Q. When I travel east on Northeast Bellevue-Redmond Road and cross 156th Avenue Northeast, the road narrows from two lanes to one, but the...

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Q.
When I travel east on Northeast Bellevue-Redmond Road and cross 156th Avenue Northeast, the road narrows from two lanes to one, but the road is paved up to the turnoff into Northeast 30th Street. Why doesn’t the city make this stretch of pavement a right-turn-only lane, rather than force all the traffic into the left lane, including those who want to turn right?

A.
Great minds think alike. Turns out, Bellevue transportation planners applied your suggested remedy to this intersection back in 1990, when the city widened Bel-Red from two lanes to five between 156th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 30th Street. Back then, the left-hand eastbound lane continued along Bel-Red, with traffic in the right-hand lane required to turn right on Northeast 30th Street.

Trouble was, not all cars turned right. Some would veer back to the left at the last minute, said Mark Poch, the city’s traffic engineering manager. That triggered accidents as drivers tried to turn left onto Bel-Red from Northeast 30th Street.

“Immediately after the widening project, we started having significant accidents at the intersection,” Poch said. “We did try signing to try to prevent this from happening, but to no avail.”

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So in late 1995, Bellevue merged the two eastbound lanes into one as part of a project to reduce the number of accidents. It also has enabled drivers along Northeast 30th Street to scoot farther out into the intersection to check traffic before they turn left.

Q.
The lights inside the Mercer Island tunnel along eastbound Interstate 90 are weird. They’re quite bright at the west end, and visibility is lovely. But the farther into the tunnel you get, the darker the outlook. The light bulbs aren’t as bright, and there seem to be fewer of them or something. Why?


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A.
A couple of things may be contributing to what you’re seeing. One is that a recent power surge has reduced the lighting level, and the Department of Transportation is waiting for additional parts to complete repairs.

But the tunnels also are designed with a certain amount of dimness in mind.

The I-90 tunnels are the longest in the Seattle area and have a transition lighting system, said Mikhail Brusser, the DOT’s electrical-services manager.

Such systems provide the brightest light when drivers first enter a tunnel. Then, the lighting grows gradually dimmer over the next 700 feet to help eyes adjust to the dimness. Photo sensors at the tunnel portals control the light level along the transition area based on the light outside.

There are only two levels of lighting in the tunnel’s middle: one for day and one for night.

Early warning

Snoqualmie:
The Meadowbrook Bridge on Meadowbrook Way near Snoqualmie will be closed for construction through October. Suggested detours are Highway 202 or Reinig Road/428th Avenue Southeast.

Bellevue:
The city will close Southeast 16th Street between 145th Place Southeast and 148th Avenue Southeast starting today so Puget Sound Energy can relocate a natural-gas line and the city can improve the road. It should be fully open to traffic by November, but crews will provide access to homes and businesses.

Redmond:
Paving and utilities work continues on the state’s Highway 202 widening project between Highway 520 and Sahalee Way. About three miles will be widened, and much of the project includes bicycle lanes, sidewalks and a landscaped median.

Bellevue:
Drivers should expect nightly closures from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. next week of up to three lanes in both directions of Interstate 405.

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618