Monthly Archives: November 2010

Agate Pass Bridge called a ‘black hole”

The in basket: Richard Holl said in a March e-mail that the Agate Pass Bridge in North Kitsap needs better lighting.

“At night the bridge becomes a black hole that absorbs light,” he said.” All you can see is the oncoming lights of the cars  coming at you. You can’t see the sides, the center line, the bridge walkway. Nothing.”

“God forbid if anyone sticks their arm out from the walkway. All a driver can do is aim for the middle of the blackness on their side of the road and hope for the best. Maybe you can see better  if there is no oncoming traffic but I couldn’t tell you the last time I crossed that bridge at night when there was no oncoming traffic,” Richard said.

“Contrast that to the new (Greaves Way in Silverdale) where there is very little traffic. I bet you can see that road from space at night. If you roped the road off, you could play a ball game under those lights.

“I know they are different projects and different funds, yada, yada, yada but what the hell ever happened to a little common sense?”

The out basket: Steve Bennett, the traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region replies, “The standards for lighting on a bridge state the bridge should be lit at the same level as the rest of the corridor.  As there is not continuous lighting on the corridor, there is no requirement for lighting on the bridge.

“We also checked the collision rate on the bridge and found that in the last 11 years almost 90 percent of the collisions occurred in the daytime and it is not clear that any of the  night time collisions would have been prevented with the addition of lighting.

“Of the twelve collisions that occurred at dawn/dusk/night, eight were rear end collisions,” Steve said. “It is unlikely that night-time lighting would have helped prevent these because the brake lights of cars tend to show up better without overhead lighting.

“An additional three crashes occurred because drivers lost control of their vehicle and struck the bridge rail,” he said.

New railing on Warren Avenue Bridge is panned

The in basket: Four readers have commented on an earlier column on the Road Warrior blog at, about the raising of the railings on the Warren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton. All said the work, being done at night, is a waste of money.

Gary Reed was the first, saying, “It appears the upgrade to the bridge is to install new barriers that are 4 inches taller than the old. Seems a colossal waste of money when the budget is supposedly so tight. The money could have been spent to repair the bridge deck. It’s projects like this that make me believe the wailing for more taxes is unfounded, and the state has a surplus,” he said.

You can see the other three similar comments on the blog.

The out basket: It might not change their minds, but the commenters probably are reacting to what they can see so far, rather than the finished project.

Jeff Cook, the project engineer, says crews so far have only replaced some of the concrete barriers separating pedestrian and vehicle traffic with others that are actually only three inches taller, not four. That railing now is a patchwork of old and new concrete.

Yet to come, Jeff said, are metal railings atop the new concrete, and extensions to be bolted to the outside railings, raising them. When it’s complete, both barriers on each side of the bridge will be four-feet-six-inches tall.

I asked him for the rationale behind this and other similar bridge jobs around the nation, and he said, ” The drive behind the project comes down to simply this: safety.  Safety for errant vehicles, safety for pedestrians and bicyclists using the sidewalk.”

The actual price tag is $1,169,746.97. Federal money provides 98 percent of it, Jeff said.

As for the condition of the bridge deck, you can see what state officials have to say about that in a Road Warrior column on the blog dated June 23 of this year.

Driver worries about Phillips Road stop bars

The in basket: Lorrie Kalmbach-Ehlers writes to say, “I cross Sedgwick Road on Phillips Road in (South Kitsap) daily and can’t understand why they marked the stop lines so far back on Phillips Road.

“Coming south to north, there is no way to see eastbound traffic sufficiently on Sedgwick unless you are in an F350 or

something as tall,” she said. “Crossing north to south, the bank to the left is so high you can’t see

around it to safely observe east to west traffic on

Sedgwick without almost putting yourself into that same mentioned traffic.  It’s very unsafe and

daily makes me wonder when someone is going to get

killed there.”

The out basket: I discovered when I checked Lorrie’s complaint that the stop bars on Phillips are farther back than almost all others on Sedgwick, and that there is a wide variation in where stop bars on Sedgwick’s crossroads are, relative to their stop signs.

But I also had to tell her that it shouldn’t be a problem, as there is enough room in front of the stop bars for a driver to edge ahead until she or he can see approaching traffic on Sedgwick.

State law requires a stop at the stop bar, but there is nothing to prevent a driver from stopping again when far enough forward to see better.

In actuality, I think I must ignore the stop bars except at traffic signals, as that is where the in-pavement vehicle detectors will detect me. Elsewhere, I just stop where I have the best view of oncoming vehicles without having the nose of my car in their way.

Brenden Clarke was the project engineer on the recent Sedgwick safety project that revised the Phillips Road intersection. Brenden has moved on, but his successor, Jeff Cook, explains why the bars are where they are.

He said their locations are to prevent interference with vehicles coming from the left-turn pockets on Sedgwick. “The models used for the turning movements include SUVs and school buses,” he added.

Of course, drivers like me who edge forward to improve their view of on-coming traffic will be in the way of those turners anyway, but at least the stop bars seek to minimize that conflict.