Power outage made for mad scramble at 6 intersections

The in basket: Tom Baker of the city of Bremerton electronics shop said driver behavior during an Aug. 26 power outage that darkened the traffic signals at seven West Bremerton intersections needs some comment and review of what the law requires during such outages.
“Most of the traffic did not stop at the dark signals – a lot of honking horns and near misses,” Tom said, asking that I remind my readers of what to do when they come to a signalized intersection where the signals are dark. “The city person who responded said it was ridiculous – no one was stopping in any direction.”

The six intersections are on Sixth Street at Wycoff, Callow, Montgomery and Naval, on Burwell at Callow and Montgomery, and at 11th and Kitsap Way.

“It’s unusual to have that many signals out at the same time,” he said. “We have portable generators and powered up some of the signals, and we are purchasing additional portable generators.”
The out basket: The law says to treat a signalized intersection as an all-way stop when the signals are dark. That means come to a stop where you would at a blinking red light, then proceed under the rules of an all-way stop, yielding to the car on your right, and to straight-through traffic if you’re turning left.
As a practical matter, though, I’ve found that taking turns based on who already has fully stopped vs. those who still must stop is a helpful guide in deciding whether to go or not.
State trooper Russ Winger adds, “It works very well if drivers pay attention to which vehicles arrive when. Courteousness and taking turns goes a long way as do making eye contact and/or motioning other drivers that they should continue first.
“The predominate  reason for honking horns and near misses is simply impatient/inattentive/unknowledgeable drivers,” Russ said.

2 thoughts on “Power outage made for mad scramble at 6 intersections

  1. Tom Baker, ““It’s unusual to have that many signals out at the same time,” he said. “We have portable generators and powered up some of the signals, and we are purchasing additional portable generators.”

    Oh, but the power was out for about 3 1/2 to 6 hours. And considering that a lot of the electrical poles need to be replaced in the city, this is an accident waiting to happen. The city is fortunate there weren’t any serious traffic incidents like a series of head-on collisions, T-bones, or GASP, fatalities. And if memory serves, there have been a series of winter storms the last few years that have knocked out power, and there still weren’t enough generators. Not that anyone could drive on the roads because the city can’t plow either.


    What seems to be a higher priority, is the safety of the Opticon systems.


    They spent about $200k on that.

    But I question the timeliness in buying backup generators. Doesn’t the city have a car tab fee? It’s about $20.00 @ vehicle. Most people pay it, unless you’re the BSD Superintendent that lives in Seattle, while applying for other jobs.


    So what’s the excuse for not having the appropriate number of generators in case this happens again?

  2. I don’t buy the whining by the signal device employees. It’s been over a decade since they have even re-timed all the lights in Bremerton. The street departments priorities and level or work accomplished needs to be addressed.

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