The in basket: Ian MacKenzie writes, “I have a question regarding signal lights at the intersection of Kitsap Way and Marine Drive/Adele Avenue (in Bremerton). As we all know, this is one of the red-light camera intersections.
“Specifically,” he wrote, “I am wondering about the walk/don’t walk signs (at) the intersection. I have noticed at times the orange Don’t Walk’ sign operates as a countdown timer letting both pedestrians and drivers know when the light is going to change. This is an improvement that probably reduces red light running far more than cameras but that is a different topic all together.
“Late at night and early in the morning when the signals are prioritized green for Kitsap Way, the Don’t Walk signs are solid orange at all times and when a vehicle approaches from either Marine Drive or Adele Avenue, the light on Kitsap changes immediately without any warning.
“Why can’t these countdown timers be in effect 24 hours a day. Do they require more energy to operate? All lights throughout downtown Seattle operate in this manner.”
The out basket: Jeff Collins of the city of Bremerton signal shop says the difference lies in whether the traffic lights in the Kitsap Way corridor are coordinated with one another at any given light change.
“During coordination, the pedestrian displays change to ‘walk’ at the start of green on the main street.
“There are two reasons we do this.
“First, it gives pedestrians more time to cross with walk displayed. Typically, the walk signal only comes up at the start of green and only stays on for the walk time and if they are not there to push the button before the light turns green, they will have to wait until the next green.
By having them come up with coordination, we can give the pedestrians more ‘walk’ time.
“Second, it gives the traffic technician an indication of where the signal is in coordination as we drive through the corridor.”
When the corridor is not running in coordination, the pedestrian signs light only when a pedestrian actually pushed the button to cross, which isn’t very often in the wee hours.
“The countdown indication works 24 hours a day but it will only display immediately after a walk display,” Jeff said. “At night, when the walk displays are not coming on automatically with coordination, the countdown display will only come on after a pedestrian presses the button and the ‘walk’ comes on.”
Only the Adele Avenue side of the intersection has the countdown lights, which eliminate much of the uncertainty pedestrians have about how much time they have to cross, and evidently are also a visual cue to drivers as to when the light will turn to red.
“The countdown signal is the new standard required by the federal Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices and when we have a failure we are replacing the displays in pairs,” Jeff said.
“Due to the cost, we can’t replace them all at once without some external funding,” he said.”