Tag Archives: slope

Need for new Illahee Road guardrail questioned

The in basket: Bryant Arnold wonders about

some new guardrail he has seen near Bremerton.

“Heading south out of Illahee, climbing the hill towards Trenton,” he said. “we are now the proud owners of new guardrails!

“Having driven that road at least twice a day for the past 12 years I cannot remember ever seeing anyone at the bottom of a ravine, but giving the county the benefit of the doubt how many lives have been lost on that stretch of road?

“Could that money not have been used for a more dangerous problem? Who authorized it and what were their thoughts?”

The out basket: I have driven that stretch far less often than Bryant, but I’m not a total stranger to it and I can’t say I agree with his notion that guardrails are unwarranted there.

In several spots, running off the east side of the road to the east has the potential for rolling one’s car several times unless some trees stop you.

In fact, Bryant said that within a week of his contacting me in early January, a car did run off one of the unprotected spots, but was still visible from the road.

I think a better question is what commended the three sites on that downgrade that recently got guard rail over the four or five comparable drop-offs that didn’t.

The out basket: Kitsap County Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea says, “Running off the road is historically the most frequent type of collision on county roads. The danger increases when you run off the road and hit a fixed object or roll over on an embankment, often resulting in injury, and in some cases fatalities.

“We are working to bring all county roads up to clear-zone standards by eliminating safety issues or protecting motorists from the hazards with barriers such as guardrail.

“We dedicate funds every other year for installing and upgrading guardrail.

“We use very specific (criteria) for guardrail installation.  Our primary focus is on long steep embankments on higher speed (35 MPH or more) roadways, and high-volume roads. The area of Illahee Road to which your reader refers has a long steep embankment, exacerbated by seasonal standing water at the bottom of the slope.  Combined with the speed limit (35 mph) there, the fact that it is an arterial road, and an average daily volume of over 2,000 vehicles, installing guardrail there makes the road safer.”

There is a set amount of funding available each year for our guardrail program. This requires us to prioritize locations at which we make guardrail upgrades or installations. If we had unlimited funding we probably would have installed guardrail at each location you noted. With limited funding we had to make some choices.

“The rail above the mobile home park was installed because of the curve it is near, and recent collision history of a vehicle going down that slope. Two other locations, nearer the bottom of the hill, were chosen because of the combination of the long steep slope and the water hazards at the bottom.”

I had seen what looked like storm damage repair at the sight at which guardrail was installed on both sides of the road and guessed that emergency management money might have paid for that, but I guessed wrong.

Jeff says, “The uphill location, though not as steep as others, has a storm water device in it which allows water levels to rise. The combined slope with the possibility of standing water put this location on a higher priority than others.”

Cliffs between Bremerton and Gorst to be stabilized

The in basket: Years ago, so long that I have no record of who it was, someone asked about the stability of the rock cliffs overlooking Highway 3 between Gorst and Bremerton. 

I never addressed the issue, but when Kevin Dayton, regional administrator for the Olympic Region of state highways, spoke to the Port Orchard Rotary in December, he told them that work is coming to make sure two spots along those cliffs stay put. 

He told me it’s difficult to see where from the four-lane highway beneath the cliffs, but the two locations can be spotted from across Sinclair Inlet. 

Doubting my ability to tell a questionable rock face from a solid one, I haven’t tried to identify them, but I asked for information about what the work will mean to drivers. 

The out basket: Steve Howell, from the state’s geology engineers, said the two spots are approximately 7/10s of a mile and 1.1 miles from the Highway 304 interchange as one travels toward Gorst. They are each about a tenth of a mile long. 

“These slopes  will be stabilized utilizing slope scaling, rock bolting and the installation of wiremesh/cablenet slope protection,” he said.  “Lane closures will be required for this work but no decision has been made as it relates to day or night work.”  

The slopes are included in the Unstable Slope Mitigation Program because they meet the current criteria of having a numerical rating of 350-plus on a scale that goes up to  891 and rates the impact of a slope failure. 

I guessed that the fact there is virtually no detour whenever that stretch of Highway 3 is blocked played a key role in landing it on the list of slopes in need of work, but Steve said that’s only partially correct. Available detours is just one of 10 risk factors used in rating slopes. 

I also asked if something had just moved those two spots up over 350 on the rating scale, and again he said no, they weren’t evaluated until 2006 or 2007 and placed on the list at all until 2008. 

Kevin Dayton said the work may be bid as early at next July, but the department’s schedule says only that the work is set for the 2011-13 biennium