Monthly Archives: July 2016

County planning reflective borders on traffic signals

The in basket: Jack Ford says that during a recent power outage that hit Silverdale, he saw several cars blow through the darkened Levin Road traffic signal on Ridgetop Boulevard, probably unaware there is a signal there.

He wondered if reflective material can be put on signals so they can be spotted when the signals and nearby street lights are out.

The out basket: The state has been installing yellow borders on some of its signals where power outages are common for some time but I wasn’t sure if Kitsap County had followed suit. Ridgetop is a county road and the Levin light is temporary while Bucklin Hill Road is closed. It will be bagged Friday when Bucklin reopens and physically removed in coming weeks.

In driving around Silverdale I didn’t see any of the signals with the border. I asked if the county has any.

Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, replied, “We have begun to install the heads with the reflective material around them, but they aren’t always that easy to see. We have the borders at some signals including Mullenix and Phillips (in South Kitsap), pedestrian crossing on Silverdale Way, and the new Bucklin Hill pedestrian crossing at Mickelberry.

“Even with the reflective material on the signal head some drivers don’t stop. Many of our power outages occur at night during storms making it difficult to see the roadway. Compound that with the height of the signal heads, which puts them on the periphery of the light your headlights project.

“For added safety because of the outages we experience, Public Works has been installing battery backups at our more heavily used intersections with plans to install them at all signals. These backups will allow our signals to operate for several hours after an outage occurs.”

The law says that a darkened traffic signal must be treated as an all-way stop.

Vegetable oil a no-no for most dust control

The in basket: Neil Streicher asks, “We live on a community gravel road and looking for a way to control dust from the road that is environmentally safe and want to know if vegetable is approved for this purpose.

“Unable to find a government agency with an answer,”

he said.

The out basket: I asked Kitsap County Public Works Neil’s question and spokesman Doug Bear says he found the following about using vegetable oil for dust control:

“The Washington State Department of Ecology would consider that an illicit discharge if it were to enter anything they consider ‘waters of the State,’ including wetlands, ponds, creeks, etc. as well as Puget Sound.  That’s specified by the Clean Water Act.  See here:

“Per (the county’s) stormwater permit, issued by the state, we have to consider anything entering our system an illicit discharge unless it’s straight stormwater, or any of the ‘allowable discharges’ listed on pages 20 and 21 here:

You can look it up it you like. It’s specific  to municipalities but will give you an idea of the detail included in the clean water laws.

Doug continued, “We generally use water as our preferred dust-control method, but there are also commercial products available that are plant-lingin based binders that can be applied. These typically require a professional to apply. and they may not hold up to frequent traffic.”



Double red arrow turn at 305 prompts reader’s question

The in basket: Marilyn Hawks asks, “What is the law regarding turning right on a red arrow? When I exit Highway 3 at 305 in Poulsbo, there are two right-turn arrows.  When the light shows two red arrows, I notice drivers stop, look, and pull out even from the middle right-turn lane.

“Is this legal?  I thought red arrows meant you had to wait until it turns green. If that is the law, then a sign needs to be posted that says no right on red,” she said.

The out basket: It is not the law. Drivers can turn right on a double red arrow light under the same rules that allow them to turn right on a single red arrow light. They must come to a full stop before proceeding and yield to any cross-traffic with a green light, or which otherwise has the right of way.

I get this question from time to time and usually it is about that Highway 3 off-ramp to 305  in Poulsbo. Either that or where 11th Street in Bremerton flows into Kitsap Way.

Explaining the explanation for giving up on Fauntleroy loading experiment

The in basket: When Washington State Ferries abandoned its experiment with a different way to load vehicles at the Fauntleroy terminal, the news release announcing it said one of the reasons was “ “challenges with consistent fare recovery.”

I asked what that means. Some users were boarding without paying? Proper assignment of fares to the two destinations? Or something else?

The out basket: Ian Sterling, public affairs director for the ferries, replied, “The way we load vehicles in Fauntleroy is unique to that location and is not standardized with the rest of the system. The largest single component to fare recovery issues there is the use of handheld scanners which have proven to function inconsistently the farther they get from the toll booth and a WiFi connection. Rainy weather also appears to impact their performance. There is also a small element of deliberate fare evasion. We continue to look for a solution to address issues with scanner performance.

“The scanners are for the multi-ride passes that many frequent commuters use. We actually removed the scanners from most use during the experiment. We use them on other routes as well, but to a much lesser degree. They’ve been around for at least 8 years at Fauntleroy,” Ian said.