Tag Archives: Gorst

Possible traffic stop near Gorst created lot of confusion

The in basket: Bill Metcalf, who I know from the Winter Club dance organization, sent me the following on Sept. 1, in his inimitably whimsical style.

“SheWhoMustBeObeyed and I were returning home yesterday afternoon after ballroom dancing in Port Orchard,” he wrote. “When we got to everybody’s favourite section of Gorst – under the cliffs – SOME of the traffic ground to a crawl – the rest didn’t, and it got ugly, quickly.

“Why?  Right in the middle of the worst part of Highway 3’s northbound side, where the curve prohibits seeing very far ahead, a law enforcement vehicle had stopped a car on the too-narrow right shoulder and, I imagine, the (officer) was writing out a ticket!  I was too busy trying to dodge the inattentive/rubbernecking drivers to do more than avoid hitting or getting hit.

“May I respectfully request if a (law enforcement officer) needs to cite some driver for some infraction or other, he/she take a couple of minutes to follow the perpetrator to a SAFER location before lighting up the lights and pulling over?

“I suspect that half of the inattentive drivers were quickly attempting to move over a lane – in bumper-to-bumper moving traffic – so as to follow the recent mandate to do so, forgetting that they could merely slow down as they drove past,” Bill said.

The out basket: Not knowing for what department the officer in question works, nor whether it was a citation in progress rather than a stalled car, I asked the state patrol and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office if their officers have special instructions for places like the four-lane between Gorst and Bremerton. The state forbids parking along there because there’s so little room for error.

“Our officers do not have any special instructions as to where to or not, stop a violator along that particular section of SR-3,” State Patrol spokesman Trooper Russ Winger replied.

“Our troopers are trained to evaluate each traffic stop location based on several factors. These include, but are not limited to, time of day, type of violation, current traffic situation, driving behavior of the violator etc.

“Our troopers do think about and attempt to stop violators in ‘safe’ locations (Stopping vehicles along roadways, especially high speed roads, is inherently dangerous).

“Of course,  this is not always possible depending on the particular circumstance. We often times do ‘trail’ the violator to a more safe location if the situation warrants doing so.

“There are situations where the officer decides that getting the vehicle stopped ASAP is the best situation, such as reckless and erratic driven vehicles and possible DUI violators. As you pointed out, the officer could have been assisting a disabled vehicle or even investigating a collision.

“From experience I can tell you that that section of SR-3 between SR-304 and Gorst, both north- and southbound, is NOT the safest place to stop a vehicle or assist a broken down vehicle or investigate a collision. But our troopers will do what they need to in order to keep the roadways safe and flowing as smooth as possible.

 “As always, we recommend motorists follow the law and at least slow down as they approach police vehicles stopped on the shoulder with emergency lights activated.”

Deputy Scott Wilson, Russ’ counterpart in the sheriff’s office, called Russ’ response “spot-on,” saying there’s nothing he could add except that he checked with 911 and his department’s records and found no record of a county deputy having made a stop for a traffic offense or motorist assist on that stretch that Sunday.

Closures of Highway 166 this week not actually for work on 166

The in basket: A sign appeared Wednesday on the shoulder of Highway 166 where it begins in Gorst, saying the highway would be closed Monday through Friday nights this week. It didn’t say why.

James Miller, who lives on the highway, says, “I would like to know what kind of restrictions will be placed on us, in relation to our coming and going.”

I hadn’t heard of any work that would require closing Highway 166, so I asked what it’s all about.

The out basket: It’s kind of confusing because, while the advisory sign is on the shoulder of Highway 166, probably for want of a better place to put it, no work will be done on 166, says Andy Larson of the state’s project office here.

But the inside lane of Highway 16 coming out of Gorst, which is the only way onto eastbound 166, will have the existing pavement ground off and replaced by new asphalt, and be closed for that work.

It probably won’t require closures every night, said Andy, but they’ve retained the flexibility to close that lane as needed during those nights. The same work will be going on in the other two lanes there during those nights. The sign on the roadside says the closures extent to Friday night, but the news release about the work says only through Thursday night, so maybe that’s more flexibilily.

It’s all included in the well-publicized repaving work in lanes of highways 16 and 3 and many of its ramps. The state considers that access from 16 to 166 to be a “ramp,” though I doubt that very many drivers do.


Driver unimpressed with 3-304 merge proposals

The in basket: David McCloskey e-mailed to ask and comment about a state Department of Transportation study of ways to make traffic flow more smoothly west of Bremerton on the way to Gorst, including consultant work by the Parametrix company

 “Why did WSDOT spend $500,000 to use the Parametrix company instead of their own highly skilled engineers? he began, then addressed the preliminary suggestions announced in May and added his own.

“Five of the suggestions most likely will not work, just forcing the traffic backup more towards Gorst,” he said. . “My fix would be to place a metering light at the Auto Center Way exit and make Highway 3 two lanes all the way through. Get rid of the 304 HOV lane in front of the ship yard (1% usage at 3-6pm).

“Spending this money was HOGWASH, with no improvements seen till next year. We need a resolve now. I have driven this route for five years already. The highway speeds reduce to 5 mph.” 

Except for one, those preliminary recommendations are limited to modifying the existing merge by adding lanes where there is room for more and letting both lanes of Highway 3 flow under the Highway 304 overpass,

The other one would create a third lane from the interchange all the way to Gorst, which would entail cutting into the rock cliffs that line the highway now.

A state Web site says a workshop will be held this summer to choose one of the options as the best.

I passed David’s comments on to the state and asked if the third lane alternative doesn’t stand out as far and away the most expensive. It’s been proposed off and on for decades, without ever going forward.

I also asked if the workshop has been scheduled.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of WSDOT’s Olympic Region, replied, “We do plan to hold a workshop in August, in which the stakeholders involved in the SR 3/SR 304 study will be presented the study results, including the various options being considered.  The stakeholder committee and WSDOT together will determine which option becomes the preferred alternative.

“Once the preferred alternative is identified, WSDOT will hold a public meeting to share that alternative with the public.  Neither meeting has been scheduled yet.”

David’s comments will be added to others received since the list of possible options came out, for the stakeholders’ consideration, she said.

“Cutting into the rock face adjacent to the highway to make room for the lane “(would make) that option an expensive one indeed,” Claudia said.  “Whether it would be the ‘most’ expensive option depends on what other ideas the stakeholder committee may come up with.

 “Mr. McCloskey claimed that WSDOT paid the consultant Parametrix $500,000 for the SR 3/SR 304 study rather than using their own ‘highly skilled engineers.’  We, in fact, paid Parametrix $43,000 for specialized traffic modeling services needed for the study, and we picked up the analysis process from there.  We’d like to thank Mr. McCloskey for recognizing that our engineers are highly skilled.

“Mr. McCloskey mentioned ramp meters (already being considered), making SR 3 two lanes all the way to Gorst (included in several options being studied), and getting rid of the SR 304 HOV lane (we’re looking at potential impacts of converting the HOV lane to general-purpose).

“We sympathize with drivers’ frustration that studies take a long time and design and construction of a permanent fix takes even longer. All the while, we know that people just want to get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time.

“The purpose of the study is to identify a fix that will work not only now, but at least 20 years into the future. Even once we identify that preferred alternative, no 3-304 merge preoposals or construction funds are currently identified for the work. Until that time, we can only offer up behavioral solutions – adjust work hours to avoid peak commute times, share the ride so he can use that HOV lane, and pack patience.”

Oft-damaged guard rail in Gorst to get reflective surface

The in basket: Don Palmer of Gorst says the guard rail in Gorst where traffic can branch off to head toward Belfair or follow the curve to the left to go toward Tacoma is hit and damaged by vehicles so often some changes should be made.

He said it has been damaged about a hundred times since it was built. He recommends that a yellow caution arrow sign that includes a 30 mph recommended speed  be moved closer to Bremerton to give drivers headed toward the guard rail more time to react, and be surrounded by blinking lights to make it more visible. He also suggests spare guard rail be stored behind the one in place to shorten the time it takes to make a repair. It has usually takes about a month to fix it whenever it has been hit, he said.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the state’s Olympic Region public affairs staff said department officials have looked over the situation and “we have decided that the best course of action is to place reflective sheeting on the rail.  “The product we will use is highly reflective and will make the rail standout at night,” she said.  “It will take a few weeks to get the product delivered, but we will install it as soon as we get it.

“We believe the reflective sheeting will be much more effective than moving the turn sign or installing additional illumination,” she said.


Differing dates for Gorst area work were intentional

The in basket: In the days before the state highway maintenance crews cut brush and swept Jersey barrier alongside Highway 16 just south of Gorst, they announced their plans with a couple of portable electronic signs

The one in Gorst said Road Work would be done on Oct. 23, but the one up by Tremont Street, facing the other direction, said it would done Oct. 22.

“Somebody screwed up,” I thought to myself and jetted off an e-mail to Olympic Region information employees to ask which was right and what was to be done.

The out basket: Happily, I didn’t use the term “somebody screwed up” in my e-mail, because it turned out to be on purpose.

The work from Gorst west was done on the 23rd and that in the other direction was done the day before, so the signs described the dates of the work for traffic moving in that direction.

The key is the barrier between the directions of travel. Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region public information state said, “We always try to give directional information when we’re talking about multi-lane highways.

“On the smaller, two-lane highways, when you close one lane you affect both directions because you have to do alternating traffic,” she said.

Those perplexing Thru Traffic Keep Left signs

The in basket: Floyd Routh asked for clarification some time back of the Thru Traffic Keep Left signs on Highway 3 northbound in Gorst and southbound just past the Kitsap Way interchange.
He had been pulled over by a Bremerton police officer for driving in the left lane northbound out of Gorst without passing another car. He didn’t get a ticket.
“When I found out why I was pulled over, I was more argumentative than he deserved,” Floyd said, then he asked, “Could someone clarify the ‘THRU TRAFFIC KEEP LEFT’ signs that are on Highway 3?  RCW 46.61.100 states to keep right except when passing.  Which takes precedence?
 “The signs are white with black lettering,” he noted. “These are regulatory signs and must be followed until superseded by a subsequent/follow-up sign or are no longer applicable.”
The closest follow-up sign is after Austin Drive  and says ‘SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT’.  “Technically, drivers heading from Port Orchard to Bangor should stay in the left lane from Gorst until Chico,” Floyd argued. “This is what I was doing when I got pulled over.
“Apparently the signs are to an old color scheme and were meant for ‘information only’,” Floyd said. “Are drivers expected to know which black and white signs are real and which are to be ignored?”

The out basket: Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here, said, “The merge to left signs on southbound SR-3 at SR-304, whether regulatory or non-regulatory in nature, take precedence over the “keep right except to pass” rule, posted or not. As for the ‘Thru Traffic Keep Left’ signs on northbound SR-3 in Gorst,  they are intended to allow for the smooth merging of traffic from the northbound SR-3 on ramp, just south of the train trestle in Gorst.

“Motorists should, after a reasonable distance north of the on-ramp northbound SR-3, move back into the right lane of travel and remain there if traveling slower than surrounding traffic or not actively passing traffic in the right lane.

Common sense should guide here as to ‘reasonable distance’ past the merge on-ramp, meaning that point on the highway where traffic is no longer actively merging from the ramp.

 “The RCW  46.61.100 rule for keeping right except to pass or “
‘Slower Traffic Keep Right’ on a two-lane divided highway is always in effect unless otherwise signed. The fact that there may be no sign stating ”Keep Right Except to Pass’ does not mean a motorist should stay in the left lane until they see this sign.
“Motorists will see this sign at various points along long stretches of roadway on limited access highways. These signs are a reminder to motorists of the lane travel law.

“I think your reader is incorrect in saying that ‘technically’ a motorist driving from Port Orchard to Bangor should stay in the left lane from Gorst until Chico. The highway is multi-lane and the rules of the road supersede unless otherwise posted.

 The signs are black and white. It is my opinion that they should be to warn motorists to keep left (they do not say ‘left lane only thru traffic’) at the interchange with SR-304. You are still ‘staying left’ even if you are in the right lane when coming to the merge at SR-304.
“It is somewhat confusing and perhaps caution type signs should be used  – or no signs at all,” Russ said..
“I have spoken to at least seven of my fellow troopers and not one said they have written a ticket for ‘going through’ while not keeping left. I have not issued such a citation in my 23-year career here in Kitsap County, nor can I remember even stopping a vehicle for this.”
Though I (the Road Warrior) have many times raised the question of why the black and white signs are not mandatory, as black and white signs are supposed to be, I have never gotten an answer.

A barrel here, a barrel there…

The in basket: I’ve written a couple of times about the February conference I attended over at Sea-Tac at which vendors of the latest in high-tech traffic control got to show off their wares.

Today I’ll mine a couple more bits if information I found interesting.

Have you even driven through a construction zone marked by mile after mile of orange barrels on the shoulder? Often, when I encounter such a stretch, I find myself wondering what one of those barrels costs?

So I asked Todd Wilson of Traffic Safety Supply Co., who had a booth at the conference. His answer: $80 each, mostly due to the reflective tape that makes then visible at night. That tape is pretty pricey, he said. I also visited an online site that said the barrels aren’t just thrown together, but must meet federal standards that keep them from penetrating a vehicle in a high speed collision.

So next time you find yourself passing dozens or hundreds of those barrels at a work zone, have a passenger count them and multiply by $80. And that doesn’t even count the cost of setting them out. Usually, they belong to the contractor chosen to do the job.

Todd gave me another figure while we talked – $16,500. That’s the price of one of the new-generation impact attenuators that are installed on the end of concrete abutments to absorb the impact of a car hitting one, he said.

That’s what his company was paid for one that replaced an older one at the start of the ramp that carries northbound traffic on Highway 3 over the Gorst business district on its way to Bremerton after a vehicle hit it at high speed last summer. Todd had been told it was a suspected suicide attempt, but I couldn’t confirm that. The driver was badly hurt but survived, he said. The impact was nearly double the 45-mph design capacity of the old attenuator, which had to be scrapped.

The one his company sold the state won’t require that, he said. It is designed to be pulled back into shape after its hit to guard occupants of the next car that crashes into it.

Why are Gorst, NK construction zone signs still up?

The in basket: Jack Carson wrote me on Oct. 21 to say, “Signage was posted this summer along north-bound Highway 3 near State Route 308 for paving operations on Highway 3.  The signs indicating road work and ramp closures, completed in early August, are still in place along the north-bound exit and on-ramp to/from SR 308, and signs a mile north indicate the end of the road work zone.

“Who is responsible for removing this signage litter – the state, the county, or the contractor; and why haven’t the signs been removed? ”

I don’t know if those North Kitsap signs still are there now, a month later, but the ones around Gorst, which was part of the same paving project, still are. I asked the state, which contracted for the work, if there is something remaining to be done.

The out basket: Kelly Stowe of the state’s Olympic Region, says, “There are still a couple nights of permanent signing work to be done next week (it would have been done this week but the weather was too bad).

“After that, all the work zone signs will be removed.  I would expect that they will be removed sometime next week.  We did not forget them!” she said.

H2O stigmata on Highway 166?

The in basket: Michael Shearing of Port Orchard, in an e-mail he titled “Stigmata on Route 166?,” says, “I am curious about the mysterious perpetually weeping roadway in two places on Highway 166. One is about a mile east of Gorst in front of Tony Otto’s law office and the other is about 200 yards west of that in front of what appears to be an equipment storage lot.

“It seems like they first appeared two or three years ago and have been there every day since,” he said. “Water (I assume it’s water) is continually seeping from beneath the roadway/asphalt. No matter how hot in the middle of summer or how cold in the middle of winter (and yes, they do freeze over) these areas are always wet.

“Is this from some kind of underground spring or high water table? If it was from a broken pipe I assume it would have been fixed by now. Any idea what this is and if there are any plans to  ‘cure’ it?

The out basket: I don’t have any definitive answers for Michael, who is spot-on about the persistence of the leaking. It was there every day during our recent near-historic dry spell, never seeming to flow any faster or slower. I have to take his word about when it began.

The state highway people haven’t replied to my inquiries about this. It’s no surprise that an area at the bottom of a large hill would weep water from above, but just what it is about these two spots that provide less resistance to the water than the rest of the highway, I can’t say.

The one in front of the Otto law office looks like oil, but it’s just water. It must have a chemical component as it discolors the asphalt.

That’s not true of the other leak Michael mentioned, in the driveway of the Thompson’s Pile Driving equipment yard, or two other leaks onto Highway 166 in Port Orchard, both downhill from the roundabout in front of the Hi-Joy Bowl.

Paul Fritts, owner of Thompson’s Pile Driving next to the law office, said he got a call from a state highway official a while back asking if he had a water line leak, but he said, no, they don’t even have a water line through there. And the natural water pressure is great enough that some wells in that area don’t even need pumps, he said. He didn’t recall the name of who called.

You may have noticed mention in the Sunday Sun a while back in a caption under one of the historic pictures that run each week on the cover of the fourth section, of a one-time artesian well in downtown Port Orchard that ran constantly for years. It, too, was powered by uphill water pressure but was corralled into a pipe at the former site of Peninsula Feed, across Harrison Avenue from where it is now. It had a heavy rotten egg smell, as I recall.

Tony Otto didn’t have any explanation for the weeping in the roadway in front of his office. He wonders about danger from ice forming on the wet spot, but said he’s unaware of any accidents there.

Watch for highway paving here over the next month

The in basket: Orange “Road Work Ahead” and “End of Road Work”  signs have sprouted on Highway 3 between Gorst and Highway 304 at Bremerton, and from Silverdale north, and around the Tremont/Old Clifton Road interchange on Highway 16.

I asked what will be done.

The out basket: Project Engineer Mary Lou Nebergall said drivers have been encountering nighttime lane closures in those areas this week, in preparation for repaving to begin Monday.

The westbound ramps at Tremont will be repaved, and the outside lane of Highway 16 from there to Gorst also will be.

All of Gorst will be repaved, and all four lanes between Gorst and Highway 304 will get new asphalt as well.

Two years ago, the outside northbound lane of Highway 3 from 304 to almost Anderson Hill Road in Silverdale was repaved. That work will resume in the outside lane from just south of Anderson Hill Road to the recently rebuilt 3-303 interchange, then pick back up around Trigger Avenue and continue to the Highway 308 interchange.

The state is doing more paving of just the outside lanes of  multi-lane highways to make the paving dollars go farther, Mary Lou said. Those lanes take more of a beating because that’s where large trucks must drive.

All work requiring closure of a lane will occur at night Mondays through Thursdays, she said. It will take more than a month before it’s all done, as the paving crews begin at Tremont and work their way north.