Q: Why is getting through the intersection of DuPont-Steilacoom Road and Interstate 5 such a nightmare lately? – Shelbie B., DuPont
A: A news release we received from Sound Transit recently explains much of the trouble.
It is titled, “Signal revisions affect traffic at Exit 119 in DuPont.”
“The change synchronized all three sets of stop lights, allowing traffic to flow between the JBLM gate, the two highway ramps, and the intersection of Barksdale/DuPont-Steilacoom/Wilmington roads,” the missive states.
“Motorists now must wait for the traffic signals to cycle through all three intersections, which has changed the wait times for vehicles.”
We here at Traffic Q&A headquarters read “changed the wait times” to mean “made them a lot longer.”
Shelbie confirmed that.
“It’s horrible,” she said. “That exit is just plagued with problems.”
To be honest, traversing that crossroads has never been a dream.
Truck traffic restricted from Center Street, the main drag through DuPont, uses DuPont-Steilacoom Road to access Interstate 5 at Exit 119.
Lines of big rigs typically are the norm there, but the new signal times are exacerbating problems, Shelbie said.
Sitting through several signal cycles is not unusual, she told us.
Sound Transit contends the signal revisions are helping with safety.
The news release points out that beginning this fall, 14 passenger trains will be traveling at speeds upward of 79 miles per hour through that intersection as part of the new Point Defiance Bypass Project.
“The intent of this new configuration is to prevent backups on the overpass, which often leads to cars and trucks stopped across the railroad tracks,” the release states. “WSDOT and Sound Transit want to prevent tragedies at this intersection, and keeping vehicles from being caught on the tracks is a key part of it.”
Sound Transit officials said they are monitoring traffic there to determine whether “improvements can be made.”
“New signage will help ensure your safety and keep traffic moving smoothly,” the agency reported.
Shelbie said the opposite is happening.
“It’s just chaos with signs and lights,” she told us. “It’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.”
Sound Transit officials said they get that it’s tough out there, adding “some drivers may find alternative routes a better choice.”