Monthly Archives: November 2012

Silverdale Way two-way turn lane is a concern to reader

The in basket: Kay Daling said in an e-mail, “On Silverdale Way in front of Burger King I have witnessed many situations with too many cars trying to use the two-way left turn lane at the same time.

“People pull in, realize someone is blocking their left turn and try to pull back out into traffic to pull around and go back into the left turn lane. Others pull over, but hang out into the go ahead traffic lane  because there is not enough room for them due to so many other cars already in the lane.

“The situation just keeps getting worse as more people use Silverdale Way. This is a hazard and I was wondering if the county has any plans to address the issue, like maybe the barrier on Myhre Way blocking left turns into the driving lane next to Pet Smart.

“This area was never as bad as that on Silverdale Way and they put in a barrier.  Maybe one is needed on Silverdale Way,” Kay said.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, says, “We currently don’t have any plans to do anything specifically at this location.  There is a proposed plan that is looking at the feasibility of installing a signal with the development of the community campus. This signal would provide access to the community campus onto Silverdale Way and, in some fashion, incorporate access to the shopping center across the street.

“Comparing this location to the location on Myhre, this location had 19 reported collisions in a five-year period (about 3.8 per year), while Myhre had nine collisions in just 13 months, well over twice the rate of Silverdale Way’s.

“That rate is just based on collisions and time.  When we do a collision rate analysis we (also) look at the volume of traffic on the road.  So the rate on Silverdale drops down dramatically due to the much higher volume of traffic it has compared to Myhre.

“On Myhre, we contacted all the property owners for their input to the decision.  Restricting this access did not impact the businesses in this complex too detrimentally.  There are two other accesses off Myhre, and RIdgetop and Mickelberry have multiple accesses.  Putting restrictions on the shopping center’s access (would) have considerable impact on the stores in the Silverdale Way complex.

“We will continue to monitor the collisions on Silverdale Way through our safety report analysis process,” Jeff said.

 

 

‘Yellow trap’ and oncoming emergency vehicles

The in basket: Rob Shafer of Yukon Harbor in South Kitsap writes, “The other day I was traveling west on Mile Hill Drive approaching Woods Road when an ambulance approached from the other direction.

“It appeared that all of the through traffic lights had been triggered to red as cars were stopped in both directions and my light was red. However, the left turn arrow on Mile Hill was still flashing yellow where an inattentive driver could make a turn directly in front of the emergency vehicle.

“Is there some fault with the emergency system where it does not turn all lights red on the approach of the emergency vehicle? This is not the first time I have seen this,” he said.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, traffic engineer in Kitsap County Pubic Works,

says the signal was working as intended and explains what Rob has seen.

“Emergency vehicle drivers are trained to watch out for motorists that make illegal movements, such as turning in front of an oncoming vehicle on a flashing yellow arrow,” Jeff said.  “We held several discussions with emergency vehicle operators to go over this situation and make them aware of what the signal configuration will (be).

“When a signal is ‘preempted’ for an emergency vehicle the whole intersection does not go red.  The direction the vehicle is traveling will go green while the side and opposing traffic will get red indications, except for the flashing yellow arrow in the opposing direction.

“The reason the flashing yellow arrow continues to flash is to avoid what is called the ‘yellow trap.’  The yellow trap occurs when a left turning vehicle with a green ball or yellow flashing arrow gets a steady yellow ball and assumes that oncoming traffic is also getting the yellow ball and turns in front of that vehicle assuming that it is coming to stop for the upcoming red light.  This condition caused so many collisions that the federal guidance manual, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, specifically restricts agencies from configuring signal systems to allow this.

“Therefore, we continue the flashing yellow arrow, and hope that motorists obey both the legal requirements not turn in front of traffic, or an emergency vehicle with its lights and sirens on.

“There is another option which requires us to terminate all the movements that are going at the time of preemption.  In this situation, also, the MUTCD is very clear that we cannot shorten any of the clearance times – the yellow and red times.

“So, by the time all those clearance times are complete and the green ball comes back up for the preempted direction the emergency vehicle may already be at or beyond the intersection making the preemption.  We felt this was not a good option.”

 

 

What does Warren Avenue barrier mean to parade route?

The in basket: Among the questions and comments generated by the center median the city of Bremerton had installed on Warren Avenue, consuming one northbound lane between Burwell and Sixth streets and blocking cross-traffic at Fourth and Fifth street, is a simple question from James Hochstein: “How will the Armed Forces day parade be accommodated?”

The out basket: I’m guessing the former parade route must have crossed Warren on either Fourth or Fifth.

Gunna Fridriksson of the city street engineers says, “We did discuss this with the Armed Forces parade committee last winter.  At the time they were pretty busy with the 2012 parade and deferred discussion, but we did discuss some of the other staging options, such as Park Avenue.

“My expectation is that right after the New Year, we will get together and work it out,” Gunnar said.

‘Yield to uphill traffic’ sign on SR104 confuses driver

The in basket: Chuck Regimbal e-mailed to say, “A while back I was traveling west on Highway 104. About a mile before it intersects with Highway 101 there is a long downhill run. Near the top of this hill is a sign for downhill traveling vehicles to ‘yield to uphill traffic.'”

I am confused by this sign,” he said. “Why is it there? The uphill traveling traffic has two lanes, one for slow traffic. Further, I thought that ‘Yield to uphill traffic’ was meant for uphill traveling traffic to yield to downhill traveling traffic.  If so, the sign should be on the other side of the road.

“When on forest roads, and going downhill with a trailer in tow, it is more difficult to back a trailer up a hill than for the driver positioned
downhill from the encounter to back down the hill.  So ‘yield to uphill
traffic’ is really meant for the driver traveling (moving) in the uphill
direction,” he said. then asked. “How should this be interpreted?”

The out basket: I don’t know what might be the rule on forest roads, which might not even be two lanes wide. But the sign he mentions is intended to tell those driving in the single downhill lane on three-lane Highway 104 that they cannot try to pass a car going in the same direction if there is a vehicle coming uphill in the inside lane close enough to be imperiled by the act of passing. The vehicle traveling uphill has the right of way.

Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the state’s Olympic Region, says the stripe separating the two directions of travel is dashed on the downhill side, permitting passing when no oncoming traffic is close by.

Uphill traffic couldn’t benefit from seeing the sign, as that side has a solid yellow stripe that forbids crossing it to pass. Uphill traffic already has two lanes in which to get around one another.

Why are Gorst, NK construction zone signs still up?

The in basket: Jack Carson wrote me on Oct. 21 to say, “Signage was posted this summer along north-bound Highway 3 near State Route 308 for paving operations on Highway 3.  The signs indicating road work and ramp closures, completed in early August, are still in place along the north-bound exit and on-ramp to/from SR 308, and signs a mile north indicate the end of the road work zone.

“Who is responsible for removing this signage litter – the state, the county, or the contractor; and why haven’t the signs been removed? ”

I don’t know if those North Kitsap signs still are there now, a month later, but the ones around Gorst, which was part of the same paving project, still are. I asked the state, which contracted for the work, if there is something remaining to be done.

The out basket: Kelly Stowe of the state’s Olympic Region, says, “There are still a couple nights of permanent signing work to be done next week (it would have been done this week but the weather was too bad).

“After that, all the work zone signs will be removed.  I would expect that they will be removed sometime next week.  We did not forget them!” she said.

Order street lights early and store them, if needed, says reader

The in basket: When Jeff Griswold read the earlier Road Warrior about the delay in getting needed street light equipment for the new Silverdale-Chico-Newberry roundabout, (and similar experiences by various jurisdictions on that kind of project), he succinctly wrote, “when a project starts, order them and if they get delivered early…. store them somewhere.  I am sure there is a place things like that can sit until needed.”

I told the county that was my reaction too when they said the equipment was ordered on time but the manufacturer didn’t deliver it on time.

I also see by way of a front page story this week that late delivery of a signal pole is responsible for delay in the city of Bremerton’s Warren Avenue work.

The out basket: Tina Nelson, senior program manager for Kitsap County Public Works, called Jeff’s suggestion ‘”a very reasonable idea,” and one that is used, but there can be issues with warranties when items are sitting in a yard somewhere.

She also said the early completion of the rest of the Silverdale project exaggerated the apparent length of the delay.

“A consideration is made on every project,” she said, “as to how we are going to deal with long lead items.  Purchase ahead, set up contract with lead time, suspend the project for material purchase, and more. Every solution has its own pros and cons.

“On the roundabout, we had the poles, (but) the arms were delayed.  All materials were ordered in time with a shipping date provided to the contractor acceptable to the meet the project schedule. This was never seen as an issue, until the contractor was able to get the paving done ahead of schedule, and the streetlight arms were delayed at the last minute. The benefit of the early paving to the quality of the project, and leaving out the potential delay for weather, was huge, but not one that is easily communicated to and understood by the public.  They see what they see, which is how it works.”

 

Advertising sign twirlers OK if they stay out of the street

The in basket: Beatrice Goods wrote back in May to say, “In Silverdale on nearly every Sunday for the last several weeks, Ashley Furniture has had sign twirlers posted at the three major intersections on the right when we were driving north through town.

“This activity is unsettling because of the twirlers proximity to the road while twirling, juggling, tossing, catching the signs and sort of dancing around,” Beatrice said.  “I find this distracting and irritating because they are too close to the road.

“Is it legal for them to be that close?  Far be it from me to deprive someone of a job but I am not all that confident in the manipulators ability to keep control of that sign when the traffic is moving. The one last Sunday wasn’t as good as others I have seen.  Has anyone else questioned this unnerving practice?”
The out basket: I often wonder at the proliferation of these animated human advertisements and what proportion of the nation’s supposed growth in jobs can be attributed to them.

Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office was deliberate in his research on this, and now has replied.

” Over the years law enforcement has received a few complaints about these activities,” he said.

“We’ve seen many around the county, not just in Silverdale’s urban retail area:  persons advertising income tax preparation, furniture sales, motor vehicle oil changes and youth organization car washes to name a few.  We’ve seen people dressed as gorillas and bears.  There have been children with lemonade stands alongside roadways and folks advertising garage / yard sales.  In a few weeks as the holiday season approaches, we may see persons attired as Santa Claus, elves and reindeer drawing attention to their particular establishment’s holiday offerings.

“And there also have been roadside protestors who have staged themselves, with signs and banners, to voice their opinion against a variety of issues, be they local, state or national topics.

“While from a safety aspect the sheriff’s office is aware of the possibility of driver distraction, especially those where the ‘advertising person’ is twirling a signboard that resembles a very large skateboard or snowboard, the persons engaged in such activity are not committing any offense under state law or county code.

“They are allowed to exercise their right to free speech, provided the person does not enter into the roadway or otherwise obstruct traffic.  Standing on sidewalks, roadway shoulders or on private property (with owner’s permission) is well within their rights.

“However, should the person engaged in twirling lose control of said twirled object, and it strikes a vehicle or otherwise is the cause of a traffic collision or some other type of damage, then that person certainly will find themselves the subject of scrutiny by a sheriff’s deputy investigating the incident.”

 

Big change coming in getting your drivers license

The in basket: Matt McMillen, co-owner of 911 Driving School in Port Orchard, asked me in an e-mail, “Are you aware that starting Dec. 1, the Department of Licensing is allowing local driving schools to administer the written and driving tests in order to obtain a drivers license?

“At 911 Driving School, we have been doing the written test since 2010, but the driving test is a huge jump!  I think this would be an informative article for your readers. There may be a lot of confusion and questions when the transition happens.”

The out basket: No, I was not aware of that. I hadn’t gotten even a whiff of this happening. So I asked the state DOL about it.

Christine Anthony of DOL replied that this has been going on in King County since Oct. 1, pursuant to a new state law.

“This is a big change in the way we do business and it will remove one of the most time-consuming transactions people have to do in our offices,” said DOL Director Alan Haight in a September news release I hadn’t seen. “It also will reduce wait times for other customers who must come into an office.”

They decided to start in King County, where the waits have been the longest, and set a Dec. 1 date for going statewide, including here. They stopped the written and driving portions of the exams in two King County offices in October.

Christine says driving schools have to apply to do the tests, and so far 911 is the only Kitsap school to do so. State-certified public school driver training programs and motorcycle schools also are eligible.

You don’t have to be a student of the driving school to take the tests, Christine said

All schools qualified by Dec. 1 will be listed by then on the DOL Web site.

Written and driving testing will continue in the DOL offices here as well as at the driving schools for the time being. But the objective is clearly to free up DOL employees for other duties the offices perform and reduce wait times for those services.

No DOL employees are losing their jobs due to the new program, she said.

911 Driving School has been doing the written tests since 2010 under a pilot program that preceded passage of the law that expanded it to the driving skills portion of the test.

In determining what existing DOL offices will continue giving the tests, Christine said, “we are looking at several factors including testing demand, the number of licensed driver training schools in the vicinity, and how far customers would have to travel to take a test. The legislation allows us to continue testing in one licensing service office in each of our eight districts, so we will work toward that direction.”

It will cost more to take the tests at a driving school, but DOL thinks the added convenience will be worth it.

“The DOL fees will be still be charged,” Christine said, “as required by state law.  We believe the increased access to a variety of testing times and locations will be of value to our customers. We have customers now who wait weeks and sometimes months to get into a licensing service office for a drive test.

“Drive training schools can offer tests anytime, not just the hours kept by one of our offices. Also, for customers who are enrolled in a traffic safety education course, many schools roll the test cost into the package price.”

Matt, a State Patrol officer whose partner, Joi Haner, also is an officer with the State Patrol, says 911 will charge $15 for the written test and $35 for the driving test in the applicant’s car. Add $20 to use one of their cars. For $80, you can get a 30-minute warm-up drive before taking the driving test.

Applicants will still have to pay DOL the $35 application fee and, when approved for a license, $45 for the five years the license will be good for.

Another project gets late street lights

The in basket: When I read that delivery of the street light equipment for the new Silverdale roundabout had been delayed by a couple of weeks, it sounded familiar. It seems that a variety of traffic signal and roundabout projects in various jurisdictions have suffered from late delivery of the illumination gear over the years. I asked Kitsap County Public Works if there is some inherit difficulty that keeps jurisdictions from ordering them on time.

The out basket: Doug Bear of public works replied, “The streetlights are ordered in time, and the manufacturer assures us they can meet the delivery date. Then they are unable to do so and adjust it. It is a problem shared with many other jurisdictions, and I’m not sure what we can do differently to ensure delivery as the manufacturer promises.”

It sounds like there needs to be more competition in producing street light and traffic signal supports.

 

Left turns on 11th at Naval creating long backups

The in basket: Keri Heber was stuck in traffic on Bremerton’s 11th Street Oct. 30, caught with other drivers behind someone waiting to turn left onto Naval, while the westbound lanes were reduced from three to one.

“While commuting home at about 5 p.m. westbound on 11th,” she wrote, ‘I found myself in a backup, all the way to High Street, because left turns are still allowed from 11th to Naval. Since there is only one lane, any car turning left and waiting for westbound traffic to clear will hold

up the eastbound traffic. And then the backup gets worse for those of us patiently waiting, as cars come across High Street in the right lane to

jump into the waiting line.

“Why are left turns still allowed onto Naval?” She asked. “There are plenty of streets prior to Naval, such as High, where left turns could have been routed.

The out basket: Bill Davis, project engineer for the sewer main work that caused the reduction to one lane, says, “We discussed whether to restrict the turn from westbound 11th to southbound Naval extensively, taking into consideration that traffic would likely back up on 11th Street at times.

“Ultimately, our decision was informed by our experience of the traffic revision at  6th and Warren earlier in the project, where we received several complaints because we restricted turns at that location.  Based on our experience at that intersection, we decided to minimize restrictions for this temporary revision at 11th and Naval and continue to allow the movement.

“Unfortunately we’ve been delayed with getting the intersection back open because we are unable to asphalt pave during heavy rain,” he said.