School congestion a potential hazard

Jill Duvall of Bothell writes: It is a nightmare trying to navigate the intersection of 168th Avenue SE and 31st Drive SE (between Mill Creek and Bothell) during dismissal of Cedarwood Elementary School.

I try to avoid this at all costs but it should be a fairly simple fix for the county. Heading west on 168th past the school, I need to turn south on 31st because I live on that street.

During school dismissal, parents park up and down 31st on both sides of the street making it a one-lane roadway. They are parked all the way up to the intersection, and in front of mailboxes and fire hydrants.

If I am turning on to the street and there is another car coming towards me, we are deadlocked. I cannot back up because there is a crosswalk right behind my car and the car coming towards me is taking up what’s left of the street. I cannot see that car coming before I turn the corner because of all the cars parked all the way to the end of the street on both side blocking my vision.

I have thought about calling 911 but by the time the sheriff would arrive the traffic congestion will have resolved. A simple fix would be to post signs such as “No parking weekdays from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.” on one side of the street. That would allow for two travel lanes to still be open. And a “no parking” sign in front of the mailboxes. I know it is illegal to block mailboxes but I guess people don’t care.

If a fire truck or aid unit ever had to navigate that street during school dismissal it would be near impossible and very dangerous.

Owen Carter, engineer for Snohomish County, responds: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Since cutbacks in funding for school busing, Snohomish County has become aware of an increase in parents and caregivers driving school-aged children to and from school.

This has caused increased traffic congestion during the drop off-pick up periods, affecting residential neighborhoods with increased traffic and cars parking while waiting for children to be released from school.

In addition, the funding cuts have increased the number of adults walking children to and from school where pedestrian facilities may be limited. These issues are unique at each location and can be very complex. Limiting parking within a neighborhood for private vehicle drop off or pick up also limits parking for the residents who live in the neighborhood.

I recommend that Ms. Duvall contact Dale Valliant at Snohomish County Public Works at 425-388-7138 to form a working group of school staff, PTA members and residents of the neighborhood to look at options on addressing these issues.

Snohomish County is studying funding options to address neighborhood issues but money for non-arterial projects is very limited. In the meantime, state law does restrict parking within certain areas, such as near mailboxes, fire hydrants, and crosswalks. The county public works department will contact the Sheriff’s Office to request increased patrols during the drop off and pick up times.

How to deal with bright headlights

Carol Stevens of Mill Creek writes: Do you have any advice for protection or defense against bright headlights and the people who won’t dim their brights?

I looked into window tinting and it is kind of expensive. I also tried sunglasses and it was effective but tough for seeing details clearly on the road, especially on sidestreets. I am tired of staying home when it gets dark. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Trooper Mark Francis of the State Patrol responds: The state Department of Licensing Driver Guide gives the following suggestion and I would concur:

“If a vehicle comes toward you with high beams on, look away from the headlights and toward the right side of the road until the car has passed. This will keep you from being blinded by the other vehicle’s headlights and allow you to see enough of the edge of the road to stay on course. Do not try to ‘get back’ at the other driver by keeping your bright lights on. If you do, both of you may be blinded.”

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