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Salish Springs residents concerned about dangerous intersection
For drivers heading eastbound on State Route 202 between the cities of Redmond and Sammamish, trying to turn left onto 218th Avenue Northeast can be dangerous.
In the span of two months this summer, the intersection of SR 202 and 218th Avenue Northeast has seen two car accidents. On top of that, residents in the nearby Salish Springs neighborhood said there have been numerous “almost” accidents throughout the years.
“We all have our stories,” said Liz Martz. “It’s insane.”
Martz is among a group of residents from Salish Springs — which is located along 218th Avenue Northeast — who are coming together to voice their concerns about the intersection in unincorporated King County.
With a speed limit of 55 mph and no left-turn lane, Martz, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years, and other residents said when eastbound cars stop to turn onto 218th Avenue Northeast, it interrupts the flow of traffic — which has increased significantly as the surrounding areas’ populations have grown and more housing developments have been built. If the cars don’t stop, the residents said drivers will sometimes swerve to the right, driving on the shoulder, to keep going — occasionally ending up in the wetlands located along the highway (below).
Jeanne Brown, who has lived in Salish Springs for 22 years, said there needs to be some kind of mitigation at the intersection because they are constantly having to hear about accidents and “almost” accidents.
Linda Teegarden, a 20-year Salish Springs resident, agreed.
“It’s terrifying,” she said about stopping to turn left into the neighborhood.
The residents were also surprised when they learned that the school bus for Evergreen Middle School drops students off on the far side of the highway, forcing them to cross both lanes before entering the neighborhood.
Kathryn Reith, communications director for Lake Washington School District (LWSD), said when dropping kids off on a two-lane road such as SR 202, the bus driver looks at the traffic to make sure it is safe for the students to cross.
“They’re always looking out for our students,” she said.
The bus also has flashing lights and the stop arm that comes out to stop drivers, Reith added.
SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE
The residents would like to see a traffic light and left-turn lane installed at the intersection as well as a slower speed limit along SR 202.
Brown said if they can’t get that, then they would at least like to see signage indicating the upcoming left turn.
Martz said she and her neighbors are working to contact King County elected officials and local state lawmakers to make them aware of the issue in hopes that something will be done.
The issues at the intersection were first brought up in the 1990s when Montessori Children’s House (MCH) opened at the entrance to the neighborhood at 5003 218th Ave. N.E., but nothing has been done.
Head of School Jennifer Wheelhouse said the school stated at a recent neighborhood meeting that they would be willing to invest in a “school ahead” sign on the highway.
“But upon further investigation, (we learned) we can’t install any signage on a state highway,” she said.
Wheelhouse said the school also put in a stop sign at the end of its driveway and modified its arrival schedule, staggered arrivals and pushed its start time so that the majority of students did not arrive during the morning peak traffic hour from 7:45-8:45 a.m.
“We do feel that the state should address the safety of the 202 corridor between 520 and Albertson’s,” she said. “Since MCH opened its doors in 1994 the traffic along this corridor has increased substantially.”
Wheelhouse said in addition to the area’s increased development, the additions of The Goddard School and LWSD’s STEM school on 228th Avenue Northeast are also factors contributing to the increased traffic along SR 202.
HOW THINGS CAN GET DONE
Matt Beaulieu, a north King County area traffic engineer for Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), said they have been made aware of the issues at the intersection and are looking into things.
He said the easiest way for them to start a discussion about a traffic issue is to hear from the community.
“No one knows that area better than the people who drive it day in and day out,” he said.
Beaulieu said once they learn about an issue, WSDOT will start an internal investigation — looking at collision history, traffic volume history and what else is going on along the road. If it is inexpensive to address the issue, he said they can use money from their low-cost enhancements fund to pay for it. If the project looks like it will be more expensive, Beaulieu said it may require legislative action, which would take longer.
He said the cost of a project depends on a number of factors involved, including the possible need for environmental mediation, purchasing a right-of-way or installing a traffic light.
Beaulieu said he will have more details regarding the intersection of SR 202 and 218th Avenue Northeast in the next week and a half or so.