Monthly Archives: August 2012

Warren Avenue work for pedestrians will end cross-traffic at 4th, 5th

The in basket: I was surprised Monday when I turned left from Burwell Street to Warren Avenue in Bremerton to find a crew making saw cuts in the pavement of the inside northbound lane. Traffic was reduced to a single lane northbound on Warren almost to Fifth Street. I asked what it was for.

The out basket: Drivers will have to get used to northbound Warren being a single lane from Burwell to Sixth Street. Gunnar Fridriksson of the city’s street engineers said the work is the opening volley of a series of projects to make the city safer for pedestrians and bicyclists wanting to cross busy streets.

As a by-product, it soon will no longer be possible to cross Warren at either Fourth or Fifth streets. Only right turns will be possible at both. A raised island where the walkers and bikes can pause half-way across will block auto cross-traffic at both intersections. It should be the end of T-bone crashes involving cars on Warren and those crossing it at those two streets while giving pedestrians an alternative to dashing across the entire street in one movement.

The raised island will stretch from near Burwell to just past Fifth Street. “(They) are built

with standard 6-inch curb and will have patterned red-concrete infill,” Gunnar said.

Stan  Palmer Construction was the only bidder on the work at $769,600 and was given the contract by city council action on July 18.

Gunnar said 20 city locations have been shown to be dangerous places for pedestrians and bicyclists and the city got funding to address about half of them. Most are less extensive, involving revision to crosswalks, bicycle lanes on Kitsap Way and meeting new Americans with Disability Act requirements. Warren and 16th at the main entrance to Olympic College is the only other one with a new refuge island.

County seems to duplicate effort in Chico Way paving

The in basket: Bob Simonoff, owner of West Shores Interiors on Chico Way writes, “In the past six weeks or so, the county is digging up asphalt on Chico Way NW and replacing it with new strips of asphalt. Today they came back and dug up portions of the road that they had filled a few weeks ago.

“I was just wondering why they are redoing some portions? And what are the costs to taxpayers, for them to re-dig and refill large portions of the street? (not to mention the disruption to our business).”

The out basket: Callene Abernathy of Kitsap County Public Works says the explanation is the same as for what also looked like duplication on Central Valley Road at just about this time last year, subject of a Road Warrior column at the time..

Here is the explanation provided by County Road Superintendent Don Schulz provided then:

““Full depth patching on this section of road was … in response to distressed areas subject to heavy truck and bus traffic.

“…The existing paved shoulders were still in very good condition, and did not need an overlay,” he said. “This allowed us to consider a partial overlay that can result in significant cost savings.

“If you do not overlay the full width of a road surface you must establish a vertical butt joint at the edge of the paving limits. The process of creating that butt joint could lead a passing motorist to conclude we were grinding out the patches we just placed.

“A butt joint is established by grinding a depth of 1½ inches at the outer edge of the travel way to level near the center line of the road. This butt joint did overlap some areas previously patched. We could have left the patches below grade in the interim period between patching and the overlay, but that would have created some safety concerns.

“Using this approach to limit the overlay to the actual travel lanes and creating a butt joint to support that resulted in saving … asphalt, reducing the overlay cost by $40,000 in material alone. The associated labor costs are also lowered by limiting the overlay to the traffic lanes.” (Don figured the savings on Chico Way to be $35,000).

“Some of the fresh patch material was removed, but considering the safety concerns a 1½-inch drop-off would cause in the interim, and the savings created by this approach, I felt the tradeoff was acceptable,” he said.

“It’s also important for readers to know that the asphalt we did remove from the patch is ground up and reused as fill material for shoulder work,” Don said.

Long wait at Kitsap Way signal corrected

 

The in basket: Nancy Danaher wrote Aug. 21 to say, “Sunday morning shortly before 8 a.m.  my husband and I were at the corner of Kitsap Way, the west end, and the interchange of Highway 3. We were headed towards Bremerton.

“The traffic light was red. There was only ONE other car behind us.  No other cars were situated at any of the lights and yet we waited and waited  for a green light.

“What gives that these lights can’t be triggered by the traffic on hand?  I did not run the red light,but I did make a safe decision to get through this interchange. When I was safely back on Kitsap Way and looked in the rear view mirror, the singular other car was still at the red light.

“Any other complaints about this particular light?”

The out basket: No other complaints to me, although my wife and I sat at the end of the southbound off-ramp for quite a while one night several weeks ago, waiting for a green light.

There was a problem with the signal, says Jeff Collins, electrical technician in the city of Bremerton signal shop. It was programmed in such a way that it always thought a pedestrian had pushed the button to activate the walk light to cross Kitsap Way. Being a wide street, that provided a lot of time for the phantom pedestrian, and a long wait for any conflicting auto traffic.

He has removed that condition from the signal’s program so what happened to Nancy and her husband won’t occur, he said.

Nancy’s complaint is what called it to his attention, he said.

Mullenix Road upgrade at 25 mph is tough for trucks

The in basket: Way back in May, Charles Dick got a ticket from a state trooper in the 25 mph zone on a short stretch of Mullenix Road in South Kitsap between Highway 16 and Bethel-Burley Road. He felt that whatever the need is for the reduced speed, it begins at a difficult place for drivers.

“It seems unusual to have a 25 mph limit start at the bottom of the hill instead at the top,” he said. “I realize that the traffic needs to slow down before the stop sign (on Bethel-Burley), but there is a sign for that stop ahead also.

“If I start at 25 mph at the bottom of the hill, it is hard to maintain speed in my old pickup without shifting down. Most people will get a slight ‘run’ at the bottom of a hill in order to maintain speed at the top.

“The speed limit is 35 just under the freeway,” he said, “and reduces to 25 just before the bottom of the hill.  I talked with truck drivers who drive for Morrison Gravel, and they have a tough time getting to the top of the hill when slowing to 25 at the bottom, and have been cited several times for going over the speed limit.

“This has become a LUCRATIVE SPEED TRAP. There is a police officer there almost any morning of the week, writing tickets as fast as they can get repositioned.  They picked my speed at the bottom of the hill, right at the sign.” He said a patrol motorcycle trooper and one in a patrol car work together there.

“The 25 mph limit was installed,along with a school bus stop sign, in the late 60’s or early 70’s when there were children living in a home halfway up the hill.  One of the homes is long gone, and according to the South Kitsap bus schedule, there are no stops between the freeway and Bethel Burley Road.  It seems that the 25 mph sign could be moved to the top of the hill, and still allow drivers to slow for the stop.”

I asked Kitsap County Public Works about Charles’ idea and the state patrol about why it might have concentrated on a short stretch of county road.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer, replied, “The speed limit on that segment of Mullenix Road was set in 1974. We generally review speed limits only when there is some significant change in the roadway, such as increased collision rate, large development along roadway, or change in roadway geometrics.

“There has been little or no change in those areas since the original speed limit was set. The limited sight distance over the hill may have been a consideration in the lowered speed limit there. We do not plan any changes at this time.”

Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the State Patrol here, said, “I have spoken with our two motorcycle troopers about this issue. Neither trooper works this so-called ‘speed trap’ roadway on a regular basis.

“While the WSP focuses primarily on state highways, focusing often on identified problem areas, our troopers do occasionally proactively enforce violations on county roadways. Troopers transit the roadways, both county and state, and enforce the law in many places.

“We often investigate collisions on county roadways and it follows that enforcement to help prevent those collisions is warranted. The section of road you describe may be scarcely populated but it is certainly not scarcely traveled. The residents who live along this section of roadway have a valid expectation that vehicles traveling here will be doing the posted limit when they are pulling out of driveways or slowing to turn into them.

“It seems obvious from his response that Jeff Shea, as well as Kitsap County, feel that the speed limit is warranted in the area and are taking some enforcement in the area as well,” Russ said.

I called Morrison’s and Ken Morrison said though he’s unaware of any of his employees getting a ticket there in one of their trucks (he knows of one cited in his private car), he agrees that the 25 mph limit is too slow on that hill.

I asked him if he thought the state patrol was there because of his trucks, and he said no.

Service club recognition to return to Bremerton entrances

The in basket: Two years ago, Hank Mann-Sykes, the Silverdale legend who has since passed away, asked me and Mayor Patty Lent of Bremerton why there no longer were clusters of service club signs posted at the entrances to Lent’s city.

I never got him an answer, though he also e-mailed Patty so may have gotten one from the horse’s mouth.

When I ran into Patty at the recent Manette Edible Gardens Tour, I brought up Hank’s question, and she arranged for me to get an answer.

The out basket: It comes from her and her parks director Wyn Birkenthal, who she has directed to come up with a way to restore recognition of the service clubs and their meeting times and places to the city limits.

Wyn is doubly invested in this, by the order from his boss and by inquiries from his fellow Bremerton Central Lions, who let him know they’d “really like to see them restored.

“Patty brought it up in a department head meeting and most of us were quick to realize the clubs do a public service, and it would be a good thing to have,” Wyn said.

Patty said the old signs went away as part of her predecessor Cary Bozeman’s program to standardize the city’s non-traffic signs in a bold blue color.

Wyn is working on selecting a design to present to the mayor and city council and proposing sites that are “appropriate and visible and not next to an array of other signs so that they would be lost.”

He also will be seeking financial support from the service clubs to help with the installation and maintenance of whatever gets approved.

“The way budgets are we need participation from the service clubs in order to pull something off,” he said.

He doesn’t haves a deadline to get it done, he said.

As for Bozeman’s sign legacy, I’ve been trying to get an explanation for a peculiarity of them. Signs on Park Avenue at Sixth Street route drivers looking for the Manette Bridge north on Park to 11th Street and then right on 11th.

That’s not the way I’d go. I’d turn right on Sixth. Perhaps one of you readers know and can tell us why the longer 11th Street route would be preferred by anyone.

 

 

Fircrest Drive trench patches rankle reader

The in basket: James Seabolt writes, “Maybe you could tell me why it is that when road work and repairs are made in Kitsap County the result is like a war zone. I think that every time I take a drive down Bethel Avenue in Port Orchard I need a front end alignment .

“I just came from Fircrest Drive off Mile Hill Drive and there are three places between the Mile Hill intersection and the fire department that were just patched and they feel like speed bumps.

“If a tax payer was to have work done on his own driveway at home there is no way we would accept the type of work done by the county. I know the excuse that the dirt settles different area-to-area and that’s bull. Seattle water and city light have long ago gone to filling there repairs with slurry, a cement-type product to fill in the repair under the pavement and the repairs are smooth.

“Why is it that we will accept sub-standard work from the county when we as taxpayers would not accept the same work at our own home?”

The out basket: I count five places a temporary patch has been made on Fircrest in the area James mentions.

Staged work is fairly common in the county, and in this case it’s the West Sound Utility District, the south end’s major water and sewer provider, and not the county doing the work.

Brent Winters, operations manager for West Sound, said the rough patches were done with what’s called cold mix, and were just to keep the material in place and avoid pot holes’ forming. The district is soliciting bids for a permanent pavement repair with hot mix asphalt, which will be smooth.

He said the ditching was done to change water connections of nine homes and businesses from an old 2-inch main to a newer 8-inch main to improve the quality of the water those customer receive.

As for Bethel Avenue, it’s subject to work to turn it into a main business corridor, but funding is uncertain and it just changed hands from the county to the city of Port Orchard besides. So no one wants to spend big bucks on permanent roadway improvements until it’s certain they’ll be there for the long run.

Jarring drop at shopping center could be serious

The in basket: I talked with Bob Baxter at a class reunion and he asked me about something I’d noticed but hadn’t bothered to inquire about.

There is in the deceleration lane for turning right into South Park Village in South Kitsap a utility box that has dropped a couple inches below the asphalt level, creating a pretty good jolt when one’s wheel hits it.

I was most curious about whether it was a new problem, as I’d made that right turn into that shopping center dozens of times over the years, but only began hitting it this summer. I must have hit it three times before learning to avoid it.

It seemed too inconsequential to bother asking the county about, but Bob pointed out it could be “a very dangerous situation if a motorcycle or bicycle came in contact with it.”

So I asked.

The out basket: Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works says they were unaware of it until I passed along Bob”s inquiry. It’s part of the controls for the traffic signal there, he said. and they will get it raised soon. He didn’t say and probably doesn’t know if the subsidence was recent.

New Silverdale signal on Ridgetop has a skeptic

The in basket: Jerry Van Fossen has his doubts about Kitsap County plans to put a stop signal at the off-ramp from southbound Highway 303 at Ridgetop Boulevard in Silverdale.

“That red light is going to create additional havoc for those heading west,” he predicts. “They will have four lights within a quarter mile.

“The  only problem is rush hours. Just forbid left turns from 3 to 6 p.m.,” he proposes.”What you will do there is back up traffic heading west.”

Eastbound traffic out of Silverdale greatly outnumbers left turn traffic at that off-ramp, he said.

Jerry’s may be a lone voice objecting to the traffic light, a project the county took out of the state’s hands in order, they expect, to lessen one bottleneck on a route likely to get a lot more use next year when they widen Bucklin Hill Road.

A signal at that on-ramp is one of the most common requests made to the Road Warrior column, and I would expect a no-left-turn limitation there in the afternoons to be wildly unpopular with those who use that off-ramp in the afternoons. There are no convenient alternate routes, especially for those who had come south on Highway 3.

I asked county Public Works about Jerry’s concerns.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer says, “Currently the delays and the safety issues related to the Highway 303 southbound offramp clearly justify a signal on the west side on/off ramps.

“The new signals will be interconnected with a fiber optics line to the Myhre signal.  We hope to  eventually connect Hillsboro also.

“I can’t give you a date on when that might happen – (it’s a) budget and manpower issue.

“The new signal will be under the control of the state.  (It) has many highway ramps with signalized intersections on both ramp terminals, including the SR 303/Silverdale ramps.  They have the trained personnel to make the signal timing coordination as facilitating as possible, and they are willing to work with us on signal coordinations.  “I can’t make the claim that this won’t impact the other delays, but they should be minimal if at all.

“We have received a request to look at extending the right turn lane for westbound traffic on the eastside of SR 303.  This would shorten the queues by allowing more motorists to reach that turn lane without getting delayed in the through-lane queue.

“The project is currently being evaluated in our Transportation Improvement Program.”

 

 

 

Glenwood Road block wall could be made safer, says reader

The in basket: Howard Highland of South Kitsap writes, “I live near the end of Glenwood Road (where) there is a big block wall and a stop sign.  So far, we have lost two young boys on this wall.

“The county has done nothing so slow the impact of the cars hitting this wall,” he said. “It seems to me barrels filled with water could help to save a life.

“I would love to see something done to stop the impact and save a few  young boys,” he concluded.

I asked Kitsap County Public Works  if they are aware of the deaths and about the practicality of Mr. Highland’s suggestion.

The out basket:  Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, says, “We are aware of the fatalities at this location. During the last five years, the only collision at that location is that fatality collision.

“Safety improvements are expensive, and we use the limited funds available in areas where there is a history of collisions, and where improvements reduce the frequency of collisions. The severity of this single accident, while tragic, was not a result of safety concerns at this location.

“We continue to review collision histories to ensure safety improvements are made in areas that need them most,” Jeff said.

 

Northbound speed limit on Bremerton bridge puzzles driver

The in basket: Jeff Hill e-mails to say, “Traveling north over the Warren Avenue Bridge (in Bremerton), it isn’t real clear

where the speed limit changes from 35 to 30. There is a reduced speed ahead sign near the top of the bridge, but no actual speed limit sign until after Sheridan Road. There is a light pole near where the Callahan ramp merges with Warren that has empty sign brackets.

“Since Bremerton PD and WSP heavily patrol this area at night, I would like to know when I need to slow down,” Jeff said.

The out basket: I guessed there is a sign missing, since the speed limit in the southbound direction changes from 30 to 35 mph at the beginning of the bridge, and I thought that’s probably where it changes northbound. But I guessed wrong.

The 35 mph zone that begins at the south end of the bridge for northbound traffic continues all the way past Sheridan, city street engineer Gunnar Fridriksson says. If there’s a speed limit sign near Albertson’s on the other side of Sheridan, that’s where the speed limit changes.

It’s one of the rare places the speed limit in one direction of a highway is different than in the other direction. (Highway 3 between Highway 304 and Kitsap Way is another.)

Gunnar says the southbound speed limit is lower because of the short tapered merge for traffic coming on from Callahan Drive.

“I would suggest your reader consider the 35 mph

zone for northbound from the south end of the bridge to Sheridan Road,” he said.

“As far as the empty sign brackets by the Callahan ramp,” he said, “I believe those

are to a directional sign which broke a post.”  It’s awaiting replacement.