Stream of departing shipyard pedestrians make drivers sweat

The in basket: Elissa Torgeson of Bremerton writes, “We really need a crosswalk light

Steady pedestrian traffic out of the Bremerton shipyard keeps ferry traffic from proceeding
Steady pedestrian traffic out of the Bremerton shipyard keeps ferry traffic from proceeding

at the corner of 1st and Pacific (at the shipyard gate) for when the workers are leaving. It is pretty much impossible to get a car through there as the workers won’t stop at all and it’s basically a constant stream of pedestrian traffic.

“I am getting dropped off at 4pm for the 4:20pm ferry to Seattle and it’s a real problem,” she said.

The out basket: I watched this spot from 3:40 to 4:20 one Thursday this month and the situation she describes certainly raised the anxiety level for drivers trying to get to the ferry around 4 p.m. But while it’s always risky to use one day’s observation to generalize about a traffic situation, what I saw didn’t justify paying for a pedestrian light, by which I assume Elissa means a walk-don’t walk light with the requisite overhead signal heads to stop cars during the walk cycle.

It would have the advantage of letting drivers know they WILL get an opportunity to get to the toll booths before the ferry leaves. I saw one driver pull out of line and around the car stopped at the crosswalk in frustration when the line of vehicles extended back to Burwell. Some drivers seemed to be applying crosswalk law that says you have to have a lane of travel between you and the pedestrian before you can proceed, a practical impossibility at that hour.

Nonetheless, the flow of pedestrians had all but stopped by 4:15. no cars were backed up at either the crosswalk or the toll booths then and the only drivers uncertain of getting on the boat were the  late arrivals you see at any ferry departure.

Traffic signals are expensive and the city is struggling to stretch its street dollars as it is.

Since I assume Elissa’s ride is in the single lane that continues around without going to the toll booths, I would think her solution would be to get out at the crosswalk and walk from there. It’s not much farther from there to the ferry terminal than designated passenger drop-off locations.

Just to make sure the city wasn’t in the middle of something to address this, I asked. Street Engineer Tom Knuckey said only, “We’re always evaluating situations such as this and are interested in practical ideas to improve safety and efficiency.  The rush hour here definitely makes things more difficult.”

10 thoughts on “Stream of departing shipyard pedestrians make drivers sweat

  1. All those shipyard workers are going to their cars parked in various garages. Once in their cars, they’ll sit for another 15-20 minutes trying to get out of this part of Bremerton, which is increasingly difficult and time consuming due to the massive reduction in lanes and thus traffic capacity all around downtown Bremerton.

  2. The road lane reductions are going to figure into access issues for the disabled. Several streets, including the recently paved ones, are not ADA compliant. This behavior can also be found in the city parks, parking garages, and other places.

    Pedestrian safety is evidently a low priority for the city. Despite the fact that several people have been struck at poorly maintained crosswalks.

  3. This is all part of the mayor’s plan to slow traffic and make the town more pedestrian friendly. Should just ban vehicles from town. As far as the ADA, I was told that only applies “where practical.”

  4. I believe the drop off point for ferry passengers is on 2nd street so Ellisa would have no reason to be driving as far as she is to be dropped off at the ferry. Maybe she should give that a try. Also, maybe the shipyard should be so stubborn about letting the workers work a straight 8 hours and get off at 3:20 🙂

  5. Although Elissa was going to walk on to the ferry, those of us who drive on would not make that ferry. The last 2 times we have had to travel at that time was very difficult. One time, a young man waved us bye. We appreciated that.
    We are not frequent ferry riders at that time, and it is easy to forget to allow extra time.

  6. Just to be fair the same exact thing happens in the morning when the Seattle ferry comes in at 6:45ish with the ferry. It also happens at the intersection of 4th & Park, as well as any other street that is being used by 10,000 people who are all trying to get to work at the same time. If you really need to be at that ferry at that time take a few minutes to leave early. If you are dropping off for the ferry turn left just before the Bremerton Bar & Grill. Then you can drop off in the designated drop off area instead of stopping traffic to let a person get out of your car.

  7. I’d like to offer some other feedback regarding this situation. Yes, I am being dropped off and the preferred method was taking the road that skips the toll booths. We have also tried having me get dropped off at the corner of Burwell and Washington, which works great for me but my husband lately has spent about 15-20 minutes stuck into almost grid-locked traffic starting at Washington and the whole way down Pacific. I know it’s only a temporary issue (with the boats loading/unloading) but it’s really getting out of hand. The pedestrian problem (with the attitude that they completely have the right of way in all intersections) is bogging the traffic down through that whole area. I know we can’t afford crosswalks, but what can we do to enable cars to travel in those blocks?

    1. I’d also like to point out that the headline is only addressing the problem for those who want to get to the ferry, but what about the gridlock that is happening in the downtown area due to the very same issue with the pedestrian traffic that won’t allow cars through.

  8. I’d like to point out that pedestrians actually do have the right away, both in marked intersections and “unmarked” crosswalks. Maybe Elissa should plan her trip to account for traffic and go to the ferry a little bit earlier.

    Cars don’t have sacrosanct rights to the road. It’s an unfortunate fact that many drivers feel it is their right to travel when and where they may, on their schedule, and feel that any intrusion upon this right (be it by pedestrians or bicycles) is an affront to civilization. Hence “the pedestrian problem” as Elissa chooses to call it. It’s not a pedestrian problem, it’s a car problem.

    For a very interesting view on how this came about, see http://www.vox.com/2015/1/15/7551873/jaywalking-history

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