The in basket: Pat Davison of Bremerton writes, “Being a stickler for accuracy, I recently noticed that the mileage markers on Highway 16 are WAY off!
“Leaving I-5, headed towards Bremerton, milepost 5 is just before you cross the Narrows Bridge and 3/4 of the way across the bridge, the next post is milepost 8! Therefore, approximate difference between the actual mileage and posted mileage is off by about 2 1/4 miles all the way to Gorst!
“I know it may not seem like such a big deal to some,” said Pat, “but I just thought I’d let you know of this discrepancy.
The out basket: This was first brought to my attention in 1996, the first year the Road Warrior column appeared in The Sun. And there’s an explanation.
After Highway 16 was established, its route was changed several times on the Tacoma side. It used to follow various city streets, then Bantz Boulevard past Cheney Stadium comprised the bulk of it, and finally it was a continuous freeway from I-5. That all made it shorter, and ultimately it was 2.2 miles shorter than it used to be.
Since all the state’s accident reports and various other records rely on the milepost to identify where something occurred or was done, changing the location of all the mileposts from the bridge north would have led to mass confusion in interpreting those records. So they absorbed the missing 2.2 miles at the bridge, leaving the mileposts elsewhere where they were.
Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways, hasn’t been around long enough to know whether it was was done in one move or in stages, but he guesses it was a one-time change made in the 1970s.
The mileposts are shown at each even mile by a short green sign on the highway’s shoulder, though various records break locations down by decimals, such at MP48.35, to identity a location to within a hundredth of a mile. The milepost is identical in both directions.