Monthly Archives: July 2009

An oasis in the middle of Silverdale’s interchange

 

The in basket: Among the comments about the new freeway interchange in Silverdale that I’ve never addressed were ones sent in last year by Pete Day and Jeff Griswell. 

Pete wondered in September if there would be any landscaping added to the work. “It would look better than brown, dead grass,” he said.

And Jeff said in May of 2008 he’d been seeing places on two of the interchange ramps that don’t dry out after a rain like the rest of the road surfaces there do. They are on the on-ramp to southbound Highway 3 just west of Clear Creek Road and the ramp from northbound Highway 3 to eastbound Highway 303.

“In my mind, I see freezing temperatures causing ice buildup,” he said. “Also once the oil drippings start to build up, the moisture will cause more slick spots for any one that drives on them.” 

Both comments came to my mind this month when I noticed the project’s large runoff detention pond. Despite what may be a record hot, dry summer, it’s full of water. I think it’s an attractive amenity, but also perhaps evidence to support what Jeff says he sees.

I haven’t heard any complaints about slickness on either ramp, from winter ice or otherwise.

I asked Brenden Clarke, who was project engineer during the interchange construction, what could be feeding the pond in the absence of rainfall.

I also had asked him last year about Pete and Jeff’s comments.

The out basket: There are no funds for landscaping, Brenden said. And his staff didn’t find any evidence of water problems on those ramps.

As for the pond, it’s not as deep as it looks, he said last month. “The bottom of the pond is at ground water elevation, so if there is water in it there should be just a couple inches or so.  The most that could be in there is six inches, because that is the dead storage below the outflow pipe. 

Kitsap County’s Waaga Way extension project “shares this

facility,” he continued. “As a part of their construction they could possibly be doing some dewatering and sending water into the pond.  All the water that

goes into it from (our) project is storm water and with it as

dry as it has been there, should be none at this time.”

Jacques Dean, the county’s construction manager for the Waaga Way extension, said it doesn’t surprise him that there’s water in the pond. The contractor building a sewer line as part of the Waaga Way extension project ran into so much ground water in the 15-foot-deep trench in mid-July that it made it hard to lay the sewer pipe, he said. Jacques estimates that the lowest part that trench is close to the level of the pond. Workers didn’t get out of the water table until the sewer line moved uphill, he said.

I don’t know if all of this adds up to anything important. But at least Pete and Jeff got their questions recognized.

Concrete freeway dowels prompt questions

 

The in basket: The most common question to the Road Warrior column about something outside Kitsap County has to do with the rows of small rectangles that can be seen three abreast in the outside lane of I-90 between Cle Elum and Ellensburg and in places on I-5 as well. They go on for miles.

Don Bidwell and Bobby Whitlow are the latest to ask. 

Bobby says “I remember quite a few years ago when the crews were cutting them out on I-90 over Snoqualimie Pass and beyond. It looked like they were placing something in the holes before filling them back with concrete. I don’t know if they are sensors of some sort.”

Don said “They are always in the right lane where wear is heaviest and they did reduce the roughness and noise of the road bed for a time.  They have since also deteriorated. How could something that small and far apart create anything but more bumpiness?”

Dowels before being covered
Dowels before being covered Photo courtesy of Washington State Department of Transportation

 

 

 

 

 

The out basket: The rectangles show where dowels were put in across the seams between concrete panels of those highways, to keep the panels from rising or falling and creating the thump-thump of one’s tires at the seams when that happens.

A slot for the dowel is saw-cut out, then the 1 1/2-inch-by-18-inch dowel is laid and cemented into the slot and the cement ground down to pavement level. It is usually done in the outside lane where heavy trucks  take the heaviest toll on the road surface.

Sedgwick work won’t add right turn lane at Jackson

The in basket: Anne Wilson says in an e-mail, “While observing construction on Sedgewick Road, we question whether there will be a right turn lane onto Jackson northbound.   

“Vehicles with trailers in the past have created a big hole there,” she said. “Now would be the time to do it, as they are spending millions, and this right turn lane is greatly needed.” 

The out basket: The shoulder in that turn seems to have gradually gotten wider over the years and the recurring pot hole from dozens of vehicles crossing the edge line onto the dirt to squeeze past cars stopped at the red light on Sedgwick has disappeared. 

The current construction work  will improve what highway builders call the radius, making the turn less sharp. But no right turn lane will be added.

Brenden Clarke, project engineer, says a right turn pocket would be considered a mobility improvement, moving more traffic. The Sedgwick job is being paid for from the state’s safety project pocket, and that won’t cover a right turn lane there.

Highway 16 standoff raises familiar question

 

The in basket: Stephen Rachner of South Kitsap raises an all too familiar question after encountering some animosity on Highway 16 northbound where paving at the Burley-Olalla interchange project has been closing one of the two lanes.

Traffic backs up for miles in the inside lane, leaving those willing to abide the resulting hostility with room in the right lane to pass those cars in the left lane until the actual point where the right lane ends. Stephen, who must go that way twice a day, says he’s one of them.

The other day, he and everyone else staying in the right lane were getting the finger from a motorcyclist in the inside lane who then pulled into the outside lane after Steve had passed and attempted to block the lane. 

He also had a tense standoff with a school bus whose driver didn’t want to let him in at the merge point, he said, though the bus driver finally relented.

It’s exactly the scenario one can see any weekday afternoon on southbound Highway 3 as it approaches Highway 304 in Bremerton.

But Stephen said he’d read an article in the Tacoma News Tribune a year ago about yet another example of this conflict, the northbound off-ramp from I-5 in Tacoma to westbound Highway 16 at Nalley Valley.

That article, he said, quoted a trooper from Tacoma saying that blocking a lane, as the motorcyclist tried to do, is a citable infraction, as is refusing to make room for someone trying to merge from a lane that is ending into one that is continuing. 

I asked Trooper Krista Hedstrom, spokesman for the State Patrol here, if she agrees.

The out basket: Yes on attempts to block traffic in a travel lane, no on refusing to make room for a merging vehicle, Krista said.

“If a vehicle is in the outer lane and intentionally holding up traffic by stopping so that others cannot get by, you can receive a traffic infraction ($124) for that,” she said. 

She cites RCW 46.61.425, which reads  “No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.” 

RCW 46.61.570 also prohibits it, she said. That’s a law dealing with stopping, standing and parking.  That law has always been incomprehensible to me, beginning with what’s the difference between stopping and standing. It goes on for paragraphs, but ends by saying, “It shall be unlawful for any person to reserve or attempt to reserve any portion of a highway for the purpose of stopping, standing, or parking to the exclusion of any other like person, nor shall any person be granted such right.”

Krista continued, “As for the vehicles who have already merged over possibly being ticketed for not allowing those who wait until the last minute to merge in – not true. 

“Traffic in the outer lane whose lane is ending must merge (yield) to the left.  If they are unable to get over, those already in the lane who merged ahead of time are not obligated to let them in.  It is, however, a common courtesy that we encourage to avoid road rage/altercations – but those drivers who need to merge must stop (where the lane narrows down to one) and wait until they can safely get over.”

******

Since this column was posted Wednesday, it has drawn a predictable reaction among those commenting, with those excoriating Steve out-numbering those siding with him on use of the right lane. His detractors were obviously a lot angrier than his supporters, some using a common vulgarity to describe him.

To even things up a little, I will repeat what I’ve written often about the merge on Highway 3 coming south past Bremerton, which applies to the Highway 16 backups, as well..

Fill the two lanes equally, drivers, and don’t merge until you have to. If nothing else, it will eliminate the obvious animosity at the merge point because those in the right lane will have crawled along at the same pace as those in the left, and will not be seen as taking advantage of others’ patience. There also is evidence, though not persuasive to everyone, that traffic moves faster when both lanes are used.

Driver not seeing flashes from the red light cameras

 

The in basket: Dave DuBois wonders if all of Bremerton’s red light cameras are working.

“I haven’t seen any of them flash in quite some time,’ he said, “and while I can’t say for the other cameras, the one at Marine Drive and Kitsap Way has not been functional for several weeks. 

“I observed that first hand on Friday (July 17) as we sat at the signal, waiting to turn left onto Kitsap Way. Due to the first driver in line being asleep, the left-turn light changed right after he finally went through and the two cars in front of me went through after the light turned red and there was no flash from the camera. 

“I have to wonder if Bremerton  turned them off due to the lawsuit pending about the amount being charged – like they did the first time someone challenged them after being ticketed when the tattle-tale lights were installed.”

And Willa Dean Howell phoned to ask, “What nine intersections have cameras?”

The out basket: Willa has the number of intersections confused with the number of cameras. There are nine cameras, two each at 11th and Warren, 16th and Warren (at the college), Sylvan and Wheaton and Kitsap Way and Marine Drive, and one at 11th and Callow.

For some reason, the state law permitting camera enforcement limits use of the cameras to only two directions per intersection., 

Lt. Pete Fisher, the city police traffic lieutenant, without getting into detail, says “All of the cameras are working.  My guess is that this occurred while the system was being checked and/or maintained.”

Dave’s eyes must be better than mine (Whose aren’t?) I’ve never seen one of the cameras flash.

What are rubber spikes in McWilliams Road for?

 

The in basket: Rich Robinson of Bremerton e-mailed to say, “Recently, Mc Williams Road was repaved between Safeway and Central Valley

Road.  There are numerous pieces of rubber protruding from the asphalt.  They are about a fourth of an inch thick and maybe 2 inches tall.  Any idea on what they are and what’s their purpose?”

The out basket:  They mark the location of utility accesses. It’s much more efficient in an overlay to cover the entire road and then go back and uncover those accesses and build them up to the new elevation of the pavement.

“All manholes, valve covers, survey monument casings, etc. that get covered during an overlay have to be raised,” says Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works. “So the rubber cone is used to locate where each one is. Later, the cover is exposed, raised and the asphalt is patched around the cover.”

Detection loop acting up at Park and 11th

The in basket: Gary Reed wrote in mid-July to say, “I’ve noticed the traffic signals at 11th Street and Park Avenue (in Bremerton) are defaulting to green on Park and red on 11th.  

“The last several weeks I along with several other cars have stopped on 11th to wait while the cycle runs,” he said, “only there has been no traffic on Park. Is this an intentional revision or is there something amiss with the controller?”

The out basket: There’s a problem with the controller, says Jeff Collins, who heads the city signal shop. 

“We are having some trouble with the detection loops,” he said. “The ones on Park keep sticking on and have to be reset.

“The loops need replacing but until finances get better we will continue to reset them when we get notified,” he said. Call (360) 473-5920 from 7:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday-Friday to report this or any water, sewer, traffic

sign and traffic signal issues in the city. Leave a message after hours.

Emergency vehicles can’t change red lights at new interchange

 

The in basket: Don Cocks wrote on July 16 to ask, “How come there are no emergency vehicle traffic light overrides on the Silverdale 303 interchange or at least they are not working yesterday?  

“I was coming from southbound 3 waiting to turn left on Highway 303 to go to East

Bremerton,” he said. “There were six cars waiting, three in each lane when an

ambulance comes racing up lights and siren going, (and) the driver starts laying

on the horn.  

“Just what are we supposed to do, pull out into on-coming traffic? The two cars in the front pulled up and were almost side-swiped by traffic going into Silverdale.”  

The out basket: Emergency vehicles haven’t been able to preempt that signal or the others at that interchange for the past year and a half, says Jim Johnstone of the Olympic Region signal shop for state highways. The reason is the length of time it takes vehicles on 303 to cross through.

 “We have turned off the pre-emption because of the way the signal terminates during a pre-empt event,” he said. “If a vehicle has started into the intersection, especially in the westbound direction, and an emergency vehicle pre-empts the ramp, the green will come up for the emergency vehicle before the traffic has cleared the bridge. 

“This caused several near misses between emergency vehicles and citizens. 

“With our Traconex controllers there is no way to prevent this from happening,” he said, “other than to turn pre-emption off.  Emergency services in the area were notified that the pre-emption was turned off.

 “As far as what the driver should do? I guess the best thing would be to sit still and allow the emergency vehicle to pass, or get out of the way as best as possible. I don’t believe I would pull up into the intersection on a red light.”

Jay Lovato, assistant chief of Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue and Chief Dan Smith of North Kitsap Fire and Rescue agreed that their drivers probably would use the right turn lane to make a left turn when both lanes for left turns have cars in them, and the lights are red.

It’s not uncommon for them to use the center turn lane or even an oncoming lane when no traffic is coming in lights-and-siren situations, Jay said.

Why have only the white stripes been renewed?

The in basket: Jeff Denton asks “Why is the county not repainting all of the yellow striping on county roads?  I have seen them painting the white striping on most roads, but not the yellow striping.”

He cited Clear Creek and Newberry Hill roads and Seabeck Highway as examples. “Previously, I have watched them paint the stripes together at the same time,” he said. “I thought that they might be trying to save some money on not painting the center line this year.”

I, too, though they normally did both colors at the same time on whatever road they were striping, and noticed the same thing Jeff mentions on Tracyton Boulevard, Central Valley and Pine roads.

The out basket: Despite our impression of how it is normally done, says Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, doing different colors at different times is the county’s procedure,

“We stripe the white and yellow separately,” he said. There are exceptions to this methodology, but in general we try to do all the white first and then do the yellow.  The truck configuration and support vehicles change to do the different colors, so we’ve found the most efficient method is to do one color at a time.

The county says it repaints every stripe on its roads every year.

What’s going on at the old Gorst quarry?

The in basket: JoAnne Stefanac, Juliua Stroup, Natasha Champion, Barbara Peterson and John Jurgens have all e-mailed to ask about the work they see at the old Pioneer Quarry just on the Bremerton side of Gorst. 

“I can’t figure out if they’re just using all the material for other things or if they’re actually clearing and leveling the land to put something there,” said JoAnne. 

Says Juliua, “They’ve had a lot of heavy equipment and have contoured the land and have set up an arrangement of large boulders.”

The out basket: Pat Lockhart who owns the quarry alongside Highway 3 as well as the stilll-productive pit uphill from there on the other side of Sherman Heights Road, joked that it’s the new eight-lane highway between Gorst and Bremerton, plus a marina out in front when I reached him by cell phone. 

Then he got serious but not too specific about his plans. He said there still is a lot of usable rock in the lower quarry, mixed with dirt, and he’s having it screened out and taken uphill to be crushed for aggregate.

Sound Excavating, which Pat used to own and which shares the Gorst property for its headquarters, has some impressively large equipment moving the screened dirt around and leveling it into what look like a couple of commercial pads along the highway. 

But it’s just the increasingly visible phase of work he’s had going on for years, he said, and he can’t really say what it will become in time. “We’re grading it until it looks good so we can hydroseed it before winter,” he said.