Tag Archives: North Mason

Washouts in Bremerton, North Mason to be repaired


The in basket: Gary Reed asked on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com what the plans are for repairing the washout on old Wheaton Way near East 18th Street in Bremerton, one victim of the infamous December 2007 deluge. Since then concrete barrier has sealed off the steep embankment at that site and traffic lanes have been narrowed and moved away from it. 

While I was inquiring, I asked about yet another washout from that storm, which has reduced Sand Hill Road in North Mason County to a single lane past the same kind of concrete barriers. 

The out basket: Larry Matel of the city of Bremerton street engineers and Mason County engineer Bob Thuring say both their jurisdictions are awaiting bureaucratic approval to get the repair done this year. 

Larry says the plans for their repair were submitted to the state Department of Transportation this spring, and “final construction will be determined based upon the time frame of the state to review plans and approve construction funding.  We are hopeful for construction this summer season.”

Bob’s reply nearly echoed Larry’s. “We have a complete design and have acquired the easements from (the state Department of Natural Resources) for construction.  We are currently working on getting approval of our right of way plan through the state department of transportation.  At that point WSDOT will release the construction funding and we can advertise the project.  I really hate to speculate on how long that process will take but we plan to build the project this summer/fall.

The state must approve the work because it administers federal “pass-through” money such as will pay for most of the work.

Bear Creek-Dewatto jersey barriers raise questions

The in basket: Gregg McFarlan asks via e-mail about the purpose of the jersey barriers at the intersection of Bear Creek-Dewatto and Sand Hill roads in North Mason County.

Large berms of crushed rock line Bear-Creek-Dewatto Road on both shoulders, with jersey barriers keeping the rock out of the roadway.

“It looks like Mason County is trying a cheap fix for road repair and wetland issues. This attempt makes the road rough and potentially unsafe,’ Gregg said.

The out basket: County Engineer Bob Thuring of Mason County Public Works says, “Mason County is planning on rebuilding the Bear Creek- Dewatto Road thru the area in question.  That portion of the road is constructed through a peat bog.  In order to widen the road bed through the bog, we have constructed a “surcharge” fill (about 4 feet deeper than the existing road elevation) to compress or displace the peat from under the widened road section.  

“This will help stabilize the new roadway,” he said.  “We installed the jersey barriers along each side of the road to prevent vehicles for running into the surcharge.  At the time of rebuilding Bear Creek-Dewatto, the surcharge will be removed and the new road section constructed.

“I recognize the roadway becomes rough at times due to the settlement.  We have our crews working regularly to regrade the surface of the road to correct the settlement areas.”

Detection temporarily out at Belfair signal


The in basket: Julie Burghardt of Allyn asks “What’s the reason for the change in the light cycle for the traffic light at Highway 3 and NE Clifton Lane in Belfair? 

“For the overnight cycle, the light used to stay green for Highway 3 traffic unless a car on Clifton needed the green. Beginning about a month ago, the light now stays green for Clifton unless traffic on Highway 3 triggers a green.  Needless to say, the light is being triggered a lot more often now than it used to be. 

“I’m hoping this is an inadvertent or temporary change, or if it isn’t they can at least speed up the trigger response time.”

The out basket: It has to do with construction going on at that location, says Don Anders of the Olympic Region signal shop for state highways. No detection system is working for Clifton traffic. “The side road loops have been cut,” he said.  “We will have this approach on fixed time until the new loops are repaired and the signal will serve this approach even if no vehicles are present (until then).  This is a temporary condition, but I am not sure how long it will be before the contractor gets the loops installed.”

After eading this on line, on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com, Joe Myall asked if the same thing explains the odd behavior of the Sidney and Bay Street light in downtown Port Orchard. Good guess. The detector cables are cut there, too, while a whole new signal system is put in, and the lights are on timers until they are redone.

North Shore, Belfair-Tahuya closures getting same priority

The in basket: John Whalen of the North Shore Road in Mason County writes, “Why is priority given to the repair of the North Shore Road and not the repair of the Tahuya River Bridge on the Belfair-Tahuya Road? I am certain a traffic study would show that the Tahuya River Bridge gets a substantially higher number of vehicles on it than the North Shore Road (at the closure site). I feel that priority should be given to the Tahuya River Bridge and all the residents of Collins Lake, Haven Lake, Wooten Lake, Tee Lake, Maggie Lake, Dewatto and Tahuya.

The out basket: Bill Tabor, the Mason County engineer, who will be retiring at the end of the month, says the two projects are being given equal priority.

The recent closure of North Shore Road wasn’t done so that it can be worked on first, though permit issues may bring about that result, Bill said.

The North Shore repair, which will require a tall wall to retain the roadway, is awaiting approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.

No work is going on now to repair the Dec. 3 washout. The closure, he said, was prompted by widespread disregard for the county’s efforts to get drivers to voluntarily use other roads to keep more of North Shore Road from dropping away.

“When we first closed it, it was a one-lane road and we hoped to maintain that. Then we started getting logging trucks through there, so we restricted that and no one paid any attention. It made the situation worse to the point I felt there were some real safety concerns, not only to traffic but to people living below.” 

Even closing it wasn’t fully effective. They used a chain across the road in addition to the upright barricades with ‘Road Closed” on them, Bill said. Two days later, someone cut the cable and moved the barricades, presumably to get through, he said.

He called it “a total disregard for the safety issues involved in that site.” 

They hope to get the FEMA approval (so federal money can be used) in time to get the repair made before the winter rains, he said.

It will take six weeks or so to bid the project and select a contractor once the approval is obtained, he said. Design of the wall by a consultant is 90 percent complete.

Meanwhile, the county has a different set of problems at the temporary bridge across Tahuya River. That’s the subject of the next Road Warrior.


Belfair-Tahuya washout repair hampered

The in basket: In the last Road Warrior, Mason County Engineer Bill Tabor said the closure of North Shore Road doesn’t mean it has a higher priority for repair of storm damage than Belfair-Tahuya Road, which remains reduced to one lane across a temporary bridge.

The North Shore damage may be repaired first, he said, but only because it’s a simpler project and it doesn’t face a regulatory challenge the Tahuya River site does.

The out basket: I hadn’t driven out and looked at the site before writing in July about the county sheriff’s insistence that drivers treat the temporary alignment as a three-way stop. That prohibits groups of cars from crossing in a caravan if anyone is waiting at a stop sign on the other side of the bridge.

This month, I watched it and I imagine many users of the road are upset.

It takes about 20 seconds for a car to cross. Going one at a time, alternating between the two ends of the bridge, as the three-way rule requires, means the first car in line at one end departs every 40 seconds if anyone is waiting on the other side.

It wasn’t creating a problem when I got there about 2:30 p.m. one recent weekday. All the traffic was coming from the east. But by 3 p.m., six cars arrived on the west side about the same time. The every-40-second pattern kicked in and by the time I left, there were 27 cars waiting on the east side. There no longer was anyone waiting on the west side, so maybe those 27 cars cleared quickly. But if more traffic from the west arrived, I calculate it would have taken 18 minutes for those 27 cars to cross one at a time.

Many would like to see a temporary traffic light installed there. Bill Tabor says buying one would cost the county $150,000 and in the face of about $10 million in damage from the Dec. 3 inundation, the county can’t afford that. The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday said it wouldn’t pay for it 

The county is looking for a signal to lease or borrow, he said, but the agencies that own them have them in use repairing their own post-flood damage, he said. 

Meanwhile, efforts to replace the washed-out bridge are mired in a dispute between the county and the state Department of Fisheries, he said. The state agency wants the county to replace the destroyed 88-foot-long bridge with a 141-foot bridge, rather than the 116-foot bridge the county proposes, adding $400,000 to the cost, he said. The state 

also wants a $10,000-$12,000 hydraulics study that Bill considers a waste of money. 

The county appealed Fisheries’ rejection of the county’s plans and a hearing was held Aug. 18. A decision must be rendered by Sept. 16. Even if the county prevails, the same six-week process to bid and award a contract as exists with the North Shore Road repair applies to the bridge replacement. 

“This one won’t be done by winter,” he said.