A driver makes a permitted left turn on a flashing yellow arrow at the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 530 on Wednesday in Arlington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A driver makes a permitted left turn on a flashing yellow arrow at the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 530 on Wednesday in Arlington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Reader: Arlington highway intersection signal change confusing

At the city’s request, the state changed the left-turn sequence. An Arlington reader said drivers are jumping the queue.

Daily commutes make us familiar with the pace of travel.

Leave home by a certain time or face another 30 minutes (but probably more like an hour) being part of traffic.

It lets us know which routes to rely on and skip as backups, where to park for shade or sun, and options for scenic routes.

Familiarity helps us navigate our communities that often feel like they change slowly and all at once sometimes.

It can also throw us off when something shifts, even as seemingly small as the sequence of a traffic signal.

John Hahn, of Arlington, noticed the left turn sequence changed at the intersection of Highways 9 and 530. It used to let left turns go first with a green arrow that turned to blinking yellow once through traffic got the green light.

Now the through traffic goes first with a blinking yellow turn signal. Once the through traffic clears, the left turn gets a solid green arrow.

“This has (led) to a lot of near collisions as the folks turning left tend to jump out ASAP, probably thinking they won’t get a green arrow,” Hahn wrote to The Daily Herald. “Most likely they don’t realize the green arrow comes after the straight through traffic clears. I have had a couple of near hits to me, and just today I saw someone almost nail a car in the intersection.”

As a state highway, management of the signal is up to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The state changed the signal sequencing at the City of Arlington’s request last year, WSDOT spokesperson Sean Quinn wrote in an email.

“Because of Burke Avenue’s proximity to the north, the roundabout to the east and the small distance between the intersections, adjustments were made to help alleviate backups at these intersections and reduce queuing back through both the Division Street roundabout and Burke Avenue,” Quinn wrote.

The intersection had about 16,000 vehicles go through it every day in 2021, according to state data.

There wasn’t a fatal collision at the intersection between 2012 and 2017, according to Washington State Traffic Safety Commission data.

There was one collision at the intersection last year but no injuries were reported, according to WSDOT data.

In 2021, there were three reported crashes in the intersection. One of those crashes had serious injuries suspected.

There were seven reported crashes with one suspected of having serious injuries in 2020.

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

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