Tag Archives: Gorst

Gorst has only traffic camera between Purdy and Poulsbo

The in basket: Glenn Shock of Lakeland Village in Allyn asks in an e-mail, “Are there any (state) road cameras in Kitsap County? We live at the highest point in Lakeland Village and get more snow, more often than most other areas.

“We have commitments in Bremerton and Silverdale and always wonder what the road conditions are between here and there.

“Are there cameras on highways 16 and 3 in Kitsap County?”

The out basket: Just one that will be of help checking on the route to Bremerton and Silverdale. It’s in Gorst at Sam Christopherson Road and Highway 3. It was installed during replacement of the east half of the Hood Canal Bridge when traffic was detoured through Gorst up the west side of Hood Canal.

Several others are on Highway 16 from Purdy south, installed during construction of the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge in connection with ramp metering stop lights and on Highway 3 north of Poulsbo, installed to help drivers anticipate closures of the Hood Canal Bridge to vehicle traffic.

Kelly Stowe of the state Department f Transportation says those from Purdy south are viewable at www.wsdot.com/traffic/tacoma/default.aspx. Those from Poulsbo north and the one in Gorst can be seen at www.wsdot.com/traffic/hoodcanal/default.aspx?cam=9191. It has one  between Brinnon and Quilcene on the west side of the canal, too.


What prompted Windy Point rock work?

The in basket: I got the impression somewhere that the rock work on Highway 3 at Windy Point between Bremerton and Gorst that may create long backups this year isn’t so much prompted by worsening of the conditions on the cliff as by the evolving state slope stabilization program and the Windy Point area gradually working its way to the top of the list of needed projects.

I asked the state if I was right.

The out basket: Lisa Copeland of the Olympic Region of state highways says there have been rock falls there. “(We receive) “regular reports from the maintenance team about rock falling in the area, most of it is contained to the ditch,” she said. “The most recent, significant event occurred in 2006, when 10-20 cubic yards of debris came down the cliffs. A similar event occurred during the Nisqually earthquake in 2001.

“This project falls under WSDOT’s Unstable Slope Management Program which prioritizes the need for statewide unstable slope improvements.”

“According to Gabriel Taylor, WSDOT engineering geologist, the scale is based on 11 factors, each one ranging from 3 to 81,” Lisa said. “They are all combined for the rating. As a result, the low end and high end are ridiculously unrealistic numbers and most slopes rate between 200 and 500. The slopes on this project rate 450.

“The slopes are rated not just on rock fall history,” she said, “but on risk to the traveling public, which is accounted for by (average daily traffic) as well as other factors.(It’s 71,000 (trips per day) in the Windy Point vicinity).”

State, county unplug Gorst culvert

The in basket: My wife told me a few weeks ago the state had a bunch of heavy equipment down in the depression just on the Port Orchard side of the turnaround on Highway 166 that allows a driver to go back into Gorst after passing through it heading toward Highway 16.

Then last week I spotted a bunch of people in orange vests and hard hats in the same place, spreading straw around. I asked what the project had been.

The out basket: Duke Stryker, head of state highway maintenance here, said Kitsap County had called his attention to a blockage in the culvert that passes beneath Highway 16 there, which in turn was interfering with the county’s own storm drain systems uphill that feed into the state drainage.

So they sent out a machine that turned out not to be large enough for the job and wound up borrowing a larger excavator and a suction truck, plus an operator for both, from the county.

“They are great to partner with and it’s another example of when we need something, they are willing to help us,” he said.

The crew spreading straw was mostly inmates from one of the state Department of Corrections facilities near here, from which his crews often seek assistance for simple jobs.

Inmates also helped with an unrelated job just across Highway 166 within the last couple of years, when some young alders were cut down and removed, he said. The trees, which shade the highway and contribute to slippery conditions in cold periods such as this one, are easier to remove before they get too big, he said.

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.

Those no-shoulder-parking signs around Gorst

The in basket: I have been noticing the signs in Gorst forbidding shoulder parking for a distance heading north, and have the possibly mistaken impression their location and distance has changed from time to time. At present, there is one on the Port Orchard side of Gorst heading toward Bremerton and another in Gorst, saying you can’t park on the shoulder for the next three miles. That means to the first exit into Bremerton.

I asked Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the local State Patrol detachment if the distance of the prohibition was longer and the placement  of the signs different in the past. I also asked the reason for the restriction.

The out basket: She told me I HAD overlooked a sign forbidding shoulder parking in the other direction, where Highway 304 enters Highway 3 west of Bremerton, extending through Gorst. But otherwise she couldn’t recall or confirm that the signs ever were posted other than where they are now, or carried the prohibition farther north.

The reasons for it, she said, are the narrow shoulders and high traffic volume on Highway 3 between Bremerton and Gorst.

“It should be noted,” she added, “that we give a one-hour window before impounding a vehicle and have WSP communications attempt to contact the registered owner as well.”

The reason for traffic counting tubes west of Bremerton


The in basket: Ed Runquist asks “Why are the vehicle counters that stretch across the highway some times a single cable and sometimes two cables?  About a week ago when traveling from auto center towards Gorst, there were actually four cables near the last underpass.”

I, too, saw cables on the downgrade where traffic coming out of Bremerton meets the remaining lane of southbound traffic on Highway 3, though I thought there were only three. 

I can’t be sure Ed and I are talking about the same spot in that interchange. There were cables across the through lanes and one on the off-ramp to go into Bremerton, too. 

I wondered if the state was comparing traffic counts coming out of Bremerton and on Highway 3 coming south, a notorious backup scene on weekday afternoons. They’ve said no to suggestions about revising the alignment there in the past, but I wondered if they were rethinking.

The out basket: No, says Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways. The tubes are counting traffic in preparation for reinforcement safety work on the rocky cliffs near Windy Point between there and Gorst the summer of 2011. The work, to include rock bolting and installment of mesh screens, will require lane closures. 

As for why there are different numbers of tubes stretched across the traffic lanes in these counts, Steve says, “We use two tubes (near one another) on highways, typically, for two reasons.  

“The first is when we have two lanes going the same direction, as we do on (Highway) 3, and we want individual lane counts.  

“The first tube stretches across both lanes while the second stretches across just the near lane.  From this, the tube that crosses both lanes gives us the total count for the highway and the other tube gives us the count for the near lane, thus enabling us to know the counts for each lane. 

“It is done this way to minimize the amount of time personnel have to work in the middle of the highway.

 “The second reason there may be two tubes on a roadway is redundancy,” he said.  “On high speed/high volume roadways, tubes tend to become damaged and/or non-working at a higher rate than on lower speed/lower volume roads. 

“Doubling up increases the odds that we will get the data we need without having to come back later and/or potentially delaying whatever project we may be needing the data for.”

He also said there are only two tubes on that downgrade where  Highway 304 joins Highway 3. That certainly was true on Feb. 23 when I went back and looked. Either I was mistaken in what I thought I saw earlier or it was changed. Since then, both tunes for southbound Highway 304 have been moved back closer to Bremerton.

When I asked if multiple cables also can record vehicle speeds and the number of axles, Steve said yes.

And when I asked why there are two tubes on the downgrade, but only one on the corresponding off-ramp on the other side of the highway, for traffic heading into Bremerton, it turns out there is one more reason for variety in the number of tubes deployed. 

After putting out the tubes on the on-ramp and the mainline in both directions, Steve said, they only had one left.

Cliffs between Bremerton and Gorst to be stabilized

The in basket: Years ago, so long that I have no record of who it was, someone asked about the stability of the rock cliffs overlooking Highway 3 between Gorst and Bremerton. 

I never addressed the issue, but when Kevin Dayton, regional administrator for the Olympic Region of state highways, spoke to the Port Orchard Rotary in December, he told them that work is coming to make sure two spots along those cliffs stay put. 

He told me it’s difficult to see where from the four-lane highway beneath the cliffs, but the two locations can be spotted from across Sinclair Inlet. 

Doubting my ability to tell a questionable rock face from a solid one, I haven’t tried to identify them, but I asked for information about what the work will mean to drivers. 

The out basket: Steve Howell, from the state’s geology engineers, said the two spots are approximately 7/10s of a mile and 1.1 miles from the Highway 304 interchange as one travels toward Gorst. They are each about a tenth of a mile long. 

“These slopes  will be stabilized utilizing slope scaling, rock bolting and the installation of wiremesh/cablenet slope protection,” he said.  “Lane closures will be required for this work but no decision has been made as it relates to day or night work.”  

The slopes are included in the Unstable Slope Mitigation Program because they meet the current criteria of having a numerical rating of 350-plus on a scale that goes up to  891 and rates the impact of a slope failure. 

I guessed that the fact there is virtually no detour whenever that stretch of Highway 3 is blocked played a key role in landing it on the list of slopes in need of work, but Steve said that’s only partially correct. Available detours is just one of 10 risk factors used in rating slopes. 

I also asked if something had just moved those two spots up over 350 on the rating scale, and again he said no, they weren’t evaluated until 2006 or 2007 and placed on the list at all until 2008. 

Kevin Dayton said the work may be bid as early at next July, but the department’s schedule says only that the work is set for the 2011-13 biennium 







What’s going on at the old Gorst quarry?

The in basket: JoAnne Stefanac, Juliua Stroup, Natasha Champion, Barbara Peterson and John Jurgens have all e-mailed to ask about the work they see at the old Pioneer Quarry just on the Bremerton side of Gorst. 

“I can’t figure out if they’re just using all the material for other things or if they’re actually clearing and leveling the land to put something there,” said JoAnne. 

Says Juliua, “They’ve had a lot of heavy equipment and have contoured the land and have set up an arrangement of large boulders.”

The out basket: Pat Lockhart who owns the quarry alongside Highway 3 as well as the stilll-productive pit uphill from there on the other side of Sherman Heights Road, joked that it’s the new eight-lane highway between Gorst and Bremerton, plus a marina out in front when I reached him by cell phone. 

Then he got serious but not too specific about his plans. He said there still is a lot of usable rock in the lower quarry, mixed with dirt, and he’s having it screened out and taken uphill to be crushed for aggregate.

Sound Excavating, which Pat used to own and which shares the Gorst property for its headquarters, has some impressively large equipment moving the screened dirt around and leveling it into what look like a couple of commercial pads along the highway. 

But it’s just the increasingly visible phase of work he’s had going on for years, he said, and he can’t really say what it will become in time. “We’re grading it until it looks good so we can hydroseed it before winter,” he said.

What is drilling at Gorst RR bridge for?


The in basket: Robert Sherwood of Bremerton e-mails to say, “I see drilling equipment in operation next to the railroad bridge in Gorst. Soil samples, I assume.  

“Is a new railroad bridge in the plans for more lanes of traffic for Highway 3?  The backups cannot be tolerated anymore because of  this 1940’s era bridge.” 

The out basket: The backups will have to be tolerated longer. The work Robert sees is a project to bore a hole beneath the railroad tracks through which the final piece of a sewer line will be run.

The sewer line will link new homes on Anderson Hill on the other side of Gorst to the Bremerton sewer plant. All the green pipe we were seeing alongside Highway 3 last winter, now all underground, was part of that work.

Project Engineer Brad Ginn of the city said the boring job as been stalled by a series of large rocks that have required the contractor, D&D Boring, to send men into the casing to do hand mining. They are about two-thirds of the way through and hope to find easier material to bore through. But “the last 30 feet have been constant rock,” he said. 

The work is hard to spot, because even those workers not in the casing are down in the hole that accesses it. 

The widening of Highway 3 from Gorst to Bremerton, which would require a new railroad bridge, was one recommendation of a corridor study just completed this spring. But that’s advanced planning and any work would be years, if not decades, away.

Traffic camera in Gorst not forerunner of ramp metering


The in basket: It was more two years ago, in January 2007, that Richard McLaughlin of Port Orchard asked about adding a ramp metering stop light in Gorst to improve morning traffic flow.

At the time, he said, he went through Gorst each morning about 6:30. “The westbound backup through Gorst gets longer and longer, often back to the Old Clifton Road/Tremont exit in Port Orchard.  

“The problem appears to be the reduction of lanes from three to two in Gorst, coupled with merging westbound traffic from the Highway 3 overpass coming on. 

“Has (the state) explored installing a metering light on that on-ramp to improve traffic flow in the morning?” he asked.

Knowing that ramp metering requires cameras to tell the operators of the light how heavy traffic is, and that there were no such cameras in Gorst, I never addressed Richard’s inquiry.

But checking out a complaint about a non-functioning camera at the Hood Canal Bridge during May’s closure, I was surprised to see that there IS a traffic camera in Gorst, at the Highway 3-Sam Christopherson Road intersection. I asked its purpose and when it was installed.

The out basket: It’s a new installation, prompted by the expected increase in traffic through Gorst while the bridge was closed, says Jamie Swift of the Olympic Region of state highways. 

Traffic counts from May 1 to Memorial Day, while a lot of normal bridge traffic was detoured, showed that Belfair, down the highway a bit, had 13 percent more traffic than usual, he said.

And though they plan to keep the Christopherson camera in operation, and ramp meters in Gorst “would be a helpful traffic management tool, at this point there is no funding available to pay for such a project,” he said.

The Christopherson signal can be controlled remotely, he said, but isn’t for the same purpose as a ramp meter signal. “Under most circumstances, we would send a crew to the field to observe the entire intersection before making any adjustments.

“The camera helps diagnose issues at the intersection, but doesn’t provide the comprehensive view our crews can get by observing on the ground.” 

Still, says Jim Johnstone of the regional signal shop, they could alter its timing remotely if the regional traffic management center asked them to. 

All that said, that light is some distance from the location of the traffic backups Richard mentions. Phil Serratt wrote recently with a different suggestion to deal with those, and the next Road Warrior will discuss that.