The state Transportation Department says it is justified in not having pedestrian crossings on Highway 20 in the March Point area.
The DOT response comes following a story here that, with recent improvements to Highway 20, DOT has banned pedestrians from crossing Hwy. 20 at all intersections between R Ave. in town and the twin bridges across the Swinomish Channel.
It may be legal, but dangerous, to run across between intersections, however. And, yet, one of DOT's primary missions is traffic safety.
DOT Traffic Engineer Dina Swires said there is no ‘motivation’ for a pedestrian to cross Highway 20. She said there are few businesses there and fewer residences. She said the area isn’t like some areas where there are homes on one side and grocery stores or restaurants on the other side.
Swires pointed out that pedestrian signals to cross Highway 20 at Reservation Road were broken for more than a year and that the DOT did not receive any complaints. She didn’t comment on why the signals were never repaired. They were removed with the most recent highway improvements in the area.
Swires said she walked some of the area and talked to some businesses and determined that there was no demand for pedestrian access. She also added “When the environment changes, we’ll get money to make a safe and friendly environment.”
At least one critic says DOT is building a 'great wall' along Highway 20, splitting the island community in two.
The Anacortes Now story also reported on the difficulty of bicyclists attempting to cross Highway 20. Many used to use the pedestrian signal at Reservation Road to cross.
Now, a bicyclist attempting to cross at Reservation Road, Thompson Rd. or West March Point Rd/Christianson Rd. must wait for a vehicle to come along to trip the light, and even then the signal often times does not stay green long enough for a cyclist to safely cross.
Swires said the DOT has secured grant funding to pay for a video detection system at West March Point Rd./Christianson Rd intersection that will ‘see’ a bicyclist and give them a green light and enough time to cross Highway 20.
Sharpes Corner is another intersection that is difficult for bicyclists and impossible for pedestrians. She said plans at Sharpes Corner will include provisions for bicyclists.