Monthly Archives: July 2012

Unexpected red light camera flash worried driver

The in basket: Galen Danis, who I encountered during the recent Edible Gardens tour of Manette, said he was puzzled by something he saw early one morning in Bremerton.

He was turning from westbound 11th Street onto Callow Avenue about 4 a.m. when the red light camera that watches for violations on northbound Callow flashed. There was no car on Callow at the intersection to trigger the flash, he said.

He had a green light for his turn and the camera doesn’t react to cross traffic on 11th, but he sweated it for a few weeks wondering if a citation would arrive in the mail. But that never happened.

He also wonders what constitutes a full stop, required at a red light to make a right turn on red legal. If a driver stops at the stop bar, then edges forward for a better view of cross-traffic and doesn’t stop again before turning, is that a violation, he asked.

The out basket: Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police said the system and its technicians run occasional checks, which will cause the strobes to flash. It’s a normal occurrence.

As to the second question,” Pete said, “stop means a complete cessation of movement.  If a car stops at the stop

bar and then creeps up to get a better view and then makes a right turn

on red, they would not be issued a citation as they originally stopped.”

If you stop behind the vehicle that is stopped at the stop bar and then

follow them through without stopping at the stop bar, that would be a


Reasoning behind WSP license designation

The in basket: Bremerton’s Byrd Thibodaux, as he’s calling himself these days, says, “Every state and local license plate I’ve seen has XMT on it, but not those of the Washington State Patrol. Why do they not have State XMT plates?  Does the WSP pay extra for these type plates?

“I’ve been told that the registration for unmarked state cars (like for investigators) has a fictitious name/address on the registration record.  Why is that needed since only authorized persons can access DOL vehicle registration records?” he asked.

The out basket: Brad Benfield of the state Department of Licensing, says, “Our state’s confidential license plate program provides two options for government and law enforcement agencies that would like to put ‘regular’ license plates on a government-owned vehicle used for law enforcement purposes.

“These agencies can choose to have the vehicle record reflect the agency’s ownership and include the agency name and address on the vehicle record,” he said. “This is the option most commonly chosen when an agency is using an “unmarked” vehicle and doesn’t want it to stand out based on the license plates.

“The second option is getting a confidential plate that shows a fictitious registered owner name and address on the record. This option is used when a vehicle is being used for undercover operations when the ownership of the vehicle, if discovered, could jeopardize an ongoing investigation or endanger the safety of officer using the vehicle.

“When these types of plates are issued to an agency, we also provide a registration certificate that include the fictitious name and address provided by the agency applying for the undercover plate. This is important in case a passenger sees the registration, the undercover officer is required to show it for some reason, or the vehicle is broken into.

“While it is certainly true that access to vehicle records is limited, there are situations where individuals or businesses with access to vehicle records could come across this information and potentially jeopardize an investigation. For example, this could happen if the vehicle is towed or gets a ticket in a private parking lot. And, of course, the need to have a truly confidential license plate is very important if an officer from a law enforcement agency is called on to investigate an officer from another law enforcement agency.

“The Washington State Patrol does take advantage of the confidential plate program along with other local, state and federal agencies,” Brad said.

Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for WSP here, added, “The WSP plates are used on marked and unmarked patrol vehicles are the officer’s badge number. These plates follow the officer when they are assigned another vehicle due to fleet rotation, when the officer moves to a new geographic work location or when the officer changes badge numbers due to promotion. The WSP pays DOL for the set initially ($3 per set) and the plates are used until they are worn or damaged beyond reasonable usage,” Russ said. “This is cost effective in that the WSP does not have to buy a new set each time a car is issued. I do not know the cost of supplying XMT plates but I don’t think it could be substantially different.”


Will Narrows Bridge ever be toll-free?

The in basket: Melinda Knapp asks, “Is there a place where we can see the breakdown on how much has been collected and paid toward the price of building the (Tacoma Narrows) bridge?  Will this toll always be in place or will it be discontinued when the bridge has been ‘paid for’?

The out basket: The plan from the beginning has been for the tolls to retire the bonds that paid for the bridge in 2030, and that the bridge would become toll-free then. That still is the expectation, says Annie Johnson of the state’s Good to Go! toll office.

Projections before the bridge opened were that the toll would be $6 per crossing by 2016 and stay there through 2030, but that didn’t differentiate between various kinds of tolls, and may not have even envisioned license plate tolling. And as we have seen, raising the tolls is a political process involving a citizens committee and the state Transportation Commission.

“We do post quarterly financial statements for all our toll facilities online,” Annie said. “You and your readers can find the Tacoma Narrows Bridge financial statements online at


Is 25 cents added to everyone’s toll during bridge lanes closure?

The in basket: When an e-mail rolled in on July 24 saying all traffic crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that night would have to pass through the toll plaza while work was done on the through lanes where windshield mounted transponders play a large roll in toll collection, it took me back a few weeks.

That’s when I was reminded, for a column about how locals can pay for their guests’ tolls, that transponders can’t be read at the toll plaza. License plate tolling, the other option in the through lanes, does work there, but adds 25 cents to the toll.

I asked Annie Johnson of the Good to Go! toll collection office if everyone has to pay the extra 25 cents if they cross the bridge during the 9 p.m. to 4 p.m. closure of the mainline.

The out basket: No, Annie said, though, the extra 25 cents will show up on the Good to Go! accounts that can be viewed online shortly after the crossing.

Their computers cross-match license plates captured during the closure with the Good to Go! data base and reverse the 25-cent charge for this with transponders, she said.

“If a Good To Go! customer hasn’t added (or updated) the license plate on their account they may receive a toll bill in the mail,” Annie added. “This is another reason it’s important to keep your license plate and other information updated on your account.

“If this happens, the customer can call customer service, have the license plate added to their account and the toll deducted from their account.”

“We have a video that explains how electronic tolling works that might be of interest to you and your readers,” Annie added. ” It explains how it works and how we generate pass, Pay By Plate and Pay By Mail transactions. You can check it out at”

That site also has a link to the historic film of the 1940 collapse of the original Narrows Bridge in a wind storm.

When I was a kid, we had to wait for an occasional showing of the film on the TV show “You Asked for It,” hosted by Art Baker, as I recall. Now it’s available 24/7 on the Web.

Odd E. 11th/Trenton intersection questioned

The in basket: While touring food gardens in Manette Saturday during the Edible Garden Tour, I talked with Karen Danis at her Jacobsen Boulevard home, one of those on the tour.

She asked me about what she considers the counter-intuitive traffic control on East 11th Street at Trenton Avenue, a few blocks from their home, where drivers may continue without stopping in the left turn onto Trenton. Drivers on Trenton northbound must stop and the very few wanting to continue south on Trenton must yield. Her husband, Galen, said he makes a hard right from Jacobsen’s angled approach, then left to approach the turn at a right angle and stay out of the way of cars turning from East 11th to Trenton.

The out basket: I told them the intersection had been that way for as long as I can recall, and I doubt the city would change it, barring a rash of accidents there. It would change driver’s expectations after decades of it being as it is.

As an example, there still are many drivers coming off the Manette Bridge and not yielding to traffic in the new roundabout there, which I think is attributable to the decades of them having the right of way when leaving the bridge. That changed just this year.

Reader Jan Luckcuck wrote last week saying it’s still happening, twice to her in the previous two weeks while she was in the roundabout.

I’m unable to guess what experience caused the city to allow lefts without stopping on East 11th at Trenton, and I imagine anyone in city government at the time who would know is long gone.

Do any of you old-timers, perhaps residents of that area, recall  what led to the strange arrangement?

Why is outside lane on Warren at 11th blocked?

The in basket: Ken Attebery asks “Why does the southbound right turn lane from Warren to 11th (in Bremerton) remain blocked off?  There does not seem to be a current condition that warrants this.

“If the once planned expansion of the intersection (now called off or postponed, I assume) were under construction,” Ken said, “I could see this lane being coned off but……”

Chris Murphy also asked me what happened to the Warren Avenue upgrade from 11th to 13th. ” We really do need that turn fixed,” Chris said..

The out basket: It’s simply to reinforce the fact that 11th Street is closed several blocks ahead for sewer work, to minimize the number of drivers who unexpectedly run into the barricade, says Gunnar Fridriksson of the city of Bremerton street engineers.

It’s still possible to turn right from the second lane from the curb, as well as usng it to go straight.

“Our current contractor schedule has the (11th Street) closure

ending August 20th, so just a few more weeks now,” he added.

He also said the city still intends to lengthen the southbound right turn lane, the southbound left turn lane, add a traffic signal on Warren at 13th Street at Olympic College’s expense and replace the signals at 11th and Warren this year, but not until 11th Street reopens.

It originally was scheduled for last year, but they decided to wait because the Manette Bridge was to be under construction and then closed for a time and Warren was the only detour. Big opening on the work on Warren will be Aug. 7.

What happened to plans for Narrow Bridge lights?

The in basket: Don Brandvold writes to say, “I was driving over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge the other night and noticed how dark the bridges are.

“Right after the new bridge was build, a group started collecting money to have lights on both bridges up the cabled walkways.  What happened to the project and also the money?  Will it ever happen?”

The out basket: There still is hope, says Desa Gese Coniff, a Tacoma lawyer who speaks for the organization. But they have been unsuccessful so far in getting final state approval for what they want to do.

They were very close to a start on the project, she said, when the state’s mounting financial problems caused it to take away money the group was expecting.

Then a lead state engineer objected to the plans that had gotten earlier approval, and efforts to get approval drag on. Assignment of the objecting engineer to the Alaskan Way viaduct project may be a factor, she guessed.

She also said the state so far doesn’t want the lights they are proposing to be used to their full capability, specifically changing colors and blinking.

“We have continued to tweak our plan for his approval and have found another light that would cost less,” she said. “We haven’t heard anything lately.” They seek to light both the old and new bridges.

They haven’t actually raised any money yet, she said, something they avoided to keep from having to return it. They’ll seek donations from private sources after the state signs off on the work.

“We have put thousands of hours into this, but until we can get the past this DOT issue, we can’t proceed,” she said.

Their Web site,, isn’t being updated, she said, and my browser couldn’t find it. .


Port Orchard man stuck in gooey Cle Elum area mess


The in basket: As I sometimes do, my interest today wanders over the mountains where Port Orchard’s Allan Limbocker seeks an explanation of something he encountered near Cle Elum on July 6.

“We were driving from Cashmere to Port Orchard. About 2 p.m. we encountered a very bad stretch of roadway on Highway 970 just past the cutoff to Ellensburg.

“The roadway became very hard to navigate,” he said. “It was like they had just dumped gunk on the road and then just left it. No workers were visible. Drivers were trying to drive on the shoulder to avoid having their vehicles coated/splashed with whatever was on the road.

“Many drivers pulled over and were trying to scrape the gunk off of their vehicles with sticks or their hands.  The substance was falling onto the road as the cars continued to drive.  We finally stopped in Cle Elum and our truck was a mess.

Some of what Allan brought home

“I am wondering what was on the road, and who is responsible for the destruction that it caused on multiple vehicles, including motor homes, boats, and trucks. I did not know what to use to clean my truck and tried to kind of roll it off. Nothing seemed to work. That next morning a pile had fallen off of the truck and was just lying in the driveway.

“This was extremely dangerous and damaging to the vehicles.

He collected some…

The out basket: Allan saw a chip seal operation overtopping a crack sealing operation, a very common form of inexpensive paving used by many jurisdictions. Since the common practice is to let traffic travel over gravel spread atop a layer of oil, letting the tires help compact the gravel into a driving surface, you wouldn’t necessarily see work crews.

There often are complaints about rocks flying during the compaction, but the Cle Elum experience was worse.

In this case, says Mike Westbay of WSDOT’s communications office there, either rising heat on a hot day or something else caused a rubberized material used to seal the worst cracks on the highway to seep up through the oil and gravel.

“Construction vehicles had

driven over it without material sticking to the tires so traffic control

signs were taken down and crews were preparing to leave for the week,” Mike said.

“At about 1 p.m., the rubberized sealant began sticking to vehicle tires.

Though the rubberized sealant initially passed inspection, a half-hour

of heavy traffic, high temperatures and minimal cure time likely

combined to allow uncured sealant material to break the surface and

stick to the tires of passing traffic.

“Once on the tires, this material adhered to other freshly sealed cracks,

exposed more uncured sealant material and expanded the problem. As

vehicles traveled west onto the newly chip-sealed section of the

project, the sticky substance picked up loose rocks, causing the

material to build up on vehicle tires.

Effected drivers should call the WSDOT Risk Management Office at 1-800-737-0615

for instructions on submitting a claim, he said.


Gunk on Limbocker truck

Political signs among those not legally put on highway right of way

The in basket: Herron Miller, the Sun’s night new editor, emailed July 2 to say, “Saw something on way into work this afternoon you might ask about.

“I was coming off southbound Highway 3 to turn left onto Kitsap Way. A DOT truck was parked at corner of the exit ramp and Kitsap Way. A worker was putting several yard signs into the truck. One that I could see was a political yard sign. Not sure where he pulled them from, but they were ending up in the back of his truck.

“Just wondering what are the rules on yard signs? They seem to litter the sides of roads everywhere … why would the ones he was taking be targeted?

The out basket: Duke Stryker, supervisor of state highway maintenance crews here, says his employees rarely make a special trip to deal with such signs, but will remove them if they are on other business, such as litter removal. The signs will get more directed attention if they obstruct driver vision.

It’s not legal to put them on state highway right of way, and that includes political signs, he said. He thinks candidates get a flyer from election  offices telling them that.

His office hangs on to removed signs for a while, in case the candidate or business wants to reclaim them.

And he denied a common accusation, that his crews target one party or another or one side of an issue.


Why are left turns banned from Park onto Burwell?

The in basket: Nancy Thayer of Bremerton wrote to say, “I noticed that when driving south on Park,  there is no left turn allowed onto Burwell.  What is the reasoning behind that?  I could understand if cars traveling on Park had a stop sign rather than a light, but since they do have a light it seems silly not to allow them to turn left.”

She also wonders if the flashing yellow turn signals on Sixth Street will be kept when the detour around the 11th Street sewer project closure that prompted there installation ends in August.

“I hope not because it is such a pain to have to wait in a left turn lane when nothing is coming toward you,” she said.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the Bremerton street engineers says the left-turn prohibition at the south end of Park is temporary and construction related, but not the 11th Street work.

“The construction in Park Avenue (a block north) cut the traffic (detectors) for this movement so there was no way for the signal to detect vehicles,” he said.”We did not want to put this signal on timed cycle and have it conflict with outgoing ferry traffic, so a quick and simple fix was to prohibit the movement – especially as the roadway has been closed most of the time with construction.

“With the construction nearly complete, we should be removing the restriction here shortly.”

As I’ve reported here before, the yellow flashing left turn lights, installed with money that came from the sewer project to facilitate movement on the designated detour, will be kept in service when 11th Street reopens.