Tag Archives: sight distance

Blind corner on SK’s Mountain View Drive

The in basket; Twyla Cottrell of Mountain View Road in South Kitsap has been trying for a long time to get a sign posted on her road that will be more alarming to speeding drivers.

There is almost no sight distance to the left  of cars coming from the direction of Collins Road at the driveway she shares with others, she said.  There is a yellow sign just around the corner reading “Limited Sight Distance” with “20 mph” below it, but the sign is routinely ignored, endangering anyone pulling out of their driveway. A neighbor has a horse trailer, which takes a while to get moving, she said.

She advises visitors who are leaving to turn right no matter which way they want to go, then double back if they wanted to go left, rather than take a chance that a car might come around the arcing curve as they pull out.

I advised her to get a parabolic mirror such as I see out on North Shore Road in Mason County where sight distance is short. They have put one up across the road from their driveway, she said, but it’s still a dangerous place.

She’d like a sign reading “Danger” or something that would get more drivers’ attention.

The out basket: I sat in her driveway for several minutes recently and noticed three things:

A. The mirror isn’t that much help and you’re lucky to get three seconds warning between when you see a car coming and its arrival.

B. There is very little traffic. Two minutes can go by without a car passing.

C. You can hear a car coming long before you can see it.

Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County, says there are other words they can use under federal guidelines, but neither “Danger” nor Hazard” are used. Even if they were, the sign would have to be the same advisory black-on-yellow as the Limited Sight Distance sign that’s already there.

“Hidden Driveways” used to be an approved message in such situations, he said, but the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices no longer authorizes its use. Studies showed it did nothing to change driver behavior, Jeff said.

He also said, “We use as few words as possible on the sign face to provide motorists with plenty of time to read and react to it. Too many words require smaller fonts making it difficulty reading and requiring drivers to focus more time reading than driving. We are seeing more and more signs in the MUTCD using symbols and eliminating words all together.

“We do not install or maintain warning signs at privately owned approaches,” he said. “Existing data shows these signs are not always understood, and do little to change motorists’ behavior. Placing too many warning signs tends to degrade the limited impact they have.”

I told Twyla she and her neighbors might appeal to the county commissioners. Beyond that, her advice about turning right seems sound, and I’d suggest turning off the vehicle radio and rolling down the driver-side window while waiting to turn, to improve audibility of oncoming traffic.

Little reaction time at Vena and Central Valley


The in basket: Colleen Wells is alarmed by the close proximity of Vena Avenue to the curve in Central Valley Road where Vena intersects it. “You can’t see cars coming around that corner,” she said, “and they can’t see cars on Vena … especially if it’s a small car in the afternoon.” The speed limit there is 35 mph.

The out basket: I was surprised at how quickly I arrived at Vena after negotiating that curve when I tested it, but I also noticed a 25-mph advisory sign for those approaching the curve. 

And I did manage to see an approaching car northbound on Central Valley over the top of the hedge as I waited in my Mazda 3 to pull out from Vena. But it wasn’t a small car. 

I asked the county about the intersection. 

The out basket: Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works said,  “This type of question is routed to our traffic inspectors (which is what I did with this request.) If the sight distance-inhibiting vegetation is within county-owned rights-of-way, we can trim it. Otherwise we do communicate with the property owner to clear the obstruction.

“As to improving that particular intersection, it would require rebuilding (it). That means acquiring more right-of-way and a capital engineering project which would be considered along with, and compete against, the other capital projects on the Transportation Improvement Plan.”

The plan is updated late each year and looks out six years. Vena at Central Valley isn’t mentioned in the current plan.