Monthly Archives: May 2009

Hood Canal Bridge camera isn’t working

The in basket: Fred Ficarra writes, “I wanted to see the work on the Hood Canal Bridge. No way. Cam is dead. I went to the other cams where work is being done such as I-90. All are off! What gives. Is the State afraid of documenting something and losing a claim?

The out basket: Becky Hixson, communications manager for the bridge project, says, “The power and connectivity to the (regular) cameras on the bridge comes from the east side of the bridge and had to be cut during the bridge replacement project. 

“We installed two cameras on the east end of the bridge but there is limited ability to transfer data over the network at the job site.  So instead, we are taking clips from the best part of the work and putting them up on Flickr pages.” 

I found them by clicking on Construction Photos and Video Clips at that site.

“We are doing our best to share this amazing project with you,” Becky said.

Jamie Swift of the state’s public relations office, said all the I-90 cameras appear to be working normally.

“We are doing our best to share this amazing project with you,” Becky said.

Jamie Swift of the state’s public relations office, said all the I-90 cameras appear to be working normally.

Rural sidewalks rare, as Sunnyslope shows

The in basket: Leona Wankowski of Sunnyslope, who lives near Sunnyslope Elementary School, wrote in early March to decry the lack of sidewalks in that area.

“There are children in the area of all ages,” she writes, “lots of teens and pre-teens who like to enjoy the outdoors as much as weather permits. Bicycling, skateboarding, skating, walking with strollers, etc.

“Since there is no place safe to do this – aka a sidewalk – we have to use the street and attempt to move to the side when cars come. There are many areas of this road that do not have even a soft shoulder to move onto, so we hug the street side. 

“As a mother of four, I have attempted walks with the children, one in a stroller, many times. It is virtually impossible to get away from the cars. Even a mom and a baby in a stroller can’t get the cars to slow to a safe speed, or drive around us. They glare, honk and shout obscenities that we are in their way. 

“My son gets worse treatment when he is skateboarding home. He wears a bright hoody sweatshirt, so they see him fine. Yesterday, not only did a car act as if it was going to run him over, it paused while he tripped trying to get out of the driver’s way, then sped up to run over his skateboard (snapped it right in half)!! 

“We, the pedestrians, have nowhere else to go, without a sidewalk. The drivers screaming down this road think they own it. What can we do to enjoy our street and not get run over by people like this?”

The out basket: Sidewalks there are not likely any time soon, says Doug Bear, spokesman for Kitsap County Public Works. 

“Sidewalks are traditionally an urban level of service and are usually found in areas of urban-level growth,” he said. “This includes planned subdivisions, commercial areas, and within cities or unincorporated high-density communities. This can create frustration for residents, particularly those that move to rural areas from these urban-type centers.

 “There is very limited county-owned rights-of-way along Sunnyslope Road,” he said. “The cost involved in just obtaining the right-of-way needed for sidewalks is considerable. Add to that the construction costs and the maintenance costs associated with sidewalks and you can see the challenges in providing amenities like this in rural areas. 

“I certainly understand your reader’s concerns,” Doug continued, “but the primary purpose of roads is to provide safe travel for vehicular traffic and not all roads lend themselves to ancillary purposes including recreational walking, skating, and bicycling.

“When we do major overlay projects we do consider widening shoulders and paving them as money and right-of-way permit. We don’t usually build sidewalks. In the few instances where Kitsap County has been involved in sidewalk projects the funding was provided through grants or other funding sources outside our budget. Some new plats and developments include sidewalks, but those costs are paid by the developer.

 “All activities along roadways present safety challenges. Even with sidewalks, extreme care and caution is the rule. I encourage all residents to consider alternate locations for recreational activities whenever possible. I recognize that it is not as convenient as the road in front of the house, but these locations increase the safety of recreational pursuits. 

“Many county or regional parks provide hiking, walking and bicycle trails. Most local schools, including Sunnyslope Elementary, have large areas of paved surfaces that accommodate recreational activities after school hours. There are skate parks that provide safe and legal off-street opportunities for boarders at several locations in Kitsap County. A complete listing of locations can be found at Using these alternatives provide a safer way to continue the activities your reader likes to do,” Doug concluded.

To which I would add for motorists who intentionally drive over skateboards or berate pedestrians who slow them down, just lighten up. You don’t want a vehicular assault charge on your record.

School buses and the five-car-delay rule


The in basket: I came across a year-old inquiry from Ward Starring of Chico Way recently on the subject of school buses and whether they have to comply with the state law requiring vehicles delaying more than five others on a two-lane highway to pull over and let them pass.

He had been stuck behind Central Kitsap school bus No. 66 on Chico Way on April 30 last year, he wrote at the time, and he could see in his rear-view mirror that he was among at least two dozen drivers crawling behind the bus as it stopped and boarded children.

“That bus never once pulled to the shoulder to let traffic pass,” he said. It traveled all the way to the Newberry/Chico Way intersection, where it waited to turn. 

Previously, he’d often seen buses there pull over to let traffic go past, he said.

“Whether that was just a polite move or required by law, it reduced frustration from drivers who then had to contend with the almost impossible task of merging into traffic at the Newberry Hill/ Chico Way intersection,” he said.

The out basket: School buses are not exempted from that law, which reads “On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow moving vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in a line, shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for a safe turn-out exists, in order to permit the vehicles following to proceed.”

It defines a slow vehicle as “one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.” Doing the speed limit isn’t a defense.

It’s a hard law to enforce, though the State Patrol lately has kicked off the vacation season with news releases reminding motorists, presumably motor home drivers mostly, of the law. There also is a discussion of it as regards traffic on newly busy, two-lane Highway 101 on Josh Farley’s Kitsap Crime and Justice blog on this Web site and printed in Tuesday’s Kitsap Sun.

Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the local State Patrol office says, “Although school buses are required by law to pull off and let traffic by, they also need to do so safely, especially considering they are transporting children. Drivers are reminded to please be patient when behind a school bus.  They may not always have a safe location to pull over.”  

The pull-off place must not only be safe, it has to be wide enough for the bus (or motor home or whatever) to get all its wheels outside the edge line. Parking with wheels over the edge line is an infraction, as is traveling slowly partly or fully on the shoulder.

There seem to be lots of places along Chico Way wide enough for a bus to pull over. This long after the fact, it may not be possible to determine who was driving the bus that day, but David Beil of CK schools’ community affairs office said he’ll pass the complaint on to the district’s transportation department.

SK’s Anderson Hill Road a rough ride


The in basket: Jessica Howell and a man who wants to go by just “Nick” want to know what to expect in the way of repairs on Anderson Hill Road in South Kitsap, on or near which they both live. 

It was torn up the past year for installation of a sewer, but the contractor pulled out his equipment before restoring the road, they said. “It has been undriveable for over a month,” Jessica said, “The only thing I have seen done is a couple of ‘rough road ahead, motorcycles use caution’ signs put up. Are they going to cover the cost of repairs when my vehicle falls apart?” 

Nick said some drivers are pulling into the oncoming lane when no cars are coming so they don’t have to use the downhill lane, where all the damage is.

The out basket: I expected dirt or gravel when I drove it after getting the complaints, but at least it’s paved, albeit very roughly.

Kitsap County is working with the developer of hundreds of homes to be served by the sewer to get the road restored to its original condition.

Jacques Dean of the county public works staff said he’s sent Bayside LLC, the developer that hired C.C. Edwards Construction to install the sewer, a letter demanding a plan for the road repair by May 18.

He said the road is at its worst near the bottom of its long downhill run, as braking cars and running rain water take a toll. 

The company has responded to previous complaints by having the ruts “cold-patched,” meaning unheated asphalt was used. It doesn’t have much  durability.

Paul Wandling of the city of Bremerton engineering staff, which supervises the sewer installation but not the road repair, said a company official told him the job is on a hiatus of perhaps three-months while the company seeks refinancing.

Jacques Dean said the county might attach the bond covering completion of the job if it doesn’t get a satisfactory answer from Bayside.

Central Valley/Fairgrounds signal on the fritz


The in basket: I found myself in an unfamiliar place Monday afternoon, though certainly it’s well-known to hundreds of our readers. I rarely use Central Valley Road near Fairgrounds Road, because of the school zones there, and don’t recall the last time I was there at school-closing time.

But Monday I wound up northbound on Central Valley approaching Fairgrounds Road about 3 p.m.

“What a zoo,” I remarked to myself, as the cars ahead of me barely moved while I could see the light was green and should have been moving traffic. I decided to count how many seconds elapsed between the light turning green again and my moving forward. I wondered if school children in the crosswalk were keeping turning traffic from moving, holding up everyone behind them, and whether it was a daily thing for drivers there.

Instead, I wound up counting the length of the green light because it turned yellow after only 10 seconds. Obviously, not many cars got through.

I asked the county if that’s normal behavior for that light.

The out basket: No, says Callene Abernathy of county public works. At least one citizen called in the same complaint Monday night and a signal technician found

that the signal was not operating correctly.  The technician did a temporary fix, she said, and others were to go out Tuesday to see what is wrong with the signal.

Why the difference between Sixth & 11th at Warren?

The in basket: Bunny Lee of Bremerton asks about the differences in what is permitted westbound on Sixth and 11th streets in Bremerton. 

“If I come down Sixth Street to Warren,” she said, “driving toward downtown and the Manette Bridge, I can turn left or go straight ahead from the middle lane. At 11th, I can only turn left onto Warren and CANNOT go straight ahead to the Manette Bridge from that middle lane

“Why?” she asks. “There is no on-coming left turn lane so the traffic would not conflict. It just seems silly that the arrows do not allow drivers to go straight ahead at 11th and Warren from that middle lane. 

“Of course, you can go into the far right lane and go straight ahead from there.  I just sometimes forget, so end up in that middle lane.”

The out basket: Both intersections operated the same way before Burwell Street was closed east of Warren for construction of the ferry tunnel. Then city traffic officials changed the restriction in the middle lane of westbound Sixth to allow either movement to compensate for the reduced access to downtown. 

The only explanation I have ever gotten for not allowing straight-ahead movements as well as left turns from the middle lane is that it contributes to rear-end accidents. I don’t recall being told why that would be true, and can’t figure it out on my own. It came from city traffic officials long since moved on. 

Larry Matel, the current traffic engineer who came to town just about the time the middle lane limitation was removed at Sixth Street, says only,”I am not aware of any problems at Sixth and Warren related to these lane assignments, but will request a traffic accident history from the Washington Department of Transportation to check.” 

He added that he expects the ability to got either straight or left from the middle lane of Sixth to be preserved after the tunnel is finished and Burwell reopens.


As for 11th and Warren, that intersection is scheduled for a revision “to accommodate a longer right-turn lane for southbound Warren Avenue traffic to turn right at 11th. This should reduce long backups on southbound Warren at various times of the day.” he said.

“We can look at the request for a similar lane assignment on 11th during this project’s development,” he said.

While the disparity is curious, I can’t say I’ve ever seen so much straight-ahead traffic at either intersection that the right lane was insufficient. I would think it would take something that stopped a right turner from making his turn with straight-ahead traffic trapped behind him to actually inconvenience anyone.