Tag Archives: 166

Gorst culvert work explained

The in basket: The impending work to replace the culverts that run beneath highways 16 and 166 in Gorst to allow Anderson Creek to flow better seems likely to be a traffic headache perhaps less than what has been happening in Seattle and Snohomish County, but significant.

I wondered exactly where the creek passes beneath the highways, knowing that the state had to unplug a culvert a few years back just on the Port Orchard side of the turnaround for those wanting to go back to Gorst. And, of course, I wondered how the state hopes to get that many cars through a work zone that will, of necessity, involve digging up the pavement.

The out basket: My recollection of the culvert east of the turnaround just clouded the issue, as the creek is west of there, on the other side of the turnaround. I notice there are even signs on the shoulder saying “Anderson Creek.”

Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “In this project, crews will replace culverts that run under SR 16, SR 166 and Anderson Hill Road near Gorst. The existing culverts, which are each about 5 feet in diameter, will be replaced with three 3-sided 18-foot-wide concrete box culverts.


“The work will take place between June and October, and the contractor is proposing to do the work in three stages.  Each stage will have a concurrent detour route.


“We expect the contractor to first tackle the culvert that runs under SR 166,” she said. “That work will require a several-week total closure of SR 166. We will detour traffic onto Tremont Street and Port Orchard Boulevard.  Local traffic will still be able to use SR 166, but only to the physical closure point.” That’s the same detour used whenever a slide closed 166 in the past.


“We think the next culvert will be one that runs under westbound SR 16,” she said. “During that work, we’ll detour westbound SR 16 traffic into the highway median with a reduced speed limit (of 35 mph) and we’ll keep the westbound direction of the SR 166 detour in place.


“We expect the last culvert to be replaced is the one that runs under eastbound SR 16 and Anderson Hill Road.  That culvert will require eastbound SR 16 to use the highway median, again at a reduced speed limit (of 35 mph) and a closure of Anderson Hill Road.


“Specific dates for all this work and the roadway closures will be forthcoming as the contractor gets mobilized on site” she said “Initial detour maps and other information about the project can be found on our project web site:  http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr16/andersoncreekfishbarriers/

That Web site says work will begin in mid-July and says, “All in-stream work will occur in late summer through Oct. 15 to meet environmental requirements and accommodate fish windows.

“In 2013, a federal court injunction required the state to significantly increase the state’s efforts in removing state-owned culverts that block habitat for salmon and steelhead,” the site says.

It’s a $9.5 million project.

“Note the order of work and schedule are still preliminary and subject to change,” Claudia said.


Highway 166 guardrail slumping

The in basket: I’ve been driving past a number of traffic cones deployed along the waterside guardrail on Highway 166 between Port Orchard and Gorst for a couple of months now. There once were four on the pavement and two atop the guardrail, but I think one of our windstorms blew away all but two of those on the pavement.

It’s easy to see why they are there. A section of guardrail is slumping away. A little farther toward Gorst, a crack has developed in the pavement.

That stretch is well known to most locals for the series of slides that until recently came down from above regularly and blocked the highway until they could be removed.

Less well known is the time, perhaps 25 years ago or longer, when the entire roadway dropped 10 feet or so, closing it for weeks. As crews removed what fell, they found layer after layer of asphalt that had been used to address lesser slumps over the years. All that extra weight was believed to have contributed to the highway’s failure.

The state used light weight material, wood chips, if I recall correctly, for the fill that repaired the failure.

I wondered if today’s problems are just a failed guardrail of if something worse is suspected.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says “Our materials staff looked at the site in question (milepost 1.2). They will add the area to our statewide Unstable Slope List, which will put it in the line-up for a more robust permanent fix as funds become available (which, to be candid, could take years).

“In the meantime, our maintenance crews will maintain the road with guardrail repairs and asphalt patches.”

She included mention of the Web site describing the state’s Unstable Slope Management Program. The address is about a mile long, so I went to http://www.wsdot.wa.gov and asked for Unstable Slopes Program, which got me there.

I thought it odd the site wasn’t already on the unstable slopes list, due to all the past slides from above, but Claudia says it’s just now being added.


All you’d want to know about ‘wattles’

The in basket: H.W. Mock writes, “Earlier this year, work was done alone Highway 166 to remove brush and grass/weeds along the drainage ditch at the bottom of the slope where the water runoff from the hill is caught before going onto the roadway.

“When that work was done, numerous ‘tubes,’ which look like rolled up grass and weeds were placed across and into the drainage ditch and staked down with wooden stakes.  Dozens of these tubes are located in the drainage ditch from Kitsap Marina  to Port Orchard Boulevard.

“Since they were first put in, I have wondered what they really are made of and what their intended function is,” he said. “I have never seen this type of thing before.  Can you tell me anything about them?”

The out basket: Port Orchard Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said succinctly in October when I asked about the overall project that the tubes are called ‘wattles’ and are “temporary erosion/sedimentation control devices.” I misspelled them ‘waddles’ at the time.

“The city had the wattles placed as part the erosion/sedimentation control plan during the ditch cleaning activities,” Mark said in elaborating to answer Mr. Mock’s question. “Subsequent to that work, we have decided to leave them in place….and monitor their effectiveness in isolating sediment build-up for ease of future sediment removal.

“As long as the wattles do not create an unintended consequence, we will probably let then remain.”

Mark referred me to a Washington State Department of

Transportation Web site for information about what they are made of. Typical in complexity in such regulations, it says, “Wattles shall consist of cylinders of biodegradable plant material such as weed-free straw, coir, compost, wood chips, excelsior, or wood fiber or shavings encased within biodegradable netting.

“Wattles shall be a minimum of 5 inches in diameter. Netting material shall be clean, evenly woven, and free of encrusted concrete or other contaminating materials such as preservatives. Netting material shall be free from cuts, tears, or weak places and shall have a minimum lifespan of 6 months and a maximum lifespan of not more than 24 months.

“Wood stakes for wattles shall be made from untreated Douglas fir, hemlock, or pine species,” it said.  Wood stakes shall be 2 by 2-inch nominal dimension and 36 inches in length.”

Ditch work on Highway 166 is proactive

The in basket: A loader has been scooping big shovels of mud into Peninsula Top Soil dump trucks from the south shoulder of Highway 166 east of Port Orchard the last couple of weeks, stopping traffic and allowing alternating flows of traffic through one remaining open lane.

It was a short distance west of where I’d seen state maintenance equipment doing similar work earlier this year, where water chronically flowed onto the pavement. But I’d never seen that problem where they are working now.

Since the only official vehicle I saw at the scene was a city of Port Orchard public works truck, I asked Public Works Director Mark Dorsey what prompted the work.

The out basket: Mark told me, “The state intervened last winter to do some limited ditch work to keep water off their pavement. We (now) are trying to be proactive and keep the ditch system open and functioning.

“The objective is to reestablish the flow of runoff within the ditches, rather than have standing water on the roadway,” he said. It’s hard to say how much longer the work and traffic disruption will go on. They worked through Thursday’s rain,  but the loader is still on the roadside and they have a ways to go yet.

Flexible log-like structures left lying crosswise in the cleaned ditch are temporary erosion/sedimentation control devices employed for the activity,” he said when I asked. He said they are called “waddles.”

The state and city share responsibility for the highway, he said.

I know that spot better than I would like. Back in the late 1960s or early ’70s, I was hurrying in light snowfall to Bremerton in my retired state patrol car acquired at auction. I tried to pass a cautious driver ahead of me just west of Ross Point and lost traction. After a 180-degree spin, I slammed backward into the ditch, then about six feet deep. The state filled it in later for safety reasons.

I was sitting on my seat belt, which left a pretty good bruise on my backside. Had I had the misfortune to have done a 360 and gone in forward, I’d probably look much different than I do now. Heaven knows how I would have fared had I gone over the water side of the highway.

That’s probably when I got serious about wearing my seat belt.

Closures of Highway 166 this week not actually for work on 166

The in basket: A sign appeared Wednesday on the shoulder of Highway 166 where it begins in Gorst, saying the highway would be closed Monday through Friday nights this week. It didn’t say why.

James Miller, who lives on the highway, says, “I would like to know what kind of restrictions will be placed on us, in relation to our coming and going.”

I hadn’t heard of any work that would require closing Highway 166, so I asked what it’s all about.

The out basket: It’s kind of confusing because, while the advisory sign is on the shoulder of Highway 166, probably for want of a better place to put it, no work will be done on 166, says Andy Larson of the state’s project office here.

But the inside lane of Highway 16 coming out of Gorst, which is the only way onto eastbound 166, will have the existing pavement ground off and replaced by new asphalt, and be closed for that work.

It probably won’t require closures every night, said Andy, but they’ve retained the flexibility to close that lane as needed during those nights. The same work will be going on in the other two lanes there during those nights. The sign on the roadside says the closures extent to Friday night, but the news release about the work says only through Thursday night, so maybe that’s more flexibilily.

It’s all included in the well-publicized repaving work in lanes of highways 16 and 3 and many of its ramps. The state considers that access from 16 to 166 to be a “ramp,” though I doubt that very many drivers do.


Wide yellow stripe prohibits left turns

The in  basket: The state repainted its highway striping in the Port Orchard area late in May, and I thought they had done something different with the center line on Highway 166 in front of the South Sound Cinemas.

They painted a broad yellow stripe, which prohibits left turns across it, so no one headed uphill can turn left into the theater legally.

There used to be a No Left Turn sign on the shoulder there, but it went away some time in the past.

A month or so ago, I was a few cars behind a car that stopped in the inside lane, signaling to make that illegal left turn and waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. It’s a dangerous thing to do, as drivers in that lane are already looking back over their shoulder for outside lane traffic, knowing they’ll have to merge right very soon as the left lane ends. It’s a set-up for rear-end crashes.

Among that oncoming traffic was a Port Orchard police car, I noted after merging right and continuing uphill.

“This should be interesting,” I thought, and turned around to go downhill as soon as I could to see what the officer did. Alas, it took too long, and there was no sign of the turner or the police car when I got back to the scene.

It all reminded me that a similar wide yellow stripe had been added in front of what then was Silverdale Baptist Church on Highway 303 (aka Waaga Way) a couple of years ago. I kept forgetting to call the church (it’s been renamed Grace Point Church) and ask if it was their idea or the state’s.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker, of the Olympic Region public affairs staff, says the wide stripe in front of the theater has been there since 2008. “It was placed there to prevent left turning accidents,” she said.

Even though I drive past there at least twice a day, it took the new coat of paint for my brain to register it, I guess.

Wendy Fox of Grace Point Church tells me the state required the broad stripe in front of the church when Silverdale Baptist  asked for a second access in and out. It led to the current alignment of an exit-only north of the entrance to the church. The stripe forbids left turns into the exit.

Incidentally, those who believe that left turns are forbidden across double yellow lines of normal width are in error. Without the extra width of the stripes, such as in  front of the theater and church, cross-hatching between the lines on the pavement, a raised barrier or a sign forbidding them, left turns are legal. It’s a good thing, too. Otherwise thousands of people wouldn’t be able to turn into their driveways

SR166 shoulder cracks worry driver

The in basket: Sarah Harrison writes, “I am concerned about Highway 166 heading out of Port Orchard. I have noticed several slumps in the road for more than a month, and it seems to stretch for quite a ways this time.

“It started with dips at the edge, and now the paved road is cracking. Most of this currently lies outside of the fog line, but has been steadily progressing towards the road. I know that this has been a regular problem, and the road has been repaired several times.

“Are there any future plans for a permanent solution? Adding some kind of heavy duty seawall or something else to reduce the erosion seems like a reasonable idea, instead of repeated patching and repaving.

“I would not want to wait for tragedy before deciding it is time for a permanent solution,” she said.

I hadn’t noticed what Sarah had, but found at least three fractures that had slumped in the shoulder pavement along the straightaway just west of Ross Point when I went to look. Then there’s the slump in the westbound roadway on the east side of Ross Point, which was built up with additional asphalt last year. I can’t tell if it’s subsided any further.

Since the area west of Ross Point dropped away toward the water and was closed for months a couple of decades ago, I asked if there any special monitoring of this highway for conditions that could lead to slides from under the highway.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the state’s Olympic Region of state highways says, “We are aware of several areas along SR 166 that tend to settle.  Our maintenance crews keep a close eye on those areas and repair pavement sections as needed.

“WSDOT keeps a statewide database on slide/settlement areas, and fund long-term fixes to those areas on a priority basis. As you may imagine, the need for permanent repairs outweighs the funding for permanent repairs.

“The settlement areas along SR 166 do not rate high enough at this point to fund a permanent fix. Based on your reader’s observations, maintenance crews will go out to the area again to see if more pavement patches are needed.”



Ross Point parking limit puzzles Road Warrior

The in basket: I noticed a couple of months ago that the Ross Point area on Highway 166 had been posted for four-hour parking. That’s where smelt fishermen park their cars while they fish in Sinclair Inlet.

There can be dozen of cars lining the highway when the fish are running, but it seemed odd that anyone would need to park longer than four hours in pursuit of smelt, or for any other reason.  I asked what prompted the time limit.

The out basket: Port Orchard Police Chief Geoffrey Marti says, “Approximately two years ago we received many complaints regarding a homeless encampment that had developed at Ross Point. In investigating, we discovered a large campsite with several make-shift structures. The grounds had also become unsanitary, as you can imagine. A cleanup was organized, it took two days and several dumpsters.

“In order to prevent a reoccurrence and monitor this issue, four-hour parking limits allowed for lawful use of this area but helped curtail the developments of homeless camps,” he said.

If I’m wrong about what species the fisherman are after, I’m sure I’ll hear about it from you readers.

Leaking through Highway 166 pavement has worsened

The in basket: Greg Martin e-mailed to ask “Have you addressed the water over the roadway on Highway 166 before? There are three locations just west of Ross Point. The wet sections seem to be getting bigger and could present a real problem (especially for motorcycles) in freezing conditions, as they are in or near a bend in the roadway.

The out basket: It was just about a year ago I last addressed this and the seeping has gotten dramatically worse since. The original two spots have been joined by two larger ones. As was the case a year ago, some originate in the pavement itself, rather than running out of the ditch.

Duke Stryker, head of the state’s maintenance crews here, said they will be at that site next week and deepen the ditch to see it reduces the water pressure and correct the leaking.

If it doesn’t they’ll have to dig up the pavement to seek an answer to what is causing it, he said.

As I mentioned a year ago, a businessman nearby says the pressure from moisture in the hillside that looms over the leaking area is such that some wells in that area don’t even need pumps to feed the buildings.


Misleading center strip replaced on Highway 166

The in basket: In the early 1970s, when I was a new reporter for The Sun, I almost made headlines while assigned to accompany the Kitsap County commissioners on a fact-finding mission to Northern California to look at recreational developments done by Boise Cascade, which wanted to create one on Hood Canal.

One dark night after dinner, I was driving our rental car with the commissioners – Bill Mahan, Gene Lobe and Frank Randall – as passengers on a curving mountain road near Grass Valley.

With a slow driver ahead of me, I watched the center striping for a sign that I had a chance to pass. I came to a dashed line on my side, pulled out to pass and found an oncoming car coming around a bend.

I just barely made it back into my lane ahead of the car I was passing, or I might have been responsible for the deaths of the commissioners and myself.

That scare came to mind recently when I happened to notice the striping on Highway 166 coming out of Port Orchard heading toward Gorst. I rarely pay attention to the striping on local roads I drive all the time, not needing the information they provide.

I noticed that there was a dashed stripe on my side as I drove west toward Gorst, indicating it was safe to pass there if there was no oncoming traffic, even though it was in a curve that ended with a rise beyond which a driver could not see. I seemed very much like the stripe that had misled me in California all those years ago. I had no idea how long it had been like that.

I asked State Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Bennett if it wasn’t an accident waiting to happen.

The out basket: Yes, Steve said, and you won’t find that stripe there today.

“After looking at that section, we agreed that it should have been striped as no-pass,” he said on Dec. 11. “Last week or so, we went out and striped it. We believe it had been incorrectly striped as part of the last paving project on the highway.”

That was a couple of years ago. It’s funny it went unnoticed so long.