Tag Archives: signs

Dirty road signs and highway signs get attention

The in basket: Don Brandvold asks “Who cleans the signs that are on our highways?  On Highway 16 heading to Tacoma, after you pass the women’s prison on the right but before you reach the cemetery on the left, there is a sign for Good To Go! that was put up about a year before the new bridge was ready for us to use.

“While all the other signs on 16 look clean, that one is green and looks like it has never been cleaned.  Hope someone cleans it.”

The out basket: I asked both the state and Kitsap County about this, and Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer got back to me first.

“We have nearly 20,000 signs on county-maintained roads,” Jeff said. “In 2015 our five sign specialists cleaned over 5,000 signs. Each specialist is responsible for approximately 4,000 signs. Each sign is a reflection on how they do their job, so keeping signs legible is a high priority. The specialists inspect all the signs they are responsible for every year. If the sign can’t be cleaned, it is replaced.

“Signs are placed to help ensure the motoring public’s safety. When signs aren’t legible, they can’t serve that purpose. There is even some thinking that shows signs that are dirty and difficult to read create an impression they are not important, and motorists may disregard a sign because of its condition.

“Kitsap County’s weather adds challenges to sign maintenance. Overhead canopies, rain, and a lack of sunshine in certain areas promote the green growth seen on some signs. We also deal with a considerable amount of vandalism that obscures legends on signs, or makes the sign less legible.

“Our charge is to keep all county signs in excellent condition. We invite the public to let us know if they see signs that need attention, whether they are on the ground, leaning, or dirty, by calling Kitsap1 at 360.337.5777.

Claudia Bingham Baker of state highways’ Olympic Region, said, “I would echo what Jeff said about the importance of roadway signs and the challenges crews face keeping them clean and legible. In addition to what Jeff said, we do reviews of sign reflectivity during night hours. Any signs we see that no longer have adequate reflectivity are replaced or washed.

“Our crews wash signs as their work schedules allow. We will tend to the sign mentioned by your reader. Please thank him for bringing the issue to our attention.”


Cluster of Kingston message signs questioned

The in basket: Walt Elliott of Kingston wonders about an array of signs he sees on weekends a block from the KIngston ferry terminal.

“A well-intentioned individual regularly puts up a cluster of message signs,” Walt said. “Putting up a sign or two is the norm for yard sales, events, messages etc. and is A-OK with most, but 10 signs is over the top for me.

“As I recall this isn’t allowed by RCW.  Although the stretch is patrolled by WSP to manage traffic, this weekend flock of signs remains as predictable as mushrooms after a spring rain.  Is there an acceptable upper limit ?”

Among the messages he’s seen, which vary, he says, are Kingston Port of Peace, 22 Vets Die Every Day, Earth Care not Warfare, Move to amend, Corps are not people, Be a well informed voter, No Lies radio, Informed consent, World Peace Thru 911 Truth, End Wars and Occupations, Time for Women to Stand Equal and 5 Women on the Supreme Court.

“The location is on SR 104 where it divides into two one way streets,” he said. “This is 2 and one half blocks from the toll booths.  The display normally runs from the fork in the road where the current community center parking lot is (and where WSP traffic control routinely parks) up past the intersection with Illinois Avenue.

“The individual has also set up his display in Poulsbo at the junction of 305 and Bond Rd. (307),” Walt said.

The out basket: . Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic region of state highways says, “We will have our maintenance crews look into it.  Private signs are not allowed on state right of way, so if that is occurring, we will first try to contact the signs’ owner, and follow up as needed after that.”


What’s the story with NK’s white on blue house number signs?

The in basket: I was driving around North Kitsap recently and once again noticed the proliferation of blue signs with white numerals listing the house numbers where homes are grouped on a common driveway. There are dozens of them on Viking Way coming into Poulsbo from the south, and many more at other locations, including quite a few in Central Kitsap.

I rarely see them in South Kitsap, where I live.

Was the placement of those signs the result of some organized campaign, perhaps by North Kitsap firefighters? It seems like it would have taken collaboration by a lot of people, to acquire them and mount them one above the other, which seems to be the common display.

The out basket: Three readers and Susan Gibbs  of Poulsbo Fire replied when this first was posted. Susan said,

“Fire Districts in Kitsap County initially recieved a grant for address signs about five years ago. Poulsbo Fire has continued offering the signs to citizens in our district, and as mentioned above, gladly accept donations to continue the program. We have promoted the signs in our annual newsletter, and at various community events. I would advise contacting your local fire department to inquire if the signs are available to you, it is a great way to clearly display your address.

Greg Rogers of South Kitsap Fire says they participated in the grant and have given out many of the signs, despite my experience of not seeing them. They’re mostly in rural areas. For lack of funding, SK fire no longer provides them, he said.


Why are Gorst, NK construction zone signs still up?

The in basket: Jack Carson wrote me on Oct. 21 to say, “Signage was posted this summer along north-bound Highway 3 near State Route 308 for paving operations on Highway 3.  The signs indicating road work and ramp closures, completed in early August, are still in place along the north-bound exit and on-ramp to/from SR 308, and signs a mile north indicate the end of the road work zone.

“Who is responsible for removing this signage litter – the state, the county, or the contractor; and why haven’t the signs been removed? ”

I don’t know if those North Kitsap signs still are there now, a month later, but the ones around Gorst, which was part of the same paving project, still are. I asked the state, which contracted for the work, if there is something remaining to be done.

The out basket: Kelly Stowe of the state’s Olympic Region, says, “There are still a couple nights of permanent signing work to be done next week (it would have been done this week but the weather was too bad).

“After that, all the work zone signs will be removed.  I would expect that they will be removed sometime next week.  We did not forget them!” she said.

Signs to BI ferry could be more helpful

The in basket: Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern said in an e-mail, “I notice on Highway 3, the signs for the Bremerton ferry in the vicinity of Bremerton all read ‘Seattle Ferry’ – very helpful and illustrative, especially for our out-of-town travelers, of which we have more than a few, especially in the summer.

“However, when approaching the Poulsbo/Kingston exits on Highway 3, it reads instead ‘Bainbridge Ferry’ and not the more informative ‘Seattle Ferry’. I have to ask why?”

The out basket: I can’t say why, but Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for state highways here, says, “We can look at a sign redesign when the sign is up for replacement. We don’t want to spend the money now as the sign is relatively new and we have not had any other complaints.

“Also, we do have ‘Seattle Ferry’ signs on the beginning of Highway 305,” he said.

Service club recognition to return to Bremerton entrances

The in basket: Two years ago, Hank Mann-Sykes, the Silverdale legend who has since passed away, asked me and Mayor Patty Lent of Bremerton why there no longer were clusters of service club signs posted at the entrances to Lent’s city.

I never got him an answer, though he also e-mailed Patty so may have gotten one from the horse’s mouth.

When I ran into Patty at the recent Manette Edible Gardens Tour, I brought up Hank’s question, and she arranged for me to get an answer.

The out basket: It comes from her and her parks director Wyn Birkenthal, who she has directed to come up with a way to restore recognition of the service clubs and their meeting times and places to the city limits.

Wyn is doubly invested in this, by the order from his boss and by inquiries from his fellow Bremerton Central Lions, who let him know they’d “really like to see them restored.

“Patty brought it up in a department head meeting and most of us were quick to realize the clubs do a public service, and it would be a good thing to have,” Wyn said.

Patty said the old signs went away as part of her predecessor Cary Bozeman’s program to standardize the city’s non-traffic signs in a bold blue color.

Wyn is working on selecting a design to present to the mayor and city council and proposing sites that are “appropriate and visible and not next to an array of other signs so that they would be lost.”

He also will be seeking financial support from the service clubs to help with the installation and maintenance of whatever gets approved.

“The way budgets are we need participation from the service clubs in order to pull something off,” he said.

He doesn’t haves a deadline to get it done, he said.

As for Bozeman’s sign legacy, I’ve been trying to get an explanation for a peculiarity of them. Signs on Park Avenue at Sixth Street route drivers looking for the Manette Bridge north on Park to 11th Street and then right on 11th.

That’s not the way I’d go. I’d turn right on Sixth. Perhaps one of you readers know and can tell us why the longer 11th Street route would be preferred by anyone.



Political signs among those not legally put on highway right of way

The in basket: Herron Miller, the Sun’s night new editor, emailed July 2 to say, “Saw something on way into work this afternoon you might ask about.

“I was coming off southbound Highway 3 to turn left onto Kitsap Way. A DOT truck was parked at corner of the exit ramp and Kitsap Way. A worker was putting several yard signs into the truck. One that I could see was a political yard sign. Not sure where he pulled them from, but they were ending up in the back of his truck.

“Just wondering what are the rules on yard signs? They seem to litter the sides of roads everywhere … why would the ones he was taking be targeted?

The out basket: Duke Stryker, supervisor of state highway maintenance crews here, says his employees rarely make a special trip to deal with such signs, but will remove them if they are on other business, such as litter removal. The signs will get more directed attention if they obstruct driver vision.

It’s not legal to put them on state highway right of way, and that includes political signs, he said. He thinks candidates get a flyer from election  offices telling them that.

His office hangs on to removed signs for a while, in case the candidate or business wants to reclaim them.

And he denied a common accusation, that his crews target one party or another or one side of an issue.


Signs can’t legally be tacked to road signs

The in basket: When garage sales season arrives, I am often asked about the legality of signs tacked to street signs and utility poles advertising them, as well as sandwich board signs and other business signs along the road side.

Some of the inquiries in recent years were about a pizza place sign on Central Valley Road, a painting company’s yellow signs along Anderson Hill Road, a junk removal company’s signs on Provost Road and apartment-for-lease signs on Ridgetop Boulevard.

The out basket: Before Dusty Wiley, onetime county commissioner candidate and former sheriff’s deputy retired as Kitsap County Traffic Investigator a year of so ago, he would intermittently remove such signs around the county, especially near Manchester, where he lived.

One weekend a few years ago, my wife was participating in a yard sale on Alaska Avenue near Manchester and Dusty dropped by to tell those running the ale that he’d removed their signs posted along Mile Hill Drive, and said that technically posting them could incur a $50 fine per sign. He didn’t go that far, fortunately. And my wife said even then, he’d missed signs she’s put up on Sedgwick Road. Dusty was quite ernest in dealing with such signs.

His successor, Ron Pierce, says garage sale signs are most likely to be taken down if they obstruct drivers’ view of something they need to see.

Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, says, “State law prohibits posting signs on official road signs.  A-frame boards are prohibited in public rights-of-way, but are permitted in some instances under Kitsap County Code 17.445.070.

“Enforcing the law and code is challenging for those involved in enforcement,” he said. “There are over 19,000 signs, and thousands of businesses, in Kitsap County. We do respond to complaints as priorities permit, and pull signs off our signs and out of public rights-of-way as part of routine maintenance operations.

“As you can imagine this is not a high-priority item from a law enforcement perspective. Signs that are blocking the view, blocking pedestrian access, or otherwise obstructing sight distances should be reported to Kitsap 1 at 360-337-5777 or help@kitsap1.com.


Signing work zones sometimes seems illogical

The in basket: As I’ve driven around the Western states, I’ve often seen two things that strike me as peculiar in traffic control at construction zones.

Often I find electronic message boards with a message on two or three consecutive screens that come and go too quickly for me to read the entire warning Yet the first screen of a multiple screen message often reads only “Caution”.

Well, “Duh,” I say to myself when I see those signs. The very presence of the sign implies something coming up that would require caution, and it seems like that part of the message could be eliminated or that screen could be devoted to some other part of the warning.

Also, I often find myself warned of an upcoming construction zone miles ahead of the actual obstruction, to the point I’ve sometimes forgotten about it by the time I get there.

I know that the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a federal standard for all manner of highway issues, sometimes imposes what seem like odd limitations on state and local highway officials.

I asked if that’s the reason for those peculiarities.

The out basket: Frank Newboles, an official with the state Department of Transportation, says he doesn’t think the MUTCD requires the word “Caution,” but it isn’t entirely quiet on the subject of those signs.

“For work zones, we use the MUTCD requirement of amaximum of two message panels of three lines each.  In practice, these requirements are routinely violated …. generally by putting too much info on the sign. Full matrix (signs) sometimes create problems if the message designer gets too ‘creative,’ since the full matrix allows graphics, etc.”

Such deviations from the rules are discouraged, he said.

As for advance warning of upcoming work zones, he said, this state “has modified the MUTCD work zone sign spacing requirements to be more specific to our diverse highway/work zone conditions.”

Those modifications detail how far in advance the warning signs are placed, and require three or more signs along 1,500 feet of a freeway, for example, 800 feet on a rural highway, down to  hundred feet on a city street.

“The number of signs, spacing and messages have been standardized to apply to a wide range of drivers and work zone conditions,” he said, “and not all drivers process the information the same way. The initial signs are intended to be a more general warning and as (a driver) gets closer to the work zone or flagger the messages are more specific to the exact nature of the work zone condition or expected driver response action.

“We will continue to monitor and address signing issues in the field,” Frank said, “and are continuing to train flaggers,

inspectors and others to improve our work zone conditions.

“We have a certain amount of redundancy built in to compensate for the possibility of (drivers) missing a sign or message.”

Which way for Visitor Info in Silverdale?

The in basket: Markey Dokken sent a photo of apparently conflicting directions provided by a pair of signs in Silverdale.

“When we travel,” Markey said, “we count on the Visitor Center signs hoping that the centers will be easy to find. Here in Silverdale, it makes me wonder. Note the arrows on the signs below on Silverdale Way near the YMCA.

This seems confusing to me let alone someone visiting the area.”

The out basket: Jeff Shea, county transportation engineer, says, “The problem here is that there are two sources for visitor’s information near this location.

“Both the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor’s Bureau provide visitor information and are located in the same proximity. That’s the reason these signs appear to direct motorists in two different directions to get to the same place.

“The apparent confusion here should be resolved shortly as the chamber signs are coming down due to the chamber moving to the mall.”