Stop sign subtraction

by Bart Treece

It’s unusual to see stops signs disappear, but that’s what will soon happen where eastbound State Route 518 meets 51st Avenue South in Tukwila. A few years ago, WSDOT made the intersection an all-way stop. Meaning that everyone – drivers exiting eastbound SR 518 and those coming north and south on 51st Avenue South – would need stop and before proceeding through.

The problem with this is, shoppers trying to leave the Westfield Southcenter Mall on Klickitat Drive (which becomes 51st Avenue South), would get backed up because of the stop and go upstream. It’s not ideal, nor was it the intention of the all-way stop.

New configuration
All but a single stop sign will be removed, and that will remain in place for folks who are exiting eastbound SR 518 to turn left to northbound 51st Avenue South. When analyzing this intersection, we noticed a lot fewer vehicles were making that turn anyway. For the ones that do, signs, guardrail and striping will be adjusted to give them a better sightline and they can proceed when the intersection is clear. Traffic exiting the freeway will continue to head south toward the mall without stopping, and soon northbound drivers from 51st Avenue South will continue on through also.

When will this happen?
If the weather holds, maintenance crews will make the changes on Sunday, Aug. 10. Traffic will be flagged from 6 a.m. until around 10 a.m.

The end result
These intersection improvements should help traffic move more efficiently, which also promotes better safety for surface street drivers in the area.