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.

 

Horstman Road patch still rough

The in basket: “DJ” wants to know about current plans to smooth Horstman Road is South Kitsap, where trenching for utility lines had left a long rough patch. Kitsap County officials said in April that the work, being done for West Sound Utility to install sewer lines for a new plat, would get a permanent patch in June.

“Any new word on this repair?,” DJ asked on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com. “It is now the end of August and the terrible patch is still in place.”

The out basket: Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works, says “The contractor asked for, and was granted, an extension on the permit until October 3. The repair work is expected to be completed by the end of the extension.”

County standard for striping rural roads explained

The in basket: Judy Runquist writes, “Last year the county put oil and gravel the length of JH Road in south Kitsap. They have never returned to paint lane markings. Since this is an unlighted road it was really nice to have lane markings and fog line markings to help you see where the road was. Why hasn’t the county painted the lines?”

The out basket: There are no plans to restore the striping, if it was striped before the gravel and oil treatment, called a chip seal.

Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer, cites the requirements set forth in the federal document governing such issues.

“The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requires that we stripe rural arterials and collectors that have at least 3,000 vehicles per day using the road.  JH Road does not meet this requirement.  That said, Kitsap County goes beyond the minimum requirements identified in the MUTCD, and we stripe all roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or greater.”

JH Road doesn’t meet that standard either, with its 30 mph speed limit.

Drive and learn – even at age 72

The in basket: I recently had two experiences worth passing along, as both carried a lesson for me – and maybe for you, now.

It annoys me when motorcycles are what I consider excessively loud, almost belligerently so. I wasn’t a big fan of loud pipes when I was younger and am less so now at age 72.

And I have the senior citizen’s bemusement at the younger generation’s infatuation with their smart phones, to the point they’ll take their eyes off the road while driving to read or even send a message.

The out basket: Somewhere recently I read a remark to the effect that “loud equals safety” regarding motorcycles. It’s clear meaning was that motorcyclists can make up for their lesser visibility with a roar that makes them more noticeable to drivers of larger vehicles.

A day or two later, I was driving south on Highway 16 near Purdy when I decided I had better get out of the inside lane as drivers behind me seemed anxious to pass.

I checked the blind spot to my right rear and saw nothing. I began my lane change when I heard  a motorcycle rumble made by a ‘cycle that was by then abreast of me in the outside lane. I moved hastily back into my lane and the motorcyclist passed me, not seeming to have been alarmed by what almost happened.

Had I not heard the sound, I very well could have collided with him, changing both of our lives to perhaps a ruinous degree.

I’ve had and even been responsible for a few collisions in my 55-plus years of driving, but they all have been minor and no one was hurt. I came close that day near Purdy to being unable to say that any more.

A couple of weeks after that, I was driving on Tracyton Beach Road in Central Kitsap, in that final turn one makes when nearing Riddell Road. It has a slight rise to boot, Some yahoo in a black pickup truck was coming in the other direction right at me and the Honda SUV ahead of me, trying to pass.

Both of us hit the brakes and moved to the shoulder. The pickup driver also braked quickly and slid back in behind the car it was passing.

By happenstance, a Kitsap County Sheriff’s SUV was the next vehicle the Honda and I met. He evidently hadn’t been close enough to see the near collision. The Honda driver flagged him down and presumably reported it. I tried to add my two cents worth but the officer hurried past. I doubt that he was able to catch up to the pickup on such a winding road, with the head start the driver had.

Anyway, I’m now more tolerant of loud motorcycles, though they’re still an annoyance roaring by my neighborhood at 2 a.m. I guess one doesn’t have to be a jerk to not quiet his bike.

A passenger in the back seat that day on Tracyton Beach Road remarked, “Thank God you were alert,” when the pickup driver took the idiotic chance. To me, it was a measure of how little time I might have to change the radio station or climate control setting or otherwise tend to something other than driving, You smart phone users could use the same lesson.

Widening of highway north of Poulsbo is possible, but when?

The in basket: Catherine Slaton writes, “My husband and I are looking at property in Poulsbo just off SR 3 (Kinman Road) and heard through the grapevine that the state wants to widen the road to four lanes by 2030.

“In researching the likelihood of this I stumbled onto your very informative blog,” she said. (Aw, shucks). “Are you privy to any new information on the likelihood of this occurring?  I did read in a 2009 blog post that lack of funding, design, and environmental issues were keeping this from happening.”

The out basket: I’m afraid this one won’t qualify as “very informative.” Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways could tell us only that “WSDOT has identified a need to widen SR 3 between SR 305 and SR 104. At present that need is unfunded. It would be up to the Legislature to allocate funds for such a project to occur, and I don’t know what the likelihood is of that happening.”

Who knows? Maybe 2030 will find it widened.

Jake brakes generate another complaint

The in basket: Jerry Darnall of North Kitsap asks, “Does the sheriff or WSP actually do any monitoring of unmuffled‎ diesel Jake brakes? Living near an isolated north end traffic signal, it seems like more and more of local diesel trucks roar up to the intersection then coast through with the Jake brakes blasting. Some of these are as loud or louder than the emergency vehicle sirens. I’m sure some of the unmuffled units are exceeding legal decibel levels.

“There are new technology sound-activated video units available for monitoring this… similar to speed detection/red light cameras. Perhaps a mobile set-up could be employed in a rotational system throughout the county.

“The noise is getting tiresome… and calls to the offending contractors go nowhere,” he said.

The out basket: Nothing has changed at the county government level since I last wrote about this in November of 2015.

Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, after noting that signs requiring that Jake brakes be muffled are posted on all county roads near the county line, said then “To my knowledge, this restriction has never been enforced by law enforcement. My understanding from talking to the sheriff is that it is difficult to tell if the brakes are muffled or not.  I have also been told that even if they are muffled, they still make a significant amount of noise.

“Some communities have passed ordinances to restrict compression brakes altogether,” he said. “The trucking industry has told us that this is a safety issue. On steep slopes, trucks with large loads cannot be controlled without the use of compression brakes.

“Also, this type of ordinance becomes an environmental law,” Jeff said. “Specific noise levels must be established, which makes enforcement very difficult.

“Normally with these laws, a stipulation is put into the regulation that allows for their use in emergencies, which can pretty much be claimed at any time, making enforcement even more of an issue,” Jeff said.

The county ordinance on unmuffled compression brakes, does indeed begin thusly: “The application of unmuffled compression brakes in unincorporated Kitsap County is prohibited, except when necessary for the protection of persons and/or property, which cannot be avoided by application of an alternative braking system.”

State Trooper Russ Winger replied to Jerry Darnall’s question, saying, “I think that any type of technology to monitor this type of violation – basically a nuisance type – would be a tough sell to the courts. Many variables could be challenged and it is not a ‘safety’ violation. ‎I’m not saying that it’s impossible to do this but not very realistic.”

Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the county sheriff, says, “Currently, the sheriff’s office does not conduct ‘engine compression brake emphasis patrols’ to monitor sound decibels on commercial vehicles that use “Jake brakes” in the county.  Nor does the sheriff’s office anticipate installing any type of sound monitoring technology for this purpose.

“So I’m going to agree with Russ Winger’s response. Any type of proposed sound measuring device would be challenged in court and infractions or written case report charges would subsequently be dismissed.

“Unless a vehicle is greater than 45 to 50 years old, all diesel-powered trucks use engine compression braking that operates in conjunction with the vehicle’s muffled exhaust system. “Depending on the age of the truck, newer systems are quieter than older systems.  What county residents may be hearing are older vehicles and older systems that seem louder than others, and they believe that the drivers are operating their trucks without using muffled braking systems. This would be an incorrect conclusion.

“It also makes the ordinance quite impossible to enforce, since the trucks are, in fact, using muffled engine compression brakes.”

Glenwood Road work staging draws questions

The in basket: Judy Runquist writes, “Approximately two weeks ago they (the county?) dug up the outside half of the north- and southbound lanes of Glenwood Road between Lider Road and the left-turn lane to stay on Glenwood Road.

“They have put out signs which say bump at each end of the mess, grooved pavement, and motorcycle caution. This work has left less than half of a paved lane each way.

“In addition,” she said, “pot holes have developed on each side at the south end of the Glenwood turn lane. The pot holes are large enough to cause tire damage.

“Why didn’t they pave the road at the time of the rip out? It couldn’t have been a weather issue as it was nice and sunny but not extremely hot. Now the rains have come, which I expect would impact paving work.”

The out basket: Jacques Dean, Kitsap County road superintendent,  says, “County crews have completed preparatory asphalt repairs on Glenwood Road, between Lider Road and Lake Flora Road, in advance of a scheduled pavement overlay. The preparatory work included removal and replacement of badly degraded portions of asphalt, milling of outside lane lines on both sides of the roadway, and milling of each end of the planned project.

“This project will pave only the driving lanes and not shoulders, as the shoulders are in good condition and not subject to typical traffic loading. Milling the edge lines and project ends will allow for a smooth transition between existing asphalt and new asphalt, once the new overlay is applied.

“Glenwood Road was scheduled to be paved on Tuesday, 9/6, but has been delayed due to inclement weather. It has been rescheduled for this Tuesday or Wednesday, again weather permitting.”

Status to remain quo on SR303 near Fred Meyer

The in basket: Sharrell  Lee says, “I want to know if there are any plans to add extra lanes in the approximately three miles between Arbys and Fairgrounds on Highway 303.

“Why?  Have you driven it lately?  The worst area is where the Fred Meyer turn and Camelot turn are situated.  Approximately 3 p.m. any weekday, it is insane with traffic backing up from Lowes to Riddell in either direction.

“Also, the word is that an apartment complex across from Golden Star (restaurant)will soon be built. This will further add to the congestion, and I therefore don’t see how some traffic revision can be avoided.  I’m interested in what the long range highway plans for this area are.”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says, “No improvements are currently planned beyond routine highway paving in the area. A study completed in 2002 identified the potential of adding HOV lanes at 11th Street in Bremerton and extending them to the north to Fairgrounds Road, but no funding has been secured.”

 

Rapid flash beacon returns to Buckliln Hill Road

The in basket: Margaret Gibbard asks, “How long have the yellow crossing lights been at Ridgetop and Levin Road in Silverdale for the Clear Creek Trail walkers?  I know they were turned off during the Bucklin bridge project when there was a light at that intersection.  Was the pedestrian activated yellow flasher there before the bridge project?

The out basket: Yes, it was. Daren Miller, Kitsap County’s signal supervisor says, “The rapid flash beacons were installed in 2011.  In 2015 they were pulled because a temporary traffic signal went in for the Bucklin Hill bridge project.

“On Friday, July 22, Bucklin Hill was opened back up and on Monday, July 25, the temporary traffic signal at Levin and Ridgetop was removed by the contractor and the rapid flash beacons were reinstalled at the location by the county,” he said.