The maddeningly-slow afternoon trek from Enumclaw to Buckley could get better – or perhaps worse – now that King County is outlawing an increasingly-popular option for skirting much of the traffic.
For their part, county traffic engineers note that the situation has been made safer.
The single thing that unites all afternoon motorists is a shared distaste for traveling from King County to Pierce County nearly any weekday afternoon. Two crucial choke points keep traffic on state Route 410 moving at a snail’s pace, as polite drivers allow other motorists to enter the already-crowded highway.
Drivers originating west of Enumclaw skirt the city and use 244th Avenue Southeast to connect with 410; likewise, many who begin their commute in Enumclaw try to shave time by using 244th. But it’s a second alternative, being used more frequently, that caught the county’s eye and has brought a traffic ban.
From 244th, many have been turning onto Southeast 468th Street, then onto 241st Avenue Southeast. It’s generally less congested and a more rural approach to accessing the highway, dropping drivers notably closer to the White River Bridge.
It’s the increased use, however, that brought King County into the picture. The county’s Road Services Division will be prohibiting right turns from 241st (toward Buckley) onto SR 410 between 4 and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Portable signs were put in place Monday of this week and several static signs notifying of the restriction will be posted on Monday, Feb. 4, providing drivers early notification of the coming restriction.
Why did King County eliminate one of the access points onto the busy highway? The answer was given on a brand-new web page: “The right turn restriction is being implemented to address safety concerns created by drivers using 241st Avenue SE to avoid congestion on 244th Avenue SE,” the county wrote. “Driver behavior, including traveling in the oncoming lane to bypass traffic and executing unsafe U-turns, has been observed on 241st Avenue SE during the evening commute.”
Offering some background into the situation, the county web page notes that 241st “was designed to serve local neighborhood traffic volumes and relatively low speeds.” Traffic troubles have been studied, the county said, and “the best interim solution” was to implement the ban on right-hand turns onto 410.
The county’s web page can be found at: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/local-services/roads/241st-ave-se-turn-restriction.