Tag Archives: Sedgwick

Tight turns on Sedgwick at Long Lake bring inquiry

The in basket: Ken Hovater asks if there are any plans for installing right turn pockets both east and westbound on Sedgwick Road (SR 160) at Long Lake Road in South Kitsap.

“Turning traffic has to come almost to a complete stop to negotiate the westbound turn,” he said, “and many drivers seem to have trouble making the turn in the eastbound direction as well.”

Rounding the corners would probably help as much if not more than a deceleration lane. I asked the state spokesman if they have noticed the problem Ken mentions.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “In the last transportation budget, WSDOT was allocated $200,000 to study the SR 160/Long Lake Road intersection. The study will consider ideas such as building a roundabout, adding a signal, building possibly two roundabouts at connecting roads to allow traffic to reverse directions, and other options to improve traffic flow.

“The study will begin in the next couple of months. During the study we will solicit feedback from Port Orchard, Kitsap County and other stakeholders,” she said.

Sedgwick Road backups may get studied

The in basket: I get occasional complaints about the growing congestion on Sedgwick Road in South Kitsap on either side of Highway 16.

The first one, a couple of years ago, mentioned backups eastbound from Sidney Road past Bethel Road in the afternoon, but most lately discuss the long backups at the Bethel Road signal going westbound, toward Highway 16.

One recent Saturday afternoon, those who got through that backup found themselves in another one, from the freeway almost to Ramsey Road. I was one of them and wasn’t expecting that.

I asked state highway folks if they are working on anything to address Sedgwick’s problems.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways says, “WSDOT received funding to conduct a study along SR 16 that identifies contributors to highway congestion.  “We expect, as part of that study, to look at interchanges between the Tacoma Narrows bridges and SR 3 and identify potential strategies to reduce congestion.”

Extra outside ‘lane’ at Sedgwick & Sidney

The in basket: Jim Milner e-mails to say the intersection of Sidney and Sedgwick roads in South Kitsap, for traffic approaching from the Highway 16 freeway, has a problem.

It “faces four traffic lights at the intersection,” Jim said, one for left turn, one for straight ahead, one for straight ahead /right turn. There are three lanes of traffic. one left turn, one straight ahead and one straight ahead/right turn. There is another lane on the right shoulder that appears to be controlled by the fourth light, yet at the same time it is not designated as a traffic lane.
“This creates no small amount of confusion,” Jim said, “resulting in many near collisions between those using the designated right turn lane and another driver assuming the extreme lane is a designated turn lane. I have been told by a KCSO deputy that if an accident were to occur at that intersection, both parties would be cited for failure to yield right of way.
“Why are there four lights to control three lanes of traffic?”
The out basket: You’ll find one more signal head than there are lanes at nearly every signalized intersection, including in the other directions at that one. It’s a federally required redundancy on the main movement at such intersections, in case one signal head fails or is obscured by other traffic.

Mark Dorsey, public works director for Port Orchard, says, “What Mr. Milner is seeing is ‘extra asphalt’ at the shoulder.  The edge stripe/fog line heading west (coming from Lowe’s) is continuous with the combination through lane (westbound)/right-turn(northbound.)

“There is potentially room for a right-turn pocket with curb/gutter/sidewalk and that will be a future improvement, but for now……the edge strip designates the lane…….and people crossing the edge stripe and using it as a right-turn lane are being ticketed.”

Expect turning pressure at Sedgwick & Phillips in SK

The in basket: Ken Hovater read the recent entry about the improvements  on Sedgwick Road at Ramsey Road that included left turn pockets on Sedgwick and Ramsey and a right turn lane on Ramsey, and asked, “Are there any similar plans to accommodate the increased traffic from the housing development being built near the intersection of Philips Road and Sedgwick?

The out basket: Some, though they wouldn’t be considered similar.

Claudia Bingham Baker, spokesman for the state highways here, said, “The Sedgwick/Phillips intersection already has left-turn pockets, so no changes are planned there.  What will be built at that development is a new eastbound right-turn pocket from Sedgwick, and eastbound right-in/right-out movement onto Sedgwick.”

That work is mostly complete with the pavement widened and a concrete island to force the right-in-right-out limitation started.

There actually are two contiguous housing developments under way there and those improvements appear to be the work of those doing the upper project.

I expect there will have to be signs posted to forbid left turns from the right-out-only access, as the temptation to turn left and go west on Sedgwick will  be great. It appears that the only approved way out of both developments, for those wanting to go toward Highway 16 and Port Orchard, will be via their Phillips Road access and then to Phillips’ intersection with Sedgwick.

Traffic already backs up regularly on Phillips there and it takes only a couple of cars wanting to turn left or go straight before would-be right turners can’t get past and must also wait.

Pressure for some kind of  enhanced traffic control is sure to build there.

The lower development is a “sweat equity” affordable housing project of Housing Kitsap, in which the home owners help build their homes. Stuart Grogan, head of Housing Kitsap, said his organization bought half of the approved development that comprises the two separate projects now.

“All of the circulation, intersection and access improvements as well as any required mitigation was negotiated by the original developer,” he said.

Manpower, timing hinder patrols near ferries

The in basket: Ron Johnson, a classmate of mine from South Kitsap’s class of 1961, called to seek help slowing down traffic on Sedgwick Road, near which he lives near the Southworth ferry terminal.

He is upset by the lack of speed enforcement and the high speeds of drivers on Sedgwick the last mile to the ferry, from just beyond Harper Church. He contends that motorcycles are doing 70-80 mph and cars are doing 50-60 mph.

Neighbors in the area have contacted/complained to the state DOT and state patrol and asked why they don’t do more to enforce speeds, especially in the morning and in the afternoon/commuting hours, he said..

“A lot of us walk around here,” he said. “We’ve hit the ditch more than once, believe me.”

He would like a flashing sign that shows speed, but state officials have told the neighbors they can’t have them on a state highway, he said.

The out basket: I’m not surprised by his assertions, but expect the problem to exist on any highway leading to a ferry terminal. Someone always seems to be running late for a departing boat.

State Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the State Patrol here, says, “Yes, this is fairly common on the local roadways leading up to the ferry terminals. Drivers are running late, trying to make the next ferry. This is not going to change.

“Our troopers do work the areas for speed when they can. The peak times for traffic to and from the terminals – a.m. and p.m. – unfortunately coincide with peak traffic elsewhere in the county. Troopers have more collisions, calls for service etc. to respond to during these times so it is not always easy to get out to these areas during the peak traffic times.

The areas in question, SR104 into Kingston and SR160  into Southworth, are well outside the urban core area in Kitsap County. This is another limiting factor along with the diminishing number of troopers working Kitsap – down to 17 from 27 in last two years. We provide 24/7 coverage and this puts between two and four troopers on the road on any given shift in Kitsap County.

“Kitsap County is a busy area, law enforcement speaking. We have plenty of traffic, collisions and calls for service that require responding to.

“These might sound like excuses but it is simple fact based on manpower available and calls for service.

“That said, we are aware of the potential speed problem in the areas and we do try to get out to them and slow people down as much as possible. Public perception of our efforts may or may not mirror reality but we do listen and try to increase efforts in problem areas.”

Claudia Bingham Baker of the state Department of Transportation says, “We tried using a “your speed is” speed sign on SR 3 on a trial basis, and we found it was not very effective. It’s not that we can’t put up the signs, it’s that they are not effective enough to be a good use of resources.”

Ramsey Road gets its left-turn lane from Sedgwick

The in basket: I noticed that men and equipment have widened Sedgwick Road at and on either side of Ramsey Road in South Kitsap. It has the look of the first step in putting in a left-turn lane.

Property owners in that area couldn’t persuade the state to make a turn lane part of the safety project it did on Sedgwick a few years ago. I asked the state if that’s what’s happening now.

The out basket: Yes, but not on the state’s dime. The turn lane was made a condition of the approval of the big new fitness center on the corner of Sedgwick and Ramsey, says Mark Dorsey, Port Orchard’s public works director.  Ramsey also has been widened substantially to make room for what appears to be a right turn lane onto westbound Sedgwick.

Other road work is planned in that area, Mark said, a condition of the approval of a housing development near Blueberry Road’s intersection with Ramsey. There are improvements planned for both Ramsey Road and Blueberry Road, he said, for both cars and pedestrians. They will include a left-turn lane onto Blueberry from Bethel Avenue, he said.

Is that a school zone on Sedgwick Road?

The in basket: Dave Dahlke of South Kitsap thinks the school zone on Sedgwick Road at Converse Avenue is not allowed by state law.

“RCW 46.61.440 (2) states the qualifications for such a zone,” he said, quoting from section 2 of that law, which reads.

“A county or incorporated city or town may create a school or playground speed zone on a highway bordering a marked school or playground, in which zone it is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle at a speed in excess of 20 miles per hour. The school or playground speed zone may extend three hundred feet from the border of the school or playground property; however, the speed zone may only include (an) area consistent with active school or playground use’.

“This school zone is nowhere near Hidden Creek Elementary School,” he said. “I have to believe that powers to be are using these lights to allow school buses easier access to Sedgwick since they don’t want to travel out to Bethel and then to Sedgwick.  This seems to me to violate the intent of the RCW.  If the intent was to allow students to walk to school across Sedgwick then I believe a flashing sidewalk should be used, as is used at the Jackson Avenue/ Lund Avenue park.”

The out basket: Dave raised this question Oct. 1 and three months of intermittent inquiries to the state office of public instruction, SK schools, police agencies and the state highway department haven’t provided a clear answer.

Dave didn’t mention the law’s Section 1, which precedes the section he cites and says it is, “unlawful for the operator of any vehicle to operate the same at a speed in excess of 20 miles per hour when operating any vehicle … when passing any marked school or playground crosswalk when such marked crosswalk is fully posted with standard school speed limit signs … The speed zone at the crosswalk shall extend 300 feet in either direction from the marked crosswalk.”

The term school zone isn’t mentioned until Section 2. And the conflicting use of the words “shall” and “may’ as regards the 300-foot distance of the speed restriction gives the impression that two paragraphs were written without regard to making them agree.

Nathan Olson, who handles transportation issues for the SPI’s office, told me, “Are we doing a bit of parsing here? As I read 46.41.440 (1), I see that it allows for a “school … crosswalk.” Is that the same thing as a “school zone,” or is it a crosswalk designed to keep kids safe as they cross a busy highways? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I’ll do some digging.”

It’s hard to believe, given the doubling of the fine for speeding in a school zone and the law’s prohibition of reducing it in court, that this issue hasn’t been adjudicated somewhere. Sedgwick isn’t the only place with a school zone removed from the school. Just in this county, Bremerton has one on Sylvan Way and there used to be one on Finn Hill Road in Poulsbo.

But Nathan’s digging, which included a call to the state transportation department, produced no clarification of the legal underpinnings of school zones not adjacent to schools.

Dave even heard directly from Steve Bennett, the state’s traffic operations engineer for this area, but he essentially just restated the question.

“You are correct,” he wrote. The zone was put into place over a decade ago to facilitate the crossing of the highway by children going to and from Hidden Creek Elementary.  Hidden Creek however,  is 2,100 feet from the highway.”

So I guess the bottom line is that unless you want to pay a double fine or argue in court that that’s a school zone and the law doesn’t allow for such school zones, I’d say you should do what the sign says.

No new guardrail in Sedgwick’s immediate future

The in basket: Ken Hovater writes,”A couple of years ago the county installed several feet of heavy duty guardrail on Long Lake Road. At the time I believe the reasoning was to bring the road into compliance with a highway construction standard.

“I am wondering when and if the state is going to do the same work on Highway 160 (Sedgwick Road). There are some very deep valleys in spots along that road. A crash into one could prove fatal.”

The out basket: The county project on Long Lake Road came out of a safety grant received for that purpose.

Sedgwick is a state highway and Olympic Region spokesperson Claudia Bingham Baker says, “Guardrail is usually installed when we have an active project in an area.  At present, we have no projects planned on SR 160, so no plans to add guardrail along the highway.

“Our maintenance crews replace and repair damaged guardrail, of course, where it already exists,” she said. State crews here just did that, replacing the guardrail around the Highway 16 overpass in front of Peninsula Subaru in Gorst. It had been mangled for the second time in a couple of years and was replaced Sept. 4.

Claudia continues, “We have many areas along our state highways that have dips along the roadway. Guardrail itself can become a hazardous object motorists can hit, so it’s installed only in areas that meet certain criteria. Even then, we do not have the funds to install guardrail in all the areas that could benefit from it.”

Converse still a scary place on Sedgwick Road

The in basket: Julie Dawson of South Kitsap thinks the intersection of Sedgwick Road and Converse Avenue needs further work, beyond the realignment the state did a couple of years ago.

“I think I’ve heard that the Bethel/Sedgwick intersection is the busiest in Port Orchard, and it makes sense as Sedgwick carries traffic to and from Highway 16, the Southworth ferry, Fred Meyer and nearby shops, a number of residential developments, and Hidden Creek School, so there are lots of children walking and on bikes.

“Which is why there needs to be a roundabout at the very least at the Sedgwick/Converse intersection,” she said. “There is nothing to create gaps in the long lines of traffic that come from both directions, with lights on Sedgwick at Bethel and then on Jackson, a mile down.

“There is at least a center turn lane on Sedgwick which allows desperate drivers to make dangerous dashes from Converse into the middle lane to wait if there was a gap in one direction. But add late afternoon traffic, school buses, and pedestrians (especially after school), and a turn from Converse in either direction at that intersection can easily take four to six minutes at peak times.

“I live off of Converse,” Julie said, “and drive it frequently, so I’ve timed it plenty and watched some scary maneuvers by frustrated drivers. I will drive an extra half-mile just to avoid it at peak times, since it’s actually faster to drive further. “I’m frankly surprised there hasn’t been more uproar from the bus drivers since they endure more than anyone as they navigate that intersection multiple times daily and they see how dangerous it is,” she said.

The out basket: Kelly Stowe of the Olympic Region public affairs staff said she asked around and found no hint of a further project at Sedgwick and Converse on the drawing boards.

That’s not surprising given the money spent on a major safety project on Sedgwick between Highway 16 and Phillips Road so recently, which included lining up the two sides of Converse so the intersection isn’t further complicated by the former offset.

I told Julie enlisting the school district in campaigning for a further improvement there might help.

Poor soils bedevil Highway 16 near Sedgwick

The in basket: Two readers have suggested that the condition of Highway 16 in both directions just north of the Sedgwick interchange needs work.

Nelson Lanchester wrote some weeks ago, “When is the state going to admit and fix Highway 16 westbound north of Sedgwick interchange where the highway starts to go up the hill.

“When they constructed the additional two lanes back when, they used sawdust as a fill instead of earth/rock,” Nelson said. “After this many years the sawdust has deteriorated and the highway is sinking.”

Then this month, Vivian Henderson had this to say about a spot on the other side of the highway.

“There is a huge patch of asphalt that appears to have been put down hastily long ago and never improved.  It has been there for years, covers both lanes extensively as well as the highway shoulders.  It is breaking down and is getting rougher and rougher to drive over. I’m wondering if it poses a hazard to drivers not expecting the surface of the road to change so abruptly; especially at night. Why doesn’t the state fix it?”

The out basket: Well, the state does fix it, intermittently and temporarily, with what local Maintenance Superintendent Duke Stryker calls a “grader patch.”

A grader spreads a layer of asphalt over the surface to compensate for whatever subsidence has occurred. I recall it last being done two years ago, when the patch got noticeably wider. Dke said “the Integrity of the structure of the road wasn’t compromised,” so the grader patch was sufficient..

That entire area suffers from poor soils and both problems stem from subsidence that results.

That spot Vivian mentions is fairly obvious, but the dip in the lanes heading toward Gorst is more subtle. I’d never noticed it until Nelson mentioned it. It’s just past the end of the on-ramp from Sedgwick.

Frankly, neither problem seems to me to be a hazard to motorists.

The state does have some repaving planned this summer in the lanes bound for Gorst, Duke says, but not on the highway heading the other way.

Duke was surprised by Nelson’s description of the construction of those lanes with sawdust, saying that just isn’t a material acceptable to the state. But it has been used.

Mel Holgerson, state project engineer when the Gorst-bound lanes were built, said they used sawdust to minimize the weight of the roadway. The alternative would have been to dig  out and replace marshy soil to a depth of about 35 feet and they feared that the other two lanes, built years before, might give way because of the digging that close to them, Mel said.

When Kitsap County extended Sedgwick Road west from Sidney Road years later, it did dig out a lot of the bad soil but still needed a membrane fabric to support the roadway, former assistant public works director Ron Yingling tells me.

And I recall reporting on the use of wood chips years ago as the base for the repair of Highway 166 just west of Ross Point when it was called Highway 160. The roadway had simply dropped away toward Sinclair Inlet. It was a variation on the problems along that highway that usually involved slides from above covering the asphalt.

The idea was to use a lightweight fill material to keep the base below the asphalt from giving way again. And so far, it hasn’t, though I’ve been watching a subsidence that Duke’s crews patched last year around the point on the Port Orchard side.

That’s not where the wood chips went, though.