Monday, April 13, 2009

All roads lead to Mason County during bridge closure

Even though the northern border of Mason County is more than 40 miles from the Hood Canal Bridge, Mason County drivers will feel the effect of having the bridge closed.

That’s because a convoy of commuters is headed Mason County’s way in May-June 2009, when the Hood Canal Bridge closes for up to six weeks.

Based on traffic statistics from past closures of the Hood Canal Bridge, Mason County will see a significant spike in the number of vehicles on US 101, SR 3 and SR 106.

Highways running through Hoodsport, Union, Shelton and Belfair are going to be heavily traveled during the closure. Essentially, Mason County is the Hood Canal Bridge for six weeks in the spring.

During two weekend bridge closures in 2005, daily traffic on US 101 near Shelton surged by about 1,700 vehicles, a 75 percent increase. Traffic counts taken during the 2005 closures also show a 25 percent increase on SR 106 and increases ranging from 5 to 15 percent along SR 3.

The 2005 closures were short term, allowing many commuters to delay their trips until the bridge reopened. Average daily traffic on the Hood Canal Bridge is 16,000 - 20,000 vehicles, but during the 2005 closures, 80 percent of the normal Hood Canal Bridge trips were deferred. Considering the duration of the May-June closure, deferring trips is less realistic for people who need to get to work, transport goods, or seek medical care.

Mason County drivers can help by traveling at off-peak times, allowing for extra drive time, and by driving alertly and cautiously. The influx of traffic brings many drivers who are unfamiliar with the curves, speed-limit changes, crossroads and driveways on US 101, SR 3 and SR 106.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It isn't just the state highways impacted by the bridge closure, Center Road going north out of Quilcene will basically become an extension of 101. I hope drivers on 101 as well as Center road will realize these are residential roads, many homes on 101 are very close to the road, as well as communities like Quilcene which have schools right on the highway. The noise from truck brakes, etc. and the over all increase in traffic, exhaust, etc. is going to impact many people's daily life. It's a dilemma, there is hope that people will still drive to the peninsula so businesses aren't to impacted, but the increase in traffic in communities can be at best annoying and at worse dangerous. Hope all drive very carefully and only if necessary.