Monthly Archives: October 2015

Sidney Road bypass lane at Wildwood called ‘a joke’

The in basket: Nick, who gave no last name, wrote in mid-October , “A number of the people I talked to think the (recently built) county bypass lane at Sidney and Wildwood roads is a joke .

“The northbound bypass lane still has traffic cones blocking its use. If you are coming off Wildwood and turning to go north on Sidney, and you have a low vehicle, the power pole and high guard rail block your view of any traffic coming toward you on Sidney. Consequently, you have to pull up almost into the southbound lane of Sidney. There has been one vehicle accident that I know of so far.

“Why didn’t  the county start the bypass  lane north of Wildwood so there would be turn lane onto Wildwood?”

The out basket: Once again, I found visiting a completed county project at an out-of-the-way location provided a big surprise as to its scope. As with the work the county did at Mullenix and Bethel-Burley a while back, the Sidney bypass lane involved a lot of earth work and a retaining wall, not just an extra lane of pavement.

There were no cones when I was there and no northbound bypass lane was part of the project.

Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer, detailed the evolution of the job.

“A history of collisions with stopped left turning vehicles being rear-ended put this intersection on the construction program list. On a 45 mph road, that can be very dangerous.

“Our initial plan was to construct a left turn lane and get turning traffic out of the through lane of the road,” Jeff said. “(But) the turn lane length extended well past the Wildwood intersection.  Extending the lane past the intersection is unacceptable for safety reasons.

“The second alternative was a continuous two-way left turn lane that included both the Wildwood and Shannon Drive intersections. This was ruled out because of the conflict of left turning vehicles from both directions.  Due to the direction of the intersections’ offset, left-turning vehicles from both directions would share the same lane, which could lead to a very dangerous head-on collision.

“We did some research on the Federal Highway Administration website and found some states were using the ‘bypass’ lane configuration successfully to reduce rear-end collisions. The decision was made to try the configuration at this location due to the collision pattern and monitor the location to see if it works.

“While out looking at the completed project,” Jeff said, “I personally witnessed a motorist maneuver around a stopped left-turning vehicle at a high rate of speed.  If the lane had not been present, I would have either witnessed a rear-end collision or a motorist driving into the ditch.

“I am not sure what the reader is referring to by the bypass lane in the northbound direction, because there is no bypass in that direction.  The rear-end collision frequency at Wildwood did not warrant any improvements at that intersection.

“The collision that I am aware of at this location was due to a motorist pulling out in front of an oncoming vehicle.

“Since the collision we have installed a stop line to help motorists know where to stop and look in both directions for oncoming cars.  Since the stop line was installed I am not aware of any collisions at this location.

“As to the cones still being there…they were not placed there by Kitsap County and have been removed.”

 

 

Reader finds SR303 repaving to be bumpy

The in basket: Nancy Bryant writes, “I have a question about the recent Highway 303 repaving.  When traveling on Highway 303, particularly going south near the Ridgetop exits, the road is now really bumpy.  The middle lane going south is the worse – my CRV just bumps up and down continually.  In the far left lane you can see where there are what look like rake marks weaving back and forth in the paving.

“Were these unevenly paved areas a big mistake or was it intentional?  If it was intentional, why?

The out basket: I drove it and wouldn’t call the surface bumpy. Wavy, maybe. I felt a little side to side sway in my 2013 Malibu, and I suppose 10 miles of it might make me motion sick. But it was hard to detect.

Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says, “We sent an inspector out to take a look at that section of road.  What he found was that this pavement section does have some unevenness, however it is not out of tolerance for pavement smoothness.

“The rake marks that are present are caused by the paving roller and will go away with time. We plan no corrective action at this time.”

‘Motor vehicles only” freeway signs recalled

The in basket: After reading the recent Road Warrior column saying bicycles are permitted on freeways, Michael Schuyler wrote, “I remember quite clearly that at every freeway entrance in the’60s there used to be a sign that said, ‘Motorized vehicles only.’ What changed and when? Was it simply a policy change or was it a change in the law? I saw these signs on the interstate, for sure, but can’t recall if they were also on state freeways.”

The out basket: I recall those signs too, though I didn’t  until Michael jogged my memory.

State officials couldn’t pinpoint what changed, so I went to Lloyd Brown, director of communications with the

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Lloyd used to work for our state’s transportation department.

He had one of their staff look into it and librarian/historian Bob Cullen sent the following”

“The Federal Highway Act of 1973 established the Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian Walkways program.  Those provisions have been revised and even expanded upon several times since in other major pieces of federal legislation, notably the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991.

“However, in answer to the specific question, there have not been any laws at the federal level providing a nationwide authorization or prohibition with respect to riding bicycles on freeways.  As described in section ‘Bicycles on Freeways’ on web page for the Federal Highway Administration’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/freeways.cfm#bicycles):

‘There are no federal laws or regulations that prohibit bicycle use on interstate highways or other freeways. Although a state may prohibit bicycles on freeways, prohibition is not a federal requirement. Most western states allow bicycles to use interstate highways or other freeways. Many of these states restrict bicycle use in urban or other congested areas.

“In some locations, the interstate highway or other freeway may be the only reasonable route, or may be preferred compared to other steep, narrow, or winding routes. A state should consider safety and traffic concerns along the freeway and along alternative routes when considering whether or not to allow bicyclists to use freeways.”

In other words, the federal government leaves it up to each individual state to decide whether bicyclists can travel along freeways. States still have the initiating role in any assessment of whether bicycles can even be used on those particular segments of highway.”

Ferry repair looked like cardboard

The in basket: While sitting in a car on the car deck of the ferry Spokane July 3, I looked up and saw the odd repair shown in the accompanying photo. It looked like the repair was made with cardboard and duct tape. I asked what I was seeing.

IMG_3349

The out basket: Hadley Rodero, a consultant with Washington State Ferries, replied, “The patches you saw are a primer coat that was put in place after a welding repair. The tan is the primer and the blue is painters tape.

“Due to time constraints, the finish coat of paint couldn’t be applied before the Spokane was pulled back into service. The finish coat will be applied next time the ferry goes to Eagle Harbor for other work.”

Old Military Road speeders trouble resident

The in basket: Craig Reynolds says speeding is particularly bad on Old Military Road between McWilliams and Fairgrounds roads in Central Kitsap, especially at rush hour.

Both directions are bad between 3:30 and 6 p.m., he said. He presumes it to be commuter traffic not wanting to use Highway 303 for whatever reason.

Many are motorcycles and kids with loud exhausts, he said. He thinks residents of the housing on Pine Road regard it as an option to 303 when heading toward Silverdale.

They get up to 45 to 60 mph in the 35 mph zone, he said.

He wonders how the neighbors might score one of the “Your Speed Is…” signs, such as the one in the dip on McWilliams Road just east of where Old Military intersects it. That sign really seems to slow drivers down, he said.

Frankly, that sign annoys me, as it flashes “slow down” if you’re even a mile over the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit, which is hard to avoid on the downgrade leading to it. I prefer the one Port Orchard has on Mile Hill that blinks your speed if you’re over the limit, and flashes red-blue, simulating a police car, if you’re more than 5 over.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer says, “Residents can request speed radar signs from Public Works by calling Kitsap1 (360.337.5777).

“Our traffic investigator completes a thorough study to determine if the sign is warranted. The study includes looking at the number of vehicles that are routinely exceeding posted speed limits.

Jeff said, “The radar signs are reserved for higher functional road classifications that do not qualify for speed bumps or other traffic calming devices,” which describes Old Military Road, I’m sure.

Some speed hump details

The in basket: Russell Johnson wrote, “Why are there speed bumps in 35 mph zones that are rated by the county as 10 mph? This doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why isn’t the speed at these areas 10 mph or the speed bump made to be rated at the road speed?

“You can find this in other forms all over the county and it isn’t always in a 35 mph zone. At the Point No Point Road (in North Kitsap) the speed is 15 mph and the bumps are 5 mph.

What happens when someone hits these at the legal speed and not the warning speed posted by or ahead of these speed bumps? Who would fix the damage,  if any would occur as hitting the bump way too fast?

“I would also like to know what is the speed (limit) between the speed bumps,” he said.

The out basket: The speed limit between any pair of speed humps is what was stated on the last black-on-white speed limit sign the driver sees before the humps. The black-on-orange or yellow signs preceding the humps are advisory. You’re free to cross them at the posted speed if you dare and don’t mind the jolt.

The whole idea of speed humps is to discourage drivers from going over the speed limit. If the safe speed to cross the humps was the speed limit leading to them, they’d serve no purpose.

A person who ignores the advisory sign and damages his car on the speed hump is free to submit a claim to whichever government owns the road, but I wouldn’t expect such a claim to succeed. The driver would have been warned what the advisable speed is.

Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County said. “We even try to space the speed humps so that the highest speed attainable at normal acceleration and deceleration gets the motorist to the posted speed limit.”

I e-mailed Mr. Johnson back to find out where he got the  idea of 5 and 15 mph speed restrictions on Point No Point Road but he didn’t reply.

Jeff said, “The posted speed limit on Point No Point is actually 20 mph.  State law prohibits us from posting anything lower than 20 mph.  The advisory speeds for the speed humps is 10 mph.”

Large flags on vehicles OK in most cases

The in basket: Morris 2126, who didn’t leave his last name but who evidently is 2,126th in a succession, wrote, “I have observed many large pickup trucks driving in Kitsap County with huge flags trailing from the beds. The American flag is frequently billowing in the wind. I assume that this signals that the driver is charging into battle.
“On more than one occasion, I have observed a large Confederate flag as well. I cringe every time I see the Confederate flag side by side with the Stars and Stripes. What is this supposed to signal? I seriously doubt the excuse of ‘southern pride.’  Get real, we all know what it really means.

“While we cannot change stupidity and hate, I question whether it is legal to be driving around with large flags flying on our cars. It is a distraction. If the flag pole were to break, a serious accident could occur,” he said..

The out basket: I see more 12th Man flags that answer that description than either American or Confederate flags.

Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here replies, “There is nothing illegal about displaying a flag on a vehicle as long as the flag is securely attached and does not obscure the driver’s or other motorists’ visibility. It also must not extend beyond the maximum width and height restrictions for vehicles.”

Speeding motorcycles and traffic control at Fauntleroy ferry

The in basket: A couple of questions arose in my mind as I went to Seattle and returned via the Fauntleroy ferry terminal one September Saturday.

As I left the dock on my way to a play in Seattle, I found a ferry employee directing traffic, stopping traffic passing by so departing vehicles didn’t have to stop before pulling out.

Then on my return trip, I watched as the off-loading began on the boat that had just arrived and that I was waiting to catch.

As always, motorcycles were the first to be released. I’d guess there were about a dozen. I could only estimate from my vantage point two lanes over, but my estimate is that each and every one was traveling 40 miles per hour or faster. They were traveling much faster than any of the cars that followed them.

The last I’d heard about traffic control at the dock’s outlet onto Fauntleroy Way, from a reader who wondered a couple of years ago if a traffic signal might be installed there, was that there was none. I asked when it resumed.

And I asked if there is a speed limit on ferry docks that would support a traffic citation.

The out basket: Hadley Rodero, a consultant for Washington State Ferries, replied, “All WSF terminals have speed limit signs. Depending on the location, typically the exiting speed is between 10-20 mph.”

State Trooper Russ Winger, who speaks for the State Patrol here, including the Vessel and Terminal (VATS) units, says, “VATS assigned troopers, like any trooper, can enforce any speed limit, however they are usually out of the patrol car, patrolling the terminal or providing security on vessels and not in any position to check a vehicles speed with radar or Lidar.

“Do they sit in the terminal area and target speeding vehicles debarking vessels? No. If  there is a vehicle driving negligently a trooper can obviously try and make contact but that is not the main emphasis of VATS assigned troopers. However, VATStroopers can and will take any enforcement action required if appropriate. ”

“Traffic control at Fauntleroy started on July 27,” Hadley said. “During the fall/winter seasons the hours are: Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.” Evidently, Saturdays have some, too, as Sept. 26 is when I was there.

New Orseth Road bridge gets tongue-in-cheek criticism

The in basket: Richard Yerk of Suquamish called to say those who are aware of the new bridge Kitsap County built on Orseth Road this year have taken to calling it the Orseth Narrows Bridge, due to its size and complexity. They are non-plussed by what they understand is the $1.3 million cost of a bridge serving the dead-end Orseth Road, which intersects Miller Bay Road near Indianola, can’t be much more than a quarter-mile long and has little development aside from the business at the end where Richard gets his landscaping supplies.

The out basket: l went to look at the new bridge, and can’t say it’s all that excessive. Sheet pile walls that support the bank of the marshy area beneath were the mostIMG_2524 September 29, 2015 unusual elements I saw.

What struck me odd was the nature of that water. I assumed the work was one of the salmon-enhancement projects that increasingly use up the state and county’s road-building money. But rather than a stream, the water looked more like a marsh. There seemed to be no movement of the water which shows no obvious inlet or outlet and is surrounded by wetland growth.

Tina Nelson, senior program manager for Kitsap County Public Works, says it is indeed part of a stream, Grover’s Creek, which is more obviously a stream elsewhere along its course. And the bridge cost $650,000, of which $450,000 went into the actual construction, not $1.3 million, she said.

“Orseth Road is a county road classified as ‘Rural Local Access,’ she continued. “As such, it is incumbent on the county to maintain this roadway even though it provides access for only a limited number of properties.

“As part of Kitsap County’s routine maintenance operations, the condition of existing culverts is periodically inspected to determine if improvements/replacement are warranted. A number of years ago, during a routine inspection, the six-foot diameter, corrugated metal culvert under Orseth Road showed heavy corrosion throughout the pipe.

“To preclude any potential roadway damage (or complete failure) a project to replace the culvert was placed on the county’s 2008 Transportation Improvement Plan.

“During the preliminary engineering phase for this culvert replacement project, various permitting agencies were contacted to determine the regulatory requirements for this environmentally sensitive site.  (It) is mapped as having the potential for endangered fish presence and critical fish habitat, therefore fisheries design requirements for a replacement structure would need to be met. The regulatory agencies indicated that an 18-foot wide opening would be required to pass Grover’s Creek to the south.

“Because of this large opening requirement, the idea of retrofitting the existing culvert with a liner or replacing the pipe in kind were not viable solutions.

“Various larger culvert types and bridges were then analyzed and evaluated to determine the best replacement solution.  From these alternatives, it was determined that a pile supported, precast, short span bridge would be the best and most economical replacement structure.

“With construction of the short span bridge now completed,  the roadway is preserved and fish passage is greatly improved at a much lower cost than was indicated to you,” she said.

Hey, it’s LeVEEN and MIRE roads, I’m told

The in basket: Lillis King writes, “Now that there is a light at Levin Road (in Silverdale), would you remind your readers that the road’s name is pronounced — le VEEN?

“You may know the history of the Swedish immigrant who settled in the Clear Creek Valley and whose house still stands on the Gerald Peterson property<” she said. “Parts of the old Levin (le VEEN) Road can still be traced from Silverdale to almost Poulsbo because it was the main road from Silverdale to Poulsbo, according to Gerry Pederson, once my neighbor.

“You can find more about John Levin on page 468 in the “KItsap County, a History,” published by the Kitsap Historical Society,” she said.

“It drives me crazy to hear people call the road — LEH vin. I hope you can reach many people to know who this pioneer was and how he pronounced his Swedish name.”

The out basket: I’m among the offenders who have called in LEHvin Road and Lillis’ e-mail is the first I’d heard that I was wrong.

But it’s not the first assertion I’ve heard that the common pronunciation of a road in Silverdale is wrong.

Back in the days when Harlan Beery was a sportswriter for this paper, he told me that the road that runs between Harrison Hospital’s Silverdale campus and the complex where Costco sits is not MY-REE road. It, too, is named for a Silverdale pioneer and the name is pronounced MIRE, he said.

I’ve been saying Mire ever since. I don’t know why My-REE has become the pronunciation of choice for so many. The defunct Myhre’s restaurant in Port Orchard, which was a fixture there for decades until its second fire and closure, may have something to do with it, but I’m guessing there’s some other reason.