The in basket: A couple of readers has asked about Bremerton’s hopes of improving pedestrian and bicycle access on the Warren Avenue Bridge, which would include narrowing the driving lanes in order to widen the bike and walker lanes on each side.
Yvonne Dean asked, “Is there any thing in DOT code saying what the width of the lanes must be? It seems to me that the trucks are getting wider while most of the cars except for SUV’s are getting narrower.”
And Shirlee Curley writes, “Instead of spending all the money to make a big change, we have one-way streets, how about one-way walkways on each side going in opposite directions? It would take only a few signs and maybe a policeman for a few days.”
The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways replies, “Our standard is to build lanes that are 12 feet wide, which is the width of the current lanes across the Warren Avenue Bridge. We do have some older steel truss bridges that have lanes as narrow as 9 feet.” Nothing prohibits them from allowing narrower lanes, she said.
Chal Martin, the city’s public works director, says, “We did consider the ‘one-way couplet’ idea for peds/bikes, but that was an idea that could not be supported by the grant funding entities; further, it turns out it appeared to cost more because the one-way couplet approach required cross-under structures at the north and south bridge approaches.”
The city proposes to reduce the existing 12-foot-wide lanes on the bridge to 11 feet in the outside lanes and 11 1/2 feet in the inside lanes, to create more space for pedestrians and bicyclists. The center barrier, on which Shirlee says she has seen cars high-centered, would be removed.
“This lane width is plenty wide, but will help calm traffic a little,” Chal said. “Have you noticed that as you go northbound on the bridge, you are often traveling at about 45 mph when you reach the north end? That’s because the current configuration is not properly designed for a 35 mph speed limit.
“People feel safe traveling faster in the wider lanes, and so they just naturally do. I know I have often caught myself speeding on the bridge,” Chal said.
Actually, I find if harder to do 35 in the downhill direction than uphill, but the city’s proposal would hope to reduce speeds in both directions.