Tag Archives: barrier

Diagonal breaks in Warren Avenue barrier explained

The in basket: As often as I have driven north on Warren Avenue in Bremerton from Burwell Street since the city took one northbound lane of Warren for a raised barrier, I hadn’t noticed a third break in the barrier at both Fourth and Fifth streets.

Crosswalks pass though two of the gaps at each intersection. But the third gap, running on an angle through the barrier, is a puzzlement. It doesn’t look like it adds anything to handling storm runoff.

The other day, I saw a motorcyclist drive through it during rush hour, stopping in the middle to let traffic clear so he could continue west on Fourth Street.

I asked it that is the intent and was it legal?

The out basket: No, says Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers. The motorcyclist committed an infraction for which he could have been cited. But the gap IS for traffic – bicycle traffic – which can legally pass through it, Gunnar said. “It is diagonal to give additional storage space when they are stopped in the median.”

Highway 303 center barrier again source of vegetation complaint

The in basket: Joanne Zellinsky of Bremerton writes, “Do you suppose you could look into why no one is maintaining the medians on Highway 303?

“There is moss and grass growing everywhere and some of the bushes are obstructing views. There is even grass growing in the middle of the intersection of McWilliams and 303.

“I would think it would be the responsibility of either the state or county. Either way, no one is looking,” she said.

The out basket: It’s the state’s job, and they may be able to clean it this fall, says Duke Stryker, head of the state’s maintenance crews in this area. But they have higher priorities, including repair of washouts on the Purdy spit where this year’s “king tides” did some damage, some sink holes on Highway 300 near Belfair and, of course, the summer asphalt repair work.

Barrier cleaning must be done at night for the most part, he said, to minimize interference with traffic, except those approaching the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, where they have ample shoulder room to do it during the day. They don’t just use their mechanical sweepers, but have workmen on foot dislodging the hard stuff.

They put crews on at night beginning in November, providing manpower to sweep. But even then, higher speed and volume highways like 3 and 16 take precedence over 303. And freezing nights occupy the night crew putting out sand and deicer.

If they get to 303’s barriers, they’ll do the growth on the top as well as the bases where traffic pushes sand and dirt, Duke said. There is no growth on top of most of the other barriers for which they bear responsibility.

In short, the Highway 303 barrier may or may not be cleaned this year. It was last done in 2010, when Joanne’s husband, Paul, a former state legislator, was among those who complained about their condition.

What does Warren Avenue barrier mean to parade route?

The in basket: Among the questions and comments generated by the center median the city of Bremerton had installed on Warren Avenue, consuming one northbound lane between Burwell and Sixth streets and blocking cross-traffic at Fourth and Fifth street, is a simple question from James Hochstein: “How will the Armed Forces day parade be accommodated?”

The out basket: I’m guessing the former parade route must have crossed Warren on either Fourth or Fifth.

Gunna Fridriksson of the city street engineers says, “We did discuss this with the Armed Forces parade committee last winter.  At the time they were pretty busy with the 2012 parade and deferred discussion, but we did discuss some of the other staging options, such as Park Avenue.

“My expectation is that right after the New Year, we will get together and work it out,” Gunnar said.

U-turns are 1 reaction to new Myhre Road barrier

The in basket:  Charelaine Hampton and Mike McDermott both say they’ve seen drivers who are used to turning left from Myhre Road in Silverdale to go downhill to Costco, Petsmart and the other stores in that area pulling a U-turn just past the barrier the county put there to prevent those left turns.

Those drivers then come back and turn right legally into the access. But in the meantime, their U-turns create an accident hazard, both said.

Charelaine says the U-turners use the exit from Harrison Hospital’s Silverdale location and endanger drivers coming out that exit. She sees it almost weekly, when she goes to the hospital for a regular meeting, she said.

Mike described what he saw  one day in October.

“As I turned from Ridgetop onto Myhre there were two cars in front of me. The first one pulled into the center lane before the barrier so they could still make the left turn. The other car went just past the barrier and went into the bus stop on the right side of the road and made a U-turn right in the middle of Myhre to get back to the lane down to Costco.

“Obviously, this deterrent to turning left near Petsmart is going to cause more problems if this is what people are going to do,” he said.

“All people have to do is continue down Ridgetop another block to Mickleberry and turn right,” he said.

The out basket: I would hope that the problem would abate in time as more drivers learn those left turns are now forbidden and plan an alternate route.

I was surprised to discover that just a couple hundred yards further ahead on Myhre is another left turn that still is open that leads down to Costco with hardly any greater travel time, though getting back to Petsmart would require a little more extra time. Until then, I thought it would be necessary to drive all the way down to the next traffic signal on Myhre.

And by continuing straight on Ridgetop, as Mike suggested, a driver not only can turn right at Mickelberry, but has two even earlier right turn opportunities to get to where the now-forbidden left turn used to take them.

Asked about the U-turns and other driver reactions to the barrier, Kitsap County Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea chose to reiterate the reasons the barrier went up in the first place.

“The Sheriff’s Department presented me with nine collision reports for about a one-year period (2010) at this location,” he said. ‘They asked if anything could be done to reduce the collision frequency.

“…Most of the collisions were the result of a motorist either turning left out of the approach or turning left into the approach.  The logical counter-measure was to restrict the vehicle movements to right-in right-out only.

“Knowing that a sign alone would not preclude motorists from turning left, we decided to put the curbing in.

In addition to the sign and curbing, flexible delineators (posts) were installed and the yellow striping was reconfigured to an 18-inch solid line, which state law prohibits motorists from crossing.

“There are  two (other) convenient accesses to this commercial property, one further north on Myhre or eastbound motorists on Ridgetop Blvd can stay on Ridgetop and make the first right turn.

“U-turns are not illegal if done in a safe manner, but if problems arise we will address them.”

State law forbids U-turns in certain locations, like on hills, but none of the prohibitions clearly apply on Myhre. Part of the law says they are illegal, “where such vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of any other vehicle approaching from either direction within five hundred feet.”



‘Jungle’ said to be claiming barrier on 303

The in basket: Perry East e-mailed to say he’d “noticed that the large divider on Highway 303 (near McWilliams and Fairgrounds roads) is looking like the jungle is taking over – moss, grass and trees growing up and against. Has the state any plans for clean up of this?”

Perry’s inquiry came just a week after Paul Zellinsky of Bremerton asked me the same thing.

Paul was for 14 years a state representative here, and he said he contacted old friend Mary Margaret Haugen, now head of the Senate Transportation Committee, asking her to intercede to see that it is cleaned up.

The out basket: Duke Stryker, head of the state’s highway maintenance operation here, said he hasn’t had any expressions of interest in that barrier from Olympia or regional headquarters. But he had his maintenance supervisor visit the site after I asked and he agrees the barrier needs attention.

They’ll be getting to it as soon as they are done with pavement repair that requires a grinder, such as that on Wheaton Way, in Gorst and in Purdy, discussed in a recent Road Warrior column.

They have to share the grinder, which they rent from the city of Bremerton, he said, and it will be going to Clallam County when they are done here. So his crews are working nights and have a limited time (through June) to complete this summer’s dig out and replacement pavement repair. Later, they’ll do less intensive grader resurfacing.

I asked him if the demands of the awful winter of 2008-09 might have required cutbacks in aesthetic operations like cleanup of the center barriers on state highways the following summer. He said that’s a balancing act they do all the time, but he couldn’t say there was any necessary relationship between that winter and the barrier on 303.

Certainly safety work like renewing highway striping every years and preservation work like the pavement repair take precedence over cleanup jobs, he said.

I noticed there was some impressive vegetation along the jersey barrier farther north on 303, suggesting it was missed last year too.

Corolla driver has problem with new Highway 16 merge

The in basket: Marsha Bradshaw prefaces her complaint about the new interchange at the Burley-Olalla Road on Highway 16 by calling it “wonderful”

“I lost the year to construction but it is so worth it.  The contractor did an excellent job on our wee little overpass and so timely, too!

“But….when one is headed towards Gig Harbor from the Burley-Olalla road on the new on-ramp…those of us with small cars cannot see to merge until the last teeth-grinding seconds of the ramp and the freeway travelers cannot see us to help us merge because the Jersey barriers block our approach all the more. (There’ve) been some fearful moments for a lot of us!

“Side mirrors, twisted necks and rear views are of little help if all one can see is the cement barrier.

I drive a Corolla sedan,” she said. “There are a lot of us short cars around using the on-ramp as well as the taller, more  visible SUV’s and semi’s….please help.”

The out basket: State Project Engineer Brenden Clarke says it’s the first complaint he’s heard about this and there are no plans to modify what is there.

“The distance between the end of the barrier and the beginning of merge area into Highway 16 (the end of acceleration length) is approximately 1,025 feet.  Based upon the average driver and automobile, a 1,025-foot acceleration length would take a driver from 25 mph up to 60 mph.  

“Assuming that a motorist is traveling at 60 mph when they enter into the ‘merge area,’ they will then have adequate distance to merge into Highway 16 traffic and they will be a thousand feet from the barrier so it will not block their line of sight.  

“Difficulties could arise if a motorist does not accelerate up to 60 mph while traveling on the ramp, but this would be true at any interchange.  

“I understand that it does feel more comfortable for motorists to be able to see mainline traffic for the entire duration of the on-ramp, but again, there is sufficient distance in what we call the ‘merge area’ for motorists to look over their shoulder and in their mirrors to identify traffic and make adjustments in order to safely merge into mainline Highway 16.

“The concrete barriers are a permanent feature,” he said. “The reason this interchange makes use of so many concrete barriers is that there are retaining walls between the on- and off-ramps with substantial differences in elevation.  The retaining walls allow the ramps to be closer to mainline Highway 16, reducing the amount of right-of-way necessary for the interchange foot print.



What about an emergency vehicle across a barrier?


The in basket: Bob Miller, who says he holds a commercial drivers license and takes “extreme pride in being as safe as possible” has a question about approaching emergency vehicles.

“I know that you are to pull over to a safe place at first opportunity if

a vehicle is approaching you from either direction in order to give it

plenty of room,” he said.

“Logically, I can’t imagine this same rule applies if the vehicle is in

the oncoming lanes on a divided highway with a barrier, but what about a

4-lane road such as SR 303 north of Fairgrounds Road?

Obviously if the emergency vehicle is coming from behind you, you get

out of the way as quickly and safely as possible, but what about if it’s

in one of the oncoming lanes?”

The out basket: If there is a physical barrier between you and the emergency vehicle that would prevent it from crossing into your lane to proceed around traffic, you are not required to slow or stop. Otherwise, including when there is a two-way left turn lane between you, you must.

In real life, I find that an emergency vehicle coming toward me often is passed me before I manage to get stopped on the shoulder, but I always slow down and make the effort.

Would lane barrier in Gorst help morning commute?

The in basket: Phil Seratt, who must contend with the morning rush hour slowdowns in Gorst as three lanes of traffic heading north shrink to two, suggested installation of a barrier to separate the two through-lanes of travel as a driver nears the railroad overpass.

“I am not an expert,” he said,”but it would seem to me that the left lane would be able to continue moving while the right lanes are merging.

“As it is, people driving in left lane want to stop for the people in the two right lanes to merge.”

The out basket: It had been years since I’d been through Gorst in the early morning. Working from home for four years and then retiring as anything but a freelance columnist in 2007 will do that.

So I visited that spot on June 29. Sure enough, the free flow of traffic at 6:15 a.m. was backed up to the Mattress Ranch by 6:40. It didn’t back up any further and traffic was flowing well again by 7, but school was out for the summer, so it’s probably worse in the winter.

Even so, I didn’t even have to ask my state sources about Phil’s idea. Off the top of my head, I told him that a stationary barrier of concrete or water-filled plastic would narrow the through lanes by two feet or more, require a cushioning structure to minimize injury when vehicles hit its leading edge and trap vehicles behind a disabled car in the inside lane. 

Worse, it would be in place all day every day, preventing the common driver courtesy of moving over to allow for merging traffic ahead, which would increase the likelihood of accidents in the remaining lanes.

A row of upright pylons instead of a continuous barrier would do the same, and present a maintenance and replacement headache when they are knocked over.

It also seemed unlikely the state would stand the expense of either to deal with a short daily period of congestion. 

Steve Bennett of the region’s highway engineers agreed with my analysis, but said a solid barrier takes closer to six feet in width than two.

I did get a surprise in that I’d never gotten a complaint about the drivers who scoot past the backup in the outside lane, which is about to end, then merge into traffic. That maneuver generates regular objections about drivers who do it in the afternoons on southbound Highway 3 in front of Parr Ford and the city sewer plant.