Tag Archives: ditch

All you’d want to know about ‘wattles’

The in basket: H.W. Mock writes, “Earlier this year, work was done alone Highway 166 to remove brush and grass/weeds along the drainage ditch at the bottom of the slope where the water runoff from the hill is caught before going onto the roadway.

“When that work was done, numerous ‘tubes,’ which look like rolled up grass and weeds were placed across and into the drainage ditch and staked down with wooden stakes.  Dozens of these tubes are located in the drainage ditch from Kitsap Marina  to Port Orchard Boulevard.

“Since they were first put in, I have wondered what they really are made of and what their intended function is,” he said. “I have never seen this type of thing before.  Can you tell me anything about them?”

The out basket: Port Orchard Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said succinctly in October when I asked about the overall project that the tubes are called ‘wattles’ and are “temporary erosion/sedimentation control devices.” I misspelled them ‘waddles’ at the time.

“The city had the wattles placed as part the erosion/sedimentation control plan during the ditch cleaning activities,” Mark said in elaborating to answer Mr. Mock’s question. “Subsequent to that work, we have decided to leave them in place….and monitor their effectiveness in isolating sediment build-up for ease of future sediment removal.

“As long as the wattles do not create an unintended consequence, we will probably let then remain.”

Mark referred me to a Washington State Department of

Transportation Web site for information about what they are made of. Typical in complexity in such regulations, it says, “Wattles shall consist of cylinders of biodegradable plant material such as weed-free straw, coir, compost, wood chips, excelsior, or wood fiber or shavings encased within biodegradable netting.

“Wattles shall be a minimum of 5 inches in diameter. Netting material shall be clean, evenly woven, and free of encrusted concrete or other contaminating materials such as preservatives. Netting material shall be free from cuts, tears, or weak places and shall have a minimum lifespan of 6 months and a maximum lifespan of not more than 24 months.

“Wood stakes for wattles shall be made from untreated Douglas fir, hemlock, or pine species,” it said.  Wood stakes shall be 2 by 2-inch nominal dimension and 36 inches in length.”

Ditch work on Highway 166 is proactive

The in basket: A loader has been scooping big shovels of mud into Peninsula Top Soil dump trucks from the south shoulder of Highway 166 east of Port Orchard the last couple of weeks, stopping traffic and allowing alternating flows of traffic through one remaining open lane.

It was a short distance west of where I’d seen state maintenance equipment doing similar work earlier this year, where water chronically flowed onto the pavement. But I’d never seen that problem where they are working now.

Since the only official vehicle I saw at the scene was a city of Port Orchard public works truck, I asked Public Works Director Mark Dorsey what prompted the work.

The out basket: Mark told me, “The state intervened last winter to do some limited ditch work to keep water off their pavement. We (now) are trying to be proactive and keep the ditch system open and functioning.

“The objective is to reestablish the flow of runoff within the ditches, rather than have standing water on the roadway,” he said. It’s hard to say how much longer the work and traffic disruption will go on. They worked through Thursday’s rain,  but the loader is still on the roadside and they have a ways to go yet.

Flexible log-like structures left lying crosswise in the cleaned ditch are temporary erosion/sedimentation control devices employed for the activity,” he said when I asked. He said they are called “waddles.”

The state and city share responsibility for the highway, he said.

I know that spot better than I would like. Back in the late 1960s or early ’70s, I was hurrying in light snowfall to Bremerton in my retired state patrol car acquired at auction. I tried to pass a cautious driver ahead of me just west of Ross Point and lost traction. After a 180-degree spin, I slammed backward into the ditch, then about six feet deep. The state filled it in later for safety reasons.

I was sitting on my seat belt, which left a pretty good bruise on my backside. Had I had the misfortune to have done a 360 and gone in forward, I’d probably look much different than I do now. Heaven knows how I would have fared had I gone over the water side of the highway.

That’s probably when I got serious about wearing my seat belt.

You can tow someone out of the snowy ditch, but it can be a bad idea

The in basket: It was back in the 1970’s, I think, when my wife of the time and I got surprised by a sudden snowfall while visiting near Kitsap Lake, and had to get home to Long Lake as the roads rapidly worsened.

We wound up paying $10 to one fellow who was making some quick cash by towing stuck motorists to the top of Mile Hill in South Kitsap when we couldn’t get traction to make it ourselves.

It was a brief victory. Within minutes, we had skidded into the ditch on Long Lake Road. After a three-mile walk almost to home, two friendly fellows came along in a four-wheel drive truck and offered to take us back and fetch our car.

I’ve often though what a mean trick it would have been if they’d let us out back at the car and drove off, leaving us another three-mile trek. But they were just good Samaritans and rescued us and our car at no charge.

I was reminded of that night when a reader briefly got the misimpression from a friend that, during one of our few snows this winter, a deputy sheriff came upon him towing another driver out of the ditch and said he could be ticketed for doing that.

It turned out there was no such threat, but it left me wondering if it’s legal to do it.

The out basket: First I asked Deputy Sheriff Scott Wilson, who looked into it and found no law against it. “If you are a private person and not doing it for hire, you can pull someone  out of the ditch and even tow the vehicle, if someone is in the vehicle and it’s properly lighted,” he said. .

“Most important,” he added, “if you’re going to pull someone, you need to have safety chains between the two vehicles” to be legal.

I next asked State Trooper Russ Winter about it and he agreed there is no specific law prohibiting it.

“However,” he said, ” the WSP in most cases discourages private towing from collision scenes in snow events. Very few are ‘simple pullouts’ where there is no blocking the road or jockeying for position to accomplish the task.

“Any activity such as this along the highway is very dangerous for everyone involved,” he said. “When you are at or near the crashed vehicle you are in what we call ‘the glide path,’ meaning if other vehicles lose control in the same area (which occurs often) you are in a dangerous place.

“Private vehicles are not equipped with emergency lights and equipment and increase the hazard. As a result we discourage it.

“That is not to say we have not taken advantage of a 4×4 truck with a tow strap to do a quick pull out,” he said. “We have. I have.”

“There is a certain liability involved. As such we use licensed and trained professional towing in most cases in urban core areas.

“More rural areas may resort – at times – to private tows, if they are on scene and the pullout is relatively simple.

Anything more complicated and we will wait for proper equipment and personnel to do the job in the safest manner.”