Tag Archives: Southworth

Manpower, timing hinder patrols near ferries

The in basket: Ron Johnson, a classmate of mine from South Kitsap’s class of 1961, called to seek help slowing down traffic on Sedgwick Road, near which he lives near the Southworth ferry terminal.

He is upset by the lack of speed enforcement and the high speeds of drivers on Sedgwick the last mile to the ferry, from just beyond Harper Church. He contends that motorcycles are doing 70-80 mph and cars are doing 50-60 mph.

Neighbors in the area have contacted/complained to the state DOT and state patrol and asked why they don’t do more to enforce speeds, especially in the morning and in the afternoon/commuting hours, he said..

“A lot of us walk around here,” he said. “We’ve hit the ditch more than once, believe me.”

He would like a flashing sign that shows speed, but state officials have told the neighbors they can’t have them on a state highway, he said.

The out basket: I’m not surprised by his assertions, but expect the problem to exist on any highway leading to a ferry terminal. Someone always seems to be running late for a departing boat.

State Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the State Patrol here, says, “Yes, this is fairly common on the local roadways leading up to the ferry terminals. Drivers are running late, trying to make the next ferry. This is not going to change.

“Our troopers do work the areas for speed when they can. The peak times for traffic to and from the terminals – a.m. and p.m. – unfortunately coincide with peak traffic elsewhere in the county. Troopers have more collisions, calls for service etc. to respond to during these times so it is not always easy to get out to these areas during the peak traffic times.

The areas in question, SR104 into Kingston and SR160  into Southworth, are well outside the urban core area in Kitsap County. This is another limiting factor along with the diminishing number of troopers working Kitsap – down to 17 from 27 in last two years. We provide 24/7 coverage and this puts between two and four troopers on the road on any given shift in Kitsap County.

“Kitsap County is a busy area, law enforcement speaking. We have plenty of traffic, collisions and calls for service that require responding to.

“These might sound like excuses but it is simple fact based on manpower available and calls for service.

“That said, we are aware of the potential speed problem in the areas and we do try to get out to them and slow people down as much as possible. Public perception of our efforts may or may not mirror reality but we do listen and try to increase efforts in problem areas.”

Claudia Bingham Baker of the state Department of Transportation says, “We tried using a “your speed is” speed sign on SR 3 on a trial basis, and we found it was not very effective. It’s not that we can’t put up the signs, it’s that they are not effective enough to be a good use of resources.”

90-degree Southworth curve gets unusual Yield sign

The in basket: Scott Hall wonders about the Southworth area intersection where Stohlton Road meets Southworth Drive.

“There is a stop sign on Stohlton, along with flashing red lights to indicate one must stop before proceeding onto Southworth Drive,” Scott said.. “Southworth Drive makes a sharp, low-speed 90 degree turn to the right at this intersection.

“Southworth Drive is obviously the ‘mainline’ road, formerly being designated as a state highway.”

On a recent day, as he sat at the Sholton Road stop sign as traffic from a newly arrived ferry streamed by,  “something strange kept happening,” he said. .

“As the cars on Southworth Drive got close to the curve, they didn’t just slow way down for the corner, some of them hit the brakes hard, and came to a complete stop. It appeared they were waiting for me to proceed, although I couldn’t fathom why that might be.” After several cars did the same thing, he proceeded.

“About a week later, curiosity got to me,” he said, “and I altered my route so this time I would be coming down Southworth Drive when approaching the same intersection.

“Lo and behold, there is a shiny YIELD sign on Southworth Drive, just before the 90-degree curve.

“(It) baffles me as to why there would be a yield sign on the ‘mainline’, which seems to cause drivers to lock up their brakes and stop for any car already stopped at the stop sign on Stohlton Road,” he said. “Looks like a great spot to create an accident, where common sense says the mainline traffic should NOT be expecting a yield sign.”

The out basket: Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works explains the reasoning:  “This mainline is really obvious to the majority of people that use this route frequently, (but) the motorist that has never gone through this intersection is vulnerable to confusion. That motorist would not necessarily be expecting a right turn to stay on the mainline.

“If both legs of Southworth Drive were uncontrolled a motorist traveling westbound could turn in front of a motorist traveling northbound thinking they being first into the intersection should have the right of way.

“The yield sign makes it clear that the motorist has to yield to traffic that is in the intersection or could be an immediate hazard to their movement in the intersection.

“If the motorist at the stop sign proceeds into the intersection before the motorist gets to the yield sign, the motorist at the yield sign must stop.”



Details of Southworth ferry terminal work still six months away

The in basket: In July, there was a story in the Kitsap Sun that said Washington State Ferries had been granted $20.9 million to replace the Southworth ferry terminal.

The work is scheduled to begin in 2015 and continue into 2018. The article didn’t say if ferries could still land there during the work, or if the run would be closed for all that time.

I also wondered in the replanking of the vehicle holding area on the dock, done several years ago, would be preserved during the work.

The out basket: Joy Goldenberg, spokeswoman for the ferry system, replied to my inquiry, saying, “I spoke to our terminal engineering department and we are too early on in the planning efforts to answer your questions. When we identify our construction alternative, targeted for spring 2013, we will be able to answer these questions.”

So I guess we’ll have a couple of years to get ready for whatever will happen when the work starts in 2015.

About that new color-coded ferry schedule

The in basket: Perhaps you recently saw Sun reporter Ed Friedrich’s report on Washington State Ferries’ latest effort to make its online departure schedules more helpful.

Ferry managers have added a color-coded chart to their online site that shows which departures are most likely to have more vehicles trying to get aboard than there will be room for.

The runs shown in red are called Most Congested: Likely to wait one sailing or more.

Yellow shows Moderate Congestion: Vessels can fill close to sailing time.

And then there are green boxes denoting Least Congested: Vessels typically not full.

It seems like an excellent idea that could help distribute the demand to the benefit of the users and save drivers a lot of waiting.

But I have a question.

The out basket: I’m an infrequent ferry rider, and the only departure with which I have enough experience to have an opinion is the 10:55 a.m. Sunday one out of Southworth. My wife and I take it to go to matinee productions at the Fifth Avenue Theater,

The chart tells me that’s a red run. In fact. every Southworth departure from 9:20 a.m. on each Sunday is shown in red.

That didn’t sound right to me as regards the 10:55 a.m. I’d never seen anything close to an overload on that run. I made a point of checking on April 10 on our way to “9 to 5” (if you haven’t seen it you’re missing a treat). The main tunnel of the ferry was only a third full when we left Southworth. The ferry was closer to full (but still had room) after leaving Vashon. I wouldn’t expect the condition leaving Vashon to be reflected on the Southworth chart.

I wonder if some of you more frequent ferry riders have spotted any similar oddities on the color-coded charts on that or other runs. (Ed questioned a few that struck him as odd). I suspect there may be some nuances involved in interpreting the charts.

WSF’s online sailing schedule format changed back

The in basket: Early this year, Washington State Ferries changed its online listing of sailing times, so that a person could click on the date, then select a route and see just all the departures on that route on that date.

It supplanted a page on which the routes came up, and when you chose one it showed all the sailing times for all seven days in a week, segregated by weekdays or weekends in the case of Southworth.

On Sunday Dec. 5, I went looking for a Southworth sailing time and found that the old display was back. It can be misread if one overlooks an icon that indicates a departure runs only certain days – only on Saturday or only Sunday, for example. I’d had t drive around once in the past because that happened to me. It’s even possible, but less understandable, to read the weekday schedule when you’re traveling on a weekend or vice versa.

I asked why it was changed back.

The out basket: Susan Harris-Huether of the ferries’ public affairs office, says, “Many people did not like the choice. They wanted the whole schedule.

“However on the schedule page,  you will see the option for schedule by date.”

I spotted it to the right of the route listings, under Alternative Schedule Formats and was pleased to find the way I prefer is still available.

Guardrail changes in Harper raise eyebrows

The in basket: “Goolsby Snitworthy, who drives along Southworth Drive daily” (really, that’s what he wants to be called), writes, “Perhaps you could have your county road contacts explain to the folks why, as part of the reconstruction of Southworth Drive between the Harper Dock and Olympiad Drive, guard rails have been added along sections where they were not before and removed from other sections where they were before.

“It appears illogical to we non-road experts, but I suppose the county experts have what they think is a logical explanation for the guard rail changes.  I am certain others are puzzled by this development,” he said.

The out basket: I, too, was surprised that most of the project’s frontage, up against which the tide laps at high tide, has no guard rail, including in places that used to have it.

And, yes, the county does have an explanation.

Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, says not all the planned guardrail has been installed yet but not every place that had it before will have it replaced.

Cones along the waterside shoulder from the Harper Dock south to Cambridge Road show where guardrail has yet to be installed, 270 feet of it. They’ve decided the need to bolt that guardrail to the seawall requires a special design being done now. That will add about $40,000 to the work, says Senior Program Manager Tina Nelson in public works..

“Guardrail itself is a hazard to motorists, especially motorcycles and bicycles,” Jeff said. “Guardrail is generally placed because it presents less hazard than the obstacle behind it,” in this case, water.

“Past guardrail locations do not necessarily dictate replacing a guardrail, if it is removed,” he said. The only other stretch of guardrail in the completed project, nearer Olympiad Drive, is required by the combination of the height of the rock wall behind it and the potential depth of water there, said Tina Nelson.

“We’ve researched our records and, other than vehicles that have hit the guardrail at the curve at the dock, there are no reported collisions with the guardrail previously placed there,” Jeff said.

“Environmental regulations and restrictions limit what can be done at that location. We are evaluating other methods, including barrier curbs and/or signs and markings, that can help delineate the road edge.”

One such change was approved by the county commissioners on Nov. 8. A suggestion of Commissioner Charolotte Garrido, it provides $52,352 to paint the shoulders brownish red when weather allows in the spring, says Tina. There is anecdotal evidence the visual impact of painted shoulders can slow traffic, she said. Neighbors who fought the widening often said they think it will increase speeds there.

Tina says even with the added cost of the painted shoulders, special guardrail design and reinforcement of the sea wall, the project will come in around $800,000, about $200,000 less than originally expected.

Hole at Southworth Drive curve decried


The in basket: Rob Shafer of Port Orchard says in an e-mail, “In the past six months there have been three serious accidents, with at least one fatality, on Southworth Drive between Locker Road and Banner Road southeast of Port Orchard. 

“There is a slight turn to the left as you approach Curley Creek after Locker Road that all three drivers involved in the accidents missed,” he said. “At this point in the road there is very little shoulder and a BIG hole that either stops the car very quickly, or launches it back onto the road. 

“Are there any plans to make this turn safer both for careless drivers and oncoming traffic?” he asked. “Add a guardrail? Fill the hole? Widen the shoulder? Add rumble strips?”

The out basket: It looked to me that just filling the hole would correct whatever hazard exists. But the county plans more.

Jeff Shea, county transportation engineer, says, “A guard rail in itself can be an obstacle near the roadway and is usually a last resort used to protect motorists from other roadside obstacles.  

“In this case the hole is located where a drainage pipe crosses under the road. Our surface and storm water utility is putting catch basins and pipe in the holes then will fill the holes to create a more shallow ditch line. That should address the concerns there.”

That’s not the only work planned there, incidentally. The county has plans for a $2.1 million replacement of the bridge over Curley Creek just a few feet east of there next year, though the work isn’t likely to reach to the spot Ron mentions.

Arriving at which ‘destination?’

The in basket: I don’t use the state ferries much, but in recent trips to Seattle on the Southworth run, I noticed that the once-awkward welcome-aboard speeches, which include safety instructions, have been turned over to tape recordings done by Seattle radio personalities. Crew members used to do them and they frequently weren’t confidence inspiring. It’s an improvement.

When we arrived in Vashon, there was another recorded message, but the speaker didn’t identify himself, and the message began, “You are arriving at your destination.” Return to your cars and make sure you have all your belongings, he instructed.

I knew that I wasn’t at my destination, of course, but it seemed like a stranger to the ferries, going to Fauntleroy, would hurry to his car and fret about still being aboard when the boat left. Shouldn’t the recorded announcement specify which destination you are arriving at when there’s more than one, I asked myself.

The out basket: Then I asked Susan Harris-Heather, long time spokesman for the ferry system. She said she’d never had a complaint from any ferry system newbies who were misled and discomfited by any confusion about where they were, caused by the recorded messages. 

Putting different messages aboard the boats on the tri-corner Southworth run, as in the multi-terminal San Juan Island run, would be difficult because the boats move around so much from route to route that there probably would be more confusion, not less, she said.