All posts by travis baker

Don’t stop in a roundabout

The in basket: Dan Calnan says, “So, the latest roundabout head scratcher is the increasing number of people already in a roundabout circle, coming to a full stop and waving in others just approaching from another access.

“I see this most often at the Newberry Hill (roundabout), perhaps because it is relatively new, usually during busy hours. In my opinion, this really slows down the whole operation due to requiring a full stop with subsequent acceleration. I have almost rear-ended such vehicles never dreaming I would encounter this action.

“Funny, I never see people on a freeway come to a full stop and wave on a yield/merger from an on-ramp, just the opposite.

“Not quite as annoying but more common is folks approaching a roundabout and coming to a full stop every time no matter what, before proceeding to merge in. Really backs thing up having to come to a full dead stop behind them. Question, is this illegal or just plain bad driving?”

The out basket: I’m guessing Dan is asking about stopping in a roundabout to let someone enter, not stopping for no reason at one of the entrances. That’s legal, as at any yield point, but stopping when already in a roundabout to let another driver enter is not. If you get rear-ended trying to be courteous (or extra careful) in such a fashion, you’ll likely join the driver that hit you from behind in getting ticketed. Of course, stopping in a roundabout when you or traffic ahead in your lane is yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk is not only legal, but required.

Stopping in a road or street anywhere to let another car enter that street is illegal under RCW 46.61.570(1), and roundabouts get special attention in a state Department of Transportation web site on “How to drive a roundabout,” saying bluntly “Do not stop in a roundabout.”

Latest fatality steps up pressure at SR3 and Sunnyslope Road

The in basket: Jim Hazel and JoAnne Stefanac e-mailed to press for quick action to make the intersection of Highway 3 and Sunnyslope Road less dangerous. And Jim wondered what he’d be commenting on if he used an e-mail address listed in a letter to the editor in the Kitsap Sun recently in connection with that intersection.

“You’ve addressed this before,” JoAnne wrote, “but we’ve had another fatality there again recently and I was wondering if/when they are EVER going to address this dangerous intersection with some kind of improvement? Turning left onto the highway from Sunnyslope Road is taking your life in your hands as the folks are roaring up the hill to ‘get ahead’ of one another before the two lanes merge into one at the top of the hill.

“It’s like a racetrack there most of the time.  Not to mention, dodging the cars coming from the left (from Belfair).  Poor man lost the gamble this week.  How many deaths does it take to get it fixed?

“Honestly, I’d LOVE a (signal),” she said when I asked her what she would suggest, “but I know it’s all about the roundabouts nowadays.  Hate them and don’t think they’d do that on a highway at any rate (Please God!). Would have to be a light.  A life-saving light.

“They have one in Gorst, one at the airport, and in Belfair.  Why not at this most dangerous intersection? Especially considering how much the Sunnyslope and surrounding area is growing, with more and more homes being built at McCormick Woods. It’s not going to get any better as the building continues.”

Jim wrote, “ I consider this to be a very dangerous intersection which I fortunately can usually

avoid. Nonetheless, I am interested in any study or proposed action on it. I have looked over the projects and studies on the DOT web site but found no mention. The letter did indicate, however, that a public comment period will expire on Dec. 16.  How do I find out

what is being commented on and what type of public information is being south?”

The out basket: Doug Adamson of the Olympic Region of state highways replied, “While WSDOT does not have any major projects currently funded for this intersection, WSDOT traffic engineers plan to have additional signage installed on State Route 3. The signs will be installed before the intersection of Sunnyslope Road Southwest. The yellow signs will give drivers advance notification of the approaching intersection.

“The Dec. 16 deadline specifically applies to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which lists upcoming transportation improvement projects scheduled in the next four years. You can find the news release about the public comment period for the STIP here:” If you can’t just click on that indecipherable link, just got to and ask for ‘2017-20 transportation improvement’ and the site will come up.

“While there are STIP projects listed for Kitsap County,” Doug continued, “the intersection of SR 3 and Sunnyslope Road is not identified. You can view the project list here:

“The comments related to the intersection of SR 3 and Sunnyslope Road Southwest have been forwarded to regional WSDOT traffic engineers. Unlike the STIP official public comment period, there is no deadline for residents to give us feedback on this intersection or any intersection involving a state highway. People who would like to reach us are able to do so via

Rubberized chip seal showing wear in Parkwood

The in basket: I noticed that what I thought was pervious pavement, which lets rainwater drain through it, was wearing noticeably on Madrona Drive in Parkwood in South Kitsap near the intersection with Lund Avenue up to SK Rotary Park. There was a lot of it used around Parkwood last year and I asked Kitsap County officials if they see a reason for the problem there.

The out basket: Jacques Dean, county road superintendent, replied, “We are aware of this problem. We applied a rubberized chip seal to this roadway, not pervious pavement. Heavy traffic volume and 90-degree turning movements appear to be the cause of the damage. We will continue to monitor the location.”

Driver wonders about Belfair center striping

The in basket: Martha Washington says, “The southern segment of the current Belfair widening project seems to be mostly done, but I hope not. Do they really plan to keep the new lane markings as they currently are?

“Instead of a center turn lane in front of Belfair Elementary, there are three travel lanes. one southbound lane and two northbound.  Anyone needing to make a left into the school is still going to be making their turn from the travel lane.

“If it’s because buses can’t make the turn out of the school and stay in their lane, why didn’t they just give that side a wider shoulder or expand the driveway?” she asked.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways replies, “We have not completed the final striping yet on this project.  The final configuration will stripe a two-way left-turn lane between the school and Roessel.  That final striping will occur next year when we get into drier weather.”

Driver wants details of yellow left turn lights

The in basket: Allen Gibbard writes, “Hoping you can help with lawful traffic signal responses.  Today while approaching an intersection, the main traffic signal was red, but the left-turn arrow (where I wanted to go) that had been flashing turned to solid yellow.  I interpreted that to mean I was free to turn left if I could complete the maneuver safely.

“As I entered the intersection on the solid yellow arrow, the arrow turned red.  I accelerated a bit to clear the intersection as fast as possible without incident.

“Here’s my question: does a blinking yellow left-turn arrow mean proceed with caution and a solid yellow left-turn arrow mean it will be changing to red soon so if you’re unsure if you can clear the intersection quickly, do not enter?  Like the yellow light within the green/yellow/red cycle of a main traffic signal light?

Guidance please!”

The out basket: My answer to Allen: A solid yellow left-turn arrow tells the driver the light is about to turn red and if he or she can’t make it past the white stop bar on the pavement before it does, he’ll be committing an infraction – and possibly be responsible for a collision. If it was green prior to going solid, it also is the end of a protected left-turn cycle during which oncoming traffic has a red light.

A yellow flashing left turn provides a period of permissive left turns during which oncoming traffic does NOT have a red light and has the right of way over the turner, who must yield.

I asked Kitsap County Public Works if that covers it and Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea replied, “A solid yellow also terminates a flashing yellow. It’s important to understand what a solid yellow signal means. It doesn’t mean hurry up. You can cross the stop bar on a yellow. If you can stop safely, you should. If not, the solid yellow allows motorists to get through the intersection before conflicting traffic is given a green indication.”

The ‘how’ of stopping at a stop sign

The in basket: George Bolton says the intersection of Enchantment Lane and Dickey Road west of Silverdale is difficult because of reduced visibility for those stopped on Enchantment.

“When you pull up to the stop sign here, you can’t see up Dickey Road at Enchantment. Three years ago, someone put in a sewer or water line and added more dirt to the berm.

“Does state law require a line of sight when you’re stopped behind the stop  sign?” he asked.

The out basket: It’s not hard to see up and down Dickey from Enchantment unless you are overly worried about stopping only once, at the stop sign. There are a lot of places like it where one has to move forward past the stop sign to get a good view.

Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department called it a common question and cited a state law.

It says that unless a police officer, firefighter or flagger directs otherwise, “every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering a marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway.” It goes on to require that entering the other street must then be done safely.

The state driver’s manual says, “Make sure you can clearly see crossing traffic before entering an intersection. If you were stopped and your view of a cross street is blocked, edge forward slowly until you can see. By moving forward slowly, crossing drivers can see the front of your vehicle before you can see them. This gives them a chance to slow down and warn you if needed.”

Finally, Scott offers some common sense advice in a Q&A format.

Q1. How far from the stop sign should I stop?

A1.  There should be a white line painted across the road. You have to come to a complete stop before you cross that line. Once you have come to a complete stop, you may inch forward a little bit in order to see whether or not it is safe for you to proceed.

Q2.  If there is a distance between stop sign and stop line, should I stop before the stop sign or the stop line?

A2.  Before the stop line. If needed, you can slowly pull up a little and then stop again when you have a good view of traffic in all directions.

Q3.  How close should you get to the stop sign before stopping completely?

A3.  If there is a crosswalk at the intersection, you should stop before crossing it. If there is no crosswalk, stop short of the intersection with enough space that other cars can safely turn in without hitting you.

Q4.  Where do you stop if the stop sign is before the white line?

A4.  Stop before the white line. You should stop within two feet of it, so the bumper does not go over the line.

Bright lights in SK visible and annoying on Bainbridge

The in basket: A reader whose identity in an e-mail says simply “dirtina100” says, “We live at the south end of Bainbridge.  Can you find out what those REALLY bright lights are that are on every night at the Harper dock (in South Kitsap)?

“We apparently have to put up with cargo ships with bright lights and noise but what are those lights about down there?”

The out basket: Doris Small, project manager for the estuary restoration in Harper says, “The lights could be associated with Harper Dock, where squid fishing is taking place nightly.  However this is not new, so may not be what they are seeing.

“The Harper Estuary Restoration Project construction is underway and some of the work is occurring at night to coincide with the low tides.  The construction work will continue through January, although night work will be limited as much as possible.

“We’ve contacted neighbors in the area and shielded lights from the immediate area.  I didn’t realize that neighbors on Bainbridge could see the work.  I’d ask that the Bainbridge neighbors contact Corey Morss, WDFW project engineer, at 360.902.2465 for further discussion of what they are observing.

Additional information about the project is available at

Probably the lights are those on excavating equipment a little bit south of the Harper Dock, where the state is having obstructions to the Harper estuary removed.

Doris Small with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife says some of the work is done at night if that’s when the tides are lowest. “It’s a lot easier to work and some of the area has to be exposed,” she said. They are removing man-made fill and putting in habitat features.

The night work could continue into January, she said.

Doctored stop sign is illegal

The in basket: Tom Baker sent along a photograph of a stop sign at Anderson Hill and Old Clifton roads in South Kitsap to which someone had added the letters “SPEEDING” beneath the word stop. “Is this an allowed modification or have the county sign techs not noticed it?” Tom asked.

The out basket: Following Tom’s lead, I asked county public works about it, and got the following answer from Doug Bear, their spokesman.

“The stop sign at that location is maintained by the city of Port Orchard,” Doug said. “Our sign technicians called to let the know and they will remove the “speeding” legend.

“Altering traffic control devices (signs) is illegal,” he added. “RCW 46.61.080 states ‘No person shall, without lawful authority, attempt to or in fact alter, deface, injure, knock down or remove any official traffic-control device or any railroad sign or signal or any inscription, shield or insignia thereon, or any other part thereof.’”image001

Gorst dip reported by vanpool driver

The in basket: Phil Crane, who says he drives a van pool, writes, “For the last few months I’ve noticed some changes in the road leading to the overpass toward Gorst.

“Just past the motorcycle dealer, HOV lane…the road is sagging in a few spots…one spot has about a six inches depth in the middle…the depressed area being about five feet in diameter.
The other two noticeable areas are only bumps, as yet…

“I’m wondering…will it take a full sink hole to develop before something is done out there.??”

The out basket: I have to say I had not noticed it before leaving the county for a time, but asked Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, if they had.

She replied, “Our maintenance crews took a look at that roadway section and didn’t see anything particularly unusual. Closer to the area where the SR 16/SR 166/Anderson Hill Road fish culvert project was built, in the eastbound direction there are a couple of low spots and a bump coming off the newly-paved area.  We have asked the contractor to repair that section of roadway, (but) it’s likely it won’t occur until warmer, drier weather next spring.”

Obscured license plates and tolls

The in basket: Larry Blain writes, “A few days ago I was once again behind a vehicle with a bike rack completely obscuring the rear license plate. This set me thinking.

“Whether that is legal or not (I suspect not), what is the percentage of the vehicles crossing the Narrows Bridge that the automated license reading equipment are unable to identify?  I can see this happening from hidden license plates such as I observed, paper license plates on darkly tinted windows on newly licensed vehicles, and out-of-state vehicles.

“Since the same problem also would apply to tolled HOV lanes and the SR-520 Bridge, the amount of lost revenue probably is significant.

“Is any effort made to identify vehicles with unrecognizable license plates that are repeatedly observed by the cameras?

“I hope the state DOT has some statistics on this.”

The in basket: The state’s toll division answers, “The toll equipment photographs the front and rear license plates, so if the rear one is obscured, we can still read the front one. Per state law, front plates are required for all vehicles issued a front plate.

“Our toll equipment takes photos only of the area of the vehicle around the license plate, because it is illegal to photograph the inside of vehicles.

“We have agreements with the other states that they will provide us the vehicle owner’s registered address so we can send a bill to that address.

“If the license plate recognition software is unable to automatically read the license plate, then the plates will be manually reviewed by customer service. Unreadable license plates account for only about 1.5 percent of the total trips on our toll facilities.”


Larry Blain.