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Freeland signal still two weeks away from lighting up
"A workman employed by Bellingham's Sail Electric, Inc. hooks up power cords to signal lights above the Fish Road-Highway 525 intersection Tuesday. The lights are expected to go on for the first time within two weeks.Matt Johnson / staff photoThough continuing work on a new signal at the intersection of Highway 525, Fish Road and Main Street in Freeland may seem to be making driving there more confusing, officials from the state Department of Transportation are promising a working set of traffic lights within two weeks. In the meantime, drivers are also complaining about a new concrete lane divider they say is an accident ready to happen.This week, an electrical contractor from Bellingham hooked up power to the traffic lights installed at the intersection six weeks ago. However, the lights will not go on for two weeks because the DOT is having overhead light poles that were attached to the signal light standards refabricated. When the 50-foot-high lights were installed in November, the DOT discovered that they are too close to high-voltage electric lines owned by Puget Sound Energy. DOT project engineer Marlin Lenssen said this week that his agency had Sail Electric, Inc. remove the light poles and ship them to another state contractor which will shorten them. Sail, which did the original installation of the traffic lights, will reinstall the light standards in about two weeks. Lenssen said the shortened lights should stand about 35 feet above the roadway.Lenssen said he is not sure why the design of the light poles did not take into account the height and location of the PSE lines.I'm not sure what the deal was, he said. The signal was originally scheduled to be installed by early last summer. But delays kept state road crews from finishing traffic safety measures at the intersection. Lenssen said a faulty control box for the signal lights held the project up by six months, while the improperly designed overhead lights cost the DOT another month-and-a-half.Confusing curbing to be brighter soonTwo weeks ago, the DOT added a new feature to the redesigned intersection. Contractors laid in a 6-inch-high section of concrete curbing between the incoming and outgoing lanes on the Main Street portion of the intersection. The curbing extends past the intersection of Main Street and Myrtle Street, preventing Myrtle Street traffic from turning into the lane heading into downtown Freeland and stopping inbound traffic from turning onto Myrtle. Lenssen said that without the divider, a driver waiting to turn onto Myrtle could stop traffic behind him. During peak traffic hours, the backup could extend into the Highway 525 intersection.Lenssen acknowledged that the concrete curb is hard to see at present. Tire skid marks on both ends of the curb show that drivers have found it difficult to see as well. The curb has not been painted, nor is it lighted, since the lights are being refabricated. Lenssen said the crew installing the curb would have coated it in bright yellow paint had it not been raining the day they did the work. He said it will be painted by the time the signal light is operational. "