Tag Archives: Converse

Converse still a scary place on Sedgwick Road

The in basket: Julie Dawson of South Kitsap thinks the intersection of Sedgwick Road and Converse Avenue needs further work, beyond the realignment the state did a couple of years ago.

“I think I’ve heard that the Bethel/Sedgwick intersection is the busiest in Port Orchard, and it makes sense as Sedgwick carries traffic to and from Highway 16, the Southworth ferry, Fred Meyer and nearby shops, a number of residential developments, and Hidden Creek School, so there are lots of children walking and on bikes.

“Which is why there needs to be a roundabout at the very least at the Sedgwick/Converse intersection,” she said. “There is nothing to create gaps in the long lines of traffic that come from both directions, with lights on Sedgwick at Bethel and then on Jackson, a mile down.

“There is at least a center turn lane on Sedgwick which allows desperate drivers to make dangerous dashes from Converse into the middle lane to wait if there was a gap in one direction. But add late afternoon traffic, school buses, and pedestrians (especially after school), and a turn from Converse in either direction at that intersection can easily take four to six minutes at peak times.

“I live off of Converse,” Julie said, “and drive it frequently, so I’ve timed it plenty and watched some scary maneuvers by frustrated drivers. I will drive an extra half-mile just to avoid it at peak times, since it’s actually faster to drive further. “I’m frankly surprised there hasn’t been more uproar from the bus drivers since they endure more than anyone as they navigate that intersection multiple times daily and they see how dangerous it is,” she said.

The out basket: Kelly Stowe of the Olympic Region public affairs staff said she asked around and found no hint of a further project at Sedgwick and Converse on the drawing boards.

That’s not surprising given the money spent on a major safety project on Sedgwick between Highway 16 and Phillips Road so recently, which included lining up the two sides of Converse so the intersection isn’t further complicated by the former offset.

I told Julie enlisting the school district in campaigning for a further improvement there might help.

How’s a driver to know he’s entering that school zone?

The in basket: Jim Cole writes that the school zone on Sedgwick Road at Converse Avenue in South Kitsap is an unfair speed trap for those on Converse.

“While driving west on Sedgwick,  I noticed a sheriff parked in a driveway just past Converse,” he said back in late May.  “The school zone lights were flashing on Sedgwick. OK, 20 mph.

“A car pulled out of Converse and turned left towards Bethel. I noticed in my mirror the sheriff pulled out, lights on, behind the car that just turned left out of Converse. I thought to myself, I don’t think there’s flashing lights on Converse approaching the intersection.

“Later in the week,” Jim continued, “I traveled Converse and, sure enough, there is an ‘end of school zone’ sign (at the end of the school zone at the school itself) but no warning that you are approaching another school zone at Sedgwick.  The flashing lights for Sedgwick face east and west and are not visible from Converse.

“I though to myself  “If this isn’t a trap what is.  It’s certainly unfair that our citizens may be sited for a zone that is unmarked on Converse.”

The out basket: A newcomer to the area wouldn’t know about  the school zone he’s approaching when northbound on Converse, and even someone aware of the zone wouldn’t know whether the signs’ lights were flashing or not.

There’s no way of knowing why the sheriff’s deputy Jim saw made the stop. It could have been anything from expired tabs to rolling through the stop sign to peeling out dangerously to the car’s having been stolen.

I suggested to Jim that a driver would really have to step on it to be over 20 mph before reaching the end of the Sedgwick school zone, but he didn’t buy it. He tested it and at his suggestion, I did too, and I found it’s easy to be at 30 mph from a standing and turning start at Converse while still in the zone.

There used to be a comparable situation on Finn Hill Road at Rhododendron Lane in North Kitsap, near Vinland Elementary. County public works removed it at the sheriff’s office request because it would have needed some further improvement to be enforced, Doug Bear of public works said.

Anyway, here is what two law enforcement agencies most likely to be patrolling Sedgwick Road have to say about the Sedgwick zone.

From Krista Hedstrom, spokesman for Washington State Patrol in Bremerton:

“It is up to drivers to be aware of the speed limits on the roads they drive, and if they do not know, they should drive at a reasonable safe speed until they see a speed limit sign.

“Most school zones are clearly marked and most drivers are aware that they are in one – especially when yellow lights are flashing.  If a driver was stopped and they explained that they had pulled out of a side street and did not see a sign, I would take that into consideration when choosing whether or not to issue an infraction.

“That does not necessarily mean that lack of knowledge is an excuse for getting out of a ticket, but it is good information to know and can always be used to determine if there is a location that is better suited for the posting of a speed limit sign.”

From Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office: “For this specific situation, the issue of ‘speeding’ in a school zone is not enforceable.

“A law enforcement officer must witness a vehicle exceeding the posted speed limit in a school zone after the vehicle passes a school zone warning sign.

“Traffic enforcement officers in the sheriff’s office are aware of this particular intersection and the fact that the specific situation indicated above is not enforceable.  They also are aware of and remember the similar situation on NW Finn Hill Road.”

Of ‘lights’ and ‘signals’ on Sedgwick

The in basket: Three readers have written to say they are sure traffic signals were promised as part of this year’s Sedgwick Road safety project, at intersections that haven’t gotten them.

Bruce Robison said, “When the project was listed long ago in the state’s  Olympic Region status on the web, traffic signals were going to be placed at Bravo Terrace, Geiger, Converse, and Phillips. Did this just get dropped?” 

Gayle Dilling wrote, “Please tell me that after months of noise, detours, sleepless nights, bumpy roads, honking horns, watching children darn nearly get run over by speeding cars on Sedgwick, the removal of so many trees,and the previous report that there WOULD be a light at Converse that soon they are going to install a light there!”

And a commenter on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com under the e-mail name sandismailbox, asked “What happened to the light we’ve been hearing about for years at Converse? They should have left the road alone by (Highway 16) and used the money for a light on Converse.” 

The out basket: It’s easy to confuse “light” to mean “traffic signal,” and that’s what Project Engineer Brenden Clarke thinks happened in this case. 

“There seems to have been some misunderstandings or miscommunications regarding the ‘lights’ at four intersections,” he said. “There were three intersections that did get ‘lights’ as a part of the project. (It) installed illumination systems at Converse, Jackson, and Phillips. Geiger Road was originally scoped to have had an illumination system added, but it did not meet the criteria since it does not have left turn channelization.

“The original and final scope of the project did not include traffic signal systems,” he said. “It seems that there were some people that believed that the ‘lights’ to be added were traffic signals, but the intent has always been illumination. 

“There is also a developer project that may go forward that would install a traffic signal and illumination at Bravo Terrace.”

If Gayle really did read in The Sun that there would be a traffic signal at Converse, I hope I didn’t write it. If I or some other reporter did, we may have fallen victim to the very confusion Brenden describes between lights and signals.




Odds & Ends on Sedgwick project

The in basket: Comments on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com and an e-mail or two show that the survey work on Sedgwick Road in South Kitsap has created some interest.

Jim Himes is among those who wonder if the road, actually a state highway, is to be widened. 

The out basket: Yes, but not to four lanes. The state has let a contract to R/G Bowers of Centralia for $4.18 million to make the highway safer between Highway 16 and Long Lake Road by flattening and widening the shoulders, extending the two-way turn lane in front of Fred Meyers east to Brasch Road, add turns lanes at Phillips Road, make the troublesome off-set intersection at Converse Avenue a standard crossing and other work. Overall, it will cost more than $8 million.

Lots of information about it is available on line at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR160/SR16_LongLake/ and this paper had a front page story about it last month. 

Neither answered some questions I had before and after driving past all the survey stakes and other preparations, though. I asked Project Engineer Brenden Clarke:

– Do the survey stakes way off the road just east of Bravo Terrace mean they’ll be making that uphill curve more of a straight shot?

– Will anything be done to make it easier to make a left turn out of Bravo Terrace?

– Which leg of Converse will be moved to line up with the other?

– The orange mesh fencing on the shoulders of the highway east of Phillips doesn’t seem to leave any room for wider, flatter shoulders there, where the dropoff seems to be the worst. Will work be done there?

The out basket: The uphill curve near Bravo Terrace will remain as it is, said Brenden. The survey stakes just denote the limits of the flattening of the shoulder slopes. And getting out of Bravo Terrace to turn left won’t be made any easier by the project. 

The north leg of Converse Avenue will be moved to line up with the south leg, he said, and the intersection will get better illumination, as well. Offset intersections such as Converse today prevent simultaneous left turns in opposing directions, worsening delays. 

The orange “high visibility fencing” is to keep the contractor and utility relocaters out of sensitive environmental areas when it’s not necessary to be there, he said. The shoulders will be flattened and widened between Phillips and Long Lake, as well as uphill from Phillips, he said.

One homeowner along Sedgwick was alarmed to find a crew of inmates being watched by an armed guard working in his front yard a couple of weeks ago, putting up a silt fence to prepare for the widening. He wondered how that occurred, and the answer will be in the next Road Warrior.