Tag Archives: Burwell

Left turns on red and transit buses on Burwell

The in basket: Ric Logg sent an e-mail back in May asking if I’d heard any rumors of a left-turn arrow being added to the light at Pacific and Burwell (in Bremerton).

“The buses get jammed up in the morning commute to the ferry terminal,” he said. “Kinda stinks having to sit through two lights waiting for a break so the bus can make a left-hand turn and get to the ferry terminal.”

The out basket: I wouldn’t expect a change in the signal at that intersection, for lack of money, but there is hope of a change as regards the buses.

That left turn carries buses and all other traffic onto a one-way street leading downhill to the terminal. As I’ve written often before, a little known state law allows a left turn against a red light where no sign prohibits it, but only onto a one-way street and only after coming to a complete stop and yielding to conflicting traffic.

Kitsap Transit executive John Clauson turns out to be among those who had never heard of the law. (Some police officers also hadn’t and have ticketed Road Warrior readers for making such a turn, for whom I’ve interceded twice to get the ticket dismissed).

John said he’ll look into the law and it’s applicability to transit vehicles, so it’s possible Kitsap Transit drivers will be made aware of it and be allowed to make the turn against red in the future.

I’m not sure whether traffic flow will provide many chances for those turns during morning rush hours. It also sounds like Ric’s complaint addresses times when the Burwell light is green, not red, and it’s oncoming traffic that keeps the buses from proceeding.

It’s not much of a problem just now anyway, Ric tells me, as the closure of the Manette Bridge has reduced traffic on Burwell at Pacific.

No signal change expected soon at Burwell and Warren

The in basket: Dennis Halstead is the latest reader to question why the traffic signal on Burwell Street at Warren Avenue in Bremerton isn’t friendlier to drivers heading toward downtown. They have to wait for a red light to change until long after westbound Burwell drivers get a green light.

“Why is (it), whether it’s east- or westbound on Burwell … that both directions don’t have the light synchronized to either go or stop?” he asked. “This does not make any sense to me that one lane is allowed to proceed when the other lane is stopped burning fuel.”
The out basket: The state had temporary jurisdiction over the signals at that intersection in the weeks after the downtown ferry tunnel was finished to make sure traffic flowed easily through the tunnel.

A state official explained at the time that the eastbound light stayed red to allow any westbound driver who wanted to turn left into the small parking lot on the south side of Burwell to make the turn. There’s no turn pocket there, so a westbound driver waiting for oncoming traffic to clear would cause traffic exiting the ferry to back up behind him.

The state now defers to the city on control of that signal, as it normally does on signals on state highways inside a city. But no change is imminent.

“No decision has been made at this point,” says Jeff Collins head of the city’s signal shop. “We are aware of the complaint but until we have money and or staff to make modifications we will leave it as is.

“It would require reprogramming of the signal controller, addition of a no-left-turn sign, and removal of the traffic head with left-turn arrow and replaced with standard three-section head,” he said.

There’s hope for a change at Burwell & Warren

The in basket: A lot of people use the time they spend sitting at the red light on eastbound Burwell Street at Warren Avenue in Bremerton wondering why they have to sit there. The inside lane, dedicated to those wanting to turn left onto Warren, obviously must be stopped while westbound Burwell traffic has the green light. But the only conflict with those in the outside lane, who can only go straight,  is the extremely rare car turning left into a parking lot there.

Jeff David and H.W. Slach are among those to write saying those infrequent left turns could be made to yield to oncoming traffic – or be prohibited altogether – so the eastbound Burwell traffic could have a green light and wouldn’t have to wait for both lanes to get a green light.

Jeff said, “If the curb lane was given a green light eastbound (make the center lane left-only to East Bremerton and make it red), while the ferry traffic is going west, it would move more traffic to the ferry and downtown.

“I have watched the eastbound traffic and very few go straight in the center lane,” he said. “I am sure our city light engineers could make the light changes.”

The out basket: Back last fall, Project Engineer Brenden Clarke of the state’s downtown ferry tunnel project said they tried that, but two years of nothing but left turns from both lanes while the tunnel was being built had created some driver expectations that created collision hazards.

I asked if the passage of time might make it safer now to let that outside eastbound lane go when westbound traffic has the green light, and he said the tunnel has been finished long enough that’s now the city of Bremerton’s call.

And the city might do it, but only as part of broader review. It has a downtown traffic study coming up that might result in some changed traffic flows – making Fourth Street one-way eastbound is the change most often mentioned.

The study won’t deal with Burwell, but city street engineer Larry Matel says, “The city does have a modest amount of funds in our budget that could be used for traffic signal optimization in the Burwell corridor from downtown to Callow and on to Highway 3.

“This effort would be outside of the current downtown effort and would most likely begin after the downtown effort is completed, probably this fall.”

Timing slip-up slowed shipyard traffic

The in basket: Darrell Franks of Union e-mailed to say, “I wonder if you can find out what’s going on with traffic signal timing at the intersections of Burwell and Montgomery, and Burwell and Callow (in Bremerton).

The lights are badly mis-timed, causing traffic to back up terribly after 4 p.m., when shipyard traffic becomes heavy.

“As they are timed now,” Darrell said, “the Montgomery light will be green while the Callow light is red, which does no good at all. When the Callow light turns green, the Montgomery light goes red, which allows a relative handful of traffic to move from Burwell onto Callow.

“This problem began about three weeks ago, and I expected it to be solved by now,” he said.

The out basket: I don’t find myself in commuter traffic much anymore, being retired, but I had seen exactly what Darrell described twice this month at shipyard quitting time. I hit the backup on Burwell back at Olympic Avenue and watched the odd signal changes as I crawled forward. I wondered if it was always that bad.

Jeff Collins of the city of Bremerton signal shop said Darrell made a good call on when the problem started.

About two or three weeks ago his shop changed the batteries and reset the clocks in the controllers that keep the lights more or less in sync, he said..

‘I found one of the intersections exactly one minute off on the clocks,” he said Wednesday. It should be better now.

“Thanks for the heads up,” he said, a commendation that really should go to Darrell. I’m surprised he’s the only one who complained.

Burwell-Pacific signal questioned during construction

 

The in basket: Nancy Thayer, Lindsey Skelly, Michael Burton and Barney Bernhard have all contacted me in March about the traffic signal at Burwell Street and Pacific Avenue in Bremerton. 

Nancy asks, “Since the road work is going to go on for some time and Pacific is closed to traffic, why is the light at Burwell operating per usual rather than an alternate means?  It seems ridiculous for traffic on Burwell to have to sit and wait at a red light for nonexistent cross traffic.”

Lindsey makes the same point, adding that Burwell traffic is also heavier than normal because drivers that normally access the ferry on Pacific now must use Burwell.

Michael was upset that the pedestrian signal for those wanting to cross Burwell on the west side of Pacific isn’t working. “Since the signal is set to green all the time for Burwell (understandable), there is no way to stop traffic in order to cross safely,” he said. “I actually dashed across between vehicles and pressed the button for the people waiting on the other side, because, otherwise, they would have had to wait until someone at one of the other three corners activated the light.” 

Barney wondered why westbound Burwell drivers who stop for a red light and want to turn left don’t do it when traffic allows. He is aware that left turns on red are permissible if onto a one-way street, and the turning driver comes to a full stop first and yields to any traffic or pedestrians with a green or walk light.

One recent morning, he said, he was stuck behind six cars wanting to turn left toward the ferry terminal, who sat through the red light before turning. 

The out basket: Obviously, there is some confusion about what that light was doing during the closure of Pacific for construction. I see that it occasionally is reopened with a sandwich board stop sign at Burwell while it awaits final paving, but here is what has been happening.

Michael’s point hints at the answer to Nancy and Lindsey’s question. Pedestrians still can activate a red light to cross Burwell on the east side. Eduardo Aban, the city’s project engineer for the Pacific work, said the traffic detection equipment that ordinarily detects cars coming south on Pacific and changes the Burwell light to red for that reason is turned off. 

But Michael is correct that the pedestrian signals on the west side of the intersection aren’t working, because of the construction.

Eduardo said they will bag the pedestrian signals for that crosswalk until they are operating again, and pedestrians will have to walk east across Pacific, then across Burwell on the east side. That will be enough for many of them, and they can just proceed straight. If they just have to get to the other corner on the west side of Burwell, they’ll have to make a third crossing to get there. 

That might seem an annoying inconvenience, but it’s not unheard of. Some intersections outside the city require that kind of three-corner crossing to minimize  vehicle delays by eliminating one pedestrian movement. That’s how it is on Mile Hill Drive at Jackson Avenue and at Woods Road over where I live in South Kitsap. 

I had to tell Barney that it’s rare for a driver to know of the law allowing red turns against a red light onto a one-way street, so it’s not surprising that most won’t do it. All it takes is the lead car wanting to turn left to hold up even those behind  who know the turn can be made legally after stopping and when no conflicting traffic is coming.

One block down Burwell needs help too, says pedestrian

 

 

The in basket: Dennis Van Ieperen, one of those who crosses Burwell Street many days on his way to work at Naval Base Bremerton said the next intersection east of State Street, where a traffic signal has just been installed for pedestrian safety, needs some revisions.

A Navy person was hit and badly hurt there this winter, he noted. It’s the Chester Avenue intersection.

Visibility of pedestrians is reduced there by a tree and shrubbery that fill what is called a bulb-out, a widening of the sidewalk that lessens the distance to cross the street, he said. Worsening the situation is the position of the street light right above the tree and the fact the pedestrian warning sign on that side of Burwell is farther back from the street edge that its counterpart for westbound traffic.

“You are supposed to detect a pedestrian in the dark behind the bushes and that tree,” he said. “Why is it still there?”.

The out basket: Colen Corey, the acting public works operations manager for the city of Bremerton, replies, “I agree that there is some

vegetation there, however there are 3 signs there indicating a crosswalk

that can be seen from a reasonable distance.

“We at public works are very sensitive to the controversial nature of cutting or removing vegetation from the right of way, but we always strive to do the prudent thing. Currently,

some slight pruning of the shrubbery will be performed to enhance

visibility, but there are no plans to add to or reposition existing

signs at this time.”

Colen included the accompanying photo to support his position.

Again with the Burwell-Warren traffic light

 

The in basket: The Burwell Street-Warren Avenue intersection and its traffic signal in Bremerton continue to draw suggestions from readers. The latest comes from Ralph Gribbin, who says, “Nothing dumps so many vehicles onto Burwell in such a short time as the ferries. Yet when Burwell was redone a few years ago, the big dump was only given one lane to use, yet the eastbound traffic that straggles through got two lanes. Doesn’t make sense to me.  

“Now with the tunnel finished,” he said, “the intersection with Warren Avenue gets two lanes eastbound straight through and the left turn onto Warren only gets one lane. Most of the eastbound Burwell traffic turns left from (the) one lane.

During the tunnel the construction, he continued, “two lanes turned left without any problems. Make that a two-lane turn and ease the lines that are waiting, and just maybe the time for that signal could be reduced and still not cause backups,” he said.

The out basket: As I recall, making Burwell two lanes inbound and one outbound years ago resulted from having only enough right of way for three lanes. I imagine making it easier to get out of town than into town bore some psychological message in a struggling city, so they did the opposite.

As for allowing left turns from both eastbound lanes of Burwell at Warren, it worked fine when the tunnel project closed both lanes for going straight. 

Now, says tunnel project engineer Brenden Clarke, eastbound drivers can see two lanes available on the other side of the intersection. Even with the left-most green signal a left-only arrow,  he said, “this would violate driver expectancy and could result in eastbound Burwell traffic in the left lane continuing forward (because they can see an open lane in front of them) and could result in a collision with motorists in the right lane turning left.”

Left turns and the new Burwell-State light

The in basket: When I read that Bremerton and the Navy had scraped together $200,000 to put a traffic signal at Burwell and State streets, the site of numerous complaints about danger to pedestrians going to and from Naval Base Bremerton, I wondered how the signal would handle left turns. It’s not much of a problem eastbound, where two lanes offer traffic a way around a left turner, but westbound there is only one lane and a driver waiting for oncoming traffic to clear before turning left holds up everyone behind him. 

The out basket: Larry Matel of the city’s street engineers says, “This signal was warranted by the number of pedestrian crossings at this

location. Signal heads will be red-amber-green on all approaches, with

NO left-turn signal arrows. There simply are not enough left turning

cars at this location to warrant.” 

The new signal, on flashing mode today, will go into full operation Jan. 21.

Long wait for a green light on Burwell at Warren

The in basket: Robert Campbell says, “I travel by bus and sometimes by car to and from PSNS.  I have noticed that the new lights after the tunnel project was completed at Burwell and Warren are slowing commuter traffic eastbound. 

“For some reason,” he said, “the engineers felt that westbound traffic on Burwell needed a left-turn signal to enter a Diamond parking lot at the south end of Warren. Not only does this seem odd, the left hand light is very long. Eastbound drivers going to the ferry terminal stack up at the light in the mornings and during peak ferry loading times, while no one ever turns left. 

“I have not timed this light, but few people turn left into the parking lot.  And the time it delays eastbound traffic towards the terminal seems unwarranted.

 “I would submit that this light is totally unnecessary,” Robert said. “And certainly it should stay green for a very short time.  It is a back route into an alley that could access the back of the new police station, but the police station has a much shorter access just west of it.”

Also Bill Throm of South Kitsap told me many months ago he got the impression the light stayed green way too long for cars EXITING that parking lot.

The out basket: Brenden Clarke, project engineer on the tunnel, who also holds sway over the changes made to accommodate the tunnel, says the problem is kind of collateral damage from serving the main traffic flows.

“Due to the through and left movement on Burwell heading eastbound, the east and westbound directions of Burwell must have separate phases,” he said.  “As a result, when westbound comes up green the eastbound direction must receive a red so that the eastbound lefts are not in conflict.  

As long as they have to be stopping eastbound Burwell traffic while the westbound is flowing, they might as well leave the turn arrow into the parking lot on green even if traffic rarely demands it, he said. No other movement would be permissible during that time.

They tried splitting the left turns onto northbound Warren from the through eastbound traffic, giving the latter a green light while the inside lane from which turns must now be made stayed red. 

“Despite pavement markings and the signal displays, motorists who have been used to turning left only for two years did not take well to the new configuration,” he said. “People were turning left on red, or turning left from the right lane when left lane motorists were going through.” 

“The signal is currently set up as efficiently and safely as possible considering the constraints,” he said. “(The state)  and the city of Bremerton worked together to come up with the signal timing that is currently being used.  Without major (and costly) modifications to the signal, we feel that it is operating as well as it can be.” 

As for traffic leaving the parking lot, I can’t say what the case may have been back when Bill mentioned it, but it’s green only long enough to serve waiting cars now.

 

 

 

 

Double right turns at Burwell and Pacific to end

The in basket: Seth Franklin and Gregory Hanenburg say they think the revised intersection of Burwell Street and Pacific Avenue in Bremerton is unsafe.

“Just about every morning heading to the ferry I have been witness to near misses at the intersection,” says Seth. “(They) have all occurred between two cars turning right from Burwell into the far left lane of Pacific heading toward the ferry.” One car in each lane tries to turn into the single local traffic lane on Pacific, he said.  

“Judging by the (confusing) signs posted at the intersections, it would appear that the left lane is for turning left, going straight or turning right into the passenger drop-off lane. The right lane on Burwell appears to be for turning right into the (ferry) loading lanes. “

He suggested that the overhead sign denoting those turns be augmented by pavement arrows.

Gregory says simply that “two cars nearly ran me off the road” when he tried to get into the local access lane of Pacific from Burwell’s right lane.

The out basket: I’m not surprised that confusion reigns there, and I’m told we can expect changes in the signs in the near future. 

Turning right from the left-most lane of two heading in the same direction seems so counter-intuitive that many drivers do what Gregory did, which is contrary to the signs. The overhead sign delineates the left lane for going straight or turning left or right into the local access lane. Burwell’s right eastbound lane is reserved for turning into the ferry access lanes, but the signs, in addition to being hidden by the landscaping, don’t make that clear. 

The diagonal rows of white raised buttons (called “turtles”) those in the right lane must cross in trying for the local access lane are an additional cue that they’re doing something wrong, but don’t seem to deliver the message either. 

Brenden Clarke, whose state project office retains control over that area as part of its oversight of the ferry tunnel work, says, “For some reason we are having issues at the corner of Burwell and Pacific with the double right turn. We are revising the traffic markings and signs to allow only the far right lane on eastbound Burwell to turn right onto Pacific. The center lane with be through or left only. The signs should be in place within the next couple of weeks.

“The turtles will be removed,” he said. “They were intended to keep motorists in the right lane from going into the far left lane on Pacific. 

“There are a number of difficulties in channelizing traffic at the Pacific and Burwell intersection to make this clear, not the least of which is the brick paved crosswalk.  In light of these difficulties, the decision was made to eliminate the double right option.”