Monthly Archives: August 2016

Rights onto Tremont during detour analyzed

The in basket: It was irritating during the closure of Highway 166 for the Gorst culvert replacements to pull up to the red light on Port Orchard Boulevard, the designated detour, at Tremont Street and watch timid drivers wait to turn right onto Tremont’s inside lane  despite the presence of a perfectly good outside lane that would hold a few of them and allow those farther back in the line on the boulevard to pull forward.

Often the traffic was so heavy that even when the light turned red on Tremont and green on the boulevard, the backup from the next light ahead on Tremont, at Pottery, left no room for boulevard traffic to get into the through lane on Tremont. Once again, the outside lane, which can hold four or five vehicles and from which cars can merge into the inside lane when Tremont traffic began moving again, went largely unused.

I asked Port Orchard police whether there is anything illegal about using that outside lane, which ends a couple of hundred feet from the boulevard, as a merge or acceleration lane.

While I was at it, I asked if there is anything illegal about using deceleration lanes, such as those in front of Fred Myer on Sedgwick Road, to accelerate into eastbound Sedgwick traffic. There are right turn arrows on the pavement, but they don’t say “only.”

The out basket: Commander Dale Schuster of PO police says that not only is use of the outside lane on Tremont legal, as a matter of law, it’s required.

“Yes, the detour route via Port Orchard Boulevard was a mess during the culvert construction,” he said. “Thank God that part is over.

“Technically, when you turn right onto westbound Tremont Street from Port Orchard Boulevard you need to enter as far right towards the curb as possible which would obviously mean the closest lane. (RCW 46.61.290). In this case, it would be the acceleration lane you are referring to.

“You would then signal left and merge into the main lane of travel. Of course, you are relying on the courtesy of other drivers to let you in during heavy traffic. So, in short, it is perfectly legal to turn right in the acceleration lane then merge into traffic, or wait in the lane for an opening.

“Regarding your question on Sedgwick Road at Fred Meyer…I see no reason why someone exiting the Fred Meyer lot could not use that lane as an acceleration lane to merge into eastbound Sedgwick Road. Since there is no “island” there, the motorist would need to make sure he/she yields the right of way to someone in the deceleration lane already eastbound on Sedgwick Road. I am willing to bet most motorists exiting Fred Meyer are already using it as an acceleration lane.”

Fire lane striping and street light prompt questions

The in basket: Scot Harper writes, “I have a fire zone striping question and one about street lights.

“ We live in the new housing development off of Anderson Hill Road (near Gorst). In the last couple of weeks a red painted curb appeared on the new section of road in the development. This was expected as the streets are narrow and all the existing streets have a fire zone on one side.

“What was surprising was the side of street it was painted on.  The new section of street loops and connects two sections of Maritime Drive.  So the side the new fire zone is on makes no sense for several reasons.

– All the fire hydrants are on the outside side of the loop

– The inside only has three houses on the street on the south end and a park on the north side.

– With the fire lane on the inside there is no extra parking for anybody on the loop or people at the park

“So who decides what side of street the fire lane is on, and who can we talk to about changing it?

“The other question is how does the county (I am assuming) decide if an intersection needs a street light?  The intersection of Anderson Hill Road and Old Clifton Road could definitely use one now that there are 100-plus new houses down Anderson Hill Road and 200-plus more coming in the next two years.”

The out basket: Bremerton Fire Marshall Mike Six says he made the call on the striping.

“I directed the contractors where to place the fire lane.  Placement of fire lanes, which are required in this case, is at the sole direction of the fire marshal.  The decision was based on firefighting tactics and the direction the fire crews would be arriving from.

“My understanding is the parking requirement is satisfied and street parking is not generally considered as parking is not considered part of that requirement.”

Derek Skanes of the city added that the fire lane requirement is a section of the International Building Code adopted by the City of Bremerton.

“The real issue may be the scarcity of on-street parking and elimination of potential parking in narrow lots with front yard driveways,” he added.

The street light question is for the city of Port Orchard, where Public Works Director Mark Dorsey says, “The city is currently designing a roundabout at Anderson Hill Road /Old Clifton Road…….illumination will be included. The construction timeline is uncertain.”

In the meantime, the city is working with Puget Sound Energy to get a light mounted on one of the three utility poles near the intersection.

 

Lot of pipe left to bury in Belfair

The in basket: I had some time to kill in Belfair a week or so ago, so I walked around looking at the widening project under way through town.

I walked a bit off the roadway near Romance Hill Road and saw about 200 lengths of pipe stacked three- and four-deep next to what appeared to be a completed storm water detention pond. I estimated each pipe to be 20 feet long and about two feet in diameter. It seemed like an awful lot of pipe yet to go in the ground on a project with curbs already poured. I asked if it was all for the Belfair project and what the likely impacts would be on traffic when it’s installed, if so.

The out basket: Yes, says Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways.

“The pipe you saw is corrugated plastic pipe that will be installed as part of the drainage system in the Belfair project. It ranges in diameter between 24″ and 18″, and is being installed during night hours during normal single-lane closures so we can reduce impacts to traffic.

“Much of this pipe has been installed on the job already – it’s noticeable now because the contractor moved it to a new location,” she said.

Difference of opinion on left turns at red lights

The in basket: PEMCO Insurance has begun issuing weekly lists of story ideas it thinks will interest and help its clients, among whom I am counted.  This week’s list dealt mostly with hazards created by extremely hot weather.

Last week’s had an item that made me sit up and take notice. “Speaking of road questions,“ it said, “misconceptions about free left-hand turns onto freeways could be costly for drivers trying to make that move (that’s because legally, you’re not allowed to).”

Whoa, said I, that’s not what I’ve been telling readers of the Road Warrior column for many years.

State law permits a left turn against a red light after stopping fully and yielding to any traffic with the right of way, but only on to a one-way street where no sign prohibits such turns. Freeway on-ramps, I have asserted, are one-way streets and my local police contacts have agreed.

Twice I have interceded for readers who took my word for that after they got a ticket for doing it. Both times, the tickets were excused.

Derek Wing produces the weekly PEMCO lists so I called him to ask what makes him think the action is illegal.

The out basket: He got it from a report on KIRO Radio, by reporter Chris Sullivan, Derek said.

KIRO Radio or Sullivan has something called MyNorthwest.com, where he wrote, “We’ve all heard of the free right turn after coming to a stop, but a lot of drivers don’t realize they can also take a free left, in certain circumstances.

“Several drivers on MyNorthwest.com commented that they routinely take free lefts onto freeway on-ramps, believing that it was legal to do so.

“Here’s the scenario: They are sitting at a light with a red left-turn arrow. They turn left onto a freeway on-ramp, against the red arrow, once on-coming traffic has cleared.

“They believe the law allows this. I wasn’t so sure. I checked with the police, including the state patrol, and they say that is not true. Freeway on-ramps are not considered one-way streets unless marked as such.”

Next I tried to call Sullivan to see who he’d talked with. It turns out that trying to reach KIRO Radio by phone is next to impossible and an e-mail I sent asking that he call me wasn’t returned.

So I asked my go-to WSP source, Trooper Russ Winger, to see if he agreed with whatever sources Sullivan had used.

Such a turn “is legal,” Russ replied. “There is nothing in the RCW  that implies that it is illegal.”

It’s usually a moot point, as you almost have to be the first car in line at the red light before you get a chance to make the turn, because the law is so little known that few drivers will do it. I’d be surprised if anyone could “routinely take free lefts onto freeway on-ramps.”

If you want to join those of us who do it, know the law is RCW 46.61.055, section 3-c and be prepared to cite it if you get stopped. And know that some in law enforcement over in Seattle think it’s not legal.

One other thought. I was reprimanded often when I had used the term “free left” or “free right” to describe a turn against a red light. The authorities regard that as a “right on red” or “left on red” and say a free left or right has no traffic control, like the right turn from the Waaga Way off-ramp to Ridgetop Boulevard in Silverdale.

Reader has blitz of CK road work questions

The in basket: Wally Carlson has some questions about recent county road work in Central Kitsap.

He wonders why the county didn’t shave the crest of the hill at McWilliams and Old Military roads when it added a left turn lane there. He compared the intersection to “an infinity pool” where he can’t see oncoming traffic.

He asks why the two eastbound lanes of Bucklin Hill Road weren’t continued all the way up to Tractyton Road while the bridge over Clear Creek was being replaced and the road was widened only to Mickelberry Road.

And “while complaining,” he added. “…why use poles and not bury overhead power lines on Bucklin … think that was answered before but i forgot.. money??? not very aesthetic.. only lines in sight,” he said.

The out basket: Tina Nelson, the county’s senior program manager handled all three matters.

“Projects are established based on some kind of need that justifies spending public roadway dollars,” she said. “A big deal for the county is safety, and therefore a safety need is a key reason/need for projects/improvements to take place.

“Locations with high accidents are carefully reviewed and evaluated.  A location may have more than one need; safety (accidents), poor pavement, lack of pedestrian facilities, ADA compliance, capacity, drainage, to mention some.

“We like to, and try to take care of all needs when we do a project, but the dollars only go so far. Significant grade revisions (shaving of the crest) may have large impacts to utilities buried in the roadway and adjacent properties, which are considered in the project scope/solution, bringing up our cost and the costs for others.  Therefore, we may decide to only take care of the most urgent need.

Her answer to question two echoes the one she provided in a July Road Warrior  column when Jonathan McLean asked about the gap left in the sidewalk along the same stretch of Bucklin Hill Road that Wally asks about.

“The limits for the recent Bucklin Hill project were established from Blaine Avenue to the Mickelberry intersection, the highest need,” she said. “Extending the project to Tracyton/Myhre was in the initial plan in 1998, and does make sense, but again dollars only go so far, and we had to end somewhere.

“Plus a minor capacity improvement were made a few years ago at the Bucklin/Myhre/Tracyton intersection, which is what we consider a good example of doing something to help a need, but not get it all done.

“In the current Bucklin Hill project, a transition had to be made from the five-lane section, which is the widening portion extending east of Mickelberry.

Silverdale Water District choose to replace their water main past the county’s project limits. Thereby some work was added, but to stay within budget, and grant approvals, we had to limit the work done.  We ended up with some new pavement and adding extruded curb to manage some drainage issues, but we had to leave the rest alone.

“The biggest need for traffic flow was to get the section completed to Mickelberry.  The added lanes and sidewalk connection on the south side will happen someday, but are not currently in our 6-year plan.

“The new tall poles on the south side of Bucklin Hill are to support transmission lines. Undergrounding of transmission lines is not an option.

“There are no other overhead utilities within the new roadway segment.  Undergrounding of utilities is an expense for the utility owner (Wave, KPUD, Comcast, etc.)  and not necessarily one that the county can demand,” she said.

Inside dope on some paving accessories

The in basket: It’s the peak of paving season and we often see little stick-on flaps marking the center line after a road has been repaved, such as Highway 3.

A couple of weeks ago I was driving on Holly Road in Central Kitsap and saw such flaps without any sign of paving having been done. Worse, I thought, I saw little  pointy things that look like spikes sticking up from the surface.

I used to know what they are (they’re rubber, not metal, and they mark the location of utility access covers to make it easier to find and uncover them under a fresh coat of asphalt or oil) but it had been a long time since I’d seen one and I nearly took evasive action to avoid one.

I asked Kitsap County Public Works whether the flaps are sometimes applied before paving and whether there isn’t a safer way of marking utility covers than something that might look to the uninitiated like a tire-flattener.

The out basket: Jacques Dean, road superintendent for the county, says the flaps are called “stomp-down reflectors” and they “are used to delineate roadway centerline after paving/chip seal until our traffic crew can get to the site to apply new striping.” Holly Road has since gotten a chip seal, he said.

“The stomp down reflectors can be placed either before, or after a chip seal application. A thin film covering over the reflector protects is from oil overspray. After the oil is sprayed, the film is removed, exposing a clean reflector.

“Stomp downs are placed after application of standard asphalt material, as the weight of the material and subsequent compactive effort would bury the reflectors.

“The rubber delineators are truly the safest means, and industry standard for identifying utility locations after resurfacing a roadway,” he said. The accesses can’t be  paved around, and have to be uncovered afterward.

I asked Jacques what made them the safest means, compared to, say, something rounded, and he said, “I am not aware of any ‘rounded bump,’ or other configurations/products. The ‘nipple’ configuration is tall enough to protrude through new surfacing and has rebound strength to stand back vertical after surfacing application.

“I have seen contractors use old road signs or plywood to cover utility lids prior to resurfacing. The problem with this approach, or utilization of narrow or short profile applications, is the ability to easily locate the cover/lid after surfacing is placed. When this approach is used, the contractor or utility company often spends unnecessary time, and causes unnecessary damage to the finished product, attempting to properly locate the utility.”

He referred me to a Web site (http://www.ahp1.com/utility-locator.php) that includes a video showing the locators snapping back to an erect position after being run over by traffic or paving equipment.

Conflict on Lofall Road

The in basket: Michael Myers wrote in late June, “I’ve recently had a string of issues with Red Cedar Farm, an event center on Lofall Road in Poulsbo. They use a small yellow unmarked bus to transport passengers from the parking area (issue 1) and speed along over the posted 25 mph limit (issue 2).

“My wife and I’ve posted notices to them on several occasions, but complaining to them is quite useless – they never answer the phone and replies to personal messages and emails say they are ‘working on it’ are not very productive.

“Here are my specific questions:

Is there a process by which we can formally complain to the police or county to make them comply?

“Is the driver of this yellow bus required to be specially licensed, trained for this transportation service? Is there any regulations that might apply to them as a business operating this service?

“Does the Red Cedar Farm have legal permission to use the road department’s lot (on Lofall across from the gravel pit)? Are they paying for this use of PUBLIC property?

“I’m tired of nearly being run over while walking and there are kids along this residential area that may be affected!” he wrote.

The out basket: Red Cedar Farm is paying for use of the county property, says Doug Bear of county public works, and send along a copy of the contract, showing an annual payment of $1,200. “They are paid to date,” he added.

I asked Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office about where to file a complaint about speeding or unsafe driving, noting that there once was a phone number to call before budget cutbacks eliminated it a few years ago.

He replied, “There’s a system that’s now even better… it’s called Kitsap 1.

“Phone(s): 360-337-5777 or 1-800-825-4940   E-mail:   help@kitsap1.com

“Any complaint filed with Kitsap 1 will be routed to the appropriate division, department or agency for coordination and response,” he said.

I also asked Red Cedar Farm for a response and Andrea Sampson, its owner-operator, replied, “Some of his complaints are so far above the facts that I have to laugh.

“Yes, this was back in late June and since we got a message from him via our Facebook page (never a phone call was placed as he mentioned) we have placed a speed limit of 20 mph max for the bus drivers, I’m sure you would have had a second complaint if we didn’t do this.

“And most importantly, we have never run anyone off the road – yikes what is he thinking? And lastly as long as there are 16 passengers or less including the driver, no special drivers license needed. I think that should clarify this matter.”

Port Ludlow reader pleads for safer intersection west of bridge

The in basket: Janice Crittenden of Port Ludlow would like to see the two intersections with Highway 104 at the Jefferson County end of the Hood Canal Bridge made less dangerous.

It’s been a hazard for 30 years, she said, but “has gotten much worse in the last 10 years, or so.”

“The two intersecting roads are Paradise Bay Road and Shine Road.  The most troubling area is the Paradise Bay Road section of the intersection; it is a left turn onto the bridge.

“I pass across the bridge and make that left turn, probably the 5-6 times per week.  I have family members who cross it daily from Paradise Bay Road.

“We hear sirens several times a week headed in that direction and even more disconcerting are the many fender benders or worse that we have witnessed. Close calls are extremely frequent!  We have been included in some of those incidents.

“I have sat at this spot waiting to turn left for nearly 10 minutes at a time on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon. Some are not so patient!! People have exhibited road rage during their wait, directed at those that won’t take chances.

“The only time this area is at all safe is when WSP has been called to monitor bridge closure traffic.  The officers let all Paradise Bay traffic go before allowing cars from either direction to flow. This is wonderful for those of us waiting, but is certainly not a solution. They are only present during Navy openings and not even all of those.

“I propose a traffic-sensitive light be installed which is only activated when there is a car/cars waiting to turn left. I understand the difficulties doing this on a state highway, but lives are truly at stake,” Janice said.

The out basket: I’ve not been there nearly as much as Janice, but I did feel the angst created by having to turn left there on the few occasions I have.

Unhappily, as scary as it seems, it hasn’t produced the evidence in the form of bad accidents that would move it up the state’s priority list, says Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways.

“Nothing is planned at present for that intersection,” she said. “We would like to make improvements to it, but limited resources require us to address highway needs based on a priority system. Other intersections rate higher, meaning they have a worse collision history, and current funding doesn’t reach far enough to affect this intersection.

“I wish I had better news for your reader.”

Why is Highway 16 called an east-west route?

The in basket: Mel Thompson asks, “

I suspect this question has been asked many times, but why do signs referencing Highway 16 destinations use “east/west” choices when Highway 16 clearly runs in a north/south direction? At different locations, especially when somewhat distracted, these sign references are suddenly confusing when a driver has to reorient themselves directionally in a split second to decide to go east or west when the actual directional choice is north or south?”

The out basket: Highway 16 does run east-west where it begins at I-5 in Tacoma, though most of it is north-south after crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

There’s an even more basic reason, says Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways.

“Before SR 16 was SR 16, it was Primary State Highway 14,” she said. “PSH 14 went mostly east-west between Hoodsport and Gig Harbor. The east/west designation carried over when the highway was renumbered.”

I asked if there had been any discussion of changing it to recognize the current reality of SR16’s heading, and she said she’d never heard of any.

 

Is Lindvig to Front Street in Poulsbo a right turn?

The in basket: Bruce Brockett asks, “When entering Poulsbo on NW Lindvig Way, at the traffic light where Bond Road is on the left, and Front Street is on the right/straight ahead (Liberty Bay Auto on the right), is a right turn on red onto Front Street allowed?

“I never see anyone doing it. If allowed, are all three-way intersections OK for a turn on red (actually straight through) from the similar approach lane?”

The out basket: Sgt. Howard Leeming of Poulsbo police says, no, that is not a legal right on red.

“It is not a right turn at that location,  as it is a basic ’T’ intersection with the through road being Lindvig Way to Front Street,” he said. “The road does slightly turn and changes its name, which could lead to some confusion.

“I’ve been asked this question before and an answer I often provide to make it meet the common sense test is asking the driver if they had the green light going this direction, would they put their turn signal on? The answer is always ‘no’ so they seem to already understand it is simply a bend in the roadway, not a turn.

“Coming from the other direction, you can make the right turn after stopping on Front Street to Bond Road and you can also turn right after stopping for a red light from Bond Road to Lindvig Way,” he said.