Tag Archives: Brownsville

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.”

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).

Tree limbs said to block view of 303-Brownsville Highway signals

The in basket: Martha Mealey writes, “Just wondering if there are any plans to trim back the trees on southbound Highway 303 as you approach Brownsville Highway intersection.

“It’s very hard to see the light when it changes,” she said.

The out basket: I’ve driven this three times to see if trees present a problem and I suppose a few limbs closest to the signal could use a trimming.

Approaching from a distance, there is heavy overgrowth off deciduous trees on the right side of the highway, obscuring the signals, but the orientation of the signal lenses would prevent a good look at whether the light is green or red until you get pretty close even if there were no trees.

But I have referred Martha’s inquiry to the state maintenance office here for consideration of whether some tree limbs should go.

Arrival of autumn may temporarily correct whatever problem exists as the leaves fall.

Brownsville school zone sign relocated

The in basket: Gary Minder of Brownsville said the school zone at Brownsville Elementary had been shrunk and he wondered why.

“The school zone flashing light on northbound Illahee Road NE used to be in the vicinity of the intersection of Illahee Road and NE Arizona Street.  Now it’s maybe 400-500 feet further north near where Washington Street intersects Illahee.

“My minor daughter received a traffic ticket in the old school zone and has a contested hearing coming up in May,” he said. “I would like to know if the school zone was by chance moved as a result of others ticketed in the old zone.”

The out basket: Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County, says, “The sign was moved to make it a legal school zone and to enhance enforcement.

“State law is very clear on where a school zone can exist.  School zones can only extend 300 feet from active school grounds or designated school crosswalks. When the flasher was initially installed it only covered the crosswalk, and left northbound Illahee Road at the posted 25 mph speed limit, and not a 20 mph school zone.

“Moving the sign to its current location served two purposes.  One, it established a legally enforceable school zone for northbound traffic at the school.  Second, it allows a sheriff’s deputy to see both school zone signs from one vantage point, so both northbound and southbound traffic can be enforced.  “When we moved the flashing sign to its current location we had to replace the school zone speed limit for the crosswalk.  At crosswalks we normally configure them so that they are enforceable when children are present as the current sign designates,” Jeff said.




Illahee Road missing a speed limit sign

The in basket: Jim Baker writes, “Just wondering about a recently missing speed limit sign. 

“Northbound on Illahee Road just past the Brownsville Elementary School and Utah Street there used to be a sign restoring the speed limit to 35 mph from 25 mph. It went missing a week or so ago. It is still 35 mph on southbound Illahee from Brownsville Highway almost to Utah – if that’s 35, I can’t imagine that the limit northbound along there should be 25. Makes no sense.”

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer says, “There should be a 35 mph sign in that area.” Since the question was posted on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com in late October, the county has replaced the missing one. 

Doug Bear, public spokesman for public works, adds, “With over 900 miles of county-maintained roads, our crews can’t be everywhere, We count on reports from residents like your reader. You can report missing signs by calling Kitsap 1 (360-337-5777, formerly called the county’s Open Line) or sending email to help@kitsap1.com.

“Reporting downed stop signs is critical,” he adds. “You can report them to Kitsap 1 during regular working hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 – 4:30.) After hours or on weekends report downed stop signs by calling 9-1-1. Report all other downed signs to Kitsap 1.”

Half of Ogle Road repaved, what about other half?


The in basket: Cheryl Berger was perplexed in mid-June by what looked like a shabby paving job on the northernmost stretch of Ogle Road in Brownsville and e-mailed me for an explanation.

It turned out the work was what is called pre-leveling for a full repaving, and that was done the day after she wrote to me. 

But that left her with another question. “Do you think they’re going to do the southern half (south of Madison)?  I mean, its pretty ratty, too,” she said.

The out basket: Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works, replies, “The portion south of there is in better condition than what we paved and did not rank high enough among priorities to get overlaid this year.

“We look at all roads each season to determine how best to utilize the limited funding available for paving. The portion south will be considered for paving next summer,” he said.