Monthly Archives: September 2010

Warren Avenue Bridge railings to be raised, and other jobs

The in basket: While I was visiting with State Project Engineer Jeff Cook and his assistant, Andy Larson recently, researching a column on Manette Bridge access, I learned of a couple of state projects I either had no idea were coming, or about which I lacked the most current information.

The out basket: As early as the week of Oct. 4, drivers on the Warren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton at night will find work under way to raise both the inside and outside railings on the bridge.

The railings will be the same height and both will be taller than they are now when the 42-working-day project is complete, they said.

The work will be done at night, to minimize complications from the fact that the Manette Bridge is subject to intermittent closures while its replacement is built.

“The barrier replacement is part of a larger effort to bring traffic barrier up to current standards,” Jeff said.

He also tells me work is progressing on putting nine cameras and three Highway Advisory Radio systems along Highway 3 between Poulsbo and the Hood Canal Bridge. When finished, people at home or with wi-fi in their vehicle will be able to see or hear whether traffic is backed up and how far should the bridge be closed to traffic.

Lastly, Andy and Jeff filled me in on next year’s cliff stabilization work, which they call “rock scaling,” on Highway 3 between Gorst and Bremerton.

Loose rock will be pried out by pry bars or via big air bags that will push the rock out when inflated, they said. They are similar to the air bags that lift collapsed slabs of buildings to rescue trapped people, Jeff said.

Andy said dowels will be inserted into other more stable rock to hold it in place as well as the metal curtain that will be draped over the cliff to  further prevent falling rock from getting into traffic. Similar screen can be seen on cliffs in Snoqualmie Pass and down by Aberdeen.

Sections of the center concrete barrier dividing the highway below the cliffs  will be removed and traffic moved toward the railroad tracks during the work, Andy said.

Stop signs a problem for revised Manette traffic flow, says reader

The in basket: Robin Henderson, a Manette resident, suggests some modifications to traffic flow in Manette to allow traffic to get through faster once the new Manette Bridge is finished and a roundabout is built on that end in place of the existing intersection.

“A lot of traffic across the bridge heads east up 11th to either Trenton or Perry,” he said. “Many folks headed to Brownsville or even Keyport use this route to avoid traffic.

With Shore Drive closed, “folks will  have to go up Harkins to Pitt then down Pitt to 11th with two stop signs to negotiate.  I suggested removing those two stop signs so that traffic can continue to flow uninterrupted to Trenton,” he said.

Shore Drive, which already is blocked, will remain closed to traffic coming off bridge because it is too steep to be served by the roundabout, eliminating the route taken previously by most traffic wanting to head out East 11th.

The existing stop signs would be repositioned to stop traffic on southbound Pitt and eastbound East 11th under his plan.

“I have already shared my ideas with (City Councilman) Adam Brockus, and I sent a link to this article to Jeff Cook, the states project engineer.  I was just wondering if you had any thoughts on the issue?  Do you ever drive through Manette?””

The out basket: I used to take this route weekly to reach a pickleball game in Illahee, until I decided it was just as fast and involved a lot less stopping and starting to go up around Dyes Inlet via Silverdale and double back.

Jeff Cook tells me he met Sept. 29 with Bremerton street officials and said they agreed to give Robin’s idea consideration. Having traffic proceeding through 90-degree turns without stopping raises some safety issues, and that could lead to thoughts of widening the turn radii, which might lead to right of way issues.

It’s one of two things bridge planners are being urged to change from current plans, he said. The other involves the designated detour through Manette to link East 11th and and Wheaton Way during next year’s four month closure of the existing bridge to complete the new one and the roundabout.

They are weighing objections to the designated detour, via Pitt and 14th Street, which some residents oppose, against an alternative, using Perry Avenue and 18th Street, which some Manette businesses fear will cost them most of their customers, he said.

In each case, “we want the most amount of people to be happy with what we do,” Jeff said.

Do blowouts on big trucks lead to citations?

The in basket: A reader called the Kitsap Sun newsroom the other day to ask if  commercial truck drivers are fined

when their tires blow out on the freeway, potentially causing an accident and littering the roadside. The reader, who didn’t leave a name, said a Sept. 22 wreck on Highway 3 at Newberry Hill Road brought the question to his mind.

The out basket: A driver might be fined if his rig is found to have tires that exceed wear standards, or otherwise fail to meet safe equipment standards, says Trooper Krista Hedstrom, spokeswoman for the local WSP detachment.

More likely, though, she said, “The commercial vehicle would be inspected and if an ‘out-of-service’ violation was noted the driver would be told the violation would need to be corrected prior to the vehicle being operated (again). Generally the carrier sends someone out to make the repair.

“The driver could be cited for any violation discovered. It’s a matter of officer discretion.  Our intent is to take appropriate enforcement and it would not be unusual to place a vehicle out-of-service and not issue a citation.  Enforcement is always based on a  case-by-case evaluation of the circumstances of the stop.”

I recall years ago seeing all the shards of tire lying along freeways and wondering where on earth the vehicles that shed the tires went. They were never disabled or overturned on the shoulder.

The truth of the matter finally came to me – they were dual tires on a semi and the truck could continue on the remaining one of the pair – when I happened to be behind a truck as one of its tires was shredding itself.

Motorcyclist finds dip in Highway 304 HOV lane

The in basket: Motorcyclist Charles Ryers called to say there’s a depression in the HOV lane on Highway 304 coming out of Bremerton that is unnoticed by motorists, whose tires straddle it when they pass, but “if you are riding a motorcycle, it’ll knock you teeth out.” He had back surgery in June, which magnified the jolt for him, he said.

The out basket: Lisa Copeland, spokesman for the Olympic Region of the state transportation department, thanked Charles for bringing it to their attention. “Our crews have gone out a couple of times to fix and monitor a sink hole,” she said. “I”m told it was the result of ‘shallow settlement’ and so we placed cold mix and will continue to keep an eye on it.”

Charles says it doesn’t look like a very long-lived repair and still leaves a dip, but a much less difficult one. And at least an approaching motorcyclist can see it coming now, as it’s a different color than the rest of the pavement.

Blind corner on SK’s Mountain View Drive

The in basket; Twyla Cottrell of Mountain View Road in South Kitsap has been trying for a long time to get a sign posted on her road that will be more alarming to speeding drivers.

There is almost no sight distance to the left  of cars coming from the direction of Collins Road at the driveway she shares with others, she said.  There is a yellow sign just around the corner reading “Limited Sight Distance” with “20 mph” below it, but the sign is routinely ignored, endangering anyone pulling out of their driveway. A neighbor has a horse trailer, which takes a while to get moving, she said.

She advises visitors who are leaving to turn right no matter which way they want to go, then double back if they wanted to go left, rather than take a chance that a car might come around the arcing curve as they pull out.

I advised her to get a parabolic mirror such as I see out on North Shore Road in Mason County where sight distance is short. They have put one up across the road from their driveway, she said, but it’s still a dangerous place.

She’d like a sign reading “Danger” or something that would get more drivers’ attention.

The out basket: I sat in her driveway for several minutes recently and noticed three things:

A. The mirror isn’t that much help and you’re lucky to get three seconds warning between when you see a car coming and its arrival.

B. There is very little traffic. Two minutes can go by without a car passing.

C. You can hear a car coming long before you can see it.

Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County, says there are other words they can use under federal guidelines, but neither “Danger” nor Hazard” are used. Even if they were, the sign would have to be the same advisory black-on-yellow as the Limited Sight Distance sign that’s already there.

“Hidden Driveways” used to be an approved message in such situations, he said, but the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices no longer authorizes its use. Studies showed it did nothing to change driver behavior, Jeff said.

He also said, “We use as few words as possible on the sign face to provide motorists with plenty of time to read and react to it. Too many words require smaller fonts making it difficulty reading and requiring drivers to focus more time reading than driving. We are seeing more and more signs in the MUTCD using symbols and eliminating words all together.

“We do not install or maintain warning signs at privately owned approaches,” he said. “Existing data shows these signs are not always understood, and do little to change motorists’ behavior. Placing too many warning signs tends to degrade the limited impact they have.”

I told Twyla she and her neighbors might appeal to the county commissioners. Beyond that, her advice about turning right seems sound, and I’d suggest turning off the vehicle radio and rolling down the driver-side window while waiting to turn, to improve audibility of oncoming traffic.

It’s a dark and stormy night, and you’re being pulled over…

The in basket: After Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer’s department shared in a Road Warrior column in mid-September its criteria for how much cop equipment is removed from a decommissioned KCSO patrol car before it is sold,  he rang me up to say one aspect of the issue had been overlooked.

The reader who raised the question and said he’s seen old police cars that still look too much like what they used to be, posited a situation where someone with evil intent might use such a car to pull over a vulnerable person in a remote area.

The out basket: The column didn’t address what a person might do when what appears to be a police vehicle is trying to get her or him to stop in an area that doesn’t seem safe, the sheriff said.

So he gave some advice. If you’re not sure it really is a police car for whatever reason or it’s a remote or unlit area, turn on your dome light and continue to somewhere you feel safer, he said. You also can turn on your flashers as you proceed. Don’t be reaching around the inside of your car, which can look like an attempt to grab a weapon or hide something illegal.

Don’t speed up, he said. If it is an officer, he or she might take you for trying to outrun the patrol car.

And if you have a cell phone, it’s charged and you’re not in a dead zone, call 9-1-1. They can tell you if an officer is trying to make a stop at that moment where you are.

Those no-shoulder-parking signs around Gorst

The in basket: I have been noticing the signs in Gorst forbidding shoulder parking for a distance heading north, and have the possibly mistaken impression their location and distance has changed from time to time. At present, there is one on the Port Orchard side of Gorst heading toward Bremerton and another in Gorst, saying you can’t park on the shoulder for the next three miles. That means to the first exit into Bremerton.

I asked Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the local State Patrol detachment if the distance of the prohibition was longer and the placement  of the signs different in the past. I also asked the reason for the restriction.

The out basket: She told me I HAD overlooked a sign forbidding shoulder parking in the other direction, where Highway 304 enters Highway 3 west of Bremerton, extending through Gorst. But otherwise she couldn’t recall or confirm that the signs ever were posted other than where they are now, or carried the prohibition farther north.

The reasons for it, she said, are the narrow shoulders and high traffic volume on Highway 3 between Bremerton and Gorst.

“It should be noted,” she added, “that we give a one-hour window before impounding a vehicle and have WSP communications attempt to contact the registered owner as well.”

Where’s Port Orchard, B&B customers wonder

The in basket: Kareen Stockton, who runs the Little Clam Bay Bed & Breakfast near Manchester in South Kitsap, says she has a beef with the state’s destination signs coming out of  Bremerton.

“I often have guests that come over to the peninsula on the Bremerton ferry,” she said. “A common complaint I hear from my guests is, ‘Why are there no signs from the Bremerton ferry directing people to Port Orchard?’  Even at the turn going south at Callow the sign directs drivers to Shelton, but does not include Port Orchard.

“I find this puzzling,” Kareen said, “especially since Port Orchard is the county seat.  Any chance of adding Port Orchard to the ‘Shelton sign’?   I am sure my guests are not the only ones who would benefit from this change.”

When I told her Little Clam Bay is closer to Manchester than Port Orchard, she added that as a complaint. There are no signs until well past the first two exits to Port Orchard as one approaches Sedgwick Road on Highway 16 to guide a person coming from Bremerton to Manchester, she said.

The out basket: We encountered this concern earlier this year, when Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Bennett of the state highway department explained why destination signs entering Highway 3 in Silverdale mention Shelton and not Tacoma. Tacoma isn’t on Highway 3 and Shelton is, he said.

As for Kareen’s complaint, Steve said, “We have no plans on changing the signing. Drivers have an obligation to know basically where they are going before they leave, as signing cannot be provided for every possible destination.

“From the Bremerton ferry, possible destinations  include Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island, Gorst, Port Orchard, Belfair and further away, Port Townsend and Sequim.  You can imagine the litany of signs that would be needed if all these destinations were signed.

“Shelton was chosen for the signs on (the highway from the Bremerton ferry) to give drivers a general idea how to get out of the city to head south.  After leaving Bremerton on Highway 3, drivers then encounter signs showing the way to Port Orchard, Tacoma, Belfair and Shelton. It seems to work well as we do not hear from folks saying they can’t find these cities after getting off the ferry.”

He didn’t say so, but federal standards limit the amount of information on signs at any given location to minimize the time drivers are looking away from traffic to read them.

As for Manchester, Steve says, “On major freeways like (Highway) 16, we do not sign for small unincorporated towns like Manchester, as the available sign space is taken up by larger towns and cities.

“We do however sign for these unincorporated towns, on smaller state highways, when space is available and the location meets our criteria. The criteria for signing to small unincorporated towns is that they must have either a post office or at least two motorist services such as food and a gas station.”

Manchester doesn’t do badly under those conditions. Manchester State Park is included on destination signs on both Highway 16 and Highway 160 (Sedgwick Road) and a sign on Highway 166 (Mile Hill Drive) in Port Orchard, though past downtown, tells how many miles it is to Manchester,

Kareen said she would have liked to see a more direct route signed than going all the way to Sedgwick and doubling back on Long (“very long,” she interjected) Lake Road.

Of course, there is always GPS, but Kareen can’t buy a break there either.

The county renamed her tiny street in 2008 from Montana Street to Jessica Way, because there is another stretch of Montana Street that doesn’t connect to hers. The GPS in my 2010 Prius, bought in January and presumable current, wanted to send me to Beaverton, Oregon, when I ask for Jessica Way. It takes me directly to her B&B when I ask for the old address on Montana Street, but when GPS tells me I’m there, the sign says Jessica Way, which turns out to be little more than a driveway. An unprepared person would drive on, figuring the GPS screwed up.

Ironically, Kareen tells me, she still getS mail from Kitsap County send to the Montana street address.

Is there a terrorist hunting permit?

The in basket: Laura, who prefers her last name stay unknown, wondered about a bumper-sticker sort of decal she saw on an SUV in Bremerton recently. It said it was a U.S. Terrorist Hunting Permit. Was it a joke or is there such a thing, she wondered. The SUV had a number of other hunting and gun-related stickers, she said.

The out basket: While she still was on the line, I Googled “U.S. Terrorist Hunting Permit” and found a Web site that was selling them. Another site offers a U.S. Terrorist Hunting License. A little entrepreneurship in each case, it’s clear, and certainly not any government-issued authorization to knock off people one suspects of being a terrorist.

I checked with Deputy Scott Wilson of Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office just to be sure and he agreed it’s a spoof. It’s the first he’d heard of it, he said.

Shoulders, not bike lanes, on new Manette Bridge

The in basket:  Alison Loris asked what I expected to be a simple question. Will the new Manette Bridge have bike lanes? Her husband commutes by bicycle, she said.

The out basket: I started to steer her to the state Web site on the project ( but checked first and found no mention of bike lanes.

That’s because there won’t be any specifically designated bike lanes, says Project Engineer Jeff Cook. But there will be five-foot-wide shoulders on each side, which will provide bicyclists with a place to ride separated from vehicle traffic.

There also will be a 12-foot-wide sidewalk on the same side as the sidewalk of the existing bridge, but it’s uncertain whether bicycles will be allowed there. The state defers to the city for that decision. City street engineering says there doesn’t appear to be any prohibition of bicycles using the sidewalk, but the city attorney has been asked for an opinion.

The vehicle lanes will be 11 feet wide, a foot narrower than those on the existing bridge.