Monthly Archives: March 2012

Is that a roundabout going in at 4th and Park?

The in basket: I was heading east on Fourth Street approaching Warren Avenue in Bremerton when looking ahead I noticed that the upcoming intersection at Park Avenue, where the new theaters are being built, had a lot of work going on.

I drove down there and found what looked like a new roundabout under construction. There was a roundabout-style sign posted in the intersection, directing drivers around the center of the intersection.

I’m a big fan of roundabouts but I know not everyone is. It seemed like this one has been flying under the radar.

The out basket: It may look like one now, but it won’t be a roundabout when completed, says Brian Fyall, a consultant with the city on the development in that area. It will be a flat granite feature depicting an anchor and four points of the compass. Traffic will pass over it in a traditional intersection alignment.

“The roundabout style sign is a temporary measure,” he said. “The contractor needs to pour a a concrete subbase for the granite accent,” so the middle of the intersection is off-limits for now.

Do Bremerton police still use blue lights on stop signals?

The in basket: Jo Clark wrote to say, ” Nearly every time I travel through the stop light on Marine Drive/Kitsap Way I see the blue light come on the back of the signal to indicate someone not getting through the intersection before the light changes to red.  I am wondering if we are paying some company to be allowed to use these, because it has been years since I’ve seen a police car watching for culprits.


“With budget cuts everywhere I can understand that perhaps the police can’t patrol these lights,” Jo said, “but if we are paying for them to operate regardless, I have to wonder how much it might save to cancel the contracts.

“I never see any police cars monitoring them any more,” she said. “I have in the past. And if we don’t have enough police to monitor them, are we wasting money to maintain this ‘trap’?

The out basket: The lights don’t necessarily indicate that someone has run a red light, only that the light has changed to red. The lights allow an officer viewing an intersection from the side to know when the light he can’t see the front of becomes red, and he then can decide if someone blows it.

Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police says, “The lights are a great tool for officers when they observe a red light violation from a different direction than the violator.  It provides solid visual evidence that a violation occurred, when they cannot testify to the fact that they saw the violator’s light turn red.

Jeff Collins of the city signal shop says, “As far as I know, all the blue lights are still in operation and still used by the police department.

“They were installed by city personnel and maintained by city staff. The lights are LED so the only maintenance would be a failure or cleaning on our annual lamp change and cleaning cycle.”

Of bicycles, cars and double yellow lines

The in basket: I came across a nearly five-year old inquiry in my e-mail queue from Hal Johnson about what a driver can do when following a bicyclist.

“I live on Bainbridge Island,” he said, “where there has been a large increase in bicycle traffic (and the increase will continue with the increasing density in Winslow.)
“Many of the roads on Bainbridge do not have bike lanes or shoulders wide enough for cars to pass bicycle traffic; also an increasing number of bicyclers are asserting their right to travel in the traffic lane and not leaving enough room for cars to pass and stay within the lane.

“Most of these roads have double center lanes,” Hal said, “prohibiting cars from using the adjacent, opposite lane for passing vehicles. The result is often following the bicycles at 4-12 miles per hour for long distances, with the auto driver frustrated and biker feeling pressured.

“The double center line prohibits passing because of short visibility. Is it legal to cross the double center lane to pass a bicycle?”

The out basket: State Trooper Russell Winger, spokesman for the State Patrol here, says, “The answer is no, you cannot legally cross over a double yellow centerline to pass a bike that is legally traveling on the roadway. The bike rider has every right to use the lane and CAN USE the shoulder but is not required to by law.

“However, if a bike rider(s) are traveling at speeds slower than other traffic, and at least five vehicles are prevented from maintaining normal flow and speed behind the bike rider, this is an impeding violation. Bike riders traveling on roadways are subject to the same traffic laws and rules as motor vehicles.

“Bike riders, as well as motorists, need to be aware of surrounding traffic and be prepared to move to a position that allows traffic to legally and safely pass,” Russell said.

Since Hal’s question focused on Bainbridge Island, I tried to find out if the island police department had anything to add, but they didn’t respond.





Silverdale off-ramp signal finally on its way

The in basket: There it was, quietly tucked within the story about plans for the planned Bucklin Hill Road bridge in the March 22 issue of the Kitsap Sun.

“A traffic signal to be installed next year at the closest offramp on Waaga Way should increase traffic flows for vehicles taking Waaga Way as a detour around the construction site,” it said.


Could it be, I wondered, will the state finally install a signal at the southbound off-ramp of Waaga Way, a.k.a. Highway 303, at Ridgetop Boulevard?

Reader requests for such a signal have really been too numerous to mention over the years, but the most I’d been able to learn is the county and state were talking about it.  Left turns onto Ridgetop are notoriously hard to make at busy times due to the heavy traffic.

I asked if the signal was finally on its way.


The out basket: Tina Nelson, senior program manager for the county, says yes, that is the plan, and the county has taken over management of the signal project. It’s included in the county’s six-year road plan, known as the TIP.

I can’t feel too bad about not spotting it, as it’s listed on the plan as simply “intersection improvements.”

Tina goes on to say, “A recent decision/agreement was made where the county will manage the project. Funding will come from the state Department of Transportation ($140,000), Harrison Hospital ($225,000), and the county road fund (the balance, which is currently estimated at $160,000).

“The TIP shows the project as being constructed in 2014, but we are going to try and get it constructed in 2013, before the Bucklin Hill bridge,”  she said.

Summit Avenue rough spot a threat to bicyclists

The in basket: Fred Allman wrote in an e-mail a year ago in January saying he’d recently retired from PSNS, to and from which he’d ridden a bicycle via Summit Avenue in Bremerton.

“About half-way down the hill, the road turns from asphalt to cement,” he said. “I’m told that this is the division between Bremerton city limits and Kitsap County roads. “Unfortunately the asphalt side has always been in need of repair,” he said. “Now there is a large chuck hole that has developed in the middle of the downhill lane.

“During my riding of the bike, I always steered clear of the bad spot in the road. My wife continues to ride her bike into the shipyard daily. If she or some other rider were not paying attention and were to hit this chuck hole they could have a major accident.”

Fred said at that time the county and city were both telling him it was the other’s problem.

This month I asked if there’d been any improvement and he said the chuck hole had been repaired but the pavement was still very rough.


I drove the area and found most of Summit Avenue on the county side to be in good condition but the spot Fred describes is very rough and has a slightly raised manhole to boot.

I asked the county if it was their area and if any plans have been made to improve it.


The out basket: Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works, says “This area is scheduled for repair during the paving season. I would expect to see the repairs in May or June.”






Port Orchard on hook for Highway 166 shoulders

The in basket: Port Orchard public works crews closed a lane of Highway 166 downhill from the state’s roundabout for a couple of days the last few days of summer in what looked like an attempt to deal with water that seems to run out of the ditch onto the pavement.

They dug the ditch deeper, but to no avail. The water seems to wick upward onto the shoulder and run out onto  the pavement.

I asked about it.

The out basket: “Yes, the city is trying to provide a conveyance for runoff,” said Public Works Director Mark Dorsey, “but the soil conditions are miserable. This was and/or is a great location for the use of an under-drain system. Unfortunately, (the state) did not design/build the road that way….and I suspect there is no ambition to retrofit at this point, therefore we’re stuck with the applicable maintenance.” The highway was built decades ago.

Though Port Orchard headed off in the Legislature a state attempt to turn all of Highway 166 within the city limits over to the city to maintain – pavement, signals, signs and all – it was and remains responsible for the shoulders.

When the red light just won’t change

The in basket: Matt Potter asks, “How do you handle a situation where you’re the only person at a traffic light and it seems not to want to turn green for you?”

The out basket: I told John what I would do, then asked State Trooper Russell Winger what he would recommend.

I said, “1. Make sure you are over the sensor wires just behind the crosswalk or stop bar.

“2. If so, make a right turn, if possible, and proceed to where you can safely make a U-turn (they are legal if done safely).

“3. Go back to the intersection and turn right to proceed.

“If it’s a left turn you originally wanted to make but couldn’t get a green light, I see no option but to make sure no traffic will be imperiled and run it. But you’d better wait at least two minutes first. Very few traffic signals are timed to require a wait longer than that, least of all when traffic is so light you are the only vehicle waiting.

“4. Call 9-1-1 to report a possible malfunctioning signal.”

Trooper Winger had this to say:

“I suggest that a driver, back up (only if no vehicles are behind them, of course) and attempt to trip the light.

“Failing that, wait long enough for other traffic to trip the light. Your suggestion to make a right turn, if possible, is also a possibility.

“If you drive long enough, most drivers will be faced with this occurrence at some time or another (even police officers). Usually the light will eventually cycle.

“However, if the light appears to be in total failure for all drivers, the intersection becomes a four-way stop intersection and non-regulated rules apply.” That means take turns and a car on the right of another has the right of way.

“We sometimes get calls from drivers when they have had such a problem,” Russell said. “Most instances, but not all, the signals are working correctly when we or DOT responds to investigate.

“I would suggest a driver enter an intersection on red ONLY after taking the responses suggested and getting no positive result after several minutes and cycles. Then, after yielding to any traffic with right of way, (you can) proceed through the intersection.”

Asplundh on tree felling binge on Mile Hill Drive

The in basket: Asplundh Tree Experts have been conspicuously busy along Mile Hill Drive in South Kitsap the past few weeks. They began, it appeared, on Baby Doll Road a few feet off of Mile Hill Drive where they spent at least two days removing branches if not entire trees.

They definitely appeared to be taking down entire trees next to the Abbey Lane apartments just downhill from Harrison Avenue and then went into full tree removal mode just downhill from Jackson Avenue the first week of this month.

You often see Asplundh crews limbing trees as part of Puget Sound Energy’s ongoing vegetation management program to prevent weather-caused power outages. But this was clearly a lot more than than.

The out basket: Indeed it is, says Lindsey Walimaki of PSE. It’s the middle part of a $9 million transmission line-substation upgrade to help curtail power outages in the Manchester area. The substations on Mitchell Avenue and Woods Road have been improved and now work has begun on a new four-mile transmission line that will cost $4 million of the total.

It will run along Mitchell Avenue, Mile Hill Drive, Baby Doll Road, Collins Road and end at the substation just east of Collins on Woods.

Many of the small power poles that now carry distribution lines along that route will be replaced by taller ones that will carry the new transmission lines as well as the

distribution lines. The tree work will continue into April, and the new wires should be strung and in service by June, Lindsey said.

It all includes upgrades at the Long Lake substation too, with that work scheduled from April to July with transmission line work there in July.

Unfortunately for wood gatherers, the wood isn’t available to the public, she said, though private property owners can keep that which is left on their land if they wish. Perhaps a person could make a deal with the property owner. The rest is hauled away.

You can read a lot more about the project and five other ones PSE  has under way or about to start in Kitsap County at its Web site, Click on kitsap at the bottom then Construction Projects in the box on the left of the window.

Most don’t involved a lot of tree work, but there is a pilot project in the Wildcat Lake area of Central Kitsap, and along Seabeck Highway south of Holly Road.

That area is hard hit by power outages, Lindsey said. So the company will experiment will taking limbs above power lines that might fall on them in a windstorm, rather than it’s usual practice of just removing limbs that have grown within reach of the wires.

Three of the other projects described on the Web site are on Bainbridge Island and the sixth is at a substation between Bremerton and Gorst.

X marks the school bus

The in basket: As a South Kitsap school bus turned right while I sat at the Woods Road stop signal on Mile Hill Drive, I noticed a large white X on a black background on its side.

I’d never noticed it before and it seemed vaguely ominous. I subsequently saw other letters of the same kind on other SK buses, and one in Bremerton.

I asked their meaning.

The out basket: Here’s another measure of how far removed from my school days I am at age 68. Jay Rosepepe, transportation director for SK schools, said letters have been on the sides of their buses for about four years, supplementing the numbers that differentiated the buses when I was in school.

They are magnetic and can be moved from bus to bus. It eliminates confusion among the students when a bus has to be pulled out of regular service for maintenance or to carry students out of district, such as for athletics.

Something like it began 15 years ago in the district, when cardboard placards that serve the same purpose were displayed in the bus window or windshield. They got the idea for the magnetized metal ones from Bremerton School District, he said.

They’re used only on the district’s 48 large buses. They already need two letters on about half the buses to avoid duplication, and adding the smaller buses would require three-letter sets. Besides, the close relationship between the drivers and the often-disabled youngsters who ride the small buses reduces possible confusion by itself.

They still use bus numbers, but that’s usually for administrative purposes or in radio communications with the vehicles, he said.

Why might objects in rear view mirror be closer than they appear?

The in basket: Frank Torres asks in an e-mail, “What’s the purpose of passenger side view mirrors showing vehicles farther away than what they really are? Sounds kind of dumb to me,”

The out basket: I Googled the subject to see if my belief that it widens the field of view and reduces the driver’s blind spot was accurate. The results weren’t as quick and helpful as they usually are on Google, but I finally found what seems like confirmation on a site for

It said, “Federal standards require that a vehicle’s rear-view mirror provide the driver with a certain field of view. To meet the requirement, manufacturers often use a convex mirror on the passenger side. It gives a broader view where most vehicles create an area of reduced visibility, frequently called the blind spot.”

I’ll take that as a yes.

State Trooper Russell Winger confirmed it, too, and added something I didn’t know. “Interesting to note,” he said, “that a passenger side mirror is not required when a vehicle is equipped with an inside rear-view mirror.” It’s only required when the vehicle has after-market tinting on any of its windows OR does not have an inside rear-view  mirror. “The left mirror is always required, of course,” he said.