It is a titch annoying to have to stop for trucks that aren’t even there.
Street Smarts reader Patricia Johnson, of Lake Stevens, wonders why there’s a “no turn on red” for drivers looking to turn right from eastbound Soper Hill Road onto southbound Highway 9.
“This does not make sense for people to sit and wait when there isn’t a car in sight, which is often the situation,” Johnson said.
The reason for the restriction is unusual: a weigh station.
The weigh station, located just north of the intersection, includes a dedicated truck lane that exits the station, crosses the intersection, and helps trucks merge back onto the highway farther south.
“In order for drivers travelling eastbound on Soper Hill Road to make a right turn onto southbound SR 9, they must cross over this active truck dedicated lane before reaching the right-most general purpose lane,” said Cory Nau, senior engineer with Lake Stevens Public Works.
“The concern — and what is observed at other intersections of this type — is that drivers will creep into and block the dedicated truck lane in order get closer to their right turn, which can cause serious safety concerns of blocking an active through lane and impeding the ability of trucks climbing the hill,” Nau said.
OK, but then where are the trucks?
“I’ve traveled SR 9 for many years and I have never seen the truck lane in use,” Johnson said.
Come to think of it, I haven’t ever seen a truck there either. Like Johnson, I thought it was defunct. Clean, but boarded up.
Not so, says Trooper Heather Axtman of the Washington State Patrol, which operates the weigh station.
“The weigh station is still operational,” Axtman said. “It is used periodically by our commercial vehicle division. … The scale is open, on average, one time per week.”
Ultimately, the Washington State Department of Transportation sets the rules for this situation. They don’t plan any changes.
“We understand the inconvenience,” spokesman Tom Pearce said, “so we installed a green right-turn only arrow that allows drivers to turn right when traffic on northbound SR 9 is turning left.
“Vehicles on southbound SR 9 that want to turn right onto Soper Hill Road also have a traffic signal. They can make a right turn after stopping for a red light, if there are no trucks coming, because they clear the intersection immediately,” Pearce added.
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