Tag Archives: Burwell

Olympic Avenue in Bremerton proposed for one-way traffic

The in basket: A Gomez writes, “Olympic Avenue between Sixth Street and Burwell Avenue (in Bremerton) is so narrow and with parking allowed on both sides, only one car can fit going in any direction.

“Why doesn’t the city of Bremerton make Olympic Avenue a one-way street just like Fourth and Fifth streets between Olympic and Naval that are as narrow and long as Olympic Avenue?”

The out basket: I had not heard this suggestion before, and neither had Jerry Hauth, who took over the job of city traffic engineer just last year.

“Without further consideration, and probably public input, I don’t have an opinion on this,” he said. “This is the first I have heard of this. As we saw with the suggested closure of Veneta, the community sometimes has very strong feelings about some of this stuff.”

Changing two-way streets to one-way is often a hot-button issue, especially if there are businesses on the street, which isn’t the case on Olympic.

It would be a logical place for such a change through. As the reader notes, the block of Fourth and Fifth between Naval Avenue and Olympic already is what’s called a one-way couplet, with traffic moving in opposite directions. More significantly, the next parallel street to Olympic on the west is one-way southbound.

A. Gomez should take it up with his city councilperson, Dino Davis, who can be reached through the council office at 473-5280 or online at city.council@ci.bremerton.wa.us

Odd behavior by pedestrian signal reported

The in basket: Jeff who gave no last name says that while he tried to cross Naval Avenue at Burwell Street in Bremerton one afternoon, “I got to the intersection as the pedestrian signal was in the middle of its countdown. I pressed the button expecting to have to wait a full cycle, but as soon as the countdown reached zero, the walk signal came up (again).
“I’m not familiar with how signals are set up, but it seems like a programming change should allow the button to reset the countdown if there will be time in the overall light cycle for pedestrians to cross.

After someone presses the button to cross, the white walking person (symbol) comes up with the traffic green. After a few seconds, the white walking person turns into the flashing red hand with the countdown. If a new person walks up and presses the button, nothing happens, the count down continues. As soon as the countdown hits zero, without pressing the button again, the white walking person comes back up.

“My question was why can’t pressing the button a second time allow the white walk signal to come back up without having to go through the whole count down.” 

The out basket: I had never seen such a thing, in Bremerton or elsewhere, but it appears it can and does happen.

Jeff Collins of the Bremerton signal shop says, “The newer traffic signal controllers will allow a pedestrian call to be re-serviced if there are no other calls or if the current cycle has enough time left on that phase.

“Pressing the button repeatedly will not change how the signal operates,” he added. “Once the pedestrian call is placed (the button is pushed), it is locked into the controller and pressing the button again has no effect until after the walk is displayed, then pressing after walk is displayed will only lock the call in until the walk is displayed again.”

Burwell signal at Warren continues to rankle

The in basket: My friend Bill Throm is the latest to angrily object to what he and others see as an unnecessary obstacle to getting into downtown Bremerton on Burwell Street – the Warren Avenue signal that keeps the eastbound through traffic stuck at a red light for little reason.

The reason is a small parking lot up against the shipyard fence, to which a westbound left-turn green light provides access. Bill and others note that they almost never see anyone turn left into the lot, while they are among dozens of eastbound drivers waiting at the opposing red light.

A reader a couple of years ago suggested making access to the lot available only by turning right from eastbound Burwell or pulling straight across on Warren. That would eliminate the westbound left turn and let through eastbound traffic move at the same time as those in the inside lane are turning left onto northbound Warren.

I would think that would provide more time for other movements at that light.

I asked city officials their latest thinking on this conundrum.

The out basket: As in the past, city street engineers are loathe to make piecemeal changes in traffic control, for fear of having to undo them when an unintended consequence raised its head.

I imagine collateral issues would begin with in what directions vehicles would be allowed OUT of the parking lot if a change is made.

Gunnar Fridriksson, the city’s senior street engineer, says,  “We were waiting on traffic counts and modeling to take a look at what can be done here. We received an initial copy (and) reading through the lines on the report, we currently have the signal optimized as much as possible without making a number of other timing changes in the corridor or reconfiguring the signals.

“The Burwell/SR 304 corridor is one (in which) we are currently reviewing all of the timing packages for the signals and trying to synchronize to maximize our flows. This is an effort we are working with Kitsap County on.

“You will be seeing traffic counters (tubes) out for all of the signalized intersections along this stretch (Missouri Gate to Pacific Avenue) over the next several months, as we have time and resources to get the work done.

“We will be working on modeling the entire corridor next, and be likely implementing changes early in 2015.

“Reconfiguring the light at Burwell/Warren to be a right in/right out is something we will be looking at this fall with our analysis. I would just ask your reader for a little more patience as we try to work through this effort with the resources we have.”



When is a one-way street a one-way street?

The in basket: Elaine Henderson sent a typed letter (it’s been a long time since the Road Warrior has gotten one of those) to ask “Is it ever permissible to make a LEFT TURN on a RED LIGHT after making sure the cross street is clear of traffic?

“Yesterday I was driving east on Burwell Street approaching Washington Avenue (in Bremerton) ” she wrote on May 16. “‘The traffic light was red and there was one vehicle waiting at the light. As I stopped behind the vehicle, it made a left turn onto Washington Avenue while the light was still red.

“I drive this route at least once a week, the light at that intersection is usually red. I’ve always waited until the light changes to green before making my left turn.

“Is there perhaps an exception at this intersection regarding no left turn on red because two-way traffic ends at Burwell Street?”

The out basket: It sounds like Elaine may be aware of the little known law permitting lefts against a red light, but only  onto a one-way street going in the direction of the turn.

This could be a thorny legal issue were someone to be stopped and cited for what Elaine saw that driver do, but I’d have to guess that law doesn’t extend to a street that’s one-way SOMEWHERE along its length.

The wording of the state law (RCW 46.61.055) says “vehicle operators facing a steady circular red signal may, after stopping, proceed to make a right turn from a one-way or two-way street into a two-way street or into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn; or a left turn from a one-way or two-way street into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn; unless a sign posted by competent authority prohibits such movement.”

The same thing is permitted at a red arrow light.

Just a block west of Washington, going the other way on Burwell, such a turn is legal onto one-way Pacific Avenue, providing one comes to a complete stop and yields to any traffic with a green light or pedestrian in the way.

I suppose a driver could argue that he WAS turning onto a one-way street, even though the one-way portion of Washington ends before the portion of the street he’s entering. But I wouldn’t expect the arguement  to prevail in court, unless he gets a judge who delights in splitting hairs. And I’d advise Elaine to continue waiting for the green light there.

Bremerton street sign changes advocated

The in basket: Bill Slach of Port Orchard says some additional markings would reduce confusion and the possibility of accidents at a pair of Bremerton intersections.

“Heading south on Pacific where it meets Burwell,” he said, “I again witnessed a driver in the wrong (oncoming) lane, trying to align themselves with one of the three southbound lanes in front of them. An eastbound car on Burwell (who had a green light) wanted to turn north onto Pacific and had to stop abruptly.

“This is not the first time I have seen this,” Bill said. “It seems to occur when folks are headed to Second Street to pick of folks when the ferry comes in.

“Later that day,” he said, “heading south in the center lane on Warren at 11th, the car in front of me turned right onto 11th.  As you know, that once was legal (and some) folks seem to have not forgotten. The car in the turn lane started to change lanes and ended up swerving up the hill.

“Couldn’t the city put directional arrows on the pavement at these particular intersections to clarify the traffic pattern for distracted or forgetful drivers?

The out basket: It looks to me that the Pacific and Burwell situation is worsened by a sign directing drivers to Second Street for ferry passenger loading and unloading. It hangs directly in front of the northbound, oncoming lane, giving the impression that that’s where a driver going to Second Street should be.

Moving the sign to the right with an angled arrow on it could help

And a straight ahead arrow on the through lane pavement of Warren at 11th would also be a cue that turning right from the inside lane no longer is allowed. So would a straight ahead arrow on the red and green signal lenses, but that would cost more.

Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says they have entered Bill’s observations for consideration, and added, “Please let your readers know we appreciate their input and will review the situation and will get back to them.  We rely on citizens to let us know of issues and the best way of letting us know about them is through our first response team.”  Email to PW_Utilities_CustomerResponse <bremerton1@ci.bremerton.wa.us or phone 360.473.5920 to reach them, he said.

Burwell & Pacific, signs and buses

The in basket: Melani Williams thinks the city of Bremerton should post a sign on westbound Burwell Street at Pacific Avenue saying that left turners must yield to oncoming traffic when the light is green.

She regularly makes that turn to go down to Kitsap Credit Union, she said.

The out basket: Yielding to oncoming traffic in making a left turn at a green ball light is what’s called a rule of the road, of which drivers are expected to be knowledgable.

Street engineer sometimes have signs put up to emphasize rules of the road, but usually don’t want to incur the expense.

Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says, “You are correct, that is the rule of the road so no sign is actually

needed.  However, one can be added if there starts to be an accident history where a reminder may be helpful to prevent them.”

I last wrote about turning left there back in August of 2011, when I took the opportunity to once again publicize a little known law permitting vehicles to turn left against a red light, whether a solid ball or an arrow, but only onto a one-way street and only after coming to a complete stop and yielding to any traffic with the right of way.

There are not many such locations in our county, mostly signal-controlled freeway on-ramps, but Burwell and Pacific is another one.

That column was about having to wait behind buses when the light is green, but it mentioned that transit officials didn’t know about the red light law. John Clauson, since named transit’s executive director, said then he’d look into the law’s applicability to buses. I neglected until now to find out what they decided.

Jack Freer, Transit’s operations manager, says that though it’s legal, it’s not something the bus drivers should do.

“I don’t think this would be a safe practice for transit…at that intersection specifically” he said, “because there is a fair amount of eastbound traffic on Burwell intending to make a right turn into one of those (Pacific Avenue) lanes…plus there is a fair amount of traffic southbound on Pacific that may be intending to continue on down Pacific or turn left on to Burwell, in front of the bus.

“If an operator misjudged the intentions of any of those other vehicles, an accident would most likely occur. For the most part, most of us are not aware that a left turn on a red light, after coming to a stop, is allowed…and confusion, and consternation, would most likely ensue. Frankly, I don’t think the few seconds this maneuver might save is worth the risk of an accident.”

Since I don’t want to be contributing to accidents, and Jack doesn’t say it specifically, I want to emphasize one more time that left turns against a red light are allowed ONLY ONTO A ONE-WAY STREET. And that probably isn’t legal in other states. I’ve never heard an explanation as to why it’s permitted here.


Money woes are behind Highway 304 landscaping deterioration

The in basket: Jim Civilla and Julie Jones have asked about the deteriorating appearance of plantings along Highway 304 in Bremerton.

Jim wrote, “A couple of years ago the Navy Yard Highway was completely changed.  Businesses uprooted, roads changed…in an effort to make the gateway into Bremerton more appealing.
“But, from the Highway 3 interchange all the way to the shipyard is anything but beautiful. The weeds have taken over on both sides of the road as well as the middle barrier.
“Who is responsible now for maintaining???” he asked. “And why isn’t it being done?”
Julie focused on another part of that highway, including the curb protrusions at Burwell Street intersections.

“They keep the downtown area near the ferry terminal looking fantastic,” she wrote. “I love it down there. But I am wondering what their plans are concerning other very visible, and what I would consider important, parts of town – roads that visitors take to get into town.
“Specifically I am asking if they have any plans for maintenance along Burwell, especially those bump-outs, and the median along the shipyard.  Those areas are an embarrassing disgrace.  The median is so overgrown and full of weeds, and I spotted a very healthy blackberry bush in one of the bump-outs near State Street. on Burwell.
“Did the city not realize those plants would grow?  Or that weeds might invade those areas?  Maybe they should have invested in silk plants!
“If they can’t maintain the bump-outs, they ought to pull out all the vegetation and fill them in with concrete.  At least an unsuspecting passerby won’t get snagged by a thorny blackberry vine.

“And as for the median in front of the shipyard, the one that looked so great when they put it in a few years ago…please tell me they have a plan to get out there and clean up that mess.”

The out basket: I saw a city crew cleaning up a short stretch of the weeds near Kitsap Transit a few weeks ago, but the overgrowth is the dominating feature of that landscaping.

Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says,  “This is a little frustrating for me personally, as well, having been involved with the design and construction of the corridor, watching it be reduced to weeds, overgrown shrubs and litter.

“The city is responsible for maintenance of the landscaping along Highway 304 from the ferry terminal to the interchange with Highway 3.

“The landscaping installed with the various 304 projects was based on citizen input from public outreach meetings during the design phase at a time when the city was more able to handle this maintenance.  The city has seen significant budget/staff reductions over the last few years from the park and street departments and this work is low priority (compared) to park maintenance and street repairs.

“There have recently been a few volunteer groups who have contacted the city and expressed an interest in helping maintain these areas, and we are coordinating with them.  If there are additional readers, or a business, who would like to help in this effort, we can provide information on the groups so that they could join in.”

The engineers’ phone number is (360) 473-5270.

Why are left turns banned from Park onto Burwell?

The in basket: Nancy Thayer of Bremerton wrote to say, “I noticed that when driving south on Park,  there is no left turn allowed onto Burwell.  What is the reasoning behind that?  I could understand if cars traveling on Park had a stop sign rather than a light, but since they do have a light it seems silly not to allow them to turn left.”

She also wonders if the flashing yellow turn signals on Sixth Street will be kept when the detour around the 11th Street sewer project closure that prompted there installation ends in August.

“I hope not because it is such a pain to have to wait in a left turn lane when nothing is coming toward you,” she said.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the Bremerton street engineers says the left-turn prohibition at the south end of Park is temporary and construction related, but not the 11th Street work.

“The construction in Park Avenue (a block north) cut the traffic (detectors) for this movement so there was no way for the signal to detect vehicles,” he said.”We did not want to put this signal on timed cycle and have it conflict with outgoing ferry traffic, so a quick and simple fix was to prohibit the movement – especially as the roadway has been closed most of the time with construction.

“With the construction nearly complete, we should be removing the restriction here shortly.”

As I’ve reported here before, the yellow flashing left turn lights, installed with money that came from the sewer project to facilitate movement on the designated detour, will be kept in service when 11th Street reopens.




Mismatched downtown Bremerton sidewalk raises a question

The in basket: Mike Burton writes, “The city of Bremerton has put a lot of effort and expense into making the roads and sidewalks in the downtown area and, specifically, Pacific Avenue look very nice, and they plan to continue that north of Sixth Street on Pacific.

“As they were doing all of this,” Mike said, “the city purposely worked around a section of the sidewalk between Second Street and Burwell Avenue on the east side of Pacific. That section looks awful compared to everything else the city has done.

“Is there an explanation? Are there any plans to ‘fix’ that so that it conforms with all of the surrounding sidewalks?”

“Mostly the problem is aesthetic,” he conceded, ” but it is a bit uneven, especially where the patches and the ‘tar’ that they use for sealing meet, compared to the rest of the sidewalk around it. It just looks ridiculous, considering the city’s efforts to make all this look so nice!”

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city engineering staff says, “That ‘sidewalk’ is actually the top for a very large vault that houses the electrical servicing the Harborside Commons garage (the old JC Penney building).

“WIth the tunnel project, we did look at trying to either have it replaced or resurfaced to make it more presentable.  Unfortunately, due to the way it was constructed, we were unable to find an economical way of doing so that met with the state’s schedule for the completion of the improvements.

“Depending on what happens with the building, there may be an opportunity in the future for improvement. ”


Longer one-way stretch on Pacific Avenue proposed

The in basket: Ian Logan suggests lengthening the one-way portion of Pacific Avenue in Bremerton.

“Change the 300 block of Pacific Avenue, one block north of Burwell, from two-way to one-way-only southbound,” he wrote. “Pacific Avenue is already one-way southbound immediately south of its intersection with Burwell as it approaches the ferry terminal and the southern portion of downtown.

“The 300-block of Pacific has very poor center-striping right now (faded and far too hard to see), and I have on more than one occasion seen southbound traffic in what is supposed to be the northbound lane immediately north of Burwell.

“This change would have no negative effect on downtown traffic and would provide a safer and more easily navigated approach to the ferry terminal,” Ian said.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city of Bremerton street engineers says he appreciates the input, adding, “There are times that a citizen looking at a situation provides a solution that we had not previously thought of.

“In this case,” Gunnar said, ” the city has looked at several scenarios for downtown, including making Washington Avenue and Pacific Avenue (one-way in opposite directions).  This dates back to the ’60’s or so when the city starting really running into parking and circulation problems.

“Businesses have typically not embraced one-way streets due to perceived problems with customers getting to the business.  Studies on one-way versus two-way streets have found both have their merits and problems, but it really boils down to a personal preference/bias.

“We do have a downtown circulation plan that has been indefinitely shelved for now, but I will include (Ian’s suggestion)  into the file for when we pick it back up,” he concluded..