Tag Archives: Poulsbo

2 right turns and one no-turn in Poulsbo

The in basket: Tom Wisniewski of Bremerton asked in an e-mail, “Regarding the intersection of Lindvig Way, Front Street, and Bond Road in Poulsbo, is it legal to turn right in this intersection from one road to another?

“Bond on to Lindvig appears to have a dedicated right turn lane but I am not sure about the others ” he said.

The out basket: This was my first chance to get Road Warrior information from Al Townsend as the police chief of the city to the north, the job he took in April after leaving Port Orchard.

Al send along a Google Earth aerial photo of the intersection and said, “You may turn right on red (when safe to do so) onto Bond Road from Front Street.  You may also turn right on red from Bond Road to Lindvig when safe to do so.

“Front and Lindvig are really a straight road (even though it has a bit of a curve) and its name just changes at the intersection.  So there technically is no turn there.  Its just straight for those streets.”

Since that one’s not a right turn, no right turn on red is permissible (or possible) there.


Poulsbo’s 305 HOV lanes deemed effective

The in basket: Some months ago, a reader told me she believed the timing of the traffic signals on Highway 305 through Poulsbo was to be reviewed at some point after completion of its widening project and the establishment of the HOV lanes.

The Poulsbo City Council has opted for fairly long red light wait times on the side streets to keep the through movements flowing.

I didn’t recall ever hearing of such a planned review of the signal timing, but did report back then that the unorthodox placing of the HOV lanes on the outside rather than against the center barrier was to be reviewed at some point – five years after they opened, as I recall.

The outside lane was chosen to be the HOV lanes to make it easier for transit buses to get to and from the roadside to pick up and discharge passengers.

I asked Andrzej L. Kasiniak, Poulsbo city engineer, what he recalled. And I asked Olympic Region officials for the state Department of Transportation if the HOV lane review had ever been done.

The out basket: Andrzej said he was unaware of a council pledge to review the signal timing at a particular time.

Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region, replied, “While no formal study was done, we did look at the numbers and types of collisions that occurred within the limits of the HOV lane and the numbers and types of complaints we received about the lane, especially over the last five years.

“An informal before-and-after study showed a drop in collisions of about a third throughout the corridor. “Similarly, while there were a handful of complaints soon after the lane was constructed, there have been a very small number in the last five years.  From this, we feel the HOV lanes are working fine and plan no further study.”

Right turns and the Poulsbo HOV lanes

The in basket: Michael Schuyler read the recent Road Warrior column about it’s being illegal to turn right out of Charleston Beach Drive in Bremerton directly into the Highway 304 HOV lane and asked on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com, “OK. Let’s say you are alone turning right onto a highway where the HOV lane is the right lane, such as SR 305 through Poulsbo. Let’s just say traffic is also heavy at the time.

“If you turn right into the HOV lane you are using the lane illegally. If you turn into the inside lane, you violate the “turn into the nearest lane” rule.

“Will the WSP give you some slack here, or will they cite you for not moving over immediately?” he asked.

The out basket: When that HOV lane opened, the official answer to Michael’s question was kind of vague, saying that turning right into the lane was permissible for a single occupant vehicle if it moved quickly to the general purpose lane. Likewise, moving into the HOV lane was OK to prepare for a right turn off of the highway if you did it right before the turn.

The official advice hasn’t changed. State Trooper Russ Winger says, “He should turn into the closest lane, even if it is the HOV lane. That is not an illegal use of the HOV lane. If not allowed to be in the HOV lane by restriction, move to the other lane as soon as practical.”

If I’m ever in a situation where I take that advice, I’d be careful not to pass any cars in the general purpose lane before moving over, signaling and moving over when a break in traffic appears.

What’s holding up the Noll Road roundabout in Poulsbo?

The in basket: Ellen Ross-Cardoso of Poulsbo asks, “Could you find out if the construction of the unneeded roundabout at Lincoln and Noll in Poulsbo is ever going to end?

“According to the signs it was supposed to have been completed September 1, and more than three months later they’re still out there screwing with it. Is this a lot more complicated than it seems, or is there no meaningful work out there for county road crews?”

The out basket: It is actually a city of Poulsbo project, with a little financial participation from the county.

Mike Lund, the city’s senior field inspector, says, “The Noll Road Roundabout Project is just about complete. The contractor, RV Associates, has a few more punch list items to complete and the project will be over.

“The project was scheduled to be completed October 15 (though the construction sign said Sept. 30). The contractor has been working on completing the punch list items since mid-October but between the bad weather and scheduling of subcontractors, it has taken longer than expected.

“The workers your reader saw onsite are actually part of the contractors and subcontractors work force. The city of Poulsbo has an inspector that is onsite as needed but not full time now.

“RV Associates has done a good job on this project,” Mike said. “Unfortunately some things just take a little longer than expected. The project will be completed by the end of next week and the project will be completed under budget.”


Mystery X on highway is for aerial mapping

The in basket: One day a few months ago, I was leaving Bremerton on Highway 304 one afternoon when I saw a fellow next to an unmarked white pickup truck using a blowtorch to secure a large thermoplastic X to the shoulder of the highway.

By the time I decided I should ask him what the X is for, I had to drive all the way to Gorst to get turned around and he was gone by the time I got back.

The X is right next to a domed access to something underground, with an antenna on it. This week I decided to renew my efforts to find out what the X is for.

The out basket: I should be able to see similar Xs all over the county, said Bremerton engineers Ned Lever and Gunnar Fridriksson. They are part of an aerial mapping project led by King County.  The photos will be used for all manner of governmental project designing.

It’s just a coincidence the Highway 304 X is right next to an access into a city of Bremerton sewer pump station, the domed structure I saw, Ned said.

Diane Mark, Kitsap County’s person working on the aerial mapping project, sent me the following from King County’s  project manager for the work.

“The project is being coordinated locally by Kitsap County GIS, and includes participation by the cities of Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, and Poulsbo. Other participating agencies include North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Bainbridge (parks), Bainbridge Island Land Trust, the Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes, West Sound Utility District and Kitsap Public Utility District.

“The project includes acquisition of imagery at three resolution levels across a broad area that encompasses all of King and Kitsap counties and large portions of other adjacent counties.”

Sitting tight at double red arrow lights

The in basket: A fellow named Pete says, “This question concerns the off ramp intersection from Highway 3 northbound to Highway 305 in Poulsbo.

“At the end of the ramp, there are two right-turn lanes that are controlled by traffic lights.  The lights have right turn arrows in red, yellow and green.

“I have been taught that the red arrow to the right indicates that you are NOT allowed to make a right turn on red after stopping.  I’ve seen countless people make a right on red in BOTH of the right turn lanes that are controlled by those lights, even troopers and other police officers.

“What is the correct answer?  I’ve had other drivers honk at me because I wait for a green arrow. Does the red right-turn arrow mean NO turn on red or not?

The out basket: Turning right on a red light is permitted from either of those lanes, provided you come to a complete stop first and yield to any vehicles with a green light. It’s the same as on the Kitsap Mall Boulevard off-ramp on northbound Highway 3 and on 11th Street at Kitsap Way in Bremerton.

I told Pete I’d honk at him too if I was behind him if he just sat there at the red arrow light when it is safe and legal to make the turn.

Councilmen ask about BI right turn signs and Highway 305 ferry signs

No Right Turn sign hard to see on wire above intersection
No Right Turn on Red signis on wire above the intersection

The in basket: A couple of city councilmen from Kitsap County’s north end recently asked the Road Warrior for help with problems they had spotted in the area, and I was happy to oblige.

Bill Knobloch of Bainbridge Island was the first, appealing for help in February for a situation in which he’d found the state intransigent. Citizen Paul Sanders had brought it to his attention.

“I am writing you as a result of a lost-in-translation communication with WSDOT concerning a continuing problem that directly affects the pocket book of many of my constituents,” Bill said. Right turns on red are prohibited from Highway 305 heading away from downtown onto Madison Avenue, but only by a small sign hanging from the wire that supports the traffic signal heads on 305, he said. Meanwhile, a more obvious sign on the roadside limits the right lane to right turns.

“Considering the existing signs at the side of the highway just prior to the right hand turn, it appears to be a setup for the ordinary driver who will follow the ‘right turn only’ while not having the average scan to see the little white sign saying ‘no turn on red,’ Bill said.

The state had refused to add to the signage due to “current sign congestion.”

This summer Ed Stern of the Poulsbo council sent me the following: “I notice on Highway 3, the signs for the Bremerton Ferry in the vicinity of Bremerton, all read ‘Seattle Ferry’ — very helpful and illustrative, especially for our out-of-town travelers of which we have more than a few, especially in the summer.

“However, when approaching the Poulsbo/Kingston exits on Highway 3, it reads ‘Bainbridge Ferry’ and not the more informative ‘Seattle Ferry’. I have to ask why?”

The out basket: Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region of WSDOT, sent me an e-mail on Aug. 19 saying, “I wanted you to know that we will be ordering a second No Turn On Red sign to be placed on the side of the highway (305)….  I would expect that the sign will be installed next month.” Perhaps it already has been.

Steve more or less concedes Ed’s point, but says it doesn’t rate high on the list of problems his department hopes to address quickly “We can look at a sign redesign when the sign is up for replacement,” he said. “We don’t want to spend the money now as the sign is relatively new and we have not had any other complaints.

“Also,” he said. “we do have ‘Seattle Ferry’ signs on the beginning of (Highway) 305.”

Trying for all-green signals on Highway 305

The in basket:  Dr. Craig Benson writes, “Perhaps you can help me crack the code of the traffic lights along Highway 305 in Poulsbo. I read in the Sun that as part of the revamping of the 305 corridor the lights were supposed to be timed to provide for smoother traffic flow and less stopping, to save gas.

“Since I live off Hostmark and often shop at College Marketplace,” he said, “I have occasion to pass through all six lights in between at various times of the day and night, sometimes with no other traffic interfering, but rarely at rush hours. I’m pretty sure I’ve never made it through all the lights without stopping.

“I’ve tried setting my cruise control right at the posted limit, a little higher, a little lower, accelerating faster and slower from the lights, everything I can think of to pass through the lights as timed, without success.

“This is an every day occurrence for me,” he said, “and probably for hundreds if not thousands of others – those stops add up! Can you find out from the powers that be what I’m supposed to be doing to get through the corridor without making unnecessary and inefficient stops?”

The out basket: The state gets this inquiry enough that it has posted a discussion of the limitations of synchronization on its Web site, at wsdot.wa.gov/Operations/Traffic/Signals/signal_coordination.htm.

After noting that synchronization requires the same number of seconds for each signal to serve all of its various traffic flows,, it poses a question of itself: “Does this mean I will never have to stop for a red light?”


“Unfortunately, the answer to this question is No,” it replies. “There are many reasons why, even when traffic signals are coordinated, you will still have to stop at red lights.”

Among the reasons:

– Pedestrians. Whether those on foot consume some of the time devoted to the various movements  affects the amount of time for other movements.

– Side streets. Even where through traffic is given preference, such as on Highway 305, making for long waits for a green, the goal is to make sure all cars waiting when their queue gets a green light are served. The number of cars crossing affects the main line timing.

– Left turns. The amount of time devoted to them and the number of vehicles waiting to turn subtracts seconds from the main line.

– Two-way traffic flow: Coordinating flows in opposite directions is difficult, especially if the signals in the corridor are spaced differently. “If the spacing is not equal between traffic signals, the green lights may only ‘line up’ well in one direction,” the site says. “When this happens, the green lights will normally ‘line up’ better in the direction with the most traffic. The traffic in the other direction may have to stop.”

– When you drive. Many coordinated system are taken out of synchronization at night and on weekends.

I’ve had to abridge the information on the Web site, for space reasons. Look it up for a more detailed explanation.


Power line work north of Poulsbo creates curiosity

The in basket: Dan Godecke, Barbara Jefferries and Gary Blakenship all have asked about what appears to be utility line work along Highway 3 north of Poulsbo, from Pioneer Hill Road to about three miles south of there.

Dan asked after signs went up in late April telling of upcoming nighttime lane closures from May 3 to 22.

Barbara and Gary were both intrigued by multi-colored wires being strung from pole to pole and Barbara also mentioned orange covers at that top of the poles and “two metal poles that appear to have cylindrical cameras (?) at the top.”

The out basket: Pete Townsend, utilities engineer for the state transportation here, says Puget Sound Eneergy is “reconducting,” meaning replacing the aging overhead electrical lines with new ones with greater capacity for future growth. New poles to support the new lines were installed a few years ago. Lane closures give the work crews room for their vehicles and large spools of wire.

It is night work and should be done by mid-July, he said.

The multi-colored lines aren’t wire, but guide ropes that are attached to the wires so that they can be pulled from pole to pole. They are much lighter and more pliable than the wires themselves. Color-coding helps avoid getting the wires crossed somewhere along the project distance, he said.

Lindsey Walimaki of PSE says the orange shrouds cover the old, still energized line at the poles so workmen don’t accidentally touch them. She’s not sure about the possible cameras on poles, but says they probably aren’t part of their project.

‘Filtering’ in traffic is illegal for bicyclists

The in basket: After a flurry of bicycle-related Road Warrior columns last summer, Julie Snyder of Poulsbo asked about what she called “the fairly common practice of ‘filtering,'” or riding one’s bicycle between lanes of traffic stopped at an intersection.

She specifically asked about The Finn Hill/Lindvig Way intersection with Viking Way in Poulsbo, and turns in either direction onto Viking.

Coming west on Lindvig, she said, it’s uphill and bicyclists have trouble not delaying cars if the biker has to take a full spot in the travel lanes to get to the Viking Avenue signal.

“The road splits from two lanes into three just before Cenex, with no shoulder,” she said. “At the bottom of the hill (near Bond Road), I’m moving much slower than traffic, since it’s uphill. Everyone passes me. Then, as cars stop at the light, I start overtaking them.

“Since I want to proceed straight, I look and signal into the center lane, cross the right turn lane when given a break by a motorist, and ride to the right BESIDE those center lane cars up to the stop line, ready to cross when the light changes. There is a shoulder on the opposite side of Finn Hill, and soon the line of cars passes me again.

“I use the same method when turning left to go south on Viking Way (but I add some further eye contact and a nice left-turn signal).

“A motorist friend told me that although filtering was practical, it wasn’t legal. I should take the lane and act ‘like a car’ through this, and every, intersection with no bike lane. I tried this once, and found myself the subject of motorist frustration. Since Lindvig is uphill, I take much longer than a car to move through, and drivers weren’t happy about waiting.”

Going in the other direction on Finn Hill Road, she runs afoul of a safety tip on the state’s Web site, which says, ‘Don’t pass on the right – Motorists may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.’

“There is often a back-up of 20 cars from the light,” Julie said. “Should cyclists NOT pass this line of traffic on the right-hand shoulder? There is no designated right-turn lane at the bottom. I approach the bottom of the hill slowly, and stop at the stop line well to the right of the first car in line at the light,” she said.

The out basket: Julie is OK with her tactic coming down Finn Hill Road eastbound, says Ian Macek, the state’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. The advice about not passing on the right doesn’t apply to bikes on the shoulder or in a bicycle lane, he said.

I would hope so. The shoulder is the safest place for a bicyclist, and state law specifically accords bike riders the right to use the shoulder.

Sadly, that’s the only exemption from the state law that requires bicyclists to comply with all laws that apply to cars. Julie’s friend is correct, filtering is illegal.

I asked Sgt. Andy Pate of Poulsbo police and Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office about this.

Andy replied, “I have ridden the same portion of roadway on a bicycle. Going uphill is an issue at that intersection. Bicyclist cannot legally ‘filter’ in this state. They can, however, ride on the shoulder to avoid impeding traffic. If they are going to make a left turn they must ‘take a lane’ and the fact that they will annoy motorists is unavoidable.

“The idea behind the laws is that bicyclist should not do anything that would surprise a motorist. A bicyclist ‘filtering’ through traffic leaves a motorist, inexperienced in riding a bicycle on the roadway, confused and wondering what the bicyclist’s intentions are. That leads to accidents.

“If a bicyclists takes an assertive position in a lane, such as a left turn lane, it makes it clear to the motorist that the bicyclist is preparing to make a left turn, albeit a slow one.

“It is important in this state that bicyclists approach an intersection and assert themselves into a lane of travel making it clear for all surrounding motorists of the intention. No surprises.

“Once in a lane of travel, the bicyclist is afforded all the rules of the road pertaining to a motorist, forcing the motorist to also follow the rules of the road and treat the bicyclist as a vehicle. Granted, this can be annoying to some motorists, but it does put the burden on them to also follow the rules of the road.

“If a bicyclist rides near the fog line, but not actually on the shoulder, this allows an impatient motorist to try and take advantage of the extra room and go around the bicyclist and squeeze by the bicyclist… In such cases where it is dangerous for a bicyclist to ride on the shoulder, or there is no shoulder, the bicyclist should ‘take the lane’ and ride closer to the center line, helping to ensure that the motorist behind him must treat them as another vehicle.

It is difficult, (but) bicyclists must develop the mindset that they are part of the traffic when riding on the roadway.

Scott’s advice differs somewhat.

“If the bicyclist becomes the impeding factor, ie:  a bicyclist traveling uphill on a roadway in the lane of travel, it would be prudent for the bicyclist to move onto the roadway shoulder, or at least as far to the right of the lane of travel as possible, in order to allow uphill traffic to pass the bicycle (given that there are no other impediments and traffic is moving along at the posted speed limit),” Scott said.

“If traffic is slowed or stopped, the bicyclist certainly may pass this traffic on the shoulder as in all probability the bicyclist will be moving faster than traffic.

“The realities.” he concluded, “are that there are a few bicyclists who ride their bikes in all manner of movement or design, ie:  riding against traffic, riding at night without any illumination, failing to abide by the most basic rules of the road.

“These are the individuals about whom we are most concerned from a safety aspect to both themselves and other motorists.  Serious bicyclists are very aware of their personal actions and strive to adjust to traffic flow utilizing common sense and adherence to traffic laws.