Monthly Archives: August 2009

Power stayed on at new Silverdale intersection

 

The in basket: Dave Jackson of Seabeck tells about a two- or three- hour power outage that darkened Central Kitsap (not much, though, it was during the day) on Aug. 6. Hearing official advice to avoid Silverdale, which was without power, he took a winding route from Seabeck that took him through the Trigger Avenue-Old Frontier Road intersection, where the signal was dark.

So he was surprised after taking the freeway from Trigger back to Silverdale to find the signals at the new Highway 3-303 interchange all working. 

How does that happen, he asks.

The out basket: As mentioned here a year ago when criticism of the new interchange still was at its peak, state officials were arranging to keep the power there on no matter what, knowing what chaos would result if the signals ever quit working. It’s too wide for mere driver eye contact and taking turns to take the place of signals, as can be done at a smaller intersection.

“It is good to hear that things went well for a change and folks like what we’ve done,” says Don Anders of the Olympic Region signal shop.  

“At this intersection we have a battery-powered back-up system (UPS or uninterruptable power source) and a stand-by generator.  The UPS system keeps the system online without any break in service and allows the generator to start up and pick up the load.  This generator has the ability to run 72 hours without adding fuel which will get us through a full weekend, if necessary.”

Port Orchard striping is a waiting game

 

The in basket: Sarann Walker and Cliff Kincaid are concerned about a couple of places inside the city of Port Orchard where the lane striping has worn off and drivers have to guess where they should be relative to other traffic.

Sarann lives near Marcus Whitman Junior High and is worried about the lack of striping on Mile Hill Drive at the city limits around Harrison Street.

“It’s a real mess trying to make a left turn onto Harrison or in the opposite direction,” she said. “The stripes are all worn away. l don’t feel really comfortable there.”

Cliff sees the same problem at the intersection of Sedgwick and Sidney roads at the town’s southern city limits.  

“If you are headed east at the new intersection,” he said, “the yellow line for the left turn lane heading west has been obliterated. I’ve almost had a head-on there, though I am a pretty cautious driver.”

The out basket: Mark Dorsey, public works director for Port Orchard, says he is getting anxious waiting for Kitsap County, with which the city contracts for the annual restriping of its streets, to get the job done. The contract has been signed for a couple of months, he said, and bad weather is coming. 

He expects the county’s work to include both the areas Sarann and Cliff describe, even though the Mile Hill spot is where the city and state are at odds over which should be maintaining it. The city this summer filled in the delaminations that were creating a rough roadway there and will pay for the striping while the jurisdictional issue is hashed out, he said.

The state plans to ask the Legislature for permission to turn Highway 166 from the Sidney Avenue intersection downtown to the eastern city limit near Harrison over to the city. Mark says the city doesn’t plan to “just roll over and let them,” and is working with state Sen. Derek Kilmer on a strategy for opposing the plan.

The striping of city streets also will include Tremont Street from the city limit to the Highway 16 freeway. Mark said the city’s contract with the county doesn’t call for the added expense of recessing the reflective lane markers there, as the county was able to do for the first time from the city limits east this spring.

Lund Avenue lane markings are completed

The in basket: Tom Wetterlind in June said “If you are on Tremont Street (in Port Orchard) and go over the overpass and start up the hill on the other side, there are cuts made in the road when they repaired it. There is a ton of them, In evening in the rain, they all look like centerlines. When you get up to the top when it becomes Lund (Avenue), the slashes all run parallel to the road.”

The out basket: This was an issue last winter and spring after heavy sanding and plowing during the winter snow siege took off most of the lane reflectors and stripes. The sealant that creates the reflections to which Tom objects increased the uncertainty about where the edges of the lanes were.

Since then Kitsap County has restriped its portion of that street (completion of the portion inside Port Orchard’s city limits is pending) and used a newly acquired grinding machine to create recesses into which the lane reflectors have been put so that snow plows blades skim over them and don’t pop them off. 

That’s all the county plans to do there to delineate the lanes, says Doug Bear of the county public works staff, so those who still are confused by the shine off the sealant will have to use the lane stripes and recessed reflectors to be sure they aren’t straddling lanes.

Painting party detour no different than others

The in basket: Alexis McKinnon e-mailed Aug. 4 to say, “Last weekend in Port Orchard, Highway 166 through downtown was closed. (Traffic) was then re-routed up Kitsap Street, left on Rockwell, then back onto Bay Street (heading in an easterly direction).  

“I live on Kitsap and I do not remember a time when Highway 166 was re-routed onto this street.  I understood if (it) was to be re-routed it would be up Kitsap Street, then south on Sidney to Lund. 
“I was very surprised by the amount of traffic on our normally quiet street,” she said, “with no patrols to ensure cars followed the speed limit or stopped at the stop signs. 

“The truck route was directed up Port Orchard Boulevard and onto Lund, which is a perfect re-route, considering there’s only one home on the entire road, and it’s a three-lane road (two uphill, one downhill). 
The out basket: Mark Dorsey, public works director for the city, says nothing different was done in rerouting traffic for the Aug. 1-2 painting party than is done for the Cruz car show, the Fathoms O’ Fun Parade, Festival of Chimes and Lights and other events that occupy Port Orchard’s main street. “Car traffic is detoured up Kitsap to Rockwell……and the truck traffic detoured up Port Orchard Boulevard to Tremont,” he said.

Alexis might want to approach the city council if she’s like to see that changed .

Does one have to comply with yellow speed signs?

The in basket: Barbara Westfall writes, “My husband and I are new residents in the Tracyton area.  When turning right onto Tracyton Boulevard from Bucklin Hill, there is a sign, two signs actually, on the same pole.  One says Speed Bumps, the other says 20 mph.  

“Now, does this mean you need to go 20 mph when going over the speed bumps, or is the whole road 20 mph until you are finished with all speed bumps?”

The out basket: The signs approaching the speed humps are yellow advisory signs that suggest a comfortable speed for crossing the rises, and can be ignored if you think otherwise. Speed limit signs are white with black markings and the one that says 30 mph just as you turn from Bucklin Hill Road onto Tracyton Boulevard establishes the speed limit throughout the stretch with the speed bumps. 

I was surprised to see the signs call them speed BUMPS. Those traffic calming devices are generally separated into speed bumps, the abrupt rises you see in mobile home parks, speed humps, the wider ones on most county roads and in shopping center parking lots, and speed tables, like those on Tracyton Boulevard, where the raised surface is large enough to contain most cars. The county must have decided drivers will understand the term speed bumps best.

Why 35 mph past old Bangor gate?

The in basket: Bill Peterson of Poulsbo says,”I’m curious about why the speed limit on Clear Creek Road drops from 50 mph to 35 mph between Mountain View Road and Orweiler Road.

“Is this due to the Bangor gate on the west side of Clear Creek?  If so why hasn’t the speed limit been increased with the permanent closure of the gate?  There doesn’t appear to be any denser population between these two roads to justify the decrease in speed.”

The out basket: In January 2007, when Jesse Cook asked the same question, the answer was that Kitsap County wouldn’t raise the speed limit unless the Navy assured it the gate wouldn’t reopen. Tom Danaher, public affairs office for the Bangor base, said simply that the Navy doesn’t discuss security issues like gates, which left the issue in limbo and the speed limit at 35 mph. 

The county says that is still its position. Tom was more expansive this time, and said not only isn’t the old gate closed permanently, but it comes in handy when large construction vehicles that have trouble getting through the serpentine regular entrances at the other gates have to come and go.

Besides, he said, security personnel asked the few neighbors in that stretch what they thought of the lower speed limit and, not surprisingly, they’d like to see it stay at 35 mph, “which is OK with us.”

Only very heavy vehicles excluded from HOV lanes

 

The in basket: William Ellis of Bremerton writes, “I often tow a 33-foot fifth-wheel trailer behind a three-quarter-ton pickup truck.

“With both my wife and I aboard, is it legal in Washington for me to use the designated two-passenger HOV lane?”

The out basket: It is legal unless his vehicle combination weighs in at over 10,000 pounds. 

Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the local WSP detachments says the rules for HOV use state “that any vehicle towing a trailer (it does not specify each type of trailer, but a fifth-wheel is considered a trailer) with a total weight of more than 10,000 pounds CANNOT use the HOV lanes.”

I must confess to not knowing the combined weight of a pickup and fifth wheeler, never having owned or driven one, but I’d have to guess most are under 10,000 pounds.

The other caveat is that the driver must “maintain a speed that is consistent with the flow of traffic,” she said. That’s kind of vague, of course, and it probably would fluctuate depending on whether traffic in the adjoining general purpose lanes was crawling along bumper to bumper, or moving at or above the speed limit. 

I suppose it’s one of those “you’ll know it when you see it” things.

Sedgwick work disappoints this reader

The in basket: “Is that all there is?” asks Bill Slach of South Kitsap in an e-mail that echoes Peggy Lee’s musical question of a few decades ago.

“The grading and paving of the portion of Sedgwick Road just east of Highway 16 seems nearly complete,” he said. “Is that all they are doing? Why no turn lanes for the intersecting streets? They have lots of room on the south side of the road to extend the paving. It’s as if they didn’t widen the road at all.”

He told of a car stalled “going up the hill from the intersection and right after the wide part narrows down. With oncoming traffic there wasn’t enough room to get around unless you waited for a break,” he said. “The car was as far to the right as possible which would have been on the bike, walking, or shoulder lane but it wasn’t enough.  All that money and they didn’t improve the street but a few inches, if that.” Bill said.

The out basket: It probably will be better when the project is complete, with some gravel on the shoulders beyond the pavement providing some extra width, but other than that, what you see is what you’ll get.

It became quite an issue last year when Don Ryan, Darlene Piper, Tom Myers, Jim Avery and other owners of property on or near Sedgwick on that side of Bethel Avenue mounted an eleventh-hour attempt to modify the project plans to add turn lanes, at their expense. State officials said such a change would have required that they reopen the environmental review process and they went ahead with the original plans. Project Engineer Brenden Clarke explains it this way: 

“With the limited funds for the project, the turn lanes were only added to the intersections on the east side of Bethel that have experienced the highest number of accidents.  The intersections in that area have much higher volumes of turning traffic.  

“The area between Highway 16 and Bethel does get widened shoulders and slope flattening that allows drivers to see stopped or slow traffic.  The odds would have been much higher that the disabled car would have been struck had it not been for the recent improvements that have been made to the highway. 

“I agree that turn lanes would have been nice throughout the project, but funds did not allow them to be constructed as a part of this project,” Brenden said. “We are doing the most improvements possible with the available funding.”

I also asked Brenden if there would be any work outside the orange mesh barriers along the highway between Jackson Avenue and Long Lake Road.

He said no, but the highway will be widened at Phillips Road to accommodate a left turn lane and there will be some widening at Long Lake Road to improve the turn radius from Long Lake to westbound Sedgwick.

You can read more about the project on line at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr160/sr16_longlake/. Among the information there is the total price tag – $8.24 million. The contractor is being paid $3.15 million, which is the amount shown on the signs at each end of the project. The rest includes $3.25 million to buy right of way for this work and future expansion – $100,000 more than the construction contract. Design, engineering and environmental mitigation are also included, Brenden says.

Yield sign coming to Bangor area Highway 3 merge

The in basket: Don Erickson of Seabeck wrote in July to say “Everyday when I leave Keyport,  I travel west on Luoto Road to Highway 3 and

turn left to the southbound on-ramp of the highway. Shortly after

entering the on-ramp, there are two lanes of traffic from Bangor merging

from the right. 

“Since I’m going straight ahead and the traffic is coming

from the right, I say I have the right of way. But everyday its a fight

to keep from getting bumped from the Bangor traffic flying around the

curve and trying to merge into my lane and further left onto the

highway. 

“Who has the right of way and can there be any enforcement of a

speed limit on the Bangor traffic coming around the curve heading south?”

The out basket: State Trooper Krista Hedstrom, spokeswoman for the local detachments, says Don is incorrect in his belief that he has the right of way there. 

The Merge sign depicts the two lanes from Bangor with a thicker line than it does the single lane Don uses, and the greater thickness of the line confers right of way.

She notes that despite the sign’s placement on the shoulder of the double right turn access, it’s still visible by the single lane. “I do agree, though, that it would not hurt to have another sign placed in a location more visible,” she added.

I had not heard Krista’s interpretation of varying thickness of lines on a Merge sign before, so I asked Olympic Region Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Bennett if the traffic engineer’s bible, the Manual on Uniform Traffic  Control Devices supports it. 

Not in so many words, he replied, but it can be inferred from the words that ARE used. But just “to clear things up, we will be installing a Yield sign so that the single-lane ramp yields to the double-lane ramp,” he said.

As for speed enforcement there, they will definitely attend to that, says Krista, but the freeway’s 60 mph is the speed limit on its on-ramps so a driver would really have to be hitting it to exceed the limit there.