Monthly Archives: December 2011

What will Bremerton’s new car tab fee buy?

The in basket: I’ve been reading the recent news articles about the city of Bremerton’s newly enacted $20 car tab fee to raise money for the repair of city streets. I was expecting some discussion of specific projects that might be accomplished with the money, but the articles were limited to how much would be raised and when.
Over the last few years, I have gotten inquiries from Janet Gupton and Jeff Johnston about prospects for improving the poor condition of Kitsap Way from Highway 3 to Kitsap Lake and Pat (no last name) about Naval Avenue between Sixth and 11th streets, as well as others.
I asked city engineers what is likely to be done first with the money to be raised.
The out basket: City engineer Tom Knuckey and street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson were unable to provide such specifics, because those decisions are yet to be made. They will be the work of what they call the Public Works Committee with the final decisions to be made by the City Council. Those choices will come in early 2012.
Gunnar, however, sent along the most recent annual rating of pavement conditions that show which city streets are in the worst shape. Arterials and collectors (omitting residential streets) are listed from worst to best. The rating is on a scale of 1 to 100, with anything under 10 in need of complete removal and replacement.
The ratings will be among the things the council will consider in choosing work to be done.
Kitsap Way from Austin Drive to Birchfield Drive and just north of Auto Center Way is among those rated zero. So is Naval Avenue from Seventh Street south. North of Seventh it scores slightly better and the block between 10th and 11th is judged quite sound.
Also on the zero to 9 list are portions of Austin Drive, Callow Avenue, Harlow Drive, Marine Drive, Rocky Point Road, Preble Street, Shorewood Drive, Callahan Drive, Old Wheaton Way, Union Avenue, Schley Boulevard, Sheridan Road, Lebo Boulevard, Oyster Bay Avenue, Marine Drive. High Avenue, Price Road, Sylvan Way and even short stretches of Sixth and 11th streets.
Well over a mile of West Belfair Valley Road, a city street by dint of it’s being part of the annexation of the city watershed, rates a zero to 3.
And that includes nothing classified as a residential street, a category that comprises 61 percent of the city’s lane miles. Of those residential streets, 8.67 percent also are rated 0-10.
Clearly, there is a large pent-up demand for street repair in the city and city officials are already on record saying the extra money will pay for only about an eighth of what really should be accomplished each year, about a mile of repaving per year. If you hope your residential street can get a cut of the money, you’d best be prepared for some politicking at the city council level in the new year.

She said, he said at McWilliams Road ditching site

The in basket: A couple of days after I was channeled past the  the recent McWilliams Road ditching project for CenturyLink, just east of Highway 303, a woman reader had the same experience. It wasn’t much of a problem for either of us. But after her second time through, she told a different story in a phone call to the Sun’s newsroom.


As editor David Nelson related the conversation to me, she turned onto McWilliams on December 9 and said the flagger had completely shut down the road with no detour signs or warning. Her complaint was that the guy was a jerk when she pulled into a driveway to get pointed the other way, and that any Walgreen’s customer was unable to turn into the store’s parking lot. And that anyone headed to Illahee had a six-mile detour with no warning. David said the question in his mind is what notice is required when you close a road like that. “I’m assuming that notice or detour signs are required in any roadwork contract,” he said, ” but what happens when a company doesn’t fulfill the requirement?”


I asked the county if full closure of McWilliams was permissible under whatever permit the county had issued for the work. It is listed on the county’s weekly road work report, which anyone can see online at, but there is no mention of a total closure.


The out basket: Dale Blackwood, lead right-of-way inspector for Kitsap County Public Works, said, “I checked with the contractor regarding your reader’s concern. They did recall the incident with the woman, who was frustrated with the delay and vocalized her frustration to the contractor.

“Contrary to her report, the road was never completely closed,” Dale said. “The entrance to the Walgreen’s was closed during the work and that seemed to frustrate your reader, but the other entrance to Walgreen’s (off Highway 303) was open.

“Because of the high volume of traffic there, and the proximity to the very busy intersection of McWilliams and Highway 303, there were significant delays for motorists passing through the work area.


“Under the permit issued for this type of work, temporary closures of a roadway are permissible,” he said. “If the closure exceeds 12 hours, it must be approved and authorized by the Board of County Commissioners. Cannon Construction, (which is doing the work for CenturyLink, “has always proved reliable in observing permit restrictions in the work they’ve done along county-maintained rights-of-way,” Dale said.

Signing work zones sometimes seems illogical

The in basket: As I’ve driven around the Western states, I’ve often seen two things that strike me as peculiar in traffic control at construction zones.

Often I find electronic message boards with a message on two or three consecutive screens that come and go too quickly for me to read the entire warning Yet the first screen of a multiple screen message often reads only “Caution”.

Well, “Duh,” I say to myself when I see those signs. The very presence of the sign implies something coming up that would require caution, and it seems like that part of the message could be eliminated or that screen could be devoted to some other part of the warning.

Also, I often find myself warned of an upcoming construction zone miles ahead of the actual obstruction, to the point I’ve sometimes forgotten about it by the time I get there.

I know that the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a federal standard for all manner of highway issues, sometimes imposes what seem like odd limitations on state and local highway officials.

I asked if that’s the reason for those peculiarities.

The out basket: Frank Newboles, an official with the state Department of Transportation, says he doesn’t think the MUTCD requires the word “Caution,” but it isn’t entirely quiet on the subject of those signs.

“For work zones, we use the MUTCD requirement of amaximum of two message panels of three lines each.  In practice, these requirements are routinely violated …. generally by putting too much info on the sign. Full matrix (signs) sometimes create problems if the message designer gets too ‘creative,’ since the full matrix allows graphics, etc.”

Such deviations from the rules are discouraged, he said.

As for advance warning of upcoming work zones, he said, this state “has modified the MUTCD work zone sign spacing requirements to be more specific to our diverse highway/work zone conditions.”

Those modifications detail how far in advance the warning signs are placed, and require three or more signs along 1,500 feet of a freeway, for example, 800 feet on a rural highway, down to  hundred feet on a city street.

“The number of signs, spacing and messages have been standardized to apply to a wide range of drivers and work zone conditions,” he said, “and not all drivers process the information the same way. The initial signs are intended to be a more general warning and as (a driver) gets closer to the work zone or flagger the messages are more specific to the exact nature of the work zone condition or expected driver response action.

“We will continue to monitor and address signing issues in the field,” Frank said, “and are continuing to train flaggers,

inspectors and others to improve our work zone conditions.

“We have a certain amount of redundancy built in to compensate for the possibility of (drivers) missing a sign or message.”

Esoteric law clouds passing-on-the-right issue

The in basket: Jerry Maurer e-mailed to say, “I read RCW 46.61.110: ‘When overtaking on the right is permitted,’ to mean that, if I am in a one-lane road and if the car in front of me is turning left, I can pass it on the right, crossing over the white line, as long as I do not leave the roadway, i.e. drive off the pavement.””What am I missing?” he asked.

The out basket: Jerry has stumbled across and tried to decipher one of a surprising number of state laws that seem almost intentionally mystifying.

He specifically is referring to section 3 of that RCW, which reads, “Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, overtaken traffic shall give way to the right in favor of an overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase speed until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.” That law mostly deals with how to pass on the left and how to pass a bicyclist.

My State Patrol contact, Trooper Krista Hedstrom, who just made detective and soon will be turning over the role of public spokesperson to another trooper not yet chosen, agrees that “this section is very hard to interpret.”

I told Jerry that one is driving off the roadway and subject to citation as soon as one of his wheels crosses the white edge line, not when it leaves the pavement, and Krista says that is correct.

“This (law) actually applies when there is a wide enough lane to allow two vehicles side by side that does not have a fog line.,” she said.  “There is one in Poulsbo (by the high school, I think) that this applies to. It does not allow one to drive over the fog line and onto the shoulder like the (reader) suggests.”

Odds & ends from Manette Bridge project

The in basket: Readers have posed a variety of questions and suggestions relating to the new Manette Bridge.

Mark Henson wants to know when the right turn lane on the downtown end of the bridge will be reopened, or it it will. At present, it’s blocked.

Derek Lyons wrote, “Traveling eastbound on 11th Street right before it curves into Washington, I noted that the weight limit signs for the old bridge were still in place. Will those be removed?”

And Kevin Long says, “I am very glad to have the new bridge up and running, but am very concerned with the lack of attention from drivers coming off of the bridge. I hope that my issue is not one that is common.

“I have almost been hit a few times from drivers coming off of the bridge while i am still going around the roundabout to go into Manette.  To my knowledge the traffic coming off of the bridge has to yield to circle traffic but it seems that a lot of people still think that bridge traffic has right of way.

“This may have been how it use to be, however it is not how it is now.  It sort of makes me wonder how this roundabout is any better than a traffic light.”

The out basket: Jeff Cook, project manager for the bridge job, says the weight limit restriction signs are to be removed under the construction contract and there will be no weight limits on the new span. I had no luck finding out whether the driver of a heavy truck would be safe from a citation should he or she cross while the signs still are up, though.

Jeff said “The right turn lane on the west half of the new bridge is closed to provide access for the demolition work and also for the follow up fine grading and landscaping. The lane will be opened to traffic upon completion of that work; likely the first part of January.”

And Kevin is correct. Bridge users bound for Manette who got used to having the right of way over those approaching from the other two directions no longer do. Once a vehicle is in the roundabout, it has right of way over any that are entering, including those coming off the bridge.