By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Mary Somero recently complained to the City Council, saying she saw a pair of motorcycles pass a string of cars on the side street, one block south of the Washington Street main thoroughfare between Sequim and Fifth avenues.
“It’s just terrible. They get back here, and it’s like they don’t even realize this is not some highway, this is a neighborhood street,” Somero said.
City officials have organized a meeting to discuss what can be done. The meeting will be held Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.
Public Works Director Paul Haines said the city has been studying traffic patterns on the street for the past two weeks but was unsure what exactly could be done to slow drivers.
“People who live in town know the back routes to get around town,” he said.
Though he noted, the majority of drivers in Sequim tend to go a bit slower.
“Quite frankly, folks as a general rule drive with a certain kind of cadence around here,” Haines said.
Especially on Washington Street, which can lead drivers who want to get where they’re going a bit quicker to seek out side streets.
“I think people like to see what’s going on in town when they drive down Washington,” Haines said. “I think people love to drive through Sequim.”
Stop signs, as Haines said many Spruce Street residents have suggested, are not necessarily that effective for slowing cars.
“Unfortunately, it seems like the more important factor is driver perceptions,” Haines told the Peninsula Daily News.
“If the driver perceives that [a stop sign] is not needed for traffic control, then it becomes less likely they will come to a complete stop.”
One of the problems may be Spruce Street’s wide, smooth lanes.
“Sequim really has a lot of wide streets, and there are many folks who really like big, wide streets. They feel really comfortable driving them,” Haines said.
“Unfortunately, the tendency on those big, wide streets, though, if there’s not a lot going on, the foot gets heavier because the driver gets more comfortable.”
The speed limit on non-arterial streets in Sequim, like Spruce, is 25 mph.
As the city studied Spruce Street traffic, it posted several traffic monitors which count vehicles and record their speeds.
While the monitors are equipped with lights that will show drivers their recorded speeds, Haines had those lights turned off during the first week in what he called a “stealth mode.”
The monitors found the 1,500 to 1,600 cars that were recorded driving on Spruce in that “stealth” week were traveling at average speeds below the 25 mph limit.
He also said studies associated with the city’s transportation master plan showed most of the Spruce Street traffic has been people who live in that neighborhood.
Haines also noted the city’s transportation master plan calls for better use of east-west routes to alleviate congestion on Washington Street.
“Our east-west connections are one of our bigger lackings,” he said.
More likely, if a east-west route is designated, Haines said, it will be Fir Street, two blocks north of Spruce, where the city has received funding to design a better road.
Fir Street also runs in front of the school district’s downtown campus, he said.
Beefing up the Fir Street design might keep traffic off other secondary streets, Haines added.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.