Tag Archives: cameras

Still waiting for Hood Canal Bridge approach cameras

The in basket: Dan Godecke asks about a series of cameras he understood would be installed along Highway 3 between its interchange with Highway 305 and the Hood Canal Bridge. They were to allow people to go online and see how bad congestion was, particularly during closures of the bridge to vehicle traffic, such as when a ship was passing through the draw span.

The project was done instead of creating a through lane on Highway 3 leading to the bridge that would allow vehicles not heading to the bridge but needing to proceed north a way past all the waiting cars, he said.

Dan still would much prefer an extra lane to get past the bridge closure lineups, but he’d like to access the images from the cameras to see if they will help. He wonders why the images aren’t available online.

The out basket: Kelly Stowe of the state transportation department says the cameras are all installed, but the state is ‘”currently working with local phone companies to establish communications from the highway to our Traffic Management Center (TMC) that is located in Parkland (in Pierce County).” Parkland is where all the cameras in the seven-county Olympic Region, including Kitsap, are managed.

“This communication between the camera on the highway and TMC is necessary for (drivers) to ultimately see the cameras on our Traffic Alerts page,” she said..

“Once the communication issues have been resolved, a field inspection and certification of the system will have to occur so we can ensure the camera images are stable before they are made public via the Web,” Kelly said. “It will still be a few more weeks before these camera images are made available to the public but our technicians are working on it.”

Warren Avenue Bridge railings to be raised, and other jobs

The in basket: While I was visiting with State Project Engineer Jeff Cook and his assistant, Andy Larson recently, researching a column on Manette Bridge access, I learned of a couple of state projects I either had no idea were coming, or about which I lacked the most current information.

The out basket: As early as the week of Oct. 4, drivers on the Warren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton at night will find work under way to raise both the inside and outside railings on the bridge.

The railings will be the same height and both will be taller than they are now when the 42-working-day project is complete, they said.

The work will be done at night, to minimize complications from the fact that the Manette Bridge is subject to intermittent closures while its replacement is built.

“The barrier replacement is part of a larger effort to bring traffic barrier up to current standards,” Jeff said.

He also tells me work is progressing on putting nine cameras and three Highway Advisory Radio systems along Highway 3 between Poulsbo and the Hood Canal Bridge. When finished, people at home or with wi-fi in their vehicle will be able to see or hear whether traffic is backed up and how far should the bridge be closed to traffic.

Lastly, Andy and Jeff filled me in on next year’s cliff stabilization work, which they call “rock scaling,” on Highway 3 between Gorst and Bremerton.

Loose rock will be pried out by pry bars or via big air bags that will push the rock out when inflated, they said. They are similar to the air bags that lift collapsed slabs of buildings to rescue trapped people, Jeff said.

Andy said dowels will be inserted into other more stable rock to hold it in place as well as the metal curtain that will be draped over the cliff to  further prevent falling rock from getting into traffic. Similar screen can be seen on cliffs in Snoqualmie Pass and down by Aberdeen.

Sections of the center concrete barrier dividing the highway below the cliffs  will be removed and traffic moved toward the railroad tracks during the work, Andy said.

Fast yellows alleged at camera intersections

 

The in basket: A Bremerton woman who asked for anonymity and John Hamby, of Central Kitsap both feel there sometimes isn’t enough time to stop safely at the Bremerton intersections with the red light enforcement cameras on Warren Avenue, at the Olympic College light in the woman’s case and at 11th Street in John’s. 

“This is a shorter intersection,” said the woman, whose husband was cited for running a red light at the college, “and if you are doing 30 mph and are at the crosswalk when the light turns yellow, you can’t stop or you’d be in the middle of the intersection. 

“Maybe if this light has a lot more tickets (than others), they might need to look into lengthening the yellow light,” she said. She wondered what statistics from that intersection and others show.

John delayed a vacation to protest a ticket he got at Warren and 11th when the camera caught him. He believes that a week or so after his violation, he saw the same light, the one northbound, give him only about a second of yellow to stop, which he managed to do by jamming on his brakes, he said. 

That led him to question the length of the yellow light the day he WAS cited.

John Quatermass of Gig Harbor told me over coffee that in some cities, the private contractor who provides, runs and profits from the red light cameras sets the length of the yellow lights, a conflict of interest.

Finally, when I told a group of old timers gathered for coffee in downtown Bremerton that I had never seen a short yellow light, a few of them said they had, and attributed it to a bus or emergency vehicle having taken control of the light so it didn’t have to stop.

The out basket: I told the Bremerton woman that being in an intersection on a red light isn’t an infraction if the driver didn’t enter the intersection on red. As long as the car is across the wide white stop bar before the light turns red, there is no violation. So the width of the intersection has nothing to do with it. Even if it did, I told her, it would be the wider intersections, not the smaller ones, where a driver wouldn’t be all the way across before the light is red.

I watched both intersections through several cycles one weekday and never saw a yellow light shorter than the three seconds or so that is standard with all the traffic signals around here, with or without enforcement cameras. 

I asked Greg Cryder, Bremerton’s signal chief, about the length of the yellow lights in the city. Just to cover all the bases, I also asked him if it is even possible for the yellow lights to be shortened at times, such as by a prankster, criminal or terrorist who somehow got control of the system. 

“No one can gain control of our signal system,” Greg said. “To make changes at most of our signals, you must open the cabinet and down load directly into the controller. 

“Opticom (the system that lets authorized vehicles change the lights) will make the signal act differently than normal,” he said. “(But) the yellow

time is still 3.0 to 3.5 seconds, regardless.

“The person who got the ticket should watch the video (of the violation). It will show the state of the light before and after the infraction. 

“The red light corporation and our police department have to review the pictures and videotape to ensure that it meets the requirements to be a good ticket. 

“If the person received the ticket, I would assume that two  independent people reviewed it and determined it to be a good ticket,” Greg concluded.

Bremerton police Lt. Pete Fisher said city employees, not the contractor, set the length of the yellow lights in Bremerton.

He hasn’t been able to tell me if the light at the college has proportionately more camera-recorded violations than elsewhere.

John Hamby went to court on Oct. 24 to plead his case. I was there. In the next Road Warrior, I’ll tell you what I saw in court that day.

 

 

 

 

In the red light camera court

 

The in basket: In the previous Road Warrior, we looked at claims that the yellow lights at some of the Bremerton intersections where cameras record red light violations are unfairly short. 

The inquiry led me to the court of Bremerton Municipal Judge Pro Tem Amanda Harvey for a calendar of red light enforcement hearings, where I was enlightened and surprised by some of the things I saw.

The out basket: John Hamby of Central Kitsap was among those hoping to avoid the $124 fine for running a red light, on northbound Warren Avenue at 11th Street in his case.

John was reluctant to concede that the video of his infraction, which he watched in the court office before seeing it in the courtroom, showed that he was guilty. But the video showed him getting the standard three seconds of yellow and then just missing getting into the intersection before it turned red.

Judge Harvey tells those who appear before her that if they contest the ticket and lose that she will impose the full $124. Those who “mitigate” it, conceding the violation but offering an explanation, may have the fine reduced.

John saw the way the wind was blowing and “mitigated,” as did everyone else in court that day who had been caught by a cameras running the red light. Harvey knocked off $34 from his fine. I didn’t see anyone who mitigated not receive at least $34 off. One white-haired woman got a $64 reduction.

Elected Municipal Court Judge Jim Docter tells me what I saw was pretty typical of what occurs in camera court each day.

Bremerton Finance Officer Cathy Johnson says revenue from the cameras is keeping up with expectations anyway. It came to $546,000 from April through September, she said. Also as expected, the number of tickets per month has dropped, which proponents will regard as a sign of success for the program. 

Many of the tickets were dismissed the day I was in court. Those drivers testified under oath that they weren’t in the car at the time of the infraction. Some said a friend or relative had the car, or that it was in the shop and probably was out for a test drive at the time.

Harvey universally dismissed every ticket upon such a claim from the car owner. I’m told the city doesn’t check on the truth of those excuses. But if a person somehow got caught lying, he or should could be charged with perjury, a felony with a much steeper penalty than $124.

I was struck by the large number of tickets issued for a right turns on red, in which the driver didn’t come to a complete stop. There were a lot more of them than those for running a red light while proceeding through the intersection or turning left.

A Chinese fellow who needed an interpreter to make his case alibied that he’d watched since he was cited and that  everyone rolls through the 11th and Warren right turn just like he did. Perhaps so, Harvey said, but it’s still illegal. She cut his fine by $44.

I realize that I often am just shy of a complete stop when I make such turns, especially when a complete stop would mean a pack of approaching cars on the intersecting street would then keep me from making the turn until they had all passed.

I have had to remind myself to do it legally, especially at the camera-enforced intersections in Bremerton. 

I also learned that the cameras record the speed of the cars, but that can’t be used to support a speeding citation. It’s part of how the camera knows when to record a violation.