Tag Archives: Bainbridge

Bright lights in SK visible and annoying on Bainbridge

The in basket: A reader whose identity in an e-mail says simply “dirtina100” says, “We live at the south end of Bainbridge.  Can you find out what those REALLY bright lights are that are on every night at the Harper dock (in South Kitsap)?

“We apparently have to put up with cargo ships with bright lights and noise but what are those lights about down there?”

The out basket: Doris Small, project manager for the estuary restoration in Harper says, “The lights could be associated with Harper Dock, where squid fishing is taking place nightly.  However this is not new, so may not be what they are seeing.

“The Harper Estuary Restoration Project construction is underway and some of the work is occurring at night to coincide with the low tides.  The construction work will continue through January, although night work will be limited as much as possible.

“We’ve contacted neighbors in the area and shielded lights from the immediate area.  I didn’t realize that neighbors on Bainbridge could see the work.  I’d ask that the Bainbridge neighbors contact Corey Morss, WDFW project engineer, at 360.902.2465 for further discussion of what they are observing.

Additional information about the project is available at http://westsoundwatersheds.org/default.aspx?ID=22

Probably the lights are those on excavating equipment a little bit south of the Harper Dock, where the state is having obstructions to the Harper estuary removed.

Doris Small with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife says some of the work is done at night if that’s when the tides are lowest. “It’s a lot easier to work and some of the area has to be exposed,” she said. They are removing man-made fill and putting in habitat features.

The night work could continue into January, she said.

Timing of signals at BI ferry explained

The in basket: Dave Richards of Bainbridge Island writes, “It seems several months ago, the timing of the traffic light at the corner of 305 and Winslow Way near the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal was ‘reset’ so that it stays green until pretty much all the vehicles have driven off the ferry and onto 305.

“This has caused huge backups near the terminal and leaves many cars trapped in the Diamond Parking lots for upwards of 20 minutes or more.  Would you have any information as to what’s going on?”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says the change was made November of 2012, and “the signal system is configured to give off-loading ferry traffic three minutes of uninterrupted green time at both Harborview Drive and Winslow Way between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. each weekday.

“After three minutes, the signal then cycles to allow all other phases to proceed (vehicles and pedestrians) at both intersections. Then it returns to the three-minute phase for off-loading the ferry. Rarely will a weekday sailing between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. completely unload in 3 minutes,” she said.

The other directions at those two signals get 123 minutes of green time combined for cross-traffic and pedestrians between the three-minute time spans, depending on the detection of traffic.

The three-minutes for off-loading ferry traffic, both the first one and the second one, aren’t reliant on traffic detection and run all 180 seconds.

“Since 2008,” she added, “at the request of Ferries, we have tried various signal timing scenarios to more effectively balance the needs of local traffic with off-loading ferry traffic. This current operation seems to work pretty well.

“After we received your question, we checked the system to ensure it was operating as programmed, and it was,” she said.


Truck brakes rattle Bainbridge Islander

The in basket: Leslie Kelly, who lives about a mile past the Agate Pass Bridge on Bainbridge Island, writes, “OK. So I bought a house that sits just off Highway 305. And I’ve learned to make like the highway noise is the ocean. But why do I have to put up with the tsunami of trucks using their compression brakes? I thought they were illegal. Why isn’t that enforced by the State Patrol or Bainbridge Island police?

The out basket: Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matt Hamner referred the question to Detective Sergeant Scott Weiss of his department, who says, “Compression brakes are not per se illegal.  Here is the state law:  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.37.395.  It says in part, “ An engine compression brake device is any device that uses the engine and transmission to impede the forward motion of the motor vehicle by compression of the engine.
The driver of a motor vehicle equipped with a device that uses the compression of the motor vehicle engine shall not use the device unless the motor vehicle is equipped with an operational muffler and exhaust system to prevent excess noise. A muffler is part of an engine exhaust system which acts as a noise dissipative device.”

“The City Ordinance is 10.28,” Scott said, “which again only makes compression brakes illegal if they do not have a muffler. I have not heard any illegal (no muffler or exhaust system for it).

“A citizen may really be hearing a truck use a legal compression brake but one without a muffler system would be extremely, abnormally loud.

“We would certainly enforce/address any illegal equipment violations as we come across them. Over the years I believe that we have had a few illegal Jake or compression brake violations but they have been very few in number, probably only a handful in 10-15 years.”


Winding road south of Eagle Harbor worries Islander

The in basket: A Bainbridge Island resident e-mails to say, “Bainbridge Island is doing shoulder work along all of Eagle Harbor Drive on south Bainbridge. This is a road that gets a lot of use by commuter cyclists but there’s no shoulder and the road is winding with a long uphill section. That means cyclists have to be in the lane and are pedaling slowly uphill.

“Because it’s a winding road, motorists can’t see what’s coming and can’t pass the cyclists. This leads to irate and impatient drivers and cyclists that feel under pressure with cars backing up behind their back wheel. I’ve seen near-collisions when cars try to pass and nearly collide with traffic in the oncoming lane.

“Anyway, the city’s doing this ambitious shoulder improvement project. It looks great – wide and flush with the road, but they’re going just short of paving it for a bike lane. Road bikes are not going to ride on the gravel shoulder, no matter the improvements.

“So my question is: why is the city doing all this work but falling just short of solving a major problem? They’re going to need that bike lane eventually. Why not do it now rather than wait a few years and then have to fix the shoulder again before paving? Bainbridge touts its self as being bike-friendly but this seems bike-oblivious. What gives?”

The out basket: The city has a plan that ultimately will address bicycle safety on Eagle Harbor Drive, but it will be done in 2017 or later, according to Kellie Stickney, the city’s community engagement specialist.

She says, ““The shoulders are being pulled and graveled (now) as part of the city’s Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division’s routine maintenance program. The purpose of the work is to maintain drainage and support for the road edge to preserve the roadway.”

The non-motorized transportation segment of the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) deals with paving of shoulders to benefit bicyclists and pedestrians and shows that to be done on Eagle Harbor Drive, but in two phases.  The first phase, scheduled for 2017, works on the stretch between just past Bucklin Hill Road to McDonald Avenue. The stretch between Wyatt Way and just past Bucklin Hill Road is clustered with a bunch of others vaguely set for 2019 to 2033. My reader says the curvy stretch he asked about is between Bucklin Hill Road and McDonald Avenue, so relief could be on the way in just two years.

Alyse Nelson, chair of the city’s Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, which recommended the work set forth in the existing plan, says transportation documents will be among city comprehensive plans now being reviewed, so changes may be in the wind.

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.”


How about speed bumps on Valley Road?

The in basket: Merry McAllister of Valley Road on Bainbridge Island has renewed her campaign to make the road safer for pedestrians with a proposal for speed bumps. She learned via a previous Road Warrior column in November that there’s no likelihood of the road’s narrow to non-existent shoulders being widened for six years or longer.

“Could we get two or three LOW profile speed bumps on Valley, especially going downhill?” she asked in a new e-mail. “One could be at Parkhill, one at Kallgren, and another at Hyla.  Any of these would be appreciated. Maybe just start with one at Hyla, so folks get used to it and don’t start aeroplaning going down the hill.

“A sign saying ‘speed bump ahead’ always gets some attention, too,” she said. “Shouldn’t be too expensive.”

The out basket: I told Merry that most jurisdictions won’t approve speed bumps for arterials, and Valley looks like it would fall within that prohibition. But I asked the city about the idea.

K. Chris Hammer, the city’s engineering manager, replied, “Valley Road is classified as a secondary arterial street. (It) is traveled by nearly 3,000 vehicles each day, serving the Rolling Bay Town Center and connecting to many neighborhoods.

“The city has not placed speed bumps on secondary arterials and collector streets,” he said. “There are reasons for this. The primary one is that speed bumps themselves can present a hazard to the traveling public. Another issue is that emergency responders may have a good reason to travel at or higher than the posted speed limit. Maintaining response times to under 5 minutes for paramedics can be the difference between life and death and the severity of a fire can double every two minutes. Ambulances transporting the injured/ critically ill must slow to a crawl over speed bumps.”

Valley Road comes closer than many others to meeting a key measure of how appropriate the posted speed limit is, the so-called 85th percentile, according to the most recent speed study there.

“Designers must consider what speeds most drivers are comfortable driving on a segment of roadway and design the roadway to safely accommodate that speed,” Chris said. “This speed is known as the 85% speed (15% traveling faster, 85% at or lower) which in this location is 35mph, coincidentally the same as the posted speed.”

The 85th percentile is often slightly higher than the posted speed on other roads and highways.

“The city is looking to scoping a speed limit study of its 35mph streets and both Valley and Sunrise (the cross street in Rolling Bay) may be good candidates,” he said. “In 2013 we studied the 40-mph-posted speed streets and the speed zones approaching the Island’s town centers. One result was extending the speed controlled zone (lower speed) for the Rolling Bay Town Center further north on Sunrise.”

Airporter for Bainbridge is an uphill fight

The in basket: Byron Holcomb, a Bainbridge Island lawyer, is a man of many causes, including the absence of airporter service from the island to Sea-Tac Airport and back.

He’s been beating the drums for some concessions by the state ferry system to make an island-based airporter service more viable.

He contends Bainbridge is the only city of its size to have no such service. The existing options for islanders, he says, are difficult for the disabled and poor, requiring a walk or taxi ride from the Seattle ferry terminal to somewhere a connection to the airport can be caught. And those connections often don’t leave their fares a convenient walk into the airport, he said.

He wants to see preferential loading of airporter vehicles on the ferries to and from Winslow and no ferry fares for such vehicles. That would allow them to stay on schedule without having to worry about overloads, and avoid time-consuming collection of fares.

He ran that past one of his state legislators and didn’t get any support, he said. He asked if I could help.

The out basket: I talked with Dick Asche, owner of Kitsap Airporter that serves  Kitsap County as far north as Keyport Junction.

Dick said whatever the shortcomings of the existing choices for those on the island, they are too numerous for him to compete with.

“We carry a lot of people out of Poulsbo,” he said. “I hope a lot of them are from Bainbridge Island.

It’s just not the worth the extra mileage for the few riders he would expect to prefer a long ride through Tacoma to what is available to them now, he said.

Byron isn’t proposing to run an airport service, and doesn’t know of anyone who would take it on if he ever got the Legislature to fund the ferry service concessions. And finding an airporter base on the island with enough parking would be yet another challenge.

Anyway, if you would like to champion his airporter cause, his e-mail address is BYLAW@aol.com

Stream of buses leaving Woodward school a problem – until it wasn’t

The in basket: A couple I know mentioned at a recent social function that they’d seen something upsetting on Bainbridge Island.

People in reflective jackets had stopped traffic on Sportsmen’s Club Road one afternoon so a string of school buses could all get out of the parking lot of Woodward Middle School at one time.

Two days later, though, the husband e-mailed me to say he’d gone to watch it again and no longer had any objection to it. “They stopped the traffic at 1:57 p.m. At 2:01 they had let out 17 loaded school buses. So I guess they got things under control.”

Still, I thought I’d give it a look myself and ask if the city police had OKd it – or suggested it.

The out basket: I talked with Robin Hanley and Susan Stricker, the two school employees wielding the stop sign paddles the day I was there.

Robin said she’s gotten an obscene earful from the occupants of a moving van she’d stopped a few days earlier, and a teenager had ignored her on another occasion. So she was paying attention to how long vehicles had had to wait.

That Thursday it took her two minutes and 40 seconds to get all the buses on the road. She claimed 18 buses, but three of them, smaller ones, came out before they stopped traffic.

There is good reason to avoid Sportsmen’s Club Road when the buses leave Woodward on school days, but it isn’t the procession of buses.

The real problem is the stream of cars driven by parents who picked up their children in the next parking lot south. Most of them head toward New Brooklyn Road, where they must wait at a permanent stop sign for cross-traffic to clear. It backed up so badly, I was doubtful there would be enough room for the large buses for which Robin and Sue ran interference to get out of their parking lot.  The 15th bus was barely able to get into traffic.

About then, the stream of parents’ cars eased and the buses – and the backed up traffic behind them – were able to move along pretty quickly.

Deputy Chief Jeff Horn of Bainbridge police told me, “I have spoken to a few of my officers who have been around a few years and none of them remember this issue coming up (in regards to suggesting the tactic to the school). I did speak to the school transportation department who stated they do not recall specifically discussing this with the police department.

“The school did say the process was implemented because the inability to get the buses out (due to the traffic) which caused issues getting the children home on time.  If they were to ask me my opinion, I’d agree with their assessment and solution.”

Bainbridge’s Valley Road challenges pedestrians

The in basket: Merry Mcallister of Bainbridge Island writes, “Can you help me with the walking pattern on North Valley Road, between North Madison and Sunrise Drive?

“Pedestrian access is almost none — maybe 5 inches beyond the white line, then you’re in the ditch.  Cross the road, and you can’t see oncoming traffic, so what’s a walker to do?

“If I walk on the white line, should I take out more life insurance?  I wear reflective gear from head to toe, but the cars go WAY beyond the speed limit, and many only pretend to defer to pedestrians. I’ve lived here 40 years and it’s become a scary problem.

“My preference would be a wider shoulder, especially on the north side,” she said,  “like maybe three feet wide.  No pavement. It just gives the cars license to speed.

“Pedestrians should at least be able to walk outside the white line without getting into the ditch.  Occasionally the grass is mowed there, but not often, so it’s really spongy on the ditch side.”

The out basket: Chris Hammer, Bainbridge’s engineering manager in public works, says, “The city developed a shoulder widening program back in 2007 that is known as the Core 40 program.

“The idea is to develop a 40-mile network of walkable and bike-able shoulders throughout the secondary arterial street network. A project has been identified for Valley Road that would likely consist of a paved uphill climbing lane for cyclists and could also include a wider gravel shoulder on the other side of the roadway for pedestrians.

“Typically 6-foot-wide shoulders are provided, as that provides a safe facility for pedestrians walking into traffic and can accommodate a 5-foot paved area for cyclists.

“(But) the C40 Valley project is lower on the list of priorities for C40 projects and it is not currently included in the city’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan,” he said.

There is a project already underway on Valley, begun Sept. 11, but it’s on the other side of Sunrise, where shoulders are even narrower.

“Sound Excavation has been working on drainage improvements that will provide for better roadway drainage and better accommodate private drainage off the hill from several lots above Gertie Johnson Road,” Chris said. “The embankments above Gertie Johnson have experienced two significant slides over the past decade that I am aware of.

“The project will also provide for landings and crosswalk markings at the intersection of Valley and Sunrise.

“Some in the community have advocated for wider shoulders on this section of the roadway. The project includes graveling the shoulders but we are not able to make them much wider with this project. The costs would be substantially higher than afforded with the planned surfacing reconstruction project due to challenging topography. Widening would also necessitate removing significant trees and landscaping restoration requiring easements.”

One islander I talked to in my visit said the situation sounds like many others all over the island. I suppose the small business center where Valley and Sunrise intersect may be more of a draw for both drivers and pedestrians that on other roads.


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.