Signs point to safety on Polnell Road
By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
August 31, 2012 · Updated 4:45 PM
Mariner’s Cove residents are breathing a sigh of relief this week because cars may soon be buzzing past their community a little slower.
On Monday, the Island County Commissioners gave the green light for county road crews to take measures that will help slow traffic past the North Whidbey waterfront community’s two entrances off Polnell Road.
The decision brought to a close more than one and a half years of effort from neighbors and is really a success story in which elected officials, government leaders and constituents all worked together to achieve a common goal.
“We really appreciate everything the county and you as commissioners have done,” said Gary Hansen, a Mariner’s Cove resident.
Since 2011, Hansen and other community members have been working to reduce the speed limit on Polnell Road as it travels past Fireweed and Mariner Beach drives, the two accesses to the small neighborhood.
They complained that the 50 mph speed limit was too fast and that a serious accident was just waiting to happen. Following the outlined procedures required to lower a speed limit, residents drafted a petition and gathered more than 100 signatures.
Island County Public Works officials took action and tested the area to see if a speed limit reduction was warranted, according to nationally accepted engineering standards. It did not meet the test.
Several warning signs were posted but residents, such as Hansen, said that wasn’t enough and submitted a second petition, this time with 112 signatures. Island County Commissioner Angie Homola went out to the site to see the problem for herself and argued on behalf of the community during a work session.
Normally, speed limit reduction proposals that do not meet the engineering standards are rejected or not pursued.
However, Public Works Director Bill Oakes has also visited the site, independently of Homola, and agreed that sight distance was a problem. It was agreed that additional testing was warranted.
Those results indicated that while a reduction may not be justified, speed advisory signs are. Oakes said a 40 mph advisory limit would be posted for westbound traffic, approaching Fireweed Drive, and a 35 mph advisory limit for eastbound motorists, approaching Mariner Beach Drive.
The signs will be yellow and black and bordered by flashing LED lights. An advisory limit is not mandatory, but drivers who exceed it could run the risk of getting a ticket for going too fast for conditions.
Homola commended the community and public works staff for working together to solve the problem. She called it an “amazing public process” that resulted in a solution that all could be happy with.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.