Tag Archives: Bangor

Westgate Road RR crossing an unneeded obstacle, says reader

The in basket: Ernest Behrle has an idea for how the Navy can help compensate Kitsap County folks for whatever environmental damage results from the new pier it wants to build at the Trident base..

“I live out near Seabeck,” he said, “and the best way to go to Poulsbo and other points north involves (using) Westgate Road.  There are lots of people using this route each day and we all have to stop at the railroad crossing (which wastes fuel, brakes and is an inconvenience) at Westgate Road.  In all the years I’ve been going that route, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a train.”

There are stop signs on each side of the tracks, requiring vehicles to stop.

“I know the Navy was looking for some way to pay this area back for the damage that will be caused by adding another pier at Bangor,” Ernest said. “One thing they could do is to work with the railroad to put in a drop arm to stop car traffic if a train would actually be on the tracks.  The whole purpose of the tracks is for benefit of the sub-base and the Navy.

“Westgate is used by a lot of Navy personnel going in and out of the Bangor gate,” he said.

The out basket: The news coverage I’ve read suggests that Kitsap has much larger fish to fry in seeking mitigation for the pier project, mostly of a shoreline improvement nature. Big Beef Creek and Port Gamble are mentioned. County commissioners also are trying to head off plans to spend the estimated $15 million in mitigation money on the Jefferson County side of Hood Canal.

I asked county public works about chipping out enough to improve the Westgate railroad crossing.

Doug Bear of Public Works said the money to mitigate the new pier’s impacts isn’t available for road projects.

There has been other money available for this kind of project, and two Central Kitsap RR crossing recently have benefited.

“The railroad crossings are managed by the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad Company,” said County Engineer Jon Brand, “and are under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission. The county received a federal Railway/Highway Crossing Program grant in 2002 for mechanical cross arms at the Seabeck Highway and Newberry Hill crossings and worked with the railroad for those improvements.

“There was also an application filed for Westgate but grant funds were not secured for this location,” Jon said.

Those funds are no longer available, he said. “There is a current round of discretionary federal grant funds available for railroad crossing hazard mitigation, but it is limited to federally designated high speed corridors only.”

Why 35 mph past old Bangor gate?

The in basket: Bill Peterson of Poulsbo says,”I’m curious about why the speed limit on Clear Creek Road drops from 50 mph to 35 mph between Mountain View Road and Orweiler Road.

“Is this due to the Bangor gate on the west side of Clear Creek?  If so why hasn’t the speed limit been increased with the permanent closure of the gate?  There doesn’t appear to be any denser population between these two roads to justify the decrease in speed.”

The out basket: In January 2007, when Jesse Cook asked the same question, the answer was that Kitsap County wouldn’t raise the speed limit unless the Navy assured it the gate wouldn’t reopen. Tom Danaher, public affairs office for the Bangor base, said simply that the Navy doesn’t discuss security issues like gates, which left the issue in limbo and the speed limit at 35 mph. 

The county says that is still its position. Tom was more expansive this time, and said not only isn’t the old gate closed permanently, but it comes in handy when large construction vehicles that have trouble getting through the serpentine regular entrances at the other gates have to come and go.

Besides, he said, security personnel asked the few neighbors in that stretch what they thought of the lower speed limit and, not surprisingly, they’d like to see it stay at 35 mph, “which is OK with us.”

Yield sign coming to Bangor area Highway 3 merge

The in basket: Don Erickson of Seabeck wrote in July to say “Everyday when I leave Keyport,  I travel west on Luoto Road to Highway 3 and

turn left to the southbound on-ramp of the highway. Shortly after

entering the on-ramp, there are two lanes of traffic from Bangor merging

from the right. 

“Since I’m going straight ahead and the traffic is coming

from the right, I say I have the right of way. But everyday its a fight

to keep from getting bumped from the Bangor traffic flying around the

curve and trying to merge into my lane and further left onto the

highway. 

“Who has the right of way and can there be any enforcement of a

speed limit on the Bangor traffic coming around the curve heading south?”

The out basket: State Trooper Krista Hedstrom, spokeswoman for the local detachments, says Don is incorrect in his belief that he has the right of way there. 

The Merge sign depicts the two lanes from Bangor with a thicker line than it does the single lane Don uses, and the greater thickness of the line confers right of way.

She notes that despite the sign’s placement on the shoulder of the double right turn access, it’s still visible by the single lane. “I do agree, though, that it would not hurt to have another sign placed in a location more visible,” she added.

I had not heard Krista’s interpretation of varying thickness of lines on a Merge sign before, so I asked Olympic Region Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Bennett if the traffic engineer’s bible, the Manual on Uniform Traffic  Control Devices supports it. 

Not in so many words, he replied, but it can be inferred from the words that ARE used. But just “to clear things up, we will be installing a Yield sign so that the single-lane ramp yields to the double-lane ramp,” he said.

As for speed enforcement there, they will definitely attend to that, says Krista, but the freeway’s 60 mph is the speed limit on its on-ramps so a driver would really have to be hitting it to exceed the limit there.