Tag Archives: 11th

Bremerton gets another flashing yellow left turn

The in basket: I see that Bremerton has added a flashing left turn arrow to another intersection, the one at 11th Street and High Avenue.

I’m among the fans of the flashing yellow lefts, which reduce the amount of time a driver must wait to turn left, compared to left turn signals that are red after a green cycle ends.

I was told the city didn’t have the money to add any more of the signals, after they installed them on nearly all of those on Sixth Street, which they were able to pay for with utility money. Sixth was the designated detour when 11th Street was disrupted by sewer replacement work in 2012, allowing for use of wastewater money for the signals.

I was  curious if the appearance of one at 11th and High signaled more use of them in the city.

The out basket: The flashing yellow at 11th and High isn’t the major reduction of wait times that the others were, because it replaces a green ball light and sign saying left turners must yield on green. So left turns were permitted while oncoming traffic had the green light all along.

Jim Orton, operations manager for city public works, says. “That intersection really needed the flashing yellow (the yield on green ball is not as intuitive as the arrow). We used some parts from other projects to get this in, so the only costs really were labor.

“It is our intent to standardize our left turn pockets with flashing arrows rather than the green ball but this will be done over time.”

Why a four-way stop at Pacific and 11th in Bremerton?

The in basket: Richard Symms of downtown Bremerton writes, “At the Bremerton intersection of 11th and Pacific Avenue, there is an ‘all way’ stop so every car must stop at that intersection. The question I have is WHY?

“There must be at least 20 vehicles (probably more) going westerly toward Warren Avenue for every vehicle on Pacific at that intersection. Why not just stop signs for Pacific?  Is it because Pacific is a signature street now that it is rebuilt and part of the new Bremerton look?

“Well,” Richard concluded, “Pacific Avenue is a beautiful street, for sure. :>)

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson, managing street engineer for Bremerton said an engineering study done by consultant Parametrix in 2013 considered the issue at Pacific Avenue’s intersections with both Sixth and 11th streets. It found that at Sixth Street, where signals also were removed, it needed to be a four-way stop while 11th Street’s intersection could be either a two-way or four-way stop – now.

But as such studies usually do, it also looked 20 years ahead,  and found that in 2033, getting onto or across 11th on Pacific would be too difficult if 11th were free flowing.

And rather than wait until that happened and require drivers to stop where they hadn’t been used to stopping, the city put the stop signs on 11th now.

Actually, I think  2033 already is here for about half an hour in the afternoon commute.

Then traffic backs up out of sight at the westbound stop signs on both 11th and Sixth. That might seem like an argument for letting the traffic flow on those two streets, but if none of those vehicles had to stop, vehicles at the Pacific Avenue stop signs would wait forever for a break  in traffic to get across or onto the west-east streets.

And as annoying as it may be in the crawl on 11th to get to and across Pacific, any time saved if the stop were removed probably would be eaten up  by the wait at the upcoming Park Avenue and Warren Avenue stop lights.

“And thank (Richard) for the compliment,” Gunnar added in conclusion. “We think the same and the street looks far more appealing and is more useable and friendly than before.”


Driver worries about lefts and rights against red signals

The in basket: Yvonne Dean has some questions, she said in an e-mail, starting with one about an odd state law that I don’t see mentioned accept in the Road Warrior column and remains little known by drivers. It’s the one permitting left turns against a red arrow signal, but only onto a one-way road or street and only after coming to a full stop and yielding to any vehicles with a green light or to pedestrians.

“I have been wondering if this type of left turn would be permitted on Ridgetop (in Silverdale) when you are coming down from Ridgetop Junior High and turning left to go toward East Bremerton,” Yvonne said. “Before making the turn on red I assume you have to check to make sure there was no one coming off of Waaga Way who might be turning left up Ridgetop and no one coming up Ridgetop up to that intersection.”

Then she asks about two right-turn-on-red situations at 11th and Warren Avenue (in Bremerton).

“Tonight I was coming east on 11th and a fire truck was in the curb lane with his right-turn signal blinking,” he said. “He didn’t turn until the light turned green.  Can you not turn right at that (red) light after coming to a complete stop and having no traffic coming toward you?”

Finally, “when I am coming south on Warren Avenue to that same intersection and I want to turn right to go up 11th if the light is red I have stopped and check to make sure there is no on-coming traffic and then turned up the hill.  Is that legal?”

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger and Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police provide answers for Yvonne.

A left on red at Ridgetop onto the southbound Highway 303 on-ramp is legal if done with the restrictions Yvonne and I stated above.

But as I’ve said before, the odds that the first driver in line to turn left knows the law and dares to use it are so low that it’s usually not seen.

The right turn on red is legal on 11th at Warren. Pete Fisher guesses the length of the first truck would have required it to swing too wide to make the turn comfortably if cars were coming south in either lane of Warren. Fire Chief Al Duke says that sounds right. There’s no department policy forbidding legal rights on red, he said.

And the presence of the traffic signal that offers a protected right turn on Warren at 11th does nothing to negate the opportunity to turn right when it’s red, after a full stop and while yielding to any conflicting traffic or pedestrians.

Traffic signs can blend into the background

The in basket:  I often hear from readers who find the array of traffic signals on eastbound 11th Street at Warren Avenue in Bremerton confusing. There are four signal heads for three lanes, and the right-most two control only the outside lane, but give some drivers the impression going straight in the centermost eastbound lane is permissible.

It’s not, both inner lanes are for left turns only.

So I was surprised the other day when I spotted two signs beside the street as I approached the intersection. They said only traffic in the right lane is allowed to go straight.

I asked Gunnar Fridriksson, Bremerton’s managing street engineer, if they had recently been added because of comments about confusion at the intersection, or had they been there since the intersection was revised a year ago.

The out basket: Another surprise. They’d been there a lot longer than that. Gunnar said, “Probably put in place 20-plus years ago when the lanes were originally configured (with) the two lanes being left turning. Been there all this time.”

He’s remarked before that the recent revision didn’t change the number of signal heads or what lanes they control. For some reason, confusion among drivers increased when the heads no longer hung from wires, but are installed on metal poles.

“The problem with signs,” he said, “if you are not looking for them – they tend not to be noticed.  (That’s) why I am not a proponent for adding to the clutter.”

He then sent along a public service video intended to raise consciousness about driver’s watching out for bicycles, but also illustrating that things in plain sight can go unnoticed if you’re watching for something else.

Perhaps you’ve seen it. It involves a bunch of people tossing basketballs around, and you are challenged to count the number of passes the ones dressed in white make. A man in a bear suit walks through the milling players, moon-walking part of the way, and I’m sure goes unnoticed – the first time – by the vast majority of those who see it and are occupied counting passes. I didn’t see him, even though I’d seen the video before.

Google ‘moonwalking bear” if you want to test your awareness. Even forewarned, you may be surprised.

Buses AREN’T exempt from traffic control at 11th and Warren

The in basket: Brian Lozier read the recent Road Warrior column about transit buses having the right to proceed straight in the outside lane on Sixth Street at Park Avenue in Bremerton where other traffic must turn right, and described a similar incident on 11th Street at Warren Avenue.

He’s seen transit buses go straight in the eastbound center lane of 11th, he said, though there’s what he described as “a clear left-only arrow” in that lane.

“Because the city of Bremerton, in its infinite wisdom, chose to narrow 11th to one lane in each direction just after that

intersection,”Brian said, “buses going straight through in the center lane make it so traffic in the right lane can’t move over and they all have to slam their brakes.

“Is this a legal move for buses or are these drivers just ignoring the law?” he asked, adding “does the red light camera there also catch illegal movement on greens?

“Further,” he wrote, “since I have seen this numerous times (and not just with buses), it seems like this merge can be eliminated by just making that lane on 11th a right-turn only up to Park. There aren’t usually a lot of cars parked there, and that one block stretch is adjacent to to a walled-off power substation.”

The out basket: There are no signs conferring anyone the right to proceed straight in that lane, so if transit drivers are doing it, they are committing an infraction.

Transit Executive Director John Clauson says, “If the bus went straight through the intersection without using the right lane, it was improper. I have (included) our operations director on this communication and I am confident she will take care of this.

“If your reader sees additional violations of this type, he/she should give us a call with the bus number and the exact time of the incident.  It will help immensely to help us track the issue back to the operator and work with the team to refresh operators on the rules of the road.”

The two red light cameras there monitor only red light infractions and then only in the two directions of travel alongside which they are deployed.

Gunnar Fridriksson, the city’s managing street engineer, says they do plan to make the outside lane right only at Park, at the same time they make some parking revisions on 11th and Sixth. As at Sixth and Park, buses will be permitted to proceed straight in the outside lane even after the change.

Lastly, what’s permitted on eastbound 11th at Warren isn’t all that obvious. The two round ball signals for the outside lane (a federally required redundancy) leave many drivers wondering whether  going straight in the center lane is legal. But I wouldn’t expect transit drivers to be confused about it.

Pedestrians buttons at 11th and Warren questioned

The in basket: Gary Reed writes with a question about the revamped intersection of 11th Street and Warren Avenue in Bremerton.

“Why are the “‘Push to Cross’ buttons placed so close to the curb? Seems like if a wheelchair user didn’t set the chairs brakes correctly before trying to use the buttons, they could roll out into traffic. Or, if a person had a couple of rambunctious children so close to the curb, they could easily fall into traffic.

“Why weren’t the buttons located on the light poles, away from the traffic?  I have never seen the lights change (anywhere) so fast a person couldn’t get to the curb from the light pole before the lights changed.”

The out basket: As with most things street engineers do, they must locate pedestrians signal buttons in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a federal publication.

Gunnar Fridriksson, Bremerton’s managing street engineer, sent me the relevant parts of that manual.

“The provisions in this section,” it says, “place pedestrian pushbuttons within easy reach of pedestrians who are intending to cross each crosswalk and make it obvious which pushbutton is associated with each crosswalk.

“If pedestrian pushbuttons are used, they should be capable of easy activation and conveniently located near each end of the crosswalks. Pedestrian pushbuttons should be located to meet all of the following criteria:

A.    Unobstructed and adjacent to a level all-weather surface to provide access from a wheelchair;

B.    Where there is an all-weather surface, a wheelchair accessible route from the pushbutton to the ramp;

C.    Between the edge of the crosswalk line (extended) farthest from the center of the intersection and the side of a curb ramp (if present), but not greater than 5 feet from said crosswalk line;

D.   Between 1.5 and 6 feet from the edge of the curb, shoulder, or pavement;

E.    With the face of the pushbutton parallel to the crosswalk to be used; and

F.    At a mounting height of approximately 3.5 feet, but no more than 4 feet, above the sidewalk.”

I haven’t measured the buttons’ locations relative to the curb and crosswalk, but must assume they comply with these rules, including C., whatever it means.

City staff demonstrates the plight of pedestrians

The in basket: When I gently questioned the wisdom of turning Bremerton’s Washington Avenue into a two-lane street between Sixth Street and the Manette Bridge in a recent column, the city public works department decided it would pay to try to convince me of the value of the project, set for 2015.

So Public Works Director Chal Martin, Managing Street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson and Administrative Division Manager Milenka Hawkins-Bates of their office took me on a tour of city work sites, ending at Sixth and Washington.

The out basket: Chal evidently had been getting some questions about the capacity of Washington to handle rush hour traffic with only one lane in each direction, though that wasn’t what I had questioned. He spent a lot of time demonstrating how little the second lane northbound is needed even with a ferry arrival and shipyard closing time only minutes apart.

And it certainly looked that day that almost all northbound traffic on Washington in the afternoon uses the outside lane to reach the bridge. Only briefly did traffic back up in the inside lane.

Those are the people who will be impeded by having to wait while the signal at the bridge is red and would-be bridge users are in their way. But I’m sure those people will quickly learn that turning left onto Sixth Street, which will keep its left-turn lane, will shorten any delays.

What impressed me far more on our tour was the case Chal made for wider sidewalks, which will be created in the Washington project.

Our tour began at the northwest corner of 11th Street and Naval Avenue, where we stood as traffic zoomed past. The speed limit is only 30 there, but that close to it, it seems to be zooming.

I’d never walked it, so in my many trips along 11th in my car never noticed how frighteningly slender the sidewalks are there.

Chal said, “I think about all the people I see who walk here. I see women pushing double baby buggies walking here. I see moms and little kids and people in motorized wheelchairs.

“When you’re in your car,” he continued, “you’re surrounded by modern safety conveniences, you have a radio and a heater. You’re not exposed to the elements. So I ask, is it OK to delay someone two or three minutes in their normal commute in a trade-off to get more safety for pedestrians and bicyclists?

“My answer,” said Chal, “is a resounding yes.”

The Road Warrior’s argument has been that the focus on providing for the relatively few bikes and walkers by further frustrating the vastly larger number of drivers is ill-conceived. You might agree with that, as I might still, but we should test that belief by walking from Naval to Callow on the north side of 11th occasionally.

And, as Milenka added, “If the sidewalk is safer, would you have more people using it?”

As for 11th, it can’t be widened, so making it safer for non-motorists would require reducing it to two or three lanes, as they are doing with Pacific Avenue north of Sixth Street right now. Don’t be shocked if that’s not proposed in some future year.

Bremerton street sign changes advocated

The in basket: Bill Slach of Port Orchard says some additional markings would reduce confusion and the possibility of accidents at a pair of Bremerton intersections.

“Heading south on Pacific where it meets Burwell,” he said, “I again witnessed a driver in the wrong (oncoming) lane, trying to align themselves with one of the three southbound lanes in front of them. An eastbound car on Burwell (who had a green light) wanted to turn north onto Pacific and had to stop abruptly.

“This is not the first time I have seen this,” Bill said. “It seems to occur when folks are headed to Second Street to pick of folks when the ferry comes in.

“Later that day,” he said, “heading south in the center lane on Warren at 11th, the car in front of me turned right onto 11th.  As you know, that once was legal (and some) folks seem to have not forgotten. The car in the turn lane started to change lanes and ended up swerving up the hill.

“Couldn’t the city put directional arrows on the pavement at these particular intersections to clarify the traffic pattern for distracted or forgetful drivers?

The out basket: It looks to me that the Pacific and Burwell situation is worsened by a sign directing drivers to Second Street for ferry passenger loading and unloading. It hangs directly in front of the northbound, oncoming lane, giving the impression that that’s where a driver going to Second Street should be.

Moving the sign to the right with an angled arrow on it could help

And a straight ahead arrow on the through lane pavement of Warren at 11th would also be a cue that turning right from the inside lane no longer is allowed. So would a straight ahead arrow on the red and green signal lenses, but that would cost more.

Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says they have entered Bill’s observations for consideration, and added, “Please let your readers know we appreciate their input and will review the situation and will get back to them.  We rely on citizens to let us know of issues and the best way of letting us know about them is through our first response team.”  Email to PW_Utilities_CustomerResponse <bremerton1@ci.bremerton.wa.us or phone 360.473.5920 to reach them, he said.

Missing right turn opportunities at 11th and Warren

The in basket: Internet user jdubbya38 asked on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com if I’d addressed the reason the city of Bremerton eliminated the second of the two lanes from which a driver was permitted to make a right turn from southbound Warren Avenue to westbound 11th Street.

Then Lee and Lorna Crawford and Lorna’s sister, Linda Verbon, all told me their car tires had hit something on the curb as they made that right turn from the outside lane since the city revised the intersection. They initially hadn’t noticed the arc of RPMs (raised pavement markers or “turtles”) there that encourages drivers to swing out wide, and after seeing them, they said almost everyone making the turn cuts inside them.

While I was at it, I asked the reason for eliminating the dedicated right turn lane from westbound 11th to northbound Warren at the same intersection.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says of the turtles in the right turn, “We actually have a similar marking out on SR 304 eastbound right by First Street. We initially had complaints about motorists hitting the curb there, so used RPMs to highlight/encourage them bumping out a bit from the curb.

“At 11th and Warren, we needed to contour the concrete panel right against the curb for storm drainage.  The contour is much more evident in a smaller vehicle than a truck, especially right at the curb.  It is not very noticeable a few feet out, so we used RPM’s again to highlight/encourage swinging the corner a little wider.

“The reason for the double-right turn lane southbound from Warren to 11th (in the first place) was the short length of the turn lane that was here previously.  With the new turn lane being over twice the length, we did not need the second lane anymore as the new right turn lane has the capacity needed.”

As for the eliminated right turn lane from westbound 11th to Warren, “We found that larger vehicles, particularly transit and school buses, were having problems making the corner without either driving over the new ADA ramps and sidewalk or swinging wide across multiple lanes.

“It was decided to eliminate the right-turn lane and move the lane further from the curb to give the larger vehicles additional space to make the movement.”



11th and Warren signals and missing turn lane draw comments

The in basket: Two commenters on a past Road Warrior column, first names Kari and Robin, have made observations about changes at the 11th Street and Warren Avenue intersection, which has just undergone  a substantial renovation.

Keri wonders about what he thinks are longer waits for the signals to change to green and Robin noticed something I hadn’t, that the dedicated right-turn-only lane from westbound 11th to northbound Warren no longer exists

“I commute through this intersection daily during the week, eastbound,” Kari said. “It seems that the lights for north-south traffic stay green, even when there’s no traffic. Just last Monday, at about 6 a.m., I timed the lights as staying green for 30 seconds without a single car going through the intersection, either north- or southbound. It used to be that the lights would change much quicker when no traffic was detected.
“I’ve learned that if I don’t catch the left turn onto northbound Warren,” he said, ” but the light is still green to go straight, it is much faster for me to go through the light and turn on Park Avenue (even if I have to wait for the turn signal there, as the lights cycle faster) and then back to Warren at 17th, than it is to wait for the lights to cycle back to a green left turn.”

“Aren’t there traffic detectors on the light poles now? ” he asked.

Robin said he asked Chal Martin, city public works director, about removal of that turn lane, and “he told me it was to better line up the lanes.

“I went on the record as being unhappy about losing the right turn lane and mentioned that the lanes lined up fine for my last 50 years in Bremerton,” Robin said.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city of Bremerton street engineers had told me a couple of months ago that most of the movements at that intersection would operate on timer during its paving, which required destroying most of the in-pavement wire detectors, called “loops.” Keri’s complaint sounded to me like a residue of that.

But no, Gunnar says,  “The signal there was never put on a time setting, we went directly from using the in-ground loops to the radar detection.

“There have been two changes here with the signal coordination package that we are currently working to adjust,” Gunnar said, “timing and coordination with the new signal on Warren at 13th Street and tying in coordination with the signals at Burwell and Sixth Street to the rest of the corridor.

“Our eventual goal will be to have the signals from Burwell all the way up to Riddell Road (synchronized),” he said. “We do have adjustments to make and that will be continuing for the next several weeks, as the (electronics) shop schedules this work in with regular maintenance, emergency call-outs, etc.”

And yes, the new radar traffic detectors are mounted on the poles at the 11th and Warren intersection.

As for the missing right turn lane, he said, it was deleted “to provide a five-foot shoulder area. This will make it easier for buses and trucks to turn northbound onto Warren, along with helping line the lanes up a little better through the intersection.

“If you get a chance to go out and take a look, you will see quite a few tire marks going across the new ADA ramps (for the disabled) and sidewalk at this corner.  It is a fairly tight corner and a tough one to make for larger vehicles with the lane adjacent to the sidewalk.”

Gunnar also noted that the most recent traffic counts done for 11th Street’s three westbound lanes, while dated, showed that of the 5,700 vehicles counted, only 1,800 turned right.

The red light enforcement camera watching westbound traffic is still there and functioning as before, he said.