Tag Archives: Poulsbo

Speed limits on Poulsbo street puzzle driver

The in basket: Deborah Moran writes, “I have a question that has been bugging me for a while. Since they put in the roundabout on Lincoln at Gala Pines/Noll Road, the speed limit on one side is different from the other side.

“If I am traveling Lincoln into Poulsbo, it’s 35 mph from near Stottlemeyer until just before Pugh Road. However, if I am leaving Poulsbo via Lincoln, it is 25 mph until after I get past the roundabout. That is not logical to me and I am wondering if you can get an explanation about this.

“Both sides have sidewalks, the 25 mph side has a barrier between it and Lincoln. Both sides have some driveways, but more on the 35 mph side. It just makes no sense to me.

The out basket: Mike Lund, Poulsbo’s public works superintendent, replies, “The answer is really quite simple. The Poulsbo city limits is approximately 1000 feet south of the roundabout. The speed limit once you hit the city limits is 25 mph.

“The roundabout itself is actually within Kitsap County (and) the speed limit on Lincoln within the Kitsap County is 35 mph. However, the recommended speed limit for the roundabout is much lower (15 or 20 mph, I believe).

“Technically, the speed limit between the roundabout and city limits is 35 mph. We just did not post the sign between the roundabout and city limits.

“Coming into town, the speed limit changes within 1000 feet of the roundabout and we did not want to confuse drivers by having them speed up to 35 to just have to slow back down to the posted 25 mph.

“Leaving town is basically the same reason. We did not want drivers to speed up to just have to slow down for the roundabout 1000 feet away.”

You’ll often find this kind of discrepancy near city limit lines, like that on Sylvan Way on each side of Petersville Road in Bremerton, as the default speed limit in cities is 25 mph but in counties, it’s 35.

Is Lindvig to Front Street in Poulsbo a right turn?

The in basket: Bruce Brockett asks, “When entering Poulsbo on NW Lindvig Way, at the traffic light where Bond Road is on the left, and Front Street is on the right/straight ahead (Liberty Bay Auto on the right), is a right turn on red onto Front Street allowed?

“I never see anyone doing it. If allowed, are all three-way intersections OK for a turn on red (actually straight through) from the similar approach lane?”

The out basket: Sgt. Howard Leeming of Poulsbo police says, no, that is not a legal right on red.

“It is not a right turn at that location,  as it is a basic ’T’ intersection with the through road being Lindvig Way to Front Street,” he said. “The road does slightly turn and changes its name, which could lead to some confusion.

“I’ve been asked this question before and an answer I often provide to make it meet the common sense test is asking the driver if they had the green light going this direction, would they put their turn signal on? The answer is always ‘no’ so they seem to already understand it is simply a bend in the roadway, not a turn.

“Coming from the other direction, you can make the right turn after stopping on Front Street to Bond Road and you can also turn right after stopping for a red light from Bond Road to Lindvig Way,” he said.

 

Double red arrow turn at 305 prompts reader’s question

The in basket: Marilyn Hawks asks, “What is the law regarding turning right on a red arrow? When I exit Highway 3 at 305 in Poulsbo, there are two right-turn arrows.  When the light shows two red arrows, I notice drivers stop, look, and pull out even from the middle right-turn lane.

“Is this legal?  I thought red arrows meant you had to wait until it turns green. If that is the law, then a sign needs to be posted that says no right on red,” she said.

The out basket: It is not the law. Drivers can turn right on a double red arrow light under the same rules that allow them to turn right on a single red arrow light. They must come to a full stop before proceeding and yield to any cross-traffic with a green light, or which otherwise has the right of way.

I get this question from time to time and usually it is about that Highway 3 off-ramp to 305  in Poulsbo. Either that or where 11th Street in Bremerton flows into Kitsap Way.

Bond-Lindvig signal in Poulsbo puzzles reader

The in basket: Tom Wisniewski of Bremerton asks, “Do you know if the signal at the intersection of Front Street, Bond Road, and Lindvig Way (in Poulsbo) is on a sensor or a timer?  I seem to spend a lot of time waiting for non-existent traffic to come off of Bond Road.”

The out basket: Mike Lund, public works supervisor in Poulsbo, replies, “The Bond Road / Lindvig Way signal is on a timer on the Bond Road leg of the intersection. This leg of the intersection  has bad (traffic) detection and the controller for the signal has a few issues.

“There are times that traffic has to sit while there are no cars but its set for a maximum time of 30 seconds.  At no point do cars have to sit for more than 30 seconds without traffic. This seems like a long time when you’re the driver sitting there but it seems to be keeping the traffic in the intersection moving the best. We have adjusted it to find a happy medium.

“A new controller has been ordered for that intersection and we are looking at doing radar style traffic detection.

“By  May/June this intersection will have all new equipment and be working properly,” Mike said.

Should drought increase need for mowing on shoulders?

The in basket: Christina  Stewart asks, “Can anyone tell me if the county is out in their area actively mowing the sides of the road? With the fire danger off the charts, shouldn’t (they be) mowing down all the dry grass and weeds next to the county roads? I just drove in to work today up Columbia Street (Port Gamble-Suquamish Rd.) and then into Poulsbo on Lincoln. The grass is taller than most vehicles in some areas. Yesterday I was in the Kingston area, same issue. We are creating our own potential safety problem! The county should be mowing all day everyday.”

The out basket: Actually, mowing can start grass fires as well as prevent them, and leave cut grass slightly more likely to burn,.

Practices vary among jurisdictions, but since Christina asks about the North Kitsap area, I’ve limited my inquiries to Kitsap County, the state and Poulsbo.

I asked their normal practices and whether the heat and lack of rain has changed them this year.

Jacques Dean, road superintendent for the county, said on July 7″, “We have not made any changes to our vegetation management program. Our mower in the north end has been unavailable due to mechanical problems, which has put us behind schedule there.  We were waiting for parts to make repairs. It is back in operation now. We do mow all day, every day during the growing season when equipment is available.

 

“Our vegetation mowers operate five days a week over eight months per year (vegetation is generally dormant November through February).  With this approach we have been able to mow 1,900 shoulder miles of roadway each year, or approximately 950 centerline miles. We are able to mow most, if not all of our roadways at least once per year.  It should also be noted that our crews apply vegetation herbicides to approximately 840 shoulder miles of roadway each year, which assists in keeping vegetation in check.

 

Logistically, and realistically, we cannot address all of our roadways simultaneously, specifically during the peak of the growing season.  We have to take a systematic approach to our vegetation management program, considering the overall scope of work, available schedule, resource availability, roadway level of service, types of vegetation, geographic location/proximity, etc.  Our crews are working hard to ensure that our roadways are safe, in good condition, and aesthetically pleasing.  They are doing the best possible job.”

Claudia Bingham Baker, state highway spokesman here, said, “When conditions get extremely dry we stop most mowing activities. This link http://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2015/07/working-to-prevent-roadside-brush-fires.html talks about our efforts to reduce the risk of fires.”

That site says, in part, “Every year, we do most of our mowing in early spring or late fall to avoid the hot, dry summer season. We also leave bare ground barriers alongside roadways in many cases to provide extra protection against sparks and other fire risks. This year is no different.

“That said, some of our maintenance work can’t wait, often because to do so would comprise motorist safety. And work like mowing, grinding or welding carry some inherent risks of sparks that could lead to a fire.

That’s why whenever we complete maintenance work during the dry season we take several precautions. That includes having water and tools on site to immediately extinguish any sparks or fires that start due to our work.

We also limit our maintenance work during the hottest part of the day. Work is done from 8 p.m. to 1 p.m., when it’s more humid and less likely for a fire to start. If weather conditions are particularly severe, everything except emergency work is halted.”

Dan Wilson, head of Poulsbo Public Works, says he isn’t sure that Christina got into the city, but if she did, he thinks she would have found the city’s shoulders well tended by their mostly hand-done streetside brush clearing.

Poulsbo’s Lincoln Avenue project trudging toward completion

The in basket: Larry Bartholomew of Poulsbo wonders when work on Lincoln Avenue will be finished.

In an Oct. 29 e-mail he wrote, “Attached is an April 2014 letter from the City of Poulsbo regarding a project affecting a two-block area on either side of the intersection of Pugh Road and Lincoln Road.

“As you can see from the letter, this project is due to be completed by the end of October. There are two days left in October and it’s clear there is far more than two days’ worth of work to be done.  In fact, given the pace of the work done so far, it looks like it will be months, rather than days, before the work will be completed.

“I understand that paving requires a minimum temperature, and we are quickly approaching a period of consistent lower temperatures.  My guess is that paving may soon become problematic if temperature is an issue.”

He also was upset by the configuration of Lincoln and Pugh during the work. “The corner of the curbing creates a restriction of space for those entering Pugh from Lincoln, or vice versa, that appears barely large enough for two cars to pass in opposite directions. This will likely require those turning onto Pugh from Lincoln to come to almost a complete stop when there is a car waiting to turn onto Lincoln from Pugh.”

“I’m sure my neighbors and others who traverse Pugh and Lincoln roads would like to know when this project in now expected to be complete and what the thinking was that led to the significant narrowing of the entrance onto Pugh Road.”

The out basket: City Engineer Andrzej Kasiniak told me on Nov. 10 that they hoped to have the paving done by Thanksgiving, but there remains some to do. As Larry predicted, the weather is a growing impediment.

Michael Lund, chief inspector on the project provided an update this week.

“The Lincoln Road project is definitely behind schedule,” he said. “There were some unknown underground utilities that hampered the project early on and now the weather delays are definitely a concern.

“The contractor is Pacific Coast General from Port Orchard. They were able to get the first lift of asphalt on the road prior to Thanksgiving. The plan was to do some more paving at the Pugh intersection today and then start on the pervious bike lanes. The extreme cold temps have pushed that off a day or so but they are very hopeful to get one lift of asphalt on everything by the end of this week.”

“The concrete crews will start pouring sidewalk later this week, as well.

“The lighting crews are scheduled to install the rest of the street lights later this week and into next week. This will make it a lot nicer during the evening hours traveling the roadway.

“I received a revised schedule from the contractor today and they are trying to be completed before Christmas.

“There is  still a lot of work to do and we are trying to get it done as soon as possible.”

He said finished paving and striping will make the turn at Pugh less of a problem.

“The intersection meets all safety standards and at the tightest point has 10-foot-wide lanes,” Mike said.. “However, with the road only being gravel at this time, (drivers) tend to shy away from the curb and encroach into the center of the lanes more than they will once the final paving is completed.

“With striping, it will help the (drivers) to understand where their lane is and allow for oncoming traffic to pass by.

“Part of the problem with this intersection is we do not have the right of way to make a wider intersection and still have pedestrian connectivity with the sidewalk. The existing roadway prior to construction pinched down to about 20 feet as well within the right of way. (But) the traveling public would turn, drive and park on the private property. This gave the illusion that there was more roadway out there than actually legally was.

“If any of the traveling public has concerns or comments  they can email me at mlund@cityofpoulsbo.com.”

Lincoln Pugh intersection shown below

Reader sees conflict at Lincoln Road bus lane

The in basket:  Ron Reynolds of Poulsbo, says he sees “a real safety concern at Lincoln and Caldart.

“As you head up LIncoln and want to take a right onto Caldart ,” he said, “you use the regular lane and there is a bus stop with a curb cut out. Invariably, people think that is the turn lane. People in the turn lane can find a right turner in the bus lane. They think it’s a turn lane.” He called it “a real wishy washing situation.”

The out basket: I don’t think “invariably” is the right word. While it looks like a conflict by side-by-side right turners is a definite possibility there, the cars I saw turn right when I visited the site used the proper lane.

Michael Bateman, senior engineering technician for the city of Poulsbo, says “The fog line on Lincoln continues to the end of the bus pull-out. Drivers that are not buses should not be in the bus lane at all – that would be an illegal maneuver that would include crossing the fog line.

“It is not a turn lane and is not signed or indicated as such. The bus pull-out is signed as a bus stop.  There should be no conflicts for drivers operating their vehicles in a legal manner following the rules of the road at that intersection.

 “In addition,” Michael said, “I have researched the (state’s) collision database for the City of Poulsbo from 2001 to present.  There are zero collisions listed … at the Lincoln/Caldart  intersection that involve the claimed issue at question.”

Fourth & Torval in Poulsbo part of a much larger plan

The in basket: Norm Mundhenk wrote nearly a year ago, saying “In Poulsbo, Torval Canyon Road runs into Fourth Avenue, forming a sort of T-junction. However, Fourth Avenue ends in a short cul-de-sac as soon as it crosses Torval Canyon.

“The signs at this junction strike me as very strange.” he said. “There is no sign at all for cars leaving the cul-de-sac. One assumes that this happens very rarely, but whenever a car does leave, it is apparently free to drive right out without stopping. However, cars approaching from the south or east have stop signs, even though the corner is basically just a continuing road for such cars.

“I wonder why it would not be possible to do something at this junction such has been done where Hillcrest runs into Central Valley Road (in Central Kitsap). There Hillcrest (which functions rather like the cul-de-sac on Fourth Avenue, although surely it has more cars using it) has a stop sign, with another sign underneath the stop sign informing drivers that ‘Oncoming traffic does not stop’. Cars coming south on Central Valley are allowed to continue without stopping even though it is a left turn.

“Surely something like this could be done instead of the stop signs at Torval Canyon and Fourth Avenue,” he concluded.

The out basket: The stub of Fourth Avenue strikes me as more of a tiny parking lot than a cul-de-sac and I thought it might be missing a stop sign. But it turns out that that traffic alignment is intentional and arises from a six-year-old traffic study.

Michael Bateman, senior engineering technician for the city of Poulsbo, says “The stop signs on Fourth and on Torval Canyon are based upon recommendations in the City of Poulsbo’s Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Study of 2008.

“They are a part of a larger strategy and were considered essential in concert with additional stops placed on Front Street.  Without the additional all-way stops in the downtown core at intersections such as Fourth and Torval Canyon, through-traffic not intending to stop in the downtown core would seek alternate routes as cut-through bypasses to avoid the stops on Front, without re-routing to the desirable Highway 305 route.

“This results in both undesirable volumes and undesirable speeds in the downtown core street network.

Removal of the stops at 4th and Torval without simultaneous removal of stops on Front Street would create additional traffic and additional speeds on this route, a very undesirable result,” he said.

A consultant looked at the strategy in 2010, when traffic counts were updated, and it was found to be working well, Michael said, “with no action to add or remove TDM measures recommended.”

“As we still get feedback from the neighborhood that the stops are not 100 percent effective at controlling traffic and speed in the neighborhood, and have recently installed additional speed tables on Fourth in order to combat the excessive speeds as demanded by local residents, removal of these stops is not recommended.”

The intersection was identified in the study as an all-way stop, he added, and at one time there was a third stop sign, controlling those exiting the Fourth Avenue stub.  “It was removed in response to a  citizen complaint that it should not be there,” he said.

Entering a left turn lane before the lines say you can

The in basket: I came across a four-year-old inquiry from Linda G, that read, “This afternoon, I entered onto Caldart in Poulsbo behind a North Kitsap school bus. The bus signaled an intention to turn left at Lincoln, and moved across the double yellow line before the left turn pocket.

“I wanted to turn left onto Lincoln  also, but waited to move left until the pocket entrance was accessible. Was the bus driver OK to move left before the left turn pocket opening?

“There is a space shaped by the double yellow lines that I have always believed was not for drivers, but was a safety barrier of sorts. What’s the law?”

I dredge up this old question, which I didn’t answer then, because it meshes somewhat with this recent one from Tom Baker of Bremerton about the eastbound left turn lane on Werner Road at National Avenue:

“The striped turn pocket is not long enough to hold the vehicles that can stack up,” he said. “The choices are to sit in the center area ahead of the turn pocket, or to extend out into the through lane, Since the center area ahead of the turn pocket is wide enough, that is the most popular choice.

“What’s legal here and had Kitsap County considered extending the turn pocket?”

The out basket: Since the old inquiry came from Poulsbo, I went to that city’s police chief, Al Townsend, for an answer.

I made a distinction between whether this driver behavior does or doesn’t result in a collision.

“It technically is illegal to cross the double yellow line,” Al said. “However, like all traffic issues, officers need to use discretion and good judgment, much like drivers.

“If the driver’s intent is just to line up into the turn lane early, either because it’s too short to hold all of the cars that will turn, or that the vehicle is too large to negotiate the small lane opening after the double yellows, or the traffic going straight is backed up past the open turn lane, and the driver can safely enter the turn lane early (as long as they don’t cross over the second double yellow that protects the traffic lane of the opposite direction), then they should be fine.

“When a driver can mitigate his/her intent for this turn lane and do so in a safe and prudent manner, I don’t see any problem with it, keeping in mind that the letter of the law is that you can’t cross over the double yellow line.

“What would likely determine whether someone was ticketed for that would be whether they did so safely (i.e. not when other cars are coming at them in the opposite direction, did so slowly, etc.)

“On the collision portion, if someone does it within the lines, the person who goes outside of that would likely be listed as the major contributing factor to the crash. Hence the reason they should do so slowly and with caution for other drivers.”

State Trooper Russ Winger agreed with Al.

As regards the Werner Road site Tom asks about, Deputy Sheriff Scott Wilson says, “We recognize that, in many instances, the left turn pocket is not long enough to hold all vehicles where the driver wishes to make a left turn onto a perpendicular roadway. This is especially noticeable during work commute periods and there are many intersections in the county with this same situation. The demand has exceeded the engineering design.

“Pulling into the center lane and then waiting in the area before the turn pocket opening is not a violation that I can find in the RCW,” Scott concluded.

Lastly county Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea said about National and Werner (actually it may have become Loxie Eagans Boulevard at that point), “We will take a look at lengthening the turn lane. This is a difficult location to lengthen the lane because we are restricted from widening the road by curb, gutter, and sidewalk on both sides of the roadway; our pavement width is not adjustable.

“We will have to ensure that we have enough taper length for the speed and enough lane width for two cars to pass without sideswiping. These two parameters may limit or restrict how much lengthening of the turn lane we can do.”

Poulsbo due for its first flashing yellow lefts

The in basket: Last September, Ann Nardo wrote to say, “The left turn signal to the North Kitsap school bus barn will trip when there is no vehicle in the lane to turn left.

“It does not do it often but seems mostly in the afternoon has been my observance.  With traffic increasing at this intersection, it can be a glitch in the flow of traffic.

“Not a big thing, but could help,” she said.

When I checked back with her in January to see if it was still doing the same thing, (it was, she said), she also put in a good word for the yellow flashing left turn signals she had seen at Kitsap County’s intersections in Silverdale. She called them “the best traffic organizational idea in years.”

The out basket: The signal is behaving as intended, says Jeff Collins of the city of Bremerton electronics shop, which maintains Poulsbo’s signals.

“The signal will only turn green in a direction when a vehicle is on a detector loop (in-pavement traffic detector) except in the main street direction, on  which it should rest,” he said.

“The problem Ann is seeing is most probably caused by the south-to-east left turn vehicles driving over the detection loop for west-to-south,” he said.

Andrzej Kasiniak, Poulsbo city engineer, said he likes the yellow left turn signals too, and one such signal is coming.

“The new signal at the intersection of 10th Avenue and Lincoln will have a yellow blinking left turn arrow,” he said. Safeway will install the traffic signal this summer as remediation for its new store’s traffic impacts.

Other than that, budget cuts keep him from retrofitting any other city signals, which county employees tell him can be a $6,000 project per signal, he said.