Tag Archives: speed limit

Washington Avenue speed limit inquiry

The in basket: C.J. Gebhart  writes, “I make a left off the Manette Bridge onto Washington Ave every morning on my way to work.  There is no speed limit sign on that section of Washington so was wondering what the speed limit is on Washington.”

The out basket: I’m sure that C.J. won’t be surprised that the answer is 25 miles per hour there, the default speed limit in cities. That’s the answer I got from Chal Martin, public works director for the city of Bremerton.

Speed limits on Poulsbo street puzzle driver

The in basket: Deborah Moran writes, “I have a question that has been bugging me for a while. Since they put in the roundabout on Lincoln at Gala Pines/Noll Road, the speed limit on one side is different from the other side.

“If I am traveling Lincoln into Poulsbo, it’s 35 mph from near Stottlemeyer until just before Pugh Road. However, if I am leaving Poulsbo via Lincoln, it is 25 mph until after I get past the roundabout. That is not logical to me and I am wondering if you can get an explanation about this.

“Both sides have sidewalks, the 25 mph side has a barrier between it and Lincoln. Both sides have some driveways, but more on the 35 mph side. It just makes no sense to me.

The out basket: Mike Lund, Poulsbo’s public works superintendent, replies, “The answer is really quite simple. The Poulsbo city limits is approximately 1000 feet south of the roundabout. The speed limit once you hit the city limits is 25 mph.

“The roundabout itself is actually within Kitsap County (and) the speed limit on Lincoln within the Kitsap County is 35 mph. However, the recommended speed limit for the roundabout is much lower (15 or 20 mph, I believe).

“Technically, the speed limit between the roundabout and city limits is 35 mph. We just did not post the sign between the roundabout and city limits.

“Coming into town, the speed limit changes within 1000 feet of the roundabout and we did not want to confuse drivers by having them speed up to 35 to just have to slow back down to the posted 25 mph.

“Leaving town is basically the same reason. We did not want drivers to speed up to just have to slow down for the roundabout 1000 feet away.”

You’ll often find this kind of discrepancy near city limit lines, like that on Sylvan Way on each side of Petersville Road in Bremerton, as the default speed limit in cities is 25 mph but in counties, it’s 35.

50 mph now permanent speed limit at Nalley Valley eastbound

The in basket: It wasn’t more than a couple of months ago I was driving on Highway 16 in Tacoma approaching Nalley Valley when my companion commented on the 40 mile per hour speed limit that had been in place for years while major construction was done just ahead.

No one ever slows to anywhere near that speed, she noted, which certainly has been true when traffic was flowing freely.

The speed limit was raised to 60 mph in the other direction a year or so ago when all the westbound work was completed.

The other day I was back in the same spot and saw that the speed limit heading into the valley had been raised to 50 mph.

I asked if that denotes recognition of the folly of the 40 zone, completion of a milestone in the construction, or if 50 is to be the permanent speed limit there.

The out basket: Doug Adamson of the Olympic Region of state highways, replied, “The speed limits in the area were permanently adjusted following completion of the westbound and eastbound Nalley Valley construction projects.  There are no plans at this time to make any additional changes to the speed limits for this section of SR 16.”

Apparently the lower eastbound speed limit recognizes that more complex driver decisions lie ahead than for those going the other way.

Sylvan Way crest could use lower speed limit, reader thinks

The in basket: Dave Neidlinger thinks the speed limit on Sylvan Way in Bremerton east of Olympus Drive should have the same 25 mph speed limit as the other side of that hill. It’s 35 mph on the east side now.

It would “ensure drivers approach the crest slower than they are legally allowed to do currently,” he said. “Most slow down now, but if a driver wants to, they can fly over the top and there are several driveways near the top of the hill on each side.

“I realize a driver may be cited if he causes an accident because he didn’t show caution when approaching the crest, but that’s after the fact,” Dave said.  Meanwhile people are injured or dead along with the property damage.

“Simply moving the 25 mph speed limit signs east to Forrest Drive, or Heider Drive at the least, should ensure a slower approach to the crest of the hill and the (nearly blind) intersection with Olympus at the top,” he said.

The out basket: The county agrees that it could be name safer, but will leave the speed limits alone.

Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, says, “We will put up a Crossroad Sign prior to the intersection, and put up an Advisory Speed of 20 mph. (Those are the black letters on yellow background signs that a lot of people mistake for speed limit signs, but they are only suggestions that a lower speed would be a good idea.)

“We may also remove the 35 mph sign located prior to the hill,” Jeff said.

Default speed, for what it’s worth

The in basket: Richard Nerf says, “Detours onto unfamiliar roads during a recent trip to Mt. Rainier reminded me of question that occasionally surfaces: Given that the default speed limit on a rural county road is 50 mph, how far must one go past a sign posting a lower limit before it is legal to speed up to the default?  Is there any official or semi-official word on this?”
The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the patrol here, says,  “Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit remains since the last posted speed. In the case you suggest, the speed limit would remain the lower speed that was last posted until otherwise changed.

“There is nothing in the Revised Code of Washington (that I am aware of) that suggests anything contrary to that.”

State law (RCW 46.61.400) establishes the basic speed rule and maximum limits of 25 mph (city or town), 50 mph (county roads), 60 mph (state highway). It also authorized local governments to modify those limits as long as they don’t go above sixty or below 25 mph, and the state secretary of transportation to go up to 70 mph, as he must of done on the rural interstates. But those are effective only after signs are posted.

I don’t know of any places around here where the default speed would govern in the absence of speed limit signs. I suppose if you find a street, road of highway with no speed limit signs from its beginning to its end, the default speed limits might be governing.

“It is possible to encounter such a roadway where possibly a sign has fallen or been knocked over for whatever reason,” Russ speculated. “I would think a driver would have to get pretty ‘rural’ to encounter that very often in this state.”


Mullenix Road upgrade at 25 mph is tough for trucks

The in basket: Way back in May, Charles Dick got a ticket from a state trooper in the 25 mph zone on a short stretch of Mullenix Road in South Kitsap between Highway 16 and Bethel-Burley Road. He felt that whatever the need is for the reduced speed, it begins at a difficult place for drivers.

“It seems unusual to have a 25 mph limit start at the bottom of the hill instead at the top,” he said. “I realize that the traffic needs to slow down before the stop sign (on Bethel-Burley), but there is a sign for that stop ahead also.

“If I start at 25 mph at the bottom of the hill, it is hard to maintain speed in my old pickup without shifting down. Most people will get a slight ‘run’ at the bottom of a hill in order to maintain speed at the top.

“The speed limit is 35 just under the freeway,” he said, “and reduces to 25 just before the bottom of the hill.  I talked with truck drivers who drive for Morrison Gravel, and they have a tough time getting to the top of the hill when slowing to 25 at the bottom, and have been cited several times for going over the speed limit.

“This has become a LUCRATIVE SPEED TRAP. There is a police officer there almost any morning of the week, writing tickets as fast as they can get repositioned.  They picked my speed at the bottom of the hill, right at the sign.” He said a patrol motorcycle trooper and one in a patrol car work together there.

“The 25 mph limit was installed,along with a school bus stop sign, in the late 60’s or early 70’s when there were children living in a home halfway up the hill.  One of the homes is long gone, and according to the South Kitsap bus schedule, there are no stops between the freeway and Bethel Burley Road.  It seems that the 25 mph sign could be moved to the top of the hill, and still allow drivers to slow for the stop.”

I asked Kitsap County Public Works about Charles’ idea and the state patrol about why it might have concentrated on a short stretch of county road.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer, replied, “The speed limit on that segment of Mullenix Road was set in 1974. We generally review speed limits only when there is some significant change in the roadway, such as increased collision rate, large development along roadway, or change in roadway geometrics.

“There has been little or no change in those areas since the original speed limit was set. The limited sight distance over the hill may have been a consideration in the lowered speed limit there. We do not plan any changes at this time.”

Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the State Patrol here, said, “I have spoken with our two motorcycle troopers about this issue. Neither trooper works this so-called ‘speed trap’ roadway on a regular basis.

“While the WSP focuses primarily on state highways, focusing often on identified problem areas, our troopers do occasionally proactively enforce violations on county roadways. Troopers transit the roadways, both county and state, and enforce the law in many places.

“We often investigate collisions on county roadways and it follows that enforcement to help prevent those collisions is warranted. The section of road you describe may be scarcely populated but it is certainly not scarcely traveled. The residents who live along this section of roadway have a valid expectation that vehicles traveling here will be doing the posted limit when they are pulling out of driveways or slowing to turn into them.

“It seems obvious from his response that Jeff Shea, as well as Kitsap County, feel that the speed limit is warranted in the area and are taking some enforcement in the area as well,” Russ said.

I called Morrison’s and Ken Morrison said though he’s unaware of any of his employees getting a ticket there in one of their trucks (he knows of one cited in his private car), he agrees that the 25 mph limit is too slow on that hill.

I asked him if he thought the state patrol was there because of his trucks, and he said no.

Northbound speed limit on Bremerton bridge puzzles driver

The in basket: Jeff Hill e-mails to say, “Traveling north over the Warren Avenue Bridge (in Bremerton), it isn’t real clear

where the speed limit changes from 35 to 30. There is a reduced speed ahead sign near the top of the bridge, but no actual speed limit sign until after Sheridan Road. There is a light pole near where the Callahan ramp merges with Warren that has empty sign brackets.

“Since Bremerton PD and WSP heavily patrol this area at night, I would like to know when I need to slow down,” Jeff said.

The out basket: I guessed there is a sign missing, since the speed limit in the southbound direction changes from 30 to 35 mph at the beginning of the bridge, and I thought that’s probably where it changes northbound. But I guessed wrong.

The 35 mph zone that begins at the south end of the bridge for northbound traffic continues all the way past Sheridan, city street engineer Gunnar Fridriksson says. If there’s a speed limit sign near Albertson’s on the other side of Sheridan, that’s where the speed limit changes.

It’s one of the rare places the speed limit in one direction of a highway is different than in the other direction. (Highway 3 between Highway 304 and Kitsap Way is another.)

Gunnar says the southbound speed limit is lower because of the short tapered merge for traffic coming on from Callahan Drive.

“I would suggest your reader consider the 35 mph

zone for northbound from the south end of the bridge to Sheridan Road,” he said.

“As far as the empty sign brackets by the Callahan ramp,” he said, “I believe those

are to a directional sign which broke a post.”  It’s awaiting replacement.

Nalley Valley work impacts speed limits, but not one scary merge

The in basket: Bill Howell wrote Wednesday to say, “I drove Highway 16 today on my way to Seattle and noticed that the speed limit has changed. Eastbound the speed limit is 60 until just before Pearl (in Tacoma). Westbound the speed limit is 60 starting at I-5. Yea!!!”

It’s still 55 eastbound from Pearl Street until you get to the 40 mph construction area at Sprague, he said.

The out basket: That increase from 55 to 60 mph has been on hold at the State Patrol’s request until the work where Highway 16 joins I-5 at Nalley Valley is complete. That milestone was reached almost exactly a year ago for westbound traffic, so the speed limit has just been raised in the entire westbound direction.

Work remains to be done in the eastbound direction, but Lisa Copeland, spokesman for the Olympic Region or state highways, says, “We have begun to raise the speed limit on SR 16 at the request of the public and with support from the WSP.

As I worked on Bill’s e-mail, I came across an earlier inquiry about the Nalley Valley work from Michael Drouin of Bremerton, sent in February. He said, “The on ramp for I-705 and Pacific Avenue to I-5 South merge at the same point that southbound I-5 drivers are attempting to exit I-5 to SR16. This location is always extremely dangerous to navigate. Are there plans for the Nalley Valley interchange (work) to eliminate this hazard?”

I share Michael’s unease when trying to move right into traffic entering I-5 from downtown Tacoma, especially if it’s dark and rainy. I hadn’t occurred to me until I was talking with Claudia Bingham-Baker of the state DOT’s public affairs staff, but it’s probably just as scary for those coming up that on-ramp wanting to merge left and continue south on I-5.

Alas, that “weave,” as engineers call it, will remain as it has been after all the Nalley Valley work is done, Claudia said. Work scheduled for 2020, however, will provide a safer route from I-5 to westbound Highway 16 for one stream of traffic – high occupancy vehicles traveling southbound on I-5..

HOV lanes will be built there in both directions on I-5 in 2020, and a flyover bridge will be built to provide a protected route for those HOVs southbound to Highway 16, she said. Otherwise, any driver in the southbound HOV lane would have to merge right across both general use southbound lanes to get to the flow heading to Highway 16 and then merge into that.


Mismatched speed limits past two county parks are questioned

The in basket: Two readers have asked about what appear to be misplaced 25 mile per hour speed limit signs in front of two Kitsap County parks, where speed limits are reduced in the summer.

The usual thing is for any sign lowering the speed limit in one direction will be posted directly across from the sign raising it in the other direction.

Jeff Griswell says that is the case on Holly Road east of Wildcat Lake Park. But “on the west side (closer to Camp Union) of the speed zone, the 25 mph sign (heading east) is not directly across from the 40 mph sign (heading west).” It’s across  from the sign warning of a reduced speed zone coming up.

Greg Buher notes the same thing at Long Lake County Park on Long Lake Road.

“Why is the 25 mph zone over twice as long in the southbound lane than it is in the northbound lane?” Greg asks. “For the life of me, I can’t figure this out! I travel this section daily and have observed southbound vehicles speed up at some vague or imaginary point after complying with the 25mph zone for a little while.

“Often, when traveling south, I end up with a car behind me who is ignoring the ‘extra length’ part of the zone,” he said. “There is only one driveway from where the northbound zone starts and the southbound zone ends, so I can’t see the need for this extra length.”  It’s been that way for a few summers, he said.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, traffic engineer for Kitsap County, says,”Both of these are related to the sharp curves in the road that follow the speed zone. We don’t want to mislead drivers by placing a speed limit sign between an advisory speed warning sign and the curve it is placed for.

“We generally place the regular speed limit sign right after the curve. The criteria for the speed advisories have changed in the new (federal manual), so we will be reviewing these two locations to see if the advisories are still needed.  If not, we will move the regular speed limit signs closer to the speed limit change.”

Speed limit rule the same for off- and on-ramps

The in basket: I learned last year that the speed limit on a freeway on-ramp is the speed limit of the highway being entered. That makes sense, since the ramp is intended to let you get up to freeway speed to merge.

That often crosses my mind when I’m EXITING  a freeway, especially from northbound Highway 3 in Silverdale onto southbound Highway 303, where the ramp ends in a merge, not a stop sign. .

There’s a yellow 35 mph sign on the ramp, but yellow signs are just advisory,  not mandatory. I asked what the speed limit is there or at any other off-ramp.

The out basket: The rule is the same for off-ramps as for on-ramps, says Trooper Russ Winger of the state patrol here.

“The speed limit is the still the limit until otherwise posted by a regulatory sign,” he said. “The merge on SR-303 you are describing is almost impossible to take the turn at 60 mph safely, however, unless the vehicle is operating out of control and otherwise endangering other motorists, the speed (limit) is still 60.

“But, this said, a vehicle will have very little time to slow to the posted 35 limit because the sign is only a short distance away from the start of the merge lane.

“I cannot see citing this vehicle for speeding – as you describe – unless it obviously interferes with the safety of other vehicles with its merge,” he said.

Most off-ramps are self regulating, since they have a stop sign at their end. And citations for going too fast for conditions or negligent driving are always possible should a person crash, as one surely would trying to make the curve on the 3-303 off-ramp at 60 mph. But not a speeding ticket.”