Yellow left-turn arrows will multiply in city

On Sept. 4, the Federal Way City Council agreed to add more left turn on flashing yellow signals at city intersections.

Federal Way now features one of these turn signals, installed in November 2006, at 9th Avenue South and South 336th Street.

The next signal will be placed at South 312th Street and Pacific Highway South, allowing those in the eastbound and westbound lanes of South 312th Street to take a free left-hand turn onto Pacific Highway South when the traffic signal displays a flashing yellow arrow. This work is expected to be completed by the end of this year, said City Traffic Engineer Rick Perez.

Perez has identified 28 intersections throughout the city in which a left-turn on flashing yellow arrow signal could benefit drivers, he said. The city's third signal will be placed at 1st Avenue and South 336th Street in the northbound and southbound left-turn lanes of 1st Avenue South, he said.

A tentative completion date has been set for spring 2008, Perez said.

Feedback from residents and city council members has been positive for the city's current signal, he said. Perez estimates that in the busiest time between 4 and 6 p.m. on a weekday, the left-turn on flashing yellow arrow signal decreases the waiting time for drivers turning left onto South 336th Street by 28 percent, he said.

Preliminary data also shows a 47 percent reduction in collisions at that same intersection, he said. Although Perez does not have enough data to determine if the left turn on flashing yellow arrow signal is solely responsible for the decrease in collisions, he said the signal is at least partly responsible.

The program is promising because it reduces delays and decreases collisions, Perez said.

The city may have an opportunity to apply for federal grant money to complete installation at the remaining intersections, he said. At this time, the city is not relying on that money and plans to install as many left turn on flashing yellow arrow signals as the current budget allows, Perez said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: or (253) 925-5565.

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