Tag Archives: speed limit

Keyport speed limit reduction questioned

The in basket: Mike Knapp of Keyport asks “What is the story with the reduced speed coming into Keyport from 35 mph to 25 mph just before the traffic light at the base yet the other side of the road is still 35 mph?

“You have to brake really hard to get down to that speed. What is this all about?”

The out basket: The change was made at the request of the Keyport Improvement Club.

Keyport resident Doug Chamberlain, who just stepped down as club president after three years in the position, said the state had studied the need for a lower speed limit there about three years ago. The issue went back on the front burner last year when a club member who takes care of his grandkids said “cars are coming into town too fast, barreling in and out, and that crossing the highway was dangerous,”according to Doug.

Though it’s a quiet city street in the town center, it’s still a state highway and the state made the change in November.

There is confusion, though, about what the speed limit is at various points, as evidenced by Mike’s assertion that it’s still  35 going out of town.

It isn’t supposed to be, says state Traffic Operations Engineer  Steve Bennett and Doug Chamberlain. It’s supposed to be 25 in both directions from just north of the traffic signal at the Navy base entrance to the end of the highway, 35 in both directions from there across the causeway and 50 beyond that. Steve said they’ll check on the signs to see if they’re where they should be.

If Mike really has trouble getting slowed from 35mph to 25 as he comes into town, he may be an example of what prompted the improvement club to seek the reduction.

While I had Doug on the line, I asked about the parking area just outside the Navy base’s old main gate at the highway’s end, about which a reader complained years ago.

It’s narrow, designed for one-way traffic and tapers to the point that a car parked at its end makes it hard for other cars to get past and leave. There’s a “Motorcycles Only” sign at the narrow end but it sometimes isn’t observed.

Doug said the club is aware of it, but has taken no action beyond asking the base to encourage employees to honor the “Motorcycles Only” sign. The state owns the spot but it’s uncertain who put up the sign, Doug said.

Speed limits on Greaves and Old Frontier compared

The in basket: Lucrecia Mirano of Silverdale,says, “My question is why Greaves Way, the new street in Silverdale, which is a four-lane street with divider, and no intersections or driveways (yet) has been given a maximum speed limit of 35 miles per hour, while Old Frontier, a two-lane (with) no divider and lots of driveways and intersections, is set at 40 miles per hour?

“With the Greaves incline when you are going towards the distributor (highway), it is very hard to keep your car under 35 mph,” she said.

The out basket: County Engineer Jon Brand replies, “The speed limit there is based on the design, the 8 percent longitudinal grade, horizontal curvature and safely accommodating non-motorized users. Eventual development along that road is also considered as we set speed limits.

“That being said, I’ve asked our design engineer to review the speed limit to see if it should be raised to 40 mph until more development happens along Greaves Way,” Jon said.


Speed limit questioned on part of Seabeck Highway

The in basket: Tom Deno thinks the speed limit on Seabeck Highway should be reduced to 35 miles per hour around its intersection with Newberry Hill Road. He asks,”Why is it 50 mph? There are nine-foot lanes, no shoulders and no left-turn lanes. Newberry Hill Road has  wider lanes, wide shoulders and it is 45 mph.”

The out basket: Kitsap County Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea says there is no apparent need for such a change.

The speed limit on Seabeck Highway was set in 1976,” he said. “.Speed limits are normally reviewed when conditions along the road change significantly.

“Changes could include significant land development, roadway geometric changes, and high collision occurrence  among other considerations.

“Very little has changed along Seabeck Highway in this area,” Jeff said. “Along with little changes along the road, the collision history is minimal with about 3.5 collisions per year on Seabeck Highway between Newberry Hill and Holly.

“We continue to monitor all roads for indicators that warrant reviewing the established speed limits.”

Checking back on speed limit around Tacoma Narrows Bridge

The in basket: It was almost a year ago that Michael Johnson asked the Road Warrior the reasoning behind the 55 mph speed limit on Highway 16 for miles on either end of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. There didn’t seem to be any need for the lower limit with the new bridge keeping traffic flowing freely.

State highway officials said at the time they were in favor of making the limit near the bridge the same 60 mph as most other places on the highway, but had run afoul of an environmental snag. Raising a speed limit where some pollution levels were higher than allowed needed some approvals the highway builders didn’t have. And getting that OK looked like it could take a while.

I asked this month how it was going.

The out basket: It’s likely to happen eventually, state highway officials say, but now it’s waiting for something else. The State Patrol asked that the limit be left at 55 mph until the huge construction project at Nalley Valley where Highway 16 and Interstate 5 intersect in Tacoma is completed.

“I believe the increase will occur once the work is done,” says Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Bennett of the state.

Of right/left turn conflicts & speed limit signs


The in basket: Mark Powell of Poulsbo e-mailed a pair of unrelated questions to the Road Warrior.

He first asked about turns onto two-lane highways, using as an example the intersection of Highway 305, Forest Rock Lane and Seventh Avenue in Poulsbo. He asked whether a driver wanting to turn right on a red light from Forest Rock onto Highway 305 needs to wait for the left-turners coming from Seventh, who have a green light.
“While trying to turn RIGHT on RED most drivers wait for all vehicles to complete the LEFT. My contention is they are required to turn into the LEFT lane, therefore allowing an unimpeded RIGHT on RED. Am I correct?

“Secondly,” he asked, “when am I allowed or required to change speeds? I think I remember reading recently that if (for example) you are driving in a zone with a 35 mph speed limit and see a sign increasing the speed limit to 40, you may increase prior to actually passing the 40 mph sign.

“I have a daughter in drivers education and I want to make sure of my answers and assistance,” he said. 

The out basket: Turners onto a multi-lane highway are required to use the closest available lane of the highway being entered, so, yes, the left turners from Seventh Avenue are required to use the inside lane of Highway 305 northbound. That would leave the outside lane available for right turns from Forest Rock while the opposing left turners are in motion. 

I must assume right turners who wait for all left turners to go by are simply being careful and don’t trust the left turners to not swing wide and endanger them.

For turns onto a two-lane highway, the traffic with a stop sign or red light must yield to traffic with a green light, which might condition the Forest Rock right turners to defer to oncoming left turners even though the two lanes of Highway 305 theoretically provide room for both streams. 

As for when speed zones begin, officially it is at the speed limit sign, not before. Just as drivers don’t have to slow down to the lower speed when the speed limit drops until they pass the sign showing the lower speed limit, they are not entitled to increase to the higher speed until they have passed the sign showing it.

As a practical matter, though, citations for five over the speed limit are quite rare, so I wouldn’t expect it to matter whether a driver speeds up in the short distance between when the sign with the higher speed limit becomes visible and the car passes the sign. 

I would regard a speed enforcement in such a transition zone to be predatory policing, but I suppose it might happen. Of course, if you’re already way over the speed limit in the zone you’re entering, you’d be fair game.

Speed limit around Narrows Bridge questioned

The in basket: Michael Johnson asks, “Why is the speed limit on (Highway)16 in Tacoma and Gig Harbor still 55?  

“Before the new bridge was built, traffic was really bad through there, so I understood the decreased speed limit,” he said. “With the new bridge there is no such thing as ‘bridge traffic’ any more so I don’t know why the speed limit hasn’t been raised up to 60 like the rest of the freeways in the area.” 

The out basket: I wonder the same thing every time I encounter the reduced speed sign at the Wollochet interchange going toward the bridge, and especially when I must wait until I get to the same interchange heading away from the bridge to see a 60 mph speed limit sign. Highway 16 between the Olympic and Wollochet interchanges includes no complications not found farther north, where the speed limit is 60.

The state must have noticed the same thing. Lisa Copeland of the Olympic Region public affairs staff says they are working toward a hike in the speed limit from 55 to 60 between Union Avenue in Tacoma and the Wollochet interchange.

But it requires environmental approval, surprisingly, because of possible air pollution implications, and may not happen for months, it at all.

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.”

Auto Center Way speed limit questioned


The in basket: Rod DeGuzman of Silverdale asks, “Can you please explain to me while the speed limit in Auto Center Way is posted at 25 mph (and not)  35 mph since this street looks like a commercial zone vice a residential road. 

“Even Ridgetop Boulevard, which I believed is a residential street, has a posted speed limit of 35 mph and to assist with the school bus / student crossing hours had installed flashing lights to warn drivers when children are present in the street.”

The out basket: The lower speed limit on Bremerton’s Auto Center Way has never seemed odd to me, given all its hills and curves, including the combination of both where a lot of not yet licensed  drivers come and go from the state Department of Licensing office.

Ridgetop Boulevard, a county road, has a wide median to separate directions of travel and has better sight distances.

But it’s simpler than that, says Paul Wandling of the city of Bremerton. “County roads are typically posted 35,” he said. “Most city streets are posted 25 even when an adjacent county lane (same street) has the opposite direction posted 35.”

Newberry Hill Road at Klahowya school called perilous

The in basket: Traci Stevens of Seabeck writes, “Every day, I travel, as do many others, along Newberry Hill Road and past Klahowya (Secondary School’s) entrance to start and end the work day.

“This area, throughout the year, also includes bus loads of middle/high school children, teenage drivers, teachers, parents traveling to and leaving during the school day, as well as countless after school activities, a church with a sizable attendance, not to mention the residents of the neighborhood across the street from Klahowya’s entrance.  

“All of this activity in an area that handles significant amounts of traffic in either direction, turn lanes going into the school and into the neighborhood across the street, a merge lane and a 45 mph speed limit, which very few abide by. I’ve actually been passed in this area! 

“I also understand the consideration of the surrounding area (1,000 acres) to be possibly converted to a multi-use area known as Newberry Hill Heritage Park. 

“Today (Oct. 8), I learned of another significant traffic accident and I know of one additional accident that involved an acquaintance that totaled the car, I’m sure there have been countless others.

“I understand the county has been out to view the traffic flows; however, they come during the quiet times, after school is in session and most have begun the work day, which was a complete waste of time. What does it take to get authorities to pay attention to this area for consideration of a traffic signal?”

Traci’s friend, Holly Woomer, who was in that other accident that totaled her car when a speeding driver who said he was late for work didn’t see her in time, seconds Traci’s sentiments. She asks for a speed limit reduction if not a traffic signal. 

“Attempting to cross the crosswalk at the intersection is also very dangerous,” Holly said. “You basically have to be in the middle of the road before somebody will stop.” 

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, says better lighting at the intersection is the most they’ll do for now.

“We recently reviewed this location because the crosswalk seemed a little difficult to see in the dark,” he said. “We are considering the feasibility of installing an additional street light at the intersection to improve visibility at the crosswalk. This is the only improvement being considered there at this time.

 “We do not plan to install a signal there any time in the foreseeable future,” he said. “It does not currently meet any of the (standards) used to determine if an intersection needs a  signal. 

“We will consider proposing an improvement project in next year’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), but I don’t think it will score as a high priority against the other county road projects on the TIP. TIP projects are ranked based on road preservation, safety, and capacity. 

“Compared to other intersections,” he said, “the accident history here would not merit many priority points, other than a couple for ‘potential’ safety points. “(Also) signals are rarely installed for safety reasons. (They) won’t always reduce accidents and sometimes actually increase some types of accidents, particularly rear–end collisions.

 “Cost-benefit is another issue to consider with limited funding available for improvements,” he said. “Signals are very expensive ($300,000 – $500,000) to install. Outside of the short congested times mentioned by your reader there have not been any problems reported. If (an) improvement is needed for a short time during the day the cost would be very high with a relatively low benefit.

 “Newberry Hill Road is an arterial road. The goal of an arterial road  is to safely move traffic from one place to another at higher speeds than local access or residential roads. 

“One of the main starting points for determining a posted speed limit,” h said, ” is the speed that captures a majority of the traffic, which we refer to as the 85 percentile speed for traffic on that road.” (Eighty-five percent of drivers who use the road in speed studies travel at or below that speed.)

“We also consider roadway geometrics, adjacent land use, collision records, pedestrian use, bicycles, and parking practices as part of setting speed limits.

“Current conditions on Newberry Hill Road show a very low accident rate and do not indicate a need to reduce the speed limit,” Jeff concluded.

Illahee Road missing a speed limit sign

The in basket: Jim Baker writes, “Just wondering about a recently missing speed limit sign. 

“Northbound on Illahee Road just past the Brownsville Elementary School and Utah Street there used to be a sign restoring the speed limit to 35 mph from 25 mph. It went missing a week or so ago. It is still 35 mph on southbound Illahee from Brownsville Highway almost to Utah – if that’s 35, I can’t imagine that the limit northbound along there should be 25. Makes no sense.”

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer says, “There should be a 35 mph sign in that area.” Since the question was posted on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com in late October, the county has replaced the missing one. 

Doug Bear, public spokesman for public works, adds, “With over 900 miles of county-maintained roads, our crews can’t be everywhere, We count on reports from residents like your reader. You can report missing signs by calling Kitsap 1 (360-337-5777, formerly called the county’s Open Line) or sending email to help@kitsap1.com.

“Reporting downed stop signs is critical,” he adds. “You can report them to Kitsap 1 during regular working hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 – 4:30.) After hours or on weekends report downed stop signs by calling 9-1-1. Report all other downed signs to Kitsap 1.”