Ditch work on Highway 166 is proactive

The in basket: A loader has been scooping big shovels of mud into Peninsula Top Soil dump trucks from the south shoulder of Highway 166 east of Port Orchard the last couple of weeks, stopping traffic and allowing alternating flows of traffic through one remaining open lane.

It was a short distance west of where I’d seen state maintenance equipment doing similar work earlier this year, where water chronically flowed onto the pavement. But I’d never seen that problem where they are working now.

Since the only official vehicle I saw at the scene was a city of Port Orchard public works truck, I asked Public Works Director Mark Dorsey what prompted the work.

The out basket: Mark told me, “The state intervened last winter to do some limited ditch work to keep water off their pavement. We (now) are trying to be proactive and keep the ditch system open and functioning.

“The objective is to reestablish the flow of runoff within the ditches, rather than have standing water on the roadway,” he said. It’s hard to say how much longer the work and traffic disruption will go on. They worked through Thursday’s rain,  but the loader is still on the roadside and they have a ways to go yet.

Flexible log-like structures left lying crosswise in the cleaned ditch are temporary erosion/sedimentation control devices employed for the activity,” he said when I asked. He said they are called “waddles.”

The state and city share responsibility for the highway, he said.

I know that spot better than I would like. Back in the late 1960s or early ’70s, I was hurrying in light snowfall to Bremerton in my retired state patrol car acquired at auction. I tried to pass a cautious driver ahead of me just west of Ross Point and lost traction. After a 180-degree spin, I slammed backward into the ditch, then about six feet deep. The state filled it in later for safety reasons.

I was sitting on my seat belt, which left a pretty good bruise on my backside. Had I had the misfortune to have done a 360 and gone in forward, I’d probably look much different than I do now. Heaven knows how I would have fared had I gone over the water side of the highway.

That’s probably when I got serious about wearing my seat belt.

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