Monthly Archives: September 2011

Slow turning trucks at Pioneer Way and SR3 in North Kitsap

The in basket: Dan Godecke again raises an issue he brought up in late 2008 about the signal timing at Highway 3 and Pioneer Way in North Kitsap.

He said then that “when a truck makes the turn from Pioneer to 3, the sensors in the road were not picking up the truck between the time the truck axles passed over them and the trailer axles passed over.

“You helped out by contacting someone that set the signals and they lengthened the time before the light would turn yellow if no cars passed over the sensor,” he told me. “This fixed the problem and all was good…until someone set it back to the original short time setting.
“Now we are back to the same problem again,” he said. “If a truck with a trailer makes that turn, the light turns yellow before another car can follow it into the intersection.  When a truck is the first vehicle in the line it is the only vehicle to make it thorough the intersection regardless of how many cars are in line.”
There is a lot of truck traffic from the Twelve Trees industrial area, he said, and the trucks have to make the right turn slowly to avoid cars waiting at the northbound light.

“The afternoons are the worst time of the day,” he said. “The traffic to the light on Pioneer is heavy and trucks are mixed in that load.  I did notice the moving van trucks with the low center section on the trailer don’t have the same effect on the light.  Only the higher flatbed tailors are the problem ones.”
The out basket: Jim Johnstone of the Olympic Region signal shop, which is responsible for the signals on state highways here, there has been no recent change to the timing of that light.

They had a crew visit the light and “we watched several cycles where trucks came off the Pioneer approach and never saw a problem with the operation,” he said. “We verified that the sensitivity level of the detectors was appropriate to detect all vehicles on the approach and never saw it miss or drop a vehicle.

“The maximum (green)time for that approach is set at 25 seconds and the gap time is set to 4.0 seconds.  Originally the gap time was 3.0 seconds and after Dan’s initial inquiry in 2008 we increased it to 4.0 seconds. Gap time is the length of time between vehicles that tells the llght controller there are no more cars waiting to be served.

“My only conclusion is that if it is taking 10 to 15 seconds for a truck to make that turn then there is not much time left for others to make it through the intersection.  If this is occurring during afternoon peak, as Dan suggests, we are not left with much to remedy the problem.  If we start increasing the max time or increase the gap time beyond what we already have then we impact mainline movements.

“I’m sure everyone is aware of the volume of traffic on SR 3 at this location especially during the PM peak and the need to keep that traffic moving.  When we delay the SR 3 southbound uphill approach too much, traffic backs up and the large volume of trucks has a difficult time getting started again causing operational issues on the mainline.

“We will continue to spot check this intersection, and ask our Lofall crew to also keep an eye on it for any unusual operation They drive through this signal daily also.”

Bike races need at least one certified flagger

The in basket: Clayton Waldron of Port Orchard  writes, “While driving in Kitsap and Mason County when there is a bike race on the public roads, I have looked at the people directing traffic for the races.  Isn’t it a state law that they should have a flagger card and wear the proper equipment to direct traffic on the public roads?  I’ve seen flaggers in construction zones, and the ones in the bike races don’t look the same.”

The out basket: Clayton may be seeing what are called “marshals,” course officials trained for the event by a certified flagger.

Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton State Patrol headquarters looked up the Washington State Bicycle Racing Guidelines manual for me. Created in 1998 for the state Department of Transportation,  it includes the following:

“Marshals and certified flaggers are needed to organize and stage a safe bicycle race event.

“The duties of marshals and certified flaggers are distinct. Certified flaggers are responsible

for stopping and holding motor vehicle traffic during a bicycle race event at major intersections, and for training marshals.

“Marshals are responsible for crowd control and minor traffic

control. Marshals can hold traffic at a stop controlled intersection or minor uncontrolled

intersection, and shall be given a briefing on their duties prior to the bicycle race event.

“At least one certified flagger is needed for each road race. The certified flagger is responsible for training marshals on

how to stop and hold motor vehicle traffic.”

“A police officer or certified flagger shall direct traffic if traffic signal indications are to

be bypassed.

“A police officer shall be necessary if traffic signals are to be overridden, unless the

race course or this portion of the race course is completely closed to motor vehicle traffic.”

There’s a lot more in the guidelines, which you can access online. It’s a long, convoluted Web address, so just using Google or similar site and asking for Washington State Bicycle Racing Guidelines will get it for you.

Who pays for innocent drivers’ tires flattened by spike strips?

The in basket: Larry Mixer sent me the following inquiry after seeing what I’m sure will be a favorite story for his acquaintances for years to come.

“On Friday 9/16/2011, I was coming back from Northern California passing by Yreka,” he said. “I witnessed a pursuit of a truck-tractor without the trailer by several police cars.

“This pursuit went on for probably more than 50 miles, ending up near a rest stop by the Klamath River.

“In at least three places, I saw the police put down spike strips to stop the truck-tractor. It did not work, but they they did manage to flatten several other vehicles’ tires. Some that I saw had all four flat tires, others maybe one or two, and at least one truck-tractor rig with a trailer that had one front tire and maybe a couple on the trailer.

“I am wondering who is responsible for repair of the vehicles? These people were left with flat tires maybe 30 miles from the nearest repair place,” Larry said.

The out basket: I didn’t check with California, but in this state the state pays for the damage.

Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Washington State Patrol office in Bremerton sent me the portions of the WSP regulation manual dealing with this.

“Every effort should be made to avoid uninvolved motorists running over the spike strip,” says the policy. “If an uninvolved motorist does run over the strip, the driver should be contacted as soon as possible to explain the situation. They should be assisted in obtaining tires (at state cost).”

Krista added, “Often, tire repair businesses can send a truck out to the side of the road where it would be fixed and the driver (sent) on their way.”

It bypasses the usual claim process, she said, with WSP handling all the paperwork.

As for the chase,the spike strips did flatten one of the fleeing truck’s tires, but that didn’t stop it. The chase ended when the suspect, for no apparent reason, said officers, steered the truck cab down a slope along the Klamath River and into the river on I-5. He waded and swam to the middle of the river, where he sank from view. His body was recovered the next day, when he was identified as 30-year-old Olympia, Wash. resident David Antonio Grier.

 

Explaining new Poplar Street intersection in Silverdale

The in basket: Ian MacKenzie wrote, “I was wondering if you have heard any explanation for the change that was made to the intersection of Silverdale Way and Poplars (Avenue),  by the new YMCA.

“I can understand the need for upgrading the intersection to accommodate the increased traffic with the YMCA,” he said, “but it really seems goofy the way they did it. You used to be able to make a left turn from northbound Silverdale Way to Poplars (two-way left-turn lane). Now you cannot.

“It seems as if it is forcing people to either turn into the parking lot further up Silverdale Way and come back through the parking lot or go all the way up to Ridgetop Boulevard and make a left at the light then make another left onto Poplars and come from the north.”

The out basket: Right-in-right-out accesses are a time-honored traffic control when left turns have proven dangerous or delay traffic behind left turners waiting for traffic to clear. In this case, it’s the danger element.

Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “Silverdale Way is one of the top 10 corridors for collisions in Kitsap County. One of the primary causes of accidents along that corridor is traffic entering and exiting from the many approaches and side roads.

“Even before the YMCA was built and Poplars was reconfigured, several collisions occurred at that location,” he said, “With the increased traffic generated by the development, we decided to restrict the movements at Poplars to right in, right out to preclude more collisions.

“The raised island at the intersection was built to prevent motorists from making illegal turn movements,” Jeff added.  “Signs and pavement markings are less effective as physical barriers in restricting traffic movements.

 

The nuts and bolts of removing old bridge’s nuts, bolts and concrete

The in basket: As I crossed the Warren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton one recent day and looked over at the old Manette Bridge, fated for demolition this fall and winter, my thoughts flashed to the fact that most of the fallen portions of Galloping Gertie, the original, short-lived Tacoma Narrows Bridge, are said to remain where they fell, at the bottom of the narrows.

I wondered if any part of the Manette Bridge would wind up on the bottom of its narrows.

The out basket: It was a timely curiosity, as state engineers were grappling at that very moment with ways to make sure the answer is no, the old Manette Bridge will be removed in its entirety.

They turned out a news release soon afterward, detailing how the underwater portions of the old bridge will be removed under a separate contract. Their original plans for the removal were judged too likely to make the crumbled concrete unretrievable. There was a story about it in the Sept. 17 Sun.

Project Engineer Jeff Cook has provided me with further details.

The majority of the removal will be done under the construction contract with Manson-Mowat.

The road surface already has been removed.  This fall, the steel parts of the bridge will be lifted in chunks of up to 250 tons, put on a barge and cut up for transport off-site. The steel center truss, the visual identity of the old bridge, will be the last steel part removed.

Then crews will use what’s called a hoe ram, described as a huge jackhammer, to “rubblize” the above-water parts of the concrete uprights that support the bridge.

The chunks will fall onto a platform of planks laid between two barges to be positioned on each side of the pier being destroyed, Jeff said. The barges and planks will be covered in sand to keep the falling detritus from bouncing into the water.

When the platforms hold as much as they can, the barges will be moved to Tacoma to be unloaded, Jeff said. It may take more than one trip.

“Nothing is allowed to drop into the water,” he said. “The contractor will be required to fully contain all pieces that are picked and removed during demolition.”

The below-water parts of the bridge will fall to the bottom, but will be contained within steel coffer cells that will limit the area from which the rubble must be removed, Jeff said.

No one will ever accuse me of being an environmentalist, so I’m anxious to hear from those who consider themselves to be whether this doesn’t all seem a bit much. Particularly, the importance of keeping out of the water crumbled parts of concrete structures that have sat intact in that same water for 80-some years seems like costly overkill.

West Belfair Valley Road is as bad as it gets, city admits

The in basket: Josh Fullington has a question about the prospects for West Belfair Valley Road (Old Belfair Highway to many of us) getting a badly needed paving around the access to Gold Mountain Golf Course and nearby.

“I have grown up driving this road every day

and now drive it to and from work,” he said. “Maybe eight years ago, the road was repaved from around Bear Creek Store to McKenna Falls (Road). I expected them to pick up the next year and finish the rest of the road

because it is very bumpy and is constantly needing repair. I keep telling myself it will happen this year but after eight years its still not

done.

“They have done some patching but that is clearly failing, giving

way to pot holes and tears in the pavement. Adding insult to injury, I noticed today that they just re-striped the road! New fog lines and

yellow lines!!! I am very curious what this road ‘scores’ on the

county’s road assessment and what, if any, plans there are for

repaving.

“This road gets quite a lot of use and is very necessary if something is blocking on Highway 3 between Gorst and Belfair,” Josh said.

The out basket: The county’s scores for the road are irrelevant to Josh’s concerns. It was Kitsap County that did the paving a few years ago.

The stretch about which Josh is concerned is in the city of Bremerton, annexed years ago when the city annexed its watershed, which includes the golf course and hundreds of acres across the road.

Anyone who has been paying attention to news stories about the city’s street fund woes won’t be surprised that it hasn’t spent the hundreds of thousands needed to restore its portion of West Belfair Valley Road.

“Our last

road assessment in 2010 for the section of (the road) in the  city limits has it rated as poor to failing with a score below 50,” says Gunnar Fridriksson of the city’s engineering staff.

“Roadways below 50 typically can no longer be repaired, but need to be torn up and completely rebuilt.”

But there isn’t money for it. City officials even now are debating whether to impose a $15 or $20 auto tab add-on to better allow them to address the various needs on city streets.

By way of example, Gunnar says,  “Our last year for a substantial overlay/repair program was 2008, when we

spent about $250K.  Current projection for us to keep streets at existing 2011 condition (not upgrading, just no further deterioration) is about $800k a year.”

The city and just about every other jurisdiction responsible for public roadways restripe them every year, regardless of their condition.

 

 

Help! Does anyone remember this?

The in basket: One of the things alarming about reaching the age of 67 is not so much the things I can’t remember but the things I remember clearly that never happened.

Bear with me while I tap your collective memories to check out one such very clear memory.

I am convinced that when I was in grade school at the old East Port Orchard Elementary our ride home on the school bus included a misadventure one afternoon that would make the TV new these days.

In this memory, our bus lost a wheel while westbound on Mullenix Road and ran off the road to the right, where a stand of fairly scrawny alders kept it from rolling over. I don’t think any of us was injured.

In those days, Mullenix didn’t go any farther east than Van Decar Road, from which our bus had just turned to head downhill on Mullenix.

The out basket: My mother has no recollection of this, which would be unusual if it happened. Does anyone in the Kitsap Sun readership or on the Web recall it? Maybe one of my fellow passengers?

It was a little early in my life to have been a vivid dream.

Changes afoot in paying Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll

The in basket: There was a portable electronic sign on eastbound Highway 16 approaching the toll booths at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge a while back saying that as of the following Tuesday, cash and credit would be the only ways you can pay your toll at the toll booths.

What was that supposed to mean and what other ways are there, I wondered. Beads? Pelts? Baked goods?

The out basket: That was the toll takers’ way of saying that you no longer can pay your toll by having your Good to Go! pass read electronically at the toll booths.

Curiously, about 100 drivers a day had been doing that, instead of staying in the 55 mph lanes to pass beneath the Good to Go! readers there. If any of you readers are among them, I’d like you to post a comment below explaining why.

It would have cost $90,000 to upgrade the electronic readers at the toll booths to read the new generation of transponders and it wasn’t worth the money, says Janet Matkin of Good to Go!

It’s all part of the announcement that the through-lane readers are now reading the new generation transponders, ending the interim process of billing Good to Go! customers based on photos of their license plates. The new transponders hadn’t been working with the bridge’s overhead readers, so they were upgraded.

The same announcement reminded us all that in December, readers without a Good to Go! pass and not wanting to lose time by paying at the toll booths can use the transponder lanes and get a bill for the toll in the mail, identified by their license numbers.

But it will be costly, at $5.50 per trip, rather than $4 at the toll booths and $2.75 if you have a transponder and Good to Go! account.

Careful with your car door, even in parking lots

The in basket: Joy Forsberg was shocked and upset recently when her insurance company ruled against her in a fender bender in a Bremerton supermarket parking lot.

She said she had her car’s door partially open when a car pulled in beside her and clipped her door. Some trim was dislodged and she was temporarily unable to close that door.

She figured whatever damage occurred would be the responsibility of the other driver, who was insured by All State, as she is, and her $250 deductible wouldn’t be an issue.

But among the various variables All State considered was whether she had looked back and not just sideways when she opened her door. She had admitted that she hadn’t but wonders whether she would have seen the other car if she had, since it came from behind her, approaching from the right.

Nonetheless, the insurance company decided the question of her looking back was pivotal and agree to pay the other driver’s $900 claim and whatever part of her damage the $250 didn’t cover.

She had a friend correct her car’s problem for considerably less than the $300 or so body shops estimated it would cost, but still questions the fairness of the decision.

That’s a valuable lesson for all of us drivers. No citation would be issued in a private property parking lot, so the attitude of one’s insurance company is the key question in cases such as this.

I decided to ask what might have been the decision had it occurred on a public street. I often wonder about this when I get into or out of my car on Lebo Boulevard in front of  the Sheridan Park Recreation Center after playing pickleball there.

The out basket: Lt. Pete Fisher of the Bremerton police traffic division said he couldn’t address Joy’s situation, but cited the state law on the subject.

It says, “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent to

moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can

be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor

shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle adjacent to

moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”

Huge disconnected float at Bremerton foot ferry landing

The in basket: My wife and I ferried over to the Blackberry Festival from Port Orchard to Bremerton over the Labor Day weekend and while waiting for the return boat, noticed a huge concrete and steel structure floating just off the end of the foot ferry dock in Bremerton.

There was no connection between it and the foot ferry dock and it had signs forbidding its use for moorage, posted by the Port of Bremerton.

I wondered about its purpose and guessed that Kitsap Transit, whose Bremerton Transportation Center it is part of, would have the answer.

The out basket: I guessed right and John Clauson, Service Development Director for the transit agency, called me back with the information I sought.

It was built by Kitsap Transit as a landing for the large passenger-only fleet that Washington State Ferries had operated.

It was completed about the same time WSF decided it couldn’t afford to stay in passenger-only ferry service, he said.  The huge float sat moored in Commencement Bay in Tacoma, where it was built, for quite a while after that, John said.

When the Port of Bremerton expanded its marina in Bremerton, the float was brought to Bremerton, named A Float, and it now serves as a breakwater that protects boats in the marina from the wakes of landing and departing state ferries, he said. The working foot ferry landing is called B Float.

The old state landing constitutes only part of what I saw, though. The part furthest out in the water is the original, smaller marina’s breakwater, repositioned and still serving that purpose.

A Float will remain where it is, also serving as the moorage for Kitsap Transit’s wake test vessel, nearing completion, in its continuing effort to find a fast ferry design that won’t damage the beaches between Bremerton and Seattle.

It could be hauled away some day, though, if the federal government that provided most of the money for its construction finds a use for it somewhere else, John said.