Tag Archives: Old Wheaton

Signal replacement at Lebo & Old Wheaton questioned

The in basket: Luella Pellman asks, “Why did they take the stop light out near the hospital at Lebo and Cherry (in Bremerton) and put a four-way stop there?  Seems like a very busy corner for just stop signs.”

She wonders if the signal will be replaced.

The out basket: Not unless the corner gets a lot busier.

The old signal there had a lot of problems due to age, with intermittently non-functioning traffic detectors in the pavement sometimes creating long delays for those waiting for the signal to change.

In designing the improvements under way on Old Wheaton Way, “We completed an analysis of the intersection and found that (our criteria) did not require the signal to be there,” says Bremerton city street engineer Gunnar Fridriksson.  “Signals are expensive for installation, typically about $350K,” he said, “plus yearly maintenance and electrical expenses. So if we do not need them – we are removing them and saving those costs.

“We are installing new conduits, just as we did at Sixth and 11th on Pacific so should the signals be needed in the future, we do not need to tear up the roadway to construct it.”

The Road Warrior has been through the intersection several times since the signals were removed and I have found it to be an improvement, with little backup of traffic and no waiting for a signal to change. I’ve not been there at rush hour, but at mid-day, the all-way stop is very effective.

Gunnar also passed along an analysis of traffic signals that said they are not the panacea for all problems they’re often taken for. Among their shortcomings can be detouring traffic onto less-desirable streets when drivers try to avoid the signal, and rear-end collisions. You can see it yourself at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part4/part4b.htm#section4B02

Old Wheaton and Lebo could use yellow flashing lefts, says reader

The in basket: Joan Wright e-mailed to say, “The intersection of Wheaton Way and Lebo Boulevard (in Bremerton), heading north, would be so much better to have a flashing yellow light to turn left when no one is waiting, going in either location.

“It seems to stay red so long as we sit, sit and sit some more.  This seems to work very well in other locations and we can all move forward with a flashing yellow light to turn left,” she said.

The out basket: This is a popular improvement where it has been done, but it requires money that can be hard to come by.

Bremerton was able to add a bunch of the yellow left-turn flashers on Sixth Street last year, but got the money from a fund for sewer replacement work on 11th Street. Sixth Street was the designated detour during the work, so use of that fund for a street improvement was permissible. Once the flashing lefts were in, the city kept them.

The cost of the retrofits varies with the adaptability of the existing controllers at each intersection. The cities here generally choose to spend their street money otherwise.

Gunnar Fridriksson, the city’s managing street engineer said the Wheaton and Lebo intersection will be evaluated as part of the rebuilding of Old Wheaton Way next year, but complete removal of the signal in favor of a four-way stop might be the outcome. rather than  a more intricate signal.

The existing signal’s aged in-ground detection wires are prone to malfunctioning, which may create the waits Joan describes.

Kitsap County introduced yellow flashing lefts here, adding them incrementally in South and Central Kitsap, and most recently in North Kitsap at Miller Bay roads intersections withWest Kingston, Indianola and Gunderson roads.

“All the signals that warrant flashing yellow are complete,” says Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works. “The only place where new flashing yellow applications would be considered is new intersection construction.”

There is a new signal about to debut, at Highway 303 and Ridgetop in Silverdale, which is a county project but a state signal and it won’t have a flashing yellow left light.

There is a lack of enthusiasm for the yellow lefts at the state level in the Olympic Region, which includes Kitsap County, and no state highway signal here has them. The state’s position is that lessening the level of control at any of its intersections is acceptable only when the intersection is physically improved in some fashion, including modernization of the controller boxes to allow for yellow flashing lefts.

Jim Johnstone of the Olympic Region signal shop says Kitsap County has led the way on the flashing lefts and his shop doesn’t hear much demand for them from cities and counties elsewhere in the region, where motorists don’t see them.

He notes that the convenience for drivers is offset somewhat by greater danger to pedestrians, who are allowed to cross at the moments the drivers are permitted to turn left on yellow and might not be seen by the drivers.

Old Wheaton and Callahan proposed for four-way stop

The in basket: Alison Slow Loris writes, “It’s a mystery to me why the Bremerton intersection of Callahan Street with Wheaton Way (Old Wheaton, before it becomes Highway 303) is a two-way stop, with Wheaton traffic unimpeded and Callahan traffic forced to stop.

“Traffic appears equal on both streets. Callahan gives access to 303 and serves several medical facilities as well as cross streets leading to more of the same.

“Furthermore,” she said, “while westbound drivers on Callahan have a reasonable line of sight, Wheaton’s curves make it very difficult for eastbound drivers to see when it’s safe to proceed. Due to the nature of the district, many hyper-cautious elderly drivers use those streets, and it’s not unusual to see several eastbound cars lined up at the stop sign waiting for a westbound car to enter the intersection.

“Wouldn’t it make a whole lot more sense to have a four-way stop there?”

The out basket: Another reader suggested the same thing years ago. I didn’t see a problem then and still don’t, but my travel through that intersection is usually westbound, not the direction Alison says is a problem, and in the early evening, not during business hours.

Gunnar Fridriksson, street engineer for Bremerton, who says he regularly uses that intersection, says the traffic control there is adequate.

Old Wheaton Way had about twice the traffic of Callahan, 5,000 to 2.500 vehicles per day, when it was last tallied in 2001. The federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, says, “Multi-way stop control can be useful as a safety measure at intersections if certain traffic conditions exist. Safety concerns associated with multi-way stops include pedestrians, bicyclists, and all road users expecting other road users to stop. Multi-way stop control is used where the volume of traffic on the intersecting roads is approximately equal.”

“These traffic volumes are modest,” Gunnar said, “and we’re not aware of an accident history here that would prompt any traffic revisions. We would need to perform further investigation (new traffic counts, etc.,) to see whether (national standards) are met for any proposed improvements.

“I also drive this route fairly regularly, as our offices are up at Olympus Drive,” he said, “and have not seen a problem.  At this time we’ll log this inquiry from Ms. Loris, and see whether additional requests are made for traffic revisions in this area in the future.”