Letters to the Editor

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SR 16: Sprague exit should be redesigned

Letter by James P. Langan, Lakewood on June 29, 2011 at 9:29 am with 17 Comments »
June 29, 2011 10:56 am

On Sunday I decided to drive the newly opened Interstate 5/state Route 16 intersection to see how it was. I was particularly concerned about the very odd-looking eastbound exit from SR 16 to Sprague Avenue.

Logic suggested to me that the “L” turn would be risky. As I made the approach to the Sprague Avenue off-ramp, I noticed right away that the sight line made the left turn impossible to see right away. And by the time you do see the turn, you are right on it and have to hit the brakes.

Since then, I took the Sprague Avenue exit again, and at the top of the ramp at the left turn saw stark evidence of how dangerous this exit can be: tire skid marks, paint marks and gouges indicating that someone couldn’t make the turn and smashed into the wall opposite.

I sincerely hope that those involved in this accident were not injured. But I feel that this intersection is a disaster waiting to happen and should be closed immediately and redesigned.


Leave a comment Comments → 17
  1. SwordofPerseus says:

    I saw this disaster coming when I first looked at the new design at the DOT web site. This state has long suffered from the lack of designer intelligence and forethought when it comes to road construction. Just look at the free way merge where the on and off traffic have to cross! The concrete is set and we are stuck with this mess for a while until someone gets killed probably.

  2. LarryFine says:

    I recall they were touting how brilliant the 90 degree design was… I wonder if Brian Ebersole will be driving it ?

  3. LarryFine says:

    … or Ray Corpuz.

  4. Omega6234 says:

    Did you miss the bright yellow and black sign than said 15 mph??? Too busy texting or doingyour hair??

  5. This exit is going to be THE place to be with your video camera next winter when it snows….

  6. Drive the speed limit. Pay attention to your driving. Don’t drive under the influence. It seems pretty simple to me.

  7. Kevindot1 says:

    Maybe this corner will be our very own little Darwin section. They do mean 15 MPH when taking this turn. I did hear that there has already been a crash at the location. I bet that person does the speed limit next time. I do not see it changing at all though. People just need to pay attention to the road and suggested speed limits. I do however feel that the speed limit at 15 mph for that corner needs to be changed from a yellow “suggested” limit to the real speed limit.

  8. alindasue says:

    I’d agree with all the “pay attention” and “do the speed limit” commenters – except wasn’t the whole point of this multi-million dollar years of construction blockages to create safer entries onto Hwy 16 and eliminate the bottlenecks caused by traffic that had to suddenly slow down to safely enter the freeway?

    Safety issue or not, dropping the speed to 15mph is bound to cause bottlenecks during rush hour traffic. It kind of defeats the whole point of the project.

  9. Omega6234 says:

    Have you driven that section at all, alindasue??? Its only an off ramp from 16… to sprague… not an onramp. And it will never be the cause of a back up… not many people use that off ramp.

  10. Tacomalover says:

    This is only one of many phases folks. Eventually there will be a stop sign at the top before you can make the left turn! Furthermore you will have people using that to get onto I-5 from Sprague.

    I agree if you drive the damn speed limit you wont have a problem. SLOW the heck down and you wont have a problem.

  11. concernedtacoma7 says:

    How old are all of you? 15MPH is a parking lot speed. While it may be true that not many people will use that exit, after all of the money spent they could have made it more efficient (i.e. safer to drive faster).

  12. 15mph in a parking lot?? i bet “concernedtacoma7″ is the goofy character that nearly took my door off speeding through a parking lot recently!

  13. Omega6234 says:

    Dcr628- you must be over 60 years old.

  14. omega….pretty darn close! ;) and wise enough to have survived!

  15. larsman says:

    Naming names…..
    our dear engineering- challenged,
    blueprint misreading,
    half-bridge to nowhere approving,

    Paula Hammond ( giving good drawbar jazz organs a bad name )…

  16. gonefishin69690 says:

    I realize this is and older thread, but I just had to make this comment. I was out riding this weekend and decided to test ride the whole project. After making my way both directions 3 times, I came to the conclusion that the WB 16 interchange is much improved, however, I counted at least 6 separate skid marks/wall collisions at the 15 mph curve on EB Sprague exit, That has been dubbed by most as the “Evil Kneivel Memorial Parkway” ….I now know why.
    You would think that in this day and age, with all of our technology, that this could have been a much better design. In fact, I actually tried to imagine a worse one and couldn’t. The weather over this last week has been good, and I dread to see what is going to happen when winter hits. In my opinion, this should be a “Fair weather only” ramp, and closed from Nov 1 until April 1. I guess the bright spot, is that until the EB portion is finished, they at least have a spot to clear all the wrecked cars to, at least for now.

  17. I have used this exit everyday since it opened… If the final outcome of the project will be a stop sign at the top of the offramp, then why not have the stop in place now?

    If, as Omega 6234 states, “not many people use that ramp” then it shouldn’t be a problem at all (in terms of back-ups), and it would keep a second (or third) accident from happening. Again, if we’re eventually going to have to stop at that intersection, all the WSDOT is currently doing is training people to take a “free” left turn at 15MPH (or less).

    BTW, if accidents are only caused by those who exceed the speed limit, under the influence, or distracted by texting, then perhaps we should remove the jersey barriers, guard rails, and sand/water barrels from our state highways and let Darwin’s law eliminate the offenders…

    Of course, none of you ever exceed the posted speed limit!

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