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Travis Baker blogs about the problems and idiosyncrasies of Kitsap highways and byways.
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Need for Long Lake Road guard rails questioned

January 10th, 2014 by travis baker

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.

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You can reach Travis Baker at tvisb@wavecable.com

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