Tag Archives: 305

Double red arrow turn at 305 prompts reader’s question

The in basket: Marilyn Hawks asks, “What is the law regarding turning right on a red arrow? When I exit Highway 3 at 305 in Poulsbo, there are two right-turn arrows.  When the light shows two red arrows, I notice drivers stop, look, and pull out even from the middle right-turn lane.

“Is this legal?  I thought red arrows meant you had to wait until it turns green. If that is the law, then a sign needs to be posted that says no right on red,” she said.

The out basket: It is not the law. Drivers can turn right on a double red arrow light under the same rules that allow them to turn right on a single red arrow light. They must come to a full stop before proceeding and yield to any cross-traffic with a green light, or which otherwise has the right of way.

I get this question from time to time and usually it is about that Highway 3 off-ramp to 305  in Poulsbo. Either that or where 11th Street in Bremerton flows into Kitsap Way.

Totten at 305 not slated for traffic light

The in basket: Christine Goodson asked, very succinctly,  “What is the timeline for placement of a traffic signal light at Totten Road and 305 in Poulsbo?”

The out basket: The tone of her question made me wonder if she had heard something I hadn’t, that a signal was on its way.

Maybe she just considers it such an obvious place for a signal, an intersection coming out of a sweeping curve.

Whatever, Olympic Region spokeswoman Claudia Bingham Baker with state highways, was just as succinct. “Currently we have no plans to install a signal at that location,” she said.

Striping puzzle on SR305 explained

The in basket: Aaron Clark e-mailed on Sept 8 to say, “Noticed a few weeks ago that they paved just the centerline (about 2 feet wide) of 305 from past Poulsbo to about the Masi Shop.  My guess is it was done to remove the centerline rumble strip.  I’m wondering whether installing the rumble strip was a test, or if it’s been removed as a test.  It has been at least a month and the road hasn’t been restriped yet.”

The out basket: It probably is by now. Claudia Bingham Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, said on Monday, “Our goal with the work in that area was to extend the two-way turn lane to include access to a couple more businesses. The rumble strips were paved over permanently because you don’t have rumble strips in turn lanes.”

If weather allowed, the new stripes were to be applied Tuesday night., she said.

Transit buses and their Highway 305 backups

The in basket: Jenni Booth has a question about Kitsap Transit practices along Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island.

“I see paved bus stop pull-out areas consistently on the island along the highway,” she said. “Unfortunately, I also rarely see them being used.  “Kitsap Transit buses routinely stop in the traffic lane, impeding traffic and creating a hazard as traffic often pulls into the oncoming lane to pass. Many mornings and evenings the delay of cars grows and grows behind the buses as they do this down Highway 305.

“If there are bus pull-outs, why are they not being used as a means to help traffic flow?  I’m sure it has something to do with difficulty merging back into traffic, but this can’t be a viable solution for that. Is it even legal for the bus to impede traffic like this where there are clearly marked pull-outs for the bus?” she asked.

The out basket: This evidently is a long-standing problem. as suggested by a Feb.11, 2004 Road Warrior column addressing it. Otto Spieth hypothesized then, as Jenni does now, that the drivers don’t want to have to fight their way back into the heavy traffic. I said then that it must be scary part of their job.

John Clauson, Kitsap Transit’s service development manager then, said staying in the roadway has more to do with not sinking into a soft shoulder or letting passengers out in an unsafe place.

John now is transit’s executive director and had this to say about Jenni’s complaint.

“Buses, all commercial buses, are allowed to stop on state highways at locations clearly posted as Bus Stop locations.  Stops without signs, commonly called ‘Flag Stops,’ are not allowed on state highways.

“Specific to SR 305, between the Bainbridge Ferry Terminal and Hostmark Road in Poulsbo, there are 20 northbound posted KT Bus Stops (15 with pullouts) and 17 southbound Bus Stops (11 with pullouts). Designated pullouts must meet our criteria for safety.

” KT bus operators should be pulling off the roadway and into the designated pullout, allowing traffic to safely pass the bus while passengers are boarding or alighting. For safety reasons, Kitsap Transit requires operators to pull completely off the roadway with room required available for customers to board and alight.  Operators are not permitted to straddle the fog line.  They must be completely to the right of the fog line (if it is safe) or remain completely in the roadway (to the left of the fog line) with flashers activated.

“As recent as April 2, 2014, a memo was posted reminding operators that they are required to pull buses completely off the SR 305 roadway if it is safe to do so.

“Your observation (in your 2004 article) was absolutely correct. Pulling back into traffic is, indeed, ‘a scary adventure.’  Bus operators cannot just turn on the Yield flasher and immediately pull into traffic.  With the size and bulk, it’s a slower process and most motorists are generally unwilling to slow down and allow a lumbering bus to pull out in front of them. Additionally, they do not want to follow a slow-moving bus and are unaware of the law requiring them to yield to transit buses (RCW 46.61.220).

“Our operations manager will repost the 2014 Memo reminding all operators to use the pullouts on SR 305. Perhaps you can remind your many readers of the law requiring motorists to yield to buses merging back into traffic.  In addition, if your readers do continue to see problems, please have them call us directly to allow us to more efficiently track and investigate the issue.”


Close call with bike at 305 and Koura

The in basket: Billie Schaefer of Port Ludlow said he was recently preparing to turn right off of Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island onto Koura Road, with his signal on, when a bicyclist shot past him on the shoulder. Had he been in his turn, Billie said, it could have been another bicyclist fatality.

“He’s lucky I didn’t kill him,” he said, and asked whether he would be guilty of a crime for his part in the theoretical collision. “Isn’t he supposed to stop for me?  If I stop, I’ll get hit by traffic coming from behind.”

He then asked about the striping at the next intersection ahead, at Sportsmen’s Club Road, which is repeated at numerous intersections around urban Bainbridge. It has a designated bicycle lane separating the outside through lane from a right turn lane onto Sportsmen’s Club Road.

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger of the local State Patrol detachment says, “Bicyclists must obey all traffic laws that apply to any motorist. In the situation you describe at Koura Road, the bike must yield to a legally turning vehicle (signaling properly so the bike rider can see your intent) ahead. The bicyclist would be violating both failing to yield and overtaking and passing on the right laws.

“The situation at Sportsmen’s Club Road is not really any different,” he said. “The bike lanes there are intended to give a lane for bicyclists to both wait at the signal light and also form sort of a shoulder for bikes to travel in while crossing the intersection. They allow vehicles using the right turn lanes on either side of the intersection to avoid the very situation described at Koura Road. Vehicles must yield to the bikes, if appropriate, as they would for any other vehicle.

“Vehicles should not cross over bike lanes unless required for turning movement or travel. They must yield to any bicyclist occupying the lane when doing so.

“There is no good reason for a driver to cross over the short bike lanes on either side of the intersection at Sportsmen’s Club, other than a driver making a way-too-late decision to turn right. It would not be illegal to do so as long as the driver yielded appropriately and did the maneuver safely,” Russ said.


Any hope for Highway 305 commuter congestion relief?

The in basket:   J. B. Holcomb of Bainbridge Island writes, “Something has to be done about the heavy traffic on (Highway) 305 between the ferry terminal on Bainbridge and Poulsbo.
“After a ferry arrives from Seattle, especially between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., it is now the norm DAILY, and year around, that it is bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way to Poulsbo, only slightly relieved at the Suquamish/casino intersection.
“At intersections along the way and without a traffic signal, it is not uncommon to wait between 10 and 25 minutes to obtain access onto 305. Last week, I spent 20 minutes between Day Road and the Suquamish traffic signal, a distance of about three miles.
“We now have a large, indeed huge, urban metropolitan area commuter/transportation problem, when, not too many years ago around here, this was non-existent. Where are the complaints about this?  Why are people complacent about this?  Why should we tolerate this?
“Maybe a ban on truck traffic during these times?  How about a ban on one person in an auto during these times (if legal)? Subsidized home-office workers?  Flex-time work hours for persons employed in Seattle having a West Sound home?
“Any suggestions?”
The out basket: I had always ducked experiencing this, not wanting to spend an hour in bumper to bumper traffic. But twice in August, my wife and I motored up to the island from my South Kitsap home, with the intent of following a ferry load of traffic north.
Once was an ordinary Wednesday and a ferry that arrived a little after 4. The second was a Seahawks game day Friday, and a ferry that came in about 7:15. Each time I waited until very near the end of the off-load before joining the flow.
The first thing I noticed is the traffic signal just downhill from Winslow Way, that allows pedestrians to cross during ferry off-loads. It was a fairly long light and I would think it would provide long breaks in traffic on 305 to allow side-street traffic chances to get onto the highway. That, of course, would assume corresponding breaks in southbound 305 traffic, which may often be wishful thinking.
While I don’t doubt that it can be as bad as J.B, describes, neither day did I experience it. It took me 26 minutes to reach Poulsbo on the Wednesday, with bumper to bumper traffic from Hidden Cove Road to Suquamish Way. It took only 16 minutes on the Friday, with little bumper to bumper slowdown.
On the way south to the ferry terminal about 5 p.m. that Friday, we did see oncoming bumper to bumper northbound traffic for sizable distances,  There was some bumper to bumper southbound traffic, as well, probably due to the Seahawks game.
I’m sure it’s somewhere between irritating and infuriating to have to travel that gauntlet every afternoon, but I think J.B. will just have to get used to it.
Everything I’ve read or heard over the years tells me all really plausible relief, whether widening Highway 305 and the Agate Pass Bridge or moving the ferry terminal to Blakely Harbor and bridging to the Illahee area, are opposed by most islanders.
I asked Claudia Bingham-Baker of the state highway’s Olympic region is that’s what the state hears and she declined to characterize it one way or the other.
She did say, “We agree with your reader that traffic is heavy on SR 305, especially between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.
“WSDOT, in partnership with the cities of Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo, Kitsap Transit, Port Madison Enterprises (Suquamish Tribe), Kitsap County and the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, recently completed a study on how to improve traffic flow through the SR 305/Suquamish Intersection.
“The study determined that the best long-term (20-year) solution for congestion relief at that intersection was to build a roundabout. However, we have no funding to build a roundabout and are currently looking for funding to build an interim solution – a right-lane turn from westbound SR 305 to northbound Suquamish Way.
“Beyond the intersection, we have no plans or funding to provide added capacity to SR 305.”
Barry Loveless, public works director for  Bainbridge Island, says the city councils of Bainbridge and Poulsbo support a list of proposed improvements to 305, but the list he sent me has few specifics, beyond undescribed work at the intersections, and all have a six- to 10-year time line, even work at Suquamish Way.
I’m sure there are individual efforts to encourage tele-commuting and flex-time, but I think there would be longer and louder howls of anger about restricting trucks and one-occupant vehicles than there are about the daily backups.

Driver describes close call with a transit bus on 305

The in basket: J. B. Holcomb of Bainbridge Island e-mailed to described an incident on Thursday as he was driving north on Highway 305 just beyond the Agate Pass Bridge.

“I was driving at 45 mph and was two or three seconds away from a transit bus stopped at a bus stop (ostensibly),” he said.

“That yo-yo driver immediately pulls out in front of me,” J.B. said. “I had to dynamite my brakes and veer to the left to avoid collision with his bus.  I just, and I do mean just by inches, avoided a head-on collision with an on-coming driver, who, thankfully, took protection of his own in timely turning slightly right.

“I noticed that the driver snapped on the yellow ‘yield’ sign on the rear of the bus after I started braking.  I immediately laid on my horn while behind him for about two miles indicating my displeasure and stopped beside him at the next stop with my window rolled down for a few not-so-kind words.  He paid no attention to me.

“I thought about calling 911 to complain to the State Patrol about his reckless driving, but I did not, because my thought was that the ‘yield’ sign exempts that yo-yo from any such claim.

“Should I have?  Whatever the rule, he surely does not have the right to place following drivers at risk of his or her life in order to be able to pull out, even with a ‘yield’ sign on!!!”

The out basket: State law does require drivers to yield to a transit bus reentering traffic, but the bus driver must do so carefully. Transit executives also demand it as a matter of policy.

We have only J.B.’s side of the incident, as State Trooper Russ Winger noted when I asked him about the likely assignment of blame had the bus and J.B.s car collided. It probably wouldn’t have done much good to phone 911 about the close call.

But, Russ continued, “I can tell you this much. All vehicles, including transit buses, even police vehicles, must ‘safely’ enter the roadway from the shoulder, side streets etc. Signs and flashing lights do not give immunity to the driver. All drivers have that responsibility.

“If we were, in fact, investigating a collision, we would gather as much information and evidence as possible, including witness statements hopefully, to arrive at some sort of logical and factual conclusion. If these factors led us to believe that the transit vehicle did not give sufficient right of way to the other vehicle – just pulled out – (he or she) could be found at fault. We would definitely not just take one driver’s version of the event and make a decision based on that.

“As for your reader’s actions about following the bus for two miles, laying on the horn and even trying to confront the other driver, well, I believe you already know the WSP’s feeling on that type of behavior.”

If you don’t, they discourage it, and can ticket for unlawful use of the vehicle’s horn, which state law says must be used only to alert drivers of an imminent. danger, as was mentioned in a January Road Warrior column.

Transit Executive Director John Clauson asked for B.J.’s contact information so that he might inquire further into the incident.


Three Highway 305 intersections to be lit

The in basket: Andrew MacMillen asks, “Any idea what the electrical service boxes are for that have been added at the intersections of Johnson, Noll, and Seminole with Highway 305 in Lemolo?

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says those intersections will be getting street lights for the first time and Andrew is seeing the service cabinets for the lights.
“The effort is a good example of inter-agency cooperation,” she added. “The intersections are geographically located within the county but within (Poulsbo’s) urban growth area. The city is paying for the improvements, and WSDOT will own, operate and maintain the lights.” The city’s Web site said the county helped pay for the design.

“This area was chosen because of pedestrian traffic, transit stops, etc. near those intersections,” she said.

She said the contractor is waiting for delivery of the poles to complete the job, an all-too-familiar aspect of street light and traffic signal installations.


Reader has an idea for Suquamish Way and 305

The in basket: Ingvar Carlson e-mailed about the congestion where Suquamish Road intersects Highway 305 in front of the Clearwater Hotel/Casino in North Kitsap and says, “I  have  heard chatter about the state and the county installing  a roundabout at  this intersection.

“If this is in the  books, I have seen some roundabouts in Washington where a separate outer lane is installed, separate from the roundabout, that allows a free-flowing right turn. This system would is best for the round-about at this location,” he said.

The out basket: I think those outer lanes are called “slip lanes,” and one can see them at the main roundabout at Burnham Drive along Highway 16 in Gig Harbor.

Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “The 2012 Legislature provided $750,000 and a proviso to WSDOT to consider alternatives and start design on a project to improve mobility at the SR 305/Suquamish Way intersection.

“We have been studying potential alternatives, one of which is a roundabout,” she said. “We are finalizing the preferred solutions and expect a final decision on the best option to be made by the end of summer.

“In the meantime, we are sharing our alternatives with various stakeholders and we continue to solicit their comments. We also plan to hold a public open house in the future to share the information. Once a final alternative is chosen, we can then start the design of that alternative.  (But) we have no construction funds at present.”

Ingvar can go to that open house to make a pitch for a roundabout with slip lanes.


Uphill ride from BI ferry terminal gets bicycle-unfriendly

The in basket: Casper “Cap” Lane bicycles to and from Seattle on the Bainbridge Island ferry and finds a fairly comfortable ride up Highway 305 after disembarking in Winslow turning into a hairy competition with cars just uphill from where a bridge appears just off the shoulder, running parallel to the highway

Beyond the end of the bridge, on which he says bicycles are expected to be walked, not ridden, the shoulder pretty much disappears and bicyclists are in more danger of being hit by cars. I imagine a lot of those cars are traveling pretty fast, based on those I’ve seen leaving ferries elsewhere, especially at rush hour.

He wonders if there is any hope of extending the shoulder from the terminal all the way up to High School Road.

The out basket: There is hope, as the city is working on just that, but another spot will be done first.

K. Chris Hammer, engineering manager for the city of Bainbridge Island public works, says, “We expect to receive a State Ped-Bike program grant for Olympic Drive between Winslow Way and Harborview.” That’s down close to the ferry landing.

“The City is also pursuing grant opportunities for the ‘next mile’ of the Sound-to-Olympics trail along SR305 between Winslow Way and High School road,” Chris said. “This project would provide for a separated pathway.”