Tag Archives: Highway 166

Port Orchard striping is a waiting game


The in basket: Sarann Walker and Cliff Kincaid are concerned about a couple of places inside the city of Port Orchard where the lane striping has worn off and drivers have to guess where they should be relative to other traffic.

Sarann lives near Marcus Whitman Junior High and is worried about the lack of striping on Mile Hill Drive at the city limits around Harrison Street.

“It’s a real mess trying to make a left turn onto Harrison or in the opposite direction,” she said. “The stripes are all worn away. l don’t feel really comfortable there.”

Cliff sees the same problem at the intersection of Sedgwick and Sidney roads at the town’s southern city limits.  

“If you are headed east at the new intersection,” he said, “the yellow line for the left turn lane heading west has been obliterated. I’ve almost had a head-on there, though I am a pretty cautious driver.”

The out basket: Mark Dorsey, public works director for Port Orchard, says he is getting anxious waiting for Kitsap County, with which the city contracts for the annual restriping of its streets, to get the job done. The contract has been signed for a couple of months, he said, and bad weather is coming. 

He expects the county’s work to include both the areas Sarann and Cliff describe, even though the Mile Hill spot is where the city and state are at odds over which should be maintaining it. The city this summer filled in the delaminations that were creating a rough roadway there and will pay for the striping while the jurisdictional issue is hashed out, he said.

The state plans to ask the Legislature for permission to turn Highway 166 from the Sidney Avenue intersection downtown to the eastern city limit near Harrison over to the city. Mark says the city doesn’t plan to “just roll over and let them,” and is working with state Sen. Derek Kilmer on a strategy for opposing the plan.

The striping of city streets also will include Tremont Street from the city limit to the Highway 16 freeway. Mark said the city’s contract with the county doesn’t call for the added expense of recessing the reflective lane markers there, as the county was able to do for the first time from the city limits east this spring.

Painting party detour no different than others

The in basket: Alexis McKinnon e-mailed Aug. 4 to say, “Last weekend in Port Orchard, Highway 166 through downtown was closed. (Traffic) was then re-routed up Kitsap Street, left on Rockwell, then back onto Bay Street (heading in an easterly direction).  

“I live on Kitsap and I do not remember a time when Highway 166 was re-routed onto this street.  I understood if (it) was to be re-routed it would be up Kitsap Street, then south on Sidney to Lund. 
“I was very surprised by the amount of traffic on our normally quiet street,” she said, “with no patrols to ensure cars followed the speed limit or stopped at the stop signs. 

“The truck route was directed up Port Orchard Boulevard and onto Lund, which is a perfect re-route, considering there’s only one home on the entire road, and it’s a three-lane road (two uphill, one downhill). 
The out basket: Mark Dorsey, public works director for the city, says nothing different was done in rerouting traffic for the Aug. 1-2 painting party than is done for the Cruz car show, the Fathoms O’ Fun Parade, Festival of Chimes and Lights and other events that occupy Port Orchard’s main street. “Car traffic is detoured up Kitsap to Rockwell……and the truck traffic detoured up Port Orchard Boulevard to Tremont,” he said.

Alexis might want to approach the city council if she’s like to see that changed .

Pot hole adds urgency to Mile Hill question


The in basket: Robert Leone inquires about the stretch of highway on Mile Hill in Port Orchard just downhill from The China West restaurant, where the pavement has been deteriorating. 

A paving project by Kitsap County a couple of years ago stopped just short of the stretch in question, even though the upper layer of asphalt had delaminated from the lower layer, creating some shallow depressions that look worse than they are.

“Since then the road has become much worse,” Robert said. “I think someone wrote in about the problem back then and the response was the county thought it was the

state’s problem and the state thought it was the county’s responsibility. Does this sound familiar?”

The out basket: Indeed it does, and the issue was among a variety of things state and city of Port Orchard officials talked about in a January meeting.

Kitsap County is off the hook on this one, as its jurisdiction seems to end where its paving ended, just uphill from Harrison Avenue.

I wouldn’t have agreed with Robert that the road has become much worse, until I saw a few days ago that one of the delaminations in the uphill lanes has turned into a pot hole. Those can be much deeper and damaging to cars than the delaminations that have produced just a minor bump. Cars swerving to avoid them has been a greater problem until now. 

Mark Dorsey, Port Orchard’s public works director, said a contract designating maintenance responsibilities for Highway 166, which ends somewhere in that area, says the state will maintain it to the eastern city limits. 

But the eastern city limits moved with an annexation or two since the agreement was created, so the question becomes does it mean the city limits then or the city limits now. The deliminated roadway lies between the old and new city limits

Mark says state lawyers have been asked to rule on it. If that takes a while, I hope the city or state takes it upon itself to fill the pot hole before a bunch of cars get damaged.

Tale of two speed limits approaching Gorst



The in basket: Diane Violette writes that she finds the merge of highways 16 and 166 westbound into Gorst stressful because she and others on 166 have been governed by a 45-mile-per-hour speed limit while those on 16 have been able to go 60.

“It is a huge hazard trying to stay at the 45-mph speed limit while being in the left lane,” she said. “I can’t help being in this lane because it’s automatic when getting out of Port Orchard, but NOBODY from 16 follows the 45 mph speed limit. I attempt to safely move to the next right lane ASAP but because that lane becomes a merge lane very soon, it is dangerous to get over there. 

“Someone needs to look at what is happening in this area because it is so dangerous and scary to follow the speed limit there if you are in the left lane coming from Port Orchard. What speed limit do those coming from 16 think it is in that area?”

The out basket: They probably think it’s 60 mph, which it is, the State Patrol tells me. She should skip all the lane changing and just speed up to 60 mph until she reaches the 40 mph zone just a few hundred feet ahead. 

Told this, she noted there are no signs informing a driver coming out of Port Orchard that that speed limit has gone up to 60. Diane’s gun-shy, she said, because she got nailed in a school zone for speeding recently, even though there no longer was a school there. The cop told her, “it doesn’t matter where or if there is a school nearby—you follow the sign,” she said. 

“If I got a ticket for going 60 mph where that P.O./16 merge is, what would be my defense?” she asked. “Your column? Why has no speed limit sign been posted there yet—talk about an accident waiting to happen!”

I guess my column will have to do. Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the state’s Olympic Region said they won’t add a sign notifying drivers of the increase to 60 mph coming out of Highway 166. 

He explained that the sign warning of the upcoming reduction in Gorst to 40 mph is “just 700 feet beyond the point that Highway 166 enters Highway 16.  We do not want to confuse motorists on Highway 16 with two speed limit signs so close together.”

Why did SK state highway numbers change?

The in basket: There was some discussion on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com back in January about notification to drivers in Gorst that Highway 166 was closed briefly by another slide.

Though a portable electronic sign in Gorst announced that Highway 166 was closed, enough people continued in that direction and had to turn around at the barricade that it became apparent that many drivers don’t know highways by their numbers. Specifically, it showed that a lot of drivers don’t know that the waterfront route between Gorst and Port Orchard IS Highway 166.

One of the bloggers wondered why the state moved the old Highway 160 designation for that Port Orchard-Gorst route to Sedgwick Road when it became a state highway and assigned a new number (166) to the old highway, contributing to the confusion.

I didn’t recall, so I asked.

The out basket: I should have recalled, because it was quite an issue at the time. State Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Bennett refreshed my memory.

“Highway 160 was shifted to Sedgwick Road by the 1991 legislature as part of the large Route Jurisdiction Transfer (RJT) legislation that affected hundreds of miles of county roads, city streets, and state highways,” Steve said. “. This legislation became effective April 1, 1992. At this time, old Highway 160 through Port Orchard was dropped from the state highway system.

“The 1993 session of the legislature added old Highway 160 from Highway 16 to the east city limits of Port Orchard back to the state highway system as Highway 166. The city or perhaps county had requested this action due to the slide conditions along old SR 160 on the west side of town.”

Repairs of those slides cost in the millions of dollars, too much for a small city and even a medium size county to afford.

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.

10-feet of power line has held up new PO signals


The in basket: Work seems to have come to a standstill on the new downtown Port Orchard traffic signal at Bay Street and Sidney Avenue. Meanwhile, the old cable-hung signals continue to work on timers, requiring that every direction get a green light, whether any traffic is waiting for that movement or not. I asked what is going on.

The out basket: It boils down to a conflict over who is responsible for running the final 10 feet of electrical wire to get power to the new pole-mounted lights, say state and city officials.

As you might expect, Port Orchard Public Works Director Mark Dorsey and the state project office and its second-in-command, Andy Larson, disagree about who is at fault. 

The city says the state didn’t do something when it was supposed to and the state says the city was supposed to provide the connection as part of an ongoing project to put the downtown power lines underground, and didn’t.

Puget Sound Energy is a third player in the conflict. Andy said the state offered to put in the wire, but PSE said that wasn’t permissible because of the nature of the agreement it has with the city for the undergrounding.

But a recent meeting worked out how to get power to the poles and it was installed Thursday or Friday of last week, Andy tells me. 

There remain perhaps two weeks of work before the new signals are operational, he said.

It will be the end of the long-time opportunity to slide past cars waiting at the lights in order to make a right turn, he said. Where the big new poles don’t block the outside lane, curb “bulb-outs” to shorten the walk for pedestrians crossing the streets will. All four corners will get the bulb-outs, which have yet to be poured.

For some time, I (and, I think, many others) have tried to avoid the backup on Bay Street eastbound by using Prospect Street and Sidney to make a right turn onto Bay when the light on Sidney northbound is green. Those days soon will be over.

The 50-year-old existing lights and poles will be removed when the new lights are working. 

The new lights will be controlled by traffic detectors. You can see the camera-like overhead motion detectors that will sense waiting traffic on Sidney atop two of the cross arms. Detection on Bay Street will be by in-pavement wires, as it was in all directions there before last summer’s paving.

Brush grows thick at Ross Point

The in basket: Roadside vegetation becomes a problem every year about now, as grass and brush put on a growth spurt in early summer. 

I’ve been watching the growth along Highway 166 at Ross Point between Gorst and Port Orchard and have visions of lions crouching in the reeds and leaping out to attack my passing car.

A greater problem, of course, is the narrowing passage available to bicycles and pedestrians approaching and in the curve. I’m surprised I haven’t heard from ‘cyclists who have less and less space between them and passing cars in a poor visibility situation. Maybe they just instinctively avoid that highway and go up Highway 16 to the Port Orchard exits.

I wondered when the state’s mowing crews would get around to Ross Point.

Continue reading

This summer’s Highway 166 paving project

The in basket: Don Brandvold reminds me that in the spring of 2006, he asked about the water coming up in the road (Highway 166) in front of the Dockside marina. “After checking, you wrote back that it was scheduled to be fixed in the summer of 2007,” he said.
“Well, here it is spring of 2008 and still nothing has been done.  Could you check with them again?”
The out basket: That’s what I wrote, alright, though I don’t recall why. I most recently was of the belief that the project would be done in conjunction with the 2009 widening of Sedgwick Road near Bethel Avenue.
It turns out neither is correct. The Highway 166 paving from near Gorst to Westbay will be done this summer.
Brenden Clarke, whose project engineering office in South Kitsap is planning the paving project, says it will be done at night in July and August. The highway will get a new layer of asphalt from its intersection with Highway 16 near Gorst and Westbay in Port Orchard.
State maintenance crews will try to reduce the seepage at the spot Don mentions by regrading the ditch on the south side of the highway, Brenden says.
The water doesn’t run out of the ditch but comes up through the pavement, so that will work only if the regrading somehow reduces the underground water pressure. If that doesn’t get the job done, Brenden said, “we will go from there.” I guess that means they’ll try something else, possibly before the paving.
It’s not much of a problem, and is just one of many places water finds itself onto a highway, but it does present a skidding danger when it freezes.
Brenden tells me they recently did core samples at the highway’s intersection with Sidney Avenue in downtown Port Orchard to make sure the project won’t destroy any artifacts, Indian or otherwise. That could happen when they excavate there to replace the wire-suspended traffic signals with pole mounted ones. They didn’t find any signs of artifacts, he said.
Mindful of the major collapse of the highway 10 or 15 years ago just west of Ross Point, I asked Brenden how they plan to address the two minor slumps that exist today within a half mile of that spot on each side of it. He said they will just pave over them. I recall that successive layers of asphalt laid over the years from similar projects were exposed when the highway gave way back then and dropped toward the beach.
Brenden said it would take a major storm event to duplicate that at either of the existing depressions, so they won’t spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to firm up whatever is slowly giving way underground there.