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Dangerous intersection solutions geared up

The 5-way intersection at Hostmark Street, Fourth Street, Fourth Avenue, Lincoln Road and Fjord Drive can confuse drivers and pedestrians.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
The 5-way intersection at Hostmark Street, Fourth Street, Fourth Avenue, Lincoln Road and Fjord Drive can confuse drivers and pedestrians.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

t City between a hazardous crosswalk and a hard place.

POULSBO — The city of Poulsbo and its residents are working to find a safe solution for one of the town’s most troublesome intersections.

The five-way crossing of Fjord Drive, Front Street, Fourth Avenue, Lincoln Road and Hostmark Street is one many say poses a threat to pedestrians and drivers both.

Nearly a dozen Poulsbo citizens — two of whom have been in car accidents at that intersection — attended a Wednesday Public Works meeting to show concern over the issue and express their desire to see traffic control signs implemented.

“It’s unsafe as it can be,” one man said.

Michael Paxhia, Fjord Drive resident and owner of the Murphy House Bed & Breakfast, recently created an e-mail account — Stop4us@gmail.com — as an outlet for residents plagued by close calls at the site. He urged council members to take immediate action, and said stop signs or a roundabout could help make the place more walkable.

“I know it’s a problem. I know it is unsafe,” he said. “There is no more excuses, it’s time to do something about it.”

Drivers do not adhere to the area’s 15 mph speed limit and often do not stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk that traverses Hostmark, Paxhia and others said. Paxhia said he’s spoken with more than 200 residents regarding the issue, and almost all are hoping for change.

City Engineer Andrzej Kasniak called on the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which the city must follow. Its requirements specify stop signs shouldn’t be used to control speed, and should only be placed on a major roadway if warranted by a traffic study. A traffic study to address that intersection as well as the broader downtown area has begun, and should be completed within three to four months, he said.

Until then, the city isn’t sitting idly by.

Plans to move the crosswalk from the east side of the intersection to the west are still under way. The move will shorten the length of the crosswalk and give drivers coming downhill more time to react when pedestrians are crossing. The Public Works department will also paint speed limit indicators on the roadway and deploy a speed reader-board. They are also using red flags on existing speed limit signs. Department director Jeff Bauman said the solutions are relatively low-cost and should be ready by Viking Fest in May.

“We are taking small steps in an effort to improve the situation,” said Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade. “We don’t want to create a situation there that might actually increase accidents.”

The placement of stop signs could cause even greater hazard there, especially with rain, snow or ice on the roadway. Without the backing of a traffic study, the city could be held liable. Once the traffic study is ready, the city will then have all the facts to make the best decision possible, Quade said. She added the police department will be out catching those disobeying the speed or crosswalk regulations as much as is possible with available manpower. She also hopes the immediate improvements made serve to remind citizens that even in crosswalks they are not guaranteed safety, as some drivers simply fail to adhere to roadway rules.

The committee will schedule the issue as an agenda item for a future meeting, members said.

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