616.


Phantom lane closures in Highway 305 project

The in basket: Steve Herron of Poulsbo says he drives every day through the new construction corridor on Highway 305 and is getting upset.
“The contractor there is constantly blocking off lanes and closing sections when absolutely no work is going on,” he said. “It’s ridiculous! The last two weeks, traffic has been a mess because the contractor closes lanes on both sides and then some minor work takes places a mile from the closure.
“I am all for worker safety,” Steve said ” but this contractor is saving money by closing the lanes he THINKS he might be working on SOMETIME during the day. Instead he could spend the money to have people put in cones as they are needed, when the work is ready to be done.

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Goodbye to old left turn light at Forest Rock Lane

The in basket: Dana Culleney and Dan Batman are among those who miss the protected/permissive left-turn signal on Highway 305 at Forest Rock Lane in Poulsbo.
“It used to be that when you approached Central Market from the north and there was a green arrow and then the green ball light that let you go,” Dana said. That is called a protected/permissive signal
As part of the widening of the highway through that stretch, they have replaced it with what’s called a protected left turn, permitting the turn only when a green arrow tells you all conflicting movements have a red light.

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New Highway 305 HOV lanes not much used

The in basket: Nita Moore writes, “Everyone around here is very happy that the Highway 305 upgrade (in Poulsbo) is close to finished and usable. 
“The HOV lanes are only in effect at certain times of the day,” she said, “in the morning and 3 to 6 in the afternoon, which is the heavy traffic time and seems logical.  BUT….
“I had the misfortune the other day of  traveling ALONE west on 305 at around 4 p.m. The HOV lane was almost empty and buzzing right along, but the lone ranger lane was almost as backed up as it was before the widening.  (It was nice to know that most everyone was obeying the restriction.)  
“My grandson drives himself and his brother to North Kitsap High School and travels this every afternoon and says it is like this every day.  The solution, of course, is that everyone travels through downtown to avoid it, which, of course, is one to the things it was meant to alleviate. How now?”
The out basket: The OTHER solution, and the one HOV lanes everywhere are intended to promote, is to have a lot of those lone ranger drivers pair up or trio up and so forth, moving cars legally from the all-purpose lane to the HOV lane.
Nita’s grandson does it, though I imagine that has more to do with available cars or occupants’ ages than what lane they can use. But every time people who might have driven alone pair up, that’s one fewer car on the highway and two fewer in the all-purpose lane. If enough people do it, the lanes will achieve a closer balance and waits will be shorter in the all-purpose lane.
These are the first HOV lanes in Kitsap County and they may or may not achieve their purpose. They are considered a four-year test project, but that deadline has more to do with the unusual placement of the HOV lanes on the outside of the highway than it does with the general concept of HOV lanes and their benefits.
They are on the outside, as I’ve said before, to better serve bus riders. Lisa Murdock of the state highway’s Olympic Region calls them “urban arterial HOV lanes similar to those found on (Highway) 99 and at SeaTac.
“The HOV lanes are on the outside to accommodate transit/pedestrians.” she said. “If the lanes were on the left, bus stops would have to be in the median and you can only imagine the potential danger with pedestrians with that scenario.”

Contradictory signs at Forest Rock and Highway 305

The in basket: Larry Blaine of Poulsbo says he’s happy that the extension of Seventh Avenue into Forest Rock Lane at Highway 305 has been opened, but says there have been conflicting directions for westbound drivers at the intersection of Forest Rock and Highway 305. 
“The lane marking for the left lane is ‘left only,’ and the lane marking for the right lane is ‘thru or right,'” he said. “But the sign on the signal for the right lane says ‘right turn only,’ and there are no signs on the signals for the left lanes.  “Saturday I waited in the right lane to go straight ahead and had several drivers behind me (justifiably) mad at me for not turning,” he said. 
“I realize the markings are only temporary – but before they become permanent, I suggest that the left lane be marked ‘left or thru’ and the right lane ‘right only,’ since that is the direction most people turn when using the intersection,” Larry said.
The out basket: It may be fixed by now. Andrzej Kasiniak, Poulsbo’s city engineer, mentioned it to the state after I passed on Larry’s complaint and Andrjez said the signs were correct when Seventh Avenue was barricaded and through traffic wasn’t an option. The contract for the state’s widening project omitted removal of the “right turn only” sign when Seventh opened, he said.
They’ll be removing it soon if it hasn’t already been done, he said. That’s not the alignment Larry favored, but it won’t contradict the pavement markings.