Tweaks to yield sign may help fix 41st Street mess

Tom Stephenson of Bothell writes: The 41st Street interchange in Everett is a scary mess.

My afternoon commute takes me westbound on 41st, then south on I-5. My turn is controlled by a traffic light, in this case a green arrow. I’m constantly amazed at drivers heading eastbound on 41st, turning onto southbound I-5. They have only a yield sign, and either don’t see the sign, don’t see the turning traffic, or don’t care, and come bombing around their corner.

About four of every five days I have to stop or slow at the last second to avoid getting hit. Often the drivers jump over to the far left lane. Several times, I’ve had to slam on the brakes because I would otherwise T-bone the offending driver. Adding insult to injury, a tap of the horn usually earns a middle finger — quite the mood-brightener when I have the green arrow. While I agree the design of the interchange is effective at moving large volumes of traffic, the state can’t really believe it’s safe. Are any changes being considered?

Dave Chesson, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: After observing the eastbound right turn to the I-5 southbound on-ramp, we plan to move the yield sign on the right-hand side of the ramp farther around the curve. This should help make the sign more visible for right-turning drivers. We’ll also check the size of the existing sign and, if necessary, we’ll change it to the largest size available. We’ll take a look at adding a second yield sign on the left-hand side of the ramp. We expect this work to be completed in mid-February.

Lotty Stout of Lake Stevens writes: Twice in the past few months, on 172nd Street NE and I-5 in Smokey Point, I have seen drivers coming southbound off the freeway failing to slow down and then crossing over all four lanes of traffic to make a left onto 27th Avenue NE.

The distance from the end of the ramp to the light is very short. The first time this happened I was driving the speed limit on 172nd in the right lane and the car coming off the ramp did not even pause. It was all I could do to stop my car in time to prevent hitting her.

All four lanes of traffic came to halt to allow this driver to make it across to her desired position in traffic. Is there any way to do something to keep drivers from doing this?

My suggestion would be to have a median or a curb on the right side of 172nd to divert the traffic from the ramp to the right lane on 172nd westbound and then they can make their way across or actually do the safe thing which would be to make a right at 27th, turn around and then drive south on 27th Avenue NE.

Chesson of the transportation department responds: Curbing can’t be installed in the roadway on that stretch but there are some other measures that can be taken.

Lanes must meet minimum requirements for width, and installing curbing would require widening the roadway and adding a third westbound lane for the off-ramp. Also, a curb there would interfere with other drivers’ ability to make legitimate lane changes if they’re turning onto 27th.

However, similar to the situation at 41st Street in Everett referenced above, we plan to raise the height of the yield sign on the right-hand side of the off-ramp, possibly replace it with a larger sign and consider adding a second sign on the left-hand side of the ramp, also by mid-February.

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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