Readers raise safety concerns at busy Smokey Point interchange

Drivers and pedestrians both have issues over who’s got the right of way.

We recently fielded two safety-related questions from readers about Highway 531 (172nd Street NE) in the bustling Smokey Point business district.

Make traffic coming off I-5 yield?

Street Smarts reader Mark Bodtker wrote: “I am wondering why there is not a yield sign at the end of the northbound I-5 off-ramp at Highway 531 (Smokey Point) for drivers heading east. It is very dangerous for drivers already on Highway 531 heading east and cars speeding off the off-ramp into their path — when the light is green on Highway 531. Also, it is hard for Highway 531 drivers to get into the far-right lane to access Lowe’s and other businesses that are located just beyond the off-ramp.”

We pitched the idea to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Spokeswoman Nicole Daniels responded: “Adding a yield control to what becomes an added lane on eastbound Highway 531 has the probability of significantly impacting the traffic flow on the northbound I-5 off-ramp.”

In other words, no dice.

OK, so how about this one …

Mark the crosswalk that’s already there?

Street Smarts reader Bruce Englehardt wrote: “Just wanted to write about a persistent problem that I’ve had while walking across I-5 at 172nd Street NE.

“Walking along the north side of the bridge, which is the most convenient way for me, involves crossing the loop ramp for westbound-to-southbound traffic. The slip lane for the ramp has a crosswalk, complete with a dimple for wheeled users and tactile strips, but is unmarked. There’s no paint on the ground, and there’s no sign warning drivers that pedestrians have the right-of-way (as they do at all unmarked and marked crosswalks), so I routinely have to wait for a dozen or more cars to cut me off and clear the lane. The slip lane is also a bit downhill from the overpass’s highest point, creating a blind spot that has amazingly not caused a fatal collision with a pedestrian.

“Has WSDOT considered doing anything to improve safety at this slip lane? A sign can help a pedestrian assert their rights and maybe cause drivers to slow down earlier (as they’re hitting the brakes on the ramp anyway).”

Daniels from WSDOT: “We don’t have the specifics yet, but we are currently working on options to improve pedestrian comfort at this location.”

Stay tuned …

Street Smarts: streetsmarts@heraldnet.com, 425-339-3432

Update, Oct. 25, 2018: WSDOT crews will be installing new crosswalk signs within the next few weeks at that spot, Daniels said. The timing of the painted stripes is more iffy. “The crosswalk striping is weather-dependent,” Daniels noted. If dry, warm weather comes along, it could happen in the next few months. “If that doesn’t happen, the crosswalk striping will occur in the spring.”

More in Local News

Anti-noise group seeks halt to Growlers at Coupeville field

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is in the process of increasing training flights by 400 percent.

photos by Dan Bates / The Herald 
                                WSDOT spokeswoman Diane Rhodes talks with reporters and photojournalists at the passenger terminal under construction at Mukilteo on Thursday.
Passenger building offers glimpse of Mukilteo ferry terminal

The new facility connecting Mukilteo and Whidbey Island is expected to open in October or November.

County seeks federal aid after recent floods and landslides

If your home or business was damaged, you could help the state qualify for disaster assistance.

Separate suspected DUI, hit-and-run crashes hospitalize 4

Emergency responders were busy Saturday night after three collisions across Lynnwood.

Looking back: 1930s WPA project transformed Forest Park

A public works program is responsible for much of what exists today.

A new $20 shuttle begins runs from Monroe to Stevens Pass

Overcrowded parking in the ski area and heavy traffic on U.S. 2 prompted the new weekend service.

Marysville Little League president sentenced for theft

A forensic audit found Leo Carlos, 50, could not account for more than $71,000 of league money.

Everett’s new passenger terminal gets some national love

Paine Field was voted 8th-best among a selection of small airports, some of which aren’t all that small.

Bus stop locations chosen for safety and convenience

A reader wondered why so many bus stops are on the far side of an intersection. It’s on purpose.

Most Read