Tag Archives: signal

Early morning troubles at Bucklin Hill and Silverdale Way

The in basket: Dennis Copp writes, “I typically do my shopping early (0600 hrs.) on the weekends, and have had problems with the traffic signal at Bucklin Hill Road and Silverdale Way.

“When I come down Bucklin Hill, eastbound in the left-hand lane, I have to stop at the light in the intersection.  At this early time in the morning there is little to no traffic (major reason that I shop at that time).

“Even though  my car is the only car on the road, the signal does not change to give me a green light.  I have sat at the light for over five minutes, with NO north-south traffic on Silverdale Way and the light did not change. Only after another vehicle came by in the right-hand lane did the light cycle.

“At other times there have been cars in both the right and left lanes and we both sat at the light for an abnormally long time, with no north-south traffic.  It has gotten to the point that I drive several miles out of my way to avoid this intersection.

“The problem at this intersection is probably a faulty traffic detection loop or the detection module for the left-hand lane of eastbound Bucklin Hill.

“It would be nice to fix this, as I am sure that others have been trapped at this signal and I hate to waste gas avoiding the intersection,” Dennis said.

The out basket: Daren Miller, signal supervisor for Kitsap County, replies, “Our signal shop supervisor followed up on your reader’s concern. He went to the intersection and checked all the signal systems and they were working correctly at the time.

“He did some adjustments to the vehicle detection zone which may help.

“We use video detection (not in-pavement loops) at this intersection to detect when a motorist is at a signal.  Video detection can have problems with shadows, fog and other moving objects that aren’t necessarily a vehicle.

“Even if the equipment is working fine now, we do like to check the system out at the time the problem occurred. Sometime in the near future a county employee will drive through this lane to see what sort of problem he or she encounters.  If the system is working correctly and there are no other vehicles or pedestrians around, the longest wait time should be well less than a minute.  I would like to thank the reader for bringing this to our attention.”

 

Timing of signals at BI ferry explained

The in basket: Dave Richards of Bainbridge Island writes, “It seems several months ago, the timing of the traffic light at the corner of 305 and Winslow Way near the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal was ‘reset’ so that it stays green until pretty much all the vehicles have driven off the ferry and onto 305.

“This has caused huge backups near the terminal and leaves many cars trapped in the Diamond Parking lots for upwards of 20 minutes or more.  Would you have any information as to what’s going on?”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says the change was made November of 2012, and “the signal system is configured to give off-loading ferry traffic three minutes of uninterrupted green time at both Harborview Drive and Winslow Way between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. each weekday.

“After three minutes, the signal then cycles to allow all other phases to proceed (vehicles and pedestrians) at both intersections. Then it returns to the three-minute phase for off-loading the ferry. Rarely will a weekday sailing between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. completely unload in 3 minutes,” she said.

The other directions at those two signals get 123 minutes of green time combined for cross-traffic and pedestrians between the three-minute time spans, depending on the detection of traffic.

The three-minutes for off-loading ferry traffic, both the first one and the second one, aren’t reliant on traffic detection and run all 180 seconds.

“Since 2008,” she added, “at the request of Ferries, we have tried various signal timing scenarios to more effectively balance the needs of local traffic with off-loading ferry traffic. This current operation seems to work pretty well.

“After we received your question, we checked the system to ensure it was operating as programmed, and it was,” she said.

 

Bond-Lindvig signal in Poulsbo puzzles reader

The in basket: Tom Wisniewski of Bremerton asks, “Do you know if the signal at the intersection of Front Street, Bond Road, and Lindvig Way (in Poulsbo) is on a sensor or a timer?  I seem to spend a lot of time waiting for non-existent traffic to come off of Bond Road.”

The out basket: Mike Lund, public works supervisor in Poulsbo, replies, “The Bond Road / Lindvig Way signal is on a timer on the Bond Road leg of the intersection. This leg of the intersection  has bad (traffic) detection and the controller for the signal has a few issues.

“There are times that traffic has to sit while there are no cars but its set for a maximum time of 30 seconds.  At no point do cars have to sit for more than 30 seconds without traffic. This seems like a long time when you’re the driver sitting there but it seems to be keeping the traffic in the intersection moving the best. We have adjusted it to find a happy medium.

“A new controller has been ordered for that intersection and we are looking at doing radar style traffic detection.

“By  May/June this intersection will have all new equipment and be working properly,” Mike said.

Totten at 305 not slated for traffic light

The in basket: Christine Goodson asked, very succinctly,  “What is the timeline for placement of a traffic signal light at Totten Road and 305 in Poulsbo?”

The out basket: The tone of her question made me wonder if she had heard something I hadn’t, that a signal was on its way.

Maybe she just considers it such an obvious place for a signal, an intersection coming out of a sweeping curve.

Whatever, Olympic Region spokeswoman Claudia Bingham Baker with state highways, was just as succinct. “Currently we have no plans to install a signal at that location,” she said.

Woods/Mile Hill signal changes for no apparent reason

The in basket: Dave Dahlke of Port Orchard writes, “What’s with the light on Woods Road/Mile Hill Drive? When I went through there Sunday and Monday mornings it turned red for the east/west traffic on Mile Hill Drive when there were no cars going north or south on Woods.”

The out basket: Daren Miller, signal supervisor for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “Both Mile Hill and Woods Road use video (traffic) detection. The pluses of video detection is that you have no problem with detection of motorcycles/bicycles and when you repave a road you do not have to replace costly detection loops that are installed in the pavement.

“The drawback of video detection is that if something changes in the camera’s field of view –  shadow across the drive lane caused by the angle of sun on trees or poles – it will put in a call to the controller to change the signal.

“Cars are detected because they cause a change in the camera’s detection field. The south side of Mile Hill at Woods has trees at the intersection that create shadows at this time of year. We are working on a solution.”

 

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.

Signal replacement at Lebo & Old Wheaton questioned

The in basket: Luella Pellman asks, “Why did they take the stop light out near the hospital at Lebo and Cherry (in Bremerton) and put a four-way stop there?  Seems like a very busy corner for just stop signs.”

She wonders if the signal will be replaced.

The out basket: Not unless the corner gets a lot busier.

The old signal there had a lot of problems due to age, with intermittently non-functioning traffic detectors in the pavement sometimes creating long delays for those waiting for the signal to change.

In designing the improvements under way on Old Wheaton Way, “We completed an analysis of the intersection and found that (our criteria) did not require the signal to be there,” says Bremerton city street engineer Gunnar Fridriksson.  “Signals are expensive for installation, typically about $350K,” he said, “plus yearly maintenance and electrical expenses. So if we do not need them – we are removing them and saving those costs.

“We are installing new conduits, just as we did at Sixth and 11th on Pacific so should the signals be needed in the future, we do not need to tear up the roadway to construct it.”

The Road Warrior has been through the intersection several times since the signals were removed and I have found it to be an improvement, with little backup of traffic and no waiting for a signal to change. I’ve not been there at rush hour, but at mid-day, the all-way stop is very effective.

Gunnar also passed along an analysis of traffic signals that said they are not the panacea for all problems they’re often taken for. Among their shortcomings can be detouring traffic onto less-desirable streets when drivers try to avoid the signal, and rear-end collisions. You can see it yourself at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part4/part4b.htm#section4B02

Lund Avenue to get new signal, but not at Hoover and not this year

The in basket: Ken Richards e-mailed to ask, “Whatever happened to the traffic light that was going to be installed this summer at the corner of Hoover Avenue and Lund Avenue. by East Port Orchard Elementary School?

“I believe it was suppose to be safer for bus traffic as they returned to their barn and the children (pedestrians) walking on the side of the road and crossing. Or did the roads department/county council decide that people are replaceable and the buses were getting old anyway?”

The out basket: I hadn’t heard of such a plan and the county says there isn’t one. Ken may be thinking of plans for a new traffic signal at Harris Road and Lund, a short distance east of Hoover’s intersection. Or maybe not. Harris doesn’t provide much of an access to and from the school bus compound.

“There was no traffic signal planned for Hoover and Lund,” says Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer. “It does not meet the warrants for a signal. The Lund and Harris intersection remains on the TIP and is warranted by the increase in traffic at that intersection.”

But even that one isn’t proposed for this year. It’s on the county’s six-year road plan (called the TIP) for 2018 at a cost of $715,000.

Traffic signs can blend into the background

The in basket:  I often hear from readers who find the array of traffic signals on eastbound 11th Street at Warren Avenue in Bremerton confusing. There are four signal heads for three lanes, and the right-most two control only the outside lane, but give some drivers the impression going straight in the centermost eastbound lane is permissible.

It’s not, both inner lanes are for left turns only.

So I was surprised the other day when I spotted two signs beside the street as I approached the intersection. They said only traffic in the right lane is allowed to go straight.

I asked Gunnar Fridriksson, Bremerton’s managing street engineer, if they had recently been added because of comments about confusion at the intersection, or had they been there since the intersection was revised a year ago.

The out basket: Another surprise. They’d been there a lot longer than that. Gunnar said, “Probably put in place 20-plus years ago when the lanes were originally configured (with) the two lanes being left turning. Been there all this time.”

He’s remarked before that the recent revision didn’t change the number of signal heads or what lanes they control. For some reason, confusion among drivers increased when the heads no longer hung from wires, but are installed on metal poles.

“The problem with signs,” he said, “if you are not looking for them – they tend not to be noticed.  (That’s) why I am not a proponent for adding to the clutter.”

He then sent along a public service video intended to raise consciousness about driver’s watching out for bicycles, but also illustrating that things in plain sight can go unnoticed if you’re watching for something else.

Perhaps you’ve seen it. It involves a bunch of people tossing basketballs around, and you are challenged to count the number of passes the ones dressed in white make. A man in a bear suit walks through the milling players, moon-walking part of the way, and I’m sure goes unnoticed – the first time – by the vast majority of those who see it and are occupied counting passes. I didn’t see him, even though I’d seen the video before.

Google ‘moonwalking bear” if you want to test your awareness. Even forewarned, you may be surprised.