Dirty road signs and highway signs get attention

The in basket: Don Brandvold asks “Who cleans the signs that are on our highways?  On Highway 16 heading to Tacoma, after you pass the women’s prison on the right but before you reach the cemetery on the left, there is a sign for Good To Go! that was put up about a year before the new bridge was ready for us to use.

“While all the other signs on 16 look clean, that one is green and looks like it has never been cleaned.  Hope someone cleans it.”

The out basket: I asked both the state and Kitsap County about this, and Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer got back to me first.

“We have nearly 20,000 signs on county-maintained roads,” Jeff said. “In 2015 our five sign specialists cleaned over 5,000 signs. Each specialist is responsible for approximately 4,000 signs. Each sign is a reflection on how they do their job, so keeping signs legible is a high priority. The specialists inspect all the signs they are responsible for every year. If the sign can’t be cleaned, it is replaced.

“Signs are placed to help ensure the motoring public’s safety. When signs aren’t legible, they can’t serve that purpose. There is even some thinking that shows signs that are dirty and difficult to read create an impression they are not important, and motorists may disregard a sign because of its condition.

“Kitsap County’s weather adds challenges to sign maintenance. Overhead canopies, rain, and a lack of sunshine in certain areas promote the green growth seen on some signs. We also deal with a considerable amount of vandalism that obscures legends on signs, or makes the sign less legible.

“Our charge is to keep all county signs in excellent condition. We invite the public to let us know if they see signs that need attention, whether they are on the ground, leaning, or dirty, by calling Kitsap1 at 360.337.5777.

Claudia Bingham Baker of state highways’ Olympic Region, said, “I would echo what Jeff said about the importance of roadway signs and the challenges crews face keeping them clean and legible. In addition to what Jeff said, we do reviews of sign reflectivity during night hours. Any signs we see that no longer have adequate reflectivity are replaced or washed.

“Our crews wash signs as their work schedules allow. We will tend to the sign mentioned by your reader. Please thank him for bringing the issue to our attention.”


Early morning troubles at Bucklin Hill and Silverdale Way

The in basket: Dennis Copp writes, “I typically do my shopping early (0600 hrs.) on the weekends, and have had problems with the traffic signal at Bucklin Hill Road and Silverdale Way.

“When I come down Bucklin Hill, eastbound in the left-hand lane, I have to stop at the light in the intersection.  At this early time in the morning there is little to no traffic (major reason that I shop at that time).

“Even though  my car is the only car on the road, the signal does not change to give me a green light.  I have sat at the light for over five minutes, with NO north-south traffic on Silverdale Way and the light did not change. Only after another vehicle came by in the right-hand lane did the light cycle.

“At other times there have been cars in both the right and left lanes and we both sat at the light for an abnormally long time, with no north-south traffic.  It has gotten to the point that I drive several miles out of my way to avoid this intersection.

“The problem at this intersection is probably a faulty traffic detection loop or the detection module for the left-hand lane of eastbound Bucklin Hill.

“It would be nice to fix this, as I am sure that others have been trapped at this signal and I hate to waste gas avoiding the intersection,” Dennis said.

The out basket: Daren Miller, signal supervisor for Kitsap County, replies, “Our signal shop supervisor followed up on your reader’s concern. He went to the intersection and checked all the signal systems and they were working correctly at the time.

“He did some adjustments to the vehicle detection zone which may help.

“We use video detection (not in-pavement loops) at this intersection to detect when a motorist is at a signal.  Video detection can have problems with shadows, fog and other moving objects that aren’t necessarily a vehicle.

“Even if the equipment is working fine now, we do like to check the system out at the time the problem occurred. Sometime in the near future a county employee will drive through this lane to see what sort of problem he or she encounters.  If the system is working correctly and there are no other vehicles or pedestrians around, the longest wait time should be well less than a minute.  I would like to thank the reader for bringing this to our attention.”


Washington Avenue speed limit inquiry

The in basket: C.J. Gebhart  writes, “I make a left off the Manette Bridge onto Washington Ave every morning on my way to work.  There is no speed limit sign on that section of Washington so was wondering what the speed limit is on Washington.”

The out basket: I’m sure that C.J. won’t be surprised that the answer is 25 miles per hour there, the default speed limit in cities. That’s the answer I got from Chal Martin, public works director for the city of Bremerton.

Sidewalk dip partially fixed

The in basket: George Bolton said a depression in the sidewalk in the 5000 block of Dream Court in Central Kitsap west of Silverdale is a serious tripping hazard and needs the county’s attention.

I suspected it would be the responsibility of the homeowner in front of which the sidewalk runs, but I asked the county about that.

The out basket: To my surprise, Kitsap County Public Works jumped right on it within a week and filled the depression – partially. It looked like they hadn’t brought enough asphalt, as the depression was only half-filled, but I saw that filling it more fully would have trapped water in the homeowner’s driveway, into which the depression extended.

I asked if the notion of property owners being on the hook for sidewalk repairs, something the cities hereabouts mention often, doesn’t apply to counties.

Jacques Dean, county road superintendent replied, “Road crews have filled in the depression in the sidewalk with hot mix asphalt. This is a temporary repair until such time as it can be programmed for permanent repair.

“Every other year, Kitsap County completes a county-wide sidewalk project. This project predominately repairs existing, damaged sidewalk, or resolves sidewalk conditions that do not meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) criteria. The deficiency on Dream Court will be added to a list of potential project repairs and programmed accordingly.”

Bad times ahead for Dickey/Apex Airport junction, resident says

The in basket: Barbi Chapman recently returned to the local area and makes a case for major improvements where Dickey Road in Central Kitsap makes a 90-degree turn at its intersection with Apex Airport Road and the turning traffic has the right of way.

“We bought a house in Sterling Hills (on Apex Airport Road) and I have to contend with the lack of signals and/or stop signs a dozen times a day, along with no sidewalks to walk safely,” she said.

“I’ve never seen an intersection quite like (this), with only one stop sign for the people heading out of Apex Airport Road.

“It is a bus stop for Silverdale Elementary, and the Central Kitsap middle and high schools,” she said, adding “I cannot let my kids stand there, in the dark with no sidewalks, no curbs, and no traffic signals.

She continued with a list of additional concerns.

– “Dickey Road is a long straight-away where people pick up excessive speed and then try to make the right turn onto Apex Airport, (thereby) overshooting the turn and coming into oncoming traffic to those heading on Apex Airport toward the airport or attempting the left onto Dickey.

– “Because the town dump and quarry are located on Dickey Road, the Mack trucks, dump trucks, and trucks with two cargos attempt that turn and simply are too large and have to swing into oncoming traffic to complete the turn.

– “CK school district has plans to build the new bus lot on Dickey Road. Can you imagine the traffic with the buses attempting this same intersection with no stop signs or lights?

– “A new development on the corner of Apex Airport and Dickey roads is under construction with the addition of 40 condos and all that impending traffic.

–  “Sterling Hills has plans for phase 3 development. Seventy-five houses are slated for construction within the next two years. That’s another 150 cars, at least, attempting this same intersection daily,” she concluded.

The out basket: Kitsap County Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea responded.

“The development along the southeast corner of the intersection is constructing curb, gutter and sidewalk along the frontage of that property,” he said. “The development will also be constructing additional lane width along the east and south sides of the road.  This will allow truck and bus movements that shouldn’t encroach on opposing traffic lanes.

“At the current traffic volumes, the intersection of Dickey Road and Apex Airport doesn’t warrant a traffic signal. The developments and the school improvements have triggered warrants for a signal at Anderson Hill and Apex Airport though.  That signal is in the early stages of project development.

“All reported collisions that occur on county roads are put into a state database that is accessible to the county Public Works Traffic Division. A review of all the collisions at the intersection of Apex Airport and Dickey roads for the last five years showed only two. One was a run-off-the-road and another involved a vehicle that ran the stop sign.  We will continue to monitor this and all other intersections and corridors for collision issues.

“The school district hired a consultant to look at all the traffic impacts the new bus lot would have on this and other intersections.  Anderson Hill was the only intersection that triggered improvements, and as I mentioned a signal is being proposed here.

“County Planning and Public Works looks at all new developments, and requires them to do an assessment of future traffic that their development will put on county roadways.  Historically, Apex Airport has been a very minor road and Dickey has been the local collector road. So Dickey Road has been the through road for as long as anyone can remember.  The new developments were required to look at the new traffic they would be adding to the intersection.  Their modeling of the traffic showed that the intersection would operate well above the county standard as it is currently configured.”



“Road Closed” signs often in wrong spot, says reader

The in basket: Ellen Baxter is concerned about where road closure signs are placed.

“In the past year, I cannot tell you how many times a road has been closed (due to accident, tree over wires, etc.) with a dangerous closure spot,” she wrote. “For example, just this week a car went over Tracyton Beach Road. The road should be closed at Riddell and down by Lebo, in my opinion, in spots where cars can safely turn around and detour.

“Instead, cars are forced to do dangerous 3-way turns in pitch black, rainy conditions because the closure was within yards of the scene. It was scary to do this in horrific weather and sight conditions.

“Last year, I was forced to complete another dangerous turn-around in icy conditions near the same spot because a car had gone off, yet again. There were no driveways, no safe spots to turn my car back around.

“Another example is several weeks ago during the wind storm, a tree was over the power line near Fairgrounds and Tracyton. Again, the sign came in a dangerous spot, well above Barker Creek…instead of a more logical spot down at the WIDE Barker Creek road and before the speed bumps when heading toward Tracyton from Silverdale.

“We have young drivers on the road as well, who haven’t all had experience with adverse conditions, let alone, changes in directions and having to make dangerous u-turns on closed roads.” she said.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County, which handled the recent Tracyton Beach Road closure and many of the windstorm closures, replied, comprehensively, “There are state laws that govern the closure of roads temporarily. The county is fairly restricted when it comes to road closures. Basically the law allows us to close roads for emergencies and to do maintenance and improvements on public roads. For road construction, we are allowed to close a road for up to 12 hours without Board of County Commissioner’s approval.  Anything longer than 12 hours requires an approved resolution signed by the BOCC board.

Planned construction allows us to look at different options for traffic management.  We can close the road, we can detour traffic or we can flag traffic through the construction zone.  If we close a road we normally provide a signed detour route. In all cases we comply with federal and WSDOT standards for signage of any closure or flagging operation.

Emergency closures present several challenges we don’t have with planned closures:

– We don’t know when they will occur.

– We have no way of knowing how long they will last.

– Normally they occur during storm events, which means many roads will be closed.

– Many involve utility wires in trees which we can’t clear until the utility company clears the wires. During big storms the utility doesn’t always tell us when the lines have been cleared.  They are busy with multiple problems throughout the county, just as we are.

– Sometimes we are directed by a sheriff’s deputy to close a road and we are not made aware of the reason.

“Our first concern on emergency closures is the safety of the traveling public. The first thing we will do is close the road at the downed tree, the washed away road, or whatever it may be.  We try to close it at the nearest intersection, so motorists can turn their vehicles around. This creates a problem for residents that live within the intersection and the actual obstacle in the road.  They are forced to drive around the barrier to see if they can get to their homes.

“Sometimes we are asked to set up detours for these temporary events.  If we figure the closure will last longer than a day or two we may consider setting up a detour.

“In most cases, though, the detours we are asked to set up require custom-made signs that need to be fabricated.  Making and transporting the signs can take several hours in most cases.

“Another problem we run into is the lack of road network in the county.  Some remote closures can require miles of detour with many turns.  Every turn requires two signs, one for each direction. Even short detours can take up to 10 signs or more.  If we have several closures, we will run out of signs very fast.  As I pointed out we normally don’t know when the road will reopen. On one closure we were about to put our last detour sign up, and the road re-opened.

“A great way to stay ‘in-the-know’ is to subscribe to the county road report,” Jeff said. “This service will alert you to any road closures throughout Kitsap County.

School signage on Ridgetop Boulevard confuses

The in basket: Norm and Karen Kunkel are concerned about how much of Ridgetop Boulevard uphill from Highway 303 is a school zone.

They said they saw a yellow pedestrian crossing sign depicting what appears to be a woman and a child, posted just west of Hillsboro Drive and an “End of School Zone” sign just past the intersection and concluded it was a school zone. Karen told me they have been going 20 mph from there all the way up to the actual school zone at the street leading to Emerald Heights Elementary, even though there are 35 mph speed limit signs posted there.

She said she has talked to people who have gotten a school zone citation somewhere in there.

The “End of School Zone” sign just past Hillsboro no longer is there, Norm said last week.

I asked the county where there are school zones on Ridgetop, what the yellow two-figure sign denotes, and if signage on that stretch of Ridgetop Boulevard had recently been changed.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County says, “The only school speed zone on Ridgetop Boulevard is on either side of the intersection of Pinnacle Court leading to Emerald Heights Elementary School. There is no school speed limit zone at Hillsboro.

“The School Sign (it is actually 2 students, not an adult and student) which looks like an old school house (5 sided; floor, sides and roof) is actually a warning sign alerting motorists that a school or school crossing is nearby.  It is to warn motorists that they could see school-age children on or near the roadway.  It does not require the motorist to reduce speed.

“The posted speed limit is the legal speed.  Not until you see a rectangular sign with a school speed limit 20, and flashing lights, times, or “when children are present” placards does the speed limit change.

“We recently revisited all school zones county-wide. Some changes to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices triggered sign modifications.  The end school zone signs were removed because motorists don’t actually go through the school speed zone.  The directional arrow below the School Sign is new to the MUTCD and denotes that the school zone is around the corner on Hillsboro.

Port Orchard makes quick work of weedy guard rail


The in basket: Nancy Fuller-Hall wrote, “I moved to 282 Farragut Avenue  in February. Who is responsible for the Farragut road?  As you can see the area where we live is a mess but just up the street the                                        guard rail and street is nice and neat.


The out basket: That Farragut, as opposed to the one in Bremerton, is in Port Orchard. Public Works Director Mark Dorsey of that city replied, “The City does maintain the vegetation along these guardrails.  BUT…….please understand that we (Public Works) only have 12 employees to operate/maintain/repair (2) public water systems, the sanitary sewer system, the storm drainage system, the road system and our city parks and facilities, for a population that has doubled in the last eight years.  We do this two ways:

1) identified and scheduled routine maintenance

2) response to citizen complaints.

“For the prior, roadside vegetation control with our roadside vegetation mower is a constant from early Spring to Fall ….but guardrails require hand labor (weed-eater) and we keep up on those as best as we can.

“For the latter, we maintain a Complaint Log whereby we receive a citizen complaint, determine who is responsible (often times, it’s the adjacent property owner’s responsibility, i.e., sidewalks, trees, etc.), schedule the work if it’s our responsibility and follow up with the complainant.  We rely on the community to help us keep on top of things that we just don’t see in our day to day.”

He asked one employee to add the Farragut complaint to the Complaint Log and another to schedule the work.

Just two days later, Nancy wrote again to say, “Just wanted you to know that the Department of Public Works cleaned up the street yesterday. Thank you so much for your referral and quick action.  Not only does it look great but I can now pull out of our driveway and see the oncoming traffic.”

The day the troopers association called me

The in basket: A while back I got a call that began, cheerfully, “Hi, this is Matt, calling for the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association.”

Having recently met a local trooper named Matt, I asked if it was he calling.

After about 10 second of silence, “Matt” resumed, giving no indication that he’d heard my question. So I asked again.

Another period of silence, and the voice resumed, again giving no sign I had asked anything, but seeking a donation. I listened long enough to determine that the solicitation seemed legitimate, as he asked permission to send out a donation packet with information on the association. I hung up.

I asked Trooper Russ Winger, my local WSP contact, if it WAS on the level, and whether the trooper named Matt that I had met was the one who called. Also I asked if this was some kind of anticipatory robo-call that presumes to predict what the person called will say and includes a stock one-size-fits-all answer that somehow disguises the fact it’s not a real person calling. And if it was legitimate, why choose such a oddball way of making the request.

The out basket: Yes, it was a legitimate solicitation from the troopers’ association, Russ said. He didn’t know anything about the technology behind the call, but gave me the phone number of the company on the east coast that conducted the campaign.

Matt turned out to be Matt Crow of Ellis-Crow Solutions, and he said he remembers that day (two days, actually) when he was unable to hear what the person called said though they could hear him. “We had a lot of issues and as the day progressed, it got worse and worse,” he said. There were a lot of such calls, so some of you reading this may have gotten one and wondered what on earth it was about.

They use something called Voice Over Internet Protocol to make the calls, Matt said, and those two days it malfunctioned. Though he didn’t seem to be getting any response on the line, he plunged ahead with his spiel, with me, anyway.

The association has a Web site if you want to know more about it. It’s a collective bargaining organization, but also donates to a variety of benevolent groups, the site says, and just now is promoting a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of a WSP employee’s daughter with a rare form of cancer. The site is wspta.org.

Revisiting Riddell Road storm runoff

The in basket: Bob Carter, who complained to the Road Warrior last spring about storm water allowed to flow down Riddell Road in Bremerton during heavy rains, writes again to say, “Paving on Riddell Road between Pine and Highway 303 was just completed. There had been a problem with water on the roadway during a hard rain storm.

“After the paving, there seems to be still a water problem on the roadway during a rain storm and it starts up by Peace Lutheran Church. The water from the culvert under the driveway going to Peace Lutheran Church needs to be contained and routed to a drain before it enters the roadway which causes hazardous driving.

“Now most of the water enters the roadway and some of the water flows downhill and enters the parking lot at Redwood Plaza with excess water depositing sand/gravel in the parking lot and it also has created standing water as you enter the Redwood Plaza parking lot by Bank of America.

“The exit to the parking lot was filled in with asphalt but the entrance side was not. The new paving did, however, improve the water on the roadway at Riddell and Highway 303,” he said.

The out basket: Colen Corey of Bremerton Public Works, says, “We added some catch basins to catch water in the right of way east of the church so that there is less water traveling the entire distance on the road surface.

“We have not completed the various tasks associated with this project yet, such as some shoulder work, paving of driveway areas and completion of lane channelization. We will accomplish these tasks this fall/winter as time allows.

“This area is very flat and the surface water does not move very fast, causing the perception of a lot of water in the roadway during heavy rain periods. However, the new drainage is working good and handling storm water as planned.