Tag Archives: Mullenix

Parking at interchanges prompts a question

The in basket: Debbie Corpolongo of Olalla is curious about what she thinks is an unusual number of cars stopped on Burley-Olalla Road under the overpass on which Highway 16 crosses it.

They are usually passenger vehicles, always have someone in them and are there all hours of the day and night, about every other time she passes that spot, she said.

The out basket: I can’t shed any light on this phenomenon. There were no cars parked there, with or without occupants, the seven times I pulled down the exit ramps to look for someone on my way to or from Tacoma .

Possibilities that occur to me are illicit romantic meetings, drug deals  and child custody visitation hand-offs. I’m not likely to find anyone admitting to two of those if I’m every able to find anyone stopped there to ask.

I did notice something interesting though. Should someone leave their car there unoccupied, they would be subject to having it impounded as soon as law enforcement sees it.

The ubiquitous “No Parking – Tow Away Zones” signs with which the state has lined Highway 16 this year are posted under the bridge too.

Out of curiosity, I checked the Mullenix Road and Tremont Street interchanges, the next two north of Burley Olalla. Mullenix had only Emergency Parking Only signs and there were no signs regarding parking at Tremont. I asked what guides the decision on what parking limitations to impose at the interchanges and whether it matters if someone is in the car.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways replied, “The signs were installed at different times, and as a result their wording varies a little. They all mean the same thing, which is that parking is prohibited.

“Parking on highway or interchange shoulders in areas not signed is not illegal, but it’s also not a good idea. A car parked on a roadway shoulder becomes in essence a fixed object that can be hit by other vehicles. We hear of such collisions frequently.”

Washington State Patrol has a somewhat different attitude. Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for WSP here, says a car owner has longer to remove his car at Mullenix than at Burley-Olalla.

“If a motorist (at Burley-Olalla) leaves a disabled vehicle on the shoulder,  it is subject to impound,” he said. ” (Our communications) generally make an attempt to contact the registered owner via a phone listing prior to towing but this not usually effective due to reliance on cell phones these days.

“If possible, troopers will give the driver time to call in or return to the vehicle. An hour is normal but not required. We suggest a driver leave a note and phone number with the vehicle, if possible.

“Failing this, the vehicle is subject  to immediate impound. We try to use common sense and be reasonable with this. However, if a vehicle is abandoned in a unsafe location (in lane of travel, blind curve etc, the trooper can immediately remove the vehicle.

“If someone is present with the vehicle and just briefly stopped,  then common sense and reasonableness with the situation is expected.”

Where signs allow only emergency parking, such as at Mullenix Road, “That would be OK to leave a disabled vehicle safely off road, at least until tagged by county sheriff’s office,” Russ said. “(It’s) similar to the way SR16 used to be with our 24-hour rule. I’m not certain what time limit, if any, they use.”

The maze at the end of Phillips Road

The in basket: Nelson Lanchester of South Kitsap wrote, “The wife and I were driving the other day and we were traveling south on Phillips Road at Mullinex. As there was no sign saying ‘Dead End’ or ‘No Outlet,’ we continued south on Phillips Road and we spent the next 30-45 minutes trying to find our way out of the maze.

“Why isn’t there a sign such as ‘Dead End’ or ‘No Outlet’ posted for Phillips Road?” he asked.

The out basket: Because there are two ways out of the maze, which is a pretty fair description of the system of roads in there, and that’s not counting backtracking and leaving via Mullenix.

I looked it up on Kitsap County’s Road Log, which is  a bunch of maps showing the entire county. If I hadn’t, I’d probably have gotten as lost as the Lanchesters were.

You can see the Road Log online at www.kitsapgov.com/pw/roadlog.htm. You’ll want pages 7 and 8, which you can look at only one at a time, which involves some going back and forth between the overall map and those two pages.

If you try it, you’ll want to stay on Phillips, which takes some turns and corners, until you get to Harland Lane, then Bear Tree Lane. Stay on Bear Tree to the end, which is Saber Lane, which takes you to Tucci Lane then to Horizon Lane, the main drag that goes back to Mullenix.

Or turn left off of Bear Tree half way to Saber, onto Bowe Lane, then follow Jacobs, Stonehill and Arab lanes to Burley-Olalla Road, which will take you to Highway 16.

I suspected that some of those would be dirt or gravel, but they are all nicely paved and striped. I have a dim recollection of that all being platted as private unimproved roads way back in my reporting days. I don’t know what has happened since, but the homes and the roads are pretty nice in there.

Power outage provision at new SK signal won’t include generators

The in basket: Doug Pinard is concerned about the new traffic signal being installed on Mullenix Road at Phillips Road in South Kitsap when the lights go out.

He lives in that area, he said, and “it’s very prone to power outages.”  The intersection is not well lighted and drivers will have trouble seeing that there is a signal there when the power is out, he said. He asked if the lights will have backup generators.

The out basket: Backup generators at traffic lights are rare. The only one I know of in the county is at the single point interchange in Silverdale where highways 3 and 303 meet. So I wasn’t surprised when Kitsap County officials said none are planned at Mullenix and Phillips.

They will be bordered in a reflective gold color, which is the accepted provision for power outages. In fact, the signal heads have been mounted already on the cross bars and they have the border.

The intersection will be better lighted when the lights are on. The signal poles have street lights atop them and I spotted at least one additional street light there. That won’t help when the power’s out, of course, but the reflective borders will.

Has work on Bethel-Burley at Mullenix helped?

The in basket: Carol Dudley thinks the recent reworking of the intersection of Mullenix and Bethel-Burley rods in South Kitsap has made things worse.

“The problem,” she said, “was a dangerous left turn off of Mullenix onto Bethel-Burley or a left off of Bethel-Burley onto Mullenix.

“We had months and months of reconstructing the entire corner to add a turn lane on both Bethel-Burley and Mullenix and a free right turn lane on Mullenix.  The road (was) built up to accommodate the new reconfiguration.

“While the increased lighting is a plus I feel no safer turning left off of Mullenix on to Bethel-Burley as I have to  consider two lanes of traffic and a blind spot.

“As I sit on Mullenix waiting to turn left, the combination of the cars on my right pulling forward to turn right and blocking my view and then when there are more than two cars waiting to turn left onto Mullenix, I cannot see cars coming down the hill south doing about fifty miles per hour.

Add to that the common occurrence of a large truck coming out of Morrison Gravel and to be safe you can wait a long time to be sure you see everything.

“In my view, the Bethel-Burley intersection prior to this fix felt safer and a blinking light would have added caution to the situation.

The out basket: I grew up about a hundred yards from this intersection, and was amazed at the amount of traffic there as I watched it one Monday afternoon, It’s certainly not the quiet little corner I remember.

Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer, says, “The driving force for the project was the number of rear-end collisions that occurred for southbound traffic turning left onto Mullenix.

“The left turn lane was designed and built to get turning traffic out of the way of through traffic on Bethel-Burley.  A flashing beacon would not have been a good fix for this particular situation.  It isn’t a matter of knowing that the intersection is there, but that traffic has stopped at the intersection to make the turn.

“The added left turn lane on Mullenix addresses capacity for those waiting to turn southbound onto Bethel-Burley.  We understand the dilemma of seeing around cars adjacent to you, but there isn’t a good engineering fix for this situation. Adjusting the stop line on the lanes won’t improve the sight lines.

“We recommend that motorists make the turning movement when the gap between vehicles on Bethel-Burley ensures it is safe to pull out,” Jeff said.




Mullenix Road upgrade at 25 mph is tough for trucks

The in basket: Way back in May, Charles Dick got a ticket from a state trooper in the 25 mph zone on a short stretch of Mullenix Road in South Kitsap between Highway 16 and Bethel-Burley Road. He felt that whatever the need is for the reduced speed, it begins at a difficult place for drivers.

“It seems unusual to have a 25 mph limit start at the bottom of the hill instead at the top,” he said. “I realize that the traffic needs to slow down before the stop sign (on Bethel-Burley), but there is a sign for that stop ahead also.

“If I start at 25 mph at the bottom of the hill, it is hard to maintain speed in my old pickup without shifting down. Most people will get a slight ‘run’ at the bottom of a hill in order to maintain speed at the top.

“The speed limit is 35 just under the freeway,” he said, “and reduces to 25 just before the bottom of the hill.  I talked with truck drivers who drive for Morrison Gravel, and they have a tough time getting to the top of the hill when slowing to 25 at the bottom, and have been cited several times for going over the speed limit.

“This has become a LUCRATIVE SPEED TRAP. There is a police officer there almost any morning of the week, writing tickets as fast as they can get repositioned.  They picked my speed at the bottom of the hill, right at the sign.” He said a patrol motorcycle trooper and one in a patrol car work together there.

“The 25 mph limit was installed,along with a school bus stop sign, in the late 60’s or early 70’s when there were children living in a home halfway up the hill.  One of the homes is long gone, and according to the South Kitsap bus schedule, there are no stops between the freeway and Bethel Burley Road.  It seems that the 25 mph sign could be moved to the top of the hill, and still allow drivers to slow for the stop.”

I asked Kitsap County Public Works about Charles’ idea and the state patrol about why it might have concentrated on a short stretch of county road.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer, replied, “The speed limit on that segment of Mullenix Road was set in 1974. We generally review speed limits only when there is some significant change in the roadway, such as increased collision rate, large development along roadway, or change in roadway geometrics.

“There has been little or no change in those areas since the original speed limit was set. The limited sight distance over the hill may have been a consideration in the lowered speed limit there. We do not plan any changes at this time.”

Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the State Patrol here, said, “I have spoken with our two motorcycle troopers about this issue. Neither trooper works this so-called ‘speed trap’ roadway on a regular basis.

“While the WSP focuses primarily on state highways, focusing often on identified problem areas, our troopers do occasionally proactively enforce violations on county roadways. Troopers transit the roadways, both county and state, and enforce the law in many places.

“We often investigate collisions on county roadways and it follows that enforcement to help prevent those collisions is warranted. The section of road you describe may be scarcely populated but it is certainly not scarcely traveled. The residents who live along this section of roadway have a valid expectation that vehicles traveling here will be doing the posted limit when they are pulling out of driveways or slowing to turn into them.

“It seems obvious from his response that Jeff Shea, as well as Kitsap County, feel that the speed limit is warranted in the area and are taking some enforcement in the area as well,” Russ said.

I called Morrison’s and Ken Morrison said though he’s unaware of any of his employees getting a ticket there in one of their trucks (he knows of one cited in his private car), he agrees that the 25 mph limit is too slow on that hill.

I asked him if he thought the state patrol was there because of his trucks, and he said no.

Winter damage forces off-season pavement repair

The in basket: I was surprised Wednesday to find a county dig-out-and-patch operation on Mullenix Road in South Kitsap. A grinding machine takes out pavement in rectangular sections and new pavement is put in the hole.

Paving isn’t often done in the winter, due to cold temperatures and rain. I asked if the county does this kind of work in the winter routinely or if something forced its hand.

The out basket: Doug Bear of county public works replied, “Recent winter weather impacted the stretch of Mullenix you mentioned. A high volume of bus traffic from the elementary school and the freeze/thaw cycle during the week of January 16 created large areas where the road surface was damaged.

“While we don’t routinely patch during winter,” he said, “the weather Wednesday was conducive to patching operations. There are other areas throughout the county where we are considering the same type of patchwork,” including Lakeway near the Burley Glenwood school, Green Mountain and Symes roads in Central Kitsap and Miller Bay and Hansville roads in Noorth Kitsap . “We try to respond to those needs as weather, crews, equipment and materials permit,” he said.

Help! Does anyone remember this?

The in basket: One of the things alarming about reaching the age of 67 is not so much the things I can’t remember but the things I remember clearly that never happened.

Bear with me while I tap your collective memories to check out one such very clear memory.

I am convinced that when I was in grade school at the old East Port Orchard Elementary our ride home on the school bus included a misadventure one afternoon that would make the TV new these days.

In this memory, our bus lost a wheel while westbound on Mullenix Road and ran off the road to the right, where a stand of fairly scrawny alders kept it from rolling over. I don’t think any of us was injured.

In those days, Mullenix didn’t go any farther east than Van Decar Road, from which our bus had just turned to head downhill on Mullenix.

The out basket: My mother has no recollection of this, which would be unusual if it happened. Does anyone in the Kitsap Sun readership or on the Web recall it? Maybe one of my fellow passengers?

It was a little early in my life to have been a vivid dream.

Mullenix/Phillips gets a caution light

The in basket: Sharon Vetter, who lives hear the intersection of  Phillips and Mullenix roads in South Kitsap, writes to say, “In late March, flashing light equipment was installed at that intersection but has yet to be activated.  Any idea when these lights will begin working?”

The out basket: As soon as Puget Sound Energy gives the go-ahead, says Callene Aberathy of Kitsap County Public Works.

“It will flash yellow facing Mullenix and red facing Phillips,” she said, and was installed due to accident history, traffic volumes and visibility limitations on Mullenix.

“This intersection is in the top 25 high collision intersections in the county,” she added.  We have two other locations with similar attributes where we are installing flashing beacons this year – Gunderson/Port Gamble and Anderson Hill/Willamette Meridian.”

Turning overpasses into interchanges

The in basket: I talked with long-time South Kitsapers Agnes Stornelli and Bernice Ohman at the 95th birthday party of one of their contemporaries, Alice Carlson Larson, recently and they asked me what the chances are that an interchange might be developed at what those of us who have lived here as long as we have call Nelson’s Corner.

It’s midway between the Sedgwick and Mullenix interchanges and already has an overpass, so would just need ramps.

They argue that traffic, especially large trucks, could use such an interchange to reach points along roads like Lider and Bielmeier would no longer have to congest Sedgwick Road  with its long slow climb up from the freeway.

I choose to couch their question in comparison to two other local places with ramp-less over- or underpasses that could benefit from ramps – 144th Street in Purdy and Anderson Hill Road on Highway 3 in Silverdale.

An Anderson Hill Road interchange came up again at the recent public meeting about the planned roundabout at Newberry Hill Road and Chico Way, as it always seems to in long-range Silverdale traffic planning meetings.

The out basket: Prospects for any of the three freeway crossings getting on- or off-ramps in the near future are slim, but the Purdy location stands the best chance.

Ron Landon of the state Transportation Department, says, “I believe putting an interchange at (Highway) 16 in Purdy at144th is an alternative being looked at as part of the (Highway) 302 Alignment/Corridor Study. But we’re a long way from breaking ground on that one. No firm decisions about the corridor study have been made and there is no funding available for design or construction.

“I … doubt there’d be much support for another interchange is this area after we just built Burley-Olalla,” he said, adding that available money is more likely to go toward eliminating at-grade intersections like Burley-Olalla used to be.

“Ramps are added to over-crossings,” he said. “It’s not very common, but it has been done.”