Monthly Archives: June 2010

Bridge surface looks rough, but it’s holding up

The in basket: Perry East writes, “I recall several years the much-touted latex asphalt pavement over the Warren Avenue Bridge (in Bremerton) was the cure-all. How has it been holding up?”

The out basket: Chris Keegan, the Olympic Region’s bridge expert for the state, says the patches that give the bridge a troubled look really comprise less than 1 percent of the surface and the surface is holding up well.

He started with  the basics.

“The overlay placed on the Warren Avenue Bridge was a polyester overlay,” he said. “It is just three-quarters of an inch thick.

“The underlying concrete deck was made with lightweight concrete. Instead of hard aggregate, i.e. rocks, they used a lightweight material. This enabled the bridge designer to design longer spans without putting more piers in the water.

“The lightweight concrete does not wear well so the design included an asphalt wearing course. The asphalt wearing course was removed and the thin polyester overlay placed on the deck. This was done, I believe, in 1992.

“One of the reasons for the polyester overlay,” Chris said, “is that it would last longer than asphalt. This was one of the first uses of the polyester overlay in the state and we had problems with the material setting up. In some cases it just did not get hard. We were in patching the deck soon after the contract.

“The deck area of the Warren Avenue Bridge is 94,435 square feet. The patched area after 18 years is 567 square feet, or about half of 1 percent. The other 99.5 percent of the deck is in good condition. Despite a rough start, the polyester overlay is holding up well.”

Polyester overlays have been used quite extensively by the state in the last 10 years, including on I-5 for the Puyallup River bridges, he concluded.

Timing slip-up slowed shipyard traffic

The in basket: Darrell Franks of Union e-mailed to say, “I wonder if you can find out what’s going on with traffic signal timing at the intersections of Burwell and Montgomery, and Burwell and Callow (in Bremerton).

The lights are badly mis-timed, causing traffic to back up terribly after 4 p.m., when shipyard traffic becomes heavy.

“As they are timed now,” Darrell said, “the Montgomery light will be green while the Callow light is red, which does no good at all. When the Callow light turns green, the Montgomery light goes red, which allows a relative handful of traffic to move from Burwell onto Callow.

“This problem began about three weeks ago, and I expected it to be solved by now,” he said.

The out basket: I don’t find myself in commuter traffic much anymore, being retired, but I had seen exactly what Darrell described twice this month at shipyard quitting time. I hit the backup on Burwell back at Olympic Avenue and watched the odd signal changes as I crawled forward. I wondered if it was always that bad.

Jeff Collins of the city of Bremerton signal shop said Darrell made a good call on when the problem started.

About two or three weeks ago his shop changed the batteries and reset the clocks in the controllers that keep the lights more or less in sync, he said..

‘I found one of the intersections exactly one minute off on the clocks,” he said Wednesday. It should be better now.

“Thanks for the heads up,” he said, a commendation that really should go to Darrell. I’m surprised he’s the only one who complained.

‘Jungle’ said to be claiming barrier on 303

The in basket: Perry East e-mailed to say he’d “noticed that the large divider on Highway 303 (near McWilliams and Fairgrounds roads) is looking like the jungle is taking over – moss, grass and trees growing up and against. Has the state any plans for clean up of this?”

Perry’s inquiry came just a week after Paul Zellinsky of Bremerton asked me the same thing.

Paul was for 14 years a state representative here, and he said he contacted old friend Mary Margaret Haugen, now head of the Senate Transportation Committee, asking her to intercede to see that it is cleaned up.

The out basket: Duke Stryker, head of the state’s highway maintenance operation here, said he hasn’t had any expressions of interest in that barrier from Olympia or regional headquarters. But he had his maintenance supervisor visit the site after I asked and he agrees the barrier needs attention.

They’ll be getting to it as soon as they are done with pavement repair that requires a grinder, such as that on Wheaton Way, in Gorst and in Purdy, discussed in a recent Road Warrior column.

They have to share the grinder, which they rent from the city of Bremerton, he said, and it will be going to Clallam County when they are done here. So his crews are working nights and have a limited time (through June) to complete this summer’s dig out and replacement pavement repair. Later, they’ll do less intensive grader resurfacing.

I asked him if the demands of the awful winter of 2008-09 might have required cutbacks in aesthetic operations like cleanup of the center barriers on state highways the following summer. He said that’s a balancing act they do all the time, but he couldn’t say there was any necessary relationship between that winter and the barrier on 303.

Certainly safety work like renewing highway striping every years and preservation work like the pavement repair take precedence over cleanup jobs, he said.

I noticed there was some impressive vegetation along the jersey barrier farther north on 303, suggesting it was missed last year too.

Drains on Ridgetop kill a Suburban

The in basket: Beth Hill says there are at least two recessed drains on westbound Ridgetop Boulevard near its intersection with Silverdale Way that appear to have dropped down, three inches deep, she guesses.

“I drove over one and my car (a Suburban) hit it so hard it shut the engine off,” she said. “It was really a jolt.” Her car suffered no damage and restarted easily, she said, adding “The drains are near the shoulder but in the driving lane.”

The out basket: The county doesn’t see a problem. Dave Marquis, its utilities maintenance supervisor, said he drove Ridgetop Boulevard both east and westbound. “Most basins are at an ideal elevation,” he said. “There are a couple that may be close to 2 inches below the travel way, but they have a taper into the grate and are on the steeper portion of Ridgetop, which is needed in order to capture the water.

“It seems you would have to go out of your way and drive right next to the curb in order to hit any of them,” he said. “I see no problem with any of the basins in this area.”

I drove it after Beth called and I think I know which two drains she means. They are on a flat stretch of Ridgetop and could be leveler, but I have to agreed with Dave that a person would have to be driving unusually fast unusually close to the curb to get jolted very hard even at those two.

Odd strip of new pavement on Wheaton Way

The in basket: I was intrigued by an odd paving project done on Wheaton Way north of Sheridan Road the week of June 14. It was a continuous narrow strip of new asphalt after the old was dug out, running north from in front of Albertson’s in the northbound outer lane.

The state’s project information list said it would run all the way to the city limits at Riddell Road and all the way back to Sheridan. I wondered what on earth required it. It looked like perhaps some past utility trench wasn’t repaired correctly.

The out basket: The project list description was misleading, as the dig-outs and pavement replacement took on the more familiar intermittent pattern after it got north of Sylvan Way. Only a few places were patched in the southbound direction, once again near the curb.

Duke Stryker, head of maintenance operations for state highways in Kitsap and Mason counties, said the street, which to the state is Highway 303, was identified as a trouble spot in their annual spring review in which a state materials engineer drives state highways with local maintenance crews to plan the year’s pavement repair.

Duke said the outer wheel rut carved by millions of cars over the years, worsened by water accumulating against the curb, caused the deterioration. The three wheel ruts farther from the curb didn’t have the excess water to worsen the wear. The outer rut pavement was badly “alligatored” and needed replacement, he said. .

It took them a week. This week (June 21) the crews are doing similar work on Highway 3 in Gorst. Tuesday and Wednesday, they’ll be closing the Purdy Bridge at the east end of Highway 302 to repave it. The Gorst and Purdy work will be done at night. Purdy traffic will be detoured via Pine Road and other local streets during the closures.

Who cleans up pavement after a crash?

The in basket: Bill Dagsaan called to ask who is responsible for cleaning broken glass and other debris from the roadway after a collision.

There was an accident on Warren Avenue in Bremerton between Sixth and 11th streets early in early June and there was still a lot of glass on the pavement after the emergency vehicles left, Bill said.

“I felt it was a hazard to passing traffic,” he said.

The out basket: Lt. Pete Fisher of the Bremerton police traffic division says the state administrative code (WAC) includes s section saying, “Tow truck operators are required to clean collision/incident scenes of all vehicle glass, debris, and vehicle liquid spills of one gallon or less.”

“If a spill is bigger,” Pete said, “then we call the fire department or street department.  If it is small debris and does not impact traffic and or safety, the officer will have CenCom contact the street sweeper to go

through the area.”

The on-scene officer is charged with seeing that it gets done, he said.

State Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton detachment says tow truck drivers are usually the ones who clean up state highway scenes, but the state

Department of Transportation sometimes does it or helps.

Bike lanes on Olalla-Valley Road a long way off

The in basket: Heidi Bennett says Olalla Valley Road in South Kitsap “is extremely popular with bicyclists all year long. It looks to be a fine ride with few hills, so it is no wonder,” she said.

“I’ve often wanted to ride/walk it. However, Olalla Valley has very little to no shoulders at all.  Has the county considered building a bike lane, or at the very least, some decent shoulders?

“I’m sure it would be much appreciated by bicyclists, walkers, and motorists alike,” she said.

The out basket: Nothing like that is being planned anytime soon, says Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works, citing the county’s six-year road plan.

The county bicycle plan does mention Olalla Valley Road, but lists the adding of bike lanes there as the 63rd priority out of 127 potential projects.

It’s shown on the bike plan map as part of the Beach Drive bike trail, proceeding past Manchester via Colchester and Southworth drives, then Banner Road, and continues on to the Pierce County line after Olalla-Valley Road becomes Crescent Valley Road.

Regulating skate boards on public roads

The in basket: An Olalla woman who wants to go by only H.B. writes to ask about the legal status of the many teenagers she has seen long-boarding on the public roads.

“Usually the teenagers are riding down the center of the lane (with or without helmets) and weaving to pick up speed.  Of particular concern to me is the fact that they are also riding down very steep hills, such as the one on Forsman Road.

She worries about one of them wiping out and falling into the path of her car, she said.

“I have no problem sharing the roads with bicycles and pedestrians (who have the ability to brake and stop), but this use seems particularly risky, especially considering the poor girl in Silverdale who recently had the brain injury due to a longboarding accident.  “Is this legal?” H.B asked. “If not, is there enforcement?”

The out basket: Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County sheriff, says skateboarders are regarded as pedestrians and must comply with laws governing pedestrians.

That includes riding toward oncoming traffic, not in the same direction, and staying as close as manageable to the left side of their lane.

“Skateboarding on roadways has been a safety concern with cops for more than 40 years, going back to the 1963 record release of ‘Sidewalk Surfin’ ‘ by Jan & Dean.  With each generation the clarion call of the skateboard thrill beckons for many.”

He called H. B.’s concerns “not only valid, but validated many times over with critical and fatal injuries sustained by those using skateboards on roadways.

“Fortunately there are now skate parks established and in use in various areas around the county.  Unfortunately, many skateboarders still want the added thrill of the open road.

He quoted the state law’s definition of a pedestrian as “any person who is afoot or who is using a wheelchair, a power wheelchair, or a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.

“To break it down into its most basic components,” Scott said:

“Where sidewalks are provided it is unlawful for a pedestrian (skateboarder) to move along and upon a roadway.

“Where sidewalks are not provided a pedestrian (skateboarder) moving along and upon a roadway shall, when practicable, move only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.

“Those on skateboards must yield to pedestrians on foot.

“A violation of these (rules) could result in the issuance of a notice of infraction to the offender.

“(State law) and county code does not address the issue of safety helmets for those using skateboards.  However, I think that we all realize the necessity of this valuable piece of safety equipment,” Scott concluded.

Washouts in Bremerton, North Mason to be repaired


The in basket: Gary Reed asked on the Road Warrior blog at what the plans are for repairing the washout on old Wheaton Way near East 18th Street in Bremerton, one victim of the infamous December 2007 deluge. Since then concrete barrier has sealed off the steep embankment at that site and traffic lanes have been narrowed and moved away from it. 

While I was inquiring, I asked about yet another washout from that storm, which has reduced Sand Hill Road in North Mason County to a single lane past the same kind of concrete barriers. 

The out basket: Larry Matel of the city of Bremerton street engineers and Mason County engineer Bob Thuring say both their jurisdictions are awaiting bureaucratic approval to get the repair done this year. 

Larry says the plans for their repair were submitted to the state Department of Transportation this spring, and “final construction will be determined based upon the time frame of the state to review plans and approve construction funding.  We are hopeful for construction this summer season.”

Bob’s reply nearly echoed Larry’s. “We have a complete design and have acquired the easements from (the state Department of Natural Resources) for construction.  We are currently working on getting approval of our right of way plan through the state department of transportation.  At that point WSDOT will release the construction funding and we can advertise the project.  I really hate to speculate on how long that process will take but we plan to build the project this summer/fall.

The state must approve the work because it administers federal “pass-through” money such as will pay for most of the work.

HOT lane components on SR167 create curiosity


The in basket: William Smith of Allyn writes, “I recently traveled the toll section of Highway 167 and noticed an overhead sensor over the non-toll lane as well as over the HOT lane. For what purpose is the sensor over the non-toll lane?  

“Also,” he said, “I assume that crossing over the double white lines in this area is subject to the $450 fine, similar to crossing the gore lines at the highway 3-304 connection south of Bremerton.”

The out basket: The white lines separating the HOT lanes from the all-purpose lanes are among those it is illegal to cross, as the signs along that highway make clear. The State Patrol calls it failure to obey a regulatory sign, which carries the same $124 fine as misusing the HOT lane itself. The fine for crossing the white gore lines can be $411, not $450.

The intermittent dotted lines that interrupt the solid white line on Highway 167 are where it’s legal to cross back and forth. 

The overhead sensors in the lane adjacent to the HOT lane helps confirm the lane being used by any given vehicle, says Patricia Michaud of the state’s toll division.

“The sensors … help confirm whether a car is in the HOT lane or not,” she said. “It helps ensure the system is properly identifying which cars are and aren’t in the HOT lane. 

“For example,” she said, “without the second sensor verification,  a vehicle leaving the HOT lane or straddling between the toll and non-toll lane could be mistakenly identified as in the HOT lane.”

For those unfamiliar with the idea of HOT lanes and/or Highway 167, a freeway between Renton and Auburn east of the Sound, they are HOV lanes that single occupant vehicles can pay to use.

The toll ranges from 50 cents to $9. The toll “algorithm,” as the state calls it, recently was changed to make it less common for the toll to rise to $9.

“Tolls reached $9 too often in summer 2008 so we adjusted the algorithm in October 2008 ,” Patricia said. “We haven’t made any further changes to it and it’s hard to predict the rates.” 

In the wee hours, when traffic is light, anyone can use the HOT lanes at no charge. The toll mounts with the level of congestion to limit use of the HOT lanes and keep traffic in them moving at around 50 mph. After the toll has hit $9, the lanes become available only to vehicles with two or more occupants, and motorcycles, each of which can use the HOT lanes at all times without paying anything.

Tolls are collected via the same Good to Go! transponders that collect tolls at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. They can be shielded to avoid a toll when one has one or more passengers and can use the HOV lanes at no charge. 

Details and a lot more information can be found online. The address is way too long and complicated to reproduce here. Just use Google or one of its competitors and ask for “SR167 HOT lanes.”

“The HOT lanes are helping reduce congestion, which is the purpose of this project,” Patricia said. “Speeds have increased in the general purpose lanes by 20 percent and the HOT lanes by 5 percent during the peak-period in the peak direction.”