Monthly Archives: August 2013

New yellow gas line posts pop up in SK

The in basket: Louise Hoppe asks the purpose of a series of bright yellow plastic posts that have appeared on the shoulder of Salmonberry, Phillips and Long Lake roads in South Kitsap.

They read, vertically, “Warning. Natural Gas Pipeline” and list the main Cascade Natural Gas phone number.

Louise said she’d never seen them anywhere else, and neither have I.

The out basket: Chris Bossard, district manager for Cascade Natural Gas says they are a stepped up program to keep the company’s underground lines from being broken or damaged by digging. It started four or five weeks ago and is an effort to “increase public awareness and pipeline safety.”

The company has its lines marked in other places, but generally by horizontal signage, and mostly inside the cities. The tall, three-sided yellow poles will be showing up in areas outside the cities where a person might not suspect there is a gas line below.

They are permanent and will be replaced if damaged or run over, Chris says.

“You’ll definitely see a lot of them outside the city limits,” he said. The city serves places in pretty much every corner of the county, plus Belfair

The company still wants people to call 811 before digging, but the posts are intended to emphasize the need.



Kitsap Way left turn to Walgreens frustrates National Avenue turners

The in basket: Michael Moore e-mailed to say, “Many times, when turning onto National Avenue from (westbound) Kitsap Way, there has been a vehicle turning left into Walgreens from the left-turn lane.

“This lane should be for turning onto National Avenue only,” Michael asserts. “I have actually been held up from turning onto National through an entire green (left-turn) light sequence.”

He said he’s seen close calls in which someone stuck in the turn lane behind a car waiting for traffic to clear before turning into Walgreens pulls back into through traffic to drive around and then get back into the turn lane to get to the green turn light.

“I have also witnessed people trying to cram in front of the turning car to get in line to turn at the light and stop traffic in the inside through lane. This has happened many times during shipyard traffic.

“I think it’s about time the city installs pylons to keep drivers from turning there. It would be a lot safer if those that want to get to Walgreens or the latte place (Starbucks) turned left onto National Avenue and then enter through the upper access to the parking lot,” Michael said.

The out basket: I know that I hate seeing a left turner waiting there when I approach to make that turn, hoping the car is gone before the left-turn light turns green. Heavy oncoming traffic can make it a long wait.

I suspected the property owner had gotten some kind of assurance of that second access to the property before developing, but Gunnar Fridriksson of the city of Bremerton street engineers says the city could cut off the access from left turners.

“I have another citizen who contacts me on a fairly regular basis as well with this complaint and would like to see us install c-curb to stop folks from making the movement,” Gunnar said. “The city can use a traffic barrier to control/limit the access.  However, we would not do so unless there is a clear accident history here to support the use.  Installation of such a barrier does have maintenance issues, as well.”

He’s asked the state (Kitsap Way is a state highway at that point) for accident data to see if there is reason to act. “but I am rather doubtful there will be much,” Gunnar said.

Those perplexing Thru Traffic Keep Left signs

The in basket: Floyd Routh asked for clarification some time back of the Thru Traffic Keep Left signs on Highway 3 northbound in Gorst and southbound just past the Kitsap Way interchange.
He had been pulled over by a Bremerton police officer for driving in the left lane northbound out of Gorst without passing another car. He didn’t get a ticket.
“When I found out why I was pulled over, I was more argumentative than he deserved,” Floyd said, then he asked, “Could someone clarify the ‘THRU TRAFFIC KEEP LEFT’ signs that are on Highway 3?  RCW 46.61.100 states to keep right except when passing.  Which takes precedence?
 “The signs are white with black lettering,” he noted. “These are regulatory signs and must be followed until superseded by a subsequent/follow-up sign or are no longer applicable.”
The closest follow-up sign is after Austin Drive  and says ‘SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT’.  “Technically, drivers heading from Port Orchard to Bangor should stay in the left lane from Gorst until Chico,” Floyd argued. “This is what I was doing when I got pulled over.
“Apparently the signs are to an old color scheme and were meant for ‘information only’,” Floyd said. “Are drivers expected to know which black and white signs are real and which are to be ignored?”

The out basket: Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here, said, “The merge to left signs on southbound SR-3 at SR-304, whether regulatory or non-regulatory in nature, take precedence over the “keep right except to pass” rule, posted or not. As for the ‘Thru Traffic Keep Left’ signs on northbound SR-3 in Gorst,  they are intended to allow for the smooth merging of traffic from the northbound SR-3 on ramp, just south of the train trestle in Gorst.

“Motorists should, after a reasonable distance north of the on-ramp northbound SR-3, move back into the right lane of travel and remain there if traveling slower than surrounding traffic or not actively passing traffic in the right lane.

Common sense should guide here as to ‘reasonable distance’ past the merge on-ramp, meaning that point on the highway where traffic is no longer actively merging from the ramp.

 “The RCW  46.61.100 rule for keeping right except to pass or “
‘Slower Traffic Keep Right’ on a two-lane divided highway is always in effect unless otherwise signed. The fact that there may be no sign stating ”Keep Right Except to Pass’ does not mean a motorist should stay in the left lane until they see this sign.
“Motorists will see this sign at various points along long stretches of roadway on limited access highways. These signs are a reminder to motorists of the lane travel law.

“I think your reader is incorrect in saying that ‘technically’ a motorist driving from Port Orchard to Bangor should stay in the left lane from Gorst until Chico. The highway is multi-lane and the rules of the road supersede unless otherwise posted.

 The signs are black and white. It is my opinion that they should be to warn motorists to keep left (they do not say ‘left lane only thru traffic’) at the interchange with SR-304. You are still ‘staying left’ even if you are in the right lane when coming to the merge at SR-304.
“It is somewhat confusing and perhaps caution type signs should be used  – or no signs at all,” Russ said..
“I have spoken to at least seven of my fellow troopers and not one said they have written a ticket for ‘going through’ while not keeping left. I have not issued such a citation in my 23-year career here in Kitsap County, nor can I remember even stopping a vehicle for this.”
Though I (the Road Warrior) have many times raised the question of why the black and white signs are not mandatory, as black and white signs are supposed to be, I have never gotten an answer.

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.