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.

2 thoughts on “Mullenix Road upgrade at 25 mph is tough for trucks

  1. travel that road frequently and every one knows it is a money maker. It appears more dangerous with the 25 speed limit than other wise woild be.

  2. The 25 mph zone is less than 2 blocks, as Bethel-Burley is 45 mph and Mullenix is 35.

    Did they explain the reason why the limit is 25 for such a short distance if not for a speed trap?

    Driving that section daily, I downshift early to maintain RPM. This makes it easy to go over the hill and reduce speed, however I’m sure the nearby residences LOVE the additional noise.

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