Tag Archives: Keyport

Keyporter finds Navy base backups interfere with trip home

The in basket: Paul Jose writes, “I live in Keyport and every time there is a higher level of security the line to get on the (Navy) base extends sometimes to Virginia Loop Road. Many times I need to get home and have to wait up to 15 minutes to get past the entrance to the main gate at Keyport.

“There seems to be room on the right side of the road especially at the bridge where those going on to the base could pull over to allow those of us that actually live in Keyport to pass them to get home. Would the state highway people allow this and can they add signage or lines to facilitate this possibility?”

The out basket: They might if they had more room, but they don’t, says Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Bennett of the Olympic Region of state highways.

I think Paul essentially would like to see signs posted allowing motorists waiting to enter Keyport to drive on the shoulder under certain circumstances, like the state has posted on Highway 16 at the Purdy exit in Pierce County. That would allow traffic heading into the business and residential area to drive past those waiting.

But they have a lot more room at Purdy, says Steve, and not enough room at Keyport for a legal driving lane. At least that’s what their books show, but they’ll give it an in-person look to be sure, he said.

I talked with Tom Danaher, spokesman for the Navy bases here, and he knew of no recent event that would have backed up traffic at the Keyport gate.

Paul said the backups to Virginia Loop Road have been in the past, but there was one back to Hawk Avenue a week ago Tuesday.


Keyport speed limit reduction questioned

The in basket: Mike Knapp of Keyport asks “What is the story with the reduced speed coming into Keyport from 35 mph to 25 mph just before the traffic light at the base yet the other side of the road is still 35 mph?

“You have to brake really hard to get down to that speed. What is this all about?”

The out basket: The change was made at the request of the Keyport Improvement Club.

Keyport resident Doug Chamberlain, who just stepped down as club president after three years in the position, said the state had studied the need for a lower speed limit there about three years ago. The issue went back on the front burner last year when a club member who takes care of his grandkids said “cars are coming into town too fast, barreling in and out, and that crossing the highway was dangerous,”according to Doug.

Though it’s a quiet city street in the town center, it’s still a state highway and the state made the change in November.

There is confusion, though, about what the speed limit is at various points, as evidenced by Mike’s assertion that it’s still  35 going out of town.

It isn’t supposed to be, says state Traffic Operations Engineer  Steve Bennett and Doug Chamberlain. It’s supposed to be 25 in both directions from just north of the traffic signal at the Navy base entrance to the end of the highway, 35 in both directions from there across the causeway and 50 beyond that. Steve said they’ll check on the signs to see if they’re where they should be.

If Mike really has trouble getting slowed from 35mph to 25 as he comes into town, he may be an example of what prompted the improvement club to seek the reduction.

While I had Doug on the line, I asked about the parking area just outside the Navy base’s old main gate at the highway’s end, about which a reader complained years ago.

It’s narrow, designed for one-way traffic and tapers to the point that a car parked at its end makes it hard for other cars to get past and leave. There’s a “Motorcycles Only” sign at the narrow end but it sometimes isn’t observed.

Doug said the club is aware of it, but has taken no action beyond asking the base to encourage employees to honor the “Motorcycles Only” sign. The state owns the spot but it’s uncertain who put up the sign, Doug said.

How about using inactive Keyport signal elsewhere?

The in basket: Harry Godwin of Bremerton commented on the September Road Warrior about why the traffic signal at Highway 308 at Central Valley Road had been blinking red and yellow.

“The answer was that a new switch was required

for this intersection (and) that this could be a funding

problem as replacement of the switch was not in the budget,” Harry recalled.

“Just a short distance from this intersection is an inactive traffic signal

that once controlled traffic in and out of a side gate to (the) Keyport

naval base. The gate is closed and barricaded, indicating that in the post-911 years, the gate will never be used as a point of egress to the base


 Harry suggested the state use that light and/or its controls at 308 and Central Valley.

The out basket: Actually, says Don Anders of the Olympic Region signal shop, that answer was that “we may have to replace this unit, but our crew was able to make repairs and the cabinet has not been in flash since these repairs were made. 

“I also mentioned that the cost of a replacement was prohibitive at this time, but if we could come up with a good reliable used unit we would replace this unit.  

“I know that early next year we have a project on SR 161(in Pierce County) that will free up a cabinet that we can use at this location,” he said.  

“The cabinet that Harry points out belongs to the Department of the Navy and is not ours to use, and I know from past practice that the military does not give up inventory easily.”  

 “We have not had any problems since the repair was made and I feel we can get by until next year when we can replace the cabinet.” 

Once again, school bus stopping rules

The in basket: After the Road Warrior’s most recent discussion of when drivers must  stop for a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop sign extended, Don Payne wrote, “The

Washington Driver’s Guide says ‘You must stop for a school

bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing whether it is on your

side of the road, the opposite side of the road or at an intersection you are approaching.’

“The business of the three marked lanes is pretty clear and been gone over a lot,” he said. “I have never heard a discussion or seen an explanation of the third clause -‘or at an intersection you are approaching.’

“I’ve looked in the RCWs and can find no mention or discussion of this clause,” Don wrote. ” Maybe you can add some light.”

The out basket: I have concluded that stopping for a school bus unloading children is unavoidable, even though the law permits a driver going in the opposite direction to proceed if there is a lane, even a left turn lane, between the car and the bus. Twice more since that column appeared, I have seen a cautious driver stop even though he or she didn’t have to, stopping everyone behind the car. 

The phrase Don uncovered puzzled me, since a North Kitsap school transportation official I talked with in preparing the last column went out of her way to say a driver going the opposite direction can complete a turn as long as the car doesn’t pass the extended paddle stop sign on the side of the bus. 

It turns out, says Brad Benfield of the state Department of Licensing, which publishes the driver’s guide, that that third clause refers to traffic on a street CROSSING the one the bus is on. No turn toward the bus that takes the car beyond the bus is legal. Turns away from the bus are OK.

It’s kind of an excess of caution, as the  “lane-in-between” exception also applies to a turner, but the wording makes it clear that a driver on the cross street must abide by the same rules as those on the street the bus is on.