Downtown PO signals finally to go active

The in basket: One of my projects for Monday of this week was to check back in with the state officials in charge of the stalled traffic signal project in downtown Port Orchard, which still hadn’t shown any sign of progress in the past month.

That had left traffic at the mercy of timed lights that went green in all directions every time, for a fixed length of time, whether there was traffic waiting or not. 

Despite a hopeful remark by a state project engineer three weeks ago that the final length of electrical line to power the lights finally had been made, the construction barrels remained in place with no sign of progress. Pouring of the pedestrian “bulbouts” that will narrow the streets to just one-lane in each direction and provide pedestrians a shorter crossing, which I figured would have to come first, hadn’t been started. I asked what the latest delay was.

The out basket: My question was timely. Andy Larson, assistant project engineer in the state’s local project office, said crews made the final connections later that day and the lights would begin working Tuesday,

And so it was. The new lights are working, with full traffic detection. That wasn’t obvious because of Tuesday’s surprising snow. City officials activated their meandering “snow route” to get traffic up to the county courthouse and environs, which meant closing Sidney. So that left turn pocket to go up the hill was blocked.

Andy said the final delay in the star-crossed project had to do with the Opticom sensors that allow emergency vehicles to change the lights to green as they approach. Because of the curves on either side of the Bay-Sidney intersection, those sensors are on power poles in the curves, not at the signal location, so emergency vehicles can prepare the lights to change before they actually can see them. It was a technicality with a franchise that  permits the system to work that held things up another three weeks, he said.

Andy said my expectation for the phasing of the remaining work was in error. Pouring the bulbouts couldn’t begin until the controller box for the old traffic lights is removed, which couldn’t happen until the new lights were in operation. The old signals were removed Tuesday, as well.

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