Sign will help with tricky U.S. 2 onramp

Shaun Huber of Lake Stevens writes: I live in Lake Stevens and use 20th Street SE, heading west to get onto U.S. 2 west. When heading down the hill prior to merging onto U.S. 2 the posted speed limit is 35 mph, but there is no sign indicating a change to a 55 mph speed limit for the trestle. My main concern about this is that traffic is merging at 55 mph from Highway 204 and U.S. 2 from the east. The vehicles that come down 20th are not allowed to increase speed as our last posted sign states 35 mph but the other two lanes have posted speed limits of 55 mph.

Often, police officers are sitting about halfway down the hill on westbound 20th ensuring that vehicles do not exceed the posted speed of 35 mph. Isn’t it a safety issue with one lane’s posted speed limit is 20 mph slower than the two lanes it merges with?

When drivers enter a freeway on-ramp, the expectation is that they use the ramp to accelerate to freeway speeds so they can safely join mainline traffic. Speed limits are not posted along on-ramps (or off-ramps); ramps serve as transitions from one roadway to another, such as on-ramp from a city street to a freeway or a freeway off-ramp to a city street, with varying speeds along the ramps.

Travis Phelps, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: When drivers on 20th Street SE move onto the westbound U.S. 2 on-ramp, they can begin accelerating to match speeds on mainline U.S. 2. The ramp begins near the intersection of 20th Street SE and 71st Avenue SE.

We plan to add a “Freeway Entrance” sign in the area so drivers know where the ramp begins and when they can begin to accelerate. However, drivers using the ramp from 20th Street SE to westbound U.S. 2 should also take into account traffic merging from the Highway 204 on-ramp. Drivers coming from this on-ramp have limited visibility. Drivers on 20th might need to adjust their speeds and provide gaps for slower traffic merging from the Highway 204 ramp before they begin accelerating.

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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