A driver turns left from 35th Avenue SE to westbound Seattle Hill Road on Wednesday in Mill Creek. The left turn signal doesn’t have a flashing yellow arrow, which can keep drivers waiting for the next cycle. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

A driver turns left from 35th Avenue SE to westbound Seattle Hill Road on Wednesday in Mill Creek. The left turn signal doesn’t have a flashing yellow arrow, which can keep drivers waiting for the next cycle. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Crash history limits left turns at Mill Creek traffic signal

Drivers on 35th Avenue SE hoping to turn left onto Seattle Hill Road have different phasing if they’re going east or west.

Drivers winding their way along 35th Avenue SE to Seattle Hill Road come to an intersection managed by traffic signals.

At the intersection, each side of 35th has the same approach: a bike lane, a vehicle lane to go straight, and turns lane left and right.

But left turns are treated differently by the signal depending on if you’re heading east or west to Seattle Hill Road.

Travelers going south on 35th and turning left to eastbound Seattle Hill Road get a solid green arrow that phases to a flashing yellow arrow before turning solid red. But anyone heading north on 35th hoping to turn left onto westbound Seattle Hill Road only gets a solid green arrow then solid red.

It has perplexed nearby Bothell resident Corey Smith.

“I regularly sit at the light while those across from me are able to turn,” Smith told The Daily Herald. “There doesn’t seem to be any line-of-sight issues (and I) would like to know the logic there.”

The intersection straddles the border of Mill Creek city limits and unincorporated Snohomish County. Seattle Hill Road east of 35th is the county’s jurisdiction, and west is the city’s.

Both agencies share the traffic signals’ operations, Mill Creek spokesperson Scott Harder said.

But the county led the signal phasing change that stalls Smith at the intersection.

Snohomish County Public Works adjusted the signal in 2019 because of an increase in crashes involving drivers going north on 35th and turning left onto Seattle Hill Road, county traffic engineer Mohammad Uddin wrote in an email.

There were several crashes at and near the intersection between 2015 and 2018, according to data from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Before the change, the signal had a green arrow that phased to a flashing yellow arrow from northbound 35th to westbound Seattle Hill Road.

“We identified a sight distance/visibility issue for this movement,” Uddin wrote. “To address this issue, the signal phasing was changed to only allow protected left turns for that movement. Southbound traffic on 35th Avenue SE turning east onto Seattle Hill Road does not have a visibility/sight distance issue.”

The geometry of the intersection contributes to the visibility problem, Uddin said. The north-south road of 35th meets the intersection at a skewed angle, which can confuse drivers.

That pushed the county to scrap the flashing yellow arrow at northbound 35th. But it “adequately” adjusted timing at the signal, Uddin said.

The county isn’t likely to allow for those permitted left turns — as opposed to turns protected by a solid green arrow — at different times of day with lower traffic volumes, either.

“During peak hours due to traffic congestion, vehicles travel at lower speed but during the off-peak hours speed is higher resulting in a higher risk for severity of collision,” Uddin wrote. “During off-peak hours, northbound left turns have adequate green time to clear all vehicles that would wait to make left turns.”

Have a question? Call 425-339-3037 or email streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

A bloodied Donald Trump is surrounded by Secret Service agents at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa, on Saturday, July, 13, 2024. The former president was rushed off stage at rally after sounds like shots; the former president was escorted into his motorcade at his rally in Butler, Pa., a rural town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Trump rally shooting investigated as assassination attempt

President Joe Biden gave a brief televised statement, condemning the violence as “sick.”

Firefighters and EMTs with Sky Valley Fire tour Eagle Falls while on an observational trip on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, near Index, Washington. (Jordan Hansen / The Herald)
Beautiful but deadly: Drownings common at Eagle Falls, other local waters

Locals and firefighters are sounding the alarm as Eagle Falls and the Granite Falls Fish Ladder have claimed five lives this year.

A view of the south eastern area of the Lake Stevens that includes lakeshore and UGA that is a part of the city's annexation area on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens fight to take over sewer district could end soon

The city and sewer district have been locked in a yearslong dispute. A judge could put an end to the stalemate this month.

Lynnwood appoints new council member after abrupt resignation

Derica Escamilla will take the seat vacated by Shirley Sutton in May, who claimed the city had a “total lack of leadership.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.