Widower seeks green light for traffic signal

POULSBO — Suquamish resident Jim Turner says drivers passing through the infamous Bond Road and Gunderson Road intersection play Russian Roulette every time they approach the crossroads. The line of sight is often blocked when turning left from Gunderson to Bond and motorists are traveling 55 mph or faster.

Unfortunately for some, the game wins, not the drivers.

That was the case for Turner’s wife, Arlone Elaine Johnson Turner, who was killed Dec. 14, 2004 at that very intersection in a car accident. She was trying to make a left-hand turn from Gunderson Road onto southbound Bond Road. A car headed northbound on Bond Road struck Arlone’s car and killed her.

The Turner accident is just one of many that have taken place at that location, from which some are able to walk away with minor injuries and others are not.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, 10 crashes took place there between 1999 and 2000. Following the intersection’s realignment in 2001-2002, the numbers didn’t improve — 10 crashes took place at the same location between 2003 and 2004.

Lloyd Brown, WSDOT spokesman for the Olympic Region, said the agency has scheduled a traffic light to be installed in 2006. No light was installed during the realignment because there wasn’t enough money at the time. But now, Brown said, the agency has proof for the need.

“It is the highest ranking intersection in the region (needing a traffic light),” he commented.

The department receives a report every two years from the Washington State Patrol concerning intersections that have had the most collisions and are considered High Accident Corridors, Brown explained. WSDOT’s traffic engineers review these sites for low-cost solutions, such as trimming vegetation, restriping intersections or adding signage. If a more involved effort is required, WSDOT officials consider the potential cost of improving the intersection efficiently with the money currently available.

The latest report listed the Bond and Gunderson intersection as a High Accident Corridor and WSDOT has requested funding for a signal. The $341,000 project is included in the agency’s biennial 2005-2007 budget, which is currently awaiting state Legislature approval.

Even so, 2006 is the soonest the agency can get the light up, Brown said.

‘The community needs to understand it’s the highest priority for the seven county region and there is no way we can schedule it any quicker,” he added.

But that answer is not good enough for Turner and his family.

Since Jan. 4, Turner and his granddaughter Dominique Herrin have been canvassing Kitsap County for signatures for their petition to expedite the installation of a traffic signal.

While the WSDOT didn’t have any suggestions to help their effort, Herrin said, noting the granddaughter-grandfather duo has been spearheading a grassroots effort to gather as much community support as possible.

They started on Tuesday at Central Market with petitions in hand and four hours later, they had 350 signatures. Turner collected another 50 names while on the ferry to Seattle this week and another couple dozen have signed through a Web site dedicated to the effort — http://gunderson

The site has a tribute to Arlone, letters Jim Turner has written to local newspapers about the intersection, WSDOT’s traffic signal plans and an e-mail address to send suggestions and comments.

Herrin said the site was flooded this week with e-mails from people with suggestions on how to collect more signatures and where to attend community meetings to gather more support.

They also inspected the intersection, taking pictures of the site and observing that there are no signs alerting drivers about the upcoming crossroads from any direction.

“The only sign there is a speed limit sign that says 55 mph,” Turner said.

Both are trying to contact state and local elected officials and lobbyists to get the word out in Olympia.

“All we were trying to do is trying to give us a higher priority to give us a light before October 2006,” Turner said.

There is a fund set up in Elaine Turner’s name at Kitsap Bank, however, the family realizes there is no way they can raise the $341,000 needed to pay for a light. Instead, the money will go toward lobbyists’ efforts, Herrin said.

“The biggest thing that stands out to me is ‘High Accident Corridor,’” she added, referring WSDOT’s reason for improving the intersection listed on its project description. “So ... let’s take care of it.”

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