Monthly Archives: July 2010

Two-hour parking going unused on Charleston Beach Road

The in basket: Elizabeth Clark of Navy Yard City says, “On the east end of Charleston Beach Road in Navy Yard City, there are a few dozen parking spaces that are listed as two hours only.

“It’s clear that they don’t want shipyard workers parking here but it seems like a major waste of space since I very rarely see any cars parked there and the local businesses seem to have ample spaces of there own.  Why so many usable spaces sitting empty when there is such a parking shortage on base?

The out basket: As Brynn Grimley of the paper’s reporting staff wrote a year ago, the county restricted the parking after some business owners complained that customers had trouble finding a place for their cars because shipyard workers were using them all day.

It’s a familiar story in Bremerton, where shipyard employees (and college students) are always on the lookout for free all-day parking and the city tries to craft parking limits that leave spaces available for businesses and home owners.

But Charleston Beach Road is just outside the city limits, so the county has the say there.

And it may be asked to make some changes, because the two-hour spaces at one end of the road aren’t getting much use and the unlimited spaces at the other end are getting too much.

Rick Cordova at Westbay Auto Parts says it appears the word has spread about the availability of the free parking at their end of Charleston Beach Road. Increasingly their employees have to park on site, cutting into customer parking.

Jim Civilla, higher up in the Westbay hierarchy, made some inquiries just last week about whatever became of assurances he felt they got from Bremerton officials when the city’s Gateway project eliminated all parking along the highway that they would still have on-street parking for their employes on the county road.

And Chris Miller of Miller Sheet Metal next door agrees, saying the city should stay interested and involved in the issue, as it was the city project that made all the changes..

But it was all the two-hour parking at the other end of the road that  Elizabeth asked about .

Bryan Schoening of Cliff’s Cycle Center, the closest business to the two-hour spaces, says he’d like to see them retained, at least during business hours.

His business lost multiple spaces in front to the highway project and the public two-hour spaces take some of the sting out of that.

It wasn’t simply a matter of shipyard workers filling the spaces all day, he said. Many vehicles stayed in the same spot for days or weeks, and trash accumulated near them.

In two visits to the road, I found only one vehicle in any of the 50 or so two-hour spaces at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday and 1:30 p.m. on a Saturday, confirming what Elizabeth says she sees.

If those Charleston Beach businesses being impacted by shipyard parking seek some redress from the county, I’m sure the distribution and number of two-hour spaces will be an issue.

Puzzling repaving job between Bremerton and Silverdale

The in basket: I was puzzled by the paving job done this summer in both directions of Highway 3 between Highway 304 and Newberry Hill Road.

I had a pretty good idea why only the outside lanes were done, but I couldn’t figure out why there was about a mile and a quarter distance between the beginning of the new pavement in one direction and the end of the work in the opposite direction, on both ends.

Or perhaps, I thought, the project isn’t done, and the inside lane work still is coming. The white lines looked temporary.

The out basket: The project is done, says Project Engineer Jerry Moore, except for the finished striping, now that the contractor replaced a stretch of new pavement in the northbound lanes near Kitsap Way that didn’t compact to state specifications. The contactor bore the cost.

Scott Vanderstaay of the project design office said that , as I suspected, only the outside lanes were done because the inside lanes were in good shape. The outside lanes are where the heavy trucks are driven, increasing the wear. Jerry said the inside lanes may last the 15 years or so before the outside lanes need doing again.

The deviation in where the work started and stopped in the opposite directions was  a matter of doing the most with the money available, said Scott.

“With preservation dollars the way they are,” he said, “we wanted to address the worst lane miles we had out there. We went out with the materials engineers and maintenance office and located the sections both northbound and southbound that basically were in the worst shape.”

It was pure coincidence that those sections began and ended about a mile and a quarter apart in the two directions, he said.

What they weren’t able to repave will fall to the maintenance division to keep up in coming years, so they were trying to minimize those maintenance expenditures.


Silverdale Way repaving still coming

The in basket: Lee Hanson wonders what became of plans to permanently repair Silverdale Way near Carlton Street, where a water main break last fall produced a rough temporary patch.

The last he (and I) had heard, Silverdale Water District was doing temporary repairs as needed at Kitsap County’s direction until the district was ready to replace some aging water mains in that area this summer, after which a permanent repaving would be done.

The out basket: Work will begin soon, says General Manager Morgan Johnson of the water district.

They didn’t want to have the road torn up during last weekend’s Whaling Days, he said, but the contractor they have chosen for the $195,000 project, Liden Land Development, has been busy elsewhere. So it may begin the first week in August. He hopes it will be complete by the end of August, before school starts, Morgan said.

It means the street will be torn up during the Kitsap County Fair, he said, but if the county approves, Liden will do the work at night, minimizing that impact. They’ll be digging on one side of the road or the other between Lowell Street and Anderson Hill Road.

Limit on exiting HOT lanes perplexes driver

The in basket: Don Wagner read the Road Warrior column about regulations on the HOT lanes on Highway 167 between Renton and Auburn and said he didn’t understand why crossing out of those lanes into the general purpose lanes should be restricted.

It makes sense to limit entering the HOT lanes to certain spots (designated by dashed interruptions in the double white line), since toll collection is by electronic reader at those spots, he said.

But he often feels pressed in those lanes by drivers wanting to go faster than the speed limit, which he observes, and getting out of there way is illegal except at the dashed lines.

The out basket: As I suspected, it’s done for consistency and enforcement.

Patricia Michaud of the GoodtoGo! office that administers toll collection there, says, “The no-double-crossing out of the HOT lane is about being consistent and predictable. The consistency adds predictability for drivers to help

prevent collisions. It would also be a difficult getting the message to

drivers that crossing the double-white line in one direction is okay but

illegal in the other direction. This helps State Patrol with their

enforcement, as well.

Why so many workers on road project?

The in basket: The over-staffed road project, commonly symbolized by someone leaning on a shovel, is so much a part of modern lore that I wasn’t surprised when my wife, The Judybaker, came home one recent day and said she’d seen it again at Mile Hill Drive and Woods Road, near our home.

When I drove past the crew twice in the next few days, I noticed that they were replacing the worn turn arrows, stop bars and crosswalk lines at Woods and Long Lake roads. Sure enough, there were six employees both times, and two or three didn’t seem to be doing anything at that moment.

They were Kitsap County crews, and I asked what the job assignments were and what required six people.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, supplies the answer:

“Our markings crew is made up of one permanent employee, and five to seven participants in our college summer help program,” he said, referring me to the online site to learn more about it. Among the information is that there are 55 such jobs paying between $9.47 and $12.87 an hour.

“We no longer use painted markings,” Jeff continued. “All of our arrows, crosswalks, and stop lines are now applied with a durable material called thermoplastic.  Thermoplastic markings last longer than paint. The end result is less frequent maintenance. It stands up to traffic much better.

“The application process for the thermoplastic is totally different then the painting process. The process is labor-intensive and we look for ways to maximize the potential of each work crew.

“At large multi-lane intersections, we commonly use six employees and two work vehicles to replace pavement markings.  During the set-up phase, two to three employees use one vehicle to set up traffic control signs. The remaining employees use the other vehicle to ‘cone off’ traffic lanes and turn the traffic signal to an all-way stop flashing red.

“The employees remain in two groups.  One group  uses a grinder to remove the old markings. As they are doing that, the second group is marking out and installing the new thermoplastic marking.  This allows the crew to work at different legs of the intersection and limit the amount of time the intersection is ‘down.’

“We use four torches to pre-heat the asphalt and melt the thermoplastic markings on the asphalt.  It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for traffic to drive on it.

“There may be times when staff are not physically doing something.  We have a very good crew leader who orchestrates tasks to get the most from his crew.  Because these operations are so labor intensive we utilize the summer help staff. Their level of experience varies, and they are learning techniques ‘on-the-job”.’ which can limit the efficiency at times.

“There sometimes is a lag as the first group grinds and the second groups waits for that spot to be ready for application. Most intersections have several different markings that need application, and two groups seem to get the most production from the crew. That being said, we are using the information you provided to help us analyze  how we do things and see if there is a better approach to this type of work.”

Using a disabled placard when its owner stays in the car

The in basket:  Mechelle Finklein says she ran into unexpected trouble July 1 trying to use her mother’s disabled placard while driving her on errands.

“I used a disabled spot in front of a business in the Fred Meyer

parking lot,” Michelle said. “My mother decided not to get out of the car, as it would

take more time for me to get her walker out and for her to

get in the business then it would be for me to drop off what I needed

for her.

“A volunteer Port Orchard officer (whom she described as “very kind”) pulled up behind my car and asked to see a permit, so my mother got it out and showed it to

him.  When I came out of the business, he talked to me. He said

there  was a fine for parking in a disabled spot if the driver of the

car was not the disabled person.  He said they were designed  for the

driver of the car, not because the driver was driving some one that

was disabled.

“The  officer also said that I could park in front of a business to get my mom

out of the car and LEAVE her there and

move my car to a regular parking spot,  then when she was

finished with her errand, I could LEAVE her standing at the door and go

move my car to the front of the business, put her in the car and

leave the parking lot   Sorry, but I’m not leaving my 88-year old

mother anywhere that she may not be safe.

“If this is really the law,

people need to be told and the law needs to be changed for the

convenience of the disabled. If my mother not getting out of the car

caused the violation, then people  need to be informed of that


The out basket: I told Mechelle that I didn’t think the officer was spot on in what she understood him to say about the law, but that he was fully justified in contacting her.

As I’ve long understood it, her problem wasn’t that the driver of the car wasn’t disabled, but that the disabled person to whom the placard was issued didn’t need the closer proximity to the business, because she stayed in the car.

Though it happened in Port Orchard, I contacted Deputy Schon Montague of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, who has taken over from the retired Deputy Pete Ball in supervising the county’s volunteer disabled parking patrol officers.

While noting that it was a Port Orchard incident, he described the rules that govern his volunteers and his reading of the law.

“I know that a person without a disability can drive and park in a

handicapped spot and take a handicapped passenger into the store using

the passenger’s placard,” he said.

“You can do this because of a transference

of authority from the handicapped person to you.  If they were driving,

they would have used it but if you drive for them they still need to

walk that shorter distance if you don’t want to drop them off at the

front door.

“However, in this case the handicapped person was not really

using the authority of the placard because she was not getting out of

the car.  So there was no transfer of authority to the non-disabled


“Long story short I agree with you and the Port Orchard


How’s a driver to know he’s entering that school zone?

The in basket: Jim Cole writes that the school zone on Sedgwick Road at Converse Avenue in South Kitsap is an unfair speed trap for those on Converse.

“While driving west on Sedgwick,  I noticed a sheriff parked in a driveway just past Converse,” he said back in late May.  “The school zone lights were flashing on Sedgwick. OK, 20 mph.

“A car pulled out of Converse and turned left towards Bethel. I noticed in my mirror the sheriff pulled out, lights on, behind the car that just turned left out of Converse. I thought to myself, I don’t think there’s flashing lights on Converse approaching the intersection.

“Later in the week,” Jim continued, “I traveled Converse and, sure enough, there is an ‘end of school zone’ sign (at the end of the school zone at the school itself) but no warning that you are approaching another school zone at Sedgwick.  The flashing lights for Sedgwick face east and west and are not visible from Converse.

“I though to myself  “If this isn’t a trap what is.  It’s certainly unfair that our citizens may be sited for a zone that is unmarked on Converse.”

The out basket: A newcomer to the area wouldn’t know about  the school zone he’s approaching when northbound on Converse, and even someone aware of the zone wouldn’t know whether the signs’ lights were flashing or not.

There’s no way of knowing why the sheriff’s deputy Jim saw made the stop. It could have been anything from expired tabs to rolling through the stop sign to peeling out dangerously to the car’s having been stolen.

I suggested to Jim that a driver would really have to step on it to be over 20 mph before reaching the end of the Sedgwick school zone, but he didn’t buy it. He tested it and at his suggestion, I did too, and I found it’s easy to be at 30 mph from a standing and turning start at Converse while still in the zone.

There used to be a comparable situation on Finn Hill Road at Rhododendron Lane in North Kitsap, near Vinland Elementary. County public works removed it at the sheriff’s office request because it would have needed some further improvement to be enforced, Doug Bear of public works said.

Anyway, here is what two law enforcement agencies most likely to be patrolling Sedgwick Road have to say about the Sedgwick zone.

From Krista Hedstrom, spokesman for Washington State Patrol in Bremerton:

“It is up to drivers to be aware of the speed limits on the roads they drive, and if they do not know, they should drive at a reasonable safe speed until they see a speed limit sign.

“Most school zones are clearly marked and most drivers are aware that they are in one – especially when yellow lights are flashing.  If a driver was stopped and they explained that they had pulled out of a side street and did not see a sign, I would take that into consideration when choosing whether or not to issue an infraction.

“That does not necessarily mean that lack of knowledge is an excuse for getting out of a ticket, but it is good information to know and can always be used to determine if there is a location that is better suited for the posting of a speed limit sign.”

From Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office: “For this specific situation, the issue of ‘speeding’ in a school zone is not enforceable.

“A law enforcement officer must witness a vehicle exceeding the posted speed limit in a school zone after the vehicle passes a school zone warning sign.

“Traffic enforcement officers in the sheriff’s office are aware of this particular intersection and the fact that the specific situation indicated above is not enforceable.  They also are aware of and remember the similar situation on NW Finn Hill Road.”

There’s hope for a change at Burwell & Warren

The in basket: A lot of people use the time they spend sitting at the red light on eastbound Burwell Street at Warren Avenue in Bremerton wondering why they have to sit there. The inside lane, dedicated to those wanting to turn left onto Warren, obviously must be stopped while westbound Burwell traffic has the green light. But the only conflict with those in the outside lane, who can only go straight,  is the extremely rare car turning left into a parking lot there.

Jeff David and H.W. Slach are among those to write saying those infrequent left turns could be made to yield to oncoming traffic – or be prohibited altogether – so the eastbound Burwell traffic could have a green light and wouldn’t have to wait for both lanes to get a green light.

Jeff said, “If the curb lane was given a green light eastbound (make the center lane left-only to East Bremerton and make it red), while the ferry traffic is going west, it would move more traffic to the ferry and downtown.

“I have watched the eastbound traffic and very few go straight in the center lane,” he said. “I am sure our city light engineers could make the light changes.”

The out basket: Back last fall, Project Engineer Brenden Clarke of the state’s downtown ferry tunnel project said they tried that, but two years of nothing but left turns from both lanes while the tunnel was being built had created some driver expectations that created collision hazards.

I asked if the passage of time might make it safer now to let that outside eastbound lane go when westbound traffic has the green light, and he said the tunnel has been finished long enough that’s now the city of Bremerton’s call.

And the city might do it, but only as part of broader review. It has a downtown traffic study coming up that might result in some changed traffic flows – making Fourth Street one-way eastbound is the change most often mentioned.

The study won’t deal with Burwell, but city street engineer Larry Matel says, “The city does have a modest amount of funds in our budget that could be used for traffic signal optimization in the Burwell corridor from downtown to Callow and on to Highway 3.

“This effort would be outside of the current downtown effort and would most likely begin after the downtown effort is completed, probably this fall.”

Ticketing roaring motorcycles

The in basket: Steve Bartel of Port Orchard e-mailed to complain, “I have written to you several times over the past few years regarding illegal exhaust systems on motorcycles.

“The sheriff department says there is nothing they can do,” he said. “I think they just choose to ignore this problem, not get involved.

Automobiles are required to maintain certain noise levels regarding exhaust sounds…e.g. removing mufflers on a car will usually get the driver a ticket for noise violation.

“But motorcycle owners do this all the time,” he said. “They deliberately remove the stock mufflers, and put on pipes that even make the bike louder.

“We have many bikes that go past our house all day long…..and the racket from these straight pipes is very annoying.

“I am a bike owner myself,” he said, “and my motorcycle retains the original factory exhaust. I think there should be a law regarding this violation of noise level standards.

“The big Harley twin bikes are the worst offenders,” Steve said. “The Harley riders have a saying…’Loud pipes save lives.’ I disagree, loud pipes just annoy everyone not on the bike.”

The out basket: Equipment complaints, mostly about sound and too bright head lights, have been the hardest to draw a bead on during my years of writing Road Warrior. Proving a violation is harder than with many offenses, I think.

But there is a law, and it is enforced, though an oral warning is the most common result, Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton State Patrol office, tells me.

“In 2008 statewide, troopers stopped 5,952 vehicles/motorcycles for exhaust violations,” she said. “Of those stops, 726 of those stops resulted in infractions being issued (and) 1,220 received a written warning to get the problem fixed. In 2008 in Kitsap County, there were 176 stops made, 31 infractions issued and 13 written warnings.

Generally, original equipment, however loud or, in the case of headlights, however bright, meets federal standards and is legal.

The state law on motorcycle exhaust systems, RCW 46.37.537, reads, “No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motorcycle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the engine of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle, and it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motorcycle not equipped as required by this section, or which has been amplified as prohibited by this section.”

Mike Dalgaard of Full Throttle magazine, a motorcycling publication, adds, “Most foreign bikes are much quieter than the American V-Twins. The varying engine technology accounts for part of that.

“Then you have the ‘after market’ pipes. Generally speaking they make the bike louder but they also make it more efficient and it runs cooler.

“Harley, Victory and other American made V-Twins are favored by many for their ability to be personalized. This includes pipes.

“In all candor,” Mike said, ” many do exceed the legal noise limits. Bikers like to say, ‘Loud pipes save lives,’ as you will know where they are by the sound.

“On freeways and highways, they are not offensive. Some, however, do take exception to riders blasting through a residential neighborhood at 2 a.m.. I know I do. Most riders with these type pipes take it easy under this type of condition but you always have a few morons who think irritating others is cool.”

Some highway philosophizing

The in basket: I just came across an e-mail exchange between Jim Mills and myself from way back last fall, and decided it would be worth using as a column.

Jim wrote, “The biggest traffic problem in Kitsap County is just simply poor driving habits.  If we could somehow institute a massive driver re-education program, maybe we could make some progress when it comes to traffic congestion..

“The average driver in western Washington,” Jim asserted, “speeds up for red lights, but slows down for green lights.  They have no idea what turn signals are used for. They will not turn right on a red light unless there’s a sign which says ‘no turn on red’.  Driving at a constant speed must be a lost skill as well.

“They merge onto the freeway at 35 miles an hour,” he said, “then immediately move out to the passing lane where they drive 5 mph under the speed limit.  Is there some unwritten rule which states we must always drive 5 mph under the posted speed limit?  They exit the freeway in the same manner they enter.  They slow down to off-ramp speed a mile short of the desired exit.”

The out basket: My reply:

“Well, Jim, I don’t share your view of the ‘average Western Washington driver.’

“The only place I find drivers doing 5 under too often is on Highway 166 between Port Orchard and Gorst. Many of your complaints result from the first car in a long line doing what you see and everyone else being stuck behind the first driver, for example, not turning on red, driving under the speed limit and merging too slowly on an on-ramp.

“It’s funny you didn’t include drivers who won’t get out of the passing lane, which I see more often than any of your complaints, though I also don’t have much trouble getting around them.

“If I could personally instruct all other drivers,” I said, “I would make sure they know that:

– Stopping at a traffic signal in the right lane traps would-be right turners on red behind them

– Leaving more than three seconds gap between them and the car ahead at a green light can cause the light to change to red right after they get through.

– They don’t have to stop for a school bus heading in the other direction if there is a lane between them.

– Traffic moves faster if they fill both lanes equally where one lane is about to end, rather than moving over early.

– Driving 3-8 miles per hour over the speed limit (depending on the location and definitely not in school zones) reduces conflict on the road.

“But, all in all,” I concluded, “I find driving to be fairly easy around here.”

If you wish to disagree with Jim or me, that’s what the comment function on this blog is for.