Tag Archives: power outage

County planning reflective borders on traffic signals

The in basket: Jack Ford says that during a recent power outage that hit Silverdale, he saw several cars blow through the darkened Levin Road traffic signal on Ridgetop Boulevard, probably unaware there is a signal there.

He wondered if reflective material can be put on signals so they can be spotted when the signals and nearby street lights are out.

The out basket: The state has been installing yellow borders on some of its signals where power outages are common for some time but I wasn’t sure if Kitsap County had followed suit. Ridgetop is a county road and the Levin light is temporary while Bucklin Hill Road is closed. It will be bagged Friday when Bucklin reopens and physically removed in coming weeks.

In driving around Silverdale I didn’t see any of the signals with the border. I asked if the county has any.

Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, replied, “We have begun to install the heads with the reflective material around them, but they aren’t always that easy to see. We have the borders at some signals including Mullenix and Phillips (in South Kitsap), pedestrian crossing on Silverdale Way, and the new Bucklin Hill pedestrian crossing at Mickelberry.

“Even with the reflective material on the signal head some drivers don’t stop. Many of our power outages occur at night during storms making it difficult to see the roadway. Compound that with the height of the signal heads, which puts them on the periphery of the light your headlights project.

“For added safety because of the outages we experience, Public Works has been installing battery backups at our more heavily used intersections with plans to install them at all signals. These backups will allow our signals to operate for several hours after an outage occurs.”

The law says that a darkened traffic signal must be treated as an all-way stop.

Power outage made for mad scramble at 6 intersections

The in basket: Tom Baker of the city of Bremerton electronics shop said driver behavior during an Aug. 26 power outage that darkened the traffic signals at seven West Bremerton intersections needs some comment and review of what the law requires during such outages.
“Most of the traffic did not stop at the dark signals – a lot of honking horns and near misses,” Tom said, asking that I remind my readers of what to do when they come to a signalized intersection where the signals are dark. “The city person who responded said it was ridiculous – no one was stopping in any direction.”

The six intersections are on Sixth Street at Wycoff, Callow, Montgomery and Naval, on Burwell at Callow and Montgomery, and at 11th and Kitsap Way.

“It’s unusual to have that many signals out at the same time,” he said. “We have portable generators and powered up some of the signals, and we are purchasing additional portable generators.”
The out basket: The law says to treat a signalized intersection as an all-way stop when the signals are dark. That means come to a stop where you would at a blinking red light, then proceed under the rules of an all-way stop, yielding to the car on your right, and to straight-through traffic if you’re turning left.
As a practical matter, though, I’ve found that taking turns based on who already has fully stopped vs. those who still must stop is a helpful guide in deciding whether to go or not.
State trooper Russ Winger adds, “It works very well if drivers pay attention to which vehicles arrive when. Courteousness and taking turns goes a long way as do making eye contact and/or motioning other drivers that they should continue first.
“The predominate  reason for honking horns and near misses is simply impatient/inattentive/unknowledgeable drivers,” Russ said.

Wee hour power outages linked to transmission line job

The in basket: This Road Warrior will go a bit afield from our normal subject matter, dealing with a series of power outages, but since my wife and I had been wondering about the same thing, I told Dave Dahlke of South Kitsap I’d try to get him an answer.

When I saw Dave at the Memorial Day ceremony at Sunset Lane Cemetery, he asked if I knew what has been causing the power to go out briefly in the wee hours of the morning in the Manchester area. It had happened three times at his house, and at ours, over the past couple of months. The most recent was last Sunday at 2:50 a.m..

Each time the outage lasted an hour or so. It meant unplugging our various computer-enhanced appliances to guard against power-surge damage when the power was restored, and, of course, resetting our clocks.

Dave wondered if it was related in any way to the multi-million dollar transmission line Puget Sound Energy has had built along Mile Hill Drive and Baby Doll, Collins and Woods roads.

The out basket: Thanks to the sharp  eye of Linda Streissguth, PSE’s manager of government and community relations, I got an answer.

She spotted an entry on their call log showing that I had inquired about the outages. The first PSE employee I talked with was able to tell me only that Sunday’s resulted from a branch on a limb. Without the dates of the other outages, she couldn’t tell me more.

But Linda was aware of the two outages without needing to know the dates. And yes, they were related to the transmission line project., she said.

The work includes modifications inside three substations in addition to the work along the roads, she said. It involves transferring the power load from one line to another, and on those two occasions early in the morning, an equipment failure knocked out the power for an hour or so.

It was just an odd coincidence that Sunday’s outage was at the same approximate time of day and duration as those two, she said. It wasn’t related to the project.

“We’re working hard on this very significant project,” she said, and asked the customers to be patient. The job is to improve the reliability of electrical service in eastern South Kitsap. More detail can be found online at www.pse.com/inyourcommunity/kitsap/constructionprojects, and clicking on East Port Orchard to Manchester transmission line.


Asplundh on tree felling binge on Mile Hill Drive

The in basket: Asplundh Tree Experts have been conspicuously busy along Mile Hill Drive in South Kitsap the past few weeks. They began, it appeared, on Baby Doll Road a few feet off of Mile Hill Drive where they spent at least two days removing branches if not entire trees.

They definitely appeared to be taking down entire trees next to the Abbey Lane apartments just downhill from Harrison Avenue and then went into full tree removal mode just downhill from Jackson Avenue the first week of this month.

You often see Asplundh crews limbing trees as part of Puget Sound Energy’s ongoing vegetation management program to prevent weather-caused power outages. But this was clearly a lot more than than.

The out basket: Indeed it is, says Lindsey Walimaki of PSE. It’s the middle part of a $9 million transmission line-substation upgrade to help curtail power outages in the Manchester area. The substations on Mitchell Avenue and Woods Road have been improved and now work has begun on a new four-mile transmission line that will cost $4 million of the total.

It will run along Mitchell Avenue, Mile Hill Drive, Baby Doll Road, Collins Road and end at the substation just east of Collins on Woods.

Many of the small power poles that now carry distribution lines along that route will be replaced by taller ones that will carry the new transmission lines as well as the

distribution lines. The tree work will continue into April, and the new wires should be strung and in service by June, Lindsey said.

It all includes upgrades at the Long Lake substation too, with that work scheduled from April to July with transmission line work there in July.

Unfortunately for wood gatherers, the wood isn’t available to the public, she said, though private property owners can keep that which is left on their land if they wish. Perhaps a person could make a deal with the property owner. The rest is hauled away.

You can read a lot more about the project and five other ones PSE  has under way or about to start in Kitsap County at its Web site, www.pse.com/ Click on kitsap at the bottom then Construction Projects in the box on the left of the window.

Most don’t involved a lot of tree work, but there is a pilot project in the Wildcat Lake area of Central Kitsap, and along Seabeck Highway south of Holly Road.

That area is hard hit by power outages, Lindsey said. So the company will experiment will taking limbs above power lines that might fall on them in a windstorm, rather than it’s usual practice of just removing limbs that have grown within reach of the wires.

Three of the other projects described on the Web site are on Bainbridge Island and the sixth is at a substation between Bremerton and Gorst.

New traffic signals must be framed in yellow

The in basket:  Gary Reed says, “I see the new traffic signals at the Bremerton end of the Manette bridge have yellow reflective tape or paint around the edge of the fixture. …I have been seeing that treatment more often around lately, and not just in Kitsap County.

“What is the purpose of the reflective tape or paint?” he asked. “I’m sure it must add many more dollars to the cost of the fixture.

“And why must we have two fixtures per lane? Surely technology has advanced to the point where two bulbs (LED’s maybe) can be used, with a circuit designed to hold one in reserve and trigger a small indicator on the outside of the fixture that one lamp needs replacing. If it is a law that requires the two fixtures per lane, seems it would be easy to allow a modern unit with the stroke of a pen.”

The out basket: I first saw the yellow edging at the Sedgwick interchange on Highway 16 a few years ago, and was told it was done to make the signal heads more visible in a power outage, to alert drivers to cross traffic and the need to treat it as an all-way stop. I was told then it was being used where power outages were most common.

Don Anders of the Olympic Region signal shop, says, “This edging started as a pilot project when they first went in several years ago.  They are now required on all new signal projects and also required in the 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices which WSDOT adopted recently.

“The cost is minimal for this product,” he said, “but I do have concerns with how it will hold up over time because we will have to replace as needed.”

Its basic reason is “for power outages at night so the vehicle displays can be seen when dark,” Don said.

“The dual display (of signal heads) for each major movement has been a federal requirement for many years,” he said, “and is to provide better visibility and extra safety if one lamp burns out.  I doubt that rule will change because in the new 2009 MUTCD more vehicle displays are now required than in the past.”

Power stayed on at new Silverdale intersection


The in basket: Dave Jackson of Seabeck tells about a two- or three- hour power outage that darkened Central Kitsap (not much, though, it was during the day) on Aug. 6. Hearing official advice to avoid Silverdale, which was without power, he took a winding route from Seabeck that took him through the Trigger Avenue-Old Frontier Road intersection, where the signal was dark.

So he was surprised after taking the freeway from Trigger back to Silverdale to find the signals at the new Highway 3-303 interchange all working. 

How does that happen, he asks.

The out basket: As mentioned here a year ago when criticism of the new interchange still was at its peak, state officials were arranging to keep the power there on no matter what, knowing what chaos would result if the signals ever quit working. It’s too wide for mere driver eye contact and taking turns to take the place of signals, as can be done at a smaller intersection.

“It is good to hear that things went well for a change and folks like what we’ve done,” says Don Anders of the Olympic Region signal shop.  

“At this intersection we have a battery-powered back-up system (UPS or uninterruptable power source) and a stand-by generator.  The UPS system keeps the system online without any break in service and allows the generator to start up and pick up the load.  This generator has the ability to run 72 hours without adding fuel which will get us through a full weekend, if necessary.”