Bayshore left-turn lane on Bucklin Hill Road is hard to see

The in basket: Rosemary Crow e-mailed to say, “The crosswalk signs on Central Valley Road near Fairview school have yellow paint that shows up really well at night. Is there any chance we could get a coat of that paint on the post at the entry to the left turn off Bucklin Hill Road onto Bayshore Drive in Silverdale? That left turn lane is nearly invisible at night, especially a rainy night.

“The white reflector is so old it hardly shows at all. The paint on the curb is also old and hard to see.

“We travel this route twice a week at night and in the winter it is very difficult to see even though we know it is there.”

The out basket: I knew that the water main replacement work in Silverdale still has some excavation and restoration yet to do at that intersection, and I asked the county if the turn could be made more visible then.

Doug Bear, spokesman for county public works, replied, “This is not part of the Silverdale Water project. Our traffic division is looking at ways to more clearly delineate the turn lane. This could include increasing the reflective content of the stripe there, or other strategies to make the turn more visible.

“The fix there will depend on weather and may have to wait for the spring striping window,” he said.

 

All you’d want to know about ‘wattles’

The in basket: H.W. Mock writes, “Earlier this year, work was done alone Highway 166 to remove brush and grass/weeds along the drainage ditch at the bottom of the slope where the water runoff from the hill is caught before going onto the roadway.

“When that work was done, numerous ‘tubes,’ which look like rolled up grass and weeds were placed across and into the drainage ditch and staked down with wooden stakes.  Dozens of these tubes are located in the drainage ditch from Kitsap Marina  to Port Orchard Boulevard.

“Since they were first put in, I have wondered what they really are made of and what their intended function is,” he said. “I have never seen this type of thing before.  Can you tell me anything about them?”

The out basket: Port Orchard Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said succinctly in October when I asked about the overall project that the tubes are called ‘wattles’ and are “temporary erosion/sedimentation control devices.” I misspelled them ‘waddles’ at the time.

“The city had the wattles placed as part the erosion/sedimentation control plan during the ditch cleaning activities,” Mark said in elaborating to answer Mr. Mock’s question. “Subsequent to that work, we have decided to leave them in place….and monitor their effectiveness in isolating sediment build-up for ease of future sediment removal.

“As long as the wattles do not create an unintended consequence, we will probably let then remain.”

Mark referred me to a Washington State Department of

Transportation Web site for information about what they are made of. Typical in complexity in such regulations, it says, “Wattles shall consist of cylinders of biodegradable plant material such as weed-free straw, coir, compost, wood chips, excelsior, or wood fiber or shavings encased within biodegradable netting.

“Wattles shall be a minimum of 5 inches in diameter. Netting material shall be clean, evenly woven, and free of encrusted concrete or other contaminating materials such as preservatives. Netting material shall be free from cuts, tears, or weak places and shall have a minimum lifespan of 6 months and a maximum lifespan of not more than 24 months.

“Wood stakes for wattles shall be made from untreated Douglas fir, hemlock, or pine species,” it said.  Wood stakes shall be 2 by 2-inch nominal dimension and 36 inches in length.”

Pacific’s pervious pavement panned

The in basket: Two readers took note of the recent Road Warrior column about how Kitsap County’s tests of pervious pavement are doing, and made unflatterijng comparisons to use of the same material on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton.

“Hah!,” Gary Reed wrote. “He should check out the pervious pavement on Pacific Avenue. It’s coming apart by the handful. I was told by one of the staff engineers it was installed in a hurry before the funding dried up, like that was an excuse for shoddy workmanship.”

R.M. Parker then  wrote, “I agreed with Gary. Pacific Avenue pervious pavement is falling apart. It has shown not to hold up well with the normal oil drips from vehicles in the parking spaces. In addition, to allow proper water flow through it requires a higher frequency of street sweeper work.

“The brick pavers on Pacific have also been a pain for the city to keep in place without settling or coming loose,” he added.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson, the city’s managing street engineer, replied, “It was expected we would see some deterioration of the surface of the asphalt due to the turning movements with the parking on Pacific.  It is a trade-off for being able to infiltrate the water into the material, and this deterioration is superficial and fairly minor.

“Same with the additional sweeping and cleaning of the street.  It is, again, a trade-off for us being able to infiltrate water back into the ground and meet the new storm water regulations.

“Mr. Reed is partially correct,  there was a portion of the pervious south of Sixth Street that was accelerated for completion.  It was not due to funding, but rather for Armed Forces Day and making sure we did not interfere with the parade route.  Even with the acceleration, the asphalt placed was as specified in the contract,” Gunnar said.

Overhead traffic sensor images can be viewed remotely

The in basket: I learned something surprising in preparing for a talk to the Silverdale Rotary recently. Tina Nelson, senior program manager for Kitsap County Public Works and its spokeswoman on the upcoming closure of Bucklin Hill Road, said there will be some re-timing of traffic signals in Silverdale to accommodate the detouring of the 20,000 or so cars that normally use Bucklin Hill Road. But most of it will wait until observations show where changes are needed.

Moreover, she said, they can adjust a signal’s timing remotely and right away based on what they see via the overhead traffic detectors the county increasingly uses in place of the in-pavement wires that use metal mass of the vehicles straddling them to detect waiting traffic.

It was the first I’d heard that the overhead sensors, at the top of tall poles on the signal cross-arms, send images to the signal office. I’d assumed they just reacted to changes in the traffic they were focused on.

Perhaps mindful of the reaction from our more privacy-sensitive citizens to government recording of the public, Tina was careful to say she thinks the sensors aren’t designed to capture license plates or the faces of car occupants, and that the images aren’t recorded. She also was careful to say she wasn’t an expert on the sensors, and suggested I double-check.

The out basket: Doug Bear, spokesman for the public works department, said, “Is it possible that a license or face could be seen in an individual frame. That said, the images are not retained. It is just a live feed.”

Checking back on pervious pavement tests

The in basket: I recall visiting a Central Kitsap cul-de-sac around 2013 to hear about an experiment the county was doing there with pervious pavement, asphalt that lets rainwater seep in rather than run off. It was one of three such short streets in the county to get the pavement, and is part of the ongoing effort to handle runoff and its pollutants.

I asked how the experiment is going.

The out basket: Jacques Dean, county road superintendent, says, “So far, we have seen no problems with the application of pervious pavement.

“Keep in mind that all applications were done on low-volume roadways and it will take several years to fully evaluate them for effectiveness.  With that being said, the pavement surfaces appear to be holding up well to traffic loading and traffic turning movements for the short duration that they have been in service.

“We have observed some loose aggregate on the surface that has broken free of the mix, but this has been very localized.  We have mechanically swept each location at least 4 times each year since they were constructed to remove soils, pine needles and leaves.  “Clean Water Kitsap has continued to monitor surface water infiltration rates at each location and all appear to be draining well.  We will continue to monitor each location for pavement deterioration and infiltration rates over the next several years,” Jacques said.

“We have also applied ‘brick paver’ surfaces at several locations throughout the county (Byron Street, Point-no-Point parking lot, Forest Drive) and a pervious concrete surface parking lot (Silverdale YMCA) in the last couple of years.  Each of these locations is being monitored as well.”

 

Bucklin Hill Road closure will extend to those on foot

The in basket:  At a recent meeting of the Silverdale Rotary, where I was guest speaker, Jim Dudley asked me if there will be any pedestrian access across Clear Creek when Bucklin Hill Road closes for year, beginning in July.

I didn’t know.

The out basket: Tina Nelson, senior program manager for Kitsap County Public Works, says no, “pedestrians will not be allowed in the closed area.” That area will be Bucklin Hill Road between Blaine Avenue and Mickelberry Road. They’ll be building a bridge for a wider Bucklin Hill Road, starting this summer.

“The closure limits are in essence the right-of-way,” she said.  “This correlates to between 5-10 feet behind the existing sidewalk.

“What does this do for Clear Creek Trail users?  The signalized trail crossing at Crista Shores will not be accessible.  The trail will dead end at Bucklin Hill Road on the east side of the estuary.

On the west side of the estuary, trailer users will have to cross Bucklin Hill Road at Blaine Avenue and walk up to Ridgetop Boulevard to get onto the trail. Parking is available at the Old Mill Park just west of the closure.

Brightly lit wide load a new one on me

The in basket: I saw an unusual sight while heading southbound on I-5 between Federal Way and Fife the other night.

A large truck approached from behind me with two flashing yellow lights, each on the end of a row of non-flashing horizontal lights that ran along the bottom of the cab. The two flashing lights were so bright they illuminated the pavement ahead of the truck. There also was a vertical double row of yellow lights above each headlight.

I slowed down to see what it was and found it to be a wide load, which was covered by blue tarp. A “Wide Load” sign was attached to the back, which had remarkably few lights.

There was no pilot car in front.

I’d never seen such a lit-up truck before and wondered if it was a new approach to warning other traffic of a wide load.

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger, public information officer for the State Patrol here, says, “I’m not aware of any new lighting requirements for wide loads. However, according to one of our local commercial vehicle troopers, the truck you describe may or may not require pilot and/or trail vehicles with special lighting and/or signage.

“The requirements vary depending upon the length, width, overhang, gross vehicle weight and hours of the day.

There are specific requirements for commercial carriers that operate under the SMVP (special motor vehicle permits). The DOT web site, under commercial carrier SMVP, has detailed information and requirements for these types of loads.

“Some truck owner-operators greatly enhance the basic lighting on the trucks. As long as the lighting is legal (color, brightness and location) more is probably better than less for safety.”

I scanned that Web site but the only mention of lighting I found seemed to require lights on the load’s overhang beyond normal legal widths, which I don’t recall seeing on the truck on I-5.

Perhaps some of you truckers can shed some light on this.

 

Why is Bertha so hard to reach?

The in basket: I see that Bertha, the moribund tunneling machine in Seattle, continues to make news on the TV stations, this time regarding the danger of digging the pit to reach it for repairs.

I felt a little dumb about asking the following question, which I had never heard addressed in all the coverage of the machine’s problems, but I asked anyway. Why can’t they just back it out of the tunnel it dug to get to the damaged boring surface, rather than digging a huge hole. That’s what I do when a drill bit gets stuck.

The out basket: Laura Newborn, media relations manager for the Alaska Way Viaduct replacement project, replied, “The answer to your question is straightforward: The machine can’t move backward because it is building a tunnel as goes. It’s how bored tunnels are dug. So the hole is actually smaller on the back end. She referred me to the Web site https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guWkPRReUaE, an animated representation of what went on behind Bertha as it moved forward.

The maze at the end of Phillips Road

The in basket: Nelson Lanchester of South Kitsap wrote, “The wife and I were driving the other day and we were traveling south on Phillips Road at Mullinex. As there was no sign saying ‘Dead End’ or ‘No Outlet,’ we continued south on Phillips Road and we spent the next 30-45 minutes trying to find our way out of the maze.

“Why isn’t there a sign such as ‘Dead End’ or ‘No Outlet’ posted for Phillips Road?” he asked.

The out basket: Because there are two ways out of the maze, which is a pretty fair description of the system of roads in there, and that’s not counting backtracking and leaving via Mullenix.

I looked it up on Kitsap County’s Road Log, which is  a bunch of maps showing the entire county. If I hadn’t, I’d probably have gotten as lost as the Lanchesters were.

You can see the Road Log online at www.kitsapgov.com/pw/roadlog.htm. You’ll want pages 7 and 8, which you can look at only one at a time, which involves some going back and forth between the overall map and those two pages.

If you try it, you’ll want to stay on Phillips, which takes some turns and corners, until you get to Harland Lane, then Bear Tree Lane. Stay on Bear Tree to the end, which is Saber Lane, which takes you to Tucci Lane then to Horizon Lane, the main drag that goes back to Mullenix.

Or turn left off of Bear Tree half way to Saber, onto Bowe Lane, then follow Jacobs, Stonehill and Arab lanes to Burley-Olalla Road, which will take you to Highway 16.

I suspected that some of those would be dirt or gravel, but they are all nicely paved and striped. I have a dim recollection of that all being platted as private unimproved roads way back in my reporting days. I don’t know what has happened since, but the homes and the roads are pretty nice in there.

Is that a school zone on Sedgwick Road?

The in basket: Dave Dahlke of South Kitsap thinks the school zone on Sedgwick Road at Converse Avenue is not allowed by state law.

“RCW 46.61.440 (2) states the qualifications for such a zone,” he said, quoting from section 2 of that law, which reads.

“A county or incorporated city or town may create a school or playground speed zone on a highway bordering a marked school or playground, in which zone it is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle at a speed in excess of 20 miles per hour. The school or playground speed zone may extend three hundred feet from the border of the school or playground property; however, the speed zone may only include (an) area consistent with active school or playground use’.

“This school zone is nowhere near Hidden Creek Elementary School,” he said. “I have to believe that powers to be are using these lights to allow school buses easier access to Sedgwick since they don’t want to travel out to Bethel and then to Sedgwick.  This seems to me to violate the intent of the RCW.  If the intent was to allow students to walk to school across Sedgwick then I believe a flashing sidewalk should be used, as is used at the Jackson Avenue/ Lund Avenue park.”

The out basket: Dave raised this question Oct. 1 and three months of intermittent inquiries to the state office of public instruction, SK schools, police agencies and the state highway department haven’t provided a clear answer.

Dave didn’t mention the law’s Section 1, which precedes the section he cites and says it is, “unlawful for the operator of any vehicle to operate the same at a speed in excess of 20 miles per hour when operating any vehicle … when passing any marked school or playground crosswalk when such marked crosswalk is fully posted with standard school speed limit signs … The speed zone at the crosswalk shall extend 300 feet in either direction from the marked crosswalk.”

The term school zone isn’t mentioned until Section 2. And the conflicting use of the words “shall” and “may’ as regards the 300-foot distance of the speed restriction gives the impression that two paragraphs were written without regard to making them agree.

Nathan Olson, who handles transportation issues for the SPI’s office, told me, “Are we doing a bit of parsing here? As I read 46.41.440 (1), I see that it allows for a “school … crosswalk.” Is that the same thing as a “school zone,” or is it a crosswalk designed to keep kids safe as they cross a busy highways? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I’ll do some digging.”

It’s hard to believe, given the doubling of the fine for speeding in a school zone and the law’s prohibition of reducing it in court, that this issue hasn’t been adjudicated somewhere. Sedgwick isn’t the only place with a school zone removed from the school. Just in this county, Bremerton has one on Sylvan Way and there used to be one on Finn Hill Road in Poulsbo.

But Nathan’s digging, which included a call to the state transportation department, produced no clarification of the legal underpinnings of school zones not adjacent to schools.

Dave even heard directly from Steve Bennett, the state’s traffic operations engineer for this area, but he essentially just restated the question.

“You are correct,” he wrote. The zone was put into place over a decade ago to facilitate the crossing of the highway by children going to and from Hidden Creek Elementary.  Hidden Creek however,  is 2,100 feet from the highway.”

So I guess the bottom line is that unless you want to pay a double fine or argue in court that that’s a school zone and the law doesn’t allow for such school zones, I’d say you should do what the sign says.