Monthly Archives: January 2012

Salmonberry Road upgrades depend on a couple of things

The in basket: Richard Brooks wonders when Salmonberry Road in South Kitsap will be repaved. It has needed resurfacing since 1965, he said, and gets patched about six times a year.

The out basket: Salmonberry is a peculiar looking road, in that the eastbound lane is in pretty good shape but the westbound lane is a mess. Most of those patch jobs Richard mentions must have been in that lane.

Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public works says it has a chip seal surface, which involves pouring gravel over hot oil and letting traffic compact it into a paved surface. That was last done in 1972.

The county’s biannual rating of Salmonberry had it at 55 on a scale of 100 in 2010. It will be rated again this year. If it has dropped below 49, it will get a new chip seal, Doug said.

The county plans to do a $100,000 study in 2013 of widening the lanes of Salmonberry and building sidewalks from Bethel Road to Jackson, but the actual work doesn’t appear on the county’s road plan, which goes out to 2017.

About $700,000 in improvements to Jackson Avenue’s intersection with Salmonberry is on the road plan for 2017.



A pair of Fifth Street curiosities and roundabout reminder

The in basket: I was putting along eastbound on Fifth Street in Bremerton recently when my wife in the passenger seat noticed that I had given no indication that I had seen a stop sign at Veneta Avenue.

“Stop sign,” she said, and it was a good thing. I had not seen it and was surprised it was there. It was new. How new I didn’t know. Had I been running it and its mate on the other side of the intersection, or had I just not been on Fifth Street for a long time? There were no orange flags or signs indicating a change in traffic control.

Thusly moved to curiosity, I wondered a couple blocks later at Chester Avenue about the traffic calming island put in the middle of the intersection a couple years ago. Traffic was light and turning left in front of the island would have been easier than going around it to turn left. I wondered if that would be legal.

So I asked.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city engineers said he’d been curious about the four-way stop created at Fifth and Veneta  himself, and learned that it was all done months ago in response to a neighborhood petition. It seems like a good move, given all the foot traffic around the Catholic school and church there.

“It was reviewed by engineering in April of last

year,” Gunnar said, “and a work order to maintenance sent out on May 5.  The new

signs and traffic revision signs were installed shortly thereafter,along with swapping the lenses in the flashing light from yellow to red.

“After the 30-day installation period passed, all traffic revision signs were removed.”

He and Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police said it is not legal to turn in front of a traffic island, any more than it would be to turn left and not go around a roundabout . You have to go around.

Gunnar asked that we use this as an opportunity to revisit another element of driving roundabouts.

“We are receiving complaints that some

motorists coming across the (new) bridge are ignoring the Yield sign when entering the new Manette roundabout,” he said.

“We would like to try and educate before going to enforcement,” he said.

As I noted in a December Road Warrior, the construction of the roundabout in Manette has changed the rules for right of way at that end of the bridge. Drivers exiting the bridge in Manette no longer have the right of way over other traffic flows and must yield to anyone already in the roundabout. That’s the rule for all roundabouts.

At the Fifth Street traffic circle, stop signs control the side street and drivers at the stop signs must yield to traffic on the through street.

State highway numbers are out of order

The in basket: I encountered Jean Lenihan at the Willows retirement complex in East Bremerton recently, and she said she had been meaning to e-mail me a question for several years. She told me what was on her mind, and it’s a dandy that I had never been asked before or wondered about on my own.

Why, Jean asked, are the numbers of state highways radiating out from Highway 3 in Kitsap County not in sequential order? From Bremerton north, you come to Highway 304, then 303, 308 to Keyport and finally 305 to Bainbridge.

She didn’t even mention Highway 302 farther south just across the county line, or Highway 300 out to Belfair State Park, both of which intersect Highway 3 in reverse order.

The out basket: I recall when I was a kid here the renumbering of our local highways, and the fact that Highway 3 used to be Highway 21. Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for this region of state highways, says he has no idea what guided the choosing of numbers. “As these highways were renamed 50 years ago, I doubt there is anyone around here that would,” he said.

I don’t think Highway 303 was a state highway until well after  the county built it with federal Trident money in the 1970s. It became one about the time the state swapped a bunch of roads with local jurisdictions, notably taking over Sedgwick Road as Highway 160, creating Highway 166 from Gorst to Port Orchard, part of 160’s old route, and leaving the county with the remainder.

The state wouldn’t have had a natural choice when it took over 303, as it lay between 304 and 305.

About the best we can hope is that some old-timer recalls what the rationale was back in the original renumbering and lets us know.

Silverdale roundabout project worries Realtor

The in basket: Real estate agent Karen Ebersole saw the schematic for the upcoming Silverdale/Chico/Newberry roundabout in Silverdale in a recent Road Warrior column and said she had been meaning to ask “what their plans are for routing traffic during the seven-month construction project. The only other way into Silverdale is the northern route at the mall exit,” she said. “I can see this as being a real nightmare for everyone, especially those living along Chico Way.

“As a real estate professional, this traffic construction/routing will also significantly impact the way I conduct business.”

The out basket: Tina Nelson, senior program manager in Kitsap County Public Works, says, “It’s planned that the road will remain open during construction, though some closure of access to and from Chico Way will be permitted.

“There is a proposed phasing plan in the contract. How traffic is routed is ultimately determined by the contractor. A public meeting is planned prior to the start of construction. Information regarding that meeting will be published when it is available.

“Representatives from the county and the contractor will be on hand to detail what to expect during construction, and answer questions from area residents,” she said. “Details about the project are available online, the project website.

Linking old and new Belfair highways IS being studied

The in basket: A Road Warrior column earlier this month about prospects for reconnecting Barney White Road’s two severed ends to create a link between the old and new Belfair highways generated a surprising amount of response and interest.

The column said there’s little chance of such a project in the foreseeable future, even though it would save miles of detouring when an .accident or weather closes one or the other of the highways.

Soon afterward Ken VanBuskirk, who serves on a Mason County transportation advisory committee, said my inquiry should have included his county. It has something along those lines in the works, and he said I should call County Engineer Brian Matthews.

Four readers assured me that Barney White Road does have a remaining stub that intersects West Belfair Valley Road. as Old Belfair Highway is known on the Kitsap side of the county line, despite my inability to find it on a map. I finally drove out and found it.

Finally Barbara Eklund of Belfair, daughter of a former Belfair postmaster,  called in with a history lesson. She said Barney White Road did indeed once run all the way between the two highways but that it was severed in the first half of the last century. Neither the large Olympic landfill nor the railroad tracks there today existed in those days, she said, and the road was dirt, as were most roads of that time and as the remainder on West Belfair Valley Road still is.

Her brother used to use Barney White Road to go watch planes at what now is Bremerton National Airport, she said.

I called  Brian Matthews for more information on what his office is working on.

The out basket: Brian told me that he has been instructed to study establishing a link between the two highways, but not at Barney White Road, which isn’t even in his county. Nor is providing a shorter detour route during highway closures the main motivation.

He is looking into pushing through Newkirk Road, which runs from Old Belfair Highway for half a mile as a paved county road and s little further as a private dirt road, so that it reaches Highway 3, known to some as New Belfair Highway. “I have this year to prepare a feasibility report with findings and recommendations to the county commissioners,” he said.

Such a new link would intersect Highway 3 slightly north of the railroad overpass, so it wouldn’t take that much distance off the detours when one of the highways closes.

What it would do, Brian said, is provide drivers wanting to go out North Shore Road or to some Old Belfair Highway location close to town, an alternative to adding themselves to the choking congestion in the heart of town.

It might reroute as much as 25 percent of that traffic, he said. Until the unfunded Belfair Bypass gets built, if it ever is, that would provide some relief to the backups Belfair drivers routinely face when traffic is heavy.



Keyport speed limit reduction questioned

The in basket: Mike Knapp of Keyport asks “What is the story with the reduced speed coming into Keyport from 35 mph to 25 mph just before the traffic light at the base yet the other side of the road is still 35 mph?

“You have to brake really hard to get down to that speed. What is this all about?”

The out basket: The change was made at the request of the Keyport Improvement Club.

Keyport resident Doug Chamberlain, who just stepped down as club president after three years in the position, said the state had studied the need for a lower speed limit there about three years ago. The issue went back on the front burner last year when a club member who takes care of his grandkids said “cars are coming into town too fast, barreling in and out, and that crossing the highway was dangerous,”according to Doug.

Though it’s a quiet city street in the town center, it’s still a state highway and the state made the change in November.

There is confusion, though, about what the speed limit is at various points, as evidenced by Mike’s assertion that it’s still  35 going out of town.

It isn’t supposed to be, says state Traffic Operations Engineer  Steve Bennett and Doug Chamberlain. It’s supposed to be 25 in both directions from just north of the traffic signal at the Navy base entrance to the end of the highway, 35 in both directions from there across the causeway and 50 beyond that. Steve said they’ll check on the signs to see if they’re where they should be.

If Mike really has trouble getting slowed from 35mph to 25 as he comes into town, he may be an example of what prompted the improvement club to seek the reduction.

While I had Doug on the line, I asked about the parking area just outside the Navy base’s old main gate at the highway’s end, about which a reader complained years ago.

It’s narrow, designed for one-way traffic and tapers to the point that a car parked at its end makes it hard for other cars to get past and leave. There’s a “Motorcycles Only” sign at the narrow end but it sometimes isn’t observed.

Doug said the club is aware of it, but has taken no action beyond asking the base to encourage employees to honor the “Motorcycles Only” sign. The state owns the spot but it’s uncertain who put up the sign, Doug said.

Reader lights up Silverdale street light planning

Schematic of proposed roundabout at Silverdale/Chico Way and Newberry Hill Road

The in basket: Greaves Way, the link between Highway 303 and Old Frontier Road northwest of Silverdale. has inspired a couple of questions from Peter Wimmer of Silverdale.

One, he asked, “is there ever going to be ground maintenance on Greaves Way?”

And two, he said, when he  asked the Road Warrior column about the fancy lighting on that road a couple years ago, “the project engineer said that it was done (because) it was the ‘Gateway to Silverdale.’ Then at the Dec. 21 Central Kitsap Community Council meeting where Tina Nelson (senior project manager for the county), gave the brief on the Silverdale Way roundabout and Bucklin Hill Road bridge project, I asked about the lighting and she said that it was going to be the standard grey metal pole lighting.

“If the roundabout  is not another Silverdale Gateway (and yes, ‘Welcome to Silverdale’ is included in the design) then what is?  This again is showing how Greaves Way is another ‘build it and they will come’ waste of tax dollars. And how do we get a true Gateway to Silverdale with proper lighting?”

The out basket: Peter’s first question implies that the Greaves Way landscaping was planted and forgotten, but Don Schultz, county road superintendent , says that’s not the case.

“Between April and October,” he said, “the county spent almost $10,000 on vegetation management efforts along Greaves Way. This includes about 240 staff hours controlling vegetation along the roadway.”

Their focus was driver visibility and keeping brush growth out of the street. “It is not landscaping in the truest sense,” he said, “but rather managing the vegetation to ensure the travel lanes remain clear.”

Tina Nelson took the second question, and said, “There has been, and continues to be, discussion with the Central Kitsap Community Council (CKCC) about using the center of the roundabout for a ‘feature’ (a gateway in a sense) to welcome motorists to Silverdale. The decision was made to include minor work within the center (including the wall with the Welcome to Silverdale letters) in the current construction project, and work later on a ‘feature.’ The feature could include art, plants, something by the community, a competition, or other ideas being considered by the CKCC.

“The construction plan is to provide the required lighting that meets (state) standards for safety for the roundabout. The current plan specifies standard (state) light poles. This is county standard for projects if we can’t hang luminaries from existing power poles. The standard poles meet safety specifications, and allow us to use existing inventory parts for any maintenance required. This keeps maintenance costs lower.

“We listened to feedback provided at the December CKCC meeting. We are reviewing the possibility of installing light poles more decorative than the standard poles currently in the project design.

“We are reviewing pole options, initial cost of installation, time and cost for a redesign of the lighting system, and future maintenance costs. Decorative lighting could also be provided to the corridor at a later date in addition to the required lighting. This would be more directed towards pedestrians and create a place and ambiance.”

New traffic signals must be framed in yellow

The in basket:  Gary Reed says, “I see the new traffic signals at the Bremerton end of the Manette bridge have yellow reflective tape or paint around the edge of the fixture. …I have been seeing that treatment more often around lately, and not just in Kitsap County.

“What is the purpose of the reflective tape or paint?” he asked. “I’m sure it must add many more dollars to the cost of the fixture.

“And why must we have two fixtures per lane? Surely technology has advanced to the point where two bulbs (LED’s maybe) can be used, with a circuit designed to hold one in reserve and trigger a small indicator on the outside of the fixture that one lamp needs replacing. If it is a law that requires the two fixtures per lane, seems it would be easy to allow a modern unit with the stroke of a pen.”

The out basket: I first saw the yellow edging at the Sedgwick interchange on Highway 16 a few years ago, and was told it was done to make the signal heads more visible in a power outage, to alert drivers to cross traffic and the need to treat it as an all-way stop. I was told then it was being used where power outages were most common.

Don Anders of the Olympic Region signal shop, says, “This edging started as a pilot project when they first went in several years ago.  They are now required on all new signal projects and also required in the 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices which WSDOT adopted recently.

“The cost is minimal for this product,” he said, “but I do have concerns with how it will hold up over time because we will have to replace as needed.”

Its basic reason is “for power outages at night so the vehicle displays can be seen when dark,” Don said.

“The dual display (of signal heads) for each major movement has been a federal requirement for many years,” he said, “and is to provide better visibility and extra safety if one lamp burns out.  I doubt that rule will change because in the new 2009 MUTCD more vehicle displays are now required than in the past.”

Arrow and Yield sign puzzle drivers at Tremont interchange

The in basket: Dave Dahlke and Katie Ruley has questions about the Tremont interchange on Highway 16 in Port Orchard.

Dave wonders what the arrow at the downhill end of the northbound Highway 16 off-ramp there is supposed to mean.

“I see left-  and right-turn arrows in center turn lanes,” he said. “I see left-turn arrows and right-turn arrows signifying what I believe to be only those turns allowed in other lanes. What  (is) the purpose of a straight-ahead white arrow on the pavement on the off-ramp from Highway 16 to Tremont? “Makes me wonder if any out-of-town drivers assume the only option is to drive straight ahead which puts them  back on Highway 16 via the on-ramp.”

Katie is perplexed by the position of the Yield sign that assigns right-of-way to left turners coming off Tremont to head toward Gorst on the freeway, over right turners using the same on-ramp.

“If I am waiting to turn left into oncoming traffic to enter the highway,” she said, “it would seem to me impossible that I would have the right of way, but yet people do! And now there is a yield sign? This makes no sense.”

The out basket: The white arrows on that off-ramp and many others, which I had never noticed until Dave asked, are designed to tell drivers what not to do, not what to do.

They are a visual cue to anyone who has turned from Tremont onto the off-ramp that they ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!! It hopes to keep them out of the high speed highway traffic.

You’ll also see them on the mainline of Highway 16 near Haven of Rest Cemetery in Gig Harbor and in Gorst in front of Navy City Metals. Both are near places where drivers have a way to get headed the wrong way on a divided highway.

As for the Yield sign, I told Katie that a right turner  certainly doesn’t have to yield to a car that is waiting for traffic to clear to begin the left turn. But when the two traffic flows actually conflict, right of way must be assigned to one or the other.

In this and similar cases, says Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways, giving the left turner the right of way “is more safe for all involved.

“The right turner is in a protected spot and can safely wait for the left turner to pass by. The left turner, if he has already begun his turn, may be blocking a lane if forced to wait for the right turner. This could cause traffic on the through road to make  sudden stops or swerve to avoid hitting the blocking vehicle.”

Some remaining Manette Bridge questions

The in basket: Larry Avery, Jeff David and Robert Balcomb have posed the latest questions to the Road Warrior column about the new Manette Bridge in Bremerton.

Larry said on Dec. 29, “(I) was at the Boat Shed this afternoon and it doesn’t seem like anything has happened there in some time.
“Sure, they have been working on the demo of our old bridge, but has the state let the contractor slide on getting the final work done on the new bridge?
“Is this thing on schedule?”
Jeff, a former Bremerton police traffic officer, asks,”When is someone going to admit that they should have had a right turn off the bridge like before to move many vehicles onto Shore Drive and East 11th, rather they enduring two stop signs on Pitt and East 11th.  It’s nice to have a park, but at what expense?”

Robert writes, “There was a plan circulated around town concerned with turning the old Manette Bridge into a People’s Bridge, such as for abandoned traffic and railroad bridges in America and Europe.

“I photographed the bridge from the Boatshed Restaurant, and wife Mary Balcomb painted it to show what could have been a public walkway and gathering place. The picture circulated widely, gathering many signatures in favor.  Also we spoke with several engineers who agreed that the understructures can be up-kept just like has been done for other bridges.”

The out basket: Jeff Cook, the state’s project engineer on the bridge replacement, said on Dec. 30, “The demolition of the old Manette Bridge has been the most noticeable operation over the last six weeks, however a great deal more has been ongoing as well, some which cannot be seen from the south side.

“The overhang brackets that supported the barrier and deck construction of the north side of the bridge are completing the removal process.

“The massive beams which supported the  construction of the first span on west side took several weeks to unfasten and remove.

‘”Grading operations for the east and west banks were completed and the expanded viewscape construction is nearly complete with only planting remaining.

“At any given time there have been three to five separate operations occurring beyond the … demolition.

“So the next question will likely be: What’s left?

– “The contractor will complete the demolition of the two remaining concrete piers; both on the east side in the beach area.  This is tidally dependent, will be at night, and likely complete by the middle of January.

– “The contractor has been awaiting the final shipments of green railing to be installed on the south side of the bridge. A fabrication issue delayed the delivery, but the remaining materials are scheduled to be on site then in place by the end of January. Once installed, the sidewalk will be open to the full 10-foot width.” Gaps in the north side rail also have awaited the overdue pieces, he said.

– “Planting for the viewscape and the center of the roundabout will complete approximately the middle of January.

-“The last work under this contract will be the application of pigmented sealer to the girder faces and end piers. (The public will generally see this as ‘painting’).

“(It) must occur when the temperature is consistently above 50 degrees and not raining.

“What will likely happen is all the work above will complete, the contractor will leave the site, then return in April to complete the pigmented sealing of the bridge. This work will take approximately three weeks and will be conducted from barges.

“So, yes we are on schedule.  The contractor has been working on several operations, both day and night, to complete the work.”

Answers to Jeff David’s and Robert’s questions are found in the “frequently asked questions” segment of the state’s Manette Bridge Web site at

A roundabout connection to Shore Drive would have been too steep, so wasn’t built, it says.

Due to the deteriorated condition of the old bridge, it would present a real risk to the new bridge during a major earthquake, if left in place, it also said.