Misleading center strip replaced on Highway 166December 11th, 2012 by travis baker
The in basket: In the early 1970s, when I was a new reporter for The Sun, I almost made headlines while assigned to accompany the Kitsap County commissioners on a fact-finding mission to Northern California to look at recreational developments done by Boise Cascade, which wanted to create one on Hood Canal.
One dark night after dinner, I was driving our rental car with the commissioners – Bill Mahan, Gene Lobe and Frank Randall – as passengers on a curving mountain road near Grass Valley.
With a slow driver ahead of me, I watched the center striping for a sign that I had a chance to pass. I came to a dashed line on my side, pulled out to pass and found an oncoming car coming around a bend.
I just barely made it back into my lane ahead of the car I was passing, or I might have been responsible for the deaths of the commissioners and myself.
That scare came to mind recently when I happened to notice the striping on Highway 166 coming out of Port Orchard heading toward Gorst. I rarely pay attention to the striping on local roads I drive all the time, not needing the information they provide.
I noticed that there was a dashed stripe on my side as I drove west toward Gorst, indicating it was safe to pass there if there was no oncoming traffic, even though it was in a curve that ended with a rise beyond which a driver could not see. I seemed very much like the stripe that had misled me in California all those years ago. I had no idea how long it had been like that.
I asked State Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Bennett if it wasn’t an accident waiting to happen.
The out basket: Yes, Steve said, and you won’t find that stripe there today.
“After looking at that section, we agreed that it should have been striped as no-pass,” he said on Dec. 11. “Last week or so, we went out and striped it. We believe it had been incorrectly striped as part of the last paving project on the highway.”
That was a couple of years ago. It’s funny it went unnoticed so long.