Yellow arrow left turns scrapped at Dumas Road in Mill Creek

Collision data showed drivers weren’t yielding to oncoming traffic, so the state changed the highway intersection signal.

News logo for use with stories about Mill Creek in Snohomish County, WA.

Live somewhere long enough and the roads become familiar.

You know when and where to avoid traffic, and can get used to signal timing.

But a change can throw things off, as happened to Skip Darimont and his wife who live southeast of Everett near Mill Creek.

Darimont said they drive into Mill Creek for the bank, library, post office and shopping and return via Highway 527, also called the Bothell-Everett Highway. To get home, they turn left onto Dumas Road and were accustomed to a flashing yellow left turn arrow on the traffic signal as well as a solid green arrow.

Recently they noticed the flashing yellow signal went away. Now if they miss the solid green, they have to wait a full cycle before they can turn legally.

“We often find ourselves in a lengthy line waiting to turn left even though there is often no oncoming southbound traffic,” Darimont wrote to The Daily Herald.

In 2017, Darimont asked Street Smarts about signal timing from Meadow Road to 164th Street SW. A technical issue with the traffic signal controller was at fault there, and he wondered if something similar was amiss at Dumas Road or if traffic engineers made the change.

It was the latter.

Washington State Department of Transportation traffic engineers adjusted the signals for left turns from Highway 527 on May 7, spokesperson James Poling wrote in an email.

“Every signal at WSDOT is on a schedule to be reviewed for safety and efficiency,” Poling wrote. “Unfortunately, at this location, data indicated that vehicles were not properly yielding to oncoming traffic.”

The intersection has had at least five crashes each year since 2017, according to state data. Most didn’t result in injury, but one collision in 2018 had a suspected serious injury. There were nine crashes at the intersection that year.

The state got rid of the yellow left turns in favor of longer solid green arrow that lasts at most 25 seconds.

Drivers have 2.5 seconds to trigger the signal controller, or it will go to a yellow then red arrow.

So they may have to wait a while longer to turn left, but hopefully it’s safer now as a “protected” move through the signal.

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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