Tag Archives: signs

Old inquiry about signs in a parking lot gets an answer

The in basket: I just stumbled across the following inquiry from Jim Fairbank of Silverdale, sent by e-mail in December of 2009.

“I just spent some time driving in the most dangerous place in the state: The Kitsap Mall parking lot,” he said. “I have never seen so many idiots that do not know what traffic regulatory signs are. Mostly stop signs, but also yield and speed limit.

“I wonder if these dummies figure that being on private property the signs have no meaning. Is that true or do they have the same requirements as the similar ones on city streets?

The out basket: I’ve answered this one before, but find no evidence that I replied to Jim. The traffic control signs on private property, such as a mall parking lot, will not support a traffic ticket, but can assign responsibility in a collision, for insurance purposes. Serious offenses like hitting a pedestrian or drunken driving can be prosecuted if they happened on private property, but there are rarely signs forbidding such things.



Distance signs to BI called misleading

The in basket: Ed Stern of Poulsbo writes, “For years now the signs off of Highway 3 and onto Highway 305 intersection area read “Seattle Ferries 11 miles/Bainbridge Island 11 miles”.

“The Island incorporated into a city 20 years ago! That means the city of Bainbridge Island (as does the geographic island in any event!) begins on the other side of the Agate Passage Bridge, not  what was known as the city of Winslow. That means the sign should read “Bainbridge Island 5 miles (or so) / Seattle Ferries 11 miles”.

“This has bugged me for years,” he said.

The out basket: The distance to any city on those state signs is never to the edge of the city. The distance is to what is considered the city center, and all these years the state has deemed that still to be in Winslow, even though its on the far end of the city in this case, rather than somewhere in the middle as in most cities.

Steve Bennett, traffic engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “The purpose of highway signing to cities is to inform motorists where they would be able to obtain services.  In this case, it would be misleading to inform the unfamiliar motorist the city is only five miles away, only for them to arrive at that point and find no available services.”

While I was researching the question, I asked something I’ve wondered about for some time. Does Winslow exist as a legal entity of any kind now that it is just part of a larger city?

Kate Brown, senior executive secretary for Bainbridge, says it’s sometimes referred to informally, though downtown area or downtown district is as likely to be used. There no longer is any official place called Winslow on the island.

Business info signs on Highway 16 lying flat


The in basket: Bob Cairns of Olalla e-mailed to ask, “Do merchants pay to have their businesses advertised, as an example, (on) Highway 16 signs carrying the names of multiple restaurants or service stations etc.? Or does the county/state provide this signage as a service to the community?”

And John Moore asked on April 28 about three of those signs that were lying flat on Highway 16, one near the Tremont interchange  in South Kitsap and two in the Gig Harbor area.

The out basket: The businesses named on the Food-Gas-Lodging signs, as I call them (the state calls them Motorist Information Signs), do pay for having their establishment listed on those signs. 

Inclusion on the signs is available to tourist activities, camping, recreation and 24-hour pharmacies as well as eateries, lodging and gas stations. The business must be open to the public, so private clubs aren’t eligible. 

The annual cost varies with the amount of traffic on the highway. Freeways with more than 80,000 vehicles per day require a payment of $910 each year to be mentioned in both directions, $455 for just one. Four-lane highways with fewer than 80,000 cars per day charge $683 and $342. Two-lane highway rates are $364 and $182. There are no 80,000-plus VPD highways in Kitsap County.

The state Department of Transportation collects the money and puts up the signs. 

No more than four such signs, with not more than six businesses each, are permitted at any interchange or intersection. There is a waiting list where demand exceeds that.

Lots of information about what business are eligible and limitations on what can be put on the signs can be found online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Operations/Traffic/Signs/faq.htm.

Gerald Nelson, long-time head of the Motorist Information Signs program, says two of the three flattened signs on Highway 16 are testimony to the force of the spring windstorms in our area. They got a 77 mph wind gust in Tumwater, he said, but didn’t have a reading from where the two signs blew over.

The fallen sign near Wollochet was hit by a vehicle, he said.

The other two are to be replaced Wednesday (May 12), he said, and the third also will be put back up. They will be put on steel posts in place of the wood ones, he said, in keeping with a state program to replace all wooden highway sign posts with breakaway steel ones. They minimize damage and injury to motorists when hit.

More speed limit signs needed on Highway 305, says driver

The in basket: Glenda Wagoner, who concedes that she’s the kind of driver who has generated complaints about how she passes (though she says it’s always in a legal manner), thinks there is an explanation of danger on the two-lane stretches of Highway 305 that can be reduced without reducing the speed limit. 

The state has dropped that limit from 55 to 50 mph between Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island.

Even before the announcement of that impending change, she was on the line to me saying there should be more 55 mph signs on 305, because a lot of drivers won’t go higher that 50 or even less. They miss the only sign coming out of Poulsbo southbound raising the limit and keep at the speed they were going while in Poulsbo, she contends. 

 That creates unsafe passing by drivers who know the speed limit and get anxious behind those who stay way below it, she said. 

Put up more 55 mph signs, she said in her first call. Don’t lower the speed limit, she said in her second.

The out basket: Well, says Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways, more signs she’ll get. But they’ll say 50 mph.

“We plan on placing four new speed limit signs on the corridor next month,” he said.

“As far as the speed limit goes,” he said, “our speed studies did indicate that 50 mph was the appropriate speed limit for the highway given current levels of congestion.  

“In terms of collisions, the major cause of collisions on the corridor is rear-end type accidents, and generally those are caused by inattention on the part of the trailing driver.”

Why Shelton, not Tacoma, on Silverdale signs?

The in basket: Bud Larsen of Manchester wonders why Shelton, not Tacoma, is paired with Bremerton on the destination signs at the new interchange in Silverdale.

More people in need of advice on what access leads where would be likely to be looking for Tacoma than for Shelton, he figures.

The out basket: Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the state’s Olympic Region, says, “Our typical guide signing includes the State Route symbol, the compass direction and major cities on the route, in this case, SR 3, South and Bremerton/Shelton.   As Tacoma is not on SR 3, it would be misleading to include Tacoma on that sign. We do include Tacoma on a mileage sign on SR 3, about 3 miles south of the interchange.”

How do I-5 travel time signs help?

The in basket: I first saw the overhead electronic signs telling me how many minutes I am from an upcoming destination in Las Vegas, and now I see them  along I-5 on the other side of the Sound.

“They are a nice amenity,” I wrote to my state highways contact, “but I doubt they would be worth their cost if that was all there is to it. What function do they serve for traffic movement?”  I asked.

The out basket: Jamie Swift, the contact, replied, “Our travel times posted on area electronic message signs change as congestion increases or decreases.  The travel time are calculated by a computer that uses electronic vehicle detectors located underneath the roadway. These are the same traffic detectors that provide drivers, the WSDOT Web site and the media with congestion information.

“How are these tools valuable?” she asked, rhetorically. “They help drivers on the road choose alternate routes.  For example, a driver traveling to Everett has several choices if there is a collision ahead blocking two lanes of northbound I-5 just north of SR 520 during the peak afternoon commute.

Assuming the driver is just south of the I-5/I-405 interchange in

Renton, the driver can choose to take I-405, SR 520 or continue on their

journey on I-5.  The travel times on the highway can show the driver

which route is the fastest way.”

The signs are backed up by a Web site that allows a driver to go online to calculate his commute times to various destinations, offering what it calls an accurate estimate 95 percent of the time based on 2006 travel date. You can give it a try at 


More speed limit signs asked for SK road


The in basket: Rachel Rogers thinks all the housing development, completed or yet to come, near McCormick Woods in South Kitsap have created a need for more speed limit signs on Anderson Hill Road. 

“How does one go about requesting additional speed limit signs be placed on a road?” she asked. “In the past year, I know several people who have received speeding tickets on Anderson Hill Road. However, there are only two speed limit signs on the road, one southbound, immediately after you turn onto the road from Old Clifton Road and the other northbound, immediately after you enter the road from Highway 3.  

“If you enter Anderson Hill from a side street or miss the speed limit sign when you turn onto the road,” she said, “you have no idea what the speed limit is.  

“With the increase in traffic due to The Ridge and a future increase due to the community being built behind The Ridge, it would seem smart to increase the signage on this road so that drivers new to the area are obeying the speed limit.  

The out basket:  Kitsap County Public Works will review the situation, says Jeff Shea, it’s traffic engineer, but he sounds skeptical about the benefits of adding signs. 

“A motorist would have had to pass a speed limit sign coming from Old Clifton or Highway 16 to get to a side street, and would have been aware of the speed limit,” he said. “Our policy is to sign speed limits at speed changes and in both directions of significant side roads.  

“A lot of extra speed limit signs do very little to slow traffic down,” he added. “(But) .  our goal is awareness of the speed limit by the public. Based on new development in the area and along Anderson Hill we will review your reader’s request to see if additional signs are warranted.”

The answer to Rachel’s initial question, about where to request additional speed limit signs on Kitsap County roads, is the same as for those seeking lowered (or raised) speed limits, roadside brush cutting or any other change. Call the county’s Open Line, at (360) 337-5777.