> Home > City Services > Transportation > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Traffic Rules and Regulations

Common Traffic Related Requests

Maintenance and Responsibilities Near the Street


What is the speed limit in Auburn?

The speed limit within the city limits is 25 mph unless otherwise signed.

Top

Is it legal to make u-turns in Auburn?

Unless there is sign prohibiting u-turns, it is up to the driver to make a prudent decision as to whether or not it is a safe location for a u-turn.

RCW (Revised Code of Washington) 46.60.295 states that drivers shall not perform a u-turn unless such movement can be made in safety without interfering with other traffic, and approaching vehicles must be able to see your vehicle from either direction for 500 feet. Click here to read RCW 46.60.295.

Top

Is it legal to turn left across a double yellow line?

It is legal to turn left across a double yellow line in Washington State UNLESS it is 18 inches or wider across and has a solid or cross-hatched center. Most double yellow lines are 12 inches in width and are used to designate "No Passing" zones.

Top

What is the correct way to drive around a traffic circle?

Traffic circles are traffic calming devices, placed in the middle of a four-way intersection to slow approaching traffic, generally in a residential neighborhood. Traffic circles are smaller and serve a different function than the larger roundabouts, which are most often utilized on heavily traveled roadways in place of a traffic signal. Traffic circles are highly effective in preventing accidents at otherwise uncontrolled intersections. Traffic moves counterclockwise (to the driver's right) around a traffic circle. Approaching vehicles should yield to vehicles already in the intersection and traveling around the traffic circle.

Top

What is the difference between a traffic circle and a roundabout?

A traffic circle is a small raised island placed in the middle of a relatively low-volume intersection to control speeding. Traffic circles can be modified to fit within the intersection, while allowing cars and larger vehicles to navigate around them. Roundabouts are larger circles situated in much wider intersections. There is lane striping to direct vehicular traffic and marked crosswalks pulled back from the intersection that allow pedestrians to cross safely. Roundabouts can have one travel lane or multiple lanes, depending on how many vehicles it is designed to accommodate. Vehicles entering the roundabout are required to yield to vehicles already in the roundabout. Whereas traffic circles are used primarily to prevent speeding at low-volume intersections, roundabouts are generally employed in place of a traffic signal at higher-volume intersections.

Top

What do I do when I arrive at an intersection that is flashing red or is not operating at all?

A traffic signal that is flashing red in all directions is to be treated as an all-way stop. Upon arrival at the intersection you should come to a complete stop and then proceed only when it is safe and appropriate for you to pass through the intersection. When you arrive at a traffic signal that is not operating at all (this is commonly called a dark signal), the intersection is to be treated as an all-way stop. You must come to a complete stop. When it is your turn, you may pass through the intersection. In both cases, once you have arrived at your destination, please contact the Traffic Signal Outages number at 253-931-5102 during business hours in order to let the City know which signal is malfunctioning and the time you saw the malfunction occurring. If this occurs after hours, please call the police non-emergency number at 253-288-2121 or 911 if you are unable to reach a live person at the Traffic Signal Outages number.

Top

Why isn't more "WALK" time allowed at signalized intersections? I can't get across the street before it starts flashing "DON'T WALK".

The "WALK" signal is meant only to indicate a pedestrian may start across the street. The flashing "DON'T WALK" timing is set to allow pedestrians enough time to continue to finish their crossing if they have just stepped off the curb. The "DON'T WALK" light, solid or flashing, essentially means don't leave the curb.

Top

Pedestrian Signal: How Does it Work?

S t e a d y

START CROSSING
the street
within the crosswalk.

F l a s h i n g

FINISH CROSSING the street.
Don't begin to cross when you see this signal.

If you are already within the crosswalk, you will have enough time to finish crossing.

S t e a d y

DON?T CROSS
.
Wait on the curb.

Top

How can I get a new stop sign installed?

If you feel there is a need for a stop sign at a particular location, please contact James Webb, Traffic Engineer, or call at 253-804-5040.

Staff will collect and review data for the location to see if a sign is warranted. Specific criteria have been developed by the US Department of Transportation to ensure consistency and predictability for drivers across the United States. Safety, traffic volumes, and the classification of the road (whether it is a local road, collector, or arterial) are the three main determinants of whether the city installs a stop sign at a particular intersection.

Top

Why can't stop signs be placed on more residential streets to slow down speeding drivers?

Studies show that drivers can detect which stop signs are not really necessary to control intersections. If a stop sign is placed only for speed control, drivers tend to pay less attention when approaching it, and many drivers slow but don't stop. In that instance, stop signs may create more of a traffic hazard than they prevent since pedestrians and other drivers expect all cars to stop. It has also been shown through studies that motorists tend to increase their speeds after stopping at an intersection to make up for lost time. Essentially, stop signs placed inappropriately can create more safety problems than they solve and should be installed only after a careful traffic engineering study.

The City is currently revising the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program to address speeding concerns. For more information, please contact Joe Welsh, Transportation Planner, or call at 253-804-5050.

Top

What can be done to address excessive vehicle speeds in residential areas?

The Traffic Division has a special program called the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program that is currently being revised to address the problem of excessive vehicle speeds in residential areas. A variety of methods are available to control speeds. Funding is limited. For more information, please contact Joe Welsh, Transportation Planner, or call at 253-804-5050.

Top

What can I do to get a traffic signal installed?

In order to get a traffic signal installed at an intersection, a set of specific conditions must be met. These conditions relate to the number of cars on the intersecting streets, the delay to all vehicles, and the history of accidents that may have been avoided with different traffic control at the intersection. Once the conditions have been met, the location is added to the City's program of projected improvements (Transportation Improvement Plan) for assignment of priority, with construction subject to funding availability. Please contact Scott Nutter, Traffic Operations Engineer, or call at 253-804-5068 if you would like information about a specific intersection in the City.

Top

What can I do to get a crosswalk installed?

Per Washington State Law, crosswalks legally exist at any location that streets intersect, regardless of if they are marked or not. Marked crosswalks are often requested to help delineate where pedestrians should cross the street and to get drivers to stop. In the wrong location, a painted crosswalk can cause additional hazards to pedestrians. Certain roads require more substantial improvements to provide for safer pedestrian crossings, such as traffic signals, raised medians, and others. Each request will be reviewed and evaluated based on vehicular speeds and volumes, as well as pedestrian volumes. Please contact James Webb, Traffic Engineer, or call at 253-804-5040 if you would like information about a specific intersection in the City.

Top

How can I get a street light on my residential street?

For new street light requests, the Traffic Division will consider lights at intersections and mid-block locations where there are existing wooden power poles. Please contact Scott Nutter, Traffic Operations Engineer, or call at 253-804-5068 if you have a request for a specific location.

Top

Can I get a "Children at Play" or "Caution Deaf Child" traffic sign on my street?

The City does not permit the use of these signs on city streets because they tend to give parents and children a false sense of security. Children should be encouraged to play well away from the street. Also, drivers need to watch for children at ALL times, not just in areas with these signs. View more information about Children at Play Signs (PDF).

Top

How do I get my street paved?

The City has a residential street paving program called the Save-Our-Streets (SOS) program.

Top

How can I find out about traffic volume at a specific intersection or on a certain arterial street?

The Traffic Division has a great deal of data generated by mechanical and manual traffic counts. View traffic data information or contact Amber Price, Engineering Aide, or call at 253-804-3120.

Top

I see video cameras at some intersections around the City. What are they for and does the City record and keep the images?

There are two different types of cameras used for traffic purposes in Auburn. The first is called Video Detection. Cameras used for this purpose are used by the traffic signal controller (computer) to detect whether or not a vehicle is present at a traffic signal in any one direction. They do not record and they are not monitored.

The second type of camera is used for the City's ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) for traffic monitoring. These types of cameras are currently installed at various locations along Auburn Way South. In fact, you can view the current images before traveling by checking the real time traffic conditions page. These cameras are monitored during Amphitheatre events and other events or incidents causing abnormally high volumes on Auburn Way South to allow our Signal Operations Group to modify traffic signal timing as needed. The City of Auburn does not archive or retain any of the images from the traffic cameras.

Top

What should I do if my street light is out or malfunctioning?

If your street light is out or malfunctioning, please contact the City's Maintenance & Operations mainline at 253-931-3048. You may also file an online citizen report.

Top

What should I do if there is a pothole on my street?

The City has a "pothole patrol" that will promptly fix potholes that develop on any street throughout the City. To report a pothole, please call the Pothole Patrol at 253-931-3048. If leaving a message, please indicate the specific location of the pothole (street, cross streets, etc.) Also, a contact number is helpful but not required.

Top

What is the City?s procedure for plowing streets during and after a snowstorm?

During and after a snowstorm, city work crews plow and sand streets on a prioritized basis. Priorities are based on traffic volumes and street grades. Many local residential streets are not plowed during any event. The City maintains a snow and ice route map identifying priority streets and possible road closures.

Top

My road is flooding. What should I do?

Roads flood for a variety of reasons. If you are experiencing flooding on your street, please call the Community Development & Public Works Department at 253-931-3010. Staff will visit your street to assess the problem and determine what solutions exist to remedy the flooding. For after hour emergencies, call 911.

Top

Can I blow leaves from my yard into the street?

No, blowing leaves into the street causes problems with the City's storm drainage system. Auburn City Code prohibits the discharge of leaves, either directly or indirectly, into the storm drainage system (ACC 13.48.210).

Top

There is a tree in the landscape strip in front of my house that looks like it might fall down. What should I do?

Contact Joe Welsh, Transportation Planner, or call at 253-804-5050. He will conduct a field visit with the necessary City staff and determine how the tree should be handled.

Top

Who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in front of my home or business?

Property owners are responsible for clearing the sidewalk in front of their properties of snow, ice, and vegetation. The City is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk pavement. The City has an annual sidewalk pavement preservation program to make minor repairs to sidewalks throughout the City. If you know of a sidewalk that is in poor condition and may be a tripping hazard, please contact Jai Carter, Street Systems Engineer, or call at 253-804-5086.

Top

Who is responsible for maintaining the landscape strip between the sidewalk and the street?

Property owners are responsible for maintaining the landscape strip in front of their properties even though it is located within the City owned right-of-way. If you wish to plant a tree or significant vegetation in your landscape strip, please contact Joe Welsh, Transportation Planner, or call at 253-804-5050. We will conduct a field visit to ensure the vegetation will not block the view of drivers approaching the street and may consult with other staff to determine what types of vegetation may be appropriate for the location.

Top

Are other drivers allowed to park on the street in front of my home?

Yes, if you live on a public street other drivers may park on the street in front of your property for a period not to exceed 72 hours (ACC 10.36.260) unless otherwise restricted by city code. Auburn city code details circumstances in which parking in general is prohibited or restricted. The City does not regulate parking on private streets except to ensure access for fire and other emergency vehicles.

Top

Do I need a permit for placing objects or conducting activities in the street such as block parties, temporary dumpsters or construction related activities?

You may need a permit if conducting an activity or placing an unusual object in the street for a period of time. Please refer to the application forms section or contact Amber Price, Engineering Aide, or call at 253-804-3120.

Top

What do I do if vegetation or another obstruction is blocking my line of sight when I am entering a roadway?

If you are having trouble adequately seeing oncoming traffic upon entering a street, it may be due to overgrown vegetation or another obstruction in your line of sight. Upon request, city staff will conduct a field visit to assess whether there are visual obstructions that could inhibit a driver's ability to safely enter a roadway. If there is a line of site problem, the City will undertake all feasible efforts to remedy the issue, including trimming vegetation or requiring other objects to be moved. Please contact Joe Welsh, Transportation Planner, or call at 253-804-5050, to request a field visit.

Top