Red-light runners aggravate congestion at Lakewood Crossing

Robert Dietz of Arlington writes: Is there any plan to install red-light cameras at the intersection of 172nd Street NE and 27th Avenue NE, the entrance to the Lakewood Crossing mall? I have witnessed cars running the red light westbound on 172nd to turn into the mall on every occasion I have been at the intersection. Typically, three or four cars race through the red light at a time, often blocking eastbound traffic, causing a domino effect to the already congested mess.

Mike Swires, Snohomish County traffic engineer for the state Department of Transportation, responds: We have heard from many drivers who share your concerns about this intersection and we understand your frustration. Our signal engineers continually monitor this location and have synchronized this signal and the adjacent signals to keep traffic flowing as safely as possible.

The state does not have legal authority to install red-light cameras at intersections. While state law (RCW 46.63.170) specifically grants such authority to cities and counties, any reference to the state is absent. I would encourage you to contact local law enforcement to share your concerns about drivers running the red light.

We have also been working with the city of Marysville to install tattletale lights at this intersection to help officers determine when drivers are violating a red light. These are the small blue lights located on the back of traffic signals that help officers on that side determine when signals are red.

Reconfigured lanes

Doug Greiert of Marysville writes: I operate an insurance agency in a business complex at the intersection of Highway 204 and 10th Street SE near Lake Stevens. Highway 204 carries a heavy load of traffic to and from the trestle from Lake Stevens, Granite Falls and Arlington. The intersection with 10th Street SE has been uncontrolled and there have been left-turn lanes for access to 10th Street.

Recently, a state crew was out and completely reconfigured the intersection, removing the turn lanes, and completely eliminated the ability to access eastbound 10th Street from westbound Highway 204.

This action will have a serious impact on my business. A large portion of my customer base comes from Arlington, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens and even Marysville via Highway 9 and then down Highway 204. The reconfiguration has taken away any ability for these customers to enter my business from Highway 204.

I question why this was done. Why was I, as a business owner, not notified? Why was I not given an opportunity to have input on the decision? Thank you!

Mike Swires of the state responds: We recently changed several intersections on Highway 204 to improve safety on the entire corridor. At the intersection of Highway 204, Ninth Street SE and 10th Street SE, drivers turning left from Ninth Street SE to eastbound Highway 204 now have a protected turn pocket. Drivers can no longer make left turns from Highway 204 to Ninth Street SE or 10th Street SE or from 10th Street SE to Highway 204. Drivers wishing to access 10th Street SE can use 20th Street SE to the south or Highway 9 or Market Place to the north.

An average of 30,500 vehicles travel this section of Highway 204 each day. Since 1999, there have been 16 collisions at the Highway 204-Sunnyside intersection and 16 collisions at the Highway 204-Ninth Street-10th Street intersections. Seven collisions, including one fatal collision, involved drivers turning onto Highway 204 from Ninth Street SE. Another four collisions involved drivers entering Highway 204 from 10th Street SE.

Changing the way drivers enter and exit Highway 204 at these intersections will improve traffic flow and reduce the risk of serious collisions.

In July we mailed a postcard to all residences and businesses along Highway 204 in this area to notify them of the coming changes. Mr. Greiert’s property was among the 7,500 to which we sent postcards. We spoke with several business and property owners who had questions about the modifications.

We know that it’s frustrating for drivers to lose a turn that they’re used to. Our primary goal is the safety of everyone who uses our roadways, and we often have to balance relatively minor inconveniences to drivers with the opportunity for significant safety benefits.

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