Tag Archives: Pacific

It’s round, but not a roundabout at park

The in basket: Ian MacKenzie says, “My wife and I were driving around Bremerton just looking at neighborhoods and houses and ended up down at the intersection of 13th and Pacific, right at the entrance to the small parking lot of Evergreen Rotary Park.

“There in the intersection is a fairly new roundabout, albeit a very small one. But it is a roundabout none the less and there is signage to indicate it as such. “However, unlike all roundabouts I have ever encountered there are stop signs at the entrance to it on at least two of the sides.

“I am wondering what is this supposed to be. If it truly wants to be a roundabout shouldn’t there be only yield signs at all four entrances to the intersection and follow the normal rules of a roundabout.  If it is not supposed to function like a normal roundabout what is the purpose of this big round thing in the middle of the intersection?”

The out basket: It’s not a real roundabout, and has more in common wit the traffic calming circle in the middle of the intersection at Fifth Street and Chester, or the one that used to be at the park’s other entrance on Park Avenue.

Jerry Hauth, street engineer for the city, says, “The circular feature near the entrance to Evergreen Park should not be treated as a roundabout. It doesn’t meet the geometric criteria for roundabouts and is more representative of fountains, planters (or other features) that have been placed at mid-intersections for a long time. So it is important to comply with the existing signage – for safe passage for those using it.”

It has a sign suggesting it is a roundabout on only one of the four legs, the one coming out of the parking lot. It would seem to require going around the circle rather than making a left turn in front of it. It would be wise to follow that route when leaving the parking lot, as the sign is white with black arrows. Black and white signs are usually regulatory rather than advisory, so cutting in front of the circle, as I saw a driver do when ENTERING the parking lot, might be an infraction for those coming out.

Bremerton street sign changes advocated

The in basket: Bill Slach of Port Orchard says some additional markings would reduce confusion and the possibility of accidents at a pair of Bremerton intersections.

“Heading south on Pacific where it meets Burwell,” he said, “I again witnessed a driver in the wrong (oncoming) lane, trying to align themselves with one of the three southbound lanes in front of them. An eastbound car on Burwell (who had a green light) wanted to turn north onto Pacific and had to stop abruptly.

“This is not the first time I have seen this,” Bill said. “It seems to occur when folks are headed to Second Street to pick of folks when the ferry comes in.

“Later that day,” he said, “heading south in the center lane on Warren at 11th, the car in front of me turned right onto 11th.  As you know, that once was legal (and some) folks seem to have not forgotten. The car in the turn lane started to change lanes and ended up swerving up the hill.

“Couldn’t the city put directional arrows on the pavement at these particular intersections to clarify the traffic pattern for distracted or forgetful drivers?

The out basket: It looks to me that the Pacific and Burwell situation is worsened by a sign directing drivers to Second Street for ferry passenger loading and unloading. It hangs directly in front of the northbound, oncoming lane, giving the impression that that’s where a driver going to Second Street should be.

Moving the sign to the right with an angled arrow on it could help

And a straight ahead arrow on the through lane pavement of Warren at 11th would also be a cue that turning right from the inside lane no longer is allowed. So would a straight ahead arrow on the red and green signal lenses, but that would cost more.

Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says they have entered Bill’s observations for consideration, and added, “Please let your readers know we appreciate their input and will review the situation and will get back to them.  We rely on citizens to let us know of issues and the best way of letting us know about them is through our first response team.”  Email to PW_Utilities_CustomerResponse <bremerton1@ci.bremerton.wa.us or phone 360.473.5920 to reach them, he said.

Burwell & Pacific, signs and buses

The in basket: Melani Williams thinks the city of Bremerton should post a sign on westbound Burwell Street at Pacific Avenue saying that left turners must yield to oncoming traffic when the light is green.

She regularly makes that turn to go down to Kitsap Credit Union, she said.

The out basket: Yielding to oncoming traffic in making a left turn at a green ball light is what’s called a rule of the road, of which drivers are expected to be knowledgable.

Street engineer sometimes have signs put up to emphasize rules of the road, but usually don’t want to incur the expense.

Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says, “You are correct, that is the rule of the road so no sign is actually

needed.  However, one can be added if there starts to be an accident history where a reminder may be helpful to prevent them.”

I last wrote about turning left there back in August of 2011, when I took the opportunity to once again publicize a little known law permitting vehicles to turn left against a red light, whether a solid ball or an arrow, but only onto a one-way street and only after coming to a complete stop and yielding to any traffic with the right of way.

There are not many such locations in our county, mostly signal-controlled freeway on-ramps, but Burwell and Pacific is another one.

That column was about having to wait behind buses when the light is green, but it mentioned that transit officials didn’t know about the red light law. John Clauson, since named transit’s executive director, said then he’d look into the law’s applicability to buses. I neglected until now to find out what they decided.

Jack Freer, Transit’s operations manager, says that though it’s legal, it’s not something the bus drivers should do.

“I don’t think this would be a safe practice for transit…at that intersection specifically” he said, “because there is a fair amount of eastbound traffic on Burwell intending to make a right turn into one of those (Pacific Avenue) lanes…plus there is a fair amount of traffic southbound on Pacific that may be intending to continue on down Pacific or turn left on to Burwell, in front of the bus.

“If an operator misjudged the intentions of any of those other vehicles, an accident would most likely occur. For the most part, most of us are not aware that a left turn on a red light, after coming to a stop, is allowed…and confusion, and consternation, would most likely ensue. Frankly, I don’t think the few seconds this maneuver might save is worth the risk of an accident.”

Since I don’t want to be contributing to accidents, and Jack doesn’t say it specifically, I want to emphasize one more time that left turns against a red light are allowed ONLY ONTO A ONE-WAY STREET. And that probably isn’t legal in other states. I’ve never heard an explanation as to why it’s permitted here.

 

Lots of failed vehicle detectors in Bremerton

The in basket: Three readers have complained about non-responsive stop lights in Bremerton that stay red while drivers sit there.

Ron Canfield asks, “What’s the deal with the light at the intersection of 11th Street and Pacific Avenue? When heading east on 11th, the light to turn left (north) onto Pacific engages even when there are no cars turning left, which is the case most of the time. The light stays green long enough for about 40 cars to make the light, causing vehicles heading west on 11th to sit at a light for no reason.”

On at least two occasions, he said, he has turned right and worked his way back onto 11th, and saw in his mirror that the left turn light back at Pacific was still green even as he passed through the light at Warren and even when he got up to Chester Avenue.

Mike Burton says the same thing happens at Sixth and Washington  in one southbound lane of Washington.

“If there are people waiting to turn left onto Washington from 6th Street and people in the left lane of northbound Washington, the traffic headed southbound on Washington does not get picked up at all unless they are in the left lane, which most don’t use since it disappears so quickly after the intersection with 6th.

“The only time that the southbound traffic in the right lane gets a green light is when the light reverts to its “default” state, which is green for northbound and southbound Washington,” Mike said.

And back in September, Bryan, who didn’t want his last name used, said the light at Burwell and Washington wouldn’t turn green for his wee hours trip home after the swing shift at the shipyard, stalling him on Burwell for a long  time while few vehicles, if any,  passed by on Washington. It had changed almost instantly before, he said.

The out basket:  I asked Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers about Mike and Ron’s complaints, saying it sounded like the in-pavement traffic detectors, called “loops,” in the affected lanes had failed. Bryan had said by then that the problem on Burwell had been fixed in November.

“Both 11th and Pacific and 6th and Washington have broken loops, along with Wheaton and Cherry and about 10 more locations in town,” says Gunnar. “We have been adjusting timing at the signals as we have time to, but have not make it to either 11th or 6th yet.

“Spending a couple of thousand dollars for loop replacements on signals that are going to be under construction shortly would not be a good expenditure of taxpayer monies.

“The upcoming project for Pacific Avenue is this summer, which will (correct) the malfunctioning intersection at 11th.  The Washington Avenue project will be correcting the signal at 6th and Washington.”

The upcoming projects are to make Washington a two-lane street and widen the sidewalks between  Burwell and the Manette Bridge, and to continue the Pacific Avenue improvements done south of Sixth Street to between Sixth and 11th.

Mismatched downtown Bremerton sidewalk raises a question

The in basket: Mike Burton writes, “The city of Bremerton has put a lot of effort and expense into making the roads and sidewalks in the downtown area and, specifically, Pacific Avenue look very nice, and they plan to continue that north of Sixth Street on Pacific.

“As they were doing all of this,” Mike said, “the city purposely worked around a section of the sidewalk between Second Street and Burwell Avenue on the east side of Pacific. That section looks awful compared to everything else the city has done.

“Is there an explanation? Are there any plans to ‘fix’ that so that it conforms with all of the surrounding sidewalks?”

“Mostly the problem is aesthetic,” he conceded, ” but it is a bit uneven, especially where the patches and the ‘tar’ that they use for sealing meet, compared to the rest of the sidewalk around it. It just looks ridiculous, considering the city’s efforts to make all this look so nice!”

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city engineering staff says, “That ‘sidewalk’ is actually the top for a very large vault that houses the electrical servicing the Harborside Commons garage (the old JC Penney building).

“WIth the tunnel project, we did look at trying to either have it replaced or resurfaced to make it more presentable.  Unfortunately, due to the way it was constructed, we were unable to find an economical way of doing so that met with the state’s schedule for the completion of the improvements.

“Depending on what happens with the building, there may be an opportunity in the future for improvement. ”

 

Longer one-way stretch on Pacific Avenue proposed

The in basket: Ian Logan suggests lengthening the one-way portion of Pacific Avenue in Bremerton.

“Change the 300 block of Pacific Avenue, one block north of Burwell, from two-way to one-way-only southbound,” he wrote. “Pacific Avenue is already one-way southbound immediately south of its intersection with Burwell as it approaches the ferry terminal and the southern portion of downtown.

“The 300-block of Pacific has very poor center-striping right now (faded and far too hard to see), and I have on more than one occasion seen southbound traffic in what is supposed to be the northbound lane immediately north of Burwell.

“This change would have no negative effect on downtown traffic and would provide a safer and more easily navigated approach to the ferry terminal,” Ian said.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city of Bremerton street engineers says he appreciates the input, adding, “There are times that a citizen looking at a situation provides a solution that we had not previously thought of.

“In this case,” Gunnar said, ” the city has looked at several scenarios for downtown, including making Washington Avenue and Pacific Avenue (one-way in opposite directions).  This dates back to the ’60’s or so when the city starting really running into parking and circulation problems.

“Businesses have typically not embraced one-way streets due to perceived problems with customers getting to the business.  Studies on one-way versus two-way streets have found both have their merits and problems, but it really boils down to a personal preference/bias.

“We do have a downtown circulation plan that has been indefinitely shelved for now, but I will include (Ian’s suggestion)  into the file for when we pick it back up,” he concluded..

Left turns on red and transit buses on Burwell

The in basket: Ric Logg sent an e-mail back in May asking if I’d heard any rumors of a left-turn arrow being added to the light at Pacific and Burwell (in Bremerton).

“The buses get jammed up in the morning commute to the ferry terminal,” he said. “Kinda stinks having to sit through two lights waiting for a break so the bus can make a left-hand turn and get to the ferry terminal.”

The out basket: I wouldn’t expect a change in the signal at that intersection, for lack of money, but there is hope of a change as regards the buses.

That left turn carries buses and all other traffic onto a one-way street leading downhill to the terminal. As I’ve written often before, a little known state law allows a left turn against a red light where no sign prohibits it, but only onto a one-way street and only after coming to a complete stop and yielding to conflicting traffic.

Kitsap Transit executive John Clauson turns out to be among those who had never heard of the law. (Some police officers also hadn’t and have ticketed Road Warrior readers for making such a turn, for whom I’ve interceded twice to get the ticket dismissed).

John said he’ll look into the law and it’s applicability to transit vehicles, so it’s possible Kitsap Transit drivers will be made aware of it and be allowed to make the turn against red in the future.

I’m not sure whether traffic flow will provide many chances for those turns during morning rush hours. It also sounds like Ric’s complaint addresses times when the Burwell light is green, not red, and it’s oncoming traffic that keeps the buses from proceeding.

It’s not much of a problem just now anyway, Ric tells me, as the closure of the Manette Bridge has reduced traffic on Burwell at Pacific.

Burwell-Pacific signal questioned during construction

 

The in basket: Nancy Thayer, Lindsey Skelly, Michael Burton and Barney Bernhard have all contacted me in March about the traffic signal at Burwell Street and Pacific Avenue in Bremerton. 

Nancy asks, “Since the road work is going to go on for some time and Pacific is closed to traffic, why is the light at Burwell operating per usual rather than an alternate means?  It seems ridiculous for traffic on Burwell to have to sit and wait at a red light for nonexistent cross traffic.”

Lindsey makes the same point, adding that Burwell traffic is also heavier than normal because drivers that normally access the ferry on Pacific now must use Burwell.

Michael was upset that the pedestrian signal for those wanting to cross Burwell on the west side of Pacific isn’t working. “Since the signal is set to green all the time for Burwell (understandable), there is no way to stop traffic in order to cross safely,” he said. “I actually dashed across between vehicles and pressed the button for the people waiting on the other side, because, otherwise, they would have had to wait until someone at one of the other three corners activated the light.” 

Barney wondered why westbound Burwell drivers who stop for a red light and want to turn left don’t do it when traffic allows. He is aware that left turns on red are permissible if onto a one-way street, and the turning driver comes to a full stop first and yields to any traffic or pedestrians with a green or walk light.

One recent morning, he said, he was stuck behind six cars wanting to turn left toward the ferry terminal, who sat through the red light before turning. 

The out basket: Obviously, there is some confusion about what that light was doing during the closure of Pacific for construction. I see that it occasionally is reopened with a sandwich board stop sign at Burwell while it awaits final paving, but here is what has been happening.

Michael’s point hints at the answer to Nancy and Lindsey’s question. Pedestrians still can activate a red light to cross Burwell on the east side. Eduardo Aban, the city’s project engineer for the Pacific work, said the traffic detection equipment that ordinarily detects cars coming south on Pacific and changes the Burwell light to red for that reason is turned off. 

But Michael is correct that the pedestrian signals on the west side of the intersection aren’t working, because of the construction.

Eduardo said they will bag the pedestrian signals for that crosswalk until they are operating again, and pedestrians will have to walk east across Pacific, then across Burwell on the east side. That will be enough for many of them, and they can just proceed straight. If they just have to get to the other corner on the west side of Burwell, they’ll have to make a third crossing to get there. 

That might seem an annoying inconvenience, but it’s not unheard of. Some intersections outside the city require that kind of three-corner crossing to minimize  vehicle delays by eliminating one pedestrian movement. That’s how it is on Mile Hill Drive at Jackson Avenue and at Woods Road over where I live in South Kitsap. 

I had to tell Barney that it’s rare for a driver to know of the law allowing red turns against a red light onto a one-way street, so it’s not surprising that most won’t do it. All it takes is the lead car wanting to turn left to hold up even those behind  who know the turn can be made legally after stopping and when no conflicting traffic is coming.

Double right turns at Burwell and Pacific to end

The in basket: Seth Franklin and Gregory Hanenburg say they think the revised intersection of Burwell Street and Pacific Avenue in Bremerton is unsafe.

“Just about every morning heading to the ferry I have been witness to near misses at the intersection,” says Seth. “(They) have all occurred between two cars turning right from Burwell into the far left lane of Pacific heading toward the ferry.” One car in each lane tries to turn into the single local traffic lane on Pacific, he said.  

“Judging by the (confusing) signs posted at the intersections, it would appear that the left lane is for turning left, going straight or turning right into the passenger drop-off lane. The right lane on Burwell appears to be for turning right into the (ferry) loading lanes. “

He suggested that the overhead sign denoting those turns be augmented by pavement arrows.

Gregory says simply that “two cars nearly ran me off the road” when he tried to get into the local access lane of Pacific from Burwell’s right lane.

The out basket: I’m not surprised that confusion reigns there, and I’m told we can expect changes in the signs in the near future. 

Turning right from the left-most lane of two heading in the same direction seems so counter-intuitive that many drivers do what Gregory did, which is contrary to the signs. The overhead sign delineates the left lane for going straight or turning left or right into the local access lane. Burwell’s right eastbound lane is reserved for turning into the ferry access lanes, but the signs, in addition to being hidden by the landscaping, don’t make that clear. 

The diagonal rows of white raised buttons (called “turtles”) those in the right lane must cross in trying for the local access lane are an additional cue that they’re doing something wrong, but don’t seem to deliver the message either. 

Brenden Clarke, whose state project office retains control over that area as part of its oversight of the ferry tunnel work, says, “For some reason we are having issues at the corner of Burwell and Pacific with the double right turn. We are revising the traffic markings and signs to allow only the far right lane on eastbound Burwell to turn right onto Pacific. The center lane with be through or left only. The signs should be in place within the next couple of weeks.

“The turtles will be removed,” he said. “They were intended to keep motorists in the right lane from going into the far left lane on Pacific. 

“There are a number of difficulties in channelizing traffic at the Pacific and Burwell intersection to make this clear, not the least of which is the brick paved crosswalk.  In light of these difficulties, the decision was made to eliminate the double right option.”

 

 

 

 

When will Pacific Avenue be restored?

The in basket: Dave Peterson writes, “My wife and I moved to downtown Bremerton from Silverdale a little over a year ago. What is the final plan for Pacific Avenue after so many parts of the street have been torn up and ‘repaired’ in a less than finished manner – and what is the time line? 

I can’t believe all the temporary repairs and curbing destruction is to be left as is.  Are there federal funds being used?” 

The out basket: Larry Matel, city of Bremerton street engineer, replied, “The situation at the corner of Burwell and Pacific is left from the recently completed tunnel project and will be finished early in 2010.   

“The City is the recipient of a grant to complete the renovation of Pacific from Burwell to 5th in a fashion similar to what you see between 5th and 6th. The project is in design and will be open for contractor bidding in December or January.  

“The corner of Burwell and Pacific was not finished with the tunnel in anticipation of this forthcoming project and not wanting to build something final there, only having to remove it within the next year.”