Monthly Archives: March 2016

Questions about narrowing lanes on Warren Avenue Bridge

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.

cross section 06 with curb-01

City graphic showing proposed changes to Warren Avenue Bridge
City graphic showing proposed changes to Warren Avenue Bridge

Why not a three-way stop on McWilliams & Old Military?

The in basket: Jowdy Randall thinks a Kitsap County project is a waste of money.

“I have noticed the survey markings of turn lanes being installed at the intersection of Old Military and McWilliams roads,” Jowdy said. “This (will) entail the buying of private property, and extensive construction.

“A much simpler and less costly answer would be to install two more stop signs to go with the one already (there). This (would) make the whole intersection much safer. The turn lanes and purchase of land seem like such a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The out basket: Dick Dadisman , the county’s project manager, says, “The McWilliams Road / Old Military Road  intersection improvement project is a safety improvement scheduled for construction this spring/summer.  The project constructs intersection and channelization improvements designed to alleviate congestion, improve operational efficiency and improve safety for the traveling public.

“A detailed traffic study was prepared by the Kitsap County Traffic Division prior to commencing design.  This study evaluated various improvement alternatives, including the addition of stop signs.

“(It) reviewed the current traffic conditions, roadway operational characteristics and collision history, concluding with the best solution for improved safety being to construct a left-turn lane on eastbound McWilliams Road at the intersection.  In addition, this project also widens the roadway to increase bicycle safety and construct sidewalks with handicap ramps for improved pedestrian safety.”

Making it a multi-way stop-controlled intersection would decrease the efficiencies of this intersection, he said. “The two roads are vastly different with the number of daily vehicle trips on NE McWilliams Road (an arterial) over twice as large as the trips on Old Military Road NE (a collector).  Arterial roads are designed to move traffic, and making this a multi-way stop controlled intersection will vastly decrease the level of service on NE McWilliams Road.”

 

Gorst traffic called dangerous and congested

The in basket: JoAnne Stefanac wrote on March 16, “I see, yet again today, another accident in Gorst.  This time, northbound, which is not unusual for the AM commute.
“It seems as though, about once a week, we have some kind of accident in the stretch between the Tremont exit and the (Highway) 304 exit.  Some more severe than others, of course.  This morning, I was listening to KIRO radio and the traffic guy there said the backup was four miles due to the crash.
“Whenever there’s a crash, big backups ensue. I don’t think there are backups on a REGULAR (non-crash) day, but one little fender bender and then it’s a problem.
“The question is, how many MORE accidents, fender benders, injuries, deaths, and 3-5 (or more) mile inching-along backups do we have to have before SOMETHING is done about this particular stretch of road? Is anyone even keeping track of the mayhem that happens along this stretch most days?  It’s just so scary to drive along there.
“Seems you take your life in your hands and I feel for those who are subjected to it on a daily basis,” she said.
A somewhat related comment comes from Tom Baker, who e-mails to say, “I am starting to hear about a WSDOT project to replace  the Anderson Creek culvert, near where Anderson Hill Road SW intersects with Highway16.
“This project, and its traffic impacts, will certainly bring up a discussion of a Sinclair Inlet bridge (that would bypass Gorst). This subject comes up quite frequently, everyone says it should be done, but no real discussion of what it would cost and if it’s even feasible. One proposal was to create a bridge using mothballed aircraft carriers.
 “Can you dig into this, and see if WSDOT has ever considered this, along with costs and if its even possible?”
The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “WSDOT has a traffic study under way in that area. Funded by a grant received by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, part of the study will analyze traffic patterns and crash data through Gorst. The study is a necessary step toward identifying any future improvements through the area.”
She also reminded us of work expected in 2017 to revise the junction of highways 3 and 304 near Bremerton to let both southbound lanes of 3 continue through and require out-bound Bremerton traffic to enter at an on-ramp, which will affect traffic in the opposite direction of what JoAnne mentions.
I imagine that whatever consideration a bridge over Sinclair Inlet gets, it would be part of the traffic study. I’ve always heard that the shortest crossing presents significant steepness problems between the South Kitsap side and the Bremerton side, a serious issue when it’s icy or snowing.
Claudia said she had no comment on the subject of such a bridge.

Snow plows used in windstorm cleanup

The in basket: E. G. DeMare writes, “Please tell me who authorized the (blade-down) Kitsap County snow plow coming through Spirit Ridge (north of Silverdale) at 1:30 pm on Monday, March  14.  I suspect they were thinking it would clear away the branches dropped by the previous day’s wind storm.  They somehow missed my side of the street!

“I would like to see the names and cost-benefit analysis for this adventure published in the Kitsap Sun!”

Use of snow plows in windstorm cleanup was a new one on me. I asked the county about it.

The out basket: Doug Bear, Kitsap County Public Works’ spokesman, replies, “It is one of the tools we use to clean up storm debris. Using a snow plow reduces the time to clear storm debris from the road. It also reduces the staff needed to accomplish this. We also use a chipper as well as pickup trucks with trailers where we throw larger branches to be chipped later. “Using the plow where roads have large volumes of storm debris is cost effective and allows us to get more done in a short time.”

 

Gorst road end vacation alarms resident

The in basket: Jack Niemi writes, “I live in Gorst and have noticed H.D. Fowler at the intersection of Hawthorn Avenue and Highway 3 fenced off the last 200 feet of the Hawthorn.

“The route has been available for use on foot for the 40 years I have lived in Gorst. Hawthorn Avenue allowed for foot traffic and was an important migration route for animals.

“The auto body shop across the street was vacated and H.D. Fowler secured the structure and fenced off the last 200 feet of Hawthorn Avenue, leaving no path through the previously public area.

“I have traveled this route frequently and am very familiar with it,” Jack said. “It was not uncommon for deer, bear, and other forest creatures to use this path for access to the Gorst Creek drainage and points west including the vast Bremerton watershed lands.

“How did public land go to fenced private? Did Kitsap County approve the change in use and transfer of property from public to private? Did the county planning office review and approve the change in use? Was an environmental review conducted? Did the Washington Department of Game or other environmental agencies solicited for input before approval of the changes?

“Gorst is very dangerous for migrating or foraging wildlife without choking off another path,” he said. “It is almost certain the interaction between traffic and wildlife at Sam Christopherson and Highway 3 will increase.

The out basket: Doug Bear, spokesman for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “The fence your reader refers to is on right-of-way that was vacated by the county on March 9, 2015, and is therefore no longer public land.”

He sent along copies of the paper work that accompanied the action by the county commissioners and it is voluminous. None of it shares Jack’s view of the vacated parcel.

Public Works commented that the right of way wasn’t maintained by the county, “no public vehicular or pedestrian usage is evident” and the (action) will not deny access to the abutting property owners. All of its component divisions, including roads, sewers, and stormwater, were consulted, as was Puget Sound Energy. None objected. Four nearby property owners were notified by registered mail. A large notice of the impending action was posted on the street

A utilities easement was retained in case PSE ever wants to put power lines underground there.

Impacts on wildlife weren’t mentioned.

 

Pasted Graphic.tiff

Kitsap County has no plans for red light cameras

The in basket: Phil Shoemaker says he’s “just wondering if red light cameras are in the planning for intersections in Silverdale. Some of the main ones are becoming very hazardous: Silverdale Way and Ridgetop, Randall and Bucklin Hill. Also Kitsap Mall Boulevard and Randall Way. Seems like a good way for the county to benefit financially and keep our roads safer.

The out basket: I don’t share Phil’s appreciation of red light cameras, which seem mostly to capture California right turns (just slowing not stopping when the light is red) which does make things safer for pedestrians in crosswalks. But the cameras do little or nothing for truly dangerous through-traffic red light violations, which I find to be almost imaginary, anyway. I have spent a lot of time watching supposedly dangerous intersections and have yet to see a red light violation that nearly created a collision, let alone created one.

I don’t know if the county shares my gimlet-eyed assessment of the cameras, but I’m happy to report that Jeff Shea, the county traffic engineer, says simply, “We are not considering red light cameras in unincorporated Kitsap County at this time.”

As an aside, I wonder if Californians have a different term for California stops.

 

Reader curious about road noise and new pavement

The in basket: James Bergman, whose e-mail URL suggests that he’s in the paving business, commented on a Road Warrior column of last September about Kitsap County trying out variations on its traditional paving processes, most notably on Madrona Drive in the Parkwood development in South Kitsap.

Jacques Dean, the county’s road superintendent, describes it at the time as “a rubberized chip seal.”

“This product and application is very similar to our traditional chip seal product,”  he said. “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.”

James wrote, “I’m really glad that you are doing these sealing tests. The only way to progress is through trial and error. However, you mention that each of the methods … provide quieter rides. Is there any noticeable difference between the noise level of driving over the different sealants?”

The out basket: I hadn’t noticed any noteworthy difference in road noise on the test area, noticeable from its different texture, and Jacques agreed.

“I have not noticed any measurable noise difference either,” he wrote. “A quieter ride was a proposed secondary benefit of the rubberized chip seal product; the primary being the rubberized asphalt oils ability to better withstand degradation associated with ultraviolet light, its pliability over time and subsequent ability to resist reflective cracking.”

 

 

Anderson Hill/SR3 interchange no more than a gleam in someone’s eye for now

The in basket: Bill Freitas writes, “Having lived on Rooney Road NW in Silverdale from ’92 – ’00, then moving away for 15 years before returning to the Kitsap County (Bremerton) last year, I’m amazed that there is still no interchange at Highway 3 and NW Anderson Hill Road / Provost Road in Silverdale.

“With all the new development that has occurred between ’00 and ’16, and what is planned in the near future, I would think that an interchange at this crossroads would be at the top of the planner’s list of projects to do before they allow more residential/business development in that region.

“This interchange would also reduce the amount of traffic entering Silverdale from the south, and the Kitsap Mall exits. It would also give people another choice in getting to the Trails Shopping Center…….as well as the nearby residents and businesses that would benefit from it.

“Then of course there is the increased traffic the future new Central Kitsap High School will create.”

The out basket: This is the first I’ve heard this idea in several years, and the last time I think was a preliminary planning process for Silverdale. And I’ve understood the state to be reluctant to create interchanges within three miles of one another, though you’ll see them much closer.

Whether there remains support for the idea in Silverdale, there are no plans for it.

Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “There are no plans at present to build, or even to study the effects of building, an interchange at SR 3 and Anderson Hill Road. We would need direction and funding from the Legislature to take on those tasks.

“In general, our goal for minimum spacing between adjacent interchanges is one mile in urban areas, three miles on the Interstate in rural areas, and two miles on non-Interstate in rural areas. The area you referenced is just under one mile from the nearest interchange.”

 

City pedestrian improvements this year all on the west side

The in basket: Around the middle of last year, an e-mailer advocated some pedestrian improvements at the Bremerton intersection of Sheridan and Pine roads. There is a lot of foot traffic there and its shortcomings for those on foot include no sidewalk on either side of Pine uphill from the intersection.

I happened to be there a lot last year, on my way to and from my late mother’s assisted living facility and can attest to the large amount of foot traffic on Pine near Sheridan.

The city of Bremerton has a lot of pedestrian improvements to be paid for with state and regional council grants scheduled this year, so I asked if Pine and Sheridan might be included.

The out basket: No, says the city of Bremerton engineering staff.

The work to be done with grants involves 11 intersections, but all are on the west side of town.

They are:

– Kitsap Way’s intersections with Harlow Drive near Kitsap Lake and at 11th Street. The wide Harlow Drive crossing will get a pedestrian refuge island half-way across.

– Eleventh Street’s intersections with High Avenue and the portion of Montgomery Avenue that remains open to auto traffic

– Highway 304 at First Street and Callow Avenue.

– Sixth Street’s intersections with High Avenue and  Callow Avenue.

– Burwell Street’s intersections with Chester, Montgomery, High and Warren avenues.

The work includes curb cuts for disabled access and countdown pedestrian signals with audible push buttons where there are existing signals, and pedestrian-activated rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) on the street edges and the countdown lights where there aren’t.

Two of the intersections, Sixth and High and Burwell and Chester will get new pedestrian-activated signals that will stop vehicle traffic. They are to be coordinated with existing signals on either side of the crossings to avoid forcing drivers to stop at a red light more than once while passing through, city staff says.

Sidewalk improvements will be included in some of the work.

Ships lying off Manchester generate a question – again

The in basket: Goolsbee Snitworthy, a tongue-in-cheek pseudonym for a Manchester reader, e-mailed in February to say its time for me  to “put on your water wings and morph from the Road Warrior into the ‘Water Warrior.’   Perhaps you could do a short item exploring why bulk cargo ships are anchoring in Puget Sound in front of Manchester.

“Last winter it was container ships and this winter it is bulk cargo ships.   Last winter it was because of labor problems at the Port of Seattle.    I have not heard or read anything about labor problems this year.   So why are these ships anchoring where they are?”

The out basket: Lt. Dana Warr, public affairs officer for the 13th Coast Guard District, replies, “In consultation with the Puget Sound Pilots and Harbor Safety Committee, the Coast Guard recently changed the fall/winter anchoring procedures to shift vessels from the Smith Cover West anchorage and some from Tacoma to the Yukon Harbor anchorage (near Blake Island).

“This shift to an existing federal-regulated anchorage was for a variety of reasons.  The most important is the Coast Guard observed that vessels were dragging anchor due to less favorable bottom conditions in Smith Cove.  With the prevailing winds, the vessels tended to drag anchor towards jetties and land fall.

“To reduce the risk of grounding and subsequent potential environmental damage, the Coast Guard shifted the vessels to the more protected, better holding grounds in Yukon Harbor. The Yukon Harbor anchorage typically has (fewer) vessels anchored in the summer months.”

Smith Cove is the northern part of Elliott Bay in Seattle.