Tag Archives: Hood Canal Bridge

Port Ludlow reader pleads for safer intersection west of bridge

The in basket: Janice Crittenden of Port Ludlow would like to see the two intersections with Highway 104 at the Jefferson County end of the Hood Canal Bridge made less dangerous.

It’s been a hazard for 30 years, she said, but “has gotten much worse in the last 10 years, or so.”

“The two intersecting roads are Paradise Bay Road and Shine Road.  The most troubling area is the Paradise Bay Road section of the intersection; it is a left turn onto the bridge.

“I pass across the bridge and make that left turn, probably the 5-6 times per week.  I have family members who cross it daily from Paradise Bay Road.

“We hear sirens several times a week headed in that direction and even more disconcerting are the many fender benders or worse that we have witnessed. Close calls are extremely frequent!  We have been included in some of those incidents.

“I have sat at this spot waiting to turn left for nearly 10 minutes at a time on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon. Some are not so patient!! People have exhibited road rage during their wait, directed at those that won’t take chances.

“The only time this area is at all safe is when WSP has been called to monitor bridge closure traffic.  The officers let all Paradise Bay traffic go before allowing cars from either direction to flow. This is wonderful for those of us waiting, but is certainly not a solution. They are only present during Navy openings and not even all of those.

“I propose a traffic-sensitive light be installed which is only activated when there is a car/cars waiting to turn left. I understand the difficulties doing this on a state highway, but lives are truly at stake,” Janice said.

The out basket: I’ve not been there nearly as much as Janice, but I did feel the angst created by having to turn left there on the few occasions I have.

Unhappily, as scary as it seems, it hasn’t produced the evidence in the form of bad accidents that would move it up the state’s priority list, says Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways.

“Nothing is planned at present for that intersection,” she said. “We would like to make improvements to it, but limited resources require us to address highway needs based on a priority system. Other intersections rate higher, meaning they have a worse collision history, and current funding doesn’t reach far enough to affect this intersection.

“I wish I had better news for your reader.”

Sign at Pioneer Hill in NK gives oddball info to drivers

The in basket: Dan Godecke of Lofall in North Kitsap says, “When (the state) put up the new cameras on Highway 3 from the bridge to Highway 305, they also installed a sign southbound on Highway 3 at Pioneer Hill.  It is one of the kind that has flashing yellow lights telling drivers to tune to a radio channel for highway information.
“I have seen this sign’s light come on three times now,” Dan wrote. “All three times it was the same message, “The Hood Canal Bridge is open for marine traffic at this time”.

“Why was this sign installed on the southbound direction of Highway 3 to tell southbound traffic that the bridge behind them is open for marine traffic?  Who going south could possibly care if the bridge behind them is open or closed?
“This brings up the second question.  Why was this sign (or another sign) not installed for northbound traffic.  The people going north on highway 3 would have a need to know if the bridge in front of them is closed.
“I am beginning to think that the people who dream up this stuff don’t drive on the highways or even have a clue what direction is north or south.”
The out basket: Well, I suppose there are a few drivers going south who might find the current status of the bridge helpful, but that’s not the explanation.

The messages Dan heard were a mistake, says Tony Leingang, freeway operations manager for this region.

“The sign installed at this location gave our regional Traffic Management Center a new tool to talk to motorists traveling south towards Bremerton and east towards Poulsbo when incidents affecting that area occur,” Tony said. “The recent project that installed the cameras and this sign also brought a new Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) transmitter located near SR 3/SR 305 and a new frequency of AM 1650. That is why the sign in question was added in this area.

“Hood Canal Bridge information on the HAR transmitter located near the bridge is supported by four different flashing beacon signs located

northbound on SR 3 at Lofall, westbound on SR 104 at Port Gamble,

eastbound on SR 104 near Paradise Bay and southbound on US 101 near the US 101/SR 104 junction.

“This group of devices asks motorists to tune to a different frequency (AM 530).l. That system has been in place for quite some time and covers Mr. Godecke’s concern about northbound SR 3 traffic receiving information relative to the bridge.

“I can only point to human error that must have occurred when the Pioneer Hill flashers were inadvertently activated relative to (bridge)activities. I apologize for the confusion and we are reviewing this with the staff now to ensure the issue gets resolved.”

She can’t get the radio message in North Kitsap

The in basket: Gwen Duzenski writes, “I travel north on Highway 3 every day and lately the large information sign just has a message about tuning to 530 on the radio for bridge information.  I can’t get any information on 530 AM on the radio and I wonder what is going on.” All she gets on that frequency on her 2003 Subaru’s radio at that location is static, she said.
The big sign was blank over the weekend but the referral to 530 AM returned Monday, when she had no better luck on that frequency, she said.
She’d like to see it return to how it was, “so it will let us know when the Hood Canal bridge is open for marine traffic like it did before,” Gwen said.
The out basket: Lisa Murdock of the state highway’s Olympic Region said a state technician tested that HAR (for Highway Advisory Radio) transmission Monday and found it to be working properly. “He increased the power by two watts to see if that helps,” she said, “but it could be a matter on the receiving end.”
The HAR broadcasts cover only a limited area and
“depending on the location of the vehicle tuning in, as well as the quality of the
vehicle’s AM reception, at times highway advisory radio messages are
difficult to tune to,” she said.
Gwen needn’t worry about missing an important mention of traffic disruption on the bridge, Lisa said. “(We use) HARs for public service announcements only secondary to real-time traffic information. Information about marine openings that impede vehicle traffic would be conveyed over the HAR instead of the PSA, if the situation warranted.
“All of our HARs run PSAs when there is no real-time traffic
to report. We feel it’s a good way to get out important messages. That
said, we only turn on the flashing beacons or (big electronic signs) that tell you to tune
in, for real-time traffic or important ferry info.
That includes the public service message that was running on the HAR last week. It
explained to motorists some options for travel being considered
during the May-June 2009 closure of the Hood Canal Bridge, Lisa said. “It let
listeners know how to go about participating in a survey reviewing the
options. Visit www.hoodcanalbridge.com for more information.
“If ever you have questions about the current conditions of the Hood
Canal Bridge you can visit http://wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/hoodcanal/
or call the toll-free hot line at 800-419-9085,” she added.

One end of Hood Canal Bridge is unlighted

The in basket: Gil Berg lives at Bridgehaven, just south of Shine in Jefferson County and looks out at the Hood Canal Bridge. He asks why the entire bridge has street lights except for the last quarter mile before its Jefferson County end.
The out basket: Becky Logan, spokesman for the project to replace half the bridge, has this to say.
“Firstly, there are no laws which require lights on any bridges in Washington state.  According to the Design Manual on Illumination, “illumination is provided along highways, in parking lots, and at other facilities to enhance the visual perception of conditions or features that require additional motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian alertness during the hours of darkness.”
“Because of the barrier gates on the bridge, bridge lights are needed so motorists can see when the gates open and close,” she said. 
 “The first light on the east half of the bridge is 620 feet from the east truss,” meaning the steel structure that stretches from shore to the pontoons.  On the west half the first light is approximately 1,700 feet from the west truss.  The difference is because the west half of the bridge is longer than the east half, she said.  Therefore, the barrier gates are closer to the east truss, which is why the lights appear to begin sooner.” 
Chris Keegan, the Olympic Region bridge expert for the state, added that they don’t usually put lights on rural bridges.
“If you are driving in the dark and come across some lights, you have trouble seeing when you go back into the dark,” he said.
He said that the need for the bridge span operator to see cars approaching the barricades is another reason that this rural bridge has some lights.