Street Smarts

Herald Staff

Q I have seen some articles in The Herald about the new traffic signal on U.S. 2 in Sultan. I had not experienced it until a recent Sunday evening. Westbound U.S. 2 traffic stopped several miles east of Gold Bar and was in “creep” until passing the Sultan traffic signal.

The delay was nearly an hour.

Why does the Washington State Department of Transportation allow this delay due to one traffic signal? The amount of traffic entering U.S. 2 at that point is minimal. If the light is not removed, at least it should be regulated so that there is a long wait (at least five minutes) for a green northbound and southbound and only a short period for the green.

Holding up traffic for nearly an hour to let a very few vehicles enter U.S. 2 is totally wrong and should be corrected.

A Dawn M. McIntosh, assistant area traffic engineer with the Department of Transportation, said the state is aware of the issues at the Fern Bluff/Old Owen Road traffic signal on U.S. 2 in Sultan.

“We are monitoring the situation,” McIntosh said. “This traffic signal is on a two-lane roadway which has very high traffic volume, especially on Friday and Sunday evenings when people are traveling to and from Stevens Pass Ski Area or Eastern Washington.”

It’s the second most popular cross-state route of the five in Washington, right after I-90.

The signal was built to provide access to U.S. 2 and local businesses for side-street travelers. Before the light, local traffic had a difficult time entering the highway due to the high volume of traffic on the state route.

“The traffic signal already has the longest green time (175 seconds) of any signal in the Puget Sound region,” McIntosh said. “The weekend peak hour signal timing plan calls for the mainline to stay green until a side-street vehicle approaches the intersection (just as you requested in your letter). Once the signal detects the side-street vehicle, the mainline stays green for an additional 175 seconds before turning red and switching to the side street where it turns green for approximately 20 seconds. The 20-second green time allocation is, once again, to provide safe passage to the side-street traffic. The mainline stays green at all other times.”

Please note, she said, that local travelers complain that the side-street green time is too short. As you can guess, the Department of Transportation must balance the needs of the highway traveler with the needs of the side-street traveler.

“The best explanation that I can offer regarding long delays on Sunday evenings is that there is a large volume of people and vehicles returning home from their weekend trip at the same time,” she said. “The only reasonable highway capital improvement alternative to the traffic signal is the construction of a multilane freeway to replace the existing two-lane roadway.”

Unfortunately, there are no plans to expand U.S. 2 in the near future, she said.

McIntosh said she recommends avoiding U.S. 2 between 4 and 7 p.m. Sundays.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

N3054V accident site. (Alaska State Trooper Photo)
Lake Stevens pilot, who lived ‘Alaska dream,’ died in Fairbanks crash

Former Snohomish County lawyer Harry “Ray” Secoy III, 63, worked as a DC-4 pilot in Alaska in the last years of his life.

Air and ground search and rescue teams found Jerry Riedinger’s plane near Humpback Mountain on Monday. (WSDOT photo)
Remains of pilot recovered near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger never made it to Ephrata after departing the Arlington airport Sunday. Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

Federal prosecutors say the two men shown here outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are Tucker Weston, left, and Jesse Watson. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Lynnwood roommates sentenced for roles in Jan. 6 riot

Tucker Weston was given two years in prison Thursday. Jesse Watson received three years of probation in August 2023.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood firm faces $790K in fines for improper asbestos handling

State regulators said this is the fifth time Seattle Asbestos of Washington violated “essential” safety measures.

A truck towing a travel trailer crashed into a home in the Esperance neighborhood Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (South County Fire)
Man seriously injured after his truck rolls into Edmonds home

One resident was inside the home in the 22500 block of 8th Avenue W, but wasn’t injured, fire officials said.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Memorial Day holiday weekend travel nightmare is upon us

Going somewhere this weekend? You’ll have lots of company — 44 million new BFFs — on planes, trains and automobiles.

Bothell
Bothell family says racism at Seattle Children’s led to teen’s death

In February 2021, Sahana Ramesh, the daughter of Indian immigrants, died after months of suffering from a rare disease.

Boeing Firefighters and supporters have a camp set up outside of Boeing on Airport Road as the company’s lockout of union firefighters approaches two weeks on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Union firefighters reject Boeing’s latest contract offer

The union’s 125 firefighters on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the offer, which included “an improved wage growth” schedule

A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
County pumps the brakes on planned Sultan shooting range

The $47 million project, in the works for decades, has no partner or funding. County parks officials are reconsidering its viability.

Suzan DelBene, left, Rick Larsen
Larsen, DelBene request over $40M for projects in Snohomish County

If approved, Congress would foot the bill for traffic fixes, public transit, LED lights and much more around the county.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.