Monthly Archives: April 2015

Washington Avenue lane reduction is under way

The in basket: With Fifth Street in Bremerton closed at Washington Avenue and its pavement crushed, plus the north end of the barrier separating the two levels of Washington between Sixth Street and the Manette Bridge newly shortened, I wondered if the city was doing work to prepare for this summer’s realignment of Washington, or if it was the first phases of the project itself.

It seems that the start of street and road projects have a way of dragging into the late summer and I hadn’t heard that the contractor had been given the go-ahead to begin the overall project, which will reduce Washington to a single lane in each direction with bike lanes and wider sidewalks between Sixth and the bridge.

I recall that years ago, a Road Warrior reader suggested that the toe of that barrier be cut back or at least painted white so left-turn traffic coming off the bridge was less likely to turn too sharply and hit it. I don’t recall what I did with that, but it didn’t get done then.

The out basket: It IS the start of the project, says city Public Works Director Chal Martin, and it’s to be com

Work begin down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Work begin down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

pleted in November. The closure of Fifth Street is for utility improvements that are working their way up to Sixth Street. Fifth is scheduled to reopen on May 11, but then Sixth Street’s intersection will close. That will be a much bigger deal, and City Engineer Tom Knuckey said a detour plan will be announced soon. Sixth is to reopen May 14, then Fifth will close again while the utility work is tested.

All the work will occur Mondays through Thursdays, the schedule says, as the contractor has chosen to work four 10-hour shifts, at least to start.

Soon the traffic signal at the end of the Manette Bridge will begin flashing red continuously for 30 days, a precursor to installation of stop signs to control the intersection for the duration of the project. The signals will go back into operation when it’s complete.

The current city staff has no recollection of the previous suggestion to cut back or paint the toe of the barrier, which isn’t surprising. It was a long time ago and I’m not sure anyone has actually hit it while turning.

Chal Martin said it has been done now because reducing Washington to a single lane will  make the turn tighter. In practice, most drivers have swung out into the outside lane when turning left off the bridge, he said. That’s technically illegal (drivers are required to turn into the nearest available lane when turning into a roadway) but it is what has been happening. Left turners no longer will be able to swing as wide when the project is done, and construction equipment also will benefit from the shortening.

The other end of the barrier will also be cut back to aid left turners from Sixth onto Washington – and the construction vehicles during the work, Tom said.


RE: 2 TV reports on passing school buses with red lights flashing

The in basket: KIRO-TV news did a segment recently on the Highline School District’s deployment of cameras on the sides of its school buses to capture images of drivers who ignore the flashing red lights and extended STOP paddle when a bus is loading or off-loading children. Costly citations are to follow.

A good thing, I would say, especially noting a subsequent TV report of a white SUV filmed while  actually passing a Bethel School District bus on the right without slowing down as three children walked toward the bus. It nearly hit them. Such indifference to student safety is inexcusable and a hunt is on for that driver.

Surveys suggest that drivers ignore the flashing lights and extended paddles of school buses hundreds of times each school day throughout the state. I was dubious about a claim that many of those infractions involve passing the bus on the right (most of those are bicyclists, I think) but the video of the Bethel incident shows that it does happen with cars, as far-fetched as it sounds.

But, back to KIRO’s report on Highline’s plans. It made what I consider a significant mistake. TV news being what it is, desperate for an image to fill our screens, KIRO chose one that misrepresents the law requiring drivers to stop for the buses.

It depicted cars streaming past an extended STOP paddle, visible on the right of the screen, going in the opposite direction of the bus. In between, is an empty lane.

The clear implication was that the drivers shown were violating the law. But they weren’t.

State law says “The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with three or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.”

You have to stop for a school bus with its red lights flashing and its STOP paddle out only if you’re following the bus, or going the opposite direction on a two-lane road.

At least legally that’s the case. As a practical matter, you’ll probably have to stop because some driver ahead of you usually stops and there’s usually no way around that car or the cars lined up behind it. So many drivers are unsure of the law that you almost never get to exercise it unless you’re first or nearly first in line.

So I hate to see the media further decrease the chances that drivers will do what’s permitted. School bus routes are crafted so drivers can’t and don’t let students cross more than one lane to the left of the bus anyway.

Marine Drive’s lost lane rankles residents

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 5.16.50 PMThe in basket: Linda Spearman and John White are among what I gather are a lot of Marine Drive and Rocky Point residents unhappy with an unexpected consequence of the city of Bremerton’s repaving of a stretch of Marine Drive that intersects Kitsap Way.
“It’s nice that they have repaved the first section of Marine Drive,” John wrote, “but at the same time they changed the lane structure (at Kitsap Way). Instead of a left turn, straight, and right turn lane, there are now just a left turn lane and a combined right/straight lane.
“The majority of the traffic anytime the intersection is busy are either left or right turns. Now that the right turn lane is combined with the straight lane all it takes is one person waiting to go straight and the right turn lane has to wait the entire signal sequence. I’ve already seen things backing WAY up, especially at rush hour time when the cycle is so long already.
“I know it was most likely done to widen the entrance approach when coming from Kitsap Way left-turn lane. And I will be the first to admit that turn has been close to the bane of my existence, since I live down Rocky Point, but I don’t see this as the best solution. Not to mention now there are three signals for two lanes. Then again after seeing the ‘improvements’ at Warren Avenue maybe that’s the new standard around Bremerton??”
Linda said, “We are envisioning big problems from this lane loss.  Usually when
Crownhill Elementary School lets out students for the day, there is a
traffic backup of huge proportions (also in the morning when students are
driven to school by parents).
“Now, with the right-turn lane being
utilized for right turns as well as straight through, vehicles waiting at
the red light to traverse onto Adele (straight) will be blocking the lane
for vehicles which would normally have been able to make right turns on
“This lane restriction will inevitably cause worse
congestion.  There are probably other high-traffic time periods of the day as well. We hope tempers will not flare because of this change.
“Did the traffic department consider this problem before they made their decision?”
The out basket: John’s comparison with Warren Avenue at 11th Street is apt, as the rationale for eliminating 11th’s westbound right turn lane a couple years ago is the same as for consolidating two lanes into one at Marine Drive. It made room to widen the single lane inbound to Marine Drive, which  required too sharp a turn for large vehicles and drivers of some small ones.
But city Public Works Director Chal Martin wants upset residents to know that further modifications should make the change work better. They retimed the signals Monday and Chal said it seemed to help.
The change “was to make the inbound lane on Marine Drive wider to accommodate both right turns and left turns from Kitsap Way,” he said. “Especially with the right turns, school buses had a very hard time and would get hung up until the Marine Drive’s southbound left-turn lane cleared. Marco Dicicco, Bremerton School District’s student transportation and safety supervisor, was especially concerned about this issue.
“This change fixes that problem but will continue to cause a jam-up during the school rush period until we get the (traffic detector) loops working properly.
“Work still to be done includes re-aligning the loops (they are sort of working, but not quite because they are mis-aligned right now).  We’ll get that done (currently scheduled for Wednesday of this week) and watch for awhile – it takes folks time to settle into a new configuration. Also we may need to make a few additional adjustments. Bottom line is:  We will get this working right.”
The project was paid for with money raised by the city’s license tab add-on. “Money was an issue,” Chal said, “and widening the street was cost prohibitive.
“The three signal heads that are there will stay, as this is a standard configuration for two lanes also.  We did consider the issues associated with putting this reconfiguration in place.  The new configuration should begin working much better within the next couple of weeks.”

New garbage, recycling trucks to have several benefits

The in basket: Tasha Davis used e-mail in early April to tell me about an incident on Highway 3 near Bremerton.

“A green and yellow recycle truck entered the freeway from the (Austin Drive) ramp and headed south, spewing all manner of paper out the top of the truck as it sped along,” the e-mail said. “I’m sure if the driver had looked into his rear view mirror he would have seen the ticker tape-like parade going on behind.

“Judging from the papers I found stuck in my grill, pick-up was on the Erland Point route and lots of personal information was spread around. Don’t these trucks have lids?”

The out basket: Robin Freedman, senior communications manager for Waste Management took this on when I made contact a week later, but wanted it noted that there was no mention of a Waste Management logo on the truck that would have made it indisputable that it was one of the company’s trucks. It did bear the company colors.

“I did some research and learned the following,” she said. “The majority of our vehicles (front load) have a lid on the top of the vehicles. Unfortunately, a few older models do not have a lid. Furthermore, it is a safety hazard for our drivers to climb up on the top of the truck to search for flyaway materials.

“However, there is some good news. Waste Management is replacing our fleet in your area with new compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. They are sleek, shiny, new state of the art vehicles and since they are powered by CNG, they leave a much smaller carbon footprint, zero air particulates and 23 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions.

“By the end of 2015, your community will see these vehicles in every neighborhood although, you may not hear them – CNG trucks are very quiet.”

Both garbage and recyclable collection trucks will be replaced, she said, and the new ones will have lids.


New stores will worsen Greaves/Old Frontier, reader predicts

The in basket: Shun Hung Ling e-mails with the latest complaint I’ve gotten about the somewhat unusual intersection of Greaves Way and Old Frontier Road west of Silverdale. About the only problem there he didn’t mention is the visibility of the traffic island where westbound Greaves traffic turns right onto Old Frontier, the most common complaint I get about that spot.

“The signs indicate the traffic on (eastbound) Old Frontier Road heading towards the mall has the right of way,” his e-mail said, “including when they make a left turn to continue on towards Trigger Avenue.

“The traffic on Old Frontier Road heading south must turn left onto Greaves towards the mall or right towards Anderson Hill Road.  The problem here is the two lanes on Old Frontier going south have a stop sign.  The inside car trying to turn left can not see the oncoming traffic when there’s a car in the outside lane trying to turn right.

“When traffic coming east on Old Frontier Road and turning left to continue north has the right of way, they tend to drive somewhat fast and turn left cutting corners, threatening the car wanting to turn left on to Greaves Road.”

Traffic will continue to build with the opening of the new shopping plaza at Greaves and Highway 303, he said, making those problems worse.

He thinks the intersection needs a traffic signal or at least to have the Old Frontier stop signs moved back five or six feet “so both car lanes on Old Frontier heading south can see the traffic coming from their right before they make their turn.

I asked Kitsap County Public Works if any modifications to recognize the increased traffic with the opening of the new plaza are planned.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, says, “Before developing the Greaves Way project we looked at current and future traffic volumes. The signal at Clear Creek Road was warranted for current volumes, and installed at the time the road was developed.  The then-current volumes did not warrant the signal at Frontier Road.

“We evaluated it using estimated future volumes and a signal was warranted based on growth and future development’s bringing additional vehicle volumes.

“We did install much of the underground electrical system for a new signal at Frontier Road based on that evaluation.  We continue to monitor the traffic volume at that intersection. As it gets close to meeting volume (criteria), we will propose a signal installation as a future project.

“Stop lines for multi-lane stops can be difficult to navigate when traffic occupies both lanes,” he said. “Stop lines at non-signalized intersections are not usually staggered. Motorists tend to stop as close to the intersection as possible, especially drivers that are familiar with the intersection.

“We consider a couple of things when placing stop lines.  They have to be at least four feet behind the nearest line if there is a marked crosswalk.  We mark them as close to the intersection as possible to give motorists better sight distance to see cross traffic.

“We also try to keep them out of shoulders to help protect pedestrians and bicyclists.

“State law states that a driver must stop at the stop line if one exists, but the driver is allowed to move forward after stopping to see oncoming traffic better,” Jeff said.

Bucklin-Randall left turn gets blocked

The in basket: Eric Blair says using the eastbound Bucklin Hill Road left-turn lane to reach Randall Way is sometimes made difficult by would-be left-turners going the other way with one too many options for reaching the adjacent shopping center.

“I routinely travel east, coming down Bucklin Hill, and want to turn left onto Randall. I am frequently blocked from getting into the left-turn lane, because someone coming west on Bucklin has entered the turn lane, across double yellow lines, so that they can turn left into the parking lot for Kitsap Credit Union. Has the county considered blocking this to force traffic to travel a bit further and turn left into the next entrance?”

He envisions something like what the county did on Myhre Road at the access road running down between Pet Smart and Ashley Furniture – a row of pylons to prevent left turns there.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer, says, “We recently completed a traffic study on that segment of Bucklin Hill Road. The study looked at congestion and other aspects of traffic, bicycle and pedestrian travel between Anderson Hill Road and Silverdale Way.

“One of the problems identified was the left-turn lane, the two-way left-turn lane, and the business approaches your reader mentions.  The study recommended traffic controls at those accesses.

“This was also a topic of keen interest with the Central Kitsap Community Council when we discussed this corridor with them.

“We are contacting business owners in this area and discussing potential impacts these changes will have on their businesses. Based on the data we collect, we will identify and consider potential solutions that can meet the needs of the business and motorists who use that corridor. “

High beams in other drivers’ eyes can get you a ticket

The in basket: Bremertonian Mark Henson e-mailed an interesting anecdote to Sun reporter Josh Farley, who figured it to be Road Warrior fodder and forwarded it to me.

Mark said he was driving on Highway 303 April 13 around 7 p.m.  “It was a grey afternoon with a dull sky, with wipers on low,” he said. “I noticed a white car heading northbound without its headlights on, I did what I am accustomed to do when I see a car heading towards me without their lights on . .  I remind them by giving them a quick ‘flash’ of  my high beams as a gentle reminder that their lights are off.”

He didn’t realize it was a State Patrol car until moments later, when it went past, then turned around and stopped him.

“He asked me why I flashed my high beams at him. I (told) him that his headlights were not on. He said, ‘I don’t have to.'”

Mark was of the opposite opinion, relying on state law RCW 46.37.020 that says when headlights must be on, including “when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead.” Otherwise, it’s from a half-hour past sunset to a half-hour before sunrise.

“I began to explain that it was inclement weather and it was beginning to get dark,” Mark said, “and he reiterated the RCW and then mentioned that ‘flashing’ one’s high beams is against the law. He (said) ‘I’m not going to give you a ticket NOW, but  . .  .  please drive safely.’

“I tried to tell him that the inclement weather conditions are covered under the same RCW that he quoted, but I think he was more unhappy with the fact that I gave him a reminder that his headlights were off.

“I would like to hear your comments!” Mark concluded.

The out basket: I did have some comments, but chose to share them privately with my State Patrol contact, Trooper Russ Winger.

For public consumption, I asked if it’s really illegal to flash your brights at a car without its headlights on at night, and if so, what does the state patrol recommend to alert a driver that his lights are off? And how about when you meet a car with its lights steadily on bright?

I have flashed such drivers many times in 50-plus years of driving and have been flashed for the same reason. I have appreciated the gesture since I first realized what it meant.

I’ve found that it takes less of my attention off driving to flash my brights than to turn my lights off-on-off-on for that purpose.

Russ told me, yes, “it’s illegal to shine high beams in another motorists eyes,” even for a brief moment as a warning or reprimand.

“‎Conditions; light, rain etc. other than legal times are subjective to interpretation and the WSP feels that it is not a good idea for motorists to interpret the law and single out other motorists for corrective ‘hints,’ however well intended. Flashing high beams at the wrong person at the wrong time just might lead to an altercation.

“Can you be stopped for (flashing your brights), yes. Will you be cited, maybe but not likely.

“Motorists typically forget to turn lights on in town where there is plenty of lighting and they have just entered the roadway from a parking lot or such. Very rarely do you see a vehicle driving down the road without lights in pitch dark conditions.

“I think if a driver feels absolutely compelled to ‘do something’ when a motorist forgets to turn on the headlamps, the quick on/off of the low beams usually does the trick, provided the driver doesn’t have to look down in search of the light switch. If you cannot operate your vehicle’s light switch without fumbling around in the dark, let it go. Someone else will probably do it if the driver doesn’t just figure it out themselves and turn them on first.

“Another option is to give us a call and report the driver if one thinks that it is possibly dangerous. We might have a trooper or another officer in the area that can look for the vehicle and stop it.

“DUI drivers sometimes fail to turn their lights on and will also leave the high beams on and not respond to the old on/off method to alert them. We will happily stop this vehicle when possible and have a quick chat with the driver and make sure everything is squared away.”

Silverdale Post Office access is a puzzle

The in basket: Jerry VanFossen of Silverdale passed along a complaint voiced at a recent meeting of the Central Kitsap Community Council about traffic flow at the Silverdale Post Office.

A woman told the group that she was “almost killed” while trying to turn left fromSilverdale Way into the northern access to the post office parking lot . Another driver was turning left out of that access and they might have collided but for good fortune.

The council asked Jerry to find out if leaving the parking lot via that access was permitted. He asked me.

The out basket: There are no signs at the northern access to help answer that question. The southern access provides a hint with a one-way sign pointing into the lot, which means don’t exit there. And the striping in the lot hints at the same, with the spaces angled toward the exit.

Getting any guidance from the post office was futile. I left phone messages when I was lucky enough to get a person to answer, electronic messages when I was able to reach a mailbox that wasn’t full and unable to take messages, and visited once and left a lengthy written description of what I wanted to know. I never got a return call.

Finally an employee who didn’t want to give me her name told me the post office is between postmasters and the previous one was leaving about the time I left my long written message. She said they “are waiting for things to get better” after a replacement is named.

She also said a woman had complained about the parking lot about a month ago, perhaps the same woman who addressed the community council.

I asked Trooper Russ Winger of the state patrol here who would be responsible in a collision between left turners, one in a two-way turn lane and the other entering from a side street.

It turns out Russ knows that parking lot first hand and replied, “If you look at that parking lot and roadway on Google Earth it becomes clear (in my opinion) that the parking lot is designed to be one-way. The parking stalls are angled to allow easy turns into them from the north. The south end is clearly marked with signage as one-way, exit only with right or left turn. There is no southern entrance to the parking lot.

“Drivers do wrongly enter there on occasion and I have seen exiting vehicles honk at the offending drivers,” he said. ” They usually try and sneak in quickly and grab a close parking stall as traffic clearly does not flow in that direction. Most customers who use the post office there on a regular basis know this.

“I have used the lot on many occasions and have not seen anyone try and exit to the north,” he said.  “Normal daytime traffic there is so busy it would be like walking the wrong way on a busy one-way escalator. It’s sometimes difficult to even back out of a parking stall with the volume of parked vehicles and traffic flowing in from the north.

“I think you can exit at the north end of the lot but it seems to be clearly intended for post office employee use. If you did find yourself attempting to exit at the north end you would be required to yield to traffic on Silverdale Way first. The vehicles already on the roadway have the right of way,” Russ said.

When BPD cars are seen in Navy Yard City

The in basket: Greg Marshall of Belfair has a question about police patrols in the Navy Yard City area just outside the Bremerton city limits.

He spent a lot of time the past winter remodeling a house that had been in his family for many years, he said, and saw a lot of Bremerton police cars. He grew up there and it was always Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office that patrolled back then. He wonders if something had changed to explain it, whether they write tickets there and where the money goes, if so.

The out basket: “Nothing has changed,” replied Bremerton police Lt. Pete Fisher. “That is KCSO jurisdiction and no, we do not get reimbursed if we respond there for a call.  Our officers do not write tickets there, but if they did, the tickets would be written into (Kitsap County) district court.

“If we are in that area, it would be to look for a suspect in a Bremerton crime, or to assist KCSO at their request,” he said.

Yes, it can be worth it to propose a road improvement

The in basket:  Each year about this time, Kitsap County Public Works asks for citizen nominations for future road projects to be considered for the six-year road improvement plan that will be adopted in December. The plan to be adopted this year will cover 2016-21.

I wondered if this request is just eye wash, a nod toward citizen involvement, the holy grail of local governments the past couple of decades.

The out basket: Jim Rogers, transportation planner for the county, said 15 of the 58 projects in the 2015-20 plan, which can be see online at, were citizen-initiated. That includes the top priority project, paving 2,400 feet of Hansville Road’s shoulders between Ecology and Eglon roads in North Kitsap this year.

Most of the 15 are shoulder improvements to be done by county employees rather than contracted out.

The others Jim listed, with their priority ranking and year to be done, include:

– This year’s $2 million roundabout and shoulder paving at and near Holly Road at Seabeck Highway (8 –  2015)

– More Hansville Road shoulder paving between Eglon and Twin Spits roads (16 – 2016),

– Widening the intersection of Widme and Totten roads  in North Kitsap to benefit truck movements (19 – 2016),

– Sidewalks  on both sides of Fairgrounds Road between Central Valley and Nels Nelson roads (26 – 2017)

– Paved shoulders on Suquamish Way between Hyak Lane and Division Avenue (27 – 2017 )

– Paved shoulders on Chester Road and Madrone Avenue in Manchester (36 – 2018)

– Paving shoulders and improving drainage on Beach Drive in South Kitsap between Daniels Loop and Jessica Way (37 – 2018).

– Six-foot paved shoulders on Sidney Road in South Kitsap from the Port Orchard city limits to just past Lider Road (38 – 2018).

– Paved shoulder on Alaska Avenue in South Kitsap between Mile Hill Drive and Madrone Avenue (40 – 2018).

– Paved shoulders on Island Lake /Road between Gallery Street and Camp Court (41 – 2018)

–  Paved shoulders on Anderson Hill Road in Silverdale for about 100 yards on both sides of the Frontier Place roundabout (42 – 2018).

– Add traffic lights and turn lanes at Nels Nelson and Bucklin Hill roads (52 – 2019)

– Building right-turn lane on southbound Hansville Road at Highway 104 (55 – 2020)

– Paving shoulders and resurfacing of Seabeck Highway between Gross and Newberry Hill roads (57 – 2020).

If you have a road project you’d like to nominate, you can do it online at