“Local Traffic Only” signs are tough to enforce

The in basket:  Elaine Rogers, who lives on Polk Street near Manchester in South Kitsap, says she and her husband are elderly and disabled and hope the county will grade the road in front of their home so they can use their mobility scooters.

“We can’t get to our mailbox,” she said.

The out basket: When I drove their road, which is paved for a distance from California Avenue, then becomes little more than a wagon path as it goes on to Woods Road, I saw all the earmarks of an unimproved county road never accepted by the county and so not maintained to any degree.

And that is the case, say Doug Bear of Kitsap County public works and Jim Barnard of the Department of Community Development.

In the the past, the county would approve plats with only half the needed road right of way provided, Jim said, expecting to get the other half when the adjoining parcel was developed. That’s what happened on that stretch of Polk. “Only the portion where the road was built (up to the end of the asphalt) met the standard,” Doug said.,

So not only is the rest almost undrivable, it has only half the necessary width for a county road.

The county won’t spend tax dollars on it until it has adequate right of way and is brought up to standards, which would include pavement and adequate sub-base. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars, paid for by the property owners who would benefit, as an addition to their property taxes over 10 to 15 years, Jim said. And they’d have to vote to do it.

There are a lot of such roads in the county, Doug said.

None of that was news to Elaine, I learned when I reported back to her. She said the real problem is off-roaders who seem to have spotted their miserable road online, on Google Maps, possibly, and make paying to fill the potholes with gravel futile. They push the gravel aside and reestablish the mud-holes soon after they’re filled, she said.

They got the county to put a “Local Traffic Only” sign on the Woods Road end, and ignoring it in one’s vehicle would be a $124 infraction for failure to obey a traffic control device, says Deputy Scott Wilson of Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

But enforcement is nearly impossible, Scott said, requiring a deputy to patrol it, determine if the driver is a resident, or a guest of or providing a service to one. Such a stop, in the rare instance when one got made, would block the one-lane road while it was handled, he added.

The only things likely to get a deputy there would be criminal driving matters like DUI, hit and run or reckless driving, he said. More routine traffic infractions, “would not be an efficient use of law enforcement resources.”

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