Tag Archives: 16

Most local freeway exits still unnumbered

The in basket: Sally Murphy asks, “Why the inconsistency in numbering the exits off Highway 16?  As one comes across the Narrows, there is an exit sign, number 7, then after three Gig Harbor exits, with no numbered exits, one comes upon Exit 20, Burley-Olalla.  Nothing in between and nothing afterward.
“My nephew was visiting from Texas and I told him to take Exit 20. He called and said he has passed Exit 7 and then saw no other numbered exits and thought he had made a wrong turn. Why the lack of consistency?”
The out basket: Actually, there is something afterward, but not until you leave Highway 16 for Highway 3 and get to Silverdale, where Bill Vale noticed the same inconsistency in 2009.

Only the exits at the Highway 3-303 intersection were numbered on those freeways, he noted.

Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region public affairs staff for state highways, says the explanation given then by region Traffic Engineer Steve Bennett applies this time too.

““For years, maybe decades,” Steve said then, “we numbered only Interstate route exits.  Several years ago, we decided that policy didn’t make sense and began, as new construction came to a corridor, to add exit numbers to all multi-lane divided freeways.”

“The Highway 3-303 interchange is the most recent one substantially modified here,” he said. “I would assume the Burley-Olalla Road interchange will have its exits numbered, corresponding with the nearest milepost marker, when it opens later this year.”

Which is what happened. No other interchanges in our area have been modified in the meantime, so still have no exit numbers.

Claudia elaborated this week to say exits, “are numbered according to the milepost location (within our state’s boundaries) at which the exit is located.  (Highway 16’s)Exit 7 is located seven miles from where the highway begins (in this case, I-5), and Exit 20 at Burley Olalla is located 20 miles from that same beginning point.

“As such, exit numbers are a great reference point for drivers. Let’s say you’re headed northbound from Oregon to Washington, and you know you need to take Exit 165. If you understand the exit numbering system, you know that I-5 at the Oregon border is milepost 0.  Exit #165 would be 165 miles north of that beginning point.

“On north/south highways, the mileposts increase in the northbound direction, and on east/west highways, the mileposts increase in the eastern direction.

“There are two notable exceptions to this rule,” she said, ” both in our neck of the woods: 1) US 101, which is unusual because it’s a loop road where milepost numbers increase north up the coast and then continue to increase even when the highway is headed back south to Olympia; and 2) SR 16, where mileposts increase east to west (the opposite of our conventional numbering system). Not sure why.”

Earthwork at Nalley Valley raises reader’s curiosity

The in basket: Bruce Fields of Bremerton e-mailed to say, “I drive by the I-5/Highway 16/38th Street project in Tacoma each day. A few weeks ago they built up the north landing for the new bridge section, put big blocks on top and marked it with survey stakes.

“A few days later they lowered the staked spot 30-plus feet and moved it southwest by about the same.

“Was this for compaction of the bank for the piling bore holes or did they make a mistake and had to relocate the ‘spot?'”he asked.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says “What the driver is seeing is a ‘pre-load’ of weight to purposefully compact the ground in that area.

“The pre-load material has been on-site for about two weeks, and twice daily surveyors have checked for settlement. Once the area settles to our geotechnical engineers’ satisfaction, the material will be removed,” she said.


New median cable barrier adds a strand

The in basket: I was surprised to read in Monday’s Sun that  cable barrier projects would be beginning this week on Highway 16 from Purdy to Sedgwick Road.

I was surprised because I’d seen cable barrier being replaced at the Burnham Drive interchange in Gig Harbor on Feb. 11. It seemed like the work had started much earlier.

The new metal uprights at Burnham Drive looked taller to me. and the cables farther from the ground

The motorcycle community is no fan of the cable barriers. Some call them cheese cutters, more from anticipation of what it would be like to slide into one than from actual experience with such a mishap, I think.

Not expecting to be right, I asked if the new barrier would allow a motorcyclist to slide under the bottom cable.

The out basket: And I wasn’t right. It’s got nothing to do with motorcycles specifically.

And it’s a separate project from the one described in Monday’s paper. Though Peterson Brothers of Sumner has both jobs, Dennis Engel’s project office in Tumwater is supervising the work just starting.

Andy Larson with the state’s Port Orchard Project Office supervised the Burnham Drive job that extends up the hill to the Highway 302 exit.

“The safety improvement project replaces and extends the current three-strand cable barrier with a high-tension four-strand system,” he said. “The additional strand is probably what made the barrier seem higher than the existing one.

“Once the four-strand cable barrier (was) in, the three-strand cable rail (was) removed,” Andy said. “In this project we have also installed new guardrail along the outside of SR 16.”

Dennis Engel explained the genesis of the work, called the Olympic Region Redirection Landform Mitigation project.

“Over the years, we have built up berms under the bridges, and the landforms aren’t as effective as they could be. So we add cable barrier and guardrails to protect people.”

Though a lot of three-strand cable barrier was replaced at Burnham Drive, Dennis said not much would be at the three interchanges his office is supervising.

The Purdy part of the project is at the northern interchange, on the on-ramp from Purdy to go north toward Port Orchard.

I wondered if perhaps the three-strand barrier had been discredited by accident figures, but couldn’t get a clear idea on that.

The Federal Highway Administration does says on an online site that “Research by the National Crash Analysis Center found that adding a fourth cable to the generic three-cable design increases the likelihood that the cable barrier will catch a broader spectrum of vehicles.

“Tensioning the cables after installation improves the performance of the system by reducing deflection and increasing the potential to capture the impacting vehicle,” it said.



Gorst has only traffic camera between Purdy and Poulsbo

The in basket: Glenn Shock of Lakeland Village in Allyn asks in an e-mail, “Are there any (state) road cameras in Kitsap County? We live at the highest point in Lakeland Village and get more snow, more often than most other areas.

“We have commitments in Bremerton and Silverdale and always wonder what the road conditions are between here and there.

“Are there cameras on highways 16 and 3 in Kitsap County?”

The out basket: Just one that will be of help checking on the route to Bremerton and Silverdale. It’s in Gorst at Sam Christopherson Road and Highway 3. It was installed during replacement of the east half of the Hood Canal Bridge when traffic was detoured through Gorst up the west side of Hood Canal.

Several others are on Highway 16 from Purdy south, installed during construction of the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge in connection with ramp metering stop lights and on Highway 3 north of Poulsbo, installed to help drivers anticipate closures of the Hood Canal Bridge to vehicle traffic.

Kelly Stowe of the state Department f Transportation says those from Purdy south are viewable at www.wsdot.com/traffic/tacoma/default.aspx. Those from Poulsbo north and the one in Gorst can be seen at www.wsdot.com/traffic/hoodcanal/default.aspx?cam=9191. It has one  between Brinnon and Quilcene on the west side of the canal, too.


Right turn lane on Sedgwick at 16 still a no-go

The in basket: Bill Slach says, “On westbound Sedgwick (Road) at the light where you turn right onto Highway 16, there is a lot of room on the right side and folks repeatedly make illegal right turns by crossing the fog line. Isn’t there enough room there for a turn lane?

“The shoulder areas vary widely in width,” he said. “The south side could be made narrower as well as the north side to give enough room to make a turn lane,” he proposed.

“This wouldn’t be a costly fix – some paint ought to do it.

The middle area of the road created by the center merge lane could be narrowed by a foot or so and give enough room to create a turn lane,” he said. “As it is, folks now cross the line on the right by only a little when cars stopped at the light give them room.

“Foot traffic and pedestrians?” he asked, recalling the state’s reason a right turn lane couldn’t just be carved out of the shoulder. “Where are they? The ones I see are on the south side of the highway since they are going to the gas station or McDonalds.

The out basket: Though there are places all over the county where drivers routinely commit the violation of crossing the edge line in their right turns, this is the only place I’ve been asked about it. In 2007, a suggestion was made that the edge line be erased for a distance to make those right turns legal. The answer then was no, that would jeopardize bicyclists and pedestrians.

The answer is still no, says Steve Bennett, the traffic operations engineer for this region. “We continue to believe that it is necessary to widen Highway 160 (Sedgwick) in order to safely provide the space for the right-turn lane.

“Without widening we would have to remove the acceleration pocket used by traffic turning onto the highway from Bravo Terrace. We feel that collisions may increase at the intersection of Bravo Terrace without this refuge/acceleration pocket.”

Well, that’s a sure bet. Getting onto westbound Sedgwick from Bravo Terrace, which serves a motel, McDonalds, Shari’s, Dairy Queen and others, is scary enough without losing the refuge lane a left turner can use.

Left turn on red law leads to another undue citation

The in basket: Well, it happened again. Another Road Warrior reader got pulled over and ticketed at the Sedgwick Road interchange on Highway 16 for going through a red arrow light in a left turn lane.

Freeway on-ramps are among the few places in our county where a little-known state law makes such a turn legal. The law on red lights says a left turn can be made against a red light, either an arrow or a solid ball, IF turning onto a one-way street, IF the driver comes to a complete stop first, IF the driver yields to any traffic with a green light. and IF no signs forbid it.

Caly Madden was the victim this time, on April 19, and the citing officer was a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy. Last year, a Port Orchard police officer cited a driver for the same thing at the very same place. I helped him get that one dismissed.

The out basket: I contacted Undersheriff Dennis Bonneville, who looked into it and agreed his deputy had goofed. He said he contacted the deputy, who said, essentially, “My mistake.” They’ve asked the county prosecutor’s office to dismiss the ticket, since it’s out of KCSO’s hands once it’s sent to court.

For the rest of us, it may not be worth the hassle to take advantage of that law, especially if we know there is an officer watching us. Caly wound up sitting on the shoulder for quite a while after he was stopped and told the deputy that the law made his turn legal. He didn’t know if the deputy checked by radio with someone else who also didn’t know the law. In any case, the deputy wrote the ticket.

The law in question is Section 3 of RCW 46.61.050.

I usually can’t take advantage of it when I come to one of the few places in the county where it applies because the lead driver stopped at the light rarely knows the law, or dares use it. Westbound Burwell Street at Pacific Avenue in Bremerton is one such, as are the freeway on-ramps with signals controlling movement.

Dennis mentioned something in passing that I hadn’t thought of. He said the deputy who stopped Caly saw another driver at the scene give him a puzzled look or gesture as if to say, “Well??! Are you going to let him get away with that?” He didn’t, as it turned out, but he should have..

It certainly can put an officer in an awkward spot when he must ignore some legal driver action widely believed to be against the law even though it’s not..

Dennis also said the county public works traffic division will be discussing with law enforcement whether they should put up “No Left Turn on Red” signs at the relevant intersections.

He also noted that it would be a tricky question at places like Central Valley Road’s northbound on-ramp to Highway 303. There, the corresponding off-ramp curves up and ends at the same spot, creating a very short two-way street, Of course, there’s no traffic signal there, but some day there might be.

If you want to try it, it would be smart to have a copy of the law with you, or the passage in the state driver’s guide that also says it’s a legal maneuver.

What can you get away with beyond a ‘Road Closed’ sign?

The in basket: Gary Felt, who lives just outside the city of Port Orchard on Highway 166, and says it “is often closed due to mud slides, or sometimes just the fear of a slide,” wants to know what he is allowed to do when that happens.

“What are the rights of a person who lives on, owns property on, or owns a business on a road when it is ‘closed,'” Gary asks. “Does it make a difference if the sign says ‘Local Traffic Only’ or ‘Detour’ as opposed to just ‘Road Closed?’

“If I live/own property and the only access is via this road may I drive around the barriers, walk around the barriers, or must I abandon my property? What if I have left my property and approach the barricade from the ‘closed’ side, am I breaking a law?”

Gary described a situation in which an officer followed him past the barricades during a “Local Traffic Only” period, nearly to the other end of the closure, where his driveway was. Just as he reached the driveway and signaled a turn, the officer turned on his emergency light bar, then turned it off immediately and went back to town.

The out basket: I posed the questions to Chief Al Townsend of Port Orchard police, whose officers have jurisdiction over most of Highway 166, though not right at Gary’s’s driveway.

He said a lot is left to the discretion of the officer. “Local Traffic Only” offers more latitude than “Road Closed,” since the latter may anticipate a problem, like a gas leak exploding or an unstable hillside giving way, rather than sealing off one that already has occurred.

And it depends whether the person is caught inside the outer barriers, designed to detour traffic from going where it would just have to turn around and come back, and the inner barriers designed to keep drivers from actually running into the reason for the closure.

You’d be more likely to get a ticket if you are inside the inner barriers.

But even then, the owner of a home or business in the closed area normally can arrange to get there by calling the road department or police department to get permission in advance, Al said. At worst, the caller would learn that the emergency is dire enough that he really shouldn’t be near it.

The city of Port Orchard has an ordinance making it illegal to violate an emergency road closure, which is a misdemeanor that requires an appearance in court. The officer might choose between it and citing for failure to comply with a regulatory sign, a traffic infraction.

Al said if stopped, a person who can show that he was trying to reach a particular home or business within the closure normally would be allowed to proceed. If nothing else, it would be a “clear mitigating factor” to use in challenging the citation in court, he said.

An officer is free to follow a car outside the city limits and cite the driver if he passed through the closure and wasn’t “local traffic” going to somewhere within it, he said.

“A lot of times, when we have had slides,” he said, “people think they can go down there and meander through the mess and get by, or there may be DOT workers in the midst and now they are dodging workers and equipment to try to get through.

Bicycles must comply the same as the driver of a car. Pedestrians can continue if there is a sidewalk and it isn’t closed, Al said. If there is no sidewalk, such as along most of Highway 166 west of Port Orchard, the closer one got to being in the way of road crews or getting hurt, the more likely that he could be cited, Al said.

Finally, he said, a driver who chances going into the closed stretch and his car is damaged might find his insurance company reluctant to cover what it would have on a road that isn’t closed.