Reflective striping should ease intersection concerns

Mark Bowman of Stanwood writes: The intersection at Highway 531 and 45 Road in Lakewood, west of Smokey Point, has no illumination at night and it’s hard to judge your turns. Could someone take a look at this intersection?

Bronlea Mishler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: Our traffic engineers always appreciate feedback from drivers who are out on our highways daily. We reviewed this intersection to see if it meets our criteria for installing lighting, and to see if there have been any nighttime collisions.

We use several factors to determine if lighting is needed. They include the amount of traffic at the intersection in the evening; whether nighttime accidents are equal to or greater than those that occur during daylight hours, and the number of nighttime accidents involving pedestrians.

The intersection of Highway 531 and 45 Road has fairly low traffic volumes that are consistent during peak hours — lots of southbound left turns during the morning and westbound right turns in the evening. Also, there has been only one nighttime collision in the vicinity, 500 feet away, and not in the intersection itself. Our engineers found that the intersection warning signs are in good condition.

However, we did notice that the pavement markings are pretty worn down — likely from heavy trucks cutting across the highway in this location and wearing down the painted pavement markings.

Though this intersection doesn’t meet our criteria for installing lighting, we believe that installing more durable, reflective plastic striping will make a big difference for drivers and allow them to better see the intersection at night. Our maintenance crews will install the striping sometime this spring.

Judi Ramsey of Everett writes: I have wondered for years why southbound Colby Avenue at the intersection of 52nd Street SE in Everett does not have its own left turn signal. Eastbound and westbound traffic on 52nd take turns, allowing for easy left turns, and northbound Colby gets its own left-turn signal. Southbound, you just have to hope and pray for an opening, especially during evening traffic. Why is this?

Ryan Sass, engineer for the city of Everett, responds: When an intersection receives a dedicated turn lane and signal display for a left turn, it will increase delay for the other drivers at the intersection, so there needs to be a compelling reason.

Usually they are installed where a high number of left turns must be made through heavy through traffic, with few gaps to turn, causing cars to queue up. Another reason for a left-turn lane would be if there are a number of left-turning collisions per year. Neither of these conditions currently meet the criteria for a protected separate southbound left signal at Colby. A left-turn arrow may come in the future as conditions change.

E-mail us at stsmarts@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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