Quick merges on U.S. 2 are a fact of life (and rude drivers)

Sometimes I think there is some magic go-slow dust hovering over parts of U.S. 2 between Everett toward Monroe. You’re rolling along fine, but then you hit the inevitable line of cars who feel every day is a lazy Sunday.

Until you get to an on-ramp.

That’s what I was thinking when I read this Street Smarts reader’s question anyway.

Craig McKelvey, of Monroe, writes: “The access ramp from 88th Street SE onto eastbound U.S. 2 does not provide visibility of highway traffic until about the last 200 yards to the merge point. This can make merging difficult and dangerous. As you are trying to get up to speed you may find a solid line of cars appear suddenly on your left, so you must abruptly slow down or stop. It’s even worse when you do have a good entry slot and the trailing driver speeds up to close it off (just to be the last car in the line ahead I guess). Either way you have only seconds to decide or react.

“…An easy solution would be to increase the sighting distance between the ramp and the highway by removing the slight rise in the ground that obscures the highway along the first half of the ramp. This would make the entire highway visible from the very beginning of the ramp to the merge point and so be much safer. At the very least please keep this area mowed down.”

Tom Pearce of the Washington State Department of Transportation responds: “While lowering the height of the rise in the median between the ramp and the U.S. 2 sounds simple, anytime you do grading, it gets expensive quickly. There’s design work that needs to be consistent with engineering standards, a variety of reviews and the actual work itself. The line of sight at this ramp conforms with national standards. The most practical way to maintain good sight-lines is with keeping the vegetation low, which we are trying to do now.”

OK, yes, design standards. But common sense is here, too. See someone trying to merge? Slow down a bit to give them a gap. “The law says who must yield the right-of-way, it does not give anyone the right-of-way,” to steal a line from the Washington Driver Guide.

I mean, why the rush? This is U.S. 2. You’re just speeding up to slow down.

(And seriously, what is it that lulls us on this road? Are the cows in on it — some kind of soporific effect to that eau d’ manure?)

Have a question? Email us at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence. Look for updates on the Street Smarts blog.

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