Waiting for the light

POULSBO — The Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) is shedding some light on a problem for some local drivers.

The DOT began construction this week on traffic signals for two intersections along State Route 3, at Pioneer Way and Big Valley Road. Crews were getting started at the Big Valley intersection Monday morning.

The lights will offer relief for which area drivers have certainly waited. Making left turns at those intersections has been nothing short of tedious, as wait times and accidents plague the two areas.

America's Cup Espresso Cafe owner Karen Salter said the lights will be a "very welcome" addition.

"Everybody who is a customer has been really happy," she said.

Salter, whose cafe sits at the corner of Pioneer Way and SR 3, said at certain times of the day wait times can really begin to stack up, including during the morning commute rush and in the afternoon when employees are leaving the nearby business park.

Tom Hufford, who has worked at the Food Mart at the corner of Tytler Road (across from Pioneer Way) and SR 3 for seven years, said though he never officially timed it, waits sometimes reach upwards of 10 minutes. And while the waiting may throw a hitch in drivers' schedules, the accidents can be even worse.

"I saw some fender benders, not good ones either. It's a rough one," he said.

Kingston resident Chris Lee, owner of the Four Corners Chevron at Big Valley Road and SR 3, said he's seen a few accidents at that intersection as well. Though he doesn't think wait times are too long, he's heard plenty of complaints from others.

From the DOT's perspective, the project is all about enhancing safety and making the thoroughfare a better one for motorists.

"There have been serious collisions at these locations," said DOT spokesman Jamie Swift. "Essentially this is a safety project and is being built to decrease the number of collisions at those two intersections."

The project should also improve traffic flow, he said.

The DOT expects the project to be completed in mid-May. The work comes with a $695,730 price tag — a cost that's worth every penny to area drivers.

During construction, shoulder closures and lane shifts will occur during the day. Two-way traffic will be maintained at all times, though there will be occasional lane closures at night.

According to the DOT, the stretch of highway averages about 17,000 vehicles a day.

For more project details, visit

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