Dealing with tall grass at intersections


The in basket: Two people have complained that tall grass obstructs their view of oncoming traffic as they try to get onto Highway 303. 

Both Pat Hopkins and Debbi Burton say they have to pull out almost into traffic at the stop sign for cars from Central Valley Road going south on 303 to see what’s coming. And Pat says the right turn from John Carlson on a red light also is scarier because of tall grass on the other side of the intersection.

Both wonder when the responsible government agency (the state, in both cases) will mow it. 

The out basket: Duke Stryker, head of local state highway maintenance, said his office has Highway 303 on its mowing list, but it’s a long list and he won’t guarantee it will be done this year. Sometimes they do a highway every other year due to limited time and equipment, he said. 

My wife and I made both turns this week and we both felt we could see enough either through or over the brush to be confident we would see any traffic too close to make the turn unsafe. If I turned out to be wrong, I’d turn onto the shoulder and wait for the traffic to clear. 

I asked Duke how the state feels about citizens taking it upon themselves to cut down tall grass that obstructs their view. He said they encourage it if the vegetation is at the citizen’s driveway, even if on state right of way.

But in places like where Pat and Debbi seek help, there is a means to “adopt a highway” to do more than just clean up litter. It takes a couple of weeks for a person or group to get a permit to cut down vegetation on a stretch of highway, which can be as short as the applicant wishes, he said. It doesn’t have to be a mile.

There might be desirable vegetation the state wouldn’t want cut, he said, something the permit process would prevent. And with the permit comes issuance of hard hats and reflective vests to make working alongside a highway safer. Call (360) 874-3050 to learn more.

His office has recently issued a permit to allow some folks on Bainbridge Island to attack Scotch broom there, he said. In Fife, the businesses along I-5 have a permit and hire a contractor to pick up litter and cut vegetation that might hide their businesses from passing traffic. 

Complicating hopes to have his own crews cut vegetation, he said, is that two of their three mowers are in the repair shop, one for quite a while longer. 

They recently trimmed Highway 302 just across the Kitsap County line to accommodate organizers of a major bicycle ride planned there late this month, he said.

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