Category Archives: Transportation

Worker Deaths “Eerily Similar”

Binion here:

The death of a road construction worker Thursday is “eerily similar” to the death of Bremerton city employee Dean Westcott last August, said Bremerton Public Works Director Phil Williams.

Ricky C. Schaaf, 53, of Graham died while working on the Highway 304 improvement project Thursday afternoon when a water tanker truck backed into him. He was declared dead at the scene. He was an employee of Ceccanti, Inc., a contractor the city had signed to work on the city’s gateway project.

Westcott, 58, of Lake Symington, was killed Aug. 22 in what has been ruled an accident.

Both men were killed when a vehicle backed into them.

Williams called it “eerily similar.”

“All of us in the city family can really feel for what Ceccanti, Inc. going through,” Williams said.

The project Schaaf was working on started last summer and is due to finish by the end of this year, Williams said.

The irony, he said, is that it is a safety project, meant to reduce the outlets for side traffic on the road.

“That’s really what drove the project,” Williams said.

Washington has an average of about 87 deaths a year, according to this research abstract.

In Kitsap County in 2007 there were three workplace deaths, including Westcott.

On April 30, 2007 an apprentice lineman was electrocuted, and on Aug. 28, 2007 – six days after Westcott died – a man was killed when he fell 30 feet down a dumbwaiter shaft, according to state Department of Labor and Industries statistics.

There were no workplace deaths in Kitsap in 2006.

Poor Old Bridge

manette bridge.jpg

The Opening Day of The Manette Bridge

There are a few things that scream Bremerton

First, is the shift change whistle at the shipyard. It literally screams

As for images, the Hammerhead crane comes to mind.

Other than that, it’s got to be the bridge.

The poor, old Manette Bridge.

Like people later in life slow down and stop doing yard work and changing their own oil, the state Department of Transportation will implement weight restrictions on the Manette Bridge next week. (Read the story here)

Described as “both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete” by DOT, construction on a new bridge will begin in summer 2010 and will be finished 2012. (Read the DOT project page here)

The new bridge will no doubt be safer, provide more space for pedestrians and bicyclists and inspire less anxiety in those passing over Port Washington Narrows.

But chances are the new bridge will inspire less in general. It’s more than a bridge, but a link to the past, to a different time, back when Bremerton was a bustling port city and Seattle was a working class town.

Ploy Studios, the T-shirt shop/art gallery in downtown, has been producing striking T-shirts with the image of the bridge.

Ploy Co-owner Michael Abegg said even when the old bridge goes the way of affordable rent the shop will continue to produce the shirts.

“That’s what everyone remembers,” Abegg said. “You always see it coming to Bremerton.”

Abegg even remembers it as the first bridge he drove over when he learned to drive.

For more info on Ploy Studios, click here.

Red Light Runners Beware

As you’ve traveled in Bremerton lately the city’s police department may have studied your movement through intersections. The city has been testing potential intersections for camera placement to catch and fine people who run red lights.

Kitsap Sun reporter Josh Farley will be meeting with Bremerton Police Lt. Pete Fisher next week to get details on which intersections get the cameras and what the initial studies showed. We’ve heard rumors. If they’re true, ka-ching!

The city will use the cameras for a month and send warnings, but after that the infraction costs $124.

We’ve heard the city could have sent out a lot of tickets. “How many” you ask? “A lot,” I answer. We heard a number, but I can neither confirm nor deny, because the consequence of being wrong about it is just as excruciating as watching that guy on American Idol who had his chest hair waxed. Thank you, Newark.

Let’s put it this way. Redflex will get just under $5,000 a month per camera, about $40,000 a month. Or, if there aren’t enough tickets issued, the company will get whatever amount the cameras generate.

So the multiple choice question is, given the rumored number, would the cameras generate enough tickets to pay for themselves and provide revenue to the city?

A. No
B. Maybe
C. Yes
D. Oh my gosh, yes!
E. What the &%#*@!

Answer: E

This does not account for the fact that once cameras are up, people will be more aware and not so inclined to test it. But even if you cut the rumored number in half, the answer is still E.

Wi-Fi on the Ferry

Marina Colette of Bremerton sends message to her boyfriend in Virginia using the Bremerton run’s new wi-fi service. Photo by the Kitsap Sun’s Larry Steagall

Bremerton ferry riders now have access to the same wireless Internet service Bainbridge and Kingston riders have had for more than a year.

Ed Friedrich’s story today gives the details, the costs (It’s $29.95 a month.) and the following piece of information that should make anyone who regularly complains (ahem!) about the Bremerton service feel a little better.

The Bremerton-Seattle sailing, at about 60 minutes, is the longest commuter route in Puget Sound, and it lends itself to Wi-Fi because there’s more time to use it. Subscribers would get more value for their $30 monthly fee than the riders of other commuter routes, which average about 20 or 30 minutes.

“It makes an attractive run even more attractive,” said Joan Dingfield, a member of the Bremerton ferry advisory committee who commutes to work at the Seattle School District. “You can get ready for work or get a few things done before you get home.”

C’mon Bremerton riders. Smile a little. The people on Bainbridge are paying the same price but get less time online.

Common Sense Solution for Speeding

A reader sent this video to me. It’s in German, I think.

With Bremerton set to embark on the use of traffic cameras for stop-sign runners, here’s a solution for speeding the city could consider in the future. I found a translation on the Web, but I can’t verify that it’s accurate. It’s below the video.

“What are you doing Gisela? The camera is already running. Come here. I will show it to this guy! He won’t drive through here any more. Gisela, don’t film the flowers, come here! He’s coming. Let me hold the camera. Boy oh boy!!!! Great !!!”

Bad News For Those Who Don’t Want the Manette Bridge to Change

While the state heard comments from Bremertonians, mostly those from Manette, about the future of the city’s signature bridge, one group pointed to the Murray Morgan bridge in Tacoma. Local activists had managed to save the bridge from the demolition the state planned. The state had agreed to hand the span over to the city, along with millions to help fix it.

Today, the state closed the bridge, a surprise to the Tacoma City Council. The News Tribune reports:

The state Department of Transportation closed the 94-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge today, citing “life safety concerns.”

The news led City Council members to angrily question new transportation Secretary Paula Hammond about the state’s apparent failure to maintain the iconic span. Council members also grilled Hammond about the consequences the closure would have on emergency response to the Tideflats.

State officials had been inspecting the bridge with greater scrutiny following the collapse of an interstate bridge in Minneapolis this summer. The inspection showed corroded and crumbling steel to such an extent that officials decided to immediately close the bridge to all traffic, including emergency vehicles.

“We can’t let them drive across the bridge right now knowing what we know,” Hammond said.

According to the survey the state did, most people do want to see the Manette replaced, so a similar movement to the Murray Morgan effort is not likely to fare as well as that one did. And if what happened today represents “faring well,” then who would consider it worth it.

Most in the survey did prefer making the Manette bridge something other than its neighbor, the Warren Avenue bridge. State Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, suggested to state Department of Transportation officials putting up the existing steel on the new bridge as a facade. She said she hasn’t heard from DOT yet.

Terminal Taxis

In the spirit of Road Warrior Travis Baker, I saw a letter stating that an elderly couple was forced to walk to Starbucks to get a taxi late one night.

We were informed that cabs were not allowed in front of the ferry terminal. We had to walk to Starbucks on Washington Avenue to get a taxi cab.

This is not a long way for someone who is young and walks well, but for me it’s a long way. Once we did get a taxi, the driver told us the city did not allow cabs in front of the terminal, for our protection.

Assuming the cab driver said this, the cab driver is wrong, according to Kitsap Transit. I called their offices today and spoke with customer service. The rep there said the cab companies have to fill out a form and after doing so are allowed up close to the terminal entrance. It’s not the city enforcing this rule, it’s Kitsap Transit.

That form is a little onerous, according to the owner of one cab company, and it can take three weeks for the approval process.

I will probably do a bigger story on this in the future, laying out as many details as I can. For now I’ll rely on the customer service rep and a cab owner.

Drivers have to apply and get a background check done to get permission to approach the terminal. The cab owner said qualifying drivers can have no felonies and no misdemeanors to qualify.

So, if there were any qualifying drivers in front of the terminal late that night, perhaps some others beat the couple with the luggage and the cane to the curb, forcing them to make tracks to Starbucks.

“For your protection?” Well, if you get a cab at the terminal then you can be reasonably sure that the driver has passed a background check. But that couple was no safer by walking to Starbucks that night.

Secret Pent Up Demand

Ed Friedrich has a story about the delayed addition of Wi-Fi service on the Bremerton and Southworth ferries.

Wireless Internet service on the Bremerton-Seattle ferry route has been delayed again, with the date pushed back to an ambiguous fourth quarter 2007 date to keep from further tantalizing riders.

Since I’m not a frequent commuter, I’m curious about the word “tantalizing.” Is Wi-Fi something Bremerton and Southworth riders are aching for? Is there as much pent up demand for Internet service on the boat as there appeared to be for Popeyes in Bremerton?

What’s tantalizing is the secrecy of the company installing the service.

That issue has been resolved, said Bob Davis, Parsons vice president. He couldn’t say where the antenna was placed because it is proprietary information.


It is Parsons’ policy not to disclose the number of customers have signed up, Davis said.

And let’s not forget the comment from the first paragraph:

. . . the date pushed back to an ambiguous fourth quarter 2007 date to keep from further tantalizing riders.

Yes, by all means. Parsons’ secrecy is to our benefit. Thank you. I shant question you again.