HOV lanes are OK, but drivers need some work

It’s drivable but it sure isn’t enjoyable. Yet. After two years of massive traffic delays, flaring tempers and dreaming of The Promised Land, State Route 305 is nearly finished.

On Jan. 28, the infamous HOV lanes — the right-hand lanes reserved for vehicles with more than one person in times of high traffic — made their debut.

Drivers were skeptical.

That skepticism was unwarranted.

The traffic backups that seemingly plagued the thoroughfare 24/7 are now at a minumum. For the most part, traffic flows smoothly, all the way to the great divide.

That great divide is where the HOV restriction ends as traffic flows toward State Highway 3. All is going well, with single-occupancy cars on the left and multiple-occupancy cars on the right.

Once the HOV lane ends, drivers on State Route 305 are forced to jockey for position, with limited time and space, to get into the appropriate lane.

Drivers have less than a quarter mile to either get into the right lane or be forced to go straight then use the shopping center parking lot to turn around.

The aggravation is enough to make single-occupancy drivers risk the $124 ticket for misusing an HOV lane.

As the restrictions are only in place during times of high traffic volumes, drivers are likely headed either to work or home from work. They’re tired and wearing the weight of the world on their shoulders. And they’re driving like they are.

Near-misses are more frequent than anyone can care to imagine. This scenario is a major traffic accident waiting to happen. In the interest of fairness, yes, the HOV lanes are on the outside lane to improve traffic flow, particularly the Kitsap Transit busses. Busses make frequent stops, so it only makes sense they should be restricted to the right-hand lane.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, because the state foot the bill for the $14.9 million project, the state got to set the rules. In the interest of honesty, the HOV lanes, in their purest form, work well. The traffic flow, admittedly, is much smoother than it was during days of reconstruction.

Now all we need to work on are the drivers.

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