Tag Archives: Ridgetop

School signage on Ridgetop Boulevard confuses

The in basket: Norm and Karen Kunkel are concerned about how much of Ridgetop Boulevard uphill from Highway 303 is a school zone.

They said they saw a yellow pedestrian crossing sign depicting what appears to be a woman and a child, posted just west of Hillsboro Drive and an “End of School Zone” sign just past the intersection and concluded it was a school zone. Karen told me they have been going 20 mph from there all the way up to the actual school zone at the street leading to Emerald Heights Elementary, even though there are 35 mph speed limit signs posted there.

She said she has talked to people who have gotten a school zone citation somewhere in there.

The “End of School Zone” sign just past Hillsboro no longer is there, Norm said last week.

I asked the county where there are school zones on Ridgetop, what the yellow two-figure sign denotes, and if signage on that stretch of Ridgetop Boulevard had recently been changed.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County says, “The only school speed zone on Ridgetop Boulevard is on either side of the intersection of Pinnacle Court leading to Emerald Heights Elementary School. There is no school speed limit zone at Hillsboro.

“The School Sign (it is actually 2 students, not an adult and student) which looks like an old school house (5 sided; floor, sides and roof) is actually a warning sign alerting motorists that a school or school crossing is nearby.  It is to warn motorists that they could see school-age children on or near the roadway.  It does not require the motorist to reduce speed.

“The posted speed limit is the legal speed.  Not until you see a rectangular sign with a school speed limit 20, and flashing lights, times, or “when children are present” placards does the speed limit change.

“We recently revisited all school zones county-wide. Some changes to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices triggered sign modifications.  The end school zone signs were removed because motorists don’t actually go through the school speed zone.  The directional arrow below the School Sign is new to the MUTCD and denotes that the school zone is around the corner on Hillsboro.

A new view of SR303 off-ramp to Ridgetop Boulevard

The in basket: Lani Bogart  writes, “I am concerned about the traffic heading towards Bremerton on Highway 303/Waaga Way that takes the Ridgetop Exit. At the bottom of the exit they recently installed a traffic signal EXCEPT for the right turning traffic. They don’t even have a yield sign there and I see that traffic come whipping around that corner without even slowing down and immediately pulling over into the left lane, since that right lane turns into a right turn only.

“I witnessed a very close call by a company van pulling directly in front of the car in front of me, causing both of us to stand on our brakes to avoid a collision (We had the right of way with a green light through the intersection as we had come off the opposite direction and gone underneath the freeway).

“Why haven’t they put a yield sign there? Or better yet, a stop sign? It’s really dangerous. Sometimes when I’ve got the green light, going through the intersection and need to make that right turn into the hospital parking lot, I’m not able to get over because of that exiting traffic just barreling on through that turn into the right lane. They finally do pull over in that left lane, without checking many times, because they discover they have to turn right if they keep going. That exit really needs to be controlled, please!”

The out basket: All the drivers who have complained to the Road Warrior column about others who DO stop before turning right at the end of that off-ramp will find it interesting to hear from someone like Lani who finds that practice desirable.

The fact is there is a separate lane dedicated to those turning right to go west on Ridgetop Boulevard, so there is no need to either yield or stop there. Nor is there reason for signage requiring either.

Any driver using that dedicated lane who moves into the inside lane without  yielding and signaling, or anyone who moves into the dedicated lane from the inside lane without yielding or signaling has committed a traffic infraction and will be held responsible if a collision results. Lani is required to wait for drivers who come “barreling through that turn” to leave a space before moving right herself.

I often hear from drivers upset about others who stop at the end of that off-ramp and wait for traffic in the inside lane to pass by. Lani is the first to contact me about danger from those who don’t. I rarely approach that intersection heading west but don’t recall feeling imperiled by exiting traffic from the off-ramp when I do.

Others who agree with Lani that more control of those making that right turn is needed can comment on this column online, or contact the state at BakerC@wsdot.wa.gov.

Reader finds SR303 repaving to be bumpy

The in basket: Nancy Bryant writes, “I have a question about the recent Highway 303 repaving.  When traveling on Highway 303, particularly going south near the Ridgetop exits, the road is now really bumpy.  The middle lane going south is the worse – my CRV just bumps up and down continually.  In the far left lane you can see where there are what look like rake marks weaving back and forth in the paving.

“Were these unevenly paved areas a big mistake or was it intentional?  If it was intentional, why?

The out basket: I drove it and wouldn’t call the surface bumpy. Wavy, maybe. I felt a little side to side sway in my 2013 Malibu, and I suppose 10 miles of it might make me motion sick. But it was hard to detect.

Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says, “We sent an inspector out to take a look at that section of road.  What he found was that this pavement section does have some unevenness, however it is not out of tolerance for pavement smoothness.

“The rake marks that are present are caused by the paving roller and will go away with time. We plan no corrective action at this time.”

Temporary signal should have been at Blaine, 2 readers contend

The in basket: Carole Patterson and Ann Emel think the county chose the wrong place for the temporary stop light in Silverdale during the Bucklin Hill Road closure.

“Kitsap County has installed new stop lights at the wrong intersection of Levin and Ridgetop,” Carole said. “The traffic backup is at Blaine and Ridgetop. At 6 p.m. today there were nine cars waiting on Blaine to turn right onto Ridgetop. Is their a logical explanation?”

Ann wrote, “I remember when I first read in the Kitsap Sun that a traffic light was going to be

installed at Levin and Ridgetop, my first thought was it just couldn’t be. Levin would become a dead-end road and Blaine, which  runs behind Safeway, would remain a  through street linking Bucklin and Ridgetop.

“I still don’t see the why of the light at Levin when I see very, very few cars waiting there to enter onto Ridgetop and most often six to eight cars lined up on Blaine to do the same thing.

“Since the light at Levin is now 30 days past predicted install, why couldn’t that idea be scrapped and a new light put in at Blaine where it would serve more cars?

The out basket: Tina Nelson, senior program manager for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “The traffic study that was completed for the Bucklin Hill bridge project did not indicate that a signal at Levin and Ridgetop would be beneficial during the closure. The close proximity to the signal at Mickelberry would make timing coordination difficult, if even possible.

(But) at public meetings the concern was raised and we re-visited the situation. There are several businesses off of Levin and getting in and out of Levin could become a challenge. Therefore we decided on the temporary signal. We did review putting one at Blaine, but that is not access to as many businesses, and having one at each would not work, so there was the decision to add it at Levin.

“Signal equipment has very long lead time and delivery timing is not predictable. (That’s) not unique to us, (it’s the) same across the state and the country.  You may recall the delay in getting the signal running at Ridgetop and SR 303.

“We knew that it was unreasonable to require that the signal be operational by July 1, but we needed to close the road at that time to move the project forward, working with fish windows etc.

“We required that the signal be operational by Aug. 14 in the contract.  Initially we thought that we would have it operational by mid-July, but delivery was delayed, and now it is finally up and running.”


Where’s the Ridgetop-Levin traffic light?

The in basket: In a visit to Silverdale one recent morning, I noted that there was no traffic signal on Ridgetop Boulevard at Levin Road, something I’d understood would be part of the accommodations for drivers while Bucklin Hill Road is closed.

When I returned home that day, I found the following e-mail from Laurie LeMay. “Many hours were spent getting the signal installed and ready to handle the traffic at Levin and Ridgetop,” she wrote. “It was supposed to be ready at the beginning of the Bucklin Hill Road closure.

“Then we heard it wouldn’t be installed until July 10.  Here it is July 24 and no signal is installed.

“All the wires are there and the control box but no actual lights.  Can you find out any information on this?  It would really help the  workers on Levin if they could get out onto Ridgetop.”

The out basket: It’s a familiar story with traffic signal installations – late delivery of needed parts, though this time it isn’t the poles and cross-arms, the usual culprits.

“The hold-up with the signal is materials,” says Tina Nelson of Kitsap County Public Works. “We have everything ready to go but the signal heads. The delivery date has unfortunately been delayed.

“We are monitoring the situation, and are prepared to add a flagger or two if needed at the intersection of Levin and Ridgetop.

“The signal will be functional no later than August 10,” she said.

Will hospital construction add to hurt from Bucklin Hill Road closure?

The in basket: Karen Ebersole writes, “I saw in the Sun  that they are starting a new addition to Harrison Hospital in Silverdale, starting in the fall? Really?  With the closure of Bucklin Hill Road, and now this new construction on the other major road out of Silverdale?  Am I wrong in thinking this is going to be more than a nightmare?”

I asked Kitsap County Public Works whether construction of the new hospital may affect plans to ameliorate the congestion from the year-long Bucklin Hill Road closure and if the hospital has been asked or ordered not to interfere with traffic in its part of Silverdale while the road is closed. The new hospital is to be next to the existing one at Ridgetop Boulevard and Myhre Road.

The out basket: County Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea replied, “We do not have a final mitigation plan for the hospital and don’t know what road improvements may be part of their plan.

“We did have the discussion with Harrison about road work occurring during the bridge project. They are aware that no road work impacting the Ridgetop corridor can take place during the work on Bucklin Hill.”

As an aside, since this column may be the first some drivers have heard about the impending road closure, it is to widen Bucklin Hill Road, replace culverts through which Clear Creek passes beneath the road, and extend water mains to the east of the project. It will begin in July.


Driver worries about lefts and rights against red signals

The in basket: Yvonne Dean has some questions, she said in an e-mail, starting with one about an odd state law that I don’t see mentioned accept in the Road Warrior column and remains little known by drivers. It’s the one permitting left turns against a red arrow signal, but only onto a one-way road or street and only after coming to a full stop and yielding to any vehicles with a green light or to pedestrians.

“I have been wondering if this type of left turn would be permitted on Ridgetop (in Silverdale) when you are coming down from Ridgetop Junior High and turning left to go toward East Bremerton,” Yvonne said. “Before making the turn on red I assume you have to check to make sure there was no one coming off of Waaga Way who might be turning left up Ridgetop and no one coming up Ridgetop up to that intersection.”

Then she asks about two right-turn-on-red situations at 11th and Warren Avenue (in Bremerton).

“Tonight I was coming east on 11th and a fire truck was in the curb lane with his right-turn signal blinking,” he said. “He didn’t turn until the light turned green.  Can you not turn right at that (red) light after coming to a complete stop and having no traffic coming toward you?”

Finally, “when I am coming south on Warren Avenue to that same intersection and I want to turn right to go up 11th if the light is red I have stopped and check to make sure there is no on-coming traffic and then turned up the hill.  Is that legal?”

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger and Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police provide answers for Yvonne.

A left on red at Ridgetop onto the southbound Highway 303 on-ramp is legal if done with the restrictions Yvonne and I stated above.

But as I’ve said before, the odds that the first driver in line to turn left knows the law and dares to use it are so low that it’s usually not seen.

The right turn on red is legal on 11th at Warren. Pete Fisher guesses the length of the first truck would have required it to swing too wide to make the turn comfortably if cars were coming south in either lane of Warren. Fire Chief Al Duke says that sounds right. There’s no department policy forbidding legal rights on red, he said.

And the presence of the traffic signal that offers a protected right turn on Warren at 11th does nothing to negate the opportunity to turn right when it’s red, after a full stop and while yielding to any conflicting traffic or pedestrians.

The Road Warrior tries a questionable turn in Silverdale

The in basket: Eric Blair said in an e-mail this week, “Now that the lights are installed and working at Ridgetop and 303 (in Silverdale), nothing has changed regarding folks wanting to get over to turn left onto Sid Uhinck Drive. Cars still stop in the right lane and wait for traffic to clear so they can jump over to the left-turn lane. The only difference is there is now a guaranteed break in traffic when the light turns green for those turning left from the exit ramp.

“This was a terribly designed intersection,” Eric said. “Either the light needed to control all directions, left, right and straight coming from the off ramp, or there needed to be a barrier installed to prevent this unsafe maneuver.”

He and Rob Davy objected in a March Road Warrior column to the traffic disruption created by drivers who turn right at the end of that southbound Highway 303 off-ramp to Ridgetop Boulevard then quickly move over two lanes to get into the left turn pocket to reach Sid Uhinck Drive.

At best it can be a chancy double lane change and at worst they have to stop in the outside lane to wait for a break in inside lane traffic, which is illegal and annoys drivers behind them. Besides, Rob argued, changing lanes requires signaling a minimum of 100 feet, 200 feet for a double lane change, and there aren’t 200 feet between the ramp and the left turn pocket.

Both men asked for a row of pylons to keep cars in the outside lane from moving over until past Sid Uhinck, as Eric did again in this week’s e-mail.

Rob also suggested allowing right turns from the other lane on the ramp, the one controlled by the new signal and designed for left turns and straight ahead movement. Anyone turning right there would have only one lane change to get to Sid Uhinck.

The state and county didn’t make that change, but I sat on the off-ramp for a while this week, contemplating making the very right turn Rob suggested, at the light.

A traffic island guiding left turn traffic makes it a bit of an awkward turn for a large vehicle, but there are no signs there forbidding a right turn. When I got up my nerve to try it, while the light was green, I made the turn effortlessly in my 2013 Malibu.

What’s to prevent a driver wanting to go from the off-ramp to Sid Uhinck from turning at the light like I did, I asked State Trooper Russ Winger and Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Wilson.

The out basket: There are no signs prohibiting a right turn there, said Russ, but there are pavement markings that do. Pavement arrows are as restrictive as signs, he said. I had made an illegal turn.

“As the intersection is currently configured, a right turn from the left lane is prohibited,” he said. “There are large white arrows within the lane that indicate left turn or straight through movement to access the on-ramp to SR303. The straight through arrow is fading but it is still in place.

“An additional sign prohibiting a right turn from that lane might help clarify that but it is not required.”

Scott agreed. “If turning right from the inside (left) lane were permitted,” he said, “along with the free right turn already in place from the right lane, it is a set-up for confusion by drivers and collisions would be highly likely.

“If this idea were authorized, then (in my opinion) the county would need to install a lane barrier to prevent drivers who have just completed the free right turn from changing lanes to the left (inside lane) until the outside (channelization) lane is west of the intersection with NW Sid Uhinck Drive.

“When I say confusion… there will always be those who won’t understand or comprehend the signage and believe that they also have a free right turn, even from the left lane, leading to an increase in vehicle collisions.

“I think that it’s best to leave it as the traffic engineers designed (it),” Scott said.

The Road Warrior wonders if ending those double lane changes might not offset the collision hazards inherent in the added right turn opportunity, but barring someone with clout getting behind this idea, I guess we won’t find out.

$4 million Ridgetop Drive ‘widening’ coming in 2019

The in basket: I was looking through Kitsap County’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) recently when I came upon an entry that really surprised me.

It says that in 2019 the county plans to spend $4 million widening Ridgetop Boulevard between Highway 303 and Avante Drive, which is practically its entire length from 303 north.

The only detail listed is “widening, channelization, rain gardens.” I asked if it would become four lane all that distance and whether the center planting areas would be eliminated.

The out basket: The answer was generally no, and most of the work will be addressing storm water, not traffic.

Mindy Fohn of the county storm water division says, “This project involves roadway widening  at the south end, intersection channelization near the center, and multiple bioretention storm water treatment facilities  (commonly called “rain gardens”) along the full length of the project.

“The project will widen Ridgetop Boulevard to provide two northbound and two southbound lanes from Waaga Way (SR 303) to Hillsboro Drive. This section of Ridgetop Boulevard frequently experiences intersection congestion and long vehicular queues.  The improvement will provide needed intersection capacity and alleviate queue spillback that occurs between the closely spaced intersections.”

I’m not sure what spillback is, but I’m sure the project will please drivers wanting to turn onto 303 to go north but can’t because through traffic waiting at the red light is blocking the only lane approaching the  existing right turn lane.

“The Ridgetop Boulevard widening project,” Mindy continued, “will also reconstruct Ridgetop Boulevard from Ridgepoint Drive to Timber Shadow Court by removing the planted medians in the vicinity of the intersections.

“The Traffic Division has received requests for improved pedestrian crossings to the commercial land uses and transit stops in the area.  The improvement will provide shorter pedestrian crossings and better define vehicular paths for turning movements.

“Up to 13 bioretention facilities will be constructed in the median providing a high level of storm water treatment of the road runoff, which currently is untreated and flows into Dyes Inlet.  The soils in this area, generally, are permeable to infiltrate the runoff.

“These storm water facilities are partially funded with a $375,000 grant from Washington State Department of Ecology and are an essential project in the continuing effort to clean up storm water flowing into Dyes Inlet.”

2 flashing yellow lefts get warning signs

The in basket: Ian MacKenzie wrote on June 3 and said, ” I wrote to you a while back regarding the intersection of Randall Way and Kitsap Mall Boulevard (in Silverdale). I worried about the implication of both the southbound lanes able to turn left on a flashing (yellow) arrow.

“I just came home from a trip to Home Depot in Silverdale and made that left turn and I see that the county has installed a large sign between the signals informing people that Left Turns Yield on Flashing Yellow,” he said.

“This is the exact sign that the City of Federal Way has installed at all their flashing yellow (turn) signals.

“I would like to think that maybe we had an impact in getting that sign placed and improving the safety of the intersection.” he concluded.

The out basket: I suppose we contributed, but accident history prompted the sign’s installation, notably a fatal left-turn accident at the Kitsap Mall Boulevard-Randall Way intersection.

The same sign has been put on the left-turn signal cross-arm on Myhre Way southbound at Ridgetop Boulevard, also in Silverdale, reader Harry Gilger notes. None of the other county intersections with the yellow flashing lefts nor any of the other directions at the two in Silverdale have gotten the signs.

“We are placing that sign at intersections where collision data support additional awareness,” said Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works.