Tag Archives: Klahowya

Klahowya entrance still not bad enough for a signal

The in basket: Tim Kennedy of Bremerton has raised a familiar issue.

“I am truly concerned about the young drivers coming and going from Klahowya Secondary School,” he said in an e-mail to the county, which reached me second-hand.

“Someone is going to get killed. In the two-plus years I have been driving my daughter to school I have seen the results of multiple collisions at that intersection. I have seen three sets of cars in process of being cleared and on many occasions the plastic debris from other collisions.

“I do not want some family to have to deal with the tragedy or loss of a loved one because the county could not see the true need for a traffic signal at this intersection,” Tim said.

Tim suggested a signal that operates red-green only at the beginning and end of the school day.

The out basket: I was CC’d a copy of the county’s response to Tim, which comes from Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea, who has explained the county’s reluctance to put a signal there in Road Warrior before. That position hasn’t changed. In short, he said the county already has done a lot to make that intersection safer and accident records say it’s working.

“A significant investment of road funds has already been made at this intersection,” Jeff said, “The Public Works Department has provided additional street lighting, signage, warning flashers, and new technology utilizing rapid flashing pedestrian beacons.

“A traffic signal is an expensive traffic control device.  In this location a traffic signal would cost in the range of $500,000 to $1 million.  You are correct that we can program them to operate with minor impact to the mainstream flow of traffic during non-school traffic periods.   However, a traffic control signal exerts a significant influence on both operations and safety on the intersecting streets, so it is imperative we only install warranted signals.

“Since a signal is such an expensive device to install and maintain, we only consider them if they meet the criteria spelled out in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (a federal document that sets national standards for traffic control devices).

“This location does not currently meet these warrants for a signal installation.

“Signals are primarily installed to allow for the orderly movement of traffic and improved operation of an intersection. However, they can also be installed due to a collision history if a signal will reduce the types of collisions that the intersection is experiencing, such as right angle collisions.

“The minimum number of collisions to meet this warrant is five within a 12-month period.  In this location there were only two collisions in 2008, two in 2009 and none in both 2010 and 2011.

“Another consideration in signal placement is that signals can cause more accidents; especially rear-end collisions, than existed before the signal was installed.

“Our Annual Road Improvement Program project selection process relies heavily on documented and potential safety concerns.  We review all our collision records on a bi-yearly basis for the purpose of identifying high accident intersections, corridors, and spot location.  The high accident locations are then evaluated for safety countermeasures and potential safety improvement projects.

“No amount of safety improvement eliminates mistakes made by poor driving habits and bad decisions. There are many safety improvements in place here, and the recent accident history shows a reduction in collisions. We will continue to monitor the data at this location.”

Klahowya crosswalk to get different warning lights

The in basket: Tracy Loehrs asks, “Do they ever plan on adding a traffic light at the intersection of Klahowya Secondary School and Newberry Hill? It is very treacherous at beginning and ending school times, especially with all those new drivers.

The out basket: You can read a lengthy and detailed answer to that question in a Road Warrior column dated Oct. 22, 2009, at kitsapsun.com. The answer boils down to no, they don’t, the brief duration of the congestion there twice a day only on weekdays doesn’t warrant the expenditure.

But Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer, says they do have some changes coming to make it safer for pedestrians.

“We have ordered a couple of strobe-type flashers that will be at the crosswalk,” he said. “These lights will be pedestrian activated.  Also, we are going to reconfigure the existing flashers to flash only when pedestrian activated.

“The thinking is that motorists tend to ignore signs and even flashing signs if they see them all the time.  If the flashers are activated only when a pedestrian crosses there, it tends to reinforce the sign, then the sign and flasher are directly associated with an actual pedestrian and not an empty crosswalk.”

Newberry Hill Road at Klahowya school called perilous

The in basket: Traci Stevens of Seabeck writes, “Every day, I travel, as do many others, along Newberry Hill Road and past Klahowya (Secondary School’s) entrance to start and end the work day.

“This area, throughout the year, also includes bus loads of middle/high school children, teenage drivers, teachers, parents traveling to and leaving during the school day, as well as countless after school activities, a church with a sizable attendance, not to mention the residents of the neighborhood across the street from Klahowya’s entrance.  

“All of this activity in an area that handles significant amounts of traffic in either direction, turn lanes going into the school and into the neighborhood across the street, a merge lane and a 45 mph speed limit, which very few abide by. I’ve actually been passed in this area! 

“I also understand the consideration of the surrounding area (1,000 acres) to be possibly converted to a multi-use area known as Newberry Hill Heritage Park. 

“Today (Oct. 8), I learned of another significant traffic accident and I know of one additional accident that involved an acquaintance that totaled the car, I’m sure there have been countless others.

“I understand the county has been out to view the traffic flows; however, they come during the quiet times, after school is in session and most have begun the work day, which was a complete waste of time. What does it take to get authorities to pay attention to this area for consideration of a traffic signal?”

Traci’s friend, Holly Woomer, who was in that other accident that totaled her car when a speeding driver who said he was late for work didn’t see her in time, seconds Traci’s sentiments. She asks for a speed limit reduction if not a traffic signal. 

“Attempting to cross the crosswalk at the intersection is also very dangerous,” Holly said. “You basically have to be in the middle of the road before somebody will stop.” 

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, says better lighting at the intersection is the most they’ll do for now.

“We recently reviewed this location because the crosswalk seemed a little difficult to see in the dark,” he said. “We are considering the feasibility of installing an additional street light at the intersection to improve visibility at the crosswalk. This is the only improvement being considered there at this time.

 “We do not plan to install a signal there any time in the foreseeable future,” he said. “It does not currently meet any of the (standards) used to determine if an intersection needs a  signal. 

“We will consider proposing an improvement project in next year’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), but I don’t think it will score as a high priority against the other county road projects on the TIP. TIP projects are ranked based on road preservation, safety, and capacity. 

“Compared to other intersections,” he said, “the accident history here would not merit many priority points, other than a couple for ‘potential’ safety points. “(Also) signals are rarely installed for safety reasons. (They) won’t always reduce accidents and sometimes actually increase some types of accidents, particularly rear–end collisions.

 “Cost-benefit is another issue to consider with limited funding available for improvements,” he said. “Signals are very expensive ($300,000 – $500,000) to install. Outside of the short congested times mentioned by your reader there have not been any problems reported. If (an) improvement is needed for a short time during the day the cost would be very high with a relatively low benefit.

 “Newberry Hill Road is an arterial road. The goal of an arterial road  is to safely move traffic from one place to another at higher speeds than local access or residential roads. 

“One of the main starting points for determining a posted speed limit,” h said, ” is the speed that captures a majority of the traffic, which we refer to as the 85 percentile speed for traffic on that road.” (Eighty-five percent of drivers who use the road in speed studies travel at or below that speed.)

“We also consider roadway geometrics, adjacent land use, collision records, pedestrian use, bicycles, and parking practices as part of setting speed limits.

“Current conditions on Newberry Hill Road show a very low accident rate and do not indicate a need to reduce the speed limit,” Jeff concluded.