Bethel Avenue work in 2015 to be done where it will last

The in basket: For what I’m sure is a lot interest in when Bethel Road in South Kitsap will be made more drivable, John Susan is the only one who has asked me about it in 2014. He was moved to follow up his April inquiry with another this fall when he noticed that Lund Avenue to the east of Bethel had just gotten some full-depth patching, often called dig-outs.

“They worked on Lund, which was much better off than Bethel,” he said, adding that just repairing the sunken manholes on Bethel would have been a better use of the money.

The out basket: Different jurisdictions, John. Port Orchard annexed the Bethel corridor a few years ago and has been searching for money to accomplish short- and long-term upgrades of Bethel, as well as the city’s double-round-about plan for Tremont Street.

The Lund Avenue patching was done by the county, The city limits end just west of Hoover Avenue.

News coverage of Port Orchard City Council budget talks that included money for Bethel Avenue said 2015 work will be at the Lund-Bethel intersection. I wondered how broad that would be defined and whether it would extend up to the Walmart  traffic signal, where it seems the ride is the roughest.

Mark Dorsey, Port Orchard public works director, says, “The city will focus the 2015 asphalt repair work at Bethel-Lund, since this area will not be affected by future design modifications associated with the future Bethel corridor redesign.

“A complete grind and overlay is proposed. I do not have specific limits of yet, but it will not extend to Walmart. That will more than likely be 2016…and not a complete grind and overlay, but specific grind-outs with repair.

“The complete repair work is estimated at $1.7 million,” he said, “so the city needs to break the work up into affordable segments.”

New Silverdale restaurant access worries reader

The In Basket: Shireen Kennedy of Kingston e-mailed to say, “I hope you can help to illuminate the situation regarding access that will be used when the new Oak Tree restaurant is built in Silverdale.

“It appears that the new location will be on Mt Vintage Way at the end of the road. There is currently a senior apartment complex located at the end of this road.  There is also a couple of medical clinics as well just past Target.

“It appears that there is an easement through the parking lot of Mt Vintage Apartments. It concerns me that this parking lot may be used for the entrance of the new restaurant facility.

“My mother lives at these apartments so I visit this area at least once a week.  It does not make sense that a road will be going through a senior apartment building’s parking lot.  I see a major safety concern here for residents. Many residents walk their dogs in this area. Also some residents use this path with their electric wheelchairs. ”

“Can you verify for me how the city plans to provide adequate access and egress for the restaurant?

The out basket: It’s actually the Oak Table Cafe, and Kitsap County, not a city, has planning jurisdiction.

The restaurant’s site is being carved out of the hillside just northwest of the senior citizen complex, a major earth-moving feat for an eatery that describes itself as a breakfast and brunch restaurant.

Ross McCurdy, who is having the new cafe built along with wife Nicole to relocate one by the same name they operate in Kingston, said that earth work was factored into the selling price of the parcel, making it a viable site for a restaurant that will close at 3 p.m. each day.

Shawn Alire, development services and engineering supervisor in Kitsap County’s Department of Community Development tells me, “Mt. Vintage Way and the easement are private and Kitsap County has no jurisdiction over who uses these roads, but the access was reviewed for emergency vehicle access requirements prior to approving the development permits.

“A 20-foot unobstructed drivable surface is required and was shown for the development,” he said. “The Oak Table restaurant drive does not pass through the senior apartment complex parking lot but does access at the most northwestern corner of the site. The easement runs along the northern side of the parking lot and on a side note…the easement/access is owned by the Oak Table property and the senior housing complex uses the easement.

“Safety improvements for pedestrians proposed by the applicant include a sidewalk and crossing areas within their development.”

Ross says their driveway will be less steep than Mt. Vintage Way and will meet applicable slope restrictions. Construction is about to begin and he hopes for a May opening. It will seat  135 and employ about 40.

It will be the highest building in Silverdale, he said, and have a great view. He expects residents of the senior apartments to find it a real plus, not a traffic problem.

Airporter for Bainbridge is an uphill fight

The in basket: Byron Holcomb, a Bainbridge Island lawyer, is a man of many causes, including the absence of airporter service from the island to Sea-Tac Airport and back.

He’s been beating the drums for some concessions by the state ferry system to make an island-based airporter service more viable.

He contends Bainbridge is the only city of its size to have no such service. The existing options for islanders, he says, are difficult for the disabled and poor, requiring a walk or taxi ride from the Seattle ferry terminal to somewhere a connection to the airport can be caught. And those connections often don’t leave their fares a convenient walk into the airport, he said.

He wants to see preferential loading of airporter vehicles on the ferries to and from Winslow and no ferry fares for such vehicles. That would allow them to stay on schedule without having to worry about overloads, and avoid time-consuming collection of fares.

He ran that past one of his state legislators and didn’t get any support, he said. He asked if I could help.

The out basket: I talked with Dick Asche, owner of Kitsap Airporter that serves  Kitsap County as far north as Keyport Junction.

Dick said whatever the shortcomings of the existing choices for those on the island, they are too numerous for him to compete with.

“We carry a lot of people out of Poulsbo,” he said. “I hope a lot of them are from Bainbridge Island.

It’s just not the worth the extra mileage for the few riders he would expect to prefer a long ride through Tacoma to what is available to them now, he said.

Byron isn’t proposing to run an airport service, and doesn’t know of anyone who would take it on if he ever got the Legislature to fund the ferry service concessions. And finding an airporter base on the island with enough parking would be yet another challenge.

Anyway, if you would like to champion his airporter cause, his e-mail address is BYLAW@aol.com

Morning rush is maddening at SR3 and Sunnyslope Road

The in basket: Darwin Alm read a Dec. 7 article in this newspaper about a $40,000 grant to study how to reduce speeding deaths on the local highways and thinks he sees a much better use for the money.

“I live in Sunnyslope just off Highway 3!!” he wrote to Andy Binion, the reporter who wrote the story.  Andy forwarded Darwin’s e-mail to me.

“We have to enter Highway 3 early in the morning to work at the shipyard!!” Darwin continued. “Every morning we wait at that intersection for at least 10 to 15 minutes because of high traffic!! Trying to get on 3 is a joke; sometimes you just take a risk and go for it!!”

Darwin really likes exclamation points. I wonder if he shouts when he talks.

“If you have someone in front of you taking a left to go to Belfair,  you will have a very LONG wait !!!!!” he went on. “My question to you is why can’t you spend some of that 40 K to put in a stop light at that intersection before someone gets killed, especially a child, instead of spending it all just to study how many deaths we have a year over a cup of coffee!!!! Looking forward to hearing back about this matter before we read in the paper about another preventable death !!!”

The out basket: Grant money usually is pretty limited in what it can be spent for, and $40,000 doesn’t go far in adding a traffic signal at an intersection these days. Andy pointed out to Darwin that he just reports where money comes from and how it will be spent. He doesn’t have a say in the decision.

But there are funding sources for traffic signals and I asked Claudia Bingham-Baker of the state’s Olympic Region of highways where the Sunnyslope Road intersection with Highway 3 stands in qualifying for one. I also asked for an approximation of what signals cost these days.

“Improvements like traffic control signals are installed as funding allows,” she replied. “A dozen intersections on SR 3 between Shelton and Gorst have higher collision histories than the SR 3/Sunnyslope intersection, so typically signal funding would be allocated to one of the other signals first. Unfortunately, that means it could be a while before drivers see a signal there. I wish I had better news.

“Depending on bids,” she said in reply to my final question, “an average signal purchase and installation costs closer to $400,000.”

Poulsbo’s Lincoln Avenue project trudging toward completion

The in basket: Larry Bartholomew of Poulsbo wonders when work on Lincoln Avenue will be finished.

In an Oct. 29 e-mail he wrote, “Attached is an April 2014 letter from the City of Poulsbo regarding a project affecting a two-block area on either side of the intersection of Pugh Road and Lincoln Road.

“As you can see from the letter, this project is due to be completed by the end of October. There are two days left in October and it’s clear there is far more than two days’ worth of work to be done.  In fact, given the pace of the work done so far, it looks like it will be months, rather than days, before the work will be completed.

“I understand that paving requires a minimum temperature, and we are quickly approaching a period of consistent lower temperatures.  My guess is that paving may soon become problematic if temperature is an issue.”

He also was upset by the configuration of Lincoln and Pugh during the work. “The corner of the curbing creates a restriction of space for those entering Pugh from Lincoln, or vice versa, that appears barely large enough for two cars to pass in opposite directions. This will likely require those turning onto Pugh from Lincoln to come to almost a complete stop when there is a car waiting to turn onto Lincoln from Pugh.”

“I’m sure my neighbors and others who traverse Pugh and Lincoln roads would like to know when this project in now expected to be complete and what the thinking was that led to the significant narrowing of the entrance onto Pugh Road.”

The out basket: City Engineer Andrzej Kasiniak told me on Nov. 10 that they hoped to have the paving done by Thanksgiving, but there remains some to do. As Larry predicted, the weather is a growing impediment.

Michael Lund, chief inspector on the project provided an update this week.

“The Lincoln Road project is definitely behind schedule,” he said. “There were some unknown underground utilities that hampered the project early on and now the weather delays are definitely a concern.

“The contractor is Pacific Coast General from Port Orchard. They were able to get the first lift of asphalt on the road prior to Thanksgiving. The plan was to do some more paving at the Pugh intersection today and then start on the pervious bike lanes. The extreme cold temps have pushed that off a day or so but they are very hopeful to get one lift of asphalt on everything by the end of this week.”

“The concrete crews will start pouring sidewalk later this week, as well.

“The lighting crews are scheduled to install the rest of the street lights later this week and into next week. This will make it a lot nicer during the evening hours traveling the roadway.

“I received a revised schedule from the contractor today and they are trying to be completed before Christmas.

“There is  still a lot of work to do and we are trying to get it done as soon as possible.”

He said finished paving and striping will make the turn at Pugh less of a problem.

“The intersection meets all safety standards and at the tightest point has 10-foot-wide lanes,” Mike said.. “However, with the road only being gravel at this time, (drivers) tend to shy away from the curb and encroach into the center of the lanes more than they will once the final paving is completed.

“With striping, it will help the (drivers) to understand where their lane is and allow for oncoming traffic to pass by.

“Part of the problem with this intersection is we do not have the right of way to make a wider intersection and still have pedestrian connectivity with the sidewalk. The existing roadway prior to construction pinched down to about 20 feet as well within the right of way. (But) the traveling public would turn, drive and park on the private property. This gave the illusion that there was more roadway out there than actually legally was.

“If any of the traveling public has concerns or comments  they can email me at mlund@cityofpoulsbo.com.”

Lincoln Pugh intersection shown below

GPS directions bring unwanted traffic to NK community

The in basket: Dennis Cziske of the Hansville area says their neighborhood, which includes Thors Road and Hillview Lane, is the victim of GPS technology that mis-directs people to Point No Point County Park.

The easy and direct – and intended – route uses Point No Point Road, but some GPS units direct northbound drivers on Hansville Road to turn before they get there – onto Gust Halvor Road and then to Thors and Hillview, which is private and graveled, he said. The cars can be traveling up to 40 miles per hour and “have nearly hit our dogs and kids.”

It appears this usually occurs with drivers using smart phones, not those on their home computers, he said.

He wondered if there is anything that can be done to keep GPS-guided cars from thinking their little side streets are the way to the park.

The out basket: I e-mailed an inquiry to Google maps, though there is not way of knowing if it has anything to do with the misunderstanding. I can’t say I was surprised that I got no answer.

So I asked Kitsap County public works if there is signage that might help.

Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer, and its information  services manager Diane Mark took a swing at this one. Though informative, neither had much help for Dennis.

“It sounds like the GPS is simply looking for the shortest route to the park,” Jeff said. “We have had similar situations and even directions off the freeway where there weren’t even off ramps.

“A sign here would be difficult. If we get too wordy on the directional sign it won’t be read. “Point No Point Park use Point No Point Road” is going to have to be pretty big on a 50 mph road and the language would be confusing to understand. When a motorist encounters the sign they are most likely focusing on the turn in 300 feet that their phone is directing them to do.”

Diane said, “In general, direction finding software and navigation systems default the route to a location based upon shortest distance and shortest time.  The user would need to specify additional parameters (if available in their map application) such as no private roads, no unpaved roads, etc.

“I checked the route to the park on both Google Maps and MapQuest,” she said. “MapQuest directed the route to the park from Hansville Road via Gust Halvor, Thors, and then Hillview.  Google Maps showed the route via Hansville Road to Point No Point Road.

“Companies that provide data for Navigational systems (Navteq, Nokia, TomTom etc.) may not have complete attribute data for roads (private, gravel, etc.).  The county does not have any way to control the results of way-finding systems.”

Dennis and his neighbors might explore posting a sign in their neighborhood directing misled drivers back to the Hansville Road and on north to Point No Point Road.

Why a four-way stop at Pacific and 11th in Bremerton?

The in basket: Richard Symms of downtown Bremerton writes, “At the Bremerton intersection of 11th and Pacific Avenue, there is an ‘all way’ stop so every car must stop at that intersection. The question I have is WHY?

“There must be at least 20 vehicles (probably more) going westerly toward Warren Avenue for every vehicle on Pacific at that intersection. Why not just stop signs for Pacific?  Is it because Pacific is a signature street now that it is rebuilt and part of the new Bremerton look?

“Well,” Richard concluded, “Pacific Avenue is a beautiful street, for sure. :>)

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson, managing street engineer for Bremerton said an engineering study done by consultant Parametrix in 2013 considered the issue at Pacific Avenue’s intersections with both Sixth and 11th streets. It found that at Sixth Street, where signals also were removed, it needed to be a four-way stop while 11th Street’s intersection could be either a two-way or four-way stop – now.

But as such studies usually do, it also looked 20 years ahead,  and found that in 2033, getting onto or across 11th on Pacific would be too difficult if 11th were free flowing.

And rather than wait until that happened and require drivers to stop where they hadn’t been used to stopping, the city put the stop signs on 11th now.

Actually, I think  2033 already is here for about half an hour in the afternoon commute.

Then traffic backs up out of sight at the westbound stop signs on both 11th and Sixth. That might seem like an argument for letting the traffic flow on those two streets, but if none of those vehicles had to stop, vehicles at the Pacific Avenue stop signs would wait forever for a break  in traffic to get across or onto the west-east streets.

And as annoying as it may be in the crawl on 11th to get to and across Pacific, any time saved if the stop were removed probably would be eaten up  by the wait at the upcoming Park Avenue and Warren Avenue stop lights.

“And thank (Richard) for the compliment,” Gunnar added in conclusion. “We think the same and the street looks far more appealing and is more useable and friendly than before.”

 

‘Enhanced ditches’ worry Illahee area resident

The in basket: Cathy Williams of Sunset Avenue near Illahee is concerned about a project Kitsap County has launched in front of her house, deepening the ditches on Sunset’s west side, lining them with yard bark and lining the culverts with baseball-sized rocks. Plantings will be next,  the work crew told her.

She hadn’t paid anything to have it done, didn’t know it was going to be done and she worried that it looked like problems in the making, she said.

A vehicle straying too far to the right might break down the edges of the deepened ditches, she feared, and it seemed an odd time of year for the work and for planting anything. “We’re worried it will undermine the sides of the street when it gets rainy,” she added.

The out basket:  Mindy Fohn, the county’s water quality manager, explained the work, called “enhanced ditches,” and being done along 400 feet of Sunset Avenue.

“These are similar to rain gardens – where storm water is slowed down and provided the opportunity to soak into the underlying soil,” she said. “The edges of the deeper ditches should hold up just fine, as we completed an installation on Shadow Glen Boulevard (near Bangor) and haven’t seen a problem.  The shoulders will be maintained along with the facility if any issues arise.”

The Sunset Avenue project “was identified in the larger ‘Illahee Stormwater Retrofit Project,’ where the county is working to find methods to soak in runoff or hold it back for a slower release,” Mindy said. “The benefit is to prevent erosion in Illahee Creek and increase the groundwater flow for fish during the dry summer months.

“To hold water back for gradual release, the storm pond in the development of Sheffield Park off Troy Lane (slightly to the northwest) recently was enlarged and naturalized.  In the future, storm water facilities will be enhanced on the (Rolling Hills) golf course – this is currently in the design phase.

“(In) ditch enhancement, the ditch is dug deeper than usual and about 12-18 inches of a special mix of compost and sand is laid on top of the scarified native soils to enhance the ability of storm water to drain into these soils.  We are finding that these systems perform better than expected and do a good job of soaking up runoff during small and medium rain storms, which carry more of the road pollutants. But you will see runoff during the higher intensity and larger rain storms.

“There is some erosion in the (Sunset Avenue) ditches (but) no muddy water is leaving the site.  The erosion will be corrected when it’s planted in 2 – 3 weeks.

“The county has developed a list of mostly native plants for these projects and those likely planted will be slough sedge, slender rush, Oregon iris and coastal strawberry. The sedges and rushes thrive in the frequently wet bottom area of the enhanced ditches and rain gardens.

“Projects are chosen based on known erosion and water quality problems in creeks, estuaries or lakes.

“This project was mentioned in the Illahee Newsletter last summer when we were marking the roads during the design phase. Maybe the county should have done a better job of letting the community know about the project.

“This area of the ditch is fairly flat so we are comfortable with constructing now.  Additionally, planting during the fall/winter is optimum for plant establishment. The county will water the plants with a water truck during the dry season and the plants should be completely established and self-sufficient by the third year. The county’s green maintenance crew will add Sunset Avenue to its growing list of over 80 green storm water sites – rain gardens, naturalized ponds, and enhanced ditches.

“(Ms. Williams) is correct that we didn’t request any funds – as she paid $78 this year for a comprehensive storm water management program which funds many green projects and more.

“For more information how the fees are spent, visit www.cleanwaterkitsap.org.  If landowners are interested in what they can do on their own properties to soak up runoff and receive a rebate of up to $1,000, visit the Kitsap Conservation District Rain Garden Cost-Share page at http://kitsapcd.org/programs/raingarden-lid.”

What triggers a red light camera infraction

The in basket: Dan Calnan read the recent Road Warrior column about a woman ticketed at one of Bremerton’s red light camera intersections after she followed a bus through a right turn and discovered the light had turned red just before her turn, which she hadn’t been able to see because the bus blocked her view.

Dan asked if she got the ticket for entering the intersection on red, not clearing the intersection while the light was red, or for blocking the intersection while the light was red.
The out basket: Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police said the light has to be red prior to the vehicle crossing the broad white stop bar in entering the intersection for a ticket to be issued. That’s true of any traffic signal, right turn or otherwise.

I think staying in an intersection after the light is red and blocking cross traffic from proceeding is illegal, but the woman who got the ticket hadn’t done that, the red light cameras won’t support a ticket for that, and it wasn’t what Dan wanted to know, anyway.

Stream of buses leaving Woodward school a problem – until it wasn’t

The in basket: A couple I know mentioned at a recent social function that they’d seen something upsetting on Bainbridge Island.

People in reflective jackets had stopped traffic on Sportsmen’s Club Road one afternoon so a string of school buses could all get out of the parking lot of Woodward Middle School at one time.

Two days later, though, the husband e-mailed me to say he’d gone to watch it again and no longer had any objection to it. “They stopped the traffic at 1:57 p.m. At 2:01 they had let out 17 loaded school buses. So I guess they got things under control.”

Still, I thought I’d give it a look myself and ask if the city police had OKd it – or suggested it.

The out basket: I talked with Robin Hanley and Susan Stricker, the two school employees wielding the stop sign paddles the day I was there.

Robin said she’s gotten an obscene earful from the occupants of a moving van she’d stopped a few days earlier, and a teenager had ignored her on another occasion. So she was paying attention to how long vehicles had had to wait.

That Thursday it took her two minutes and 40 seconds to get all the buses on the road. She claimed 18 buses, but three of them, smaller ones, came out before they stopped traffic.

There is good reason to avoid Sportsmen’s Club Road when the buses leave Woodward on school days, but it isn’t the procession of buses.

The real problem is the stream of cars driven by parents who picked up their children in the next parking lot south. Most of them head toward New Brooklyn Road, where they must wait at a permanent stop sign for cross-traffic to clear. It backed up so badly, I was doubtful there would be enough room for the large buses for which Robin and Sue ran interference to get out of their parking lot.  The 15th bus was barely able to get into traffic.

About then, the stream of parents’ cars eased and the buses – and the backed up traffic behind them – were able to move along pretty quickly.

Deputy Chief Jeff Horn of Bainbridge police told me, “I have spoken to a few of my officers who have been around a few years and none of them remember this issue coming up (in regards to suggesting the tactic to the school). I did speak to the school transportation department who stated they do not recall specifically discussing this with the police department.

“The school did say the process was implemented because the inability to get the buses out (due to the traffic) which caused issues getting the children home on time.  If they were to ask me my opinion, I’d agree with their assessment and solution.”