Tag Archives: Warren

Driver worries about lefts and rights against red signals

The in basket: Yvonne Dean has some questions, she said in an e-mail, starting with one about an odd state law that I don’t see mentioned accept in the Road Warrior column and remains little known by drivers. It’s the one permitting left turns against a red arrow signal, but only onto a one-way road or street and only after coming to a full stop and yielding to any vehicles with a green light or to pedestrians.

“I have been wondering if this type of left turn would be permitted on Ridgetop (in Silverdale) when you are coming down from Ridgetop Junior High and turning left to go toward East Bremerton,” Yvonne said. “Before making the turn on red I assume you have to check to make sure there was no one coming off of Waaga Way who might be turning left up Ridgetop and no one coming up Ridgetop up to that intersection.”

Then she asks about two right-turn-on-red situations at 11th and Warren Avenue (in Bremerton).

“Tonight I was coming east on 11th and a fire truck was in the curb lane with his right-turn signal blinking,” he said. “He didn’t turn until the light turned green.  Can you not turn right at that (red) light after coming to a complete stop and having no traffic coming toward you?”

Finally, “when I am coming south on Warren Avenue to that same intersection and I want to turn right to go up 11th if the light is red I have stopped and check to make sure there is no on-coming traffic and then turned up the hill.  Is that legal?”

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger and Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police provide answers for Yvonne.

A left on red at Ridgetop onto the southbound Highway 303 on-ramp is legal if done with the restrictions Yvonne and I stated above.

But as I’ve said before, the odds that the first driver in line to turn left knows the law and dares to use it are so low that it’s usually not seen.

The right turn on red is legal on 11th at Warren. Pete Fisher guesses the length of the first truck would have required it to swing too wide to make the turn comfortably if cars were coming south in either lane of Warren. Fire Chief Al Duke says that sounds right. There’s no department policy forbidding legal rights on red, he said.

And the presence of the traffic signal that offers a protected right turn on Warren at 11th does nothing to negate the opportunity to turn right when it’s red, after a full stop and while yielding to any conflicting traffic or pedestrians.

Traffic signs can blend into the background

The in basket:  I often hear from readers who find the array of traffic signals on eastbound 11th Street at Warren Avenue in Bremerton confusing. There are four signal heads for three lanes, and the right-most two control only the outside lane, but give some drivers the impression going straight in the centermost eastbound lane is permissible.

It’s not, both inner lanes are for left turns only.

So I was surprised the other day when I spotted two signs beside the street as I approached the intersection. They said only traffic in the right lane is allowed to go straight.

I asked Gunnar Fridriksson, Bremerton’s managing street engineer, if they had recently been added because of comments about confusion at the intersection, or had they been there since the intersection was revised a year ago.

The out basket: Another surprise. They’d been there a lot longer than that. Gunnar said, “Probably put in place 20-plus years ago when the lanes were originally configured (with) the two lanes being left turning. Been there all this time.”

He’s remarked before that the recent revision didn’t change the number of signal heads or what lanes they control. For some reason, confusion among drivers increased when the heads no longer hung from wires, but are installed on metal poles.

“The problem with signs,” he said, “if you are not looking for them – they tend not to be noticed.  (That’s) why I am not a proponent for adding to the clutter.”

He then sent along a public service video intended to raise consciousness about driver’s watching out for bicycles, but also illustrating that things in plain sight can go unnoticed if you’re watching for something else.

Perhaps you’ve seen it. It involves a bunch of people tossing basketballs around, and you are challenged to count the number of passes the ones dressed in white make. A man in a bear suit walks through the milling players, moon-walking part of the way, and I’m sure goes unnoticed – the first time – by the vast majority of those who see it and are occupied counting passes. I didn’t see him, even though I’d seen the video before.

Google ‘moonwalking bear” if you want to test your awareness. Even forewarned, you may be surprised.

Buses AREN’T exempt from traffic control at 11th and Warren

The in basket: Brian Lozier read the recent Road Warrior column about transit buses having the right to proceed straight in the outside lane on Sixth Street at Park Avenue in Bremerton where other traffic must turn right, and described a similar incident on 11th Street at Warren Avenue.

He’s seen transit buses go straight in the eastbound center lane of 11th, he said, though there’s what he described as “a clear left-only arrow” in that lane.

“Because the city of Bremerton, in its infinite wisdom, chose to narrow 11th to one lane in each direction just after that

intersection,”Brian said, “buses going straight through in the center lane make it so traffic in the right lane can’t move over and they all have to slam their brakes.

“Is this a legal move for buses or are these drivers just ignoring the law?” he asked, adding “does the red light camera there also catch illegal movement on greens?

“Further,” he wrote, “since I have seen this numerous times (and not just with buses), it seems like this merge can be eliminated by just making that lane on 11th a right-turn only up to Park. There aren’t usually a lot of cars parked there, and that one block stretch is adjacent to to a walled-off power substation.”

The out basket: There are no signs conferring anyone the right to proceed straight in that lane, so if transit drivers are doing it, they are committing an infraction.

Transit Executive Director John Clauson says, “If the bus went straight through the intersection without using the right lane, it was improper. I have (included) our operations director on this communication and I am confident she will take care of this.

“If your reader sees additional violations of this type, he/she should give us a call with the bus number and the exact time of the incident.  It will help immensely to help us track the issue back to the operator and work with the team to refresh operators on the rules of the road.”

The two red light cameras there monitor only red light infractions and then only in the two directions of travel alongside which they are deployed.

Gunnar Fridriksson, the city’s managing street engineer, says they do plan to make the outside lane right only at Park, at the same time they make some parking revisions on 11th and Sixth. As at Sixth and Park, buses will be permitted to proceed straight in the outside lane even after the change.

Lastly, what’s permitted on eastbound 11th at Warren isn’t all that obvious. The two round ball signals for the outside lane (a federally required redundancy) leave many drivers wondering whether  going straight in the center lane is legal. But I wouldn’t expect transit drivers to be confused about it.

Burwell signal at Warren continues to rankle

The in basket: My friend Bill Throm is the latest to angrily object to what he and others see as an unnecessary obstacle to getting into downtown Bremerton on Burwell Street – the Warren Avenue signal that keeps the eastbound through traffic stuck at a red light for little reason.

The reason is a small parking lot up against the shipyard fence, to which a westbound left-turn green light provides access. Bill and others note that they almost never see anyone turn left into the lot, while they are among dozens of eastbound drivers waiting at the opposing red light.

A reader a couple of years ago suggested making access to the lot available only by turning right from eastbound Burwell or pulling straight across on Warren. That would eliminate the westbound left turn and let through eastbound traffic move at the same time as those in the inside lane are turning left onto northbound Warren.

I would think that would provide more time for other movements at that light.

I asked city officials their latest thinking on this conundrum.

The out basket: As in the past, city street engineers are loathe to make piecemeal changes in traffic control, for fear of having to undo them when an unintended consequence raised its head.

I imagine collateral issues would begin with in what directions vehicles would be allowed OUT of the parking lot if a change is made.

Gunnar Fridriksson, the city’s senior street engineer, says,  “We were waiting on traffic counts and modeling to take a look at what can be done here. We received an initial copy (and) reading through the lines on the report, we currently have the signal optimized as much as possible without making a number of other timing changes in the corridor or reconfiguring the signals.

“The Burwell/SR 304 corridor is one (in which) we are currently reviewing all of the timing packages for the signals and trying to synchronize to maximize our flows. This is an effort we are working with Kitsap County on.

“You will be seeing traffic counters (tubes) out for all of the signalized intersections along this stretch (Missouri Gate to Pacific Avenue) over the next several months, as we have time and resources to get the work done.

“We will be working on modeling the entire corridor next, and be likely implementing changes early in 2015.

“Reconfiguring the light at Burwell/Warren to be a right in/right out is something we will be looking at this fall with our analysis. I would just ask your reader for a little more patience as we try to work through this effort with the resources we have.”

 

 

Pedestrians buttons at 11th and Warren questioned

The in basket: Gary Reed writes with a question about the revamped intersection of 11th Street and Warren Avenue in Bremerton.

“Why are the “‘Push to Cross’ buttons placed so close to the curb? Seems like if a wheelchair user didn’t set the chairs brakes correctly before trying to use the buttons, they could roll out into traffic. Or, if a person had a couple of rambunctious children so close to the curb, they could easily fall into traffic.

“Why weren’t the buttons located on the light poles, away from the traffic?  I have never seen the lights change (anywhere) so fast a person couldn’t get to the curb from the light pole before the lights changed.”

The out basket: As with most things street engineers do, they must locate pedestrians signal buttons in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a federal publication.

Gunnar Fridriksson, Bremerton’s managing street engineer, sent me the relevant parts of that manual.

“The provisions in this section,” it says, “place pedestrian pushbuttons within easy reach of pedestrians who are intending to cross each crosswalk and make it obvious which pushbutton is associated with each crosswalk.

“If pedestrian pushbuttons are used, they should be capable of easy activation and conveniently located near each end of the crosswalks. Pedestrian pushbuttons should be located to meet all of the following criteria:

A.    Unobstructed and adjacent to a level all-weather surface to provide access from a wheelchair;

B.    Where there is an all-weather surface, a wheelchair accessible route from the pushbutton to the ramp;

C.    Between the edge of the crosswalk line (extended) farthest from the center of the intersection and the side of a curb ramp (if present), but not greater than 5 feet from said crosswalk line;

D.   Between 1.5 and 6 feet from the edge of the curb, shoulder, or pavement;

E.    With the face of the pushbutton parallel to the crosswalk to be used; and

F.    At a mounting height of approximately 3.5 feet, but no more than 4 feet, above the sidewalk.”

I haven’t measured the buttons’ locations relative to the curb and crosswalk, but must assume they comply with these rules, including C., whatever it means.

Those ‘Except Bikes’ signs below Right Turn Only signs at Warren

The in basket: Daniel Crall e-mailed to say, “In Bremerton at Fourth Street and Warren Avenue, the city built a center divider so that a car can not turn left. However, there is a sign that states
that ‘Bikes’ may turn left. Does this mean bicycles or motorcycles?”

The out basket: The signs actually say a right turn only is permitted, with an arrow, but with a second sign, “Except Bikes” just below.

They are on both Fourth and Fifth streets on both sides of Warren.

Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says, “This allows bicycles to go straight through on Fourth and Fifth streets.  Otherwise, the bicyclists would be subject to citation.”

I asked Gunnar if a left turn by a bicyclist passing through the median barrier would be permitted, and he said he believes that would be permitted. I also asked if any kind of motorized two-wheeler, from motorcycles to motorized scooters, could take advantage of the exception, and he said no. But the final call would be by a law enforcement officer who witnessed what was done.

Gunnar also said a businessman with a view of the barrier from atop the large glass office building there tells him he occasionally sees cars squeeze through the crosswalk gaps in the barrier. That, of course, is illegal.

Missing right turn opportunities at 11th and Warren

The in basket: Internet user jdubbya38 asked on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com if I’d addressed the reason the city of Bremerton eliminated the second of the two lanes from which a driver was permitted to make a right turn from southbound Warren Avenue to westbound 11th Street.

Then Lee and Lorna Crawford and Lorna’s sister, Linda Verbon, all told me their car tires had hit something on the curb as they made that right turn from the outside lane since the city revised the intersection. They initially hadn’t noticed the arc of RPMs (raised pavement markers or “turtles”) there that encourages drivers to swing out wide, and after seeing them, they said almost everyone making the turn cuts inside them.

While I was at it, I asked the reason for eliminating the dedicated right turn lane from westbound 11th to northbound Warren at the same intersection.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says of the turtles in the right turn, “We actually have a similar marking out on SR 304 eastbound right by First Street. We initially had complaints about motorists hitting the curb there, so used RPMs to highlight/encourage them bumping out a bit from the curb.

“At 11th and Warren, we needed to contour the concrete panel right against the curb for storm drainage.  The contour is much more evident in a smaller vehicle than a truck, especially right at the curb.  It is not very noticeable a few feet out, so we used RPM’s again to highlight/encourage swinging the corner a little wider.

“The reason for the double-right turn lane southbound from Warren to 11th (in the first place) was the short length of the turn lane that was here previously.  With the new turn lane being over twice the length, we did not need the second lane anymore as the new right turn lane has the capacity needed.”

As for the eliminated right turn lane from westbound 11th to Warren, “We found that larger vehicles, particularly transit and school buses, were having problems making the corner without either driving over the new ADA ramps and sidewalk or swinging wide across multiple lanes.

“It was decided to eliminate the right-turn lane and move the lane further from the curb to give the larger vehicles additional space to make the movement.”

 

 

What’s the point of 13th & Warren traffic detectors?

The in basket: I noticed that the new traffic signal at 13th and Warren in Bremerton has traffic detection wires (called “loops”) cut into the asphalt on Warren, even though left turns are forbidden by signs suspended over the intersection there and right turns don’t require a green light.

Having noticed that, I looked at Warren’s pavement just up the street at 16th Street, the entrance to Olympic College. It also has wires to detect southbound traffic, even though the only signal-controlled turn permitted there southbound was eliminated when right turns were given a Yield sign.

I asked what good the detectors do.

The out basket: Gunnar Fridricksson of the city street engineers says, “At 13th Street, the loops are functioning and being used now for vehicle

detection on Warren.  Even though left-hand turns on Warren are prohibited, the signal system still needs to know where the demand is.

“Same story at 16th Street – except for the southbound right turn lane,” he said.  “That

loop is still there, but I believe has been disconnected in the cabinet, as the Yield sign controls the lane.”

Without the loops, the signal would detect constant traffic on Warren, he said, just as it does when one of the in-pavement detectors fails. It won’t change as needed.

16th Street’s red light cameras now watch only through traffic

The in basket: Sandra Hill was unlucky enough to be among those cited for running the red light while turning right at the 16th Street entrance to Olympic College in Bremerton while that still was a violation.

Her experience serves as a window into what one can expect when so cited, and raises a question about the rules at that intersection now.

Sandra, like many others who have been cited, said that as she looked at the two still photos enclosed with the notice of violation mailed to her, it didn’t look like she had run the red .

“(One) picture shows my car with brake lights on and clearly stopped at the white line while the red light was on,” she said. “Then another photo shows my car turning the corner to go towards the college, while the light was still red.

“The sign at that corner said  ‘Stop On Red.’  It didn’t say ‘No Turn On Red.’

“Now, of course, I’m not sure if that photo stop sign is still working,” she added, “because the city has revamped the entrance to the college, and made a separate right turn lane with a Yield sign at the merge with 16th street.”

The out basket: I advised Sandra to go online or to the municipal court office and watch the video of her infraction. Brake lights mean only that the brakes have been applied, not that the car is stopped. The still photos can be misleading.

Sandra and the judge who heard her case decided the video showed that she had made a rolling stop through the light, and she was fined. As is normally the case when one goes to court and doesn’t try for a not guilty verdict, the amount of her fine was lowered from $124 to $86.

“The court gave me three months to pay it off,” she said. “If I had needed any longer, they have a collection company which has a representative right in the court building, and I could have made arrangements with them to have a longer pay-off time, but they would charge interest.

“By the time I paid the interest, it would have been like paying the whole fine. So, I bit the bullet and made three payments, and did without a few things,” she said.

The red light cameras remain at the 16th and Warren intersection, but the one that caught Sandra is only watching now for straight-through violations. The revised intersection has a Yield sign for right turns, so rolling rights are permitted if the driver yields to traffic that has the green light.

The camera watching northbound traffic there is working the same as before the intersection was changed, watching through traffic.

Don’t speed if using residential streets as a bypass

The in basket: Bob Miller, who lives near Evergreen Park in Bremerton, says the street work on 11th Street to the west has had some repercussions for his neighborhood.

“I have noticed a steady uptick in morning and afternoon traffic

as the trip down Warren north of 11th has become more encumbered with

vehicle volume and traffic lights,” Bob said.

“While I can’t blame anyone from trying to escape the ‘crawl’ that the

Warren rush hour becomes, I urge drivers who are bypassing to respect

the posted speed limits of 25 mph, and 20 mph when in the vicinity of

the park,” he said.

“As warmer weather approaches, Evergreen Park use will increase as it

always does, and more pedestrians will be out and about, especially

those crossing over to their parked cars or CJ’s Evergreen Store,” Bob said.

The out basket: It’s a timely warning, although longer hours of darkness in the winter make it as applicable then.

It’s been difficult for years to get from 11th Street to Burwell Street, so I have developed a zig-zag route along a couple of residential streets to avoid signals and speed humps for trips between those arterials. But I make it a point to stay at or below the 25 mph speed limit when on those streets, something I’m less careful about on arterials like 11th, Sixth and Burwell. I encourage drivers on the narrow streets east of and parallel to Warren to observe the speed limits there, lest more “traffic-calming” devices like mid-intersection traffic circles and more speed humps – or accidents – result.

I expect the widened intersection at 11th and Warren to make Elizabeth and Park less attractive detours for southbound drivers.

Unfortunately. I don’t think it will do as much for northbound traffic in the afternoon rush, and seeking help from Bremerton police speed enforcement may be required then.