Tag Archives: North Shore

Beaver floods North Shore Road

The in basket: Jean Bray of Tahuya writes, “For several days there has been inexplicable water on North Shore Road (Highway 300) on the north side of the road just west of where it intersects with Sand Hill Road.

“Even before there was no measurable rain – about four or five days ago – water enough to spray an auto to drive through was there.

“Might there be beaver activity in that area that the state highways department needs to look in to?” she asked.

The out basket: Good guess, Jean. Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region for state highways told me Tuesday, “There is beaver activity in the area and WSDOT maintenance crews removed a beaver dam from that spot just yesterday.

“We are in the process of acquiring a permit to remove the beaver and will continue to monitor for beaver activity.  We are also monitoring for water over the roadway,” she said.


Linking old and new Belfair highways IS being studied

The in basket: A Road Warrior column earlier this month about prospects for reconnecting Barney White Road’s two severed ends to create a link between the old and new Belfair highways generated a surprising amount of response and interest.

The column said there’s little chance of such a project in the foreseeable future, even though it would save miles of detouring when an .accident or weather closes one or the other of the highways.

Soon afterward Ken VanBuskirk, who serves on a Mason County transportation advisory committee, said my inquiry should have included his county. It has something along those lines in the works, and he said I should call County Engineer Brian Matthews.

Four readers assured me that Barney White Road does have a remaining stub that intersects West Belfair Valley Road. as Old Belfair Highway is known on the Kitsap side of the county line, despite my inability to find it on a map. I finally drove out and found it.

Finally Barbara Eklund of Belfair, daughter of a former Belfair postmaster,  called in with a history lesson. She said Barney White Road did indeed once run all the way between the two highways but that it was severed in the first half of the last century. Neither the large Olympic landfill nor the railroad tracks there today existed in those days, she said, and the road was dirt, as were most roads of that time and as the remainder on West Belfair Valley Road still is.

Her brother used to use Barney White Road to go watch planes at what now is Bremerton National Airport, she said.

I called  Brian Matthews for more information on what his office is working on.

The out basket: Brian told me that he has been instructed to study establishing a link between the two highways, but not at Barney White Road, which isn’t even in his county. Nor is providing a shorter detour route during highway closures the main motivation.

He is looking into pushing through Newkirk Road, which runs from Old Belfair Highway for half a mile as a paved county road and s little further as a private dirt road, so that it reaches Highway 3, known to some as New Belfair Highway. “I have this year to prepare a feasibility report with findings and recommendations to the county commissioners,” he said.

Such a new link would intersect Highway 3 slightly north of the railroad overpass, so it wouldn’t take that much distance off the detours when one of the highways closes.

What it would do, Brian said, is provide drivers wanting to go out North Shore Road or to some Old Belfair Highway location close to town, an alternative to adding themselves to the choking congestion in the heart of town.

It might reroute as much as 25 percent of that traffic, he said. Until the unfunded Belfair Bypass gets built, if it ever is, that would provide some relief to the backups Belfair drivers routinely face when traffic is heavy.



Why bother fixing lower Elfendahl Pass Road?

The in basket: Mary Axter of North Shore Road in North Mason says she and her husband walk the lower nearly two miles of Elfendahl Pass Road, closed to vehicles since the historic December 2007 rains washed it out , and wonder why the county is bothering to rebuild it.

Work hasn’t begun, but she said they have seen surveyors at work, who say they often are asked the same question, why?

It seems like the money could be better spent on something else, like the highway between Bremerton and Gorst, or for sidewalks in Belfair, she said.

The out basket: Mason County Engineer Brian Matthews says that short stretch of Elfendahl Pass Road is the only link between North Shore Road and Belfair-Tahuya Road except for the ends of each. “It provides a valuable alternative route between the two roads, in the event access is blocked by acts of nature or other needs to close either North Shore or the Belfair-Tahuya Road,” he said.

Fire and sheriff’s officials both favor its restoration. he said. “The road reduces the first responders travel time by shortening the route to get from North Shore Road to Belfair-Tahuya Road,” he said.

The highway between Bremerton and Gorst is a state highway and improvements of it aren’t interchangeable with a county project. Also the money to rebuild Elfendahl Pass Road is federal emergency management money, except for 12.5 percent of the cost the county must kick in, and must go to undo the damage the rain emergency caused.

“Road abandonment for trail use (as some have suggested) would require that the county remove the roadway and related infrastructure,” Brian said. “It is estimated that the cost to mitigate the road is much greater then the repair cost,”  estimated to be between $1.6 and $1.9 million. “I believe that the county would be required to abate the roadway to prevent the roadway material from eroding into the creek and degrading the water and habitat quality,” he said.

County crew will do the work, beginning in September.

North Mason man fears uncovered loads

The in basket: John Whalen of North Mason county wants to know more about a law that he thinks requires all loads in motor vehicles to be tarped or covered in some respect.

“I am constantly seeing pickup trucks loaded above the cab with brush pickers brush they sell to the many floral companies in the county,” he said. “Does the law exempt brush pickers or is the fact that there is one sheriff for 964 square miles of county roads the reason for the lack of enforcement?

“On a similar subject,” he writes, “I am witness to multiple violations of the law that states a tailgate on a motor vehicle cannot be in the lowered position if there is anything in the bed of the vehicle.

“State Route 300 (Northshore Road) has a continuous caravan of every type of truck capable of carrying something in the bed racing to the many trail heads where off-road activities prevail on the weekends,” he said. “Many of these trucks have a bed shorter than the off-road vehicle they are transporting, so they leave the tail gets down. Very dangerous to be the vehicle behind them.

The out basket: The law doesn’t require all that John thinks it does. Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton detachment of the State Patrol, says, “It is legal to drive with the tailgate down.  If you are hauling an ATV, it needs to be secured properly with chains or tie downs to prevent it from falling out.

“All loads in the bed of a truck must be secured.  You can use tarps, netting, bungee cords, tie downs, rope, etc. The type you use will depend on the load.  Something that could blow out would more than likely require a tarp (and tie downs). An item such as a couch or mattress would require something like rope or a tie-down strap.”

The law, RCW 46.61.655, doesn’t exempt brush pickers or anyone else, except those carrying sand or gravel that doesn’t come within six inches of the top of the bed.