Tag Archives: 104

Widening of highway north of Poulsbo is possible, but when?

The in basket: Catherine Slaton writes, “My husband and I are looking at property in Poulsbo just off SR 3 (Kinman Road) and heard through the grapevine that the state wants to widen the road to four lanes by 2030.

“In researching the likelihood of this I stumbled onto your very informative blog,” she said. (Aw, shucks). “Are you privy to any new information on the likelihood of this occurring?  I did read in a 2009 blog post that lack of funding, design, and environmental issues were keeping this from happening.”

The out basket: I’m afraid this one won’t qualify as “very informative.” Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways could tell us only that “WSDOT has identified a need to widen SR 3 between SR 305 and SR 104. At present that need is unfunded. It would be up to the Legislature to allocate funds for such a project to occur, and I don’t know what the likelihood is of that happening.”

Who knows? Maybe 2030 will find it widened.

Port Ludlow reader pleads for safer intersection west of bridge

The in basket: Janice Crittenden of Port Ludlow would like to see the two intersections with Highway 104 at the Jefferson County end of the Hood Canal Bridge made less dangerous.

It’s been a hazard for 30 years, she said, but “has gotten much worse in the last 10 years, or so.”

“The two intersecting roads are Paradise Bay Road and Shine Road.  The most troubling area is the Paradise Bay Road section of the intersection; it is a left turn onto the bridge.

“I pass across the bridge and make that left turn, probably the 5-6 times per week.  I have family members who cross it daily from Paradise Bay Road.

“We hear sirens several times a week headed in that direction and even more disconcerting are the many fender benders or worse that we have witnessed. Close calls are extremely frequent!  We have been included in some of those incidents.

“I have sat at this spot waiting to turn left for nearly 10 minutes at a time on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon. Some are not so patient!! People have exhibited road rage during their wait, directed at those that won’t take chances.

“The only time this area is at all safe is when WSP has been called to monitor bridge closure traffic.  The officers let all Paradise Bay traffic go before allowing cars from either direction to flow. This is wonderful for those of us waiting, but is certainly not a solution. They are only present during Navy openings and not even all of those.

“I propose a traffic-sensitive light be installed which is only activated when there is a car/cars waiting to turn left. I understand the difficulties doing this on a state highway, but lives are truly at stake,” Janice said.

The out basket: I’ve not been there nearly as much as Janice, but I did feel the angst created by having to turn left there on the few occasions I have.

Unhappily, as scary as it seems, it hasn’t produced the evidence in the form of bad accidents that would move it up the state’s priority list, says Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways.

“Nothing is planned at present for that intersection,” she said. “We would like to make improvements to it, but limited resources require us to address highway needs based on a priority system. Other intersections rate higher, meaning they have a worse collision history, and current funding doesn’t reach far enough to affect this intersection.

“I wish I had better news for your reader.”

Nothing planned for Parcells Road area near Kingston

The in basket: Kimberley Kelly writes, “Are there any future plans for the Highway 104/Parcells Road/Barber-Cut Off Road intersection in Kingston?

“The county re-aligned the road many years ago, however, when the ferry is unloading and/or when the elementary school is starting or ending its day, it can be nearly impossible to cross this intersection.

“We have lived in our home off Parcells Road for 23 years and this intersection is becoming more and more dangerous each year. There have been wrecks (including fatalities) and constant near-misses at this intersection. I would love to see a traffic signal or a large round-about at this location.

The out basket: Kitsap County has a study going it calls a “Complete Streets Study” of Kingston, but it’s not so complete that it stretches out to Parcells Road.

Doug Bear of Kitsap County public works says, “Parcells Road is outside the boundary of the Complete Streets Study.” Nothing is included on the county’s six-year Transportation Improvement Program extending out to 2021 for that intersection and the state also says it has no plans for improvements there.

‘Yield to uphill traffic’ sign on SR104 confuses driver

The in basket: Chuck Regimbal e-mailed to say, “A while back I was traveling west on Highway 104. About a mile before it intersects with Highway 101 there is a long downhill run. Near the top of this hill is a sign for downhill traveling vehicles to ‘yield to uphill traffic.'”

I am confused by this sign,” he said. “Why is it there? The uphill traveling traffic has two lanes, one for slow traffic. Further, I thought that ‘Yield to uphill traffic’ was meant for uphill traveling traffic to yield to downhill traveling traffic.  If so, the sign should be on the other side of the road.

“When on forest roads, and going downhill with a trailer in tow, it is more difficult to back a trailer up a hill than for the driver positioned
downhill from the encounter to back down the hill.  So ‘yield to uphill
traffic’ is really meant for the driver traveling (moving) in the uphill
direction,” he said. then asked. “How should this be interpreted?”

The out basket: I don’t know what might be the rule on forest roads, which might not even be two lanes wide. But the sign he mentions is intended to tell those driving in the single downhill lane on three-lane Highway 104 that they cannot try to pass a car going in the same direction if there is a vehicle coming uphill in the inside lane close enough to be imperiled by the act of passing. The vehicle traveling uphill has the right of way.

Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the state’s Olympic Region, says the stripe separating the two directions of travel is dashed on the downhill side, permitting passing when no oncoming traffic is close by.

Uphill traffic couldn’t benefit from seeing the sign, as that side has a solid yellow stripe that forbids crossing it to pass. Uphill traffic already has two lanes in which to get around one another.

Sign at Pioneer Hill in NK gives oddball info to drivers

The in basket: Dan Godecke of Lofall in North Kitsap says, “When (the state) put up the new cameras on Highway 3 from the bridge to Highway 305, they also installed a sign southbound on Highway 3 at Pioneer Hill.  It is one of the kind that has flashing yellow lights telling drivers to tune to a radio channel for highway information.
“I have seen this sign’s light come on three times now,” Dan wrote. “All three times it was the same message, “The Hood Canal Bridge is open for marine traffic at this time”.

“Why was this sign installed on the southbound direction of Highway 3 to tell southbound traffic that the bridge behind them is open for marine traffic?  Who going south could possibly care if the bridge behind them is open or closed?
“This brings up the second question.  Why was this sign (or another sign) not installed for northbound traffic.  The people going north on highway 3 would have a need to know if the bridge in front of them is closed.
“I am beginning to think that the people who dream up this stuff don’t drive on the highways or even have a clue what direction is north or south.”
The out basket: Well, I suppose there are a few drivers going south who might find the current status of the bridge helpful, but that’s not the explanation.

The messages Dan heard were a mistake, says Tony Leingang, freeway operations manager for this region.

“The sign installed at this location gave our regional Traffic Management Center a new tool to talk to motorists traveling south towards Bremerton and east towards Poulsbo when incidents affecting that area occur,” Tony said. “The recent project that installed the cameras and this sign also brought a new Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) transmitter located near SR 3/SR 305 and a new frequency of AM 1650. That is why the sign in question was added in this area.

“Hood Canal Bridge information on the HAR transmitter located near the bridge is supported by four different flashing beacon signs located

northbound on SR 3 at Lofall, westbound on SR 104 at Port Gamble,

eastbound on SR 104 near Paradise Bay and southbound on US 101 near the US 101/SR 104 junction.

“This group of devices asks motorists to tune to a different frequency (AM 530).l. That system has been in place for quite some time and covers Mr. Godecke’s concern about northbound SR 3 traffic receiving information relative to the bridge.

“I can only point to human error that must have occurred when the Pioneer Hill flashers were inadvertently activated relative to (bridge)activities. I apologize for the confusion and we are reviewing this with the staff now to ensure the issue gets resolved.”

Long waits in Kingston during ferry off-loads explained

The in basket Lynn Hammond, who runs a salon in Kingston, wrote in July to ask, “When traveling northbound off the ferry in Kingston and you are stopped at the signal on Lindvog Road turning left, and there are no cars coming toward you going south toward the ferry, why doesn’t the light change for cars to turn left? 

“I know it has to do with the timing of the lights for the off-loading traffic, but if you are in line to turn, it takes forever for the light to change to go left.  The light at the corner of the motel in town has the same problem. I usually experience this in the evening when I am leaving town and there isn’t  a lot of traffic at that time of night.”

She claims to have waited five minutes for the light to change at times and seen exasperated drivers run it. She also told me this week nothing has changed since July.

The out basket: Jim Johnstone of the Olympic Region signal shop says, “During ferry offloads, the signals are in coordination in order to flush the ferry traffic out of Kingston.”

Two possible solutions that might help Lynn are not workable either technologically or for safety reasons, he said. 

Making the outbound left turn light at Lindvog work independently from the rest of the signal to provide just that movement in reaction to a waiting car is beyond that signal’s capabilities, he said. Once it is green, it will stay green until the adjacent through lane has used up its guaranteed 42 seconds of green and turns red, or traffic on Lindvog or the opposite left turn lane is detected. Inbound Highway 104 traffic within the 42-second cycle won’t trip the light, making those drivers wonder the same thing Lynn does about why it takes so long to get a green.

With an average of 470 inbound cars on Highway 104 during the afternoon comparing to only 92 left turners onto Lindvog, more traffic would be disadvantaged by such a change than is now, Jim said. 

Besides, he added, when the system is in coordination, the left turn signal won’t respond to detected traffic.

“It’s a painful lesson we have learned a couple of times,” he said, “including the Highway 303/Bentley (the Wal-Mart) signal (in east Bremerton,) which is not in coordination to allow us to conditionally reserve the left turn into Wal-Mart.”

Allowing left turns whenever incoming or cross-traffic permits, a so-called permissive signal, isn’t a good idea, he said. Once the state decides to allow left turns only when a green arrow permits, it doesn’t want to make the control less restrictive. Their high accident locations tend to be where drivers have the opportunity to turn left when the opposing green light for through traffic also is green, he said.

Kingston’s traffic signals go into coordination whenever a burst of traffic crosses detectors at the ferry terminal during off-loads, he said. The signals then all work on 80-second cycles, of which at least 42 seconds serves the main line. 

So no one should ever have to wait more than 80 seconds for a green light at Lindvog, he said. And an 80-second wait would occur only if the driver arrived at the light just as it goes red for his or her movement.

Outside ferry off-load times, the signals work independently of one another, reacting to the traffic the in-pavement detectors say is waiting.








Noise and traffic stoppages at Hood Canal Bridge


The in basket: Douglas Janachek, who lives near the Hood Canal Bridge, raises one new and one time-honored complaint about it. Larry Hilberg, another resident of the area, joins in the new one, unexpected noise levels.

“The new bridge creates a much louder noise when large trucks go over it than the old bridge did,” Douglas says. “It seems that when trucks hit the grated area on the approach there is a rather loud boom that is very noticeable. Just wondering if that can be addressed by the state highway department.”

Larry describes it as “ thundering and pounding noises being heard 24/7.  Depending

on the vehicle size and volume of traffic, the thundering noise is continuous at varying levels.”

Douglas also raises the historic complaint about delays and confusion over what drivers should do when the bridge’s center span opens and vehicle traffic stops. 

“Are there any plans to widen the road to allow traffic that is not driving over the bridge to proceed through the traffic light and not have to wait in line for drivers that are heading over the bridge?” he asked. “It is frustrating to be only a few cars back in line trying to drive to Port Gamble and be stuck in traffic that is stopped for the bridge opening.”

In the meantime, he said, “A few signs telling people to pull over would help when heading from Port Gamble toward Poulsbo.  Last weekend for instance, all the cars were in the travel lane – so most locals passed on the left onto oncoming traffic (not much because the bridge was closed) and hoped for the best.  This happens all the time.”

The out basket: Yes, the state has “addressed” the added noise at the new bridge, but only to explain it. They say they can’t correct it like they did back in the mid-’90s, when they revised the grates on the eastern transition span so trucks didn’t create such a din crossing onto the bridge.

Now, says Joe Irwin of the bridge staff, “the sound is being caused when vehicles run over the new expansion joints on the east half.  These 3-inch wide, recessed joints play a vital role in maintaining the bridge’s structural integrity.  They allow its concrete roadway sections to expand and contract as the concrete warms and cools. The joints also allow the bridge to move slightly during weather events, ensuring that the concrete roadway sections don’t (damage) one another.

 ‘The expansion joints are rectangular, rubber seals (and) must be slightly recessed in relation to the roadway to make certain they are not torn up by studded tires,” he said. “There simply isn’t a feasible mitigation alternative that can be accomplished in a fiscally reasonable way.”  

As for traffic left waiting when the center span opens, “design, environmental and financial issues” have prevented any highway widening to help those drivers, Joe said.  

 “With this in mind,” he said, the state “has increased its communication efforts in the Kitsap and Jefferson county areas near the bridge, providing better signage and real-time alerts about marine vessel openings that help travelers better prepare their trips.  More than 1,000 people have signed up to receive these alerts.”

 “We have been asked why our text alerts aren’t sent out before the bridge opens instead of after the fact,” he said. “This is tied into security decisions made after 9/11 that help ensure the safety of drivers and boaters. 

 “People are experiencing a higher number of marine vessel openings than usual as (we) and our contractor Kiewit-General of Poulsbo complete ongoing construction efforts at the bridge,” he said.  “We didn’t want to delay the June reopening of the bridge to accomplish these tasks, but they need to continue throughout the summer and into the fall to get the bridge in shape for winter and assure optimal performance in the future.

 “The bridge work is on schedule to conclude by the end of the year and when it does traffic on (highways) 3 and 104 will return to its pre-construction levels.  We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we wrap up the final stages of work to ensure the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas have a wider, safer, more reliable bridge for decades to come,” Joe said.