Tag Archives: 303

Status to remain quo on SR303 near Fred Meyer

The in basket: Sharrell  Lee says, “I want to know if there are any plans to add extra lanes in the approximately three miles between Arbys and Fairgrounds on Highway 303.

“Why?  Have you driven it lately?  The worst area is where the Fred Meyer turn and Camelot turn are situated.  Approximately 3 p.m. any weekday, it is insane with traffic backing up from Lowes to Riddell in either direction.

“Also, the word is that an apartment complex across from Golden Star (restaurant)will soon be built. This will further add to the congestion, and I therefore don’t see how some traffic revision can be avoided.  I’m interested in what the long range highway plans for this area are.”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says, “No improvements are currently planned beyond routine highway paving in the area. A study completed in 2002 identified the potential of adding HOV lanes at 11th Street in Bremerton and extending them to the north to Fairgrounds Road, but no funding has been secured.”


What is Highway 303 work accomplishing?

The in basket: Ray Smith writes, “For the last month or so there has been construction on sidewalks at the corners of many of the intersections of Highway 303 (in and near . It appears that the construction is to make for easy access for the handicapped.

“At a number of the sites it appears that there is really no change to the sidewalk, Are the changes that subtle or does the concrete need to be ripped up for access to wiring that controls the crosswalk signal or for some other reason.”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic region of state highways, says,

“To answer (these) questions, it helps to know that ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines for accessibility are strict. If an existing ramp does not meet standards, which address items such as the slopes of the ramps, locations of junction boxes and locations of pedestrian push buttons and displays, WSDOT must bring those ramps up to standard when we have a construction project that goes through those crosswalks.

“In this case, we have a paving project that will take place next year. To realize cost savings with economies of scale, we decided to bring all the ramps up to standard this year in a separate project prior to the paver. We also included a few ramps on SR 3 and SR 310 (Kitsap Way) that will be affected by a paver later this year.

“Here are two more advantages to doing the ramp work separately: 1) (It) simplifies the two upcoming paving projects, which we expect will mean more efficient paving at a lower cost; and 2) because the ramp work alone is a smaller construction project than a combined ramp/paving project would be, it provides a chance for smaller contracting firms to bid on the ramp project as a prime contractor,” she said.

The project  is online at  http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr3/bremertonadaimprove/ Click on the ‘when and where’ link in the status box, and you’ll see the progress to date, Claudia said.

A new view of SR303 off-ramp to Ridgetop Boulevard

The in basket: Lani Bogart  writes, “I am concerned about the traffic heading towards Bremerton on Highway 303/Waaga Way that takes the Ridgetop Exit. At the bottom of the exit they recently installed a traffic signal EXCEPT for the right turning traffic. They don’t even have a yield sign there and I see that traffic come whipping around that corner without even slowing down and immediately pulling over into the left lane, since that right lane turns into a right turn only.

“I witnessed a very close call by a company van pulling directly in front of the car in front of me, causing both of us to stand on our brakes to avoid a collision (We had the right of way with a green light through the intersection as we had come off the opposite direction and gone underneath the freeway).

“Why haven’t they put a yield sign there? Or better yet, a stop sign? It’s really dangerous. Sometimes when I’ve got the green light, going through the intersection and need to make that right turn into the hospital parking lot, I’m not able to get over because of that exiting traffic just barreling on through that turn into the right lane. They finally do pull over in that left lane, without checking many times, because they discover they have to turn right if they keep going. That exit really needs to be controlled, please!”

The out basket: All the drivers who have complained to the Road Warrior column about others who DO stop before turning right at the end of that off-ramp will find it interesting to hear from someone like Lani who finds that practice desirable.

The fact is there is a separate lane dedicated to those turning right to go west on Ridgetop Boulevard, so there is no need to either yield or stop there. Nor is there reason for signage requiring either.

Any driver using that dedicated lane who moves into the inside lane without  yielding and signaling, or anyone who moves into the dedicated lane from the inside lane without yielding or signaling has committed a traffic infraction and will be held responsible if a collision results. Lani is required to wait for drivers who come “barreling through that turn” to leave a space before moving right herself.

I often hear from drivers upset about others who stop at the end of that off-ramp and wait for traffic in the inside lane to pass by. Lani is the first to contact me about danger from those who don’t. I rarely approach that intersection heading west but don’t recall feeling imperiled by exiting traffic from the off-ramp when I do.

Others who agree with Lani that more control of those making that right turn is needed can comment on this column online, or contact the state at BakerC@wsdot.wa.gov.

2017 repaving on Highway 303 won’t include bridge

The in basket: A Feb. 2 story in this newspaper about hopes that the pedestrian and bicycle pathway on the Warren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton could be widened mentioned in passing that a repaving of the bridge in 2017 would be a good time to accomplish that if engineers can find a way to do it and a funding source can be identified by then.
I wondered if the bridge’s days as a patch-work quilt are about to end.
The driving surface has been a jumble of patches since an experimental product was used in the 1980s to repave it. I have been told by state bridge engineers that the surface, for all its unsightliness, has accomplished its main goal of protecting the steel structure beneath. And I can’t say the the ride is a rough as it looks like it would be.
An earlier news story said the work would be part of the repaving of much of Highway 303, known variously as Waaga Way and Wheaton Way, which includes the bridge. I asked what kind of surface would replace the current one.
The out basket: None, as it turns out. Initial plans to resurface the bridge as part of the work have changed, Neil Campbell of the state Department of Transportation told a Bremerton audience Thursday night. Instead, continued repairs and patching of its driving surface will be done while traffic control for the paving on either end of it is in place, said Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways.
“In the 2017 construction season,” she said, “we plan to pave SR 303 between NE William E. Sutton Road and SR 304 (Burwell Street) in Bremerton.
“The current plan is to exclude the Warren Avenue bridge deck from that paving project. That is not unusual, as bridge decks are usually excluded from paving projects because their surfaces are paved with different materials, and require different equipment and different expertise than roadway paving.
“The ‘experimental product’ used on the deck in the 1980s was a polyester concrete mix. At the time, it was a relatively new product but has been used many times since. It does require the correct application conditions and techniques to be effective, and on the Warren Avenue Bridge the concrete did not set up as we would have hoped.  The result has been patches to the bridge deck ever since.
“During the 2017 paver, we will take advantage of the traffic control to do more deck patching and surface repairs.
“In the meantime, the city is contemplating changing pedestrian access across the bridge deck. Although we own the bridge, the city has operational control of the bridge, and we are waiting to see what changes they choose to pursue, what funding sources can be secured, and if those plans would require any changes to our paving project.”

Reader finds SR303 repaving to be bumpy

The in basket: Nancy Bryant writes, “I have a question about the recent Highway 303 repaving.  When traveling on Highway 303, particularly going south near the Ridgetop exits, the road is now really bumpy.  The middle lane going south is the worse – my CRV just bumps up and down continually.  In the far left lane you can see where there are what look like rake marks weaving back and forth in the paving.

“Were these unevenly paved areas a big mistake or was it intentional?  If it was intentional, why?

The out basket: I drove it and wouldn’t call the surface bumpy. Wavy, maybe. I felt a little side to side sway in my 2013 Malibu, and I suppose 10 miles of it might make me motion sick. But it was hard to detect.

Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says, “We sent an inspector out to take a look at that section of road.  What he found was that this pavement section does have some unevenness, however it is not out of tolerance for pavement smoothness.

“The rake marks that are present are caused by the paving roller and will go away with time. We plan no corrective action at this time.”

Overhead traffic detectors spotted on Highway 303

IMGP2319The in basket: Sharell Lee asks, “What are the new objects on the poles above the traffic lights at the intersection of Highway 303 and Brownsville Highway? They look like cameras, but there are no square boxes like at the intersection of Sylvan and Wheaton. What are they?”

Steve Van Wyk saw them too and asked, “What’s the deal with all the cameras that have been installed on Waaga Way and in Silverdale ? These things are now on virtually every stop-light stanchion.”

The out basket: They are overhead traffic detectors, used instead of the time-honored in-pavement wires that serve that function at most intersections.

Kitsap County has been using them at many of its intersections in Silverdale and South Kitsap for a few years. The state began using them three years ago, says Claudia Bingham-Baker, its spokeswoman for this region, and installs them as part of other projects, rather than wherever they have the wires. The project in this case is the paving work going on along 303.

I don’t recall seeing them on any other state signals here, but Claudia says these are a long way from the being first for the state.

They are preferred over the in-pavement wires, commonly called “loops,” because they are much easier to repair when they malfunction. Changes in the pixel pattern as vehicles arrive at a red light tell the light when it should change.

A commenter (see comments) on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com read the above and asked if the overhead detectors will be kinder to motorcycle and bicycle riders, who often don’t have the metal mass to be detected by the in-pavement wires.

Claudia said, “Yes, we think they do detect bicycles and motorcycles better than the loops. That would be especially true with bicycles built with carbon-fiber frames, since the loops depend on metal to detect vehicles.  Having said that, as you pointed out, the video detectors work by sensing contrast changes, so something like a deer could theoretically trigger them whereas that would not be an issue with the loops.”

Silverdale Yield sign at 3-303 raises a question

The in basket: Donald Hein e-mailed to say, “Southbound, leaving the freeway at Silverdale, at the end of the off-ramp two lanes are left-turn to East Bremerton and one lane is right-turn to Silverdale.

“More-or-less opposite the left-turning lanes at the end of the off-ramp is a traffic signal.  And, at the end of the off-ramp is a Yield sign, which can only apply to right-turning traffic.

The question is:  Does the traffic signal on the opposite side control only the left-turning lanes?  In other words, are right-turning vehicles required to stop when the signal is red, or are they controlled only by the Yield sign, and thus can proceed cautiously without making a full stop?

“This situation occurs most obviously when traffic from Silverdale is making a left turn across the front of the off-ramp, on their way to the on-ramp for the freeway northbound.

“The point is, the traffic signal is ambiguously located, and/or maybe needs a text sign added which clarifies its applicability,” Don argues.

The out basket: The Yield sign controls the right turn, and the traffic signals control only the left turns. Even without the Yield sign, right turners would be able to make a legal right turn on red after stopping and yielding. The sign was added to make it clear that stopping isn’t necessary if there is no conflicting traffic heading toward Silverdale, reducing backups of right turners.

If accidents become enough of a problem there, I would expect adding a stop sign for right turners would be the first step.

State Trooper Russ Winger says, “We do get our share of rear-end collisions here. Invariably they are caused when the lead right-turning vehicle‎ starts into the turn and then stops when they see approaching traffic from the left. The following vehicle driver assumes the lead vehicle is continuing the turn as they look to the left for traffic and they fail, in that brief moment, to observe that the lead vehicle has stopped.

“There is usually traffic stopped in the two left-turn lanes that hinders vision for the right-turning vehicle until they get into the turn a bit. Not a great design there, in my opinion.

“Myself and other troopers have investigated more than a few rear-end collisions with similar sequence of events. In my experience the‎ rear vehicle is at fault in most instances‎,” Russ concluded.

I don’t see anything ambiguous about where the traffic signals are situated. And I can’t picture wording on signs next to the signal heads that wouldn’t cause more confusion than they’d eliminate.


An oldie and a doozy dealing with right turns

The in basket: A couple more inquiries about right turns have come in, one a golden oldie but the other a real head scratcher.
Shirley Mildes read the recent Road Warrior column about turning right on a red arrow, which is legal, and asked  if that’s also true of the second lane in at a double-right situation like at the end of 11th Street at Kitsap Way in Bremerton.
And Pat Ryan of Brownsville came up with a doozy that really required some thought.
She said Brownsville Highway, where it ends at Highway 303 (Waaga Way) has two lanes for turning left to go toward Bremerton, and room for two cars abreast to the right.
She asked if a driver legally could drive past a car sitting to the far right, and turn right into the center lane of 303, approximating the kind of move Shirley asked about. Or do the same thing simultaneously with the other vehicle.
The out basket:  As I’ve written before, a right on red is available to those in both right turn lanes if they come to a full stop and yield, and no signs prohibit it. The driver in the second lane also must turn into the second lane available, so as not to conflict with anyone turning from the outside lane.
As for Pat’s question, State Trooper Russ Winger was doubtful after viewing the intersection.
“Truthfully, I have not seen anyone make a right turn from the middle lane to the inside northbound lane,” he said. “I sat there for nearly 30 minutes while watching fairly heavy traffic move through the intersection and did not see one vehicle make that turn.
“It seems laid out in such a way that does not lend itself to making that turn. I think you could make a case that the turn is prohibited -and citable – by the signs and lights even though you could make the turn fairly.”
The question is complicated by the fact the edge line on Brownsville Highway ends well short of the intersection. If it didn’t it would better channelize the right turn and not leave room for two cars to make the turn at the same time without one of them crossing over the edge line, which is illegal.
The signals aren’t much help with this issue. They have both ball and left-pointing arrow indications.
But the signs mounted between the signal heads probably clarify it as a single right turn lane. One is an arrow pointing left and the other has arrows pointing both left and right. That’s two lanes to the left and one to the right.
It’s all kind of academic. It made for a good mental exercise, but I doubt that many drivers would even think about making such a turn, let alone actually do it.

Thick SR303 tree canopy finally getting attention

The in basket: Vern Beeson in October sounded an alarm I’d heard before about the difficulty a driver can have while southbound on Highway 303 (Waaga Way) in seeing the traffic signal at Brownsville Highway through the thick canopy of deciduous trees that hang out over the highway.

Reader Martha Mealey had said the same thing almost a year earlier, in September of 2013.

Though I hadn’t found the signal to be dangerously obscured myself, both times I referred the complaint to the state. My state highway contact said last fall they’d give it a look.

Thursday, while checking out an unrelated issue at the 303-Brownsville Highway intersection,  I noticed several state highway maintenance vehicles lined up on the southbound shoulder of 303, including a wood chipper. So I drove down there and asked if it had anything to do with the tree canopy.

The out basket: Yes, indeed, the workers told me. At least they were starting on it, before the trees leaf out for the spring and summer.

Not many limbs had been lopped Thursday, as they started with litter cleanup using some Department of Corrections assignees, and swept the shoulder with one of the machines on the shoulder. They had to be out of the way and reopen the lane they had closed by afternoon rush hour and were loading up around 2:30 when I was there.

They’ll return to get more of the limbs, they said, as their four 10s work shifts allow. They didn’t know if that would mean the work will resume today (Friday).

Speed reduction deficiencies being corrected

The in basket: Two readers, Alison Loris and Jim Fornes,  protested the absence of adequate warning of two speed limit changes several months ago, one on Highway 304 entering Bremerton and the other on Highway 303 (Waaga Way) south of Brownsville Highway.

Alison noted last summer that the expected notice of an upcoming speed reduction as one approached the 30 mph zone that begins at Charleston Beach Road and stretches to  First Street on 304 was missing. She also mentioned the dense foliage on the trees along the shoulder that obscured the 30 mph size until a driver was almost right beside it.

Not many people go less than 40 through there, but if one got stopped for exceeding 30, he or she would have had a pretty good excuse, I’d think.

Jim said drivers entering Highway 303 from Brownsville Highway to go toward Bremerton, unaware that the state had just reduced the speed limit from there to Fairgrounds Road from 50 to 45 mph, wouldn’t have any way of learning about it as they proceeded.

There was a speed reduction ahead sign there, but both it and the 45 mph sign were posted before one got to Brownsville Highway. Anyone turning left onto 303 there wouldn’t see them.

I recognize that there are hundreds of opportunities to enter from driveways and businesses onto highways and roads where a driver would have to travel quite a ways before seeing a speed limit sign. But one with enough traffic to warrant a traffic signal, as Brownsville Highway does,  probably should deserve quick notice of the speed limit.

The out basket: For some reason, it took me a long time and a reminder call from Jim before I got comment from the state. In the meantime, either the city of Bremerton had trimmed the foliage obscuring the 30 mph sign or nature did it for them by removing the leaves for the winter. We’ll know when the trees leaf out again.

And a speed reduction sign warning of the reduction to 30 mph appeared on the shoulder in 304’s 45 mph zone a few weeks ago.

On 303, Claudia Bingham Baker of the state highway’s Olympic Region says she’s been told a 45 mph speed limit sign on southbound 303 south of Brownsville Highway will be installed within the next two weeks.