Monthly Archives: February 2013

Huge Bethel Road project not proceeding soon

The in basket: Rance McEntyre and Richard Hood probably speak for thousands of South Kitsapers when they ask whether anything will be done soon to making Bethel Road south of Lund Avenue an easier place to drive.

Rance said last August, “I have heard over the years that the Bethel Corridor would receive an upgraded and/or be paved with turn lanes and beautify the area.

“Bethel Road is one of the worst roads most of us travel and is a major thoroughfare;. The road is full of cracks, dips, manhole plates and holes and literally shakes your car around while traveling. I am glad I don’t ride a motorcycle on this road!

“There are no turn lanes with drivers slamming on brakes and swerving onto the shoulders, causing near accidents near and around Salmonberry and Bethel Square. I ask this of our county government, when will we get a new and improved roadway?”

Richard said he was rear-ended on Bethel at Salmonberry in July, after barely stopping in time to avoid the car in front of him. There were no injuries and little damage, but he said, “I do not know the accident statistics on that stretch of Bethel, but I do wonder if there are any plans to add center lanes for turning traffic in the foreseeable future?

“The road has always seemed dangerous to me for drivers going in and out of traffic, and today made me scratch my head about it a little bit more,” he said.

The out basket: It’s no longer a Kitsap County project, as the road and its surroundings have been annexed into Port Orchard.

The city’s Public Works Director Mark Dorsey tells me the long-awaited improvements to Bethel are not imminent. The best he hopes for is about $200,000 worth of grinding out the worst pavement and replacing it, perhaps next year, “to at least address the poor road surface condition.”

“The Bethel plan has been designed and reviewed over 15 years, most recently in 2006,” he said. “We’ve inherited a very large problem to deal with, and first we must redesign the plan to break it into phases we can get funding for. And we must acquire the right of way, because the county didn’t.”

He wants to compare the costs and aesthetics of using roundabouts, which would look nicer, he said.

He sees no little federal money available to help. “Future federal funding is much more restrictive and/or risky,” he said. “Under MAP 21 rules, the city may not be able to accept (federal) grant funding for the redesign, environmental review or right-of-way acquisition.

“With luck, possibly the redesign (doubt it) in 2014, as well,” Mark said.

MAP-21 is shorthand for Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, a $105 billion “surface transportation” program signed into law by President Obama last July.

In the meantime, Mark is trying to find the money to proceed with two roundabouts on Tremont Street at Pottery Avenue and South Kitsap Boulevard, a project the city has had on the drawing boards almost as long as the county had the Bethel Corridor before surrendering it to the city.



Golf carts not legal on nearly all public roads

The in basket: Jeannette Johnson e-mailed to say, “I live in Indianola and am seeing several golf carts being driven on public roads. These vehicles have no plates, no seat belts or other safety devices that autos are required to have.  Is this legal? What happens if one collides with an auto?”
The out basket: There is a Washington State Patrol Web site that discusses this, where the local governing body has created a golf cart zone. The law says in part that such zones are “for the purposes of permitting the incidental operation of golf carts, upon a street or highway of this state having a speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour or less.” It’s at

I’ve never heard of the creation of such a zone in this county. I asked Trooper Russ Winger of the local patrol detachment what the rules are in the absence of a zone.

“My understanding,” Russ replied, “is that driving a golf cart on any type of public roadway is illegal and prohibited UNLESS operating within a legally established golf cart zone as provided in RCW 46.08.175. In addition, all applicable rules and regulations established under that RCW must be adhered to for legal operation of a golf cart within a zone.

“A golf cart is defined under RCW as being either gas or electric powered and capable of attaining a speed of not over 20 miles per hour. The only place a golf cart zone can be established is an area where the speed limit is 25 mph or less.

A golf cart driving on a highway or roadway would be a citable infraction regardless of the speed limit.

“It would also be possible to be arrested for operating a golf cart – in or out of a legally defined zone – while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” Russ concluded.

As for Jeannette’s final question, my guess is that when a golf cart collides with an auto, the occupants of the cart deeply regret it.

Lots of failed vehicle detectors in Bremerton

The in basket: Three readers have complained about non-responsive stop lights in Bremerton that stay red while drivers sit there.

Ron Canfield asks, “What’s the deal with the light at the intersection of 11th Street and Pacific Avenue? When heading east on 11th, the light to turn left (north) onto Pacific engages even when there are no cars turning left, which is the case most of the time. The light stays green long enough for about 40 cars to make the light, causing vehicles heading west on 11th to sit at a light for no reason.”

On at least two occasions, he said, he has turned right and worked his way back onto 11th, and saw in his mirror that the left turn light back at Pacific was still green even as he passed through the light at Warren and even when he got up to Chester Avenue.

Mike Burton says the same thing happens at Sixth and Washington  in one southbound lane of Washington.

“If there are people waiting to turn left onto Washington from 6th Street and people in the left lane of northbound Washington, the traffic headed southbound on Washington does not get picked up at all unless they are in the left lane, which most don’t use since it disappears so quickly after the intersection with 6th.

“The only time that the southbound traffic in the right lane gets a green light is when the light reverts to its “default” state, which is green for northbound and southbound Washington,” Mike said.

And back in September, Bryan, who didn’t want his last name used, said the light at Burwell and Washington wouldn’t turn green for his wee hours trip home after the swing shift at the shipyard, stalling him on Burwell for a long  time while few vehicles, if any,  passed by on Washington. It had changed almost instantly before, he said.

The out basket:  I asked Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers about Mike and Ron’s complaints, saying it sounded like the in-pavement traffic detectors, called “loops,” in the affected lanes had failed. Bryan had said by then that the problem on Burwell had been fixed in November.

“Both 11th and Pacific and 6th and Washington have broken loops, along with Wheaton and Cherry and about 10 more locations in town,” says Gunnar. “We have been adjusting timing at the signals as we have time to, but have not make it to either 11th or 6th yet.

“Spending a couple of thousand dollars for loop replacements on signals that are going to be under construction shortly would not be a good expenditure of taxpayer monies.

“The upcoming project for Pacific Avenue is this summer, which will (correct) the malfunctioning intersection at 11th.  The Washington Avenue project will be correcting the signal at 6th and Washington.”

The upcoming projects are to make Washington a two-lane street and widen the sidewalks between  Burwell and the Manette Bridge, and to continue the Pacific Avenue improvements done south of Sixth Street to between Sixth and 11th.

Default speed, for what it’s worth

The in basket: Richard Nerf says, “Detours onto unfamiliar roads during a recent trip to Mt. Rainier reminded me of question that occasionally surfaces: Given that the default speed limit on a rural county road is 50 mph, how far must one go past a sign posting a lower limit before it is legal to speed up to the default?  Is there any official or semi-official word on this?”
The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the patrol here, says,  “Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit remains since the last posted speed. In the case you suggest, the speed limit would remain the lower speed that was last posted until otherwise changed.

“There is nothing in the Revised Code of Washington (that I am aware of) that suggests anything contrary to that.”

State law (RCW 46.61.400) establishes the basic speed rule and maximum limits of 25 mph (city or town), 50 mph (county roads), 60 mph (state highway). It also authorized local governments to modify those limits as long as they don’t go above sixty or below 25 mph, and the state secretary of transportation to go up to 70 mph, as he must of done on the rural interstates. But those are effective only after signs are posted.

I don’t know of any places around here where the default speed would govern in the absence of speed limit signs. I suppose if you find a street, road of highway with no speed limit signs from its beginning to its end, the default speed limits might be governing.

“It is possible to encounter such a roadway where possibly a sign has fallen or been knocked over for whatever reason,” Russ speculated. “I would think a driver would have to get pretty ‘rural’ to encounter that very often in this state.”


Mosquitos and the 3-303 detention pond

The in basket: Back last August, Megan McCumsey ended an e-mail with an unfavorable comment on the design of the controversial SR3-303 interchange in Silverdale by saying, “But what I wonder is, why, oh, why did they make that huge lake that must just breed mosquitos?

“It isn’t a wetland. It’s a big stagnant lake. Or am I all wet?”

The out basket: It’s a detention pond for groundwater, of which there is a lot running underground from the hill to the west in addition to whatever flows into it on the surface.

You’ll find that most state highway projects these days will include the addition or expansion of such a detention pond, a major added cost factor in modern road building. Most aren’t as obvious or constantly full as that one, though.

I have written about it before, when I was told that while it’s impressively large in area, it’s extremely shallow. Still, it never dries up, not even in the summer when mosquitos are a worry.

I asked the state if they take measures to control mosquitoes.

The state’s response is couched entirely in terms of the West Nile Virus, a more serious concern than simple annoying skeeter bites. It even has a Web site discussing it at length. It doesn’t specifically address the Silverdale pond, though.

The site says, among other things, “WSDOT employees are trained to test, or dip, possible roadside breeding areas such as ponds and ditches for mosquito larvae. WSDOT has implemented Department of Ecology’s ‘Best Management Practices for Mosquito Control’ as our integrated pest management plan, using natural bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) and Bacillus sphaericus to control mosquito larvae, if found. The products we use are applied in the form of pellets or briquettes and are natural larvicides that do not harm fish or animals.”
Duke Stryker, head of state highway maintenance in this area, said he does have staff trained in the sampling and testing, but it is not a high priority. There was a treatment of the Silverdale pond some years ago, he said.

“It’s not on a schedule to be tested,” he said. “As our program evolves, testing has become a lesser priority, because we have not had an issue with West Nile.”

Radar vehicle detection coming to 11th and Warren

The in basket: Tom Baker of the city of Bremerton electronics shop has encouraged me for a couple of years to attend a yearly conference of traffic electronics experts and merchants in Seattle. This year I went (it was Feb. 11) and it was a wealth of information.

The first person I talked with in a large room of industry representatives was Mike Singson, who turned out to have been on the phone with Jeff Collins of the Bremerton electronics shop just 20 minutes earlier to answer a question about Wavetronix. That’s the brand name his company, Advanced Traffic Products, uses for an alternative means to detect traffic at stop lights.

It uses radar, and is an alternative to the decades-old technology of in-pavement wires, called “loops,” and the newer cameras you will see on tall posts atop the signal cross-arms at many Kitsap County intersections.

The city of Bremerton will try Wavetronix on three of the four legs of the Warren Avenue-11th Street intersection currently undergoing a major reconstruction.

It and cameras, being installed overhead, have the advantage of being repairable without having to dig up the intersection. Mike Singson says radar is better because snow, fog, heavy rain, glare and other problems don’t interfere with it, as he says they can with the cameras.

This may be the first installation of it in this county.

Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says, “Yes, we are installing the Wavetronix at 11th and Warren.

“The eastbound 11th Street loops are in the concrete section of the roadway and are working

fine, so we are not going to replace them. The other three legs of the

intersection are where we are going to use them.

“The southbound Warren (loops) were

destroyed over a month ago with work extending the turn lane, so this

direction is already using Wavetronix temporarily. The other two

legs (westbound 11th and northbound Warren) will have their loops destroyed when we

grind the intersection out to repave.

“With the grind, repaving, etc…, we were looking at seven days at a minimum (and

that would, of course, be subject to weather, as well) of having the

intersection run on a timer, which will be tough on traffic.

“The technology has evolved so much with radar detection and the installation of these units have so much less impact on traffic versus

cutting loops in,” Gunnar said, “we wanted to try it at this intersection and

the temporary detection seems to be working perfectly so far.”

Ticket raises question of purpose for Trigger Avenue center lane

The in basket: Jan Klineburger of rural Central Kitsap, said her husband got a ticket on Jan. 29 for “improper use – center turn lane” for bypassing the morning backup on Trigger Avenue of cars waiting to enter the Bangor Navy base, so he could turn left onto Old Frontier Road to continue to their home.

It was a $124 ticket. Sadly, they could’t find their insurance papers in the car, an additional $550 violation, which presumably can be reduced if they can show that they were covered at the time.

That center lane on Trigger has always puzzled me. There is nowhere to turn, except for the lefts at the Old Frontier light and to make a U-turn, which is an unlikely reason that the county built it the entire length of the four through lanes  during the Trident buildup of the 1970s.

The ticket was written by a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy, so I asked Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the department, what the center lane is intended for, the justification for the ticket and whether there is a traffic hazard problem there that caused the deputy to be present.

The out basked: Scott wouldn’t discuss the justification for the ticket, saying, “It would be inappropriate to discuss, in a public forum, the actions of the driver or the reasons the deputy issued a traffic notice of infraction, since the matter is still outstanding.

“Mr. Klineburger has the option of appearing in Kitsap County District Court (traffic court). That is the proper forum for adjudication of his ticket,” Scott said.

Beyond that, he referred me to the state law on center turn lanes, which says, “Upon a roadway where a center lane has been provided by distinctive pavement markings for the use of vehicles turning left from either direction, no vehicles may turn left from any other lane. A vehicle shall not be driven in this center lane for the purpose of overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. No vehicle may travel further than three hundred feet within the lane. ”

Scott continued to say, “I checked with Kitsap County Public Works. There is no (one) there that can provide an answer as to (why) a middle turn lane was built into the construction of Trigger Avenue. We can only guess that, at some point, the engineers expected that there would be future construction, with access driveways, on the north and south sides of the Trigger Avenue approach to the Trigger Avenue Gate, between Highway 3 and Old Frontier Road, that would necessitate a center turn lane.”

He said beyond the rush hour backups at the gate, there have been no special problems at that spot.

All I can gather from this is that the department feels there was a reason to ticket a driver for using the center lane for the only thing it can be used for.  Since the Klineburgers presumably will go to court over the insurance citation, it certainly would be worthwhile to appeal the other ticket too, on the basis of applicability of the law. A lot depends on what evidence the deputy might provide.


Smile, if you can, you’re on ignition interlock

The in basket: Back on Dec. 31, I was included in the routing of a State Patrol news release that began thusly:

“Alcohol ignition interlocks in Washington will soon have a feature designed to prevent others from performing breath tests for the driver. Starting Jan. 1, a camera will snap a picture every time the machine is used, verifying that the driver is the person who took the test.

“Interlocks are required on the vehicles of those who’ve been accused or convicted of impaired driving. The machine requires a legal breath sample from the driver before allowing a car to start.”

It seemed like a smart idea, but I was skeptical of the second paragraph. I doubted that use of the interlocks was that widely required, and certainly not routinely of people who hadn’t been convicted.

I asked State Trooper Russ Winger if that paragraph was correct.

The out basket: Russ said that Claire Bradley in the Kitsap County prosecutor’s office would be a better person to ask about the nuts and bolts, but took a stab at an answer.

“They can be ordered by the court for any DUI conviction or deferred prosecution case,” he said. “I think they are being ordered more frequently on first offenders in Kitsap  County – if not all now.

“Any DUI with a BA (blood alcohol reading) of .15 or higher is usually automatic for at least one year. Second and third offenses increase the time that the interlock may be required – up to two or three years – as well as increasing fines and the probationary period,” he said.

As he suggested, I next went to Claire  Bradley, chief deputy prosecutor for Kitsap, who told me that on cases with an accusation but no conviction with the case pending, “the court has discretion to impose (an interlock) on any case. General guidelines are that if have there are any alcohol-related driving convictions in the past, a BAC (breathalyzer reading) above .15 or a refusal of BAC, the court will order installation of an IID as a condition of release. The court can certainly order on any case not involving these facts, but generally these are the cases they will order on.”

“There is a license suspension on any conviction for a DUI,” she said. “So, once convicted, the court tells the defendant their license will be suspended (if not already suspended).

The court also advises the defendant that they are required to apply for an ignition interlock license with the Department of Licensing. So, they are required to go to the DOL, follow DOL’s suspension rules and if qualified, they can get an Ignition Interlock License for the period of their suspension.

“Suspension periods range from 90 days (on first time DUI, under .15 BAC) to four years and beyond (multiple priors and over .15 or refusal).”

Auto Safe in Silverdale does a lot of the installations here, and David Ray of their office said there is a monthly fee to have an interlock, and the camera requirement added $20 to that.

It now starts with $97.61 to have the device, plus $7 monthly to insure it, plus $10 every 60 days to WSP,  plus $20 every month to support a DOL program that helps pay the costs of an interlock device for anyone who meets a threshold as an indigent. There’s also a $95 installation fee the company waives if the device is kept for over a year, he said.