Tag Archives: Sixth

Olympic Avenue in Bremerton proposed for one-way traffic

The in basket: A Gomez writes, “Olympic Avenue between Sixth Street and Burwell Avenue (in Bremerton) is so narrow and with parking allowed on both sides, only one car can fit going in any direction.

“Why doesn’t the city of Bremerton make Olympic Avenue a one-way street just like Fourth and Fifth streets between Olympic and Naval that are as narrow and long as Olympic Avenue?”

The out basket: I had not heard this suggestion before, and neither had Jerry Hauth, who took over the job of city traffic engineer just last year.

“Without further consideration, and probably public input, I don’t have an opinion on this,” he said. “This is the first I have heard of this. As we saw with the suggested closure of Veneta, the community sometimes has very strong feelings about some of this stuff.”

Changing two-way streets to one-way is often a hot-button issue, especially if there are businesses on the street, which isn’t the case on Olympic.

It would be a logical place for such a change through. As the reader notes, the block of Fourth and Fifth between Naval Avenue and Olympic already is what’s called a one-way couplet, with traffic moving in opposite directions. More significantly, the next parallel street to Olympic on the west is one-way southbound.

A. Gomez should take it up with his city councilperson, Dino Davis, who can be reached through the council office at 473-5280 or online at city.council@ci.bremerton.wa.us

Washington Avenue lane reduction is under way

The in basket: With Fifth Street in Bremerton closed at Washington Avenue and its pavement crushed, plus the north end of the barrier separating the two levels of Washington between Sixth Street and the Manette Bridge newly shortened, I wondered if the city was doing work to prepare for this summer’s realignment of Washington, or if it was the first phases of the project itself.

It seems that the start of street and road projects have a way of dragging into the late summer and I hadn’t heard that the contractor had been given the go-ahead to begin the overall project, which will reduce Washington to a single lane in each direction with bike lanes and wider sidewalks between Sixth and the bridge.

I recall that years ago, a Road Warrior reader suggested that the toe of that barrier be cut back or at least painted white so left-turn traffic coming off the bridge was less likely to turn too sharply and hit it. I don’t recall what I did with that, but it didn’t get done then.

The out basket: It IS the start of the project, says city Public Works Director Chal Martin, and it’s to be com

Work begin down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Work begin down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

pleted in November. The closure of Fifth Street is for utility improvements that are working their way up to Sixth Street. Fifth is scheduled to reopen on May 11, but then Sixth Street’s intersection will close. That will be a much bigger deal, and City Engineer Tom Knuckey said a detour plan will be announced soon. Sixth is to reopen May 14, then Fifth will close again while the utility work is tested.

All the work will occur Mondays through Thursdays, the schedule says, as the contractor has chosen to work four 10-hour shifts, at least to start.

Soon the traffic signal at the end of the Manette Bridge will begin flashing red continuously for 30 days, a precursor to installation of stop signs to control the intersection for the duration of the project. The signals will go back into operation when it’s complete.

The current city staff has no recollection of the previous suggestion to cut back or paint the toe of the barrier, which isn’t surprising. It was a long time ago and I’m not sure anyone has actually hit it while turning.

Chal Martin said it has been done now because reducing Washington to a single lane will  make the turn tighter. In practice, most drivers have swung out into the outside lane when turning left off the bridge, he said. That’s technically illegal (drivers are required to turn into the nearest available lane when turning into a roadway) but it is what has been happening. Left turners no longer will be able to swing as wide when the project is done, and construction equipment also will benefit from the shortening.

The other end of the barrier will also be cut back to aid left turners from Sixth onto Washington – and the construction vehicles during the work, Tom said.

 

Why a four-way stop at Pacific and 11th in Bremerton?

The in basket: Richard Symms of downtown Bremerton writes, “At the Bremerton intersection of 11th and Pacific Avenue, there is an ‘all way’ stop so every car must stop at that intersection. The question I have is WHY?

“There must be at least 20 vehicles (probably more) going westerly toward Warren Avenue for every vehicle on Pacific at that intersection. Why not just stop signs for Pacific?  Is it because Pacific is a signature street now that it is rebuilt and part of the new Bremerton look?

“Well,” Richard concluded, “Pacific Avenue is a beautiful street, for sure. :>)

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson, managing street engineer for Bremerton said an engineering study done by consultant Parametrix in 2013 considered the issue at Pacific Avenue’s intersections with both Sixth and 11th streets. It found that at Sixth Street, where signals also were removed, it needed to be a four-way stop while 11th Street’s intersection could be either a two-way or four-way stop – now.

But as such studies usually do, it also looked 20 years ahead,  and found that in 2033, getting onto or across 11th on Pacific would be too difficult if 11th were free flowing.

And rather than wait until that happened and require drivers to stop where they hadn’t been used to stopping, the city put the stop signs on 11th now.

Actually, I think  2033 already is here for about half an hour in the afternoon commute.

Then traffic backs up out of sight at the westbound stop signs on both 11th and Sixth. That might seem like an argument for letting the traffic flow on those two streets, but if none of those vehicles had to stop, vehicles at the Pacific Avenue stop signs would wait forever for a break  in traffic to get across or onto the west-east streets.

And as annoying as it may be in the crawl on 11th to get to and across Pacific, any time saved if the stop were removed probably would be eaten up  by the wait at the upcoming Park Avenue and Warren Avenue stop lights.

“And thank (Richard) for the compliment,” Gunnar added in conclusion. “We think the same and the street looks far more appealing and is more useable and friendly than before.”

 

Raised pavement markers raise left turn question

The in basket: Robbie McCabe writes, “I have a question that may keep me from getting a ticket.

“I have been going westbound on Sixth Street and turning left into Group Health’s underground parking lot for many years,” he said. “For some reason, today I noticed that there is now a double line of those caps starting just past Kitsap Bank and heading further down Sixth Street.

“Does that mean I can no longer turn left into the parking lot?”

The out basket: Those caps, called raised pavement markers or RPMs, substitute for painted lines in many places. There are two sets of them where Robbie asks about, creating the upcoming left turn lane on eastbound Sixth, adding confusion as to what is permitted around them.

Whether such lines are painted or created by the RPMs, the rules are the same. You can turn left across them, even pairs of them, unless there is a sign prohibiting that, crosshatching between the lines or a center line 18 inches or more thick.

Since none of those things exist at the Sixth Street location Robbie mentions, he can continue to turn as he has in the past. Yielding to oncoming traffic is required, of course.

 

Transit bus goes straight in right-only lane

The in basket: Eric Blair wrote July 25 to say, “I was traveling eastbound on Sixth Street in Bremerton this past Wednesday at 1815, and was behind a Kitsap Transit small bus. We were both in the right lane, stopped at the light at Park Avenue. Imagine my surprise when the bus continued straight through the intersection, from what is clearly marked a right turn only lane.

“I didn’t see any ‘except transit’ language on the sign. Are transit buses exempt from the new right turn only lanes in downtown Bremerton?”

The out basket: A sign is missing, as transit buses need access to the curb lane to pick up and discharge passengers and it is the city’s intent to allow them to proceed straight in the outside lane there.

And there is an “except transit” sign, just not right at the intersection. An earlier sign a half-block back saying right turns only are allowed in the outside lane has an “except transit” sign right below it. But I didn’t see it either until Gunnar Fridriksson, senior Bremerton street engineer, told me it was there and I went looking for it.

“The first sign which is about mid-block between Warren and Park has ‘Except Transit’ so the buses can legally continue through the intersection,” Gunnar said.  “We are updating the sign at the signal as well and I thought that had been completed.  Our sign shop is a bit busy these days, but I will check in with them and give a little reminder we need to get this done.”

Forced Sixth Street right turn being ignored

The in basket: Three readers say the recent change to require vehicles in the right lane of southbound Warren Avenue in Bremerton to turn right onto Sixth Street is being widely ignored by drivers used to that being a through lane.

Suzi Hubert wrote, “I have moved to the left-hand lane as instructed and find that those folks in the right lane go straight ahead to Burwell and I have a heck of a time getting over to make my right-hand turn on Burwell.

“It is most annoying and I am afraid that one of these days I’ll end up going to the ferry instead. Help!!”

Phil Kight asked “Is the city planning on leaving it as a right-turn-only lane, or will it revert back to its formal state when 11th Street is completed? It seems that just about everyone that I’ve seen using that lane ignores the right-turn-only (restriction).”

And an e-mailer going by BJ, wrote, “Why did they make the outside lane on Warren Avenue a right-turn-only at Sixth Street as part of the 11th Street detour? Knowing that we are going to turn right on Burwell, we (used to) travel in the outside lane once we get on Wheaton Way. Now we have to move into the center lane just before Sixth Street and cross our fingers we can get back into the outside lane in the short distance between Sixth and Burwell.

“VERY few people are paying attention to the Right-Turn- Only signs and markings on the road!  Why not leave it like it was with just a detour sign for those that don’t know the area?”

The out basket: When I drove there Thursday morning, a succession of seven cars made the right turn while the light was red. When it turned green, the driver of a large black pickup did indeed proceed straight and caused me some difficulty in getting over into the right lane at Burwell.

I’m not sure how that’s any worse than it was before the city began requiring right turns from that lane. There always were two lanes of traffic mostly wanting to go west on Burwell and competing for the right lane after Sixth. What’s changed, I suspect, is drivers who used to avoid that in the past by using the right lane exclusively no longer can, legally.

Gunnar Fredriksson of the city of Bremerton traffic engineer says, “Yes, the right-lane-must-turn-right restriction is with the project (a three-month closure of 11th Street for sewer work) and not permanent.  This was done to maximize the number of vehicles turning from Warren onto Sixth Street for the detour route.

“We are watching the situation, and for a majority of time, it seems to work quite well. I understand the frustration with those ignoring the signage and going through the intersection.  We are hoping this is part of the learning curve for motorists and will diminish with time.”

The same restriction has been imposed on Sixth Street’s westbound right lane at Warren, also is temporary for the duration of the sewer work on 11th and also is routinely violated. There’s less reason to change lanes beyond Warren on Sixth, and it hasn’t generated any complaints to me.

 

Lack of sign can get a ferry user lost in Bremerton

The in basket: Retired Judge Jim Maddock rang me up the other day to call attention to what he felt is a missing sign in downtown Bremerton.

When southbound on Washington Avenue, he said, there is a sign hanging in its intersection with Sixth Street indicating a right turn to get to the ferry to Seattle. When I checked, I saw the same sign overhead as one exits the Manette Bridge onto Washington.

But, Jim notes, there is no comparable sign on Sixth at Pacific Avenue, where a left turn must be made for the direct route to the ferry terminal. 

A person new to town would most likely continue straight on Sixth for who knows how long, Jim said. 

The out basket: Absolutely right, said Brenden Clarke, who has a lot to do with streets in Bremerton these days even though he’s a project engineer for the state. He was in charge of the tunnel project and incurred responsibility for a lot of city issues related to it. 

“We reviewed the site today and concur that there should be a sign at Sixth

and Pacific,” he said. “We are working on getting a sign installed at that

location.”

Maybe some of you familiar with GPS systems could let me know if having one operating in your car would alert you to the need to turn from Sixth onto Pacific to reach the ferry terminal even when no sign tells you to.

Change proposed on Washington at Sixth

The in basket: Gale Brown has a different take on the situation on Washington Avenue in Bremerton heading south, where two lanes of traffic must merge very quickly into one just south of Sixth Street. Gale says, “I would like to see the outside lane of southbound Washington at Sixth be changed to a right-turn only.

“This would improve traffic flow on to Sixth for those heading for the ferry,” he said, “and would eliminate the frustrations often caused by the forced merge immediately south of the intersection.”

The out basket: It could happen. Larry Matel of the city street engineers says, “The public works department is planning on doing a traffic circulation plan for the downtown area in 2010.  “This will look at operational changes on the street system that are now possible because of the traffic changes created by the opening of the tunnel. We have had other requests for changes and instead of doing them ‘piece meal’, and then only having to do them over again as a result of another issue that might need addressing, we have decided to look at the big picture and then make changes.”

Why the difference between Sixth & 11th at Warren?

The in basket: Bunny Lee of Bremerton asks about the differences in what is permitted westbound on Sixth and 11th streets in Bremerton. 

“If I come down Sixth Street to Warren,” she said, “driving toward downtown and the Manette Bridge, I can turn left or go straight ahead from the middle lane. At 11th, I can only turn left onto Warren and CANNOT go straight ahead to the Manette Bridge from that middle lane

“Why?” she asks. “There is no on-coming left turn lane so the traffic would not conflict. It just seems silly that the arrows do not allow drivers to go straight ahead at 11th and Warren from that middle lane. 

“Of course, you can go into the far right lane and go straight ahead from there.  I just sometimes forget, so end up in that middle lane.”

The out basket: Both intersections operated the same way before Burwell Street was closed east of Warren for construction of the ferry tunnel. Then city traffic officials changed the restriction in the middle lane of westbound Sixth to allow either movement to compensate for the reduced access to downtown. 

The only explanation I have ever gotten for not allowing straight-ahead movements as well as left turns from the middle lane is that it contributes to rear-end accidents. I don’t recall being told why that would be true, and can’t figure it out on my own. It came from city traffic officials long since moved on. 

Larry Matel, the current traffic engineer who came to town just about the time the middle lane limitation was removed at Sixth Street, says only,”I am not aware of any problems at Sixth and Warren related to these lane assignments, but will request a traffic accident history from the Washington Department of Transportation to check.” 

He added that he expects the ability to got either straight or left from the middle lane of Sixth to be preserved after the tunnel is finished and Burwell reopens.

 

As for 11th and Warren, that intersection is scheduled for a revision “to accommodate a longer right-turn lane for southbound Warren Avenue traffic to turn right at 11th. This should reduce long backups on southbound Warren at various times of the day.” he said.

“We can look at the request for a similar lane assignment on 11th during this project’s development,” he said.

While the disparity is curious, I can’t say I’ve ever seen so much straight-ahead traffic at either intersection that the right lane was insufficient. I would think it would take something that stopped a right turner from making his turn with straight-ahead traffic trapped behind him to actually inconvenience anyone.