Tag Archives: Warren Avenue Bridge

Questions about narrowing lanes on Warren Avenue Bridge

The in basket: A couple of readers has asked about Bremerton’s hopes of improving pedestrian and bicycle access on the Warren Avenue Bridge, which would include narrowing the driving lanes in order to widen the bike and walker lanes on each side.

Yvonne Dean asked, “Is there any thing in DOT code saying what the width of the lanes must be?  It seems to me that the trucks are getting wider while most of the cars except for SUV’s are getting narrower.”

And Shirlee Curley writes, “Instead of spending all the money to make a big change, we have one-way streets, how about one-way walkways on each side going in opposite directions? It would take only a few signs and maybe a policeman for a few days.”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways replies, “Our standard is to build lanes that are 12 feet wide, which is the width of the current lanes across the Warren Avenue Bridge.  We do have some older steel truss bridges that have lanes as narrow as 9 feet.” Nothing prohibits them from allowing narrower lanes, she said.

Chal Martin, the city’s public works director, says, “We did consider the ‘one-way couplet’ idea for peds/bikes, but that was an idea that could not be supported by the grant funding entities; further, it turns out it appeared to cost more because the one-way couplet approach required cross-under structures at the north and south bridge approaches.”

The city proposes to reduce the existing 12-foot-wide lanes on the bridge to 11 feet in the outside lanes and 11 1/2 feet in the inside lanes, to create more space for pedestrians and bicyclists. The center barrier, on which Shirlee says she has seen cars high-centered,  would be removed.

“This lane width is plenty wide, but will help calm traffic a little,” Chal said. “Have you noticed that as you go northbound on the bridge, you are often traveling at about 45 mph when you reach the north end?  That’s because the current configuration is not properly designed for a 35 mph speed limit.

“People feel safe traveling faster in the wider lanes, and so they just naturally do. I know I have often caught myself speeding on the bridge,” Chal said.

Actually, I find if harder to do 35 in the downhill direction than uphill, but the city’s proposal would hope to reduce speeds in both directions.

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City graphic showing proposed changes to Warren Avenue Bridge
City graphic showing proposed changes to Warren Avenue Bridge

2017 repaving on Highway 303 won’t include bridge

The in basket: A Feb. 2 story in this newspaper about hopes that the pedestrian and bicycle pathway on the Warren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton could be widened mentioned in passing that a repaving of the bridge in 2017 would be a good time to accomplish that if engineers can find a way to do it and a funding source can be identified by then.
I wondered if the bridge’s days as a patch-work quilt are about to end.
The driving surface has been a jumble of patches since an experimental product was used in the 1980s to repave it. I have been told by state bridge engineers that the surface, for all its unsightliness, has accomplished its main goal of protecting the steel structure beneath. And I can’t say the the ride is a rough as it looks like it would be.
An earlier news story said the work would be part of the repaving of much of Highway 303, known variously as Waaga Way and Wheaton Way, which includes the bridge. I asked what kind of surface would replace the current one.
The out basket: None, as it turns out. Initial plans to resurface the bridge as part of the work have changed, Neil Campbell of the state Department of Transportation told a Bremerton audience Thursday night. Instead, continued repairs and patching of its driving surface will be done while traffic control for the paving on either end of it is in place, said Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways.
“In the 2017 construction season,” she said, “we plan to pave SR 303 between NE William E. Sutton Road and SR 304 (Burwell Street) in Bremerton.
“The current plan is to exclude the Warren Avenue bridge deck from that paving project. That is not unusual, as bridge decks are usually excluded from paving projects because their surfaces are paved with different materials, and require different equipment and different expertise than roadway paving.
“The ‘experimental product’ used on the deck in the 1980s was a polyester concrete mix. At the time, it was a relatively new product but has been used many times since. It does require the correct application conditions and techniques to be effective, and on the Warren Avenue Bridge the concrete did not set up as we would have hoped.  The result has been patches to the bridge deck ever since.
“During the 2017 paver, we will take advantage of the traffic control to do more deck patching and surface repairs.
“In the meantime, the city is contemplating changing pedestrian access across the bridge deck. Although we own the bridge, the city has operational control of the bridge, and we are waiting to see what changes they choose to pursue, what funding sources can be secured, and if those plans would require any changes to our paving project.”

‘Squashed cormorants” on bridge deck concern reader

The in basket: Charles Ely says he thinks fledgling cormorants who are hatched under the Warren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton are crash landing on the roadway above while learning to fly and are unable to get off the bridge deck since the recent alteration that walled off the driving surface from the edge of the bridge. It leads to “squashed cormorants,” he said, and he wonders if creating a break in the barrier would be helpful.

Also, he said, “since they are protected, shouldn’t their deaths be at least tracked?”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region public affairs office says, “We are aware of the large population of pelagic cormorants that consider the Warren Avenue Bridge their home. At various times (i.e. when we painted the bridge a few years ago), our biologists have monitored the behavior of the birds.

“They found that the cormorants nesting on the underside of the bridge flew under, not over, the bridge. The behavior your reader is describing is a bit out of character for the birds, and (for now), we don’t believe the pedestrian barrier has an effect on their behavior because it did not change the barrier’s basic configuration.

“Pelagic cormorants are migratory birds and are protected, but they are not endangered.  These particular cormorants don’t even migrate – they stay put at the bridge.

“As regards tracking the birds,” she added, “we unfortunately we don’t have the resources to do that. Your reader’s observation has, however, raised our awareness and our biologists and bridge maintenance people will look into the issue more closely.”

Ruined bridge access guard rail repair due Feb. 12

The in basket: Janice Smith called in mid-January to ask whether the city or county is responsible for the ruined guard rail where Callahan Drive and Lebo Boulevard access the Warren Avenue Bridge southbound and when it would be fixed.

It has been marked off by cones for many weeks and what’s left of it wouldn’t be able to stop much.

The out basket: It was a couple of weeks before I heard her voice mail and that very day a large electronic sign showed up in front of the guard rail suggesting at least the “when” of the repair  – February 12. It says those ramps will be closed that day.

The county isn’t involved and it’s the city’s job. Managing Street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson of the city told me there had been uncertainty about the responsibility in the past but that was clarified last year.

“I believe the majority of the guardrail in this area dates back to the early 60’s,” he said, “and none of it is looking too good. We are looking to review all guardrail in this area, repair what needs to be, and remove any not required by the design manual.”

Jim Orton, city Public Works operations manager, adds. “We are replacing that section of guardrail on the 12th of February. There will be a detour route initiated while the contractor is replacing the damaged section.

“It took a while to get going on this due to funding,” he said. “It is costing Streets $10,000 just for the damaged section. There is no insurance available from the individual that damaged the guardrail and the vehicle was stolen so Streets is left with the bill.”

Left turns at tricky Clare-Callahan merge are legal

The in basket: Curt Bay says he’s been taking the off-ramp more often lately from the northbound side of Warren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton to get to Callahan Avenue. The same off-ramp also serves Clare Avenue, and he’s seen a number of drivers who had come up Clare and merged with Callahan then turn left onto the northbound on-ramp to Wheaton Way. He wonders if that is a legal turn.

The out basket: It’s an unusual intersection, with two streets served by the same off-ramp, and westbound Callahan going  from two-way to one-way traffic going in the opposite direction at that spot. But yes, turning left onto the on-ramp there is legal as long as a driver on Clare yields to cars coming off the bridge on Callahan, and to any oncoming traffic. A U-turn is illegal, though, as there is a sign there prohibiting that.

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.

What will Manette Bridge deck be made of?

The in basket: Gary Reed says he’s curious about the decking material that is planned for the new Manette Bridge.

“Will it be the same material as was used on the Warren Avenue Bridge that is already deteriorating, or yet another new miracle material?

“I also noticed there are traffic counters installed on the existing Manette Bridge,” Gary said. “Is someone changing their mind about the replacement? Seems a little late to determine traffic flow, and maybe not too accurate with the bridge being shut down at least one day a week.”

The out basket: Jeff Cook, project engineer for the bridge job, says the riding surface for the new bridge will be an 8-inch thick, reinforced concrete deck construction….  This is the standard concrete for bridge decks used throughout the state highway and interstate system (so no “new miracle” material).”

Warren Avenue Bridge has a 3/4-inch polyester concrete overlay atop light weight concrete.

“As to changing minds about the replacement of the existing structure, the answer is no,” Jeff said. “The continued construction of the new bridge is evidence of that.  And just to be clear; the new bridge is going up; existing bridge is coming down.

“The counters are placed throughout the area at this time … to get a baseline reading and account for variations in daily travel patterns,” he said.

“We use the information collected for a variety of reasons.  Specific to Manette Bridge, we continue to monitor traffic counts and peak hourly volumes to work on possible solutions to minimize impact to traffic and commuter vehicles while maintaining an efficient construction operation.”

Where did patriotic banners on bridge go?

The in basket: Ann Lafair writes, “There were some flags on the Warren Avenue Bridge poles that honored some of the Kitsap County people who died fighting in Iraq. They were there for some time, although I do not recall how long.  They have been gone for several months now.” 
She wonders why.
The out basket: The city moved them to a spot that provides a better chance for drivers to notice and read them, and where wind won’t wear on them so much, says Bob Tulp, operations manager for Bremerton public works.
That spot is at and near the intersection of Highway 304 and Farragut Avenue near the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard gate on its west end.
“We determined with Lynn George that the speed limit on the bridge didn’t give people enough time to read them,” Bob said. “We wanted them near a stop light to give the public a real opportunity to see them.”
Lynette George heads Blue Star Banner Program of Kitsap County, the organization that has campaigned to get the recognition banners displayed on local streets. Gold stars denote those “who have given the ultimate sacrifice and died while serving,” as George’s Web site puts it, and will be displayed indefinitely. Blue star banners recognize someone serving in the military, who will be presented with the banner when he or she gets out.
“Lynn goes out and gets the money and works with the government entities to get them hung,” Bob said. “When our staff goes out and hangs them on a Saturday, we are donating our time and equipment.” There is often a ceremony when a gold star banner is hung, if the family wishes, he said. A motorcycle group often takes part.
The flags were on the bridge for a year or less before being moved several months ago, he said.
Learn more about the program at www.kitsapbluestar.org or (360) 440-6497