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
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
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
on red, they would not be issued a citation as they originally
If you stop behind the vehicle that is stopped at the stop bar
follow them through without stopping at the stop bar, that would
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.”
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
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.
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
“If this happens, the customer can call customer service, have
the license plate added to their account and the toll deducted from
“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 http://youtu.be/IX0rFjPuNV4.”
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.
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
Reader Jan Luckcuck wrote last week saying it’s still happening,
twice to her in the previous two weeks while she was in the
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
Do any of you old-timers, perhaps residents of that area,
recall what led to the strange arrangement?
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
“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)
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.
The in basket: Don Brandvold writes to say, “I was driving over
the Tacoma Narrows Bridge the other night and noticed how dark the
“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
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
“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, narrowsbridgelights.org, isn’t being updated,
she said, and my browser couldn’t find it. .
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
“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.
“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.
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
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
Though the rubberized sealant initially passed inspection, a
of heavy traffic, high temperatures and minimal cure time
combined to allow uncured sealant material to break the surface
stick to the tires of passing traffic.
“Once on the tires, this material adhered to other freshly
exposed more uncured sealant material and expanded the problem.
vehicles traveled west onto the newly chip-sealed section of
project, the sticky substance picked up loose rocks, causing
material to build up on vehicle tires.
Effected drivers should call the WSDOT Risk Management Office at
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
“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.
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
“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
“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.