Orange fencing protects environmentally sensitive areas

Lowell Stordahl of Camano Island writes: I am appreciative of the improvements to Highway 532 between I-5 and Camano Island. As I drive this highway I wonder what the purpose is for the orange mesh plastic fences.

Sometimes they are next to the pavement, sometime behind the guard rail, sometimes perpendicular to the road and sometimes they meander all over the place. To my uninformed eyes these fences seem only like something to add to the cost of construction. I think all your readers would like to know something about the purpose of these orange plastic mesh fences.

Dave Chesson, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: The orange fencing is used to clearly mark and protect environmentally sensitive areas when we do highway construction. Putting bright orange fencing around the critical areas prevents the construction crews from accidental damage or violation of local, state and/or federal environmental permits. Crews working on or near the roadway can easily see the fencing and know to avoid these critical areas during construction.

Everett sign misleading

Charlotte McCoy of Marysville writes: As one drives west on 41st Street from Rucker Avenue in Everett, the sign says, “Right Lane Ends.” The problem is that the right lane does not end. It continues straight. It is the left lane that ends and merges into the right lane.

Dongho Chang, traffic engineer for the city of Everett, responds: We will change the sign to reflect the left lane ending. Thank you for the suggestion.

Dangerous curves

Brian Reh of Granite Falls writes: As you are headed south on Menzel Lake Road from Granite Falls, approximately eight-tenths of a mile north of N. Carpenter Road, the road turns sharply to the left. The curve on the arrow of the warning sign does not adequately reflect how sharp the upcoming turn is.

Could there also be a missing yellow speed sign of 25 mph on the same signpost? I’m concerned because there is so little room for error on that bend: no guardrail, narrow shoulders, poor nighttime lighting, with a sharp dropoff.

Owen Carter, Snohomish County engineer, responds: Mr. Reh asks an excellent question. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the national standard for traffic signs, provides a number of different types of curve warning signs. The two that Mr. Reh are asking about are the curve sign and turn sign.

The curve sign — a yellow sign with a black arrow that bends slightly to the left or right based on the direction of the curve — is used when the safe operating speed is 30 mph or greater. This segment of Menzel Lake Road is marked in both directions with curve signs because the safe driving speed has been determined to be 35 mph, based on a study.

The second type of sign is a yellow sign with a black arrow with a 90-degree bend. Based on the manual, this type of warning sign should be used only when the safe speed is less than 30 mph. With this type of sign, the county does use a supplemental warning speed sign to advise the motorist of the safe driving speed.

Also, all of the warning signs along this road will be upgraded to provide for improved night time recognition. Posts and guardrails also are planned.

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

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