Road work sign blocked view from driveway

The in basket: Phil Hunter of Glenwood Road in South Kitsap says, “The other day when leaving (home) there was a large diamond-shaped sign, placed right at the end of my driveway. The sign was to notify people that there was a flagger ahead.

“It was very difficult to enter the road, because the sign was completely blocking my view.

“There was a contractor just down the road that appeared to be doing work for the phone company, so I walked down and asked him about the placement of the signs. His response was that they just place the signs at a place where it is easy for them to pull off the road.

“While driving back towards Port Orchard, in the 12000 block of Glenwood Road, I came across the county doing some work on the road as well. The county employee was placing the exact same type of signs and he was placing them in between driveways, allowing plenty of visibility for drivers to see while entering the road.

“Just wondering if there are any rules and regulations for the placement of temporary construction signs by work crews?”

The out basket: Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office says, “Requirements concerning the placement of temporary traffic control signs are delineated within the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a publication issued by the Federal Highway Administration an agency under the U. S. Department of Transportation.

“The manual specifies the standards by which traffic signs, road surface markings and signals are designed, installed and used.  These include shapes, colors and fonts used.

“In the U. S., all traffic control devices must conform to these standards.

“The manual also specifies the placement of temporary traffic control signs… including those indicating that a flagger is ahead.  Sign placement is predicated on type of roadway and speed limits in effect in the area.

“The manual contains several charts and templates for use in determining temporary traffic control sign placement.  The signs must be easily and readily observed by approaching motorists.  Common sense would dictate that the placement of temporary traffic control signs does not interfere with visual sight lines of drivers entering a roadway from a private driveway.

“Should a situation on a county roadway be brought to the attention of KCSO patrol or traffic deputies, as presented by Mr. Hunter, a deputy would make a point to stop by the construction site, verify the complaint, and then speak with the supervisor to advise about the safety aspect and request that placement of the sign be adjusted.”



How strong must winds be to close Narrows bridges?

The in basket: With a Baker family function scheduled for Saturday on the east side of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, there erupted quite a flurry of Facebook posts and e-mails wondering whether the predicted weekend storm posed a threat of family members being stuck in Tacoma should the gusts close the Narrows bridges.

I know there is a widely publicized standard for closure of the state’s floating bridges (sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, I think) but I’d never heard comparable thresholds for the Narrows. So I asked about that and when they activate the common precautions of “severe wide winds on bridge’ on the electronic signs on each side of the spans.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, had the answer ready and waiting, having already fielded a request for the information from the Tacoma newspaper.

“We don’t have a specific wind speed criterion for closing the bridge; it’s a call we make based on the (following) criteria, and we err on the side of public safety,” she said.

“Staff at our Traffic Management Center monitor the wind blowing across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge decks in three ways, all low-tech and all effective:

1) They monitor the wind socks on the bridges and issuing a warning when the socks are fully extended.

2) They monitor how well motorists, and large trucks in particular, are staying in their lanes.

3) they use input from WSP and other partners to help gauge when winds are getting unruly.

“We do have electronic wind monitors on the eastbound bridge that relay wind data directly into our Traffic Management Center. That instrumentation is, however, on the tops of the towers and wind speeds at that elevation are often different than wind speeds at the roadway deck level.

“We know the word “severe” is not a term used on the Beaufort Wind Scale. We use it because it matches static signs approaching the bridge. Our goal is not to be alarmist, but to warn drivers of all types of vehicles when they need to be aware of the wind conditions so they can adjust their driving accordingly.

“We care more about the safety of drivers crossing the bridges than we do about the nautical correctness of the term or the frequency with which the wind conditions justify the warning.  After all, it is not unknown for semis to be blown over while trying to cross those bridges.”

The target audience for those warnings, I’ve been told in the past, are those semis, not passenger cars, though all drivers should heed them.

She could recall the closure of one or both bridges only twice, once during an ice storm and the other when a semi was blown onto ints side, she said

How pending changes will help at Fairgrounds and Central Valley

The in basket: Ralph Gribbin read a recent article about lane projects coming to the intersection of Central Valley and Fairgrounds roads in Central Kitsap, and questioned some of the assertions made. He wrote to me rather than the existing reporting staff.

“The article states ‘vehicles going straight have to wait for vehicles in front of them to turn left who are waiting for those coming from the other direction to go past,” he said. “NOT SO.  Each direction goes independently from the other three directions, and opposing traffic is at a standstill.

“It also quotes a statement supposedly made by Kitsap Public Works project manager Dick Dadisman ‘There is really nothing wrong the roadway other than turn lanes are needed to get the large volume of traffic through the intersection.’”

“Left turn lanes are not going to eliminate ‘waiting’ at the intersection,” Ralph wrote. “The difference will be the sequence in which each of the eight directions will be waiting. Opposing straight through and right turns will go while while those associated left turners and all cross traffic is waiting.

“The $2 million cost for this change could probably be much better spent in other county road repairs,” Ralph said.

I asked the county to comment, adding that I’d heard discussion of replacing the intersection with a roundabout.

The out basket: Dick Dadisman responded in defense of the expenditure, calling it “a safety and operational improvement project.

“This intersection is ranked 33 of 139 on the county’s high accident intersection list,” he said. “Additionally, with three schools nearby and this intersection located on a county bike route, the safety of non-motorized traffic is also a major concern.

“The proposed project will provide left turn channelization on all legs of the intersection, construct a new eight-phase traffic signal, provide widened travel lanes for improved bicycle safety and construct sidewalks with handicap ramps for pedestrians.

“During the planning stage for this project a roundabout was considered, but it was deemed not appropriate for this intersection.  A roundabout typically requires much more land to construct and sufficient right of way does not exist at this intersection. Additionally, the vertical grades on all four legs of this intersection are not conducive for the construction of a roundabout and roundabouts tend to cause safety issues for pedestrians and bicyclists when compared with a traffic signal, sidewalks and curb ramps.

“Mr. Gribbin’s description of the current traffic signal operation is correct in that ‘split phasing’ occurs on all four legs of the intersection.  This split phasing causes long delays making this intersection operate at an unacceptable level of service.

“Mr. Gribbon is also correct in his operational description of the proposed eight-phase traffic signal. Construction of this project proposes new left-turn channelization on all legs in addition to the new traffic signal.

“A traffic study was prepared where the level of service of the intersection was evaluated.  The study indicates the current intersection level of service (LOS) is F with an average control delay of 95.5 seconds in the PM-peak hour.  For the AM-peak hour the intersection operates at a LOS of D with an average control delay of 47.1 seconds.


“Adding the proposed left turn channelization and optimizing the proposed traffic signal cycle length with permissive left-turn phasing on the northbound and southbound approaches and with protected left-turn phasing on the eastbound and westbound approaches, the intersection level of service improves to LOS B.  The control delays will also decrease to 16.6 seconds for the PM-peak hour and 15.8 seconds for the AM-peak hour.

“The decreased control delays are due to left turning vehicles moving out of the travel lanes and into the new left-turn lanes, thereby not choking the intersection,” he said.

Permissive left turn phasing uses flashing yellow lights and protected left turns can be made only with a green arrow light.


Another country heard from on flashing yellow turn lights

The in basket: Jo Clark writes, “When you approach an intersection and need to turn left, if the (flashing) yellow arrow is showing, do you have to stop before you turn?

“I don’t think so but my Canadian relative was adamant, not wanting to earn a traffic ticket.

“I say that that impedes traffic flow and could cause a rear-ender. Please clarify Kitsap regs for me.”

The out basket: Jo is right and her Canadian relative is wrong.

“If there is no approaching traffic or there is significant distance between the two approaching vehicles where the turn can be made safely, then the driver conducting the left turn may execute the movement without having to first stop,” says Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the county sheriff’s office.

Knowing that Scott is originally from Canada, I asked him if it’s possible the Canadian person might be correct up there.

“There are federal, provincial and municipal traffic code laws in effect in Canada, and there are 13 provinces,” he replied. “Confusing enough? It can be.”

So he checked only with British Columbia and forwarded the section of the BC drivers training manual dealing with traffic signals to me.

The manual makes no mention of flashing yellow arrows at all, but it does mention flashing yellows generally, saying they mean “slow down and proceed with caution.” That’s close to the phrasing in Washington state law regarding flashing yellows, which says they mean “drivers may proceed through the intersection or past such signal only with caution.”

So I don’t see any support for Jo’s Canadian relative’s belief at all.

Stopping at a yellow flashing light when you don’t have to certainly impedes traffic. I suppose it increases the risk of rear-end accidents, but only slightly, since you DO have to stop if there is oncoming traffic and anyone behind you has to be ready for that.

Manhole cover called a peril to motorcyclists

The in basket; My motorcycling stepdaughter Ronda Armstrong says there is a “pothole” on Myhre Road in Silverdale just north of its intersection with Ridgetop Boulevard that poses a threat to those, like her, who hit it on a two-wheeler.

It’s just past a rise that hides it from view until one is very close to it, she said.

The out basket: It’s actually one of three manholes grouped together at that spot. The cover may have subsided, leaving a distinct bump. It’s not something I found bothersome crossing it in my 2013 Malibu, but once again I must consider how much different the experience would be on a motorcycle.

I asked the county it it’s something they could change.

The out basket: Doug Bear, spokesman for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “It’s a Puget Sound Energy cover and they have been notified to modify it. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.”

Ruined Silverdale Way guardrail a complicated fix

The in basket: A reader says that four or five months ago, “on northbound Silverdale Way where it curves just before Mountain View Road, someone went off the road and crashed into the guardrail. The guard rail is still not repaired.

“Is there a plan to repair it? Is it due to funding or material?”

The out basket  Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County, says, “We have been working with the residents that abut the end of the guardrail. We have had to install it a little shorter in length because of an approach (driveway).

“We got approval from those property owners to block the abandoned approach. Now we can provide better protection for errant motorists.

“Secondly it takes time to procure the guardrail end treatment. It is specialized and we have to ensure we are getting appropriate end treatment for the location. Parts are on order and the guardrail will be installed when they are received.

Blue tape on rear windows hold a message

The in basket: My stepdaughter Ronda Armstrong says she has been seeing a narrow strip of blue tape stuck across the back windows of vehicles she has been following and wonders what it’s for.

The out basket: Probably these are vehicle owners joining a pro-police campaign launched by a man in  Maple Valley on the other side of Puget Sound that has taken off internationally thanks to social media.

TV news coverage at the time, including this from KOMO in Seattle, said, “In the wake of recent shootings that have left several officers dead in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a Maple Valley man has come up with a simple way to show support for officers here at home.”

It quoted Andy Audette, the Maple Valley man who started it all, saying, “What could we do immediately, that’s cheap, that everybody can participate in without having to meet up somewhere. And I thought ‘Everybody has blue tape.’”

He put a strip of blue tape on his truck’s back window and posted a photo of it to a community Facebook page one Sunday afternoon. The idea spread quickly, KOMO said.

“Drivers in Oregon, Arizona, Hawaii, Edmonton, Alberta, and as far away as Australia posted photos of their marked cars, too.

“I expected Maple Valley to get on board,” Audette said. “It’s what I would expect of Maple Valley. I didn’t expect it to reach so far.”

“I think if we do nothing but show support for the local law enforcement, it’s not gonna stop the actions of the bad guys. But at least it’s gonna show them that 99 percent of us support what they’re doing,” he added.

Detour signs prepare for weeklong Highway 302 closure

The in basket: On a roundtrip to Shelton’s Oyster Fest last weekend I passed a series of road signs on Highway 3 between Gorst and Allyn.

The signs were orange but covered with black plastic. The plastic on two or three didn’t cover the entire sign and I could see the top word was “Detour.” The locations didn’t coincide with the recent paving of parts of Highway 3 or the ongoing work in Belfair.

I asked what’s being planned.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker replied that work will begin this weekend on a culvert project that will close Highway 302, which runs between Purdy and Allyn. She referred me to a news release I hadn’t seen before.

“Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will close a section of State Route 302 in October to replace two failed culverts and reinforce the roadway,” it said.

“A 170-foot section of SR 302 is slowly settling due to erosion, and damaging the roadway. Replacing the culverts will help prevent stormwater runoff from damaging roadway material, which makes up the base the highway.

“Crews will also install specialized lightweight concrete to help shore up the roadway.

“These repairs tackle two problems at once, and will keep the road smooth longer while reducing the costs we’re seeing from having to repave several times a year,” said Project Engineer Michele Britton.

Both directions of  302 will be closed at milepost 4.5 near Victor starting at 6 a.m., Saturday, it said. All lanes will reopen by 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct 15.

Local access will be allowed to, but not through, the work zone.

Signed detour routes will be in place allowing drivers to bypass the closure by using signed State Route 3 and State Route 16, it said.

This work is weather dependent, it said, noting that that stretch of  302 carries approximately 3,000 vehicles per day.

Speed limits on Poulsbo street puzzle driver

The in basket: Deborah Moran writes, “I have a question that has been bugging me for a while. Since they put in the roundabout on Lincoln at Gala Pines/Noll Road, the speed limit on one side is different from the other side.

“If I am traveling Lincoln into Poulsbo, it’s 35 mph from near Stottlemeyer until just before Pugh Road. However, if I am leaving Poulsbo via Lincoln, it is 25 mph until after I get past the roundabout. That is not logical to me and I am wondering if you can get an explanation about this.

“Both sides have sidewalks, the 25 mph side has a barrier between it and Lincoln. Both sides have some driveways, but more on the 35 mph side. It just makes no sense to me.

The out basket: Mike Lund, Poulsbo’s public works superintendent, replies, “The answer is really quite simple. The Poulsbo city limits is approximately 1000 feet south of the roundabout. The speed limit once you hit the city limits is 25 mph.

“The roundabout itself is actually within Kitsap County (and) the speed limit on Lincoln within the Kitsap County is 35 mph. However, the recommended speed limit for the roundabout is much lower (15 or 20 mph, I believe).

“Technically, the speed limit between the roundabout and city limits is 35 mph. We just did not post the sign between the roundabout and city limits.

“Coming into town, the speed limit changes within 1000 feet of the roundabout and we did not want to confuse drivers by having them speed up to 35 to just have to slow back down to the posted 25 mph.

“Leaving town is basically the same reason. We did not want drivers to speed up to just have to slow down for the roundabout 1000 feet away.”

You’ll often find this kind of discrepancy near city limit lines, like that on Sylvan Way on each side of Petersville Road in Bremerton, as the default speed limit in cities is 25 mph but in counties, it’s 35.

Timing of signals at BI ferry explained

The in basket: Dave Richards of Bainbridge Island writes, “It seems several months ago, the timing of the traffic light at the corner of 305 and Winslow Way near the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal was ‘reset’ so that it stays green until pretty much all the vehicles have driven off the ferry and onto 305.

“This has caused huge backups near the terminal and leaves many cars trapped in the Diamond Parking lots for upwards of 20 minutes or more.  Would you have any information as to what’s going on?”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says the change was made November of 2012, and “the signal system is configured to give off-loading ferry traffic three minutes of uninterrupted green time at both Harborview Drive and Winslow Way between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. each weekday.

“After three minutes, the signal then cycles to allow all other phases to proceed (vehicles and pedestrians) at both intersections. Then it returns to the three-minute phase for off-loading the ferry. Rarely will a weekday sailing between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. completely unload in 3 minutes,” she said.

The other directions at those two signals get 123 minutes of green time combined for cross-traffic and pedestrians between the three-minute time spans, depending on the detection of traffic.

The three-minutes for off-loading ferry traffic, both the first one and the second one, aren’t reliant on traffic detection and run all 180 seconds.

“Since 2008,” she added, “at the request of Ferries, we have tried various signal timing scenarios to more effectively balance the needs of local traffic with off-loading ferry traffic. This current operation seems to work pretty well.

“After we received your question, we checked the system to ensure it was operating as programmed, and it was,” she said.