Tag Archives: median

Scotch broom infiltrating SR16 decorative medians

The in basket: I noticed during a series of trips to Tacoma and back recently that the median on Highway 16 along what I call the Purdy Bypass is particularly attractive, with flowering trees and other landscaping I must assume the state spend a good sum on when the highway was built. Some other stretches of Highway 16’s median are as nice.

But among the flowers in late May and early June was a tell-tale bright yellow, the blooms of scotch broom. They actually looked quite nice as an accent for the other plants while they lasted. But we all know what happens when scotch broom goes untended. You can see it blanketing the shoulders on either side of the nice medians.

The state finds it nearly impossible to eradicate scotch broom on its right of way, but I asked if the few plants that have gotten a toe-hold in an area the state evidently paid to make garden-like is something they try to remove.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokesperson for the state highways here, replied, “Unfortunately, we don’t have dedicated resources to totally clear scotch broom from our right of way. We use our limited resources to clear scotch broom in areas where it limits sight distance or encroaches into travel lanes.

“In the area you referenced, the scotch broom actually serves the useful purpose of reducing the glare at night from oncoming headlights.

There’s a lot more about the state’s roadside vegetation program online at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Maintenance/Roadside/.

Highway 304 median work to continue

The in basket: R.M. Parker commented on the recent Road Warrior column about the truncated cleanup of the Highway 303 median in Bremerton by saying, “I thought great progress was made considering the shape the Gateway was in and the really tough southern section. I am now wondering who is responsible and the contact for the non-city portion of the median further south. It would be nice to contact them and see if that portion can also be cleaned up.”

The out basket: The city itself is responsible for the entire median, even that outside the city limits, says Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson of city public works.

“The city has formal agreements with (the state) for maintenance,” he said. “The reason for our being responsible for the county portion of the roadway (the stretch from the Missouri Gate out to the 3-304 interchange) was the plan had been to annex this area after construction of the last city phase of the 304 project was completed.

“With the turmoil of the last few years, this annexation has been put on the back burner for now. We, as well, own and maintain the street lighting along Charleston Beach Road.

“We did have a maintenance contract with a landscaping company for just over a year (2011) shortly after construction, and this area was in really good shape back then. The contract was a casualty with the budget process.

“I am not sure who did the work, but if you notice the frontage along Cliff’s Cycle, someone has gone in there and cut and cleaned up that section very nicely,” Gunnar said.

As for the unfinished section of the First Street-to-Farragut Avenue section of the median attacked by volunteers on Oct. 22, it will be finished, including application of garden bark its entire length, by city crews this week.

April 5 has been chosen for the next volunteer cleaning, from Farragut to Charleston Beach Road, he said. That will leave the remainder of the median out to Highway 3. The speed limit there (45 miles per hour) is too high to have volunteers do it. The city wants to get it done, but the how and when remains undecided.

Highway 304 median not done yet

The in basket: I joined an estimated 100 volunteers in cleaning up the badly overgrown median in Highway 304 coming into Bremerton last Saturday.

The combined effort made impressive progress between 9 a.m. and noon, getting from the First Street intersection westward to almost past the Kitsap Transit maintenance shop.

At noon, after downing a couple pieces of the many pizzas the city had provided for the workers, I decided not to push my just-turned-70-year-old body any further and left.

But I felt sure those who remained would be able to finish the short distance to Farragut Avenue in the remaining three hours the event was scheduled. Maybe they’d even get across Farragut to the median on the other side, I thought, though that would have mean moving the inside lane closures for the safety of the workers to the west.

Though it was a volunteer effort, it was clear the city had put a lot of money and effort into it, between closing the inside lanes, deploying electric signs to warn of them, equipment and truck drivers to haul away the displaced weeds and dump garden bark, manning the sign-up tent, and providing gloves and yellow vests for the workers.

When I came back through at 3:10 I was surprised that not much more had been done. It looked like it must have ended early.

I asked Public Works Director Chal Martin, whom I had met working in the median, what happened.

The out basket: “Several things,” Chal said. “There were sections where the going

was tougher and we ran into tougher work at the far end.”

And I wasn’t the only one who left at half-time.

“We lost some folks after lunch,” he said.

“Finally, at about 1:30, it became apparent that

people were getting tired and tired equates to a safety issue — we noticed several volunteers being less aware of the work zone and stepping out into the travel lanes. “So we began migrating folks to the exits.”

They’d intended to use the last hour to remove the lane closures anyway, he said. And parks officials had told him even before the event that  volunteers get predictably tired if you go longer than four hours.

“I was disappointed to not get the first section done,” Chal said. “But this was a learning exercise.  I think that in general, we learned a lot and accomplished a lot.

“But, of course, we need to get out there again and

complete the first section.  This needs to be done in November.”

They’ll meet at the parks department building on Lebo Boulevard Friday afternoon to plan the next step.

Money woes are behind Highway 304 landscaping deterioration

The in basket: Jim Civilla and Julie Jones have asked about the deteriorating appearance of plantings along Highway 304 in Bremerton.

Jim wrote, “A couple of years ago the Navy Yard Highway was completely changed.  Businesses uprooted, roads changed…in an effort to make the gateway into Bremerton more appealing.
“But, from the Highway 3 interchange all the way to the shipyard is anything but beautiful. The weeds have taken over on both sides of the road as well as the middle barrier.
“Who is responsible now for maintaining???” he asked. “And why isn’t it being done?”
Julie focused on another part of that highway, including the curb protrusions at Burwell Street intersections.

“They keep the downtown area near the ferry terminal looking fantastic,” she wrote. “I love it down there. But I am wondering what their plans are concerning other very visible, and what I would consider important, parts of town – roads that visitors take to get into town.
“Specifically I am asking if they have any plans for maintenance along Burwell, especially those bump-outs, and the median along the shipyard.  Those areas are an embarrassing disgrace.  The median is so overgrown and full of weeds, and I spotted a very healthy blackberry bush in one of the bump-outs near State Street. on Burwell.
“Did the city not realize those plants would grow?  Or that weeds might invade those areas?  Maybe they should have invested in silk plants!
“If they can’t maintain the bump-outs, they ought to pull out all the vegetation and fill them in with concrete.  At least an unsuspecting passerby won’t get snagged by a thorny blackberry vine.

“And as for the median in front of the shipyard, the one that looked so great when they put it in a few years ago…please tell me they have a plan to get out there and clean up that mess.”

The out basket: I saw a city crew cleaning up a short stretch of the weeds near Kitsap Transit a few weeks ago, but the overgrowth is the dominating feature of that landscaping.

Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says,  “This is a little frustrating for me personally, as well, having been involved with the design and construction of the corridor, watching it be reduced to weeds, overgrown shrubs and litter.

“The city is responsible for maintenance of the landscaping along Highway 304 from the ferry terminal to the interchange with Highway 3.

“The landscaping installed with the various 304 projects was based on citizen input from public outreach meetings during the design phase at a time when the city was more able to handle this maintenance.  The city has seen significant budget/staff reductions over the last few years from the park and street departments and this work is low priority (compared) to park maintenance and street repairs.

“There have recently been a few volunteer groups who have contacted the city and expressed an interest in helping maintain these areas, and we are coordinating with them.  If there are additional readers, or a business, who would like to help in this effort, we can provide information on the groups so that they could join in.”

The engineers’ phone number is (360) 473-5270.

The panhandler on the Silverdale median

The in basket: Kathy Stansberry of Bremerton has noticed the growing number of panhandlers who take up positions at the roadside or sidewalk at traffic signals, and asks about one in particular.

He was on the long raised center median on Bucklin Hill Road between Silverdale Way and Shore Drive one day in November, walking up to cars and peering inside. It didn’t seem safe for him and looked like he could cause drivers he distracted to run into one another, she thought.

She wondered if it was legal.

She also said she’s seen a couple of people, probably ready to seek money from drivers stopped at the signal on Kitsap Way at the end of the southbound off-ramp from Highway 3, waiting out of the weather under the overpass while another held his sign seeking donations at the off-ramp. She wondered if they were taking turns.

The out basket: The man on the median was doing something illegal, says Deputy Scott Wilson of Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. One state law says “No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting employment or business from the occupant of any vehicle,” and another, intended mostly to require pedestrians  to walk against traffic, says, “Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk or otherwise move along and upon an adjacent roadway.”

Either carries a $56 fine, Scott said, though my guess is a deputy or police officer would more likely to just order the person onto the shoulder, where panhandling can legally be done.

“Those wishing to panhandle need to do so from outside of the traveled portion of the roadway, between the fog line and curb or on the shoulder of the roadway outside of the fog line,” Scott said.

“Now whether or not this applies to a large, grassy median that separates lanes of travel, such as is found up on Ridgetop Boulevard., is unclear,” he added. “However, it’s not recommended.”

It wouldn’t surprise me if, when more than one panhandler shows up at the same spot, they take turns. As a young street musician seeking money at a Portland area rest area told me in October, they know that even people willing to contribute to panhandlers don’t like to have to choose between them, so they recognize direct competition is not in their best interests..

Fine can be steep for using cross-median emergency U-turns

The in basket: The Judybaker, my wife, saw an old vehicle, almost certainly not an official emergency vehicle, using that through-median paved patch on Highway 3 north of Chico Way to turn around recently. It and similar cut-throughs are intended for police, fire or other emergency vehicles going to an emergency and have No U-Turn signs. She wondered what the penalty is for a private citizen doing that.

The out basket: State Trooper Todd Bartolac, filling in for Kristra Hedstrom while she’s on leave, says the penalty can go up to $411.

That’s if the citing officer chooses to use that strange law (RCW 46.61.150) that reads, “Whenever any highway has been divided into two or more roadways by leaving an intervening space or by a physical barrier or clearly indicated dividing section or by a median island not less than eighteen inches wide formed either by solid yellow pavement markings or by a yellow crosshatching between two solid yellow lines so installed as to control vehicular traffic, every vehicle shall be driven only upon the right-hand roadway unless directed or permitted to use another roadway by official traffic-control devices or police officers. No vehicle shall be driven over, across or within any such dividing space, barrier or section, or median island, except through an opening in such physical barrier or dividing section or space or median island, or at a crossover or intersection established by public authority.”

If you can’t spot the wording in that law that forbids turning across those through-median areas, you’re not alone. I can’t either. But that’s the same law that is interpreted to allow left turns across garden-variety double yellow lines, and to impose a $411 fine for crossing the gore points on freeways, those merging white lines at on- and off-ramps.

It seems that it can be interpreted to permit or forbid almost anything.

Todd also cited another law that seems more on point. It reads, “No person shall drive a vehicle onto or from any limited access roadway except at such entrances and exits as are established by public authority.” That one carries a $216 fine and seems better to describe what was done illegally.

Todd says an officer can choose either law. My guess is a officer also could choose to write a ticket for making an illegal turn or disregarding a regulatory sign (each with a $124 fine) or even negligent driving. Getting up to speed once the U-turn is complete, entering 60-mile-per-hour traffic while bouncing  over the inner rumble strip certainly could be called negligent, especially if it leads to an accident. The fine for negligent driving is $550.

Planting the new Highway 304 center area

The in basket:  Carl Erickson writes, “Now that the Highway 304 project from Highway 3 to the shipyard gate is done, I’m curious about what’s going to be planted in the median.
“It seems to me that deciduous trees, as are in the older section, are a dangerous, labor-intensive way to beautify the area with leaves falling and maintenance crews dodging vehicles to clean them up.

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