One stretch of road with two speed limits?

Thomas Munyon of Marysville writes: There is a stretch of about a third of a mile on 51st Avenue NE, south of 152nd Street NE, where the speed limit is 40 mph for southbound drivers and 35 mph for those going northbound.

This zone of ambiguity must make it interesting for anyone trying to turn onto 51st Avenue NE from any of the side drives. I can’t think of a good reason why the 40 mph sign for the northbound lane and the 35 mph sign for the southbound lane aren’t lined up. Is this intentional or an oversight?

Jesse Hannahs, traffic engineer for the city of Marysville, responds: In 2010, this stretch of 51st Avenue NE was annexed from unincorporated Snohomish County into Marysville. The speed-limit signs along this stretch were not changed by the city and it’s uncertain why there is a 1,750-foot difference in speed limit change locations.

It’s possible there was a simple oversight, a sign might have been damaged and not immediately replaced, or there was a perceived safety issue in the area at the time.

Based upon this question, the 35 mph speed limit sign on the southbound side will be moved north so it’s across the road from the 40 mph sign on the northbound side. It will be a few weeks before the change takes place.

Cecil Lipscomb of Mukilteo writes: What would it take to get a manually operated caution light and crosswalk installed at the intersection of 88th Street SW and the Mukilteo Speedway (Highway 525)? There is a Community Transit bus stop on the west side of the road but there isn’t a safe way for people on the east side to cross over. There is a light in front of Olympic View Middle School that I would like to see at this intersection.

Tom Pearce, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: The light in front of Olympic View Middle School is an overhead pedestrian warning sign with flashers. The sign and flashers were originally paid for and installed by the Mukilteo School District to provide a safe route for kids to cross Highway 525 to the middle school and the adjoining elementary school. The overhead flashers were connected to the same system that controls flashers associated with the school speed zone along this section of the Speedway.

At the request of the city of Mukilteo, a year or two ago we modified the pedestrian flasher system so that the flashers no longer turn on only when the school speed zone flashers are active. Instead, a push-button system was installed so the pedestrian warning flashers can be activated at any time.

The intersection of Highway 525 and 88th Street SW is not part of a school walk route and does not meet our criteria for installation of overhead pedestrian signing and flashers. We reviewed the intersection and verified there is adequate sight distance to the south and north for pedestrians standing on the east side of Highway 525 to judge gaps in both directions of traffic and cross the Speedway. We understand it might take some time for pedestrians to find a gap in traffic and ask for their patience while waiting to cross.

This is also a good time to remind drivers that per state law, RCW 46.61.235, pedestrians and bicyclists have the right-of-way at crosswalks and intersections, whether the crosswalk is marked or not. Drivers must yield where necessary to avoid striking pedestrians and bicyclists who are crossing the road.

E-mail us at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.

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