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I've recently encountered a peculiar road arrangement in Seattle. As you can see from the graphic below, Cremona St is merging with Nickerson St. There's a stop sign on Cremona and a traffic light on Nickerson. The line where cars are supposed to stop before the traffic light is to the left of Cremona St.

Satellite view:

enter image description here

View from Cremona St:

enter image description here

View from Nickerson St:

enter image description here

The question then becomes: can a car driving via Cremona St ignore the red light after the stop sign, presuming no pedestrians are present? Does it matter that the stop line for cars on Nickerson St is located prior to the spot where Cremona St is merging in?

I got my license in Europe and haven't seen such traffic arrangements back home.

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  • Related generic question (now closed): travel.stackexchange.com/questions/99447/…
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 5, 2021 at 0:45
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    It seems to me that this traffic light is solely there to serve as a pedestrian crosswalk. So it is fairly unlikely that the light would be red without a pedestrian present. Jun 5, 2021 at 1:02
  • In Sweden this arrangement would have required a STOPP | SIGNAL sign that tells you "Yes I know, the signal is over there, but you have to stop here and wait."
    – pipe
    Jun 5, 2021 at 13:17
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    Some traffic engineer needs to be fired for this horribly confusing abomination. Of course, the US so massively overuses STOP signs; the vast majority of them, including this one, should be YIELD signs. It should also have a STOP HERE ON RED sign to indicate that the light also controls. And the NO PARKING sign is just ridiculous. Jun 5, 2021 at 16:21
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    @Sabine oh that’s interesting! Can you add a Google Maps link?
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 5, 2021 at 18:07

2 Answers 2

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You can never drive through a red light under any (non-emergency) circumstances, other than turning right (in certain situations). The process for someone driving Cremona to merge onto Nickerson would be:

  1. Come to a complete stop at the stop sign.
  2. If it's safe to do so (no oncoming vehicles) merge onto Nickerson
  3. If the traffic light is red, stop at the traffic light or behind the car(s) at the traffic lights. It doesn't matter if there are pedestrians or not. You will always stop here if it's red. If there is enough traffic such that merging is not possible, you may have to wait longer to be able to merge onto Nickerson, behind that stop sign.
  4. Go when permitted by the traffic light.

This means that you may have to stop and start a few times, but the Stop sign only applies to Cremona St and doesn't give you right-of-way through the traffic light after you've passed it.

Hope that helps!

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    I haven't been at this particular junction but what I would probably do here is wait behind the stop sign until the sign is green and the road is clear. There just might not be enough space before the light to line up after merging. Which, I think, what caused the confusion by OP.
    – user4188
    Jun 5, 2021 at 3:14
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    "You can never drive through a red light under any (non-emergency) circumstances": that is incorrect. The red light controls traffic at the stop line, but the US engages in the confusing practice of placing traffic signals on the far side of an intersection. This means that, for example, traffic turning from a road with a green signal must pass through a red signal as it leaves the intersection to continue on the intersecting road. It is not at all clear that the intersection presented in this question isn't analogous.
    – phoog
    Jun 5, 2021 at 5:18
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    +1 to @phoog - from the aerial photo there is a white line on Nickerson before the merge from Cremona, but no white line after. I would have thought the red light controls stopping at the white line on the road.
    – abligh
    Jun 5, 2021 at 9:07
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    Yes, this answer is wrong. The stop line on Nickerson is clearly to the left of the merging flow on Cremona and there is a clear stop line on Cremona also, so the right thing to do is remain stopped behind the stop line at Cremona until the light turns green - then merge only when safe. The stop light is strictly for the pedestrian crossing, which a merging vehicle from Cremona would cross (driving over people) if the light was red to allow people to cross.
    – J...
    Jun 5, 2021 at 11:48
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    "You can never drive through a red light under any (non-emergency) circumstances" In addition to what @phoog said many states allow turning right on red after a full stop. It means that crossing a red light that applies to you is a normal case in US. Jun 5, 2021 at 18:59
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Note that there is no stop line before the crosswalk. Thus the light applies to the stop lines that correspond with the stop signs.

Under normal conditions this is simply a pair of stop signs controlling merging traffic, but if someone wants to use the crosswalk the light will be red and you have to wait for it to turn green before proceeding.

A very unusual situation but it seems perfectly clear to me what to do. Sometimes the traffic engineers have to do odd things when they have work with existing roads.

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