Tag Archives: stop sign

The ‘how’ of stopping at a stop sign

The in basket: George Bolton says the intersection of Enchantment Lane and Dickey Road west of Silverdale is difficult because of reduced visibility for those stopped on Enchantment.

“When you pull up to the stop sign here, you can’t see up Dickey Road at Enchantment. Three years ago, someone put in a sewer or water line and added more dirt to the berm.

“Does state law require a line of sight when you’re stopped behind the stop  sign?” he asked.

The out basket: It’s not hard to see up and down Dickey from Enchantment unless you are overly worried about stopping only once, at the stop sign. There are a lot of places like it where one has to move forward past the stop sign to get a good view.

Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department called it a common question and cited a state law.

It says that unless a police officer, firefighter or flagger directs otherwise, “every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering a marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway.” It goes on to require that entering the other street must then be done safely.

The state driver’s manual says, “Make sure you can clearly see crossing traffic before entering an intersection. If you were stopped and your view of a cross street is blocked, edge forward slowly until you can see. By moving forward slowly, crossing drivers can see the front of your vehicle before you can see them. This gives them a chance to slow down and warn you if needed.”

Finally, Scott offers some common sense advice in a Q&A format.

Q1. How far from the stop sign should I stop?

A1.  There should be a white line painted across the road. You have to come to a complete stop before you cross that line. Once you have come to a complete stop, you may inch forward a little bit in order to see whether or not it is safe for you to proceed.

Q2.  If there is a distance between stop sign and stop line, should I stop before the stop sign or the stop line?

A2.  Before the stop line. If needed, you can slowly pull up a little and then stop again when you have a good view of traffic in all directions.

Q3.  How close should you get to the stop sign before stopping completely?

A3.  If there is a crosswalk at the intersection, you should stop before crossing it. If there is no crosswalk, stop short of the intersection with enough space that other cars can safely turn in without hitting you.

Q4.  Where do you stop if the stop sign is before the white line?

A4.  Stop before the white line. You should stop within two feet of it, so the bumper does not go over the line.

Doctored stop sign is illegal

The in basket: Tom Baker sent along a photograph of a stop sign at Anderson Hill and Old Clifton roads in South Kitsap to which someone had added the letters “SPEEDING” beneath the word stop. “Is this an allowed modification or have the county sign techs not noticed it?” Tom asked.

The out basket: Following Tom’s lead, I asked county public works about it, and got the following answer from Doug Bear, their spokesman.

“The stop sign at that location is maintained by the city of Port Orchard,” Doug said. “Our sign technicians called to let the know and they will remove the “speeding” legend.

“Altering traffic control devices (signs) is illegal,” he added. “RCW 46.61.080 states ‘No person shall, without lawful authority, attempt to or in fact alter, deface, injure, knock down or remove any official traffic-control device or any railroad sign or signal or any inscription, shield or insignia thereon, or any other part thereof.’”image001

Fourth & Torval in Poulsbo part of a much larger plan

The in basket: Norm Mundhenk wrote nearly a year ago, saying “In Poulsbo, Torval Canyon Road runs into Fourth Avenue, forming a sort of T-junction. However, Fourth Avenue ends in a short cul-de-sac as soon as it crosses Torval Canyon.

“The signs at this junction strike me as very strange.” he said. “There is no sign at all for cars leaving the cul-de-sac. One assumes that this happens very rarely, but whenever a car does leave, it is apparently free to drive right out without stopping. However, cars approaching from the south or east have stop signs, even though the corner is basically just a continuing road for such cars.

“I wonder why it would not be possible to do something at this junction such has been done where Hillcrest runs into Central Valley Road (in Central Kitsap). There Hillcrest (which functions rather like the cul-de-sac on Fourth Avenue, although surely it has more cars using it) has a stop sign, with another sign underneath the stop sign informing drivers that ‘Oncoming traffic does not stop’. Cars coming south on Central Valley are allowed to continue without stopping even though it is a left turn.

“Surely something like this could be done instead of the stop signs at Torval Canyon and Fourth Avenue,” he concluded.

The out basket: The stub of Fourth Avenue strikes me as more of a tiny parking lot than a cul-de-sac and I thought it might be missing a stop sign. But it turns out that that traffic alignment is intentional and arises from a six-year-old traffic study.

Michael Bateman, senior engineering technician for the city of Poulsbo, says “The stop signs on Fourth and on Torval Canyon are based upon recommendations in the City of Poulsbo’s Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Study of 2008.

“They are a part of a larger strategy and were considered essential in concert with additional stops placed on Front Street.  Without the additional all-way stops in the downtown core at intersections such as Fourth and Torval Canyon, through-traffic not intending to stop in the downtown core would seek alternate routes as cut-through bypasses to avoid the stops on Front, without re-routing to the desirable Highway 305 route.

“This results in both undesirable volumes and undesirable speeds in the downtown core street network.

Removal of the stops at 4th and Torval without simultaneous removal of stops on Front Street would create additional traffic and additional speeds on this route, a very undesirable result,” he said.

A consultant looked at the strategy in 2010, when traffic counts were updated, and it was found to be working well, Michael said, “with no action to add or remove TDM measures recommended.”

“As we still get feedback from the neighborhood that the stops are not 100 percent effective at controlling traffic and speed in the neighborhood, and have recently installed additional speed tables on Fourth in order to combat the excessive speeds as demanded by local residents, removal of these stops is not recommended.”

The intersection was identified in the study as an all-way stop, he added, and at one time there was a third stop sign, controlling those exiting the Fourth Avenue stub.  “It was removed in response to a  citizen complaint that it should not be there,” he said.

Flashing stop sign deployed at CK intersection

The in basket: Paul Werner of Central Kitsap told me in a phone call that stop signs with flashing lights had turned up at on Fairgrounds Road where it crosses Old Military Road.

I had seen those solar powered signs at a trade show at Sea-Tac last winter and the county said afterward that they might use them, but were noncommittal.

I asked the county about their first use here (other than one on the Bangor Navy base) and whether we’ll be seeing more of them.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer replied, “We have, in fact, installed a solar-powered flashing light stop sign on the two legs of Fairgrounds Road at Old Military Road. “This intersection was being considered for an overhead flashing beacon due to its collision history.  We are evaluating the effectiveness of these flashing stop signs in lieu of the overhead beacon.

“The flashing sign is less expensive (approximately $1,600 each for the signs versus about $10,000 plus ongoing electricity costs) and installation is significantly easier than the overhead beacon.

The signs will flash continuously as long as the solar power keeps them going. Jeff said a version activated by an approaching vehicle exists but is more expensive. They’ll know more about how the solar power will do in the dark of winter after it goes through one. The location of Fairgrounds Road has pretty good exposure to the sun, he said. If the signs stop flashing, they’ll still be stop signs.

“We are not currently looking to install these signs at any other location,” Jeff said. “The proximity to residential housing was another consideration. In residential areas, flashing lights can be annoying to homeowners near the intersection.  This location doesn’t have homes near it.”


Flashing stop signs come at a high price

The in basket: Sharell Lee read the Road Warrior column about drivers not realizing McWilliams Road in Central Kitsap ends at East Boulevard and crashing into what’s across the T intersection, and she had a suggestion.

“In California they sometimes use stop signs

mounted with a small solar panel,” she said. “The stop sign itself has bright flashing lights around the circumference.  Such stop signs are very noticeable and attention getting.

“I’m wondering if this type of sign is ever used in Washington,” she said. “I realize our climate is less sunny, but small solar panels don’t really require that much sun. Where I work, we run a small electric car with them, which I’m sure requires a lot more power than lights on a sign would.’

The out basket: I’m told there is such a stop sign inside the industrial area at Bangor’s sub base, and Sharell says the one she saw also was on a military base. She wondered if vandalism discourages there use outside a secure area.

Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer says, “Yes. The cost of one stop sign with blinking lights and solar panel is $1,700.  A regular stop sign is $80.

“There are over 3,000 stop signs in Kitsap County. Replacing all the stop signs in the county with this type of device would cost more than $5,000,000.

“The challenge,” Jeff said, “is determining which intersections warrant this type of upgrade, so that deploying this device is consistent throughout the county. The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices does not currently contain a warrant that sets that level.

“We would consider this as another tool in our toolbox for a solution to a problem location.  A tool like this would be used where a documented number of motorists are simply not seeing the sign, and less costly countermeasures have not worked.

“There are other factors considered when installing new signs. Each year we replace about 2,000 signs that are damaged through accidents and vandalism. The more unique the sign, the more likely vandalism occurs. You see this with street name signs that are popular.

“Adding an electric feature to a device requires additional maintenance and inspection to ensure solar panel and batteries operate correctly.

“We also have to consider how this type of application impacts neighbors. After installing flashing devices, we do get complaints from nearby neighbors that the constant flashing is a nuisance,” Jeff said..


14th and Winfield gets a fourth stop sign

The in basket: Merilee Kuklinski of East Bremerton was surprised when a stop sign went up early one day in mid-August on Winfield Avenue in its downgrade at 14th Street in Bremerton. She was even more surprised  that no warning of the change was made, such as a red flag on the new sign.

She said the fellow who installed it before sun up that day was yelling at drivers who blew through it without stopping. She thought to herself, ‘Hey, you just installed it!”

I was curious about the reason this intersection, a three-way stop for as long as I can recall, now is a four-way stop. Another stop sign, stopping Winfield traffic at Lower Wheaton Way, is a short distance ahead. You can see it rising like a moon over the new stop sign as one drives downhill on Winfield.

The out basket: Though on a city street, the modification was done by the state as part of its detour route during closure of the Harkins-Lower Wheaton intersection for construction of a roundabout at the east end of the new Manette Bridge.

But it was visible sooner than expected, said Jeff Cook, project engineer on the bridge job.

“The sign should have been covered until the detour went into effect on Sept. 6,” he said. “Unfortunately it was not. It was brought to our attention, and the contractor took immediate corrective action in covering the sign.

“I will review the temporary signing and, based on user feedback, look
into providing advanced warning signs to avoid confusion when the switch is made,” he said.
“The Wheaton/Harkins intersection closure will last approximately 5-6 weeks and is necessary to finish construction of the underground
utilities as well as build the new roundabout.,” he added. “The detour will utilize 14th and Pitt Avenue.”