Monthly Archives: May 2010

Why can’t cars leaving ferry use ramp to Washington Avenue?

The in basket: Tim Trembley, a 20-year commuter on the Bremerton ferry, says, “I have a question about the exit ramp from the ferry terminal to Washington Avenue.  

“Back when the state was surveying people about the tunnel project, we were told that drivers would still be able to exit to Washington Avenue after the tunnel was built.  Then, after the tunnel was built, we were told that in order to kept cars and pedestrians separate on Washington Avenue that all traffic exiting the ferry would have to use the tunnel.  

“Then they re-routed the ferry drop-off traffic down Washington Avenue. So what is the ‘official’ reason offloading traffic can’t use Washington Avenue? Is this the state’s ramp to nowhere?”

The out basket: I don’t know if many people take advantage of the fact they can continue past Second Street, the designated ferry drop-off point, and curve onto First Street to get closer to the ferry terminal to drop off or pick up ferry passengers. It’s not intended that they do.

But Brenden Clarke, project engineer for the tunnel, explains the rationale for allowing so little use of the ramp:

“The driving force behind the decision to route all vehicle traffic through the tunnel is overall safety – for pedestrians and motorists,” he said.

“Pedestrian traffic downtown continues to increase as a result of recent development in Bremerton, new parks, a marina, condominiums and local businesses.

“The primary issue that concerns engineers is the three streams of traffic that conflict at the Washington Avenue/First Street intersection during peak-commute times: buses exiting the transit station; pedestrian traffic (ferry riders, shipyard workers, business patrons); and vehicles offloading from the ferry.

Additional considerations, he said, are:

– There are line-of-sight concerns for buses and off-loading vehicle traffic at the Washington Avenue/First Street intersection due to grade separation and a retaining wall between the ferry terminal and the transit deck.

– Off-loading vehicles have only a short distance to get into the appropriate lane approaching the tunnel. This creates potential for weaving conflicts (a recognized accident cause) or vehicles stopping and blocking off-loading traffic while waiting for a gap to enter the proper lane.

– Line of sight is less than ideal for off-loading vehicles because the lanes wind around the piers supporting the transit deck.

The ramp was constructed to full standards, he said, in case an accident or something else closed the tunnel and all traffic had to use the ramp to Washington. Otherwise, only bicyclists can use it.

Reader poses proof-of-insurance puzzle

The in basket: A reader who wanted his name withheld rather than irritate his employer wrote to ask, “Who is responsible for having proof of insurance in a vehicle?  The driver of the vehicle or the owner? 

“I work for a company that can’t (or wont) get a proof of insurance card for the vehicles I drive on a daily basis,” he said. “If there is a ticket issued for no proof of insurance, will I be the one to get the ticket ($450, I believe) or will the ticket be issued to the company who owns the vehicle?”

The out basket: Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the local State Patrol office says a lot has to do with whether the vehicle is registered as a commercial vehicle.

“The fine for not having proof of insurance is $550,” she said.  “Drivers issued a citation for not having insurance may provide proof to the court that the vehicle was insured at the time of the violation and the case will be dismissed with a $25 administration fee.  

“If the driver purchases insurance within 15 days of the violation date and shows proof to the court, the court will reduce the infraction amount to $290. 

 “When a driver gets stopped by WSP, they are asked to show proof of insurance,” she said. “The vehicle driven should be listed on the insurance card, as well as a date showing the insurance is valid.

 “Commercial vehicles are a bit different,” she said. “Typically, drivers are only cited for moving violations or load violations (if they are responsible for the load).  All others would go to the company.  

“So, for example, if a person driving a commercial vehicle over 10,001 pounds did not have an insurance card and the driver was not the owner, the insurance ticket would go to the company.  

“Commercial vehicles weighing 26,001-plus pounds are required to have a common carriers permit, which requires them to have insurance to even get the permit.”  

Very few vehicles under 10,000 pounds qualify as commercial vehicles. If a lighter vehicle is stopped and there is no proof of insurance, and the driver is employed by the vehicle owner, the ticket can go to the driver or the company, Krista said, at the trooper’s discretion.

“This applies only to company vehicles (where the operator is not the owner).   Otherwise, say, if you borrowed a friend’s car and you did not have any proof of insurance, you would get the ticket.

“The best advice I can give,”she said, “is to keep an insurance card in your glove box, and one in your wallet – especially if you drive multiple vehicles registered to different people.  Many drivers have insurance that covers them on any car they drive.”

The fellow who posed this question, incidentally, said he and his employer resolved the issue while I sought his answer.