Tag Archives: Sunnyslope

Power line upgrades coming to Gorst, Sunnyslope area

The in basket: On my intermittent trips between Port Orchard and Belfair, I’ve noticed that the underbrush has been removed from beneath the power lines on the west side of Highway 3 between Gorst and Sunnyslope Road. The clearing is about the width of a road, but with the power poles in the way, that didn’t seem like a probable explanation for the work. Trucks for Potelco, Puget Sound Energy’s repair contractor, are often in the area.

I asked PSE what’s up.

The out basket: Akiko Oda, spokeswoman for PSE replied, “We have several projects along State Route 3 slated for this year:

– A tree wire project along SR 3 beginning at Sunnyslope Road to the end of PSE’s line, just south of Lake Flora Road (about 4.3 miles). This project replaces the center conductor with tree wire.”

Tree wire is a specially coated, overhead wire that’s designed to prevent an electric short (and subsequent outage) when a tree limb falls into a power line, a PSE Web site says. “Where installed, it significantly reduces the frequency of tree-related outages, but cannot prevent all disruptions (e.g. if an entire tree falls into a power line),” it says.

”As a permitting requirement, we’ll be working 20 feet from the fog line and also conducting some night work, which will require closing a lane of traffic,” she said. The work began last month and is expected to take four months.

– “Overhead and underground construction work along SR 3 from North Birch Avenue W to Sunnyslope Road. We’ll be installing a second circuit and rebuilding the existing circuit using tree wire (about 1.3 miles).

– “Rebuilding the distribution line from SR 3 along Victory Drive, east along Old Clifton, stopping at Feigley Road (about 2.8 miles).

A PSE Web site has more information, under its “In Your Community” link

Morning rush is maddening at SR3 and Sunnyslope Road

The in basket: Darwin Alm read a Dec. 7 article in this newspaper about a $40,000 grant to study how to reduce speeding deaths on the local highways and thinks he sees a much better use for the money.

“I live in Sunnyslope just off Highway 3!!” he wrote to Andy Binion, the reporter who wrote the story.  Andy forwarded Darwin’s e-mail to me.

“We have to enter Highway 3 early in the morning to work at the shipyard!!” Darwin continued. “Every morning we wait at that intersection for at least 10 to 15 minutes because of high traffic!! Trying to get on 3 is a joke; sometimes you just take a risk and go for it!!”

Darwin really likes exclamation points. I wonder if he shouts when he talks.

“If you have someone in front of you taking a left to go to Belfair,  you will have a very LONG wait !!!!!” he went on. “My question to you is why can’t you spend some of that 40 K to put in a stop light at that intersection before someone gets killed, especially a child, instead of spending it all just to study how many deaths we have a year over a cup of coffee!!!! Looking forward to hearing back about this matter before we read in the paper about another preventable death !!!”

The out basket: Grant money usually is pretty limited in what it can be spent for, and $40,000 doesn’t go far in adding a traffic signal at an intersection these days. Andy pointed out to Darwin that he just reports where money comes from and how it will be spent. He doesn’t have a say in the decision.

But there are funding sources for traffic signals and I asked Claudia Bingham-Baker of the state’s Olympic Region of highways where the Sunnyslope Road intersection with Highway 3 stands in qualifying for one. I also asked for an approximation of what signals cost these days.

“Improvements like traffic control signals are installed as funding allows,” she replied. “A dozen intersections on SR 3 between Shelton and Gorst have higher collision histories than the SR 3/Sunnyslope intersection, so typically signal funding would be allocated to one of the other signals first. Unfortunately, that means it could be a while before drivers see a signal there. I wish I had better news.

“Depending on bids,” she said in reply to my final question, “an average signal purchase and installation costs closer to $400,000.”

SR3 and Sunnyslope Road to be improved – some day

The in basket: JoAnne Stefanac writes “I have read, with interest, the list of upcoming/wished-for road projects in the area.  I noticed that the intersection of Sunnyslope Road and Highway 3 is on that list.

“Do you know what that upgrade is going to be?  Are they wanting to put a (please, God!) light at that intersection or (please, no, God!) one of those awful traffic circles?

“Living in Sunnyslope, I have to face this intersection quite often and, in all honesty, it scares me every time,” JoAnne said, “especially if I’m headed south on 3, going towards Belfair. There is so much traffic racing up that hill (everyone trying to outdo each other before they lose their passing lane) and there’s always someone wanting to turn left onto Sunnyslope Road.  Try that turn on a Friday around 5 p.m. and, well, good luck! ”
The out basket: Richard Warren, project director the long-range analysis,  oddly named the Bremerton Economic Development Study, told me the study recommends either a traffic signal or a roundabout at Sunnyslope Road and Highway 3, but doesn’t choose between them.

The completed study is online at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/BremertonEcon/ and that intersection is discussed on pages 89 and 98. Click on “Status” to see the report. Sunnyslope/3 got a ranking of 71 points, with other projects ranked at 46 to 75, in terms of importance.
“Please note that there is currently no funding committed or allocated for any of the project recommendations in the BEDS report.” Richard added.

 

Why merge traffic toward the center line and not the shoulder?

The in basket: Linda Bruns of Belfair, a frequent traveler on Highway 3 between there and Gorst, read the recent Road Warrior column about left turns off the highway into Airport Auto Wrecking near Sunnyslope Road and called me up with a suggestion,

Why not have the merge of the two uphill southbound lanes of Highway 3 into the single lane be to the outside lane rather than the inside lane, she asked. That way the cars would be moving toward the ditch rather than oncoming traffic during the merge, which struck her as a lot safer if something goes wrong. It might even make those left turns into the wrecking yard safer, she said.

The out basket: I told Linda her suggestion made a lot of sense and I’d ask the state  why the merge is the way it is. What Linda and I hadn’t considered is a countervailing hazard of doing it the other way – the blind spot all drivers have at the rear right of their vehicle.

Steve Bennett, operations engineer for the state highways in this region, told me, “Merging traffic from right to left has become the national

standard for lane reductions.  The reason it is done that way is because of better driver visibility.

“When a driver moves to his left, it is

fairly easy to determine if the lane is clear as there is no blind spot. It is somewhat more difficult to make that same determination when

moving to the right. Often, when moving to the right there can be a

small area to the right rear of the vehicle that is more difficult to

see.  For this reason, at most lane reductions, we move drivers from

right to left.”

All that firewood lying along state highways

The in basket: Phyllis Bishop wrote on Nov. 24 to say, “My husband and I came from Belfair to Bremerton today, Wow all the fallen trees. The subject came up of who gets the wood from the trees. My husband thinks since it is on state right of way it belongs to the state. Is it legal to cut the wood and remove it?”

The out basket: No, says Duke Stryker, head of maintenance crews for state highways in this area. For liability reasons that are especially pertinent with something as perilous as wood-cutting, they or the state patrol will chase away anyone trying to harvest fire wood from state right of way.

“It would be just a matter of time before someone gets hurt or a vehicle runs off the road and hits someone,” he said. Unfortunately, we can’t allow it.”

State crews, aided by crews from the Department of Corrections’ prisons, will clean up the deadfall in time, and take it to a recycling center, he said.

That’s not a very high priority. At present, he said, they are repairing and replacing damaged guardrail from trees that fell across it in the most recent storm.

He said the stretch of Highway 3 that Phyllis mentions was the hardest hit area in Kitsap, the hardest hit county in that storm. It was fallen trees, not icy pavement that kept it closed between Sunnyslope and Lake Flora roads the day after, he said. His crews were using plows to push around trees and other debris so power crews could get to the lines in the area.

I asked Kitsap County about fallen tree cleanup while I was at it and found its rules to be different.

Doug Bear, spokesman for Kitsap public works says they regard storm debris on county right of way to be the property of the adjoining property owner. Most county right of way is in the form of an easement, rather than straight ownership, he said.

So access to fallen trees along county roads would require the same kind of permission from the the private owner as it would had the trees fallen outside the right of way.

Rural sidewalks rare, as Sunnyslope shows

The in basket: Leona Wankowski of Sunnyslope, who lives near Sunnyslope Elementary School, wrote in early March to decry the lack of sidewalks in that area.

“There are children in the area of all ages,” she writes, “lots of teens and pre-teens who like to enjoy the outdoors as much as weather permits. Bicycling, skateboarding, skating, walking with strollers, etc.

“Since there is no place safe to do this – aka a sidewalk – we have to use the street and attempt to move to the side when cars come. There are many areas of this road that do not have even a soft shoulder to move onto, so we hug the street side. 

“As a mother of four, I have attempted walks with the children, one in a stroller, many times. It is virtually impossible to get away from the cars. Even a mom and a baby in a stroller can’t get the cars to slow to a safe speed, or drive around us. They glare, honk and shout obscenities that we are in their way. 

“My son gets worse treatment when he is skateboarding home. He wears a bright hoody sweatshirt, so they see him fine. Yesterday, not only did a car act as if it was going to run him over, it paused while he tripped trying to get out of the driver’s way, then sped up to run over his skateboard (snapped it right in half)!! 

“We, the pedestrians, have nowhere else to go, without a sidewalk. The drivers screaming down this road think they own it. What can we do to enjoy our street and not get run over by people like this?”

The out basket: Sidewalks there are not likely any time soon, says Doug Bear, spokesman for Kitsap County Public Works. 

“Sidewalks are traditionally an urban level of service and are usually found in areas of urban-level growth,” he said. “This includes planned subdivisions, commercial areas, and within cities or unincorporated high-density communities. This can create frustration for residents, particularly those that move to rural areas from these urban-type centers.

 “There is very limited county-owned rights-of-way along Sunnyslope Road,” he said. “The cost involved in just obtaining the right-of-way needed for sidewalks is considerable. Add to that the construction costs and the maintenance costs associated with sidewalks and you can see the challenges in providing amenities like this in rural areas. 

“I certainly understand your reader’s concerns,” Doug continued, “but the primary purpose of roads is to provide safe travel for vehicular traffic and not all roads lend themselves to ancillary purposes including recreational walking, skating, and bicycling.

“When we do major overlay projects we do consider widening shoulders and paving them as money and right-of-way permit. We don’t usually build sidewalks. In the few instances where Kitsap County has been involved in sidewalk projects the funding was provided through grants or other funding sources outside our budget. Some new plats and developments include sidewalks, but those costs are paid by the developer.

 “All activities along roadways present safety challenges. Even with sidewalks, extreme care and caution is the rule. I encourage all residents to consider alternate locations for recreational activities whenever possible. I recognize that it is not as convenient as the road in front of the house, but these locations increase the safety of recreational pursuits. 

“Many county or regional parks provide hiking, walking and bicycle trails. Most local schools, including Sunnyslope Elementary, have large areas of paved surfaces that accommodate recreational activities after school hours. There are skate parks that provide safe and legal off-street opportunities for boarders at several locations in Kitsap County. A complete listing of locations can be found at http://www.visitkitsap.com/search/things_to_do.asp?ID=44&act=search_results Using these alternatives provide a safer way to continue the activities your reader likes to do,” Doug concluded.

To which I would add for motorists who intentionally drive over skateboards or berate pedestrians who slow them down, just lighten up. You don’t want a vehicular assault charge on your record.