Monthly Archives: September 2008

IDing emergency numbers on a cell phone

The in basket: The way e-mails make the rounds these days, you may have seen the one about labeling phone numbers in your cell phone as ICE or I.C.E., for In Case of Emergency.

I just saw it for the first time, sent in by Clay Weyrick. It evidently originated with a British paramedic who had too often been unable to identify which number in an injured or killed person’s cell phone should be called to notify the person whom the phone owner would want to be told about such a crisis. Even calling a number labeled “Mom” can be a mistake if Mom is too emotionally fragile to deal with it over the phone.

The paramedic urges everyone to enter the best number and name it ICE, so emergency responders can make the key call to the correct person. If you have more than one, call them ICE1, ICE2, etc.

The out basket: You wouldn’t think there’d be a lot to say about such an idea, but urban legend debunker Snopes.com, has several paragraphs on the subject. 

Short answer: Snopes says it’s a true story and a good idea. BUT…

Use it in addition to, not in place of, more traditional ways of getting this word out, such as a card in the wallet near your photo ID. 

Even if they find ICE in a cell phone, responders often can’t be sure it’s the patient’s phone, and  it can be out of power or damaged. They might also not be able to get to a given phone’s preset numbers, given the variety of phones in existence. 

In any event, hospital personnel or those dealing with the patient after the paramedics deliver them are more likely to benefit, as they are the one’s who try to reach the family.

Snopes also said that e-mails saying an ICE entry will enable hackers to drain your minutes or introduce viruses ARE hoaxes.

Why do highway projects take so long now?

 

The in basket:  Chuck Hower of Harper in South Kitsap asks “why the state road administrators give contractors so much time to accomplish

projects that could obviously be completed in much shorter time.

“Specifically, I was asking about the new Olalla-Burley interchange,” Chuck said, “completion for which the state has allowed two years – two years of

traffic disruption for a project that would seem easily to be

constructed in a few months if sufficient resources were devoted to it.

“The mind boggles at the thought of the bunch of

turkeys running such operations today, were they to have been in charge

back in the early 1940s when similar projects had to be accomplished

quickly,” Chuck concluded.

The out basket: Brenden Clarke of the Port Orchard project office for state highways is the project engineer on the Olalla-Burley job and offers the following:

“There are a number of reasons why transportation projects take longer

now than they did in the ’40s.  

“One  of the primary reasons, and one

that certainly applies to Burley-Olalla, is traffic volumes and allowing

traffic to proceed through the work area.  

“Not too long ago, traffic volumes were low enough in many areas to allow work to occur that required lane closures or restrictions during the day. With traffic

volumes as high as they are currently, we can not allow lane closures

during the day in most cases without severely impacting traffic.  

“In addition, lane shifts or temporary detours to accommodate work

activities must now be designed for reasonable speeds and must meet

safety standards. Back in the day, a gravel 10-foot-wide lane around

the work area would suffice. Restrictions on lane closures and the need

to construct adequate temporary bypass lanes adds time and costs to

(state) projects.

“Environmental permitting is much more stringent now that

even 10 years ago. This certainly applies to Burley-Olalla as SR 16

traverses over two fish passages within the project limits and is

adjacent to numerous wetland areas. Environmental permit compliance adds time and cost to (our) projects.

“The Burley Olalla project is scheduled to be completed in two years due

to the above issues, and the need to revise the horizontal alignment of

(Highway) 16.  Due to geometric and environmental constraints, (Highway) 16 will be rebuilt to go over Burley-Olalla (Road).  This will require that temporary

lanes be constructed to detour traffic around the current alignment.  Our contractor is using the new on- and off-ramp alignment

for this detour which will reduce costs and time, but work cannot begin

on the new alignment until traffic is shifted.  In addition, work

on the new bridge will not be able to begin until the detour alignments

are constructed.

“Weather is another factor that increases the duration of projects in

Washington state. It is difficult to perform earth work in

inclement weather, and we do not allow paving or striping to occur

unless weather conditions are favorable.  We specified the use of

material on the Burley project that can withstand some poor weather

conditions, but if it gets too wet it will become unworkable.”

Brenden said bad weather causes delays imposed by environmental restrictions.

“Some additional time savings could have been realized on the

Burley-Olalla project by utilizing pre-cast structures for the bridge,” he said, “but the cost was prohibitive, considering

the limited time savings that would have been realized.  

“We have a very

motivated contractor and are working with them to reduce the duration of

the project, but two years is not unreasonable for a new interchange in

Washington.  

“If we were constructing an interchange in Arizona with lower

traffic volumes, I could guarantee that an interchange could be

constructed in less than a full year, assuming level terrain,” Brenden said.

 

Harper road work still planned

 

The in basket: Jane Myers  of Olympiad Drive in South Kitsap, one of the Harper area residents in favor of the Kitsap County’s planned alteration of Southworth Drive through Harper, asked in July whatever became of the project. I had lost track of the proposal and wondered myself if the impending departure from office of County Commissioner Jan Angel, a key proponent of the work in the face of opposition among the property owners to be affected, might be the end of it.

The out basket: Since Jane asked, there have been news stories bringing us up to date and revealing that the project is still planned, regardless of Jan Angel’s decision to run for the Legislature instead of reelection. 

The state Shorelines Hearings Board in late August rejected an appeal by the project’s opponents, which was based in part on the changed slope of the road and loss of landside ditches, which they feel will increase contaminated roadway runoff into the bay or onto the beach. 

They have asked the hearings board to reconsider, the kind of  reversal I’ve never seen happen after an initial ruling, in court or otherwise. A final decision is due this month. After that, the opponents can go to court to try to stop it, and opposition leader Rebecca McCoy says she will, if it comes to that. 

The project has been on the county’s road improvement list for a couple of years, and now is expected to show up on the 2009 project list, due in December. Continued appeals could delay it further.

The work would add four-foot shoulders for bicycles and pedestrians to the road from the Harper Dock to Olympiad and a foot in width to the travel lanes. It’s estimated to cost $910,000. 

SOV drivers taking their chances on Highway 304

 

The in basket: Tom Marcucci of Allyn writes to say, “I drive the new Navy Yard Highway several times each week, usually carpooling. Last week I drove it alone and did not use the carpool lane, but noticed about every third car in the HOV lane (had) a single occupant and had some type of PSNS base sticker on it.  

“Do shipyard workers automatically get to use the HOV lane even when they are driving alone?” he asked.

The out basket: No, they are taking their chances that they won’t be noticed by a law enforcement officer and ticketed to a tune of $124.

“We have also noticed that there numerous SOVs using the HOV lane and have asked for enforcement from the State Patrol,” says Lynn Price,  who headed the project for the city of Bremerton. 

Trooper Krista Hedstrom. spokesman for the state patrol here, says, “Shipyard workers are not allowed a free pass. The troopers in this area are certainly aware of this problem. As time allows, depending on the volume of calls for service, they are working the area and this issue has been addressed.”

.   

 

Motorcycle helmets inside convenience stores

 

The in basket: Motorcyclist Bill Hottinger of Silverdale writes, “I was recently admonished by a convenience store clerk about wearing my helmet in the store.  He stated it was illegal to wear a full face helmet into a store or bank in Washington state. I have never heard this and cannot Google up any reference to this claim.  True, or false?”

Bill added that he had the face visor of his helmet in the up position at the time.

The out basket: If there is such a law, it’s news to Bremerton police, the county sheriff’s office, the county prosecutor, Kitsap Bank vice president Tony George. Motorcycle magazine publisher Mike Dalgaard of Quick Throttle magazine thinks Oregon and/or California have such a law and said there might be such a law here, but he wasn’t sure.

Kitsap Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said he was recently in Southern California and saw the following stenciled at the entrance of a bank: “For your safety and ours, customers will remove caps and sunglasses prior to entering.” He said he didn’t  know if this is state law in California, or just a requirement of the bank.

It could be either. Tony George at Kitsap Bank said it is their policy to require the removal of stocking caps or visored helmets inside the banks. And I spotted on the glass entry to Columbia Bank at the Sedgwick Road interchange an admonition similar to the one Scott saw in Southern California. Probably all banks have the same rule, and some convenience stores also might. I wouldn’t want a customer with his or her face shrouded in my store if I were a clerk. 

But it doesn’t appear to be the law.

All that hardware on downtown Bremerton signal poles

The in basket: Lonnie Scott  was looking at all the hardware on the traffic signal cross arms on Sixth Street in Bremerton, at its intersections with Pacific and Washington avenues.  “What are they?” he asked

In checking out those two intersections and a few others downtown, I noticed five different types of attachment on the signal arms.

One looked like the head of a duck with two bills, another was identical except for having only one bill, one looked like a small flood light, there were tall, thin poles with cameras pointing down at traffic and lastly there were horizontal antennas of some sort on one cross arm each at Pacific and at Washington.

I figured that I knew what all but the antennas were for, but I asked Greg Cryder of the city signal shop to fill in any gaps in my guesses.

The out basket: Greg confirmed my belief that the tall poles with cameras are the traffic detectors with which many jurisdictions are replacing their in-pavement wire detectors, both kinds of the ducks heads are receivers with which transit buses and emergency vehicles can control the lights to make or keep them green, and the small flood lights flash to indicate to drivers that such a vehicle is seeking control of the light and go solid when the connection is made.

As for the antennas, one provides wi-fi signals for people with laptops downtown, and others link the traffic signals between Sixth and Washington, Sixth and Warren and Burwell and Washington – and the master controller in the Norm Dicks government building – to coordinate the lights. They are part of the downtown tunnel project, he said.

Traffic detection at Bethel and Lund avenues

 

The in basket: Mike DeMinter wrote in August to say, “A couple of days ago I noticed someone is working on the traffic  

lights at the Bethel/Lund intersection in Port Orchard.  Are they also going to reposition the left turn sensor that signifies traffic flow from Bethel onto Lund (towards Jackson Avenue)?

 

“When Lund was widened a few years ago, a right-turn lane was put in for cars that want to turn onto Bethel and progress towards the bowling alley,” he said. “The creation of the additional lane caused the white line markers on Bethel to be moved back. What was forgotten  

is the left turn sensor mentioned above.  It appears to have been  

left untouched.

“As it stands now, approximately three-fourths of the sensor 

wire is in front of the white line and thus not  usable.

 

“Consequently,” he said, “cars that want to make a left onto Lund must ‘snuggle up’ to the double-white line in order to be ‘sensed.’  Many times I have had to wait extraordinary lengths of time behind cautious drivers who stop a few feet behind the double white line and wait through several light changes until they finally realize what is going on and move up.”

Belinda Wright has a question about the same intersection. She was reading on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com  about the limitation on Bremerton’s red light enforcement cameras to only two directions of travel per intersection that they can monitor. 

“What look like cameras have been installed at Bethel and Lund in Port Orchard and it looks like they are pointing in all four directions. What’s up with that?” she asked.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, without addressing Mike’s interpretation of what led to the problems, says “The traffic control box, which houses the electronics that runs the lights, was recently replaced. Many of the loops in this intersection are beginning to fail.”  

The county has replaced them with the new overhead traffic detection cameras, one for each direction. Those are what Belinda sees on the cross arms, not red light enforcement cameras. Only Bremerton has them and at only a handful of locations. They look nothing like the detection cameras and aren’t on the signal cross arms

The overhead cameras are gradually replacing the in-pavement detector loops because they can be repaired without tearing up the pavement and can remain in service when something else requires digging up the road surface.

 

Where will gas be available in long power outages?

 

The in basket: Bob Edwards proposed at a recent meeting of the Manchester public safety group that meets each Tuesday morning that legislation is needed to require that gas stations be ready with generators to pump gas in a prolonged power outage.

Not only will drivers need fuel to get around, but people with generators will need to refuel as the outage drags on. 

I told him I’d ask the county’s Department of Emergency Management what it knows about the subject.

The out basket: Phyllis Mann, head of the county’s DEM, said some stations have made themselves generator-ready, but she has no list of which ones. She will be trying to create such a list and asks that any service station that is prepared to operate during power outages tell her so at dem@co.kitsap.wa.us or (360) 307-5870.

In the meantime, she encouraged gasoline customers to ask at the stations where they fill up whether the stations’  equipment will run on a generator and whether they expect to have one in service if the power goes out. 

Politically, she’s reluctant to be directing buyers to particular service stations and interfering with private enterprise, she said, so will decide what to do with her list at the time of an outage. How long it is likely to last will be a key criteria. She’ll put it on the DEM Web site when she decides it’s warranted.

She is unaware of any campaign, past or present, to pass a law requiring stations to be generator-ready, she said.

The DEM Web site is at www.kitsapdem.org. No later than Nov. 15, the site will have a streaming video on generator and carbon monoxide safety, a partnership program with Puget Sound Energy, she said. It will join other videos that already are there on various other emergency preparations.

 

 

When a car meets a school bus on Finn Hill Road

 

The in basket: Claudia Kilburn of Poulsbo writes, “Going down Finn Hill in Poulsbo, I have encountered a school bus coming up the hill.  There is a turn lane in this area and when the bus stops and engages its red lights (are) vehicles traveling down the hill required to stop?  

“I have stopped each time,” she said, “and braced for honking from the vehicles behind me (which didn’t happen!).  Please let us all know how to handle this situation.”

The out basket: No, those in Claudia’s lane don’t have to stop in that situation.

Kat Peterson, driver trainer for North Kitsap Schools, puts it this way. The paddle stop sign on the side of the bus controls the lane the bus is in and the lane next to it when it’s extended as the bus stops to pick up children.

There is a lane between the bus and the lane Claudia is in when she meets the bus, so vehicles in that lane needn’t stop. Were it a two-lane road, rather than the three-lane road it is, oncoming traffic would have to stop too.

No traffic in the bus’ lane and the lane next to it may pass the stopped bus.

This puzzle confronts drivers on three-lane roads all over the county. Most often someone in the oncoming lane where no stop is required will be sufficiently uncertain of the law that they stop to play it safe. So, more often than not, traffic in both directions stops even though oncoming traffic isn’t required to. 

As with other such locations with three or more lanes, Kat said, the buses won’t let students off where they have to cross the street. That bus or another will come down in the opposite direction to let those students off.

She also noted that oncoming traffic in the turn lane, wanting to turn left, may do so as long is the car doesn’t travel past the bus’ paddle stop sign. NK school bus drivers are instructed to stop far enough back from an intersection to eliminate doubt in an oncoming left turner’s mind that the turn in front of the stopped bus is legal. 

Vulgar license plate holders OK if they don’t cover the plate

The in basket: Susan Hinckley-Porter of Poulsbo said in July, “I was recently sitting in the Seattle to Bainbridge ferry line and observed a car with a license plate holder that had the following message: ‘Lifetime island resident with bad attitude, f— UW, f— the city, f— CA, f— BC.’ 

“I understand that there are certain words that can not be used on a license plate, but what about the frame holding the license plate?” she asked.

The out basket: I told her that it wouldn’t be actionable if it was on a T-shirt, so it probably would be just as permissible (and as offensive) on a license plate holder. 

That’s true, says Brad Benfield of the state Department of Licensing. “We don’t have any jurisdiction over a license plate frame or holder,” he said. “However, if the frame or holder is such that it makes (the plate) difficult to read, then law enforcement can step in.”