Tag Archives: Manette bridge

Washington Avenue lane reduction is under way

The in basket: With Fifth Street in Bremerton closed at Washington Avenue and its pavement crushed, plus the north end of the barrier separating the two levels of Washington between Sixth Street and the Manette Bridge newly shortened, I wondered if the city was doing work to prepare for this summer’s realignment of Washington, or if it was the first phases of the project itself.

It seems that the start of street and road projects have a way of dragging into the late summer and I hadn’t heard that the contractor had been given the go-ahead to begin the overall project, which will reduce Washington to a single lane in each direction with bike lanes and wider sidewalks between Sixth and the bridge.

I recall that years ago, a Road Warrior reader suggested that the toe of that barrier be cut back or at least painted white so left-turn traffic coming off the bridge was less likely to turn too sharply and hit it. I don’t recall what I did with that, but it didn’t get done then.

The out basket: It IS the start of the project, says city Public Works Director Chal Martin, and it’s to be com

Work begin down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Work begin down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

pleted in November. The closure of Fifth Street is for utility improvements that are working their way up to Sixth Street. Fifth is scheduled to reopen on May 11, but then Sixth Street’s intersection will close. That will be a much bigger deal, and City Engineer Tom Knuckey said a detour plan will be announced soon. Sixth is to reopen May 14, then Fifth will close again while the utility work is tested.

All the work will occur Mondays through Thursdays, the schedule says, as the contractor has chosen to work four 10-hour shifts, at least to start.

Soon the traffic signal at the end of the Manette Bridge will begin flashing red continuously for 30 days, a precursor to installation of stop signs to control the intersection for the duration of the project. The signals will go back into operation when it’s complete.

The current city staff has no recollection of the previous suggestion to cut back or paint the toe of the barrier, which isn’t surprising. It was a long time ago and I’m not sure anyone has actually hit it while turning.

Chal Martin said it has been done now because reducing Washington to a single lane will  make the turn tighter. In practice, most drivers have swung out into the outside lane when turning left off the bridge, he said. That’s technically illegal (drivers are required to turn into the nearest available lane when turning into a roadway) but it is what has been happening. Left turners no longer will be able to swing as wide when the project is done, and construction equipment also will benefit from the shortening.

The other end of the barrier will also be cut back to aid left turners from Sixth onto Washington – and the construction vehicles during the work, Tom said.

 

Manette Bridge waterline bases end earlier than I would have thought

IMGP2293The in basket: I joined Sun reporter Josh Farley in his recent walking tour of the part of Bremerton’s Washington Avenue that will be reduced to one lane in each direction this summer.

The tide was low, I noted as I looked out over the Port Washington Narrows, and I was surprised to see that the wide bases of the columns that support the new Manette Bridge ended before they reached the water line at that tide level. I would have thought they went all the way to the bottom. Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin, also on the walking tour, guessed that the  wide bases protected the piers from boat traffic.

I asked state officials if that was right.

The out basket: No, said Claudia Bingham Baker of the state’s Olympic Region. the wide bases “are designed to distribute the bridge load onto the bridge shafts. They are structural members of the bridge and not a fender-type protection system from errant boats.”

She put me in touch with Chris Keegan, the region’s top bridge engineer, who said that below the wide bases are concrete shafts drilled deep into the bottom of the Port Washington Narrows. The wide bases are the transition structures between those shafts and the above-water pillars on which the bridge deck sits.

Bremerton’s Washington Avenue in for more changes

The in basket:  Old friend Nick Garguile was on the phone the other day with a suggestion I’ve heard before, from Willadean Howell and others.

Make the outside lane of Washington Avenue in Bremerton a right turn only lane, Nick said,  to keep cars heading straight through and waiting at a red light from delaying those who want to turn right and otherwise could, .

I had to break the news to Nick that not only won’t that happen, but the city plans to turn Washington Avenue between Sixth and the Manette Bridge into a single lane each way. It’s schedule to be done in 2015 and they are weighing whether to put a roundabout at the downtown end of the Manette Bridge.

Making southbound Washington one lane struck me as an unneeded concession to pedestrians and bicyclists. Cutting the northbound direction to a single lane will provide a widened sidewalk and bike lane on the east side of Washington that could accommodate both directions of bike and pedestrian travel, and probably will, since it flows right into the pedestrian/bike path on the bridge.

I made my argument to Gunnar Fridriksson, managing engineer for streets for the city of Bremerton, who is involved in the planning for the changes. He had sent me traffic studies for Washington on either side of Sixth, which he said disprove my belief, but which appeared to me to show nearly no pedestrian or bicycle use on that side of the street.

The out basket: After an exchange of e-mails, Gunnar sat down with me after work and addressed my point of view. He had an answer for pretty much everything.

“One lane of traffic can comfortably support between 14,000 to 20,000 vehicles per day,” he said. “We are not

coming close to that.  So basically we are paying to maintain a lot of asphalt out here that is not needed for vehicle traffic, but we have pedestrians and bicyclists who are not being accommodated, and we have shy distance requirements not being met, not only for the barrier in the roadway, but also for pedestrians with the size of the retaining walls on the west side.”

He then went into “the evolving philosophy

regarding streets and what user expectations are. Remember,” he said, “not too long ago everything was all about capacity and getting vehicles as fast as possible from point A to point B with little regard for most other modes of transportation, or the community it was bisecting.” That’s no longer true, he said.

The “shy distance” he mentioned above deals with the impact a narrow passage has on pedestrian and driver behavior, and I imagine is a term with origins in what makes horses shy away.

Its application here has to do with the high wall alongside southbound Washington, which can make pedestrians uncomfortable, and the center barrier’s close proximity to the driving lanes.  A wider sidewalk and single lane will address both issues.

And, of course, there are the voluminous federal and state guidelines and requirements that local governments ignore at their own risk. He referred me to one at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/sidewalks/chap4a.cfm. It went on for pages with regulations or recommendations, mostly to accommodate pedestrians and the disabled.

For example, “Accessible pedestrian facilities should be considered part of every new public right-of-way project where pedestrians are permitted,” it says. “Sidewalk installation and the linking of pedestrian routes to transportation stops and major corridors should always be a priority. The decision to install sidewalks should not be optional.” That’s from the Federal Highway Administration, a major money source for roadways.

And this: “Passing space (on a sidewalk) is defined as a section of path wide enough to allow two wheelchair users to pass one another or travel abreast The passing space provided should also be designed to allow one wheelchair user to turn in a complete circle.

It would be illegal for bicycles to travel against traffic, so I guess there is no way around adding a bike lane in both directions. And the city probably couldn’t meet that “passing space” requirement on just the east side of the street for those walking in either direction.

While it seems to me that accommodating pedestrians, the disabled and bicycles in street improvements is a worthwhile goal, it shouldn’t require eliminating amenities that benefit drivers, like the chance to make that outside lane a right turn only lane.

But I guess that’s out-dated thinking by an oldster who drives but never bikes and rarely walks very far.

Tricky crosswalk question at Manette Bridge

The in basket: Katherine Adams describes a conflict she had with a driver while she was on foot trying to cross the south end of the Manette Bridge.

It’s one of those locations where the crosswalk is in two segments, one shorter than the other, with an island between them. At this location, the short segment crosses a right turn lane and the longer one crosses the other two lanes, which must turn left.

“Today,” Katherine said on June 26, “as I stepped out on the north side of the crosswalk to the island, a car did not see me. The car was turning right off the Manette Bridge. I pulled back.

“The driver said to watch what I was doing, they had the right away with the light. I know they have a yield sign after the crosswalk and I don’t know of a light that refers to the right-turn lane. Possibly a crosswalk sign before the crosswalk for the right turn lane would be helpful. The driver was upset and so was I.”

The out basket: I had to study this spot for a few minutes before concluding that the driver was in the wrong.

The two green lights are arrow lights pointing left. There is no signal for right turners, so the Yield sign on the sidewalk controls the right turn.

As with any crosswalk without a signal controlling traffic, a driver is beholden to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk or poised to enter it. Had the driver hit Ms. Adams, he would have been at fault.

One could argue that the red “don’t walk” hand icon that displays across the intersection when the lights are green for left turns onto Washington Avenue means Ms. Adams should not have stepped out. But the button that allows those walking south to ask for a ‘Walk’ sign is on the island. One has to cross in the short stub of the crosswalk to reach it. So that signal doesn’t control the stub crosswalk any more than the green left turn arrows control the right turn.

I ran this past Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police and Gunnar Fridriksson of the city public works engineers and both agreed with me.

 

Traffic changes at end of Manette bridge still not likely

The in basket: Ralph Gribben of East Bremerton says he’d like to see the stop signs removed at a couple of places at the east end of the new Manette Bridge, on Harkins at Pitt and on Pitt at East 11th, and a yield sign at Pitt and East 11th. It would smooth the flow of traffic going to and from the bridge, he felt.

He’s not the only one to suggest that, but in the past, city officials have said they want to see how traffic flows evolve with the opening of the new bridge before making any changes.

The out basket: They still are reluctant to make the changes suggested. Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers said, “We do not wish to make changes without

looking towards an overall traffic circulation study for Manette.

“Forthe citizens complaining about the stop signs, we have others that

appreciate them being there to slow vehicles down.  A common complaint

prior to the new traffic configuration was speeding on East. 11th from

motorists coming off of the old bridge.

“A line item is included in the

city budget for the study, but funding has not yet been identified,” he said.

Pilings at Manette bridge job worry boater

The in basket: Paul Kremer, my eye doctor, mentioned at a recent appointment that the steel pipe pilings put in place at the new Manette Bridge in Bremerton to keep the barges in place as their equipment removes the underwater portions of the  demolished former bridge should be lighted.

It’s hard for boaters to see them at night, he said, and he expects it to be worse with the lengthening nights and bad weather,

He also wondered when the removal of the bridge’s old pier footings will be completed.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokesman for state highways in this area, says, “We placed the pilings outside of the designated navigational channel, and in a manner that meets all Coast Guard requirements for placement and maintenance.

“We plan to be done with the work in early November, which is a couple of weeks later than we had originally scheduled,” she said.

A pair of Fifth Street curiosities and roundabout reminder

The in basket: I was putting along eastbound on Fifth Street in Bremerton recently when my wife in the passenger seat noticed that I had given no indication that I had seen a stop sign at Veneta Avenue.

“Stop sign,” she said, and it was a good thing. I had not seen it and was surprised it was there. It was new. How new I didn’t know. Had I been running it and its mate on the other side of the intersection, or had I just not been on Fifth Street for a long time? There were no orange flags or signs indicating a change in traffic control.

Thusly moved to curiosity, I wondered a couple blocks later at Chester Avenue about the traffic calming island put in the middle of the intersection a couple years ago. Traffic was light and turning left in front of the island would have been easier than going around it to turn left. I wondered if that would be legal.

So I asked.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city engineers said he’d been curious about the four-way stop created at Fifth and Veneta  himself, and learned that it was all done months ago in response to a neighborhood petition. It seems like a good move, given all the foot traffic around the Catholic school and church there.

“It was reviewed by engineering in April of last

year,” Gunnar said, “and a work order to maintenance sent out on May 5.  The new

signs and traffic revision signs were installed shortly thereafter,along with swapping the lenses in the flashing light from yellow to red.

“After the 30-day installation period passed, all traffic revision signs were removed.”

He and Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police said it is not legal to turn in front of a traffic island, any more than it would be to turn left and not go around a roundabout . You have to go around.

Gunnar asked that we use this as an opportunity to revisit another element of driving roundabouts.

“We are receiving complaints that some

motorists coming across the (new) bridge are ignoring the Yield sign when entering the new Manette roundabout,” he said.

“We would like to try and educate before going to enforcement,” he said.

As I noted in a December Road Warrior, the construction of the roundabout in Manette has changed the rules for right of way at that end of the bridge. Drivers exiting the bridge in Manette no longer have the right of way over other traffic flows and must yield to anyone already in the roundabout. That’s the rule for all roundabouts.

At the Fifth Street traffic circle, stop signs control the side street and drivers at the stop signs must yield to traffic on the through street.

Some remaining Manette Bridge questions

The in basket: Larry Avery, Jeff David and Robert Balcomb have posed the latest questions to the Road Warrior column about the new Manette Bridge in Bremerton.

Larry said on Dec. 29, “(I) was at the Boat Shed this afternoon and it doesn’t seem like anything has happened there in some time.
“Sure, they have been working on the demo of our old bridge, but has the state let the contractor slide on getting the final work done on the new bridge?
“Is this thing on schedule?”
Jeff, a former Bremerton police traffic officer, asks,”When is someone going to admit that they should have had a right turn off the bridge like before to move many vehicles onto Shore Drive and East 11th, rather they enduring two stop signs on Pitt and East 11th.  It’s nice to have a park, but at what expense?”

Robert writes, “There was a plan circulated around town concerned with turning the old Manette Bridge into a People’s Bridge, such as for abandoned traffic and railroad bridges in America and Europe.

“I photographed the bridge from the Boatshed Restaurant, and wife Mary Balcomb painted it to show what could have been a public walkway and gathering place. The picture circulated widely, gathering many signatures in favor.  Also we spoke with several engineers who agreed that the understructures can be up-kept just like has been done for other bridges.”

The out basket: Jeff Cook, the state’s project engineer on the bridge replacement, said on Dec. 30, “The demolition of the old Manette Bridge has been the most noticeable operation over the last six weeks, however a great deal more has been ongoing as well, some which cannot be seen from the south side.

“The overhang brackets that supported the barrier and deck construction of the north side of the bridge are completing the removal process.

“The massive beams which supported the  construction of the first span on west side took several weeks to unfasten and remove.

‘”Grading operations for the east and west banks were completed and the expanded viewscape construction is nearly complete with only planting remaining.

“At any given time there have been three to five separate operations occurring beyond the … demolition.

“So the next question will likely be: What’s left?

– “The contractor will complete the demolition of the two remaining concrete piers; both on the east side in the beach area.  This is tidally dependent, will be at night, and likely complete by the middle of January.

– “The contractor has been awaiting the final shipments of green railing to be installed on the south side of the bridge. A fabrication issue delayed the delivery, but the remaining materials are scheduled to be on site then in place by the end of January. Once installed, the sidewalk will be open to the full 10-foot width.” Gaps in the north side rail also have awaited the overdue pieces, he said.

– “Planting for the viewscape and the center of the roundabout will complete approximately the middle of January.

-“The last work under this contract will be the application of pigmented sealer to the girder faces and end piers. (The public will generally see this as ‘painting’).

“(It) must occur when the temperature is consistently above 50 degrees and not raining.

“What will likely happen is all the work above will complete, the contractor will leave the site, then return in April to complete the pigmented sealing of the bridge. This work will take approximately three weeks and will be conducted from barges.

“So, yes we are on schedule.  The contractor has been working on several operations, both day and night, to complete the work.”

Answers to Jeff David’s and Robert’s questions are found in the “frequently asked questions” segment of the state’s Manette Bridge Web site at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR303/ManetteBridgeReplacement/FAQ.htm.

A roundabout connection to Shore Drive would have been too steep, so wasn’t built, it says.

Due to the deteriorated condition of the old bridge, it would present a real risk to the new bridge during a major earthquake, if left in place, it also said.

 

Odds & ends from Manette Bridge project

The in basket: Readers have posed a variety of questions and suggestions relating to the new Manette Bridge.

Mark Henson wants to know when the right turn lane on the downtown end of the bridge will be reopened, or it it will. At present, it’s blocked.

Derek Lyons wrote, “Traveling eastbound on 11th Street right before it curves into Washington, I noted that the weight limit signs for the old bridge were still in place. Will those be removed?”

And Kevin Long says, “I am very glad to have the new bridge up and running, but am very concerned with the lack of attention from drivers coming off of the bridge. I hope that my issue is not one that is common.

“I have almost been hit a few times from drivers coming off of the bridge while i am still going around the roundabout to go into Manette.  To my knowledge the traffic coming off of the bridge has to yield to circle traffic but it seems that a lot of people still think that bridge traffic has right of way.

“This may have been how it use to be, however it is not how it is now.  It sort of makes me wonder how this roundabout is any better than a traffic light.”

The out basket: Jeff Cook, project manager for the bridge job, says the weight limit restriction signs are to be removed under the construction contract and there will be no weight limits on the new span. I had no luck finding out whether the driver of a heavy truck would be safe from a citation should he or she cross while the signs still are up, though.

Jeff said “The right turn lane on the west half of the new bridge is closed to provide access for the demolition work and also for the follow up fine grading and landscaping. The lane will be opened to traffic upon completion of that work; likely the first part of January.”

And Kevin is correct. Bridge users bound for Manette who got used to having the right of way over those approaching from the other two directions no longer do. Once a vehicle is in the roundabout, it has right of way over any that are entering, including those coming off the bridge.

14th and Winfield gets a fourth stop sign

The in basket: Merilee Kuklinski of East Bremerton was surprised when a stop sign went up early one day in mid-August on Winfield Avenue in its downgrade at 14th Street in Bremerton. She was even more surprised  that no warning of the change was made, such as a red flag on the new sign.

She said the fellow who installed it before sun up that day was yelling at drivers who blew through it without stopping. She thought to herself, ‘Hey, you just installed it!”

I was curious about the reason this intersection, a three-way stop for as long as I can recall, now is a four-way stop. Another stop sign, stopping Winfield traffic at Lower Wheaton Way, is a short distance ahead. You can see it rising like a moon over the new stop sign as one drives downhill on Winfield.

The out basket: Though on a city street, the modification was done by the state as part of its detour route during closure of the Harkins-Lower Wheaton intersection for construction of a roundabout at the east end of the new Manette Bridge.

But it was visible sooner than expected, said Jeff Cook, project engineer on the bridge job.

“The sign should have been covered until the detour went into effect on Sept. 6,” he said. “Unfortunately it was not. It was brought to our attention, and the contractor took immediate corrective action in covering the sign.

“I will review the temporary signing and, based on user feedback, look
into providing advanced warning signs to avoid confusion when the switch is made,” he said.
“The Wheaton/Harkins intersection closure will last approximately 5-6 weeks and is necessary to finish construction of the underground
utilities as well as build the new roundabout.,” he added. “The detour will utilize 14th and Pitt Avenue.”