Update as of Aug. 22, 2011. I found the light at Lower Wheaton and Lebo/Cherry working fine when I went through it. Gunnar Fridriksson of the city’s engineers says the dry weather may have temporarily corrected the detection problem there, but he would expect it to return with the fall rains. — Road Warrior.
The in basket: Jim Lawson of Manette thinks the traffic signal on Lower Wheaton Way (often called “Old Wheaton Way) where Lebo Boulevard and Cherry Avenue intersect it has gotten worse not better since closure of the Manette Bridge has increased traffic there.
That intersection lies on the main detour route for former Manette Bridge traffic wanting to reach West Bremerton. It’s always been a key route for Manette residents heading for northbound Highway 303, known as Wheaton Way.
Jim says “Six weeks or longer ago the city of Bremerton changed the sequence so Wheaton Way stays green most of the time. Now at any time of day with no other cars at the intersection, to turn left from Cherry to Wheaton, you sit and sit and sit and sit and sit.“
He also is hopeful the city might take a page from Kitsap County’s book and deploy one of the flashing yellow left-turn lights to allow traffic heading uphill on Old Wheaton to turn left and reach southbound Highway 303 via the Lebo access, rather than waiting for the red left turn light to change.
Jim also described a circuitous route he takes to hasten his trip back to his home from north of Sheridan Road. It takes him down Cherry past Harrison Medical Center to the light on Old Wheaton, where he once again is delayed longer than he’d like before getting to turn left.
The out basket: Those who share Jim’s frustration won’t see the problem rectified soon.
Gunnar Fridriksson, interim managing engineer for Bremerton’s public works department, says, “Timing to the light has not been changed. The northbound traffic detector loop has failed, which means the signal has defaulted to continually ‘detecting’ northbound traffic” whether there is any or not.
The city knew the loop was fragile when the detour route for the bridge closure was selected a year ago, but hoped it would last until an upgrade of Lower Wheaton Way, for which they have money in 2012. But it failed this year.
Because the problem actually serves the detour by giving uphill traffic more time than it otherwise would to reach the Callahan Avenue interchange with Highway 303, they have opted not to make the repair, which would be costly due to the age of the controller equipment, the condition of the pavement and plans for work there next year, he said.
But it comes at a cost of longer waits on the side streets. At present, when a vehicle approaches on either Lebo or Cherry, the working detector loops on that street sense it, but that just starts the preset countdown before they get a green light, rather than an immediate signal change. That accounts for what Jim sees during his route home via Cherry.
There’s an alternate route to the southbound on-ramp to the bridge reached by turned left onto Lebo, a movement also delayed by the broken loop. But the difference in distance is miniscule. The city and state chose in setting up the detour route last year to send all detoured traffic looking to go to West Bremerton north to Callahan rather than indicating that a left turn on Lebo is an option. “That simplifies directions to the motoring public unfamiliar with the area,” he said.
I didn’t expect the city to introduce a yellow flashing left turn light at Old Wheaton/Lebo/Cherry, as it hasn’t chosen to spend the money on that new technology anywhere else up to now. That is the answer I got.
“No funding is identified to upgrade signal systems,” Gunnar said. “As this is an older system and controller, upgrading would be a significant cost.”