The in basket: Tim Kennedy of Bremerton has raised a familiar issue.
“I am truly concerned about the young drivers coming and going from Klahowya Secondary School,” he said in an e-mail to the county, which reached me second-hand.
“Someone is going to get killed. In the two-plus years I have been driving my daughter to school I have seen the results of multiple collisions at that intersection. I have seen three sets of cars in process of being cleared and on many occasions the plastic debris from other collisions.
“I do not want some family to have to deal with the tragedy or loss of a loved one because the county could not see the true need for a traffic signal at this intersection,” Tim said.
Tim suggested a signal that operates red-green only at the beginning and end of the school day.
The out basket: I was CC’d a copy of the county’s response to Tim, which comes from Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea, who has explained the county’s reluctance to put a signal there in Road Warrior before. That position hasn’t changed. In short, he said the county already has done a lot to make that intersection safer and accident records say it’s working.
“A significant investment of road funds has already been made at this intersection,” Jeff said, “The Public Works Department has provided additional street lighting, signage, warning flashers, and new technology utilizing rapid flashing pedestrian beacons.
“A traffic signal is an expensive traffic control device. In this location a traffic signal would cost in the range of $500,000 to $1 million. You are correct that we can program them to operate with minor impact to the mainstream flow of traffic during non-school traffic periods. However, a traffic control signal exerts a significant influence on both operations and safety on the intersecting streets, so it is imperative we only install warranted signals.
“Since a signal is such an expensive device to install and maintain, we only consider them if they meet the criteria spelled out in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (a federal document that sets national standards for traffic control devices).
“This location does not currently meet these warrants for a signal installation.
“Signals are primarily installed to allow for the orderly movement of traffic and improved operation of an intersection. However, they can also be installed due to a collision history if a signal will reduce the types of collisions that the intersection is experiencing, such as right angle collisions.
“The minimum number of collisions to meet this warrant is five within a 12-month period. In this location there were only two collisions in 2008, two in 2009 and none in both 2010 and 2011.
“Another consideration in signal placement is that signals can cause more accidents; especially rear-end collisions, than existed before the signal was installed.
“Our Annual Road Improvement Program project selection process relies heavily on documented and potential safety concerns. We review all our collision records on a bi-yearly basis for the purpose of identifying high accident intersections, corridors, and spot location. The high accident locations are then evaluated for safety countermeasures and potential safety improvement projects.
“No amount of safety improvement eliminates mistakes made by poor driving habits and bad decisions. There are many safety improvements in place here, and the recent accident history shows a reduction in collisions. We will continue to monitor the data at this location.”