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Action needs to be taken on SR 203
I am responding to the State Route 203 article and the separate interviews of Lt. Steve McCulley of the Washington State Patrol; Don Sims, the area traffic engineer of WSDOT; Rowland Brasch of Carnation and me, Jackie Perrigoue, also of Carnation.
In the interview, I said I thought the speed limit should be lowered from 55 to 50 or fix the road so 55 is an appropriate speed. Since, as Don Sims said, the state doesn't have the money to put in the shoulders that he says he would like to see, then I see where we have a problem.
In this article you quote Lt. Steve McCulley as saying that, "There appears to be a perception by several in the Valley that the corridor is an extremely dangerous stretch of road. Compared to other highways its size," he said, "SR 203 is among the safest." He then goes on to share some statistics. I am sure these statistics he is referring to are the same as those being used on the 203 Corridor Study, which are the same that were questioned by Steve Norton of Steve's Towing in Carnation who can point out some serious flaws. Having been in business for several years and seeing the results of these accidents, Steve would know. I suggest to be fair, you interview Steve.
But let's go back to this statement by Lt. McCulley. Remember, even though we in the Valley perceive this road to be dangerous, he said it's one of the safest of its size. OK, let's compare. We do get out of town and as we go north on 203 out of our Valley and cross into Snohomish County, we see shoulders. For a long time we have seen real shoulders on the Snohomish County side of 203 that we have yet to see on the King County side of 203. Can someone explain that?
Another visual aid, go online. Uh huh, we have computers, too! Go to WSDOT and click on their site index at the top of the page. Then go to SRweb. Activate and click on NW region. You will be able to see all the state highways, taken by video, inch by inch and mile by mile, including width of shoulders and speed limit signs. Compare ours to Highway 20 from Port Townsend to over the North Cascades. It's similar in several ways as far as the kind of traffic - local, farm, tourist and commercial - as well as curves and hills. SR 203 should be taken care of as well. I've already challenged engineer Don Sims to show me a worse highway than ours within an 80-mile radius on this side of the mountains. I'm still waiting.
I would also like to ask Lt. McCulley to show us the record of quantity and dates of tickets written between Stillwater and south of Novelty with the location/milepost, etc. We see the county and other local law enforcement passing through, but we don't see the state actively working radar. We don't see anyone pulled over. In fact, to be fair, we don't know where an officer can do radar or pull anyone over. Next question: how much over the speed limit do officers write tickets? Most of us know, it's 5 over. That's 60. That's freeway speed. On a highway with no shoulders, we can go 60 and above before we get a ticket. See why I suggested a 50? Then we get a ticket over 55.
Yes, Officer McCulley, I agree slower drivers can be partly responsible for accidents and by law we are supposed to pull over to let others pass. If you can show us where we can pull over, especially during a rainy night with a tailgater on our bumper and too much oncoming traffic to have our lights on bright, then you can begin to tell us this is a safer highway.
I agree with Roland Brach on another issue. If environmental restrictions are getting in the way of widening the shoulders, there needs to be some concessions made when it comes to our safety.
One more thing. I wince at being called a "crusader" when it comes to the issue of this highway. I knew people who were killed on 203. A few years ago I missed a head-on near Stillwater by five minutes because I went back into my house for something I forgot. Two months ago, on a curve, a double-trailer fuel truck passed me on his way to Duvall as I was going south to Carnation. As I got around the corner I saw four bicyclists in the lane that he had gone around before he met me. And about that meeting I called. I decided to call it after we had two airlifts in five days north of Carnation. No, I'm not a crusader. I am a citizen demanding accountability.