Tag Archives: sign

‘Yield to uphill traffic’ sign on SR104 confuses driver

The in basket: Chuck Regimbal e-mailed to say, “A while back I was traveling west on Highway 104. About a mile before it intersects with Highway 101 there is a long downhill run. Near the top of this hill is a sign for downhill traveling vehicles to ‘yield to uphill traffic.'”

I am confused by this sign,” he said. “Why is it there? The uphill traveling traffic has two lanes, one for slow traffic. Further, I thought that ‘Yield to uphill traffic’ was meant for uphill traveling traffic to yield to downhill traveling traffic.  If so, the sign should be on the other side of the road.

“When on forest roads, and going downhill with a trailer in tow, it is more difficult to back a trailer up a hill than for the driver positioned
downhill from the encounter to back down the hill.  So ‘yield to uphill
traffic’ is really meant for the driver traveling (moving) in the uphill
direction,” he said. then asked. “How should this be interpreted?”

The out basket: I don’t know what might be the rule on forest roads, which might not even be two lanes wide. But the sign he mentions is intended to tell those driving in the single downhill lane on three-lane Highway 104 that they cannot try to pass a car going in the same direction if there is a vehicle coming uphill in the inside lane close enough to be imperiled by the act of passing. The vehicle traveling uphill has the right of way.

Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the state’s Olympic Region, says the stripe separating the two directions of travel is dashed on the downhill side, permitting passing when no oncoming traffic is close by.

Uphill traffic couldn’t benefit from seeing the sign, as that side has a solid yellow stripe that forbids crossing it to pass. Uphill traffic already has two lanes in which to get around one another.

Giving big electronic sign some heat – belatedly

The in basket: I was at Parr Ford-Mazda the other day for  regular maintenance on my Mazda 3 and talking to general manager Larry Sharrett about their bright new electronic sign alongside Highway 3, with which the captive audience in the afternoon commute southbound on Highway 3 must be very familiar.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t mention a new sign in this column, not even such a noticeable, attractive electronic one, but I had been wondering since I noticed the new one last summer if the new equipment had corrected what I found to be an annoying flaw in the old sign.

Its temperature readings, displayed along with the time among the changing information about car deals, were often wildly off, especially on warm days. I’d seen it claim a reading about 10 degrees higher than I knew to be the case.

I asked Larry if the thermometer that reads the temp had been replaced too.

The out basket: Yes, he said, though the real benefit from the new sign is energy efficiency. It takes about a third of the power of the sign it replaced, he said.

But the thermometer that controls the reading still is out where the sign is, surrounded by cars and asphalt.

I have found that this fall the temperature readings displayed now are within two degrees of what my car’s reading for ambient temperature says.

As I left the dealership, though, I noticed that when the time came up on the sign, the temperature was missing altogether. I hope I didn’t jinx it.

Is it Highway 308 or Luoto Road, and where?

The in basket: Amy Roszak asked over a year ago the reason for the signs where Highway 308/Luoto Road meets Silverdale Way-Viking Way in North Kitsap.

“My GPS calls it Luoto Road but there’s absolutely no road sign saying that this is name of this road,” she said.

“Was it only formerly known as Luoto but isn’t now? Is Luoto Rd still used on county maps?  When people are on Highway 3 or Viking Way and looking to turn onto Luoto, shouldn’t there be signs telling them this is the road? All they currently see is ‘Rt. 308.'”

The out basket: Steve Bennett, traffic engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “Our standard is to use the State Route designation on highway signs.

“That said, when these signs are due for replacement we will try to include Luoto Road, space permitting.”

It shouldn’t be too hard. They can use Burwell Street where it meets Callow Avenue in Bremerton, or Highway 166 in Port Orchard as examples.

That Bremerton intersection uses both the highway designation (highways 304 and 310 meet there) and the street names on signs right next to one another. Whoever is in charge of street signs in Port Orchard calls Highway 166 Bay Street, Bethel Road or Mile Hill Drive, depending on which stretch is involved. Occasionally, an SR 166 logo is added to a sign with the street name on it.

As far as what part of Highway 308 is officially called Luoto Road, the county ‘s road map is all over the place, using just State Route 308 at one point, and both highway and road designations on either end of its place on the map. The county road log, as it’s called, can be viewed on line at www.kitsapgov.com/pw/roadlog.htm.

Neither is used on street signs marking the side roads, except at Viking Way and Central Valley Road, where the signs says State Route 308.

Explaining variety of school warning signs

The in basket:  David Dahlke asks, “What is with those who design road signs in the county? Do they think that changing the designs on signs shows their ingenuity or is there some other rhyme to their reasoning?

“I refer to a new school bus stop sign on Garfield Avenue in Port Orchard. It has no words on it but is designed to point out a bus stop ahead. Is this due to the inability of some to read English that the common “School Bus Stop Ahead” is now obsolete?

“I mention this because I have an issue with the different school zone signs,” David said. “Why can’t they all be the same instead of ‘When children are present,’ having a time frame on them or when light flashing?”

The out basket: Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County, replies to say, “Signs on county-maintained roads comply with the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).  Washington state adopted the manual and mandated us to follow its guidance and requirements.

“The ‘School Bus Stop Ahead’ sign changed to a symbol recently, much like other signs have through the years. Signs with symbols are more quickly understood and easier to recognize at greater distances.than word messages.

“The less time motorists spend reading a sign, the more focused they can be on the road and driving. The Manual allows a period of several years to replace old signs with new, and we normally wait until the old sign wears out before replacing it with the new sign.

“The MUTCD provides three options for school speed limit zones—specific times, when lights are flashing, and when children are present,” Jeff said. “Managing the time of day restrictions is difficult.  When school schedules vary, which they do a lot, it is nearly impossible to adjust the times (on the signs). Also, the times indicated are often in a small font and can be difficult to read.

“The ‘When Children are Present’ option is probably the best, in theory. Motorists don’t have to slow down unless children are visible in the area.  The law is very specific about where this option applies— 300 feet from an active school property or a school crosswalk. (But) enforcing the restrictions is challenging. Many tickets are thrown out in court because motorists complained that they didn’t see children obscured by cars, vegetation or other obstacles.

“That said, this is what we use for remote school crosswalks.  It is difficult to put times on these because of the varying times it takes school children to get to these crossings.

“The flashing lights are the current sign of choice for school zones. Studies show that motorists understand these signs best, and are more likely to comply. Flashing signals are easier to program with changing times, and remove any ambiguity about if the law applies at that particular time and place.”

Jeff didn’t mention iot, but the flashing signs also are more expensive to install and have ongoing operating expense.

Those no-shoulder-parking signs around Gorst

The in basket: I have been noticing the signs in Gorst forbidding shoulder parking for a distance heading north, and have the possibly mistaken impression their location and distance has changed from time to time. At present, there is one on the Port Orchard side of Gorst heading toward Bremerton and another in Gorst, saying you can’t park on the shoulder for the next three miles. That means to the first exit into Bremerton.

I asked Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the local State Patrol detachment if the distance of the prohibition was longer and the placement  of the signs different in the past. I also asked the reason for the restriction.

The out basket: She told me I HAD overlooked a sign forbidding shoulder parking in the other direction, where Highway 304 enters Highway 3 west of Bremerton, extending through Gorst. But otherwise she couldn’t recall or confirm that the signs ever were posted other than where they are now, or carried the prohibition farther north.

The reasons for it, she said, are the narrow shoulders and high traffic volume on Highway 3 between Bremerton and Gorst.

“It should be noted,” she added, “that we give a one-hour window before impounding a vehicle and have WSP communications attempt to contact the registered owner as well.”

Where’s Port Orchard, B&B customers wonder

The in basket: Kareen Stockton, who runs the Little Clam Bay Bed & Breakfast near Manchester in South Kitsap, says she has a beef with the state’s destination signs coming out of  Bremerton.

“I often have guests that come over to the peninsula on the Bremerton ferry,” she said. “A common complaint I hear from my guests is, ‘Why are there no signs from the Bremerton ferry directing people to Port Orchard?’  Even at the turn going south at Callow the sign directs drivers to Shelton, but does not include Port Orchard.

“I find this puzzling,” Kareen said, “especially since Port Orchard is the county seat.  Any chance of adding Port Orchard to the ‘Shelton sign’?   I am sure my guests are not the only ones who would benefit from this change.”

When I told her Little Clam Bay is closer to Manchester than Port Orchard, she added that as a complaint. There are no signs until well past the first two exits to Port Orchard as one approaches Sedgwick Road on Highway 16 to guide a person coming from Bremerton to Manchester, she said.

The out basket: We encountered this concern earlier this year, when Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Bennett of the state highway department explained why destination signs entering Highway 3 in Silverdale mention Shelton and not Tacoma. Tacoma isn’t on Highway 3 and Shelton is, he said.

As for Kareen’s complaint, Steve said, “We have no plans on changing the signing. Drivers have an obligation to know basically where they are going before they leave, as signing cannot be provided for every possible destination.

“From the Bremerton ferry, possible destinations  include Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island, Gorst, Port Orchard, Belfair and further away, Port Townsend and Sequim.  You can imagine the litany of signs that would be needed if all these destinations were signed.

“Shelton was chosen for the signs on (the highway from the Bremerton ferry) to give drivers a general idea how to get out of the city to head south.  After leaving Bremerton on Highway 3, drivers then encounter signs showing the way to Port Orchard, Tacoma, Belfair and Shelton. It seems to work well as we do not hear from folks saying they can’t find these cities after getting off the ferry.”

He didn’t say so, but federal standards limit the amount of information on signs at any given location to minimize the time drivers are looking away from traffic to read them.

As for Manchester, Steve says, “On major freeways like (Highway) 16, we do not sign for small unincorporated towns like Manchester, as the available sign space is taken up by larger towns and cities.

“We do however sign for these unincorporated towns, on smaller state highways, when space is available and the location meets our criteria. The criteria for signing to small unincorporated towns is that they must have either a post office or at least two motorist services such as food and a gas station.”

Manchester doesn’t do badly under those conditions. Manchester State Park is included on destination signs on both Highway 16 and Highway 160 (Sedgwick Road) and a sign on Highway 166 (Mile Hill Drive) in Port Orchard, though past downtown, tells how many miles it is to Manchester,

Kareen said she would have liked to see a more direct route signed than going all the way to Sedgwick and doubling back on Long (“very long,” she interjected) Lake Road.

Of course, there is always GPS, but Kareen can’t buy a break there either.

The county renamed her tiny street in 2008 from Montana Street to Jessica Way, because there is another stretch of Montana Street that doesn’t connect to hers. The GPS in my 2010 Prius, bought in January and presumable current, wanted to send me to Beaverton, Oregon, when I ask for Jessica Way. It takes me directly to her B&B when I ask for the old address on Montana Street, but when GPS tells me I’m there, the sign says Jessica Way, which turns out to be little more than a driveway. An unprepared person would drive on, figuring the GPS screwed up.

Ironically, Kareen tells me, she still getS mail from Kitsap County send to the Montana street address.

No clear answer on blue parking signs


The in basket: Kim Cunningham recently wrote to say, ” I recently renewed my drivers license and was reviewing the information booklet provided at the drivers license office regarding traffic signs. 

“A common regulatory sign is a stop sign,” Kim said. “It is required to be red and white, and the other common type required to be red and white is No Parking. But I noted in downtown Bremerton (around the Norm Dicks Government Center) the No Parking signs are a dark blue with white letters.

“If I got a no-parking ticket while parked in a stall marked with a blue and white sign, could I contest it as it’s the incorrect color?”

The out basket: The city of Bremerton has put a lot of effort into dolling up its downtown street signs, using white on blue in most cases.

I wouldn’t expect a city official to encourage a challenge such as Kim proposes, and Larry Matel, city street engineer said, “Any ticket is contestable,” and left it at that. What he, I and Kim don’t know is whether such a challenge would prevail.

The section on no-parking signs in the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices does appear to require red lettering or symbols on a white background, as  “Spanky Arbuckle” and Jane Rebelowski note in comments below.

If anyone gets a ticket for parking where a blue No Parking sign forbids leaving your car, he or she can find out if the sign’s color is grounds for a successful challenge by challenging it. I won’t attempt to predict the outcome.

Are new Hospital signs in Bremerton hard to see?


The in basket: A reader who identifies himself or herself only as TC asks about the changes in the signs directing drivers to Bremerton’s Harrison Memorial Hospital, which were revised three years ago to include the name of the hospital and in many cases, the name of the upcoming street on which to turn to reach it.

“How can the private Harrison Hospital signs be replacing the official hospital signs that are internationally recognized?” TC asked. “The Harrison signs are not the correct color (they’re dark blue) and are very hard to see at night.  Is it legal for these private signs to be up?”

The out basket: The signs were a collaborative effort between the hospital and the city of Bremerton, with the hospital paying for their design and basic material and the city fabricating and installing them. 

Dan Heistand of the city engineering staff said 27 were replaced and 13 added.

They still include the internationally recognized block H, and the additional information seems to me to be a valuable extra, not a problem. 

Dan said that although the signs themselves are darker blue than those they replaced, the reflective H is in higher intensity reflective sheeting, so the H, the only thing on the old signs, should be easier to see at night, not harder.

My only concern with the signs is that the one on southbound Wheaton Way approaching Sheridan Road still points drivers into the left turn lane, where they often must wait for the signal to change. 

As I’ve said before, that seems to disregard the main motive for building the off-ramp to Callahan Drive and Lebo Boulevard just beyond Sheridan, a quick route to the hospital. There is a sign reading “hospital” at that ramp, but not one of the new ones and a driver would have to ignore the first one to even see it.

Dan said the engineering department chose to denote both places as a route to the hospital.

On other concerns, Darcy Himes of the hospital public affairs staff noted that if it makes TC feel any better, Harrison is a not-for-profit institution, not a private hospital. The color was chosen “to coordinate with the City of Bremerton’s new dark blue signage,” she said.

Three ‘Your speed is’ signs now operating

The in basket: Jim Thomsen of the Kitsap Sun editing staff says, “About a month ago, a traffic sign with a lighted digital readout displaying each driver’s speed was installed on Illahee Road, halfway between

Third Street and the Illahee boat launch heading south toward Bremerton.

“It’s the kind that blinks out a warning if you exceed 25 mph, which is the speed limit on that portion of the road.

“I live near there and pass it a few times a day. It’s a good bit of behavior modification, as it’s a downhill straightaway that lends itself to the temptation to travel around 35-40 mph.

“About a week ago,” Jim said, “it stopped working. I noticed that the sign has what appears to be a solar panel atop it.

“My question is this: How fragile are these signs? How quickly can the county repair them — and is the holdup one of a backlog of work, or possibly prohibitive cost.” Jim said the sign was working again a couple days later. 

Finally, he asked “Where else in Kitsap are these installed?”

The out basket: I can’t say why the one on Illahee was briefly not working, but Jeff Shea of Kitsap County Public Works had answers to most of the other questions. 

“Kitsap County owns two of these signs,” he said. “We placed them on Silverdale Way in Central Kitsap and Salmonberry Road in South Kitsap. The Port of Illahee has purchased one that we installed and will maintain on Illahee Road.”

The city of Port Orchard has one on westbound Mile Hill Drive, but it’s trouble-prone and not working at present. Police Commander Geoff Marti says he has asked city public works to get it operating again, if possible. 

It’s hard wired to electricity. The three signs maintained by Kitsap County are solar powered, Jeff says. “The two that Kitsap County owns are portable. They are designed to move to locations on other arterial roads where chronic speeding is a problem. 

“As to reliability, we’ve only had them out for a couple of months.” he said. “Time will tell how reliable they prove to be.” The county had one on loan most of last year, evaluating it in both the Silverdale and Salmonberry locations where it has deployed them now that it has bought two of its own.

If there are any others in the county, aside from the ones on wheels that may or may not still be in service, I’m unaware of them.

New ‘Dead End’ signs showing up

The in basket: While driving on Bethel Road in South Kitsap past a small side street named Keri Street, I noticed a sign below the one identifying the street noting that Keri is a dead end. It is the same size and shape as the one that says Keri Street

There was no diamond shaped dead end sign on the street itself. At the time, I’d never seen anything like it. Now I notice another one on Sedgwick Road out by Sedgwick Junior High. 

I asked if that is the wave of the future. 

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s transportation engineer, replies, “This is a new design adopted in the (2003) version of the Manual On  Uniform Traffic Control Devices. We generally use one or the other,  but there may be a locations where both types exist.

“The new sign is actually called a ‘Dead End Plaque. It is very  

effective when the regular diamond-shaped sign is difficult to see  until you’ve already turned onto the road. The plaque is normally  mounted on the post with the street name sign to increase  visibility of the sign to motorists on the cross street,” Jeff said.