Monthly Archives: August 2013

When county striping sprays your car….

The in basket: Kim Rye wrote to say, “On August 7, I was on McWilliams Road making a left turn onto Highway 303. The county truck came up the road past me spraying lines the entire time.

“No problem, that’s their purpose. (But) I realized when I returned home that the paint had over-sprayed onto my car from front to back.

“When the county was notified, they sent me information on how to remove the paint myself. Evidently, this happens quite frequently. Following the instructions, I was not able to remove the paint from my car or the molding without potentially damaging the finish.

“So the county’s protocol for the auto owner to receive professional help with the paint removal is to have the owner get two estimates from a repair shop, fill out a damage claim that can be downloaded from their website and have it notarized. You are to send said documents to the Risk Management Department for review. They will then get back to you.

“I don’t understand why it was MY responsibility to drive all over the county to get estimates and to find a notary,” Kim said. “Gas is not cheap. If I worked a full-time job, I would have lost time and possibly money from work.  If this happens as often as it appears, why don’t they contract out with a company that can take care of this in a timely manner?

“One of the places I went to for an estimate is contracted by the city of Bremerton to handle these situations. There were AT LEAST four to five other cars in the turn lane, as well. “The lowest estimate I got was over $200.  This is a very expensive problem. Maybe they should ‘re-think’ a better way to handle the line-painting as well as keeping from having to deal with the aggravation AFTER the fact,” she concluded.

The out basket: Tim Perez, Kitsap County risk manager, says, “While we understand that it can be cumbersome for some individuals to go through the claims process, Kitsap County is required to abide by all laws related to filing a tort claim against a government entity.

“Until a claim is investigated and filed through the appropriate channels, we cannot say if it will be a claim which the county would be accepting liability for or not. As it is our responsibility to protect the county’s assets and to ensure appropriate use of taxpayer dollars, every claim we receive must be investigated and determined based upon the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident.

“Kitsap County makes every effort to investigate claims quickly and if it is determined that the county is at fault, we attempt to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.

“In the case of paint claims, since we do not know at the time of the call if the claim will be covered, we offer the paint removal instructions so that the caller is able to take immediate action to mitigate their damages in case they are responsible for the removal cost.

“The paint removal instructions are easy to understand and follow, and more often than not remove the paint completely without any further effort on the part of the caller or the county. If the driver follows the paint removal instructions, additional detail services are generally not necessary.”

The law doesn’t prohibit the county from establishing a contract with a single provider, such as Kim suggests, Tim said. “This is a good suggestion and Risk Management will assess whether an agreement of this nature would be feasible and appropriate,” but he said he doesn’t intend to introduce it for now.

“At the time of an incident, Risk Management does not know whether it will be a covered claim,” he said. “If indeed it is a covered claim, the remedy may not always be routine and therefore specific arrangements may need to be made to assist the individual.”

 

Highway 303 center barrier again source of vegetation complaint

The in basket: Joanne Zellinsky of Bremerton writes, “Do you suppose you could look into why no one is maintaining the medians on Highway 303?

“There is moss and grass growing everywhere and some of the bushes are obstructing views. There is even grass growing in the middle of the intersection of McWilliams and 303.

“I would think it would be the responsibility of either the state or county. Either way, no one is looking,” she said.

The out basket: It’s the state’s job, and they may be able to clean it this fall, says Duke Stryker, head of the state’s maintenance crews in this area. But they have higher priorities, including repair of washouts on the Purdy spit where this year’s “king tides” did some damage, some sink holes on Highway 300 near Belfair and, of course, the summer asphalt repair work.

Barrier cleaning must be done at night for the most part, he said, to minimize interference with traffic, except those approaching the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, where they have ample shoulder room to do it during the day. They don’t just use their mechanical sweepers, but have workmen on foot dislodging the hard stuff.

They put crews on at night beginning in November, providing manpower to sweep. But even then, higher speed and volume highways like 3 and 16 take precedence over 303. And freezing nights occupy the night crew putting out sand and deicer.

If they get to 303’s barriers, they’ll do the growth on the top as well as the bases where traffic pushes sand and dirt, Duke said. There is no growth on top of most of the other barriers for which they bear responsibility.

In short, the Highway 303 barrier may or may not be cleaned this year. It was last done in 2010, when Joanne’s husband, Paul, a former state legislator, was among those who complained about their condition.

Child in bike trailer on state highway worries motorist

The in basket: Lois Fetters said in an Aug. 19 e-mail, “On Sunday afternoon we saw a man riding a bicycle with a trailer which held a small child.

“The child did have on a helmet but they were traveling along the side of the road on Sedgwick having just come off the freeway or across the freeway overpass from the area of Lowe’s.

“This seems very unsafe,” she said.  “In a world where each child is required to sit in a car seat with a five-point harness much like a NASCAR driver until they are of a size that the car’s protective devices will protect them, it seems to me that this bicycle trailer can’t even be legal.”

While asking State Trooper Russ Winger about Lois’ concern, I asked if a child with a helmet on can ride on the back of a motorcycle.

The out basket: The trailer is legal, Russ says. The child restraint law pertains to motor vehicles. He also surmised that the trailer probably had a harness inside to protect the child.

As for my question, Russ said, “A child must be age 5 to ride on the back of a motorcycle. (Too young but that’s my own opinion).”

Russ also gave the bicyclist props for having a helmet on the child in the trailer. Though bicyclists, and by extension those being towed by one, are strongly advised to wear a helmet in this state, it’s required only in some cities.

Where will Mosquito Fleet trail go from here?

The in basket: With completion of the latest segment of the Mosquito Fleet Trail in Port Orchard, I realized that I had no idea how the trail will progress from its present terminus just west of the Marlee Apartment. It looks like the next stretch will be difficult. Will it go around the Marlee on the water side or stay in front of the apartments? If so, for how long.

So I asked Mark Dorsey, the city’s public works director.

The out basket: It turns out I haven’t been keeping my eye on the ball on this project. While the stretch that now ends at the Marlee was being done and traffic was rerouted to the center lane of Bay Street to make room for the work, another phase was being quietly completed, out of my sight.

That segment, paved, fenced and landscaped, passes behind the Westbay Center building, ending at a temporary concrete ecology block at Beach Drive. Its completion will be recognized in a ceremony soon.

Mark furnished me with a set of the elaborate drawings of the trail done for the city by N.L. Olson & Associates. They show that the segment of the trail at Rockwell Street will pass between the Marlee and Bay Street, with leveling of the surface and removal of some poles, a hydrant and elevated sidewalk to make way for it, then curve to the north and the Sinclair Inlet shoreline. It will follow the shoreline behind the Comfort Inn and curve around Titus Ford until it’s almost across Blackjack Creek from the gazebo at Etta Turner Park on the Westbay Center property.

A pedestrian bridge then will cross the creek, connecting the trail to its completed Westbay section.

From where that segment ends now, it’s fairly straightforward. Existing plans show it passing in front of the various buildings on the water side of Bay Street, with portions of the street moving a few feet inland. The trail will proceed to its final terminus at the Annapolis ferry dock.

 

 

On the front lines (and behind them) on ferry line-cutting enforcement

The in basket: Walt Elliott of Kingston and a longtime member of its ferry advisory commitee, writes to say, “While waiting in the ferry holding lane, a vehicle drives up the shoulder and pulls into the gap in the cross-hatched area. We informed WSP when we passed them and they said they’d inform the toll booth.

“Nothing happened. Two problems; law enforcement isn’t the toll taker’s job and successful  line cutters discourage others from leaving the cross-hatched areas open.”

The out basket: By coincidence, I had just asked state ferry spokesperson Susan Harris-Heuther for a followup on a announcement of two years ago that the “Hero” program, which provides a system for ferry patrons to report line-cutting, was about to go into effect. I asked if it had, and how it has worked if it did.

She said it had begun, and sent me reports for the number of complaints per ferry terminal per month in 2011 and 2012..

But as for the incident Walt reported, she said, “Washington State Ferries ticket sellers are not law enforcement. If we see someone cut in line we can do something about it.  But our ticket sellers cannot play judge and jury in a ‘he said, she said’ situation, punishing someone on another person’s say-so.

“Many of our visitors are confused and they have no idea when they travel along a roadway that the queue is cars for the ferry as their GPS has them going directly to the terminal. We are trying to work with all groups. If someone is reported in two separate line-cutting incidents, a letter or a contact is made by the State Patrol.”

Those two yearly reports show that Mukilteo is the terminal generating by far  the most complaints, over 500 each of the two years.

There were none at all or only one in two years at Bremerton, Coupeville, Southworth, Point Defiance, Friday Harbor, and Lopez, Orcas and Shaw islands in the San Juans, possibly due to configuration of the waiting vehicles in some cases or lesser need for waiting in line.

There were between two and four complaints at Anacortes, Port Townsend and Tahlequah, 16 at Vashon Island and 26 at Colman Dock in Seattle.

Which brings us to places with far more complaints, 177 in two years on Bainbridge Island, 256 at Fauntleroy, 278 at Clinton, 295 at Edmonds, and 1,099 at Mukilteo.

And Kingston, where Walt’s complaint originated? A modest 128 over the two years.

I also asked Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here, whose officers patrol the Kitsap terminals, about enforcing the law, passed in 2007. It makes line cutting a traffic infraction and also authorizes that a violator can be sent to the back of the line.

Russ said the second of those is the most common trooper response.

“We try to identify the vehicle and talk to the driver. We tell them about the witness or witnesses report.

“Most will admit to cutting in. Sometimes it is confusion, sometimes not. Our troopers will usually have the vehicle exit and go to the end of the line if we have good reason to believe it took place – intentional or not.

“We can also radio in to the toll booth if the car has passed. The WSF staff can make their own decision on sending the car back.”

“If a vehicle did this several times you could make a case for failure to obey an officers directive but that would be a last resort. Most drivers get the picture and follow the rules once educated (about the) procedure.”

He also said a ticket issued a driver without the trooper having witnessed the line cutting probably wouldn’t hold up in court if the driver demands that a witness appear.

 

Report of sale protects car sellers from lax buyers

The in basket: Marlene Cross of Silverdale says she has gotten four parking tickets sent to her since she sold a car last year, because the person who bought the car and is getting the tickets hasn’t transferred the title.

In each case, she has had to go to the ticketing agency with proof that she held up her end of the car deal by filing a report of sale with the state Department of Licensing.

Since the sold car had handicapped license plates, she also wonders what’s become of them. She has been issued new ones for the car she subsequently bought.

The out basket: Brad Benfield of the Department of Licensing says, “While this is not an overly common problem, it does happen and it’s a real inconvenience when it does and illustrates the importance of filing a seller’s report of sale.

“State law requires the buyer of a vehicle to transfer the title within 15 days. To encourage buyers transfer the vehicle into their name in a timely manner, there is a financial penalty of $50 on the sixteenth day and another $2 per day after that up to a maximum of $125.

“We assess that penalty at the time the title is transferred. In cases where the purchaser is avoiding doing that, expiring tabs usually forces them to do so.

“State law also requires the seller to file a seller’s report of sale within five days.

“Thankfully, Ms. Cross did file a seller’s report of sale and retained a copy. While it doesn’t completely eliminate inconveniences like she is experiencing, it at least allows people to resolve these situations without having to pay the tickets or towing and impound charges.

“The seller’s report of sale exists to help protect the seller from being held responsible for the actions of the person who buys a vehicle and doesn’t transfer the title right away.

“We require the report of sale because the records in our vehicle database do not change until a transaction is processed to transfer title from one owner to another. This means that until the new owner transfers the title, the previous owner remains on the record as the registered owner. However, when a vehicle is sold and the seller’s report of sale is filed, we add a flag to the record indicating a seller’s report is on file and append the information provided on the seller’s report about the new owner to any request for ownership information about a vehicle received from a tow company. This is why it is important to file a seller’s report right after you sell a vehicle.

“This also would be a good opportunity,” Brad said, “to remind everyone who has special license plates for persons with disabilities that state law (RCW 46.19.060) requires individuals with them to remove these plates when the vehicle is sold or ownership is otherwise transferred to someone else. These plates can be transferred to another vehicle, disposed of, or returned to a vehicle licensing office.”

 

 

Highway 106 project on South Shore will replace culvert

The in basket: Cynthia Collier writes, “I drive State Route 106 every day to/from Union for work. Can you tell me what the road construction project is that’s taking place near the Twanoh Falls private beach area?

“Looks pretty extensive,” she said, “has the speed limit reduced to 25 mph, and has the road reduced to one lane, stopping traffic just about every morning. We’re all wondering what’s going on and how long it’s anticipated to last.”

The out basket: It’s another in the series of culvert replacements the state (and the counties) are doing to remove fish passage obstacles. It will continue through October and is, indeed, expensive, costing $6.3 million dollars.

According to the project Web site, http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR106/TwanohFallsImprovements/, “As part of an agreement with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, WSDOT is moving away from the repetitive repair of roadways that require recent, frequent and chronic maintenance repairs. Instead, WSDOT concentrates on long-term solutions that will optimize the improvements for fish and fish habitat, while also addressing transportation needs.
“The highway crossing has had a long standing problem of sediment accumulation,” it said, “requiring frequent excavation by maintenance crews to maintain creek flow and prevent flooding of the highway and adjacent properties. The sedimentation also poses fish passage problems.
“The culvert currently in place under SR 106 is too small. Replacing it with a larger one will improve creek flow, allow for fish passage and reduce sediment buildup. This will save money on frequent maintenance costs.
Since 1991, WSDOT has completed 269 fish barrier removal projects opening up over 904 miles of potential upstream habitat for fish,” the Web site said.

Why transit bus stops are often just past a stop signal

The in basket: Bob Thompson asks, “Why are bus stops after traffic lights along 11th

street in Bremerton instead of before the light?  Does Bremerton think it is funny to have cars behind the bus, stop in the intersection?

“Granted the driver of the car should stop before the intersection, but it still happens,” he said.

The out basket: I’ve wondered about this also, like on Burwell Street at State Street in Bremerton and on Mile Hill Drive at Retsil Road in Port Orchard. Pulling around a stopped bus sometimes is forbidden by striping or by oncoming traffic.

But it turns out there are sound reasons for it, and the state Department of Transportation includes in its Design Manual a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of what they call far side, near-side and mid-block bus stops. Far-side stops are the ones Bob objects to, on the far side of the an intersection.

John Clauson, executive director of Kitsap Transit, says, “Far-side bus stops have more advantages than not. If a bus were to stop prior to a traffic signal, passengers may be tempted to cross at the crosswalk, in front of the bus, and be unaware of vehicles coming around the bus.

“Unlike school buses, traffic does not have to stop for a transit bus.”

The state’s design manual also says far-side stops make right turns by other traffic at the intersection easier, the bus doesn’t obstruct sight distance for vehicles entering or crossing from side streets, it’s easier for the bus to get back into traffic, and buses will not obscure traffic control devices or pedestrian movements from other drivers.

It also says each bus stop location should be evaluated for circumstances that might make  near-side or mid-block stops preferable, which is why not all bus stops are far-side.

Sylvan Way crest could use lower speed limit, reader thinks

The in basket: Dave Neidlinger thinks the speed limit on Sylvan Way in Bremerton east of Olympus Drive should have the same 25 mph speed limit as the other side of that hill. It’s 35 mph on the east side now.

It would “ensure drivers approach the crest slower than they are legally allowed to do currently,” he said. “Most slow down now, but if a driver wants to, they can fly over the top and there are several driveways near the top of the hill on each side.

“I realize a driver may be cited if he causes an accident because he didn’t show caution when approaching the crest, but that’s after the fact,” Dave said.  Meanwhile people are injured or dead along with the property damage.

“Simply moving the 25 mph speed limit signs east to Forrest Drive, or Heider Drive at the least, should ensure a slower approach to the crest of the hill and the (nearly blind) intersection with Olympus at the top,” he said.

The out basket: The county agrees that it could be name safer, but will leave the speed limits alone.

Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, says, “We will put up a Crossroad Sign prior to the intersection, and put up an Advisory Speed of 20 mph. (Those are the black letters on yellow background signs that a lot of people mistake for speed limit signs, but they are only suggestions that a lower speed would be a good idea.)

“We may also remove the 35 mph sign located prior to the hill,” Jeff said.

Truck Crossing signs along guard rail on Brownsville Highway raise questions

The in basket:  Matt Ryan of Brownsville writes, “On the old Brownsville Highway where former Highway 303, now Gluds Pond Road, teed, there are signs posted saying ‘Truck Crossing,’ but there are only guard rails. What’s going on? Is it possible for gravel trucks to cross where there are guard rails?
“I was hoping my request was being acted on to create a small break in the guard rail so that bicyclists heading toward Silverdale could save themselves close to a mile of pedaling,” Matt said. “One morning, a rider lifted his bike up in such a way I would have hit the bike had I not swerved into the northbound lanes.

“The shoulders along there are all but non-existent.  Routing west bound (bicycle) traffic up Gluds Pond Road would reduce bike traffic on the upgrade ending by Sipes Corner,” he said.
The out basket: No, the guard rail won’t be interrupted to let bicycles through, says Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works. That was considered when the county closed the access from Gluds Pond Road to Brownsville Highway a few years ago, and was rejected.

County Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea said, “We don’t like to break guardrail for any reason in front of a hazardous obstacle such as a steep slope.

“Guardrail is designed to guide an errant vehicle back onto the roadway.  When the guardrail is broken we lose a bit of that protection.

“When you provide access through a guardrail you end up with a blunt end of guardrail that has to be protected,” Jeff said. “We do that with expensive guardrail end treatments.  These end treatments don’t redirect vehicles, though. They simply take the brunt of a vehicle impact and can be pretty violent and cause a lot of damage to the vehicle.

“Another reason we don’t plan to break this guardrail is that Gluds Pond Road will not be maintained to current standards and may not be suitable for bicycle traffic and safety.,” Jeff said.

The “Truck Crossing” signs are traffic control for the regional storm water pond the county is constructing in that area.

The signs are mystifying for now, because there is no way for a truck to get through the guard rail on the west side of the highway to cross.

Though the county described the pond as being between Waaga Way (Highway 303) and Brownsville Highway in announcing it, some of the work will be on the east side of Brownsville Highway, Doug said. That’s where trucks will be coming and going, creating the need for the warning signs. Work on that side hasn’t begun, but the signs already are up.

I told him that “Trucks Entering and Leaving Roadway” would have been a more logical wording, but he said “Truck Crossing” is the wording that was approved.

“The message we are trying to convey with the truck signs is that motorists on Brownsville Road may see slow moving large trucks on the road, and should be cautious,” Jeff said.

Were I a bicyclist, I’d lift my bike over the railing and take the short cut Matt describes, but his experience serves as a warning to bikers as the way NOT to do that.