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New Freeland traffic signal prompts safety concerns
"A woman scurries across Highway 525 with her dogs on the first day the new Freeland traffic signal was operational last week. The Sheriff's Office and others have expressed concerns that the system needs safety improvements, particularly a left-turn light.Jim Larsen / staff photoEngineers are taking another look at the new Freeland traffic light after hearing concerns expressed by the Island County Sheriff's Office.We want to create a safe environment, said Sgt. Rick Norrie on Friday, three days after the new signal stopped its first car at Highway 525 and Main Street.The primary safety concern comes when people turn left off the highway onto Main Street. There is no left-turn signal, nor is there a sign telling people turning left to yield to oncoming traffic.Langley resident Bob Turner experienced a near-miss soon after the light started operating. He said when the light turned green, he proceeded to start up the highway only to be almost hit by a car that turned left on the same green light.I go and she (the other driver) whips left onto Main Street, Turner said. It's a rat trap there. There's no special light for left turns.Sgt. Norrie has heard the same story from other motorists in Freeland.They're up in arms, he said. We need to fix the problem before a tragedy occurs.Another problem is a new divider at the Main Street part of the intersection. Motorists have complained that when they turn off the highway, they sometimes end up in the wrong lane of traffic.Norrie said the divider needs to be better marked. When it's dark at night I can't see it myself, he said.Marlin Lenssen is the Department of Transportation's project manager for the Freeland signal problem. He said Tuesday that he had talked to Norrie on Friday and was aware of possible problems. The traffic people are monitoring it to see what's happening and how it's working, he said.Lenssen said that a yield to through traffic sign is a possibility to warn those turning left to wait for cars coming the other way. Or a separate left turn signal could be added. The signal system is built for a left turn signal at some point, he said. We've got everything in there. It's just a matter of putting the heads in.Norrie said Sheriff Mike Hawley is also concerned about the problems and if they are not fixed quickly the complaints might be taken to the area's state representatives.But first, the DOT will be given a chance to make the intersection safer. Let's see how fast they act, Norrie said. "