Highway 9 traffic light warning sign to move

This will be my last Street Smarts column. After 30 years in newspapers, nearly 10 years at the Herald and five years of writing this column, I’m moving on down the highway.

It has been an indescribable honor to work for a paper where people care so deeply about their product and their community. Though Street Smarts will be taking a hiatus, I hope you will continue to support The Herald. It is vitally important that this voice be maintained.

Thank you for reading.

Nathan Shelby of Snohomish writes: I routinely drive southbound on Highway 9. Coming up on the new stoplight at 164th Street SE when going 55 mph and approaching a red light with cars already at the intersection, it seems that the view distance is not long enough for those speeds.

Perhaps the state could add signs that a signal is ahead, or perhaps a sign that flashes when the signal is red. Or perhaps they could mount an additional signal on the southernmost pole on the intersection that would give drivers a heads up as to what to expect coming up that curve.

Kris Olson, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: We reviewed the morning traffic patterns and volume on southbound Highway 9 approaching the signal at 164th Street SE. There is an existing signal warning sign just before the highway curves to the right approaching the signal. The sign is located well beyond the minimum required distance and is in a good visibility position at the start of the curve, rather than being somewhere along the curve.

However, during our review we found traffic sometimes backs up close to where the “signal ahead” sign is currently located. As a result, we are planning to relocate the sign a couple of hundred feet prior to the start of the curve. The sign relocation will occur later this spring.

We also reviewed the intersection for installation of flashing lights to the sign. Because signal spacing is relatively close along this section of Highway 9 and there are a limited number of collisions, we don’t plan on installing flashing warning lights at this time.

Shigeki Satogami of Lake Stevens writes: Southbound on Broadway at 16th Street in Everett there’s a traffic signal that often backs up traffic for several cycles because of people trying to turn left. It’s a route for people leaving Providence Medical Center Everett. About 4 p.m. one day recently I waited for three cycles of the traffic signal before I could safely turn left.

It would be a great help if there was an actual left turn green arrow for this southbound, left-turn traffic.

Tim Miller, traffic engineer for the city of Everett, responds: We have investigated the issue:

New traffic counts were gathered and reviewed to determine if the volumes indicate the need for a left-turn phase. In the morning rush hour there were only 46 vehicles making a southbound left turn while in the evening peak hour there were 79 vehicles. These are low numbers that in themselves do not indicate a need for a left-turn phase.

We also checked the accident database to see if it indicates a left-turn crash history. Over the last six years there have been five southbound left turn related crashes, less than one per year. This is within normal expectations and does not show a need to provide a separate left turn phase out of safety concerns.

Finally, we note the existing mast arms on the signal poles are not long enough to reach over the left turn lanes, so a left turn phase cannot be added at this time even if it was warranted. Such a revision would require re-building of the signal, including replacing the traffic signal poles. This would cost more than $200,000.

If you are southbound on Broadway and you notice a backup at 16th, a good alternative might be to continue down to 19th Street where the light already has a left-turn phase.

Ed Snyder of Everett writes: Can anything be done about people turning up Pecks Drive and then trying to turn left to Value Village? It’s supposed to have a double yellow line. There used to be a cement curb in the center of the road to stop people from making these turns. Westbound traffic on Pecks Drive backs up behind these drivers as they’re waiting to turn. Could a “no left turn” sign be put up on Pecks Drive?

Miller of the city of Everett responds: We monitored the area from 2 to 5 p.m. and found on average two instances per hour where a westbound left-turning car into Value Village caused a delay for drivers behind them.

Checking the crash history for the last five years we find no crashes at this location involving left turning vehicles being struck.

We generally reserve the use of raised curbing in the roadway to instances where it will correct a potentially dangerous condition that is worse than the presence of the curb.

Such raised curbs can be a hazard when struck by small-diameter wheeled vehicles. The situation at present does not cause undue delay and has not resulted in crashes. Accordingly we will keep the current arrangement and monitor the operation.

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