Tag Archives: noise wall

Rush-hour incidents in Silverdale blamed on noise wall

The in basket: Dave Matney sees a problem with the southbound off-ramp from Highway 3 to Highway 303 and Silverdale.

“This off-ramp makes a blind turn around a tall concrete wall, then opens up and splits into three lanes leading up to the signal. Normally this process flows smoothly, (but) occasional traffic will back up onto SR-3 well before the blind turn. This happens very quickly and violently, one second you’re cruising in the outer lane doing 60mph, the next instantly slamming on your brakes to keep from rear-ending the guy in front of you.

“The signal changes, everybody starts to flow and the traffic clears out. Except the ones that did not get stopped in time. The second time this happened to me,” Dave said, “I was not going to stop in time, swerved to the right shoulder and came to a stop next to the car in front of me. The car behind me came to a stop behind the car in front of me, where I should have been. I heard a screeching sound and looked in my rear view mirror in time to see the off-ramp sign fall backwards with a car on top of it. My quick action saved the three of us from being in an accident.”

State troopers and tow trucks were on the scene when he came back the other way, he said.

“Over the last year, I have had this happen to me three times and have witnessed three other occurrences,” Dave says. “It always happens in the afternoons, between 3 and 5 p.m., coinciding with the Bangor commute that starts at 3 and lots of traffic is flowing out of both the Trident and Trigger avenue gates heading south in the outside lane.

“What is the purpose of this wall? Normally these walls are built for sound dampening when the freeway backs up to a housing development. But in this case there is no housing, just a ball field. The sharp turn with a wall blocks the driver’s sight line from seeing the traffic back up.

“Has the state patrol starting noticing this trend at this location?

“Maybe a warning sign,  ‘Traffic can backup suddenly.'”

The out basket: It is a noise wall, designed to reduce roadway noise from reaching the play field behind it, says Claudia Bingham Baker of the state highway department. She says she’s unaware of any plans to modify it.

State Trooper Russ Winger says, “We have not observed abnormally high collision numbers in this area. Collisions do occur there but many of those occur at the right turn yield sign (at the top of the off-ramp).

“We have had collisions occur in the straight section on SR3  when traffics backs up during heavy volumes and anywhere in between up to the intersection. The bulk of these collisions – rear end type –  are usually attributed to A) following  too closely. B) speed too fast for conditions. C) driver inattention.

“I am not so sure it is a sight distance problem rather than a driver awareness problem. Traffic can and does back up here during peak traffic times and I’m sure there are plenty of close calls that go unnoticed but it does not appear to be greatly different than other congested urban sections in Kitsap County.

“We have a fairly high collision rate on SR303 at the various intersections between Riddell and Fairgrounds roads. These are straight roadways with long sight distances. Many of the collisions are also rear-end collisions with some intersection collisions. Again, the various contributing factors noted above are the causing factors, along with running signal lights.”

Noise walls a rarity here

The in basket: Isamu Nagasawa, who lives on the slope between Highway 3 and Chico Way near Silverdale, asked if there was any chance of getting a noise wall built to deaden the racket that floods his neighborhood from freeway traffic.

“We have been living with this thing for 20 years now,” he said even way back then, “and I see all these noise barrier things going up. We are the third street from Newberry Hill Road.  We can see the trucks going by.”

The out basket: There are no noise walls planned along Highway 3 at present, Lisa Copeland of the state Department of Transportation’s Olympic Region says,

Such walls are most commonly built as part of a highway enlargement project and run about $4 million per mile, money the state could otherwise spend on safety upgrades.

Building of a noise wall to protect an existing neighborhood without an accompanying highway project is possible, but uncommon. For one thing, the rules preclude such a project to shield a neighborhood built after May 14, 1976. I can’t say how a mix of homes built before and after that, as on the Chico hillside, would be evaluated.

The neighborhood also would have to meet noise impact criteria to be considered for placement on the retrofit list. There can be objections to noise walls, including loss of vegetation and views, and topography can interfere with their  installation.

You can learn more than you probably want to know about noise walls, the likelihood of getting one in your area, alternatives and those noise impact criteria by going online to www.wsdot.wa.gov/ and filling in Noise Walls in the search box.

I suspect many of you are saying, well, what’s that they’ve built on Highway 3 surrounding the rebuilt Westpark low-income housing near Loxie Eagans Boulevard in West Bremerton.

Well, that’s a noise wall alright, but not a state Department of Transportation project.

The department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, required the noise fence in providing money for the reconstruction.

Mike Brown, development project manager for the Bremerton Housing  Authority, says the authority’s portion of the wall is finished, but it is only about 32 percent of the walls ultimate length of 2,650 feet. It averages 12 feet in height.

It will continue northward to near the pedestrian overpass, stop for a distance where the hillside serves the same purpose as the wall, then continue to near Arsenal Way. That part of the project will be privately developed, as will the housing behind it, and the builder will have to build that part of the noise wall, he said..