Tag Archives: Central Kitsap

End of McWilliams Road plagued by crashes

The in basket: Pete Waite. who lives at the east end of McWilliams Road in Central Kitsap, a T-intersection, told me in March that there has been a series of accidents involving drivers unaware the road is ending and crashing into his property and his neighbor’s.

It’s mostly teen-age drivers, he said, including a recent one in which the driver tried to pass someone slowing to stop and hit a tree across the intersection. Pete’s fence and garage door were damaged in another one.

Since we talked, there has been yet another one, in which a girl passenger was hurt and the driver was tracked down by a police dog after he ran, Pete said.

The county installed a larger stop sign after that one, he said. There also is a yellow arrow sign pointing left and right, and has ben for years. But he’d like to see the kind of flashing light one sees where Newberry Hill Road comes to the same kind of a T at Seabeck Highway.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer, says, “We have talked to (Pete’s) neighbor who voiced similar concerns. We upsized the stop sign and the warning sign. We also plan to add reflective tape to the sign post to (make) it a little more conspicuous.

“We looked at the lighting, but the existing luminaire lights the intersection well.

“We talked to the Sheriff’s Department about the collisions,” he continued. “They didn’t have a clear idea as to what might be causing the motorists to miss the stop.  They did offer that one was under the influence and a couple others were driving with suspended licenses.

“Overhead flashing beacons are considered a last resort without making major modifications to the intersection. This type of control device (flashing overhead beacons) often are considered a nuisance by neighbors because they flash all day and all night, every day.

“We are monitoring the existing improvements and will consider other options if collisions continue to occur,” Jeff said.


Cougar Valley’s flashing school zone sign raises questions

The in basket: Barbara Burns of Olympic View Road in Central Kitsap wonders about the effective hours of the school zone at Cougar Valley Elementary School, which she must pass going to and from her home.

“The signs on either end of the school zone have flashing yellow lights with the directive: ‘School Speed Limit 20mph When Flashing.’  Trouble is,” she said, “I’ve never seen the lights flashing except when buses are obviously loading and unloading children at regular times during the weekday. Other times of the day and night the lights are dark.

“Question 1,” she said. “In the evening, throughout the night, and on weekends when school is clearly not in session, are people still expected to do 20 mph or is 35 okay?” Thirty-five is the speed limit on the rest of the road.

“Question 2,” she continued. “The school parking lot is occasionally full to overflowing in the late afternoon/early evening for soccer practice, parent/teacher night and special events, forcing parents to park up and down both sides of the road.  The school is on a bend, which complicates matters, yet the flashing lights are rarely activated. Why?

“No conscientious driver would go through there doing 35 when vehicles and people are abundant, but according to the sign, 35 is acceptable because the lights aren’t flashing. Is it?”

And, finally, “if the lights aren’t being activated during times that obviously could benefit from it, I can only guess that the programming is complex, or the school relies on someone manually turning them on and off, which frankly doesn’t happen. Why have signs with lights at all?”

The out basket: Among the variety of school zone speed limit triggers (when children are present, during certain hours and, around Bremerton High School, 24/7), I think the flashing lights are far and away the best choice, except they cost a lot, require electricity and, Barbara is right – they are complex.

Some are controlled remotely by the county’s electronics shop, either by radio or hard wired. The one on Sedgwick Road was installed by the state (it’s a state highway) and may be operated by the school. A cursory survey of other schools tells me the ones on Pinecrest Elementary in Bremerton and Pearson Elementary in North Kitsap are run by the county after the school tells it what it wants, often for the entire school year in advance.

But the flashing lights eliminate the uncertainty that plagues the other zone formats to one degree or another, and what I have come to suspect is something less than a strict insistence on a child being present before a ticket is written in one of the zones specifying that, especially during emphasis patrols.

But to address Barbara’s specific questions, Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer says, “The 20 mph school zone speed limit is only in force at the times the flashers are activated.

“At other times the maximum speed limit is 35 mph. Motorists should always drive at a safe speed for the conditions, which can be below the posted speed limit.

“The signs cannot be activated other than by reprogramming them with a computer and connecting cord,” Jeff said. “That makes them very difficult to use for special events. During most events though, there is normally adult supervision which minimizes children alone along or crossing the road.  Even then, most prudent drivers are slowing down when the road gets congested like that.”

“The flashers are primarily for the school areas and crossings where young school age children are prevalent and don’t always have adult supervision.” Jeff concluded.

What’s the story with NK’s white on blue house number signs?

The in basket: I was driving around North Kitsap recently and once again noticed the proliferation of blue signs with white numerals listing the house numbers where homes are grouped on a common driveway. There are dozens of them on Viking Way coming into Poulsbo from the south, and many more at other locations, including quite a few in Central Kitsap.

I rarely see them in South Kitsap, where I live.

Was the placement of those signs the result of some organized campaign, perhaps by North Kitsap firefighters? It seems like it would have taken collaboration by a lot of people, to acquire them and mount them one above the other, which seems to be the common display.

The out basket: Three readers and Susan Gibbs  of Poulsbo Fire replied when this first was posted. Susan said,

“Fire Districts in Kitsap County initially recieved a grant for address signs about five years ago. Poulsbo Fire has continued offering the signs to citizens in our district, and as mentioned above, gladly accept donations to continue the program. We have promoted the signs in our annual newsletter, and at various community events. I would advise contacting your local fire department to inquire if the signs are available to you, it is a great way to clearly display your address.

Greg Rogers of South Kitsap Fire says they participated in the grant and have given out many of the signs, despite my experience of not seeing them. They’re mostly in rural areas. For lack of funding, SK fire no longer provides them, he said.


State records don’t confirm hazard at 303 and John Carlson Road

The in basket: Virginia Pace says she is concerned about “the increasing number of accidents. some with serious injuries, that take place at the corners of John Carlson/Fairgrounds roads and Highway 303.

“John Carlson has become a very busy and fast street,” she said. “Drivers exiting John Carlson on right turns have a large fast intersection to scope out before their turns. A pedestrian gets lost in that scope.

“I counted seven lanes on the north side of 303.  Pedestrians are taking chances in crossing that wide busy intersection. I live near (there), hear the sirens, see the skid marks, see the traffic being routed around the accidents, the broken glass, and motor liquids left on the highway.

“Can this dangerous intersection be evaluated for safety for pedestrians?” she asked. “I am suggesting blinking caution lights on the dividers between north and south lanes. The blinkers would alert drivers and pedestrians to be visually careful. And, without a doubt, there are more pedestrians and bicyclists using all intersections. I see more and more pedestrians walking up and down John Carlson.”

The out basket: State records don’t confirm what Virginia says she witnesses from her home.

Lisa Copeland of the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “In the last five years there have been no pedestrian collisions and two bike collisions at, or near the intersection.

“The first bike accident occurred at a driveway within a 100 feet of the intersection as a car emerging from a driveway hit a bike traveling on the shoulder. The bicyclist hurt his knee.

“The second occurred when a bike crossed against the signal and was struck. The bicyclist was considered at fault in the collision.”

It doesn’t sound like John Carlson/Fairgrounds and 303 stands much chance of being singled out for special pedestrian safety work.

Covered ‘Detour’ signs on Walker Road and others

The in basket: Kathleen Pulici asks in an e-mail, “What is the reason for the covered-up detour signs on NW Walker Road (in Central Kitsap near) the intersection of Old Military Road where it turns into Madison Road.

“There are also covered up detour signs on both Old Military and Madison Roads,” she said.

The out basket: As with all the orange signs put up and covered with plywood in Bremerton to prepare for the Manette Bridge construction, the CK signs are harbingers of coming roadwork, though on a smaller scale.

The work actually will be on Paulson Road at Royal Creek, where work on sewer and water mains is scheduled and will close Paulson from Jan. 9 to Feb. 3. Walker, Madison and the short stretch of Old Military will be designated detour.

Ends of new CK road raise eyebrows


The in basket: The new road Kitsap County is building to link the Highway 3-303 interchange with Old Frontier Road has become more than an academic issue for Central Kitsap drivers as its opening date nears.

Art Hammond writes, “I was wondering if you had any idea on when they plan to have Clear Creek Road, repaved and smoothed out, in the the Waaga Way Extension area?  I know that Old Frontier is in a whole lot better shape, than Clear Creek. 

“As it is right now, every time I have to use Clear Creek, my car and I know countless other cars take a beating on the road, as the company did a lousy patch job.  If they did that to Clear Creek, how can we expect the new road to hold up?”

 And Peter Wimmer is concerned about the road’s other end. 

“The Waaga extension where it comes out to Old Frontier has two stop signs and an annoying hard turn put into Old Frontier,” he said. “I can understand signage to alert us to an upcoming light but why a stop sign? And what is the reason for such a hard turn in what was the right of way – Old Frontier.

“It looks like the planners have now made the extension, which is not Highway 303, the main road and made Old Frontier the secondary.

The out basket: Indeed they have. The alignment at the road’s west end is complete, putting the stop on Old Frontier, says county Construction Manager Jacques Dean. It was the same thing the county did in South Kitsap years ago when it improved the Glenwood-Lake Flora road intersection and made Lake Flora the through road, not Glenwood.

The sharp curve is the reason for the stop sign on northbound Old Frontier, Jacques said, but it’s temporary. When the new road, to be called Greaves Way, opens around late October, that stop sign will come out. In the meantime, he said, they wanted to make drivers stop so they don’t lose control making the turn. 

The stop sign on Old Frontier will stay. There’ll be no traffic light there for the near future, although conduit has been put in the ground to accommodate one when traffic counts demand one.

The rugged pavement at the Clear Creek end of Greaves is where a utility trench was dug as part of the project, says Greg Canyer of the county. That entire area will be realigned, possibly the week of Sept. 21, to route Clear Creek traffic to the other side of the large dirt pile visible there. 

The final project will have that traffic meet a traffic signal there for turns onto Greaves. Left turners will proceed down to the existing signal on Highway 303.

All the beat-up pavement will be removed and a lot of it will not be replaced. Schold Road, which serves the Peewee field to the east, will cross through there to meet the relocated Clear Creek Road at a stop sign. The rest will be seeded in grass.

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.

School buses and the five-car-delay rule


The in basket: I came across a year-old inquiry from Ward Starring of Chico Way recently on the subject of school buses and whether they have to comply with the state law requiring vehicles delaying more than five others on a two-lane highway to pull over and let them pass.

He had been stuck behind Central Kitsap school bus No. 66 on Chico Way on April 30 last year, he wrote at the time, and he could see in his rear-view mirror that he was among at least two dozen drivers crawling behind the bus as it stopped and boarded children.

“That bus never once pulled to the shoulder to let traffic pass,” he said. It traveled all the way to the Newberry/Chico Way intersection, where it waited to turn. 

Previously, he’d often seen buses there pull over to let traffic go past, he said.

“Whether that was just a polite move or required by law, it reduced frustration from drivers who then had to contend with the almost impossible task of merging into traffic at the Newberry Hill/ Chico Way intersection,” he said.

The out basket: School buses are not exempted from that law, which reads “On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow moving vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in a line, shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for a safe turn-out exists, in order to permit the vehicles following to proceed.”

It defines a slow vehicle as “one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.” Doing the speed limit isn’t a defense.

It’s a hard law to enforce, though the State Patrol lately has kicked off the vacation season with news releases reminding motorists, presumably motor home drivers mostly, of the law. There also is a discussion of it as regards traffic on newly busy, two-lane Highway 101 on Josh Farley’s Kitsap Crime and Justice blog on this Web site and printed in Tuesday’s Kitsap Sun.

Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the local State Patrol office says, “Although school buses are required by law to pull off and let traffic by, they also need to do so safely, especially considering they are transporting children. Drivers are reminded to please be patient when behind a school bus.  They may not always have a safe location to pull over.”  

The pull-off place must not only be safe, it has to be wide enough for the bus (or motor home or whatever) to get all its wheels outside the edge line. Parking with wheels over the edge line is an infraction, as is traveling slowly partly or fully on the shoulder.

There seem to be lots of places along Chico Way wide enough for a bus to pull over. This long after the fact, it may not be possible to determine who was driving the bus that day, but David Beil of CK schools’ community affairs office said he’ll pass the complaint on to the district’s transportation department.