Q: The entrance to the Spanaway Walmart on Mountain Highway has a triangular island that directs traffic entering and exiting from state Route 7. I frequently see cars making a left turn into the parking lot from the southbound lanes of Mountain Highway that requires a wide turn to navigate around the triangle. Is this a legal left turn? — Bryan B., Eatonville
A: There’s something about that Walmart that prompts folks to do some, uh, interesting things there.
That includes going out of their way to drive around a traffic island designed to keep them from making a dangerous left turn.
When the Spanaway Walmart was built in the early 2000s, the driveway entering the parking lot was designed to only have northbound drivers use it. That’s why the island only lets drivers turn right into and out of the parking lot.
“Of course, people will go around it if they can,” Pierce County traffic engineer Rory Grindley said.
A nearby traffic light is designed for southbound drivers to access the store.
The island was kept in place when the store expanded in 2006.
I feel confident in not needing an expert source to say it’s really unsafe to make a long left turn across multiple lanes of traffic driving at highway speed, especially when there’s an entrance controlled by a traffic light you could use but ... again, weird things happen around the Spanaway Walmart.
But if you want an expert source, well, there’s a reason the Washington state Department of Transportation put a no-left-turn sign along the southbound lanes there.