The in basket: I came across what seemed an unusual operation on a recent trip to Belfair on the stretch of Highway 3 between Bremerton National Airport and Lake Flora Road. A large truck-mounted electronic sign said our lane was closed ahead and to yield to oncoming traffic. It had traffic stopped – almost.
The truck was moving at a snail’s pace and since the first vehicle behind it was a semitrailer tanker truck, I couldn’t see what had closed our lane. It being a normal afternoon on that two-lane portion of Highway 3, oncoming traffic kept the tanker truck and those of us behind it pretty well pinned down as we crept along. I don’t know what the tanker was carrying, but its size and probably it’s cargo called for caution.
Finally the tanker got a break in traffic and pulled out and around the sign truck, as did some of us behind it. We discovered that the lane was still blocked by a smaller slow-moving tank truck from which a stream of liquid was being sprayed on the shoulder.
I saw the trucks twice more that day, once in the same southbound lanes, but moving at highway speed and not spraying anything, and later spraying the northbound shoulder.
It obviously was a vegetation management operation, one of several discussed at length on the Washington State Department of Transportation Web site. But I wondered if there was anything unusual about it, as I often see mowers at work on the shoulder and know the state uses herbicides, but had never seen that slow-moving operation before.
The out basket, No, says Claudia Bingham Baker of the state’s Olympic Region. “You saw a typical vegetation spraying operation. It focuses on controlling vegetation to maintain motorists’ sight distance, and eliminate vegetation encroachment onto the highway and its roadside hardware (like drainage, guardrail, etc.). Crews typically treat the roadside in one direction, then turn around and treat in the opposite direction.”
The in basket: Ronda Armstrong, AKA my stepdaughter, passed along an inquiry from Ted Broussard, as to whether something can be added to roadway tar patches, to make them less slippery, a danger to motorcyclists like Ronda and himself.
“When the tar is hot from the sun, it’s flexible and pliable, slick,” Ted said. “When it’s cold, it’s hard and slick, especially when wet.”
The out basket: I posed the question to Kitsap County, Bremerton and state highway officials, and heard the following back.
Jacques Dean, road superintendent for Kitsap County, replied, “The pavement patch, in and of itself, is not what is making these areas slick. It is the crack sealant that is applied around the pavement patches that can be slippery.
“Crack sealant is applied around pavement patches and over general cracking that is typically resultant of vehicle loading on aging pavement. These pavement cracks accelerate as water gets through the cracks to the underlying sub-grade material which results in accelerated degradation of the pavement surface. The intent of the sealant is to prevent water intrusion to the subgrade.
“Crack sealant under most conditions is not slippery and should not cause any problems to traveling motorists,” Jacques said.
“However, extreme pavement temperatures can cause the material to loosen and melt with heat, or harden with cold. I am also a motorcycle rider and have only encountered a few such occasions. “These occasions happened within corners and usually when the crack sealant material was applied too heavily, or in wide bands.
“Application of sand to the surface of the crack sealant material is the most typical means for addressing slippery conditions. Kitsap County does not do this as part of our normal application procedure as most of our crack sealing efforts are minimal and longitudinal with the roadway alignment. We also strive to ‘squeegee’ excess material into the crack off the road surface, which leaves the aggregate within the pavement exposed.”
Jerry Hauth, street engineer for the city of Bremerton, says, “I had not heard of slipping problems associated with crack sealing (which is what I assume you are referring to as the interim maintenance). The crack sealing process is basically just asphalt emulsion (tar) that is heated, so it can flow into the cracks to keep moisture out and hopefully minimize the crack expansion over the next year.
“A small amount of sand could potentially be added to the emulsion. But that would inhibit the emulsion’s ability to fill into the void space provided by the cracks and I am not really sure that it would effectively provide any more grip to the surface.”
Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says, “(Our) policy is to underfill the roadway cracks and then remove any excess sealant from the road surface in order to maintain roadway traction as much as possible.”
The in basket: I’ve noticed that paving of streets in Parkwood in South Kitsap this year resembles chip seals, but the result is darker in color, smoother and has less loose rock. I asked about it.
The out basket: Jacques Dean, Kitsap County road superintendent, tells me, “These locations were part of a seal coat pilot project. We applied three different applications of emerging pavement preservation methods to three different roadways in South Kitsap County.
“Our intent is to observe these treatments over the next several years to determine if they are methods that we might want to consider for our maintenance toolbox to preserve our roadways in the future. The three different applications are as follows:
– We applied a rubberized chip seal to Madrona Drive SE. This product and application is very similar to our traditional chip seal product. It differs in that the oil that is placed on the road surface includes a crumb rubber component. The rubberized oil has a higher viscosity than our traditional oil and as such, is more pliable, is more resistant to ultra violet degradation and reflective cracking, and provides for a quieter ride.
– We provided a two-part rubberized chip seal / slurry seal to Hillandale Drive E and Hillandale Court. E. Two part applications, such as this, are considered “Cape Seals”. The rubberized chip seal is placed first, and the slurry seal is placed over the chip seal a couple of weeks later, sufficient to allow the chip seal to set up and cure.
“The slurry seal provides for additional sealing of the pavement surface, and also fills the voids between the chip rock, providing for a smoother aesthetic appearance and quieter ride.
– We provided a traditional chip seal / slurry seal to Pine Tree Drive SE and SE Pine Tree Drive. This is also a Cape Seal and provides similar benefits as those mentioned above. The difference in the two is, of course, the rubberized versus the standard chip seal oils. Traditional chip seal oil is more susceptible to ultra violet light degradation and reflective cracking over time than the rubberized oil.
“We will be contracting for another seal coat pilot project in 2016. We have not yet determined the type of preservation method, or locations, as of this time. We will be evaluating potential applications and locations over the fall and winter seasons.
“These ‘new’ preservation methodologies are emerging in the Pacific Northwest, but have been utilized in southern states for decades where warmer temperatures predominate. It is only recently that innovations in technology have allowed for the advancement of asphalt oils that are conducive to our colder and wetter climate.
“This has opened the door for us to investigate these products. Kitsap County is the fourth county in the state, behind Clark, Pierce and Chelan, to apply these techniques.”
The in basket: Jim Milner e-mails to say the intersection of Sidney and Sedgwick roads in South Kitsap, for traffic approaching from the Highway 16 freeway, has a problem.
It “faces four traffic lights at the intersection,” Jim said,
one for left turn, one for straight ahead, one for straight ahead
/right turn. There are three lanes of traffic. one left turn, one
straight ahead and one straight ahead/right turn. There is another
lane on the right shoulder that appears to be controlled by the
fourth light, yet at the same time it is not designated as a
“This creates no small amount of confusion,” Jim said, “resulting in many near collisions between those using the designated right turn lane and another driver assuming the extreme lane is a designated turn lane. I have been told by a KCSO deputy that if an accident were to occur at that intersection, both parties would be cited for failure to yield right of way.
“Why are there four lights to control three lanes of traffic?”
The out basket: You’ll find one more signal head than there are lanes at nearly every signalized intersection, including in the other directions at that one. It’s a federally required redundancy on the main movement at such intersections, in case one signal head fails or is obscured by other traffic.
Mark Dorsey, public works director for Port Orchard, says, “What Mr. Milner is seeing is ‘extra asphalt’ at the shoulder. The edge stripe/fog line heading west (coming from Lowe’s) is continuous with the combination through lane (westbound)/right-turn(northbound.)
“There is potentially room for a right-turn pocket with curb/gutter/sidewalk and that will be a future improvement, but for now……the edge strip designates the lane…….and people crossing the edge stripe and using it as a right-turn lane are being ticketed.”
The in basket: Aaron Clark e-mailed on Sept 8 to say, “Noticed a few weeks ago that they paved just the centerline (about 2 feet wide) of 305 from past Poulsbo to about the Masi Shop. My guess is it was done to remove the centerline rumble strip. I’m wondering whether installing the rumble strip was a test, or if it’s been removed as a test. It has been at least a month and the road hasn’t been restriped yet.”
The out basket: It probably is by now. Claudia Bingham Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, said on Monday, “Our goal with the work in that area was to extend the two-way turn lane to include access to a couple more businesses. The rumble strips were paved over permanently because you don’t have rumble strips in turn lanes.”
If weather allowed, the new stripes were to be applied Tuesday night., she said.
The in basket: Glen Adrig, the local AARP driving safety program coordinator, writes, “A number of months ago I read in the news that there were going to be a few high friction paving demonstration projects completed, one of which was the steep curved portion of Riddell Road where it turns into Perry Avenue.
“Since that time, the old warning rumble strips have been paved smooth, and a patchwork of pavement has been completed.
“Other than that, there has been no visible progress on repaving the hillside and approaches with the high friction composition materials.
“With fall and winter approaching, I was wondering if the high friction repaving was going to be completed before the predictably bad weather comes,” Glen said.
The out basket: Doug Bear, spokesman for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “The work is being done by a national contractor. The truck they have scheduled for Kitsap County is having some mechanical issues. They are completing a project and then headed to Washington. They have a tentative date to start this project as October 5.
It’s part of a federal test to see if accidents in which drivers loose traction in curves slide of the road and crash can be reduced. Other than the site Glen mentions, it is to be applied at Hood Canal Drive’s hairpin curve, Hood Canal Drive and Cliffside Road, Barber Cutoff Road between its Tuckerman Avenue intersections, Baby Doll Road and Collins Road, North Road above Long Lake Road, and on Central Valley Road at Anna Road.
The in basket: Art Hammond wrote on Aug. 19 , “I am sure that not only am I curious; but countless others must be. What is happening on Central Valley Road between Fairgrounds, and McWilliams? I see yesterday a curb was put up. They are clearing off and filling in wetlands, etc. I see they put in curbs in the driveway, too, now.
“Wonder if they are following suit with North Kitsap, and building a school in the wetlands? Any idea??”
The out basket: Art had to explain the North Kitsap reference, which went over my head. He says Kingston High School was built in a swamp.
Anyway, Jeff Rimack, development engineering specialist for Kitsap County, says, “The development along the road that they are seeing is in relation to a plat called Hidden Meadows that is currently issued and being built.
“The hearing examiner required frontage improvements (e.g. curb, gutter, sidewalk) as part of the land use,” he said. “The only fill that is occurring in the wetland with this development is for the approach road to the development. The houses, streets, play areas etc. for this development, are all located outside of the wetland.
“There are areas that infringe on the wetland buffers a bit, but in accordance with code and the hearing examiner’s decision, they are doing buffer averaging for those areas and adding buffer along other parts of the wetland to maintain the buffer,” Jeff said.
I guess it will be comparable to Madeline Woods just north of there, with the housing accessed by a road through what probably is wetland.
The in basket: Craig Ellis says, “There appears to be some
paving work that has yet to be done on
Seabeck Highway in and around the new roundabout at the intersection of Seabeck Highway/Holly Road. I am under the assumption that this paving will be taking place over the next few days.
“My question has to do with how far this paving will extend. As you
are aware, (Puget Sound Energy) tore up the center lane of Seabeck Highway all the way from Triangle Auto Repair near Chico to the Holly Road intersection. When they were finished, what we were left with is a
patch of paving running down the center of the lane that is in a word … horrible. When I’m on my motorcycle, I actually have taken to going all the way down to Newberry Hill Road to get to Holly because
that stretch of road is actually dangerous.
“So my main question is …. during this paving project window on
Seabeck Highway, will it extend all the way down to Chico to correct
the paving job that currently exists?”
The out basket: The stretch from Northlake Way to Calamity Lane will be repaved in the one lane that was trenched and repatched, but it’s not part of the county’s project.
The county found that the patch job in the westbound lane of Seabeck Highway did not repair the highway adequately and is requiring PSE to grind out the existing pavement surface and repave it. Dale Robinson, PSE engineering planner for this area, says they want it to be finished by year’s end, much sooner if possible.
I wondered if the undergrounding of the power lines would permit removal of some or all of the power poles, and the answer is no. One of two circuits running out of the Chico substation and serving Holly Road and beyond will remain on those poles, as will cable and phone lines.
Dale said three power poles were removed, but that was to make way for the roundabout the county just built where Seabeck Highway and Holly Road intersect,
The county’s job will pave both lanes radiating out from the roundabout for a short distance.
The in basket: Leslie Kelly, who lives about a mile past the Agate Pass Bridge on Bainbridge Island, writes, “OK. So I bought a house that sits just off Highway 305. And I’ve learned to make like the highway noise is the ocean. But why do I have to put up with the tsunami of trucks using their compression brakes? I thought they were illegal. Why isn’t that enforced by the State Patrol or Bainbridge Island police?
The out basket: Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matt Hamner
referred the question to Detective Sergeant Scott Weiss of his
department, who says, “Compression brakes are not per se
illegal. Here is the state law: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.37.395.
It says in part, “ An engine
compression brake device is any device that uses the engine and
transmission to impede the forward motion of the motor vehicle by
compression of the engine.
The driver of a motor vehicle equipped with a device that uses the compression of the motor vehicle engine shall not use the device unless the motor vehicle is equipped with an operational muffler and exhaust system to prevent excess noise. A muffler is part of an engine exhaust system which acts as a noise dissipative device.”
“The City Ordinance is 10.28,” Scott said, “which again only makes compression brakes illegal if they do not have a muffler. I have not heard any illegal (no muffler or exhaust system for it).
“A citizen may really be hearing a truck use a legal compression brake but one without a muffler system would be extremely, abnormally loud.
“We would certainly enforce/address any illegal equipment violations as we come across them. Over the years I believe that we have had a few illegal Jake or compression brake violations but they have been very few in number, probably only a handful in 10-15 years.”