Tag Archives: roundabout

Roundabouts vs. traffic signals

The in basket: Robert Balcomb of Silverdale e-mails to say, “I have wondered about the compared cost of the roundabouts at CK Junior High, at Silverdale Way and Newberry Hill, and at Manette, versus stoplights there instead.  I think stoplights would have been considerably cheaper, involving less construction time, and be less problematic.”

The out basket: Two of the three spots Robert asked about were Kitsap County projects, so I asked county public works for a comparison.

Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for the county, said, “Discussion papers I’ve reviewed talk about the costs of signal hardware being offset by the additional cost of right-of-way needed for a roundabout.

“Although cost is a major factor when making the decision on what type of intersection control to use, there are many other factors that play into the decision. Also, while construction costs may be similar, the ongoing costs of maintenance and electricity for signals are also a consideration when making the choice between signals and roundabouts.

“Each intersection has unique characteristics, and both signals and roundabouts have pros and cons, depending on the application.

“Collision rates are generally lower in a roundabout than at signalized intersection, and the severities of the collisions are usually minor. Fewer vehicles are required to come to a complete stop in a roundabout, and because of slower speeds they provide some traffic calming benefits. Reduced speed through the intersection allows for safer pedestrian crossing in most instances.

“They do take up a lot of space, and present some challenges to bicyclists. In some instances they restrict access to adjacent properties and some multi-lane roundabouts have a learning curve (for drivers) before they achieve optimum efficiency.

“Traffic signals take less space and can generally be built within existing rights-of-way unless additional lanes are constructed. In many applications, signals can be programmed to allow continuous progression of traffic flow. They can be programmed to facilitate the majority of traffic flow and usually have minimal affect to access property adjacent to the intersection.

“Signals require regular maintenance and are more expensive to maintain. Signals are susceptible to power surges and outages and create a challenge for motorists when they are not working properly.

“In the end, it comes down to what works best for the particular intersection that is improved. Traffic signals are well understood and good choices for certain locations. Roundabouts are gaining in acceptance, and are being used at many intersections traditionally served by traffic signals. In each improvement project we consider the alternatives and choose the one that our studies conclude are likely to be the most effective.”


Signaling in CK’s Anderson Hill roundabout at issue

The in basket: A reader who went only by “A Kitsap County Driver” in an October e-mail asked, “Could you possibly persuade the county to install ‘signal when exiting’ signs on the roundabout on Anderson Hill (Road in Silverdale)?

“Most drivers signal when entering (although that is the only direction you can go) and not when exiting (or leave their blinkers on the entire way around).

“The county’s addition of the roundabout has been a great traffic revision and it flows much better – however it would flow just a bit smoother with some instructions for drivers,” the e-mail said. “Signage just seems to be a forgotten last step in this project.  “When Bainbridge installed a roundabout, I distinctly remember several well-marked signs.

“Braking due to not knowing the intentions of the person in front of you causes slowdowns which can also cause the stop-and-go scenarios.”

The out basket: I drive that roundabout just enough to know that it’s not round at all, but flat on the south side. It probably serves mostly straight-ahead traffic in both directions on Anderson Hill Road except when Central Kitsap Junior High is beginning or ending the day’s classes. For westbound traffic, it barely requires a driver to turn or slow down if a car isn’t coming around from the other direction.

I don’t know whether signaling by drivers would help, and the county isn’t inclined to post signs requiring it.

Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, says, “While signaling when exiting a roundabout is a courteous thing for drivers to do, I am not aware of any law that requires it. The only required sign for a  roundabout is the Yield sign that requires traffic entering a roundabout to give right of way to all traffic in the roundabout.

“I don’t know of an application where we’ve placed a sign at any other intersection that applies to using a turn signal, and don’t plan to place one at this intersection either,” Jeff said..


Readers question need for, lighting of Lake Flora roundabout

The in basket: There is some skepticism about the need for a roundabout at the Lake Flora Road-JM Dickenson Road intersection in South Kitsap. It’s nearly complete and about to open.

This week, Larry Taylor of Bremerton e-mailed to say, “I thought this state was hurting for money. So why in the world would they build a roundabout at Lake Flora and Dickerson Road or any rural area for that matter.

“I used to travel that road very frequently, sometimes three or four times a week and never had a problem with the stop sign that was there,” Larry said. “Even if the economy was booming, I think it is a complete waste of the taxpayers money. I don’t think the words ‘save money’ (are) in the government’s vocabulary.”

Back in August, Ed Kalmbach, a commenter on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com asked, “How does the state and county determine that an intersection like Lake Flora and JM Dickenson requires alteration due to safety concerns. Do they have a formula or algorithm and if so what is the data for this intersection that determined a roundabout was required and the correct solution?”

Another e-mailer had a different concern. Sandy Gold wrote this month to say, “Is there any plan to put a light in the roundabout on Lake Flora? We live out beyond the roundabout, and have noticed how dark that corner is.

“Once the construction barrels are gone, it will be really easy to have folks running into the center of the roundabout, just like they used to run the stop sign.  If they crash in the roundabout there won’t be any way for traffic to get around,” Sandy said.

The out basket: It’s a Kitsap County project and County Engineer Jon Brand explains the reasoning:

“There were several factors that led to the decision to move forward with a roundabout in this location. The intersection was selected for improvements because of the accident history, traffic volumes and pavement condition.

“There were 16 collisions in this location between January 2003 and December 2007, seven of which involved injuries.  This is well above the countywide average.  A roundabout reduces the likelihood of rear-end accidents or motorists’ blowing through a stop sign.

“Transportation projects undertaken by public works design for 20 years in the future, in this case 2028,” Jon continued, adding that Lake Flora links highways 3 and 16, the South Kitsap Industrial Area, and the city of Port Orchard.

“Traffic volumes are expected to increase significantly in the future and they are distributed in a relatively equal manner,” he said. “This was a major factor in the decision to proceed with a roundabout instead of a stop-controlled intersection. A roundabout offers more traffic capacity and efficiency than a stop-controlled intersection, especially when the volumes are balanced.”

As for Sandy’s concern, lights are coming, says Doug Bear of

county public works, and their foundations are already there. There’ll be a street light on each of the three approaches to the roundabout and two inside it. They’ll be installed soon, he said.

Is new Manette Bridge roundabout too small for big trucks?

The in basket: I heard second hand at the dentist’s office Thursday that one of Kitsap Transit’s worker/driver buses had had a hard time getting around the new roundabout being opened at the end of the Manette Bridge in Bremerton. The driver had to back up to maneuver his way around it, the report said.

It might have resulted from the driver’s unfamiliarity with the just-opened roundabout, I remarked.

It reminded me that Gary Reed had e-mailed on Oct. 6 to ask, “Is the roundabout on the Manette-side sized to allow buses, semi trucks, and fire trucks to safely negotiate it, or will there be a vehicle length restriction?

“It looks pretty small,” he said.

The out basket: Jeff Cook, project engineer for the bridge project said at the time, “There are no length restrictions being imposed on the bridge.  The design vehicle for this particular roundabout was the longest bus in the Kitsap Transit fleet.

“Keep in mind there are two components of a roundabout when it comes to traversable areas.  The first is the asphalt itself.  The second is the truck apron.  The truck apron is the concrete circle between the asphalt and the roundabout stubwall.  By definition it is “a raised section…around the central island that acts as an extra lane for large vehicles.

“The back wheels of the oversize vehicle can ride up on the truck apron so the truck can easily complete the turn, while the raised portion of concrete discourages use by smaller vehicles.”

John Clauson of Kitsap Transit confirmed that a worker-driver bus had run into trouble getting around the circle. State officials called them Thursday,” John said,  “asking us to bring out a bus so they could see just where the problem was. Our experience during that exercise was the same as the Worker/Driver.” I’m not sure where this will lead.


Counting days for SK roundabout and bridge projects

The in basket: I drove past the new roundabout at Lake Flora and JM Dickenson roads in rural South Kitsap on Oct. 1, going past a sign as I did saying road work there will continue into November. It looked to me like it’s ready to handle traffic now.

I asked if it’s ahead of schedule.

While I was at it, I asked for an update on the South Colby bridge project and closure of Southworth Drive and prospects for its carrying into March.

The out basket: Jacques Dean, construction manager for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “Lake Flora is moving along well and should be completed in October, weather permitting.”

As for the bridge and its road closure, Jacque said, “The contractor there experienced some challenges excavating for channel widening due to excessive groundwater and working around the tides.

“That work is complete and they are moving into major bridge construction activities. Drilled shafts are complete and the cap, abutment wall and wing walls on the west side of the bridge are finished.

“The project is still scheduled to wrap up by the end of the year, weather permitting,” Jacque said.

Agitated driver wants update on Lake Flora roundabout

The in basket: Rich Farrell says he “recently I skidded 10,000 miles of rubber off a new set of tires and depreciated my brake lining life span by at least five years at the intersection of Lake Flora Road and Lake Flora/JM Dickenson….the famous T-intersection where many drivers will not come to a complete stop!!

“At one point in time there was a planned roundabout  proposed for the intersection,” Rich said. “Whatever happened? How many accidents will it take before such an animal is constructed? Does the country have a ‘death quota’ before acting on such? With the traffic increase of the area, it won’t take long before someone is either seriously injured or killed at the intersection.”

The out basket: I got the misimpression somewhere that the roundabout Rich asks about was under way. It isn’t but it soon will be.

Doug Bear, public works spokesman for the county, says work is to begin Aug. 8. The contract was on the county commissioners’ schedule for approval on July 25. A November completion is planned.


Roundabout in Purdy is a possibility

The in basket: Someone (I can no longer find the inquiry) asked me if there was anything new in efforts to ease the rush-hour backups at the Purdy traffic signal for traffic trying to get to Key Peninsula after pulling off northbound Highway 16.

The lines of vehicles, which have caused the state to allow shoulder driving on Highway 16 to get exiting cars out of the through lanes at the Purdy exit, remain long, the inquiry said.

The out basket: It turns out there has been a lot of progress, though the most immediate change will address morning backups in the other direction. But there may be a roundabout in place of that over-worked Purdy stop light within three years.

Karen Boone, assistant project engineer in the Olympic Region design shop, said the most recent gas tax increase of 9 1/2 cents per gallon has provided $6.65 million for work in or near Purdy, to be done in two phases.

A lot of it in both phases will be devoted to Highway 302’s intersection with 118th Avenue well west of Purdy. Turn lanes and guard rail to improve safety are planned there.

But by Christmas this year, a new signal controller and optical traffic detector in Purdy will turn the left-turn light green for traffic coming east over the Purdy Bridge whenever the backup to turn left (about 10 cars) blocks those who want to turn right from getting to the turn. More reflective signs also wlll be installed.

In 2012, a contract is scheduled to be let for work to include other improvements in Purdy, Karen said. One option being studied is building a roundabout there.

She said preliminary traffic studies say a roundabout would be a partial fix for the long afternoon lines, not a complete one. “It won’t be the silver bullet,” she said.

One complication that often works against roundabouts – the need to buy a lot of right of way – is not a problem in Purdy, she said. The state owns enough land there to build a roundabout, though some of it is leased to businesses at present.

Another complication, for all projects – money – could be decisive. The $6.65 million might not stretch to cover a roundabout.

If the state decides against the roundabout, the only other option identified so far doesn’t sound like a major help. That would be putting in a second northbound lane at the stop light to let traffic wanting to go straight rather than turn left onto 302 get out of the left-turn queue. Karen couldn’t say what percentage of the traffic goes straight, but suspects it’s a minority.

Karen said such a second lane couldn’t be too long, or it would run into some fish barriers uphill. If they disturbed them, they’d have to bring them up to code, which could consume all of the available money and then some, she said.

Another traffic obstacle in Purdy, the narrow bridge, is on the state’s list for replacement, she said, but that would be a long time in the future.

Stop signs a problem for revised Manette traffic flow, says reader

The in basket: Robin Henderson, a Manette resident, suggests some modifications to traffic flow in Manette to allow traffic to get through faster once the new Manette Bridge is finished and a roundabout is built on that end in place of the existing intersection.

“A lot of traffic across the bridge heads east up 11th to either Trenton or Perry,” he said. “Many folks headed to Brownsville or even Keyport use this route to avoid traffic.

With Shore Drive closed, “folks will  have to go up Harkins to Pitt then down Pitt to 11th with two stop signs to negotiate.  I suggested removing those two stop signs so that traffic can continue to flow uninterrupted to Trenton,” he said.

Shore Drive, which already is blocked, will remain closed to traffic coming off bridge because it is too steep to be served by the roundabout, eliminating the route taken previously by most traffic wanting to head out East 11th.

The existing stop signs would be repositioned to stop traffic on southbound Pitt and eastbound East 11th under his plan.

“I have already shared my ideas with (City Councilman) Adam Brockus, and I sent a link to this article to Jeff Cook, the states project engineer.  I was just wondering if you had any thoughts on the issue?  Do you ever drive through Manette?””

The out basket: I used to take this route weekly to reach a pickleball game in Illahee, until I decided it was just as fast and involved a lot less stopping and starting to go up around Dyes Inlet via Silverdale and double back.

Jeff Cook tells me he met Sept. 29 with Bremerton street officials and said they agreed to give Robin’s idea consideration. Having traffic proceeding through 90-degree turns without stopping raises some safety issues, and that could lead to thoughts of widening the turn radii, which might lead to right of way issues.

It’s one of two things bridge planners are being urged to change from current plans, he said. The other involves the designated detour through Manette to link East 11th and and Wheaton Way during next year’s four month closure of the existing bridge to complete the new one and the roundabout.

They are weighing objections to the designated detour, via Pitt and 14th Street, which some residents oppose, against an alternative, using Perry Avenue and 18th Street, which some Manette businesses fear will cost them most of their customers, he said.

In each case, “we want the most amount of people to be happy with what we do,” Jeff said.

Updating new Lake Flora roundabout


The in basket: I was reviewing old Road Warrior columns and came across one from last year that suggested another roundabout might be on the drawing boards, where Lake Flora and JM Dickenson roads intersect in South Kitsap.

Debbie Buchholz had asked about the Lake Flora work that was done last July, and the county said phase 2 of the work might include a roundabout.

The out basket: There will, indeed, be a roundabout built at the Lake Flora/JM Dickenson road intersection, beginning this fall or next spring. 

Dick Dadisman of Kitsap County Public Works says the new rural roundabout “will have a single lane similar to the roundabout on Bethel Road in Port Orchard.  (Though, the Port Orchard roundabout was designed and constructed as a two-lane roundabout, but striped for a single lane).  

“Major differences between a rural roundabout and urban roundabout ,” he said, “are rural roundabouts lack the pedestrian improvements you would typically find in an urban setting; the truck apron is wider to allow larger trucks to negotiate the roundabout; and the approach legs are typically longer to allow sufficient distance for higher speed vehicles to safely decelerate as they approach the roundabout.” 

The roundabout will be just south of the intersection it will replace.

I asked if there are any other roundabouts planned on the county’s roads and Dick said, “Kitsap County has one other roundabout under consideration.  This one is located at the Newberry Hill/Silverdale Way/Chico Way intersection with construction planned for the summer of 2012.” 

Since he replied, County Commissioner Josh Brown made a pitch for a roundabout at Holly Road and Seabeck Highway in Central Kitsap, so that may be added to the list in the future.

Poulsbo roundabout is step #1 in Noll Way redo


The in basket: I was surprised to read recently in this paper that a roundabout project in Poulsbo was “shovel-ready” and will receive a half-million dollars in federal stimulus money that would get it done this year. 

The story said the money had been granted to Kitsap County, but there was no sign of the project – at Lincoln and Noll roads and Gala Way – in the county’s six-year road plan. I asked where the roundabout came from. 

The out basket: The designation Kitsap County was generic, said Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works, and included cities, including Poulsbo, which has the lead on the roundabout. The county itself got $2 million for repaving roads that need it.

Andrzej Kasiniak, Poulsbo’s public works director, says the roundabout is on the city’s six-year road plan, set for three years in the future before the federal money became available. All the right of way is city owned, so work can begin this year.

It will become the first construction to accomplish what the Noll Road Corridor Study, adopted by the city in 2008, recommends.

Noll Road now meanders from Highway 305 to Lincoln Road. The corridor study calls for various improvements, the roundabout included, as money becomes available.

The most dramatic part of the plan calls for eventually rerouting Noll Road traffic to Johnson Way, the next Highway 305 intersection to the north. The rerouting is to begin at the 90-degree turn Noll makes near Bjorgen Creek. Noll from there to its existing intersection with the highway would become a lesser street.  

It’s unknown when that phase may be accomplished, but it would mean a traffic signal that otherwise would have gone in on Highway 305 at Noll will instead by put at Johnson Way.

Details of the Noll Road Corridor Study can be seen online at www.cityofpoulsbo.com/publicworks/publicworks_eng_projects.htm