Monthly Archives: January 2014

Ruined bridge access guard rail repair due Feb. 12

The in basket: Janice Smith called in mid-January to ask whether the city or county is responsible for the ruined guard rail where Callahan Drive and Lebo Boulevard access the Warren Avenue Bridge southbound and when it would be fixed.

It has been marked off by cones for many weeks and what’s left of it wouldn’t be able to stop much.

The out basket: It was a couple of weeks before I heard her voice mail and that very day a large electronic sign showed up in front of the guard rail suggesting at least the “when” of the repair  – February 12. It says those ramps will be closed that day.

The county isn’t involved and it’s the city’s job. Managing Street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson of the city told me there had been uncertainty about the responsibility in the past but that was clarified last year.

“I believe the majority of the guardrail in this area dates back to the early 60’s,” he said, “and none of it is looking too good. We are looking to review all guardrail in this area, repair what needs to be, and remove any not required by the design manual.”

Jim Orton, city Public Works operations manager, adds. “We are replacing that section of guardrail on the 12th of February. There will be a detour route initiated while the contractor is replacing the damaged section.

“It took a while to get going on this due to funding,” he said. “It is costing Streets $10,000 just for the damaged section. There is no insurance available from the individual that damaged the guardrail and the vehicle was stolen so Streets is left with the bill.”

Highway 308 school zone to be clarified

The in basket: George Sovde wrote in March and again this month to say, “Driving west on SR 308 as you approach Central Valley Road there is a school zone speed limit light. I understand that the school is to the south on Central Valley Road.
“But if you keep going west on 308 there is no end school zone sign.
Or a speed sign telling you that you have left the school zone.

“The only speed limit sign is way past the intersection on the way to Keyport, when it changes to 50 mph.
“The other direction you would assume the speed limit changes when you hit the stop light at Silverdale Way.”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says, “We have ordered two ‘End School Zone’ signs that will be delivered in a few months to install in that area.

“Our older standards allowed us to either use an End School Zone sign or a speed limit sign to indicate the end of a school zone.  We’ve always had a speed limit sign near there, but the new signage will help clarify the beginning and ending points of the school zone.”

She said the existing speed limit sign is farther away than it should be and will be moved closer to Central Valley Road when the new school zone signs go up.

 

Road Warrior baffles his route guidance lady

The in basket: Today I’m seeking reader’s advice about a peculiar problem I have with a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu I bought last summer.

It’s a great car, the first American-made car and first automatic transmission car I’ve bought in 30 or 40 years. Certainly it’s the most luxurious car I’ve ever owned

But its voice-activated GPS system, which is what I call the system that supposedly directs me to locations to which I want to go, is a puzzling failure. And neither the dealership nor, evidently, General Motors has been able to help with it.

I suspected a problem right away when I saw its on-screen map showing Mile Hill Drive, on which I live, as SR160. It used to be, 20 years ago, but Sedgwick Road was designated SR160 in 1992, and much of what had been Highway 160 became Highway 166 a year later. The rest of it became a county road, called Mile Hill Drive and Southworth Drive. Voice activation is unable to recognize either name.

Nor can it (she, actually, as it’s a female voice) recognize Pine Road in Bremerton, Mickelberry or Ridgetop in Silverdale, Madison or Sportsmen’s Club Road on Bainbridge Island or Front Street in Poulsbo, just to provide a sampling of its ignorance. She takes wild stabs at what I’m saying, streets I don’t even think exist here and don’t sound anything like what I said. Violet Court seems to be one of her favorite guesses.

Just for fun, I asked if for addresses on Tropicana and Sahara avenues in Las Vegas, two of the nation’s most famous streets. She couldn’t identify either. My wife’s voice has no better luck.

Voice activation works fine with the phone and sound systems. She recognizes cities in route guidance, but almost no streets.

Route guidance works when I manually punch in where I’m going. But, of course, you can’t enter things manually while in motion.

The dealership couldn’t correct it and referred it to General Motors, who told them they knew of the problem and were working on it. But months have gone by with no news.

The out basket: I’ll let you readers write the out basket portion of this one. Do any of you have a late model Malibu with this problem. A late model anything?

 

You can pass on the right on multi-lane highway

The in basket: Two readers – Sam Iam and BugeaterInWA, they called themselves – read the recent Road Warrior columns about not honking of flashing your headlights to reprimand another driver for not going forward when the light changes, camping out in the left lane or whatever else annoys you. Both asserted in comments on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com that passing such a driver on the right is not an option because it is illegal.

About the same time, Janet Adams wrote, “I have a question about staying in the right lane and passing a car when there are multiple lanes. I’m wondering about the section of Highway 3 going south from Poulsbo to Silverdale. A third lane gets added right after the Keyport area and I like to get in the right lane in anticipation of exiting towards Kitsap Mall. Sometimes, if I pass a car in the middle lane by going to

the left lane, I don’t have time to get back to the right lane and miss my exit,” she said.

The out basket: Passing on the right on a multi-lane highway is not illegal, though there is a law that is ambiguous of the subject.

State law (RCW 46.61.110) lists two circumstances in which passing on the right is legal. One, “When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn. Two,”Upon a roadway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of vehicles moving lawfully in the direction being traveled by the overtaking vehicle.”

Sadly, it doesn’t put an “and” or an “or” between them, so we don’t know if it’s meant to mean both or one or the other of the conditions must be met.

So I turn to the State Patrol, where spokesman Trooper Russ Winger of the local detachment says, “That law pertains to a single lane roadway with sufficient pavement outside the lane of travel (no driving on the shoulder and no passing if there’s an intersection to right side of the left-turning vehicle)

“It does not pertain to multi-lane highways or interstates. It makes no sense at all. If this was the case, we would be stopping cars left and right for this and we don’t. We’re talking about practical application of the law here.”

Perhaps that’s why I hear from so many drivers furious about left-lane campers. They think they’re stuck behind them without breaking the law. I just pass them and rarely have to wait that long to get around them. I think most of them do it because they are afraid of not seeing a car in the blind spot to their right rear, especially at night or in the rain. Many young drivers have no idea that aged, stiff necks and backs make that check more difficult than it is for them.

Three Highway 305 intersections to be lit

The in basket: Andrew MacMillen asks, “Any idea what the electrical service boxes are for that have been added at the intersections of Johnson, Noll, and Seminole with Highway 305 in Lemolo?

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says those intersections will be getting street lights for the first time and Andrew is seeing the service cabinets for the lights.
“The effort is a good example of inter-agency cooperation,” she added. “The intersections are geographically located within the county but within (Poulsbo’s) urban growth area. The city is paying for the improvements, and WSDOT will own, operate and maintain the lights.” The city’s Web site said the county helped pay for the design.

“This area was chosen because of pedestrian traffic, transit stops, etc. near those intersections,” she said.

She said the contractor is waiting for delivery of the poles to complete the job, an all-too-familiar aspect of street light and traffic signal installations.

 

Little Warren Avenue project an outgrowth of much bigger one

The in basket: I’ve been past the little pedestrian island the city of Bremerton added at 17th Street and Warren Avenue several times, and decided to ask what prompted it.

The out basket: I’m glad I did because it grew out of planning for a much bigger project that has begun. The eight  metal platforms that appeared in the eastern sidewalk of the Warren Avenue Bridge last week are for that project, the million-and-a-half dollar replacement of a major water line suspended from the bridge.

“With the water main replacement, we starting looking at traffic control plans and how to better accommodate pedestrians during construction, as we need to close the sidewalk on the east side temporarily,” said Gunnar Fridriksson, managing street engineer for the city.

“When we looked overall at the south end of the bridge, both sides were very lacking in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) facilities.

So we worked with Olympic College to put a small project together that extended the sidewalk on the west side and put new ADA ramps there, along with putting them in at 17th Street along with the pedestrian island.”

He turned me over to utilities engineer Bill Davis for information on the water main job, which also is discussed at http://www.ci.bremerton.wa.us/display.php?id=1201.  I had asked the purpose of the eight platforms.

“The scaffolds you see will allow the contractor to remove and replace the water main that hangs under the bridge sidewalk,” he said. “The scaffolds have wheels and will move between the light poles along the bridge sidewalk.

“They will set up their equipment to put the pipe in place under the north side of the bridge off of Lebo Boulevard. The work is being done by IMCO of Ferndale, and we anticipate completion in late April.”

The outside northbound lane will be closed at times for the work. The closures will be at night (7 p.m. and 6 a.m.) throughout the project, and during the day (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) for up to 20 separate periods, Bill said.

IMCO has permission to close both northbound lanes at night (7 p.m. to 6 a.m.), up to five times, he said, but indicates it probably won’t have to, he said. If they do, the southbound lanes will become two-way for that period.

Closure of the bridge’s east sidewalk has begun. The sidewalk on the other side is open and a detour under the bridge has been marked to direct pedestrians on the east side how to get there.

Bill said two other cross-Narrows water lines, on the Manette Bridge and under water, will provide sufficient water to the east side while the Warren Avenue Bridge line is out of service.

 

 

How about flashing your brights irritably?

The in basket: Mason Mathews read in a previous Road Warrior column that honking one’s horn in frustration or anger, rather than to alert others to a danger, is illegal and commented, “Interesting. Is flashing your brights in these situations also illegal?  Or are they only to be used for visibility when no traffic is in front?”

The out basket: Going briefly to high beams to get a driver ahead to move, move faster or move over isn’t as expressly illegal as honking for that purpose, but there is a law an officer could use to cite for it.

Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here says RCW 46.37.230 says, “Whenever the driver of a vehicle approaches another vehicle from the rear within 300 feet such driver shall use a distribution of light permissible under this chapter other than the uppermost distribution of light.” That means high beams  are not to be used when close behind another vehicle, though I imagine that law contemplates continuous use of the high beans, rather than flashing them.

Russ said that law “gives a framework for officers to use to enforce these type of actions. Is it a good idea to flash your high-beam lamps at other motorists?” he asked. “Not really. Is it legal? Not really.”

He goes on to say, “The WSP gets calls quite often from motorists calling in complaints about vehicles following too closely, flashing head lamps at them (presumably to get them to change lanes), sometimes honking the horn. These fall into the ‘aggressive driver’ and ‘road rage’ categories and as such the patrol discourages any of this type of behavior. In fact, our officers specifically seek out this type of driver behavior due to the potential dangers that they promote for all motorists.

“Patience, courtesy and common sense are not actual RCW’s, but they probably promote highway safety better than many actual laws,” Russ said.

So aggressive honking or flashing your lights at the very least can attract the attention of traffic officers who may follow you to watch for more dangerous behavior, like excessive speed, tailgating and risky lane changes.

I guess that just leaves turning your headlights off and then on again quickly, such as we do when we see a car approaching at night without its headlights on.

New Silverdale signal now due in late winter

The in basket: I notice that the traffic signal being added at Ridgetop Boulevard and Highway 303 in Silverdale still isn’t progressing, though the last I heard was that delivery of the poles would be in December and the finish work would take only a few days. Kitsap County’s Road Report says the completion now is expected in late February or March.

I asked what had changed.

The out basket: The poles did arrive in December, but state approval for other equipment now is being awaited.

When a county works on a state highway, it has to get state sign-off on the specifics.

Jacques Dean, construction manager for the county says, “The problem now lies with the service cabinet. Since we are working in partnership with the State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on this project, documentation for materials that are to be incorporated into the project must be reviewed and approved by WSDOT in advance. Review and approval of service cab docs was held up in the WSDOT review process until November.

“The contractor ordered the cabinet immediately upon receiving approval from the state.  The contractor expects delivery of the cabinet within two weeks, then sends the cabinet to WSDOT for set up and testing, which is anticipated to take another couple of weeks.

“This puts us in to mid- to late February.  It will then take the contractor a week or so to install the poles, cabinet and hardware.”

While I’m sure having the signal in operation will be a big relief for those who must turn left from the off-ramp to eastbound Ridgetop, late winter completion will come before closure of Bucklin Hill Road for major construction work there, due until June. That closure of a major Silverdale thoroughfare was the impetus for the county to take over the signal project, which could have been years away if left in state hands.

The county road report adds this about the project: “All paint markings, including the crosswalk across Ridgetop Boulevard, will be completed after the signal is operational.  Until that work is completed pedestrians should use marked crossings at other intersection locations.”

 

Accidents prompt better lighting north of Silverdale

The in basket: George, who didn’t include a last name, asked in an e-mail, “There are three new LED street light just south of the intersection at Mountain View Road and Silverdale Way.
“Just wondering if you know why they are now there,” he wrote.

The out basket: They are part of Kitsap County’s ongoing program of making perilous locations safer, much like the new guardrails we discussed last time.

Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, said, “This Silverdale Way location is covered by our federal safety grant projects.

“Several motorists have left the roadway at this location. Two of the collisions involved fatalities.  One was a motorcyclist going too fast, and the other a motorist speeding under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

A guardrail was installed to protect motorists from going over the embankment.  When we look at the accident records if a number of the collisions occur at night, and we feel the darkness may have contributed to the collisions, lighting up the roadway is an option that we consider. In this case, we opted to have the street lights installed.”

 

Need for Long Lake Road guard rails questioned

The in basket: Dave Dahlke of Port Orchard writes, “I have noticed new guardrails installed along portions of the Long Lake Road.  I was wondering what determines where the need is for guardrails.  I see many areas on county roads that would seem to warrant guardrails more than the ones installed along Long Lake Road.

The out basket: Christy DeGeus, traffic operations supervisor for Kitsap County, says,  “All of the locations are evaluated based on (a federal) Roadside Design Guide and (state) Design Manual standards.”

There are many factors, including amount of traffic, vehicle speeds, road alignment, what’s just beyond the shoulder, accident history and shading of the roadway.

“Guardrail should only be installed if it is clear that the result of a vehicle striking the barrier will be less severe than the crash resulting from hitting (an) unshielded object (tree, pole, critical slope, water hazard, etc.),” Christine wrote.

“Locations near or in curves are given priority over straightaways because the average crash rate for curves is about three times that of other highway segments,” she said. “Areas exiting curves can be of concern especially if they have a lot of tree shadows where ice and snow are slow to melt.”

Public Works spokesman Doug Bear added, “The Traffic Division keeps an ongoing list (of sites) generated from multiple sources. One source is citizen requests, either as a result of recent collisions or part of the outreach for the Transportation Improvement Program. Another source is our Traffic Safety Report. This report is prepared every two years and identifies locations by collision patterns that can be corrected by guardrail installation.

“Another source is county staff who observes obstacles within clear zones that would benefit from shielding. The latest round of locations was determined through a contract survey through a federal safety grant that identified high collision corridors on federal aid roads.

“Prior to each year’s construction season the sites listed on the guardrail list are evaluated and prioritized,” Doug said. “Work is completed based on that prioritization and the funds available each yea.,” Doug said.

The guardrails Dave questions are either in a curve or just coming out of one. Neither has a steep slope behind it, but the one in the curve screens two large power poles. The one coming out of a curve has a large power pole and a row of sizable trees just a few feet behind it.

I notice two other sites a short distance away with longer, steeper slopes and trees, houses at the base of the slopes and no guardrails. But neither is near a curve.

Christine goes on to say, “We still have two locations yet to install on Long Lake.  We have one location in a curve north of Salmonberry and one location near the north end of the lake that will protect from water and trees.”

They’re also evaluating locations on Gunderson, Mullenix, Seabeck-Holly, Seabeck, Gold Creek, Feigley, Bethel Burley and Central Valley roads and Hood Canal Drive, she said.