Barriers to illegal turns would block legal turns

Larry D. Warner of Silver Lake writes: I have wondered about congestion on 19th Avenue SE in the Silver Lake area (also Highway 527) for some time and maybe you can shed some light on a few issues at the 100th Street SE intersection.

Going south on 19th there are two left turn lanes onto 100th. These back up starting around the 2 p.m. Boeing shift change and seem to stay that way for a few hours.

There are signs into the driveways of a number of businesses that indicate a left turn into their business is prohibited. I guess there are a lot of drivers who don’t read English because left turns into those businesses don’t seem to stop, and they make the traffic backups worse.

In some cases I wonder why the designers have not placed a curb or yellow blocks on the street to prevent these left turns. If they are a hazard, why not stop them instead of just using a warning sign that many ignore anyway?

Ryan Sass, city engineer for Everett, responds: Both stretches of 19th near 100th and 102nd (near Costco) have two-way left turn lanes. There are occasions where left turns from two-way left-turn lanes impair traffic flow or raise safety issues along a corridor and are therefore prohibited. If curbing were to be placed in the two-way left-turn lane, then drivers wishing to legally use the two- way left-turn lane in the opposite direction would be unable to do so.

According to state law (RCW 46.61.290) where two-way left-turns are provided, no vehicles may turn left from any other lane. The left-turn bans at this location are enforced with signs instead of physical barriers to allow for access for drivers in the opposite direction. Anyone witnessing someone making illegal left turns is encouraged to report this activity to the Everett Police Department.

Steven M. Lay of Everett writes: I am concerned about the left turn into Forest Park coming up 41st Street. Actually there are two left turns there but the Forest Park turn is more frequently used and more hidden from vehicles coming up the hill.

This left turn has been the cause of several rear end collisions in the past years, including one recently. The left turn is up a hill tucked in around the corner at the crest of the hill. At certain times of the day, especially when traffic is heavy due to Boeing traffic and the sun is directly into the eyes of the uphill traffic, vehicles will stop suddenly to make this left hand turn. The vehicles behind also being blinded by the sun will have to slam on their brakes to avoid rear ending the vehicle making the left hand turn. That goes the next and the next vehicle.

This turn also has created incidents with pedestrians and cyclists in the bike lane when vehicles illegally pass in the bike lane. Years ago the city installed a sign stating “No passing on shoulder.”

This situation could be alleviated by closing the left turn and making this entrance an exit only. There is a second entrance about 400 feet west of this turn. At this entrance a left-turn lane could be added, ending slowdowns and reducing rear-end accidents.

The city may claim there is not sufficient funding but a left-turn lane was added years ago to the entrance into the Glenhaven neighborhood.

Sass responds: The city of Everett has studied the Mukilteo Boulevard corridor from Grand Avenue west to the city limits and taken a systematic approach to reducing accidents at several locations, including the entrances to Forest Park.

It began with narrowing the lanes in that stretch and adding a raised edge line to promote better compliance with the 30 and 35 mph speed limits, which should lower the frequency of collisions along the corridor.

The portion of Mukilteo Boulevard near Forest Park was completed in late 2010. When we have two full years of accident data following the changes we will re-evaluate that stretch and see if further action is warranted. We ask for your patience while we complete our follow-up study. We want to be good stewards of our public resources by fully analyzing the effects of earlier changes we’ve made before taking further action.

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