The dust has settled around the SR 3/303 interchange and drivers’ confusion is slowly starting to dissipate — for the most part.
The construction phase of the $16.7 million project was a massive headache for many who were faced with delays, confusing lane closures and uneven roads. Although the finishing touches have yet to be put on the interchange, traffic is pretty much back to normal. And the flow of traffic has improved significantly. Some might disagree, but if you are one who drives through the interchange at least a couple of times a day, you know the traffic jams are a thing of the past.
The new routes and on-ramps take a little getting used to and there’s still one or two drivers sitting in the middle of the intersection dumbfounded, but the difference in the area, especially at rush hour, is night and day.
Prior to the interchange, trying to get to or from Silverdale via SR 303 was a nightmare. Driving from East Bremerton to Kitsap Mall Boulevard or Clear Creek Road at 5 p.m. meant waiting in a mile-long backup. Those heading toward East Bremerton from Kitsap Mall Boulevard first had to deal with missing several lights because of the backup and drivers cutting them off who were trying to get out of the right turn-only lane heading toward Poulsbo.
Once drivers made it over the overpass the mayhem continued. For those continuing on Clear Creek Road, they were often dodging cars which would constantly dart out from SR 303. Those stopped at the stop sign had undoubtedly grown impatient after waiting behind a line of cars. There was usually a collision at that intersection a few times a month.
Although the interchange is better for traffic flow, it’s not without its flaws. The stoplight for cars heading to SR 3 north from Silverdale is rather confusing, especially for out-of-towners or those not as familiar with the new changes. Cars are stopped a good distance before the actual on-ramp and it is the same for those coming from SR 303 who are trying to get to the SR 3 south on-ramp.
Better signage also would be a plus for those coming from Kitsap Mall Boulevard who are trying to get to the SR 3 south on-ramp. Drivers will often get in the lane to turn left onto Clear Creek Road and will make a U-turn. It’s not until you almost get to the on-ramp that the sign is obvious.
Some drivers prefer the old way, but the new interchange is a far more timely and productive way to get through one of the busiest areas of Silverdale. Now, if only something could be done about the traffic nightmare that is the path from Anderson Hill Road to Bucklin Hill Road.