Monthly Archives: August 2011

Wrecking yard access near Sunnyslope called hazardous

The in basket: Richard Paul writes, “I travel Highway 3 between two and three times a week from Belfair to Silverdale and beyond. There is a major auto accident waiting to happen in front of the Airport Auto Wrecking  just before Sunnyslope Road. I have been close to being involved in two accidents myself.

“The problem is that the driveway of the Airport Auto Wrecking Yard spills right into Highway 3. (There is a double yellow line in front of the business, but people ignore the lines.) People will stop in front of the Airport Auto Wrecking Yard and wait to make a left hand turn over these double yellow lines in front of cars traveling at 55-plus miles per hour on their way to Gorst .

“In addition to this on coming traffic, Richard said, “the traffic coming from Gorst that is traveling up and over the hill at 55-plus miles per hour can not see these people stopped in front of the Airport Auto Wrecking Yard trying to make the left turn. People coming out of the yard will make a left hand turn right in front of the people coming over the hill as well.

“I have missed being slammed into by people trying to avoid these left hand turners twice,” Richard said. “There is no place for them to go but into the right lane that is merging left at this point.

“It would be such an easy fix to close off the Airport Auto Wrecking Yard’s driveway exit to Highway 3 and have the cars going and coming to the yard use the parallel street that can be reached from Sunnyslope Road. it’s about a half block away.”

“Has anyone been working on this problem? This is a major accident waiting to happen.”

The out basket: Richard appears to be one of the many who think turning left across a double line is illegal. It is not. Only passing across a double yellow line is.

And it’s a good thing. Hundreds of driveways in this county alone would be inaccessible for would-be left turners without them continuing on and doubling back to make it a right turn.

Steve Bennett, the traffic operations engineer for state highways here says, “We did look at the collision history near this driveway access.  We found that in the last eight years there have been no collisions involving vehicles traveling southbound on SR 3 and vehicles stopped waiting to turn left into the business.

“Requiring a business to abandon an access to a state highway is often a complex and difficult issue,” he said, “especially if the business does not wish to do so.

“In this case, in talking to Kitsap County and looking at an aerial photo, it appears as though other property owners own the narrow dirt road in question.

“Long term, there is conceptual plan to build a four lane divided highway on this section of SR 3,” Steve said,  “but with no funding for design or construction, it is probably years, or possibly decades, away.”


Broken traffic detector affects Manette Bridge closure detour

Update as of Aug. 22, 2011. I found the light at Lower Wheaton and Lebo/Cherry working fine when I went through it. Gunnar Fridriksson of the city’s engineers says the dry weather may have temporarily corrected the detection problem there, but he would expect it to return with the fall rains.  — Road Warrior.


The in basket: Jim Lawson of Manette thinks the traffic signal on Lower Wheaton Way (often called “Old Wheaton Way) where Lebo Boulevard and Cherry Avenue intersect it has gotten worse not better since closure of the Manette Bridge has increased traffic there.

That intersection lies on the main detour route for former Manette Bridge traffic wanting to reach West Bremerton. It’s always been a key route for Manette residents heading for northbound Highway 303, known as Wheaton Way.

Jim says “Six weeks or longer ago the city of Bremerton changed the sequence so Wheaton Way stays green most of the time. Now at any time of day with no other cars at the intersection, to turn left from Cherry to Wheaton, you sit and sit and sit and sit and sit.“

He also is hopeful the city might take a page from Kitsap County’s book and deploy one of the flashing yellow left-turn lights to allow traffic heading uphill on Old Wheaton to turn left and reach southbound Highway 303 via the Lebo access, rather than waiting for the red left turn light to change.

Jim also described a circuitous route he takes to hasten his trip back to his home from north of Sheridan Road. It takes him down Cherry past Harrison Medical Center to the light on Old Wheaton, where he once again is delayed longer than he’d like before getting to turn left.

The out basket: Those who share Jim’s frustration won’t see the problem rectified soon.

Gunnar Fridriksson, interim managing engineer for Bremerton’s public works department, says, “Timing to the light has not been changed.  The northbound traffic detector loop has failed, which means the signal has defaulted to continually ‘detecting’ northbound traffic” whether there is any or not.

The city knew the loop was fragile when the detour route for the bridge closure was selected a year ago, but hoped it would last until an upgrade of Lower Wheaton Way, for which they have money in 2012. But it failed this year.

Because the problem actually serves the detour by giving uphill traffic more time than it otherwise would to reach the Callahan Avenue interchange with Highway 303, they have opted not to make the repair, which would be costly due to the age of the controller equipment, the condition of the pavement and plans for work there next year, he said.

But it comes at a cost of longer waits on the side streets. At present, when a vehicle approaches on either Lebo or Cherry, the working detector loops on that street sense it, but that just starts the preset countdown before they get a green light, rather than an immediate signal change. That accounts for what Jim sees during his route home via Cherry.

There’s an alternate route to the southbound on-ramp to the bridge reached by turned left onto Lebo, a movement also delayed by the broken loop. But the difference in distance is miniscule. The city and state chose in setting up the detour route last year to send all detoured traffic looking to go to West Bremerton north to Callahan rather than indicating that a left turn on Lebo is an option. “That simplifies directions to the motoring public unfamiliar with the area,” he said.

I didn’t expect the city to introduce a yellow flashing left turn light at Old Wheaton/Lebo/Cherry, as it hasn’t chosen to spend the money on that new technology anywhere else up to now. That is the answer I got.

“No funding is identified to upgrade signal systems,” Gunnar said. “As this is an older system and controller, upgrading would be a significant cost.”


What’s holding up work on closed SK bridge?

The in basket: Danielle Garringer asked back on July 24 what was holding up work on the bridge in South Colby, replacement of which has closed Southworth Drive for over a month.

I had noticed on July 10 that nothing much seemed to have gotten done.

“Our normal little drive into Manchester or even to get down Mile Hill is very hard now with the bridge all blocked off because they are supposedly tearing it down,” Danielle wrote. “Only thing is, it’s been a month and the bridge is still standing, At least tear it down so I feel like driving all the way around is justifiable! I kind of feel like my 5-year-old could tear it down faster than they are.”

Tuesday morning I visited the site and saw that a wrecking ball finally was pounding away at the old bridge.

I asked what has been going on.

The out basket: Danielle and I (and I’d guess most people) assumed that the replacement of a bridge would begin with demolition of the old one. We were wrong.

Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works says, “The project is on schedule. They have completed construction of the drilled shafts (pile supports) for the new bridge.  There are eight shafts, 4.5 feet in diameter, 55 feet deep on the east side, 75 feet deep on the west.

“Each shaft includes installing a steel reinforcing bar (full depth), and the backfilling with concrete.  In addition, each shaft has been sonic tested to ensure that there are no voids in the shafts.

“This work could not have been completed without closing the bridge. Bridge demolition work began last week. The actual demolition of the bridge began yesterday. (Aug. 1). The contract for work on the bridge runs through December.”