Tag Archives: Lake Flora

Bremerton paving remote streets south of Gorst

The in basket: I went to the city of Bremerton Web site to find out when the next work party will be to clean up the median of the Gateway (Highway 304) on the west side of town, and came across something that surprised me.

I saw a notice that the city is paving this week on Lake Flora Road and West Belfair Valley Road.

I didn’t know any portion of Lake Flora Road was in the city. And though I often write about the deteriorating condition of the city’s portion of West Belfair Valley Road (you may think of it as Old Belfair Highway, its name in Mason County), I thought there was little hope for improvement money in the foreseeable future.

I learned I was sorely out of date in my understanding of how far south along Highway 3 the city limits extend. Bremerton National Airport. the Olympic View Industrial Park and the first stretch of Lake Flora Road from Highway 3 all are in the city.

They all were annexed in 2009, says Allison Satter of city community development. I had thought city jurisdiction there was limited to city watershed land.

The paving this week will be overlaying the existing pavement. Money for the work comes from a grant the city got from the Puget Sound Regional Council. None of if comes from the car tab add-on the city has been collecting for two years. Other streets have been chosen for work with that money this year.

Managing Street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson said the grant money was for arterial streets only and they chose these two to avoid dealing with sidewalks. The overlay will use a Kevlar fiber in the hot mix to span weak portions of the roads that otherwise would need a much more costly full reconstruction, he said. West Belfair Valley Road will be repaved from Division Street in Gorst to the entrance to Gold Mountain Golf Course. Lake Flora Road paving was from Highway 3 to where county jurisdiction begins.

That SR304 work party that prompted my search is Saturday morning, incidentally.

 

Fatalities on Glenwood Road prompt past and future improvements

The in basket: Christine Larsen of Lake Helena Road writes, “My concern is about Glenwood Road (in South Kitsap). With the death on that road (in November), I have counted at least 7-8 deaths in separate accidents of mostly young people since I moved here in 1997. That just seems like a high rate for a country road. Every time it happens, I wonder if someone is going to look into why it’s so frequent.
“I’d be very interested,” Christine said, “to breakdown the causes of the fatalities on Glenwood in the last 20 years or so and attempt to determine what the dangerous factors are. Obviously speed is one of them. I am guessing the curvy road and large trees are another, but is there anything else that these accidents have in common?
Also curious if the road department has any idea of what could help. Barriers on corners? A safer wall than the large brick one where Glenwood T’s with Lake Flora? Slower speeds? More warning signs?”
The out basket: Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County, which owns the road, says, “We have collision records back to 1992.  Between then and now our records show nine fatal collisions with 10 fatalities along the eight miles of Glenwood Road.  This does not include the most recent collision.

“’Had been drinking’ was noted on the collision report for six of the nine reported collisions.  Excessive speed was also listed on some of them.  Five of the collisions were run-off-the-roads at curves and straightaways, and only one of those didn’t involve alcohol. Two collisions involved a motorist pulling out in front of another vehicle, and in both of those cases alcohol was involved.

“Except for the Lake Flora intersection, there is no other location where more than one fatal collision occurred.

In 2004 and then again in 2009 motorists failed to stop for the Lake Flora stop sign and fatally crashed into the concrete block wall. Neither driver had been drinking. There were no skid marks noted on the collision reports, so there is no indication the drivers made an attempt to stop before hitting the wall.

“The intersection has a large conspicuous stop sign and advanced warning stop ahead sign, along with street lighting at the intersection. Since the drivers died at the scene, it was impossible to determine why they missed the stop sign.

“The block wall is there to support a large cut slope on which a house sits not too far from the wall.  Cutting the slope back significantly would require moving the house.

“Furthermore, I am not certain we could build a wall of any material that would prevent a fatality if struck by a car going 40 mph.”

Glenwood Road is listed on the county Transportation Improvement Program for $2.6 million in improvements to include widening it, paving its shoulders and intersection improvements, between Wildwood and JH roads, to be done in 2016.

Previous work, in 2004, was done between JH Road and Lider Road, included widening of the travel lanes to 12 feet, eight-foot shoulders, six feet of which are paved, some flattening of rises in the travel lanes, and a two-way turn lane between Lake Flora and Lider. It included storm water management and fish passage enhancement work, too.

“Every two years we evaluate our collision records and determine trouble spots,” Jeff said. “We evaluate the high accident locations for safety improvements such as signs, lighting and guardrail just to mention a few safety measures we use.”

 

Readers question need for, lighting of Lake Flora roundabout

The in basket: There is some skepticism about the need for a roundabout at the Lake Flora Road-JM Dickenson Road intersection in South Kitsap. It’s nearly complete and about to open.

This week, Larry Taylor of Bremerton e-mailed to say, “I thought this state was hurting for money. So why in the world would they build a roundabout at Lake Flora and Dickerson Road or any rural area for that matter.

“I used to travel that road very frequently, sometimes three or four times a week and never had a problem with the stop sign that was there,” Larry said. “Even if the economy was booming, I think it is a complete waste of the taxpayers money. I don’t think the words ‘save money’ (are) in the government’s vocabulary.”

Back in August, Ed Kalmbach, a commenter on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com asked, “How does the state and county determine that an intersection like Lake Flora and JM Dickenson requires alteration due to safety concerns. Do they have a formula or algorithm and if so what is the data for this intersection that determined a roundabout was required and the correct solution?”

Another e-mailer had a different concern. Sandy Gold wrote this month to say, “Is there any plan to put a light in the roundabout on Lake Flora? We live out beyond the roundabout, and have noticed how dark that corner is.

“Once the construction barrels are gone, it will be really easy to have folks running into the center of the roundabout, just like they used to run the stop sign.  If they crash in the roundabout there won’t be any way for traffic to get around,” Sandy said.

The out basket: It’s a Kitsap County project and County Engineer Jon Brand explains the reasoning:

“There were several factors that led to the decision to move forward with a roundabout in this location. The intersection was selected for improvements because of the accident history, traffic volumes and pavement condition.

“There were 16 collisions in this location between January 2003 and December 2007, seven of which involved injuries.  This is well above the countywide average.  A roundabout reduces the likelihood of rear-end accidents or motorists’ blowing through a stop sign.

“Transportation projects undertaken by public works design for 20 years in the future, in this case 2028,” Jon continued, adding that Lake Flora links highways 3 and 16, the South Kitsap Industrial Area, and the city of Port Orchard.

“Traffic volumes are expected to increase significantly in the future and they are distributed in a relatively equal manner,” he said. “This was a major factor in the decision to proceed with a roundabout instead of a stop-controlled intersection. A roundabout offers more traffic capacity and efficiency than a stop-controlled intersection, especially when the volumes are balanced.”

As for Sandy’s concern, lights are coming, says Doug Bear of

county public works, and their foundations are already there. There’ll be a street light on each of the three approaches to the roundabout and two inside it. They’ll be installed soon, he said.

Counting days for SK roundabout and bridge projects

The in basket: I drove past the new roundabout at Lake Flora and JM Dickenson roads in rural South Kitsap on Oct. 1, going past a sign as I did saying road work there will continue into November. It looked to me like it’s ready to handle traffic now.

I asked if it’s ahead of schedule.

While I was at it, I asked for an update on the South Colby bridge project and closure of Southworth Drive and prospects for its carrying into March.

The out basket: Jacques Dean, construction manager for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “Lake Flora is moving along well and should be completed in October, weather permitting.”

As for the bridge and its road closure, Jacque said, “The contractor there experienced some challenges excavating for channel widening due to excessive groundwater and working around the tides.

“That work is complete and they are moving into major bridge construction activities. Drilled shafts are complete and the cap, abutment wall and wing walls on the west side of the bridge are finished.

“The project is still scheduled to wrap up by the end of the year, weather permitting,” Jacque said.

Agitated driver wants update on Lake Flora roundabout

The in basket: Rich Farrell says he “recently I skidded 10,000 miles of rubber off a new set of tires and depreciated my brake lining life span by at least five years at the intersection of Lake Flora Road and Lake Flora/JM Dickenson….the famous T-intersection where many drivers will not come to a complete stop!!

“At one point in time there was a planned roundabout  proposed for the intersection,” Rich said. “Whatever happened? How many accidents will it take before such an animal is constructed? Does the country have a ‘death quota’ before acting on such? With the traffic increase of the area, it won’t take long before someone is either seriously injured or killed at the intersection.”

The out basket: I got the misimpression somewhere that the roundabout Rich asks about was under way. It isn’t but it soon will be.

Doug Bear, public works spokesman for the county, says work is to begin Aug. 8. The contract was on the county commissioners’ schedule for approval on July 25. A November completion is planned.

 

All that firewood lying along state highways

The in basket: Phyllis Bishop wrote on Nov. 24 to say, “My husband and I came from Belfair to Bremerton today, Wow all the fallen trees. The subject came up of who gets the wood from the trees. My husband thinks since it is on state right of way it belongs to the state. Is it legal to cut the wood and remove it?”

The out basket: No, says Duke Stryker, head of maintenance crews for state highways in this area. For liability reasons that are especially pertinent with something as perilous as wood-cutting, they or the state patrol will chase away anyone trying to harvest fire wood from state right of way.

“It would be just a matter of time before someone gets hurt or a vehicle runs off the road and hits someone,” he said. Unfortunately, we can’t allow it.”

State crews, aided by crews from the Department of Corrections’ prisons, will clean up the deadfall in time, and take it to a recycling center, he said.

That’s not a very high priority. At present, he said, they are repairing and replacing damaged guardrail from trees that fell across it in the most recent storm.

He said the stretch of Highway 3 that Phyllis mentions was the hardest hit area in Kitsap, the hardest hit county in that storm. It was fallen trees, not icy pavement that kept it closed between Sunnyslope and Lake Flora roads the day after, he said. His crews were using plows to push around trees and other debris so power crews could get to the lines in the area.

I asked Kitsap County about fallen tree cleanup while I was at it and found its rules to be different.

Doug Bear, spokesman for Kitsap public works says they regard storm debris on county right of way to be the property of the adjoining property owner. Most county right of way is in the form of an easement, rather than straight ownership, he said.

So access to fallen trees along county roads would require the same kind of permission from the the private owner as it would had the trees fallen outside the right of way.

Lake Flora Road intersection could get improvements

The in basket: Suzy Lee writes, “I live in Belfair and go to work in Seattle at 4:30 a.m. via the Southworth ferry.  My route is Belfair to Lake Flora Road and on to the ferry.

“This is a recent route for me and I find the intersection on Highway 3 hard to see.  I signal but have had to slow down to see the turnoff.  It seems to me that there (should) be an overhead light at that intersection and, if so, can the powers thar be get a light installed?”

The out basket: Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways, says it might happen.

“For the upcoming session, we are proposing that the Legislature fund the design and construction of improvements at the intersection, that will include illumination,” he said. “We should know by next April if they decide to fund the project.”

Updating new Lake Flora roundabout

 

The in basket: I was reviewing old Road Warrior columns and came across one from last year that suggested another roundabout might be on the drawing boards, where Lake Flora and JM Dickenson roads intersect in South Kitsap.

Debbie Buchholz had asked about the Lake Flora work that was done last July, and the county said phase 2 of the work might include a roundabout.

The out basket: There will, indeed, be a roundabout built at the Lake Flora/JM Dickenson road intersection, beginning this fall or next spring. 

Dick Dadisman of Kitsap County Public Works says the new rural roundabout “will have a single lane similar to the roundabout on Bethel Road in Port Orchard.  (Though, the Port Orchard roundabout was designed and constructed as a two-lane roundabout, but striped for a single lane).  

“Major differences between a rural roundabout and urban roundabout ,” he said, “are rural roundabouts lack the pedestrian improvements you would typically find in an urban setting; the truck apron is wider to allow larger trucks to negotiate the roundabout; and the approach legs are typically longer to allow sufficient distance for higher speed vehicles to safely decelerate as they approach the roundabout.” 

The roundabout will be just south of the intersection it will replace.

I asked if there are any other roundabouts planned on the county’s roads and Dick said, “Kitsap County has one other roundabout under consideration.  This one is located at the Newberry Hill/Silverdale Way/Chico Way intersection with construction planned for the summer of 2012.” 

Since he replied, County Commissioner Josh Brown made a pitch for a roundabout at Holly Road and Seabeck Highway in Central Kitsap, so that may be added to the list in the future.

Reader cries ‘Waste!’ in Lake Flora project

 

The in basket: Debra Buchholz of Port Orchard says, “I recently went on the county Web site to see what the road project is on Lake Flora Road. I see that they are planning on widening the lanes and shoulder…  

“I can see that this was probably planned when the (NASCAR) race track was in the laying,” she said. “I travel Lake Flora daily and am not sure why the county is wasting their money there. It is not used nearly enough to warrant spending money the county can surely use elsewhere.  

“In reading this project info, I found an even more concerning project for Lake Flora for 2010-11,” she continued. “They are putting a roundabout at the intersection of JM Dickenson and Lake Flora (roads). Why is a roundabout needed there?  

“Seriously does the county have that much money to waste?  Is this something that is truly needed with the economy the way it is? I wonder what the rest of Kitsap County would think if they knew how little this area really needs this?”

The out basket: Jon Brand, the county’s assistant public works director, replied directly to Debby and CCd to me:

“This project has a long history,” he said. “In 2002, Kitsap County obtained a $500,000 Rural Arterial Preservation (RAP) grant for (it).” The RAP funds come from the state’s portion of the fuel tax and  address traffic safety and preservation of rural arterial roads, he said. 

“Lake Flora Road was eligible because of the accident history and the condition of the asphalt. The project addresses safety by correcting segments of road where the alignment is sub-standard and providing paved shoulders to reduce the number of run-off-the-road accidents. Paved shoulders will reduce the number of accidents because errant vehicles will have more time to respond.”

I suggested to Jon that a gravel shoulder is more likely than a paved shoulder to alert a driver that he is leaving the roadway, and he said perhaps, if there was any certainty of a smooth transition from the asphalt to the gravel.

But “a drop off frequently forms at the asphalt edge which causes errant vehicles to lose control,” Jon said. “I agree that the gravel offers more of a warning but it’s likely to be a warning of impending disaster. Vehicles leaving the traveled way are less likely to crash if the shoulder is asphalt.   

“The down side is that paved shoulders often add to a driver’s comfort level and result in faster driving speeds,” he added.

Back to his reply to Debra, he wrote, “Lake Flora Road’s asphalt is in such poor condition that it’s not feasible to extend the pavement life by repairing and overlaying it. This was recognized by the state when the RAP grant was awarded.  

“This project was delayed for about 18 months during the NASCAR discussion,” Jon said.  “During the delay, (we) attempted to preserve the road by applying a slurry seal. 

“Had the track project moved forward, the traffic impacts would have been significant and the current project would have looked much different.  There’s no connection between the county’s current project and NASCAR.  

“Improvements to the intersection at JM Dickenson were not included in the original RAP project,” he said. “This intersection has been the site of several major accidents and a wide range of solutions have been discussed.  Our traffic engineers consider this as a good candidate for a rural roundabout.” But that decision hasn’t been made yet. 

“This project is not an example of government waste,” Jon concluded. “The county’s focus is on improving the safety and preserving the transportation infrastructure and we attempt to provide those improvements in a cost effective manner.”

It will cost a lot more than the $500,000 from RAP, though, but not as much as forecast in the county’s six-year road plan.

It predicted a $4.36 million price tag. The first phase, which began July 6, is a $1.04 million contract with RV Associates, and Jon says current estimates for the second phase say $845,000. Both are less than half what’s in the road plan, though engineering and right of way will add to the cost.