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Stripes for traffic: Ferry traffic better regulated

"Rules of the road in Clinton should be less confusing after Department of Transportation workers finish ferry traffic improvements this month.State Ferries is circulating a flyer describing the upcoming changes, which basically cement those that went into effect last year.Heading toward the ferry on Highway 525, the outside lane near the curb will be for ferry traffic only. A sign or two indicates that now, but more paint and signs will make it clearer.Susan Hill, DOT special projects engineer, said last week that new signs declaring the outside lane a Ferry Waiting Area will be installed. Diagonal striping every 100-feet will further deter people from driving in the outside lane. The Ferry Waiting Area will begin just below the Campbell Road intersection.However, ferry-bound motorists aren't supposed to drive into the Ferry Waiting Area lane immediately. They are to wait until they see a line of cars waiting for the ferry and then ease onto the shoulder. The change will make the Clinton traffic system identical to the one in Mukilteo.Once traffic reaches Humphrey Road by Simmons Garage, ferry traffic will divide into two lanes as it does now. That doesn't satisfy some Clinton residents, however.Last year, a citizens group in Clinton recommended a one-lane system leading to the ferry toll booths. That way, drivers won't become frustrated when they see the other lane moving faster. But the DOT decided not to adopt their recommendation.There's so little queuing room available, explained Hill. Traffic engineers worried that eliminating a lane below Humphrey Road would back traffic even farther up the road. They'd back up beyond Campbell Road, which is where the ferry lane starts, Hill said.Clinton resident Joan Nelson has long supported the one-lane concept and has already voiced her disagreement to the DOT. We're going to have road rage because of the two lanes, but they will not listen, Nelson said. Just one lane of traffic would make it equitable.Hill said lack of funding made such a major change unaffordable. It's mostly verbiage (signs) and striping, she said. That's the amount of money available to us right now. We put a lot of thought and effort into trying something that will work.Jack Leengran, chairman of the North Sound Ferry Advisory Committee, said he supports the upcoming improvements, and is particularly pleased that Clinton and Mukilteo ferry traffic will now be handled in the same manner. It's something we've been working on for years, he said. "

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