Monthly Archives: July 2016

Bridge project could have used some more sidewalk, says reader

The in basket: Jonathan McLean writes “Granite Constructon and Kitsap County have done a wonderful job keeping the Bucklin Hill bridge project on-schedule.

“(But) I am curious.  Why didn’t Kitsap County have the sidewalk-to-nowhere in front of the Social Security office extended to meet the sidewalk that already exists at the Bucklin Hill and Tracyton Boulevard intersection?

“That stretch of road was completely replaced and had new curbs installed as part of the bridge project.  A new bicycle lane was added through most of the project area but again this stretch was skipped.

“I have traveled this stretch of road in a car, on foot, and on a bicycle many times.  I think completing the sidewalk and bicycle lanes would be a great safety improvement.  Is this in the county’s plan?”

The out basket: Tina Nelson, project engineer for Kitsap County, says, “The Bucklin Hill Bridge Project was meant to end at the Mickelberry intersection.  The ‘rest’ of Bucklin Hill Road from Mickelberry to Tracyton Boulevard to complete the corridor is a future project.

“To make the transition work from five lanes to three, some widening had to take place east of Mickelberry.  Silverdale Water chose to replace their water main, which went beyond the county’s initial project limit. Thereby some work was added, but to stay within budget, and grant approvals, we had to limit the work done.

“We ended up adding extruded curb and asphalt curb (not a full section with curb and gutter, sidewalk and new roadway section) to manage some drainage issues, but we had to leave the rest alone,” she said. “The biggest need for traffic flow was to get the section completed to Mickelberry.  The sidewalk connection on the south side will happen someday, but is not currently in our six-year plan.”


NK culvert replacements on tighter schedule than SK’s

The in basket: Bob Corbin of South Kitsap wonders about the pace of work on replacing the culverts that allow Anderson Creek to pass beneath highways 16 and 166 in Gorst.

Crews seem to be working only regular weekday hours, he said. Given the traffic disruptions, he would have expected the work to continue into the evening and weekends.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says the contract for the culvert replacement states only the number of work days allowed to complete the work, with interim deadlines for each of the three culverts associated with the road closures. It  leaves it up to the winning bidder how to schedule it.

In a separate reply to a North Kitsap resident about similar work to replace culverts in the Kingston area this summer, she wrote, in part, “Work (there) will be going on day and night, and people who live nearby should expect to hear night construction noise. We apologize in advance for that disruption, but we wanted to minimize the time the highway would be closed by tightening the construction schedule as much as possible.”

I asked why the tighter construction schedule near Kingston and not near Gorst.

Claudia replied, “When WSDOT designs a project and includes a construction timeframe, we try to balance several issues, including available resources, inconvenience to the public, project costs, quality control, permit requirements, etc. Faster is not always better, as there can be a point of diminishing returns when too many people and too much equipment get in the way of each other.”

“We could force contractors to work around the clock by shortening roadway closure times, but that kind of work schedule greatly increases project costs both for contractors and state staff overseeing the work. Those increased costs get transferred to higher contract bids and more expensive projects.

“This particular project also has the added complication of in-water work restrictions that limit when the contractor can be working in the stream. We looked at all these factors and developed the contract with the conditions that we believe reflected the best approach.”

I saw work going on at the Gorst project in the evening Friday and on Saturday, July 22 and 23, so the contractor seems to have picked up the pace, for whatever reason. And I thought the replacement of the first two of the three Anderson Creek culverts went quite quickly. Still, Claudia says the entire Gorst project is expected to extend into November.

She didn’t say so, but I’d guess the close proximity of the Kingston ferry run, one of the state ferries’ busiest, had a lot to do with the greater pressure for haste there. At least that’s the reason the project was limited to five weekdays for the first of the three culverts there, the one at Grover’s Creek, to avoid the heavy weekend ferry traffic.

Chico Way paving finished early

The in basket: Sam Watland commented on the recent column in which a reader criticized the chip seal paving being done on Gold Creek Road and wrote, “Seems like the same story we heard from the county about the poor patching on Chico Way two years ago. “The promised chip sealing never happened and now our tax dollars are being spent once again to grind up all the poorly done patchwork by the county to be repaved by a contractor.

“When is the county going to be held accountable for wasting our tax dollars?”

The out basket: That wasn’t my recollection of the planned Chico Way work, and I asked if Sam’s recollection was correct?

“No,” says Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works. “Chico Way was not scheduled for a chip seal. The previous work he saw there was preservation work to repair failing areas on the road.

“The most recent work was not repairing poorly done work, rather it was the pre-leveling required that precedes all paving projects.

The paving was scheduled for completion Aug. 5, but was finished about two weeks earlier than that.

Chip seals don’t rely solely on vehicle traffic to finish the job

The in basket: Jim, who didn’t provide a last name, saw the recent Road Warrior column that provided information from Kitsap’s County’s Road Superintendent Jacques Dean about what’s being done on Gold Creek Road near the Kitsap/Mason County line and wrote, ”I have one question for Jacques Dean. Why in the world would you not use a roller to harden the chip seal work instead of letting traffic do the work for them. Will the county pay for all the rock chips or cracked windshields that will happen to my new car. If the county wants to help, put in speed bumps on the road to slow down the race car-like track speeders that happen everyday.”

The out basket: I’m scrubbing egg off my face, as I’ve discovered that that column perpetuated bad information I have dispelled off and on over the years of writing Road Warrior about the final stages of a chip seal, a low cost means of repaving and preserving roads. They don’t rely only on vehicle traffic to imbed the gravel into the oil they spread on first, it turns out.

Jacques says, “When we do a chip seal we utilize pneumatic rollers (tire rollers) to initially seat the rock in the underlying oil, and follow immediately with a steel drum roller to further seat the rock and to smooth out the rock surface.

“We typically do not sweep up loose rock on the roadway immediately after placement but allow it to remain on the surface until the oil cures sufficiently. We gain further rock capture in the oil through vehicle travel and kneading of the rock on the roadway. Our practice is to sweep up loose rock within two days of placement, with follow-up sweepings a week or two after placement to gather any remaining rock.

“All of our freshly chipped roadways are signed with ‘Loose Gravel’ and ‘Motorcycles Use Caution’ signs. Travelers on these roadways should reduce their speed to prohibit loose rock from flying. Most drivers adhere to these warning signs and, as such, we rarely receive claims for damaged windshields.

“We have not chip sealed Gold Creek yet,” he said. “It is scheduled to be completed later this week, or next. We have completed preparatory work in advance of chip sealing in the form of full depth patching in those areas of significant deterioration, and have pre-leveled some areas of the roadway to correct crown and longitudinal and transverse dips in the roadway.”

I got my erroneous understanding of how the rock is imbedded decades ago while I was a reporter for this paper and Jim’s scolding finally got me to check on whether it was right.

Jacques also addressed Jim’s aside about speed bumps.

“Installation of speed tables/speed bumps on our roadways is only applied in special circumstances, and only after public petition and heavy scrutiny from our traffic engineers. Posted roadway speeds generally must be less than 30 mph, 70 percent of affected property owners must support installation, and an engineering analysis of actual speeds, crash history, law enforcement and fire service input, etc. is completed.

“Other traffic calming countermeasures are implemented in a progressive manner with passive measures installed first and physical devises used if needed. Passive traffic calming measures include signage, pavement markings, trimming excess vegetation, radar signs, traffic law enforcement and public education.”

Help on the way for Lebo Boulevard

The in basket:  Mike Dalzell asks, “When, if ever, is Lebo (Boulevard in Bremerton) going to be repaved. If it’s not the worst

street in Bremerton, I’m not sure what would be. It’s terrible to drive on and even worse on a bicycle.

“You can tell immediately when you transition

from Tracyton Beach (Road) to Lebo where Sheridan Ts into it and then again when you get past the community center.”

The out basket: Tom Knuckey, Bremertons’ city engineer, says, “We have a significant reconstruction project under design right now for Lebo from the connection with Lower Wheaton Way north to the city limits.

“Our plan is to bid and construct the project next year.  The project will have similar scope to the Lower Wheaton Way project we recently completed (bike lanes, sidewalks, pavement, illumination, etc.,) but will have shared use paths in places also.

“We’ve had a couple public meetings to coordinate the scope, and will have another in September (or thereabouts) after we’re received and commented on the 30 percent design,” he said.

Extra wide stripes no help with speeds; crash impacts uncertain

The in basket: On a recent car trip to Shelton, I noticed that the state had applied the experimental wide striping to the edge and lane lines on Highway 3 through the Pickering Road intersection north of the city. The painted lines are twice as wide as the ordinary striping.

The wider lines were installed two years ago on South Shore Road (Highway 106) along Hood Canal and on Highway 303 between Purdy and Allyn. The idea was to give drivers the impression the highway is narrower than it is, causing them to drive more slowly. At the time, the state said it would evaluate the striping over the ensuing year to see if it accomplished that goal.

I asked what that evaluation showed.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker of the state highway department’s Olympic Region, says,

“Applying the 8-inch wide striping was a pilot project to evaluate its effectiveness as a speed-management and crash-reduction tool. Wider striping makes the lane appear more narrow, and we wanted to see if that perception deterred speeding and helped people stay in the lane.

“Our before/after speed study showed no significant difference in operating speeds. We are still collecting crash data to see if the wider striping is helping people stay in the lane. It takes 3-4 years to collect enough data to have meaningful conclusions. At present we do not plan to apply wider striping in new locations.”

Masonic parking lot in Belfair prompts reader question

The in basket: Greg Tyree has a couple of questions about the road widening project going on in Belfair.

He wonders about the elaborate concrete walls and grading being done next to the Masonic Lodge in town, to serve as its parking lot. He estimates that the work is costing “probably three times the value of the entire property” and wonders why it’s so elaborate.

He also wonders whether the traffic signal in front of Belfair Elementary, removed for the summer while school is out, will be restored and whether an overhead walkway could be built in its place.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “”The widening work required that we either install walls or fill the parcel to accommodate the wider road. Walls were less expensive than filling the parcel, thus the walls were included in the project design.”

I didn’t think there was much likelihood of an overhead walkway being built in front of the school, and that people choosing to climb up to use it when they could just dash across the highway seems just as unlikely. But I asked Claudia about it and she said, “”We will replace the signal at the school on our project.  There are no plans or funds to build a pedestrian bridge.”

Work on Gold Creek Road ‘sucks,’ says reader

The in basket: Gregg McFarlan says that on July 14 he “had the pleasure of driving to Belfair via Gold Creek Road” and had two thoughts.

“1) Blacktop was recently applied as an overlay, not the normal grind and smooth. Gotta say, it sucks.

“2) Yesterday the county was applying what appeared to be light oil and sand to this roadway. I would understand the normal chip seal. But oil and sand?”

The out basket: Jacques Dean, Kitsap County road superintendent, explains, “The Central Road Shop has completed a series of repairs on Gold Creek in preparation for a chip seal application that will take place within the next couple of weeks.

“They initially ground out areas of significant pavement cracking, replaced the deteriorated asphalt with new, and performed asphalt pre-leveling in a few areas to correct crown, longitudinal settling of the pavement surface, and re-establishment of the pavement edge.

“They more recently returned to the same patches and pre-level areas to apply a thin coat of oil and sand.  This is necessary prior to chip sealing to ensure that all voids within the new asphalt areas are sealed. If we do not do this, we lose chip seal oil within the voids of the new asphalt areas, and subsequently do not obtain good capture of the chip seal aggregate when it is applied.”

A chip seal is a form of repaving that involves pouring gravel on a layer of oil, which form an overlay hardened by traffic rolling over it.

Access bus opts to stop for school bus unnecessarily

The in basket: One day in June before school got out, I was stopped behind a school bus off-loading children on Mile Hill Drive where a center lane divides the two through lanes. I was behind the bus, so was beholden to stop for it. As often happens, there was a line of cars coming in the other direction, also stopped, although state law permits oncoming traffic to proceed when there is a lane, even a left turn lane, between the bus and the oncoming traffic.

At the head of that line was a Kitsap Transit Access bus. It’s very common to see a vehicle stopped unnecessarily in that situation, holding up any one behind it driven by someone who knows that law. But I wondered if Kitsap Transit buses are required, by law or policy, to stop for an oncoming school bus regardless of the exemption allowed everyone else. Kind of like buses being required to stop at railroad tracks where ordinary folks can proceed without stopping.

The out basket: Sanjay Bhatt, public information officer for Kitsap Transit, replied, “According to our training coordinator, state law does indeed contain an exception to the prohibition on drivers passing (an oncoming) stopped school bus unloading children. Drivers on a highway with three or more marked traffic lanes “need not stop” in this scenario. The law does not say drivers “shall not stop.” In other words, drivers have discretion.

“We don’t have a specific rule on this situation in our operator handbook, nor is there one in the state Commercial Driver License Guide. We train operators to put safety first. While we don’t know which ACCESS operator was driving the vehicle you observed, it’s reasonable to assume that either the operator didn’t know the legal exception or the operator knew the legal exception and chose to err on the side of caution based on what was happening out there on the road.

“We expect our operators to use their common sense and operate safely based on current conditions they encounter.”

Reader sees no creek in new Anderson Creek culvert

The in basket: Larry Mann writes, “In a dozen trips to look at the Gorst salmon project, I see not one drop of water flowing anywhere near the elaborate concrete culvert they are installing.

“How can there be a salmon creek there if there is no water flowing there? My back property line is a salmon creek and it has 12-18 of water in it all summer and 18 to 36 in it in the winter time?

“Absent flowing water at the construction sight ,what I see in Gorst is a very high dollar waste of taxpayer dollars supposedly to protect a fish that has survived 4,000 years before humans came on the scene to be their savior.

“How do you explain the fish dilemma, the lack of water on the project, and lastly are the salmon dying in the bay as we speak because there is no culvert or more importantly no water in this alleged high profile salmon creek?”

The out basket: It wasn’t easy, but I found a place to park on the shoulder of the newly reopened Highway 166 and I walked to where I could see the remaining but soon-to-be-removed culvert through which the creek passes under the eastbound lanes of Highway 16.

There was a steady flow of water (I couldn’t tell the depth) exiting the pipe, evidence that Anderson Creek does exist. I couldn’t see across to where the new culvert under Highway 166 has been built, but clearly the creek still is reaching Sinclair Inlet somehow.

Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, said this about Larry’s observation: “You are right that water is not currently flowing in the new culvert being installed at SR 166. Our fish culvert projects are built in one of two ways: 1) installing a new culvert in dry land and realigning the stream into the culvert after it’s built; and 2) using cofferdams to restrict water flow in the streams while adjacent culvert construction occurs.  In the SR 16/SR 166 project, we are using both methods to replace the three culverts.”  Method 1 was used in the completed culvert.

“As regards spending money to improve access to fish habitat,” she added, “all I can say is that we are following the law and correcting environmental deficiencies introduced by our forefathers who unknowingly built inadequate culverts. The emphasis on environmental stewardship has changed over the years as people have gained an understanding of how manmade structures and activities affect wildlife.”