Tag Archives: Pioneer Way

Slow turning trucks at Pioneer Way and SR3 in North Kitsap

The in basket: Dan Godecke again raises an issue he brought up in late 2008 about the signal timing at Highway 3 and Pioneer Way in North Kitsap.

He said then that “when a truck makes the turn from Pioneer to 3, the sensors in the road were not picking up the truck between the time the truck axles passed over them and the trailer axles passed over.

“You helped out by contacting someone that set the signals and they lengthened the time before the light would turn yellow if no cars passed over the sensor,” he told me. “This fixed the problem and all was good…until someone set it back to the original short time setting.
“Now we are back to the same problem again,” he said. “If a truck with a trailer makes that turn, the light turns yellow before another car can follow it into the intersection.  When a truck is the first vehicle in the line it is the only vehicle to make it thorough the intersection regardless of how many cars are in line.”
There is a lot of truck traffic from the Twelve Trees industrial area, he said, and the trucks have to make the right turn slowly to avoid cars waiting at the northbound light.

“The afternoons are the worst time of the day,” he said. “The traffic to the light on Pioneer is heavy and trucks are mixed in that load.  I did notice the moving van trucks with the low center section on the trailer don’t have the same effect on the light.  Only the higher flatbed tailors are the problem ones.”
The out basket: Jim Johnstone of the Olympic Region signal shop, which is responsible for the signals on state highways here, there has been no recent change to the timing of that light.

They had a crew visit the light and “we watched several cycles where trucks came off the Pioneer approach and never saw a problem with the operation,” he said. “We verified that the sensitivity level of the detectors was appropriate to detect all vehicles on the approach and never saw it miss or drop a vehicle.

“The maximum (green)time for that approach is set at 25 seconds and the gap time is set to 4.0 seconds.  Originally the gap time was 3.0 seconds and after Dan’s initial inquiry in 2008 we increased it to 4.0 seconds. Gap time is the length of time between vehicles that tells the llght controller there are no more cars waiting to be served.

“My only conclusion is that if it is taking 10 to 15 seconds for a truck to make that turn then there is not much time left for others to make it through the intersection.  If this is occurring during afternoon peak, as Dan suggests, we are not left with much to remedy the problem.  If we start increasing the max time or increase the gap time beyond what we already have then we impact mainline movements.

“I’m sure everyone is aware of the volume of traffic on SR 3 at this location especially during the PM peak and the need to keep that traffic moving.  When we delay the SR 3 southbound uphill approach too much, traffic backs up and the large volume of trucks has a difficult time getting started again causing operational issues on the mainline.

“We will continue to spot check this intersection, and ask our Lofall crew to also keep an eye on it for any unusual operation They drive through this signal daily also.”

Pioneer Way light may have detection problem


The in basket: Dan Godeke writes to say that he thinks the new traffic signal at Highway 3 and Pioneer Way in North Kitsap has a problem. 

“I have been watching the detector loop on Pioneer Way,” he said, “and found that it is not picking up cars consistently. It will sometimes let only three cars go through the light before turning yellow even when a long string of cars are waiting.

“What I have noticed is that if a long truck is one of the ones going through, the light will quickly turn yellow and I think it is because the loop is not detecting the high undercarriage of the trailer.  The other time I notice this is if several cars in a row turn right, they miss going over the loop and again it thinks no other cars are in line.

“Perhaps what is needed is another loop set back about 50 feet or so that it will see cars still in line waiting when one of the above happens.” Dan suggested.

The out basket: Don Anders, head of the Olympic Region signal shop for the state, says, “We will have a crew check this detection system out, but we normally do not have trouble detecting trucks.”  

He said they may have to adjust the gap time, meaning the period of time, often about three seconds, that tells a traffic signal’s detectors that no more traffic is at the signal, prompting it to turn the light red. They call it “gapping out.”

“It’s important that drivers always stay in the center of the lane, this is the most sensitive area or detection zone,” Don added. “Right turners will sometimes get off center and create this gap out problem.

“On our signals we have advance loops (behind the stop bar loops) on the mainline, but we do not have these on the side road approaches. This is done for two reasons,” he said, “first is the approach speeds are much slower, and second these loops would be outside of our right of way and sometimes on private property.”

I’m glad this came up, because I often see right turners dawdle  in the through lane before moving over, not getting to the through lane detectors but keeping the traffic behind them from getting there before the light gaps out.

Drivers unaware of the concept of gap time should be aware of it as a courtesy to those behind them trying to make the light.