Drop in speed limit on U.S. 2 exit needs a better sign

Bill Thomas of Snohomish writes: This has to do with the 20th Avenue exit at the east end of the U.S. 2 trestle. It is a safety issue.

The speed limit on the trestle is 55 mph. On the 20th Avenue exit there are a series of yellow signs that show the curved exit and a suggested speed of 35 mph. Yellow signs do not decrease the posted speed, they are advisory. They give no indication that the speed limit at the top of the hill is 35 mph.

Those curves are banked and most of the drivers come off there at between 50-55 mph on a dry day with no problem. As you actually exit onto Cavalero Hill you pass four road signs closely spaced on the right hand curve that obliterate the small 35 mph speed limit sign that appears with virtually no warning.

A limit of 35 mph is totally appropriate for the hill and there have been several major injury accidents at the side road on top of the hill.

As you leave U.S. 2 onto the 20th Avenue exit, if there was a sign declaring “Speed Zone Ahead” or a white 35 mph sign and an arrow pointing ahead it would indicate a reduction is coming up.

At the end of the exit but before you make the sweeping right turn, a large oversized white 35 mph would slow traffic appropriately. That hidden small 35 mph sign around the corner has seen its share of radar enforcement activity mainly because you can’t see it coming. Luckily in my 35 years on this road I have not been ticketed.

Bronlea Mishler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: Our traffic engineers agree with Bill’s suggestion that some type of “speed limit ahead” sign is needed on the eastbound U.S. 2 exit to 20th Avenue. We’ve reviewed the area and plan to install the sign by the end of October.

It will be a yellow, diamond-shaped sign that shows a graphic of a black-and-white 35 mph speed limit sign, to warn drivers that the speed limit ahead is slower.

Fog delays signals

Janet Church of Snohomish writes: I have noticed that the traffic signals along Cathcart Way and further west on 134th Place SE don’t work very well in the fog. They don’t seem to recognize that there is a car waiting at the light. After the signal changes to let the cars from the side streets enter onto Cathcart Way, the signal does not change back to green along Cathcart. Is there some kind of sensor on these signals that get mixed up in the fog? Is there anything that can be done to improve this?

Jim Bloodgood, traffic engineer for Snohomish County, responds: The county uses video detection of vehicles at our signalized intersections. This can pose detection problems during periods of fog or snow. During these periods when the detector cannot “see” it assumes a vehicle is present and gives a green light even if there are no vehicles present. This makes the signal operation appear sluggish.

We have recently been shown a new type of video detection that uses infrared imaging that will not be affected by fog or snow. We will be using the Cathcart corridor as a test for some of these infrared cameras. This will probably occur next year.

E-mail Street Smarts at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.

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