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Travis Baker blogs about the problems and idiosyncrasies of Kitsap highways and byways.
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Old Wheaton and Lebo could use yellow flashing lefts, says reader

December 27th, 2013 by travis baker

The in basket: Joan Wright e-mailed to say, “The intersection of Wheaton Way and Lebo Boulevard (in Bremerton), heading north, would be so much better to have a flashing yellow light to turn left when no one is waiting, going in either location.

“It seems to stay red so long as we sit, sit and sit some more.  This seems to work very well in other locations and we can all move forward with a flashing yellow light to turn left,” she said.

The out basket: This is a popular improvement where it has been done, but it requires money that can be hard to come by.

Bremerton was able to add a bunch of the yellow left-turn flashers on Sixth Street last year, but got the money from a fund for sewer replacement work on 11th Street. Sixth Street was the designated detour during the work, so use of that fund for a street improvement was permissible. Once the flashing lefts were in, the city kept them.

The cost of the retrofits varies with the adaptability of the existing controllers at each intersection. The cities here generally choose to spend their street money otherwise.

Gunnar Fridriksson, the city’s managing street engineer said the Wheaton and Lebo intersection will be evaluated as part of the rebuilding of Old Wheaton Way next year, but complete removal of the signal in favor of a four-way stop might be the outcome. rather than  a more intricate signal.

The existing signal’s aged in-ground detection wires are prone to malfunctioning, which may create the waits Joan describes.

Kitsap County introduced yellow flashing lefts here, adding them incrementally in South and Central Kitsap, and most recently in North Kitsap at Miller Bay roads intersections withWest Kingston, Indianola and Gunderson roads.

“All the signals that warrant flashing yellow are complete,” says Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works. “The only place where new flashing yellow applications would be considered is new intersection construction.”

There is a new signal about to debut, at Highway 303 and Ridgetop in Silverdale, which is a county project but a state signal and it won’t have a flashing yellow left light.

There is a lack of enthusiasm for the yellow lefts at the state level in the Olympic Region, which includes Kitsap County, and no state highway signal here has them. The state’s position is that lessening the level of control at any of its intersections is acceptable only when the intersection is physically improved in some fashion, including modernization of the controller boxes to allow for yellow flashing lefts.

Jim Johnstone of the Olympic Region signal shop says Kitsap County has led the way on the flashing lefts and his shop doesn’t hear much demand for them from cities and counties elsewhere in the region, where motorists don’t see them.

He notes that the convenience for drivers is offset somewhat by greater danger to pedestrians, who are allowed to cross at the moments the drivers are permitted to turn left on yellow and might not be seen by the drivers.

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One Response to “Old Wheaton and Lebo could use yellow flashing lefts, says reader”

  1. Ducttapeo1 Says:

    There’s plenty of money through the revenue from red light cameras to subsidize these projects. Instead, Bremerton would spend $45k to cut down trees in downtown because the street department is very lazy. Just look at the conditions of the roads, crosswalks, and signage. Hell, they can’t even get a flashing solar powered blinking crosswalk at Kitsap Lake. And those people have PAID their Bremerton city car tabs!!!

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You can reach Travis Baker at tvisb@wavecable.com

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