Tag Archives: West Belfair Valley

Bremerton watershed highway needs guardrail, says reader

The in basket: Julia Benz e-mailed to say, “I’m 76 years old and have lived most of my life on the Old Belfair Highway/West Belfair Valley Road. About a year ago, there were guard rails installed near my house, in three of four different places.

“My first thought was ‘Why here? Why now?’  My second thought was, ‘Why aren’t there guard rails in the ‘watershed?’  Recently, a young man lost his life….his car left the road and wasn’t found for hours.  The paper said he died in the hospital, which, if true, meant he spent quite a few hours, gravely injured, in his car.

“There are several places through the watershed, where a car could leave the road and not be found for hours. Why aren’t there any guard rails in those places?” she asked.

The out basket: I’d better start by noting that West Belfair Valley Road and Old Belfair Highway are the same road. The portion in Mason County is called Old Belfair Highway and the Kitsap County segment is called West Belfair Valley Road.

Kitsap County bears maintenance responsibility for only a portion of its stretch. The city of Bremerton annexed its watershed many years ago and the stretch through the densely wooded portion on both sides of the entrance to Gold Mountain Golf Course is, curiously, a city street.

The county used a federal safety grant in the last few year to install a lot of guard rail, including the three places between where the city ends and the Mason County line, where Julie sees them.

I was surprised at the long, steep slopes along the north side of the city’s stretch through its watershed when I drove it after Julia wrote. They are largely hidden by roadside vegetation.

Tom Knuckey, who has stepped in as spokesman for Bremerton city street issues with the departure of Gunnar Fridriksson for another job, says Julia’s complaint caused him to check out the situation.

“We’re looking into the roadway configuration on the Belfair Valley Road, and are considering including a project in our 2016 Capital Improvement Plan to evaluate the road,” he said afterward.  The city may seek a safety grant of its own to address hazards they identify on the watershed road.

If the engineers decide it would be a good project and the city council says yes, it would go on the plan. But it’s a six-year plan ending in 2021 and would have to await funding, so if guardrails come to the watershed, it would be well in the future.

Bremerton paving remote streets south of Gorst

The in basket: I went to the city of Bremerton Web site to find out when the next work party will be to clean up the median of the Gateway (Highway 304) on the west side of town, and came across something that surprised me.

I saw a notice that the city is paving this week on Lake Flora Road and West Belfair Valley Road.

I didn’t know any portion of Lake Flora Road was in the city. And though I often write about the deteriorating condition of the city’s portion of West Belfair Valley Road (you may think of it as Old Belfair Highway, its name in Mason County), I thought there was little hope for improvement money in the foreseeable future.

I learned I was sorely out of date in my understanding of how far south along Highway 3 the city limits extend. Bremerton National Airport. the Olympic View Industrial Park and the first stretch of Lake Flora Road from Highway 3 all are in the city.

They all were annexed in 2009, says Allison Satter of city community development. I had thought city jurisdiction there was limited to city watershed land.

The paving this week will be overlaying the existing pavement. Money for the work comes from a grant the city got from the Puget Sound Regional Council. None of if comes from the car tab add-on the city has been collecting for two years. Other streets have been chosen for work with that money this year.

Managing Street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson said the grant money was for arterial streets only and they chose these two to avoid dealing with sidewalks. The overlay will use a Kevlar fiber in the hot mix to span weak portions of the roads that otherwise would need a much more costly full reconstruction, he said. West Belfair Valley Road will be repaved from Division Street in Gorst to the entrance to Gold Mountain Golf Course. Lake Flora Road paving was from Highway 3 to where county jurisdiction begins.

That SR304 work party that prompted my search is Saturday morning, incidentally.


Bike incident on West Belfair Valley Road raises question

The in basket: Janet Garcia phoned me to describe something she saw on West Belfair Valley Road in Gorst one Sunday morning early in June.

She saw a group of five or six bicyclists riding ahead of her as she walked her dog on the shoulder. All but one rode near the edge line, but one was near the center line as a pickup truck approached from behind.

That cyclist held his ground and required the pickup truck driver to pull into the oncoming lane to pass. There was no oncoming car traffic. She wondered if that was legal behavior for the biker.

The out basket: Quite legal, though not the most considerate thing to do.

State law gives bicyclists “all the rights and responsibilities” accorded to motor vehicles, plus the right to ride on the shoulder or sidewalk, so that group of riders had every right to have filled the lane in which they were traveling.

It sounds like the one rider who stayed near the centerline is one of those bike riders who insist on making full use of that right, to make a point, I presume.

Extend Barney White Road? Not any time soon

The in basket: Back in July, Sally Harris of Belfair wrote, “Just wondering if there are any plans to eventually connect the Barney White Road on Highway 3 down to the Barney White Road on the Old Belfair Highway.
“It would save a lot of driving back and around when there is an accident on either one,” she said.

The out basket: I can’t find a Barney White Road spur off Old Belfair Highway, aka West Belfair Valley Road, on my map. But whether it’s there or not, the prospects for extending the segment that intersects Highway 3 are equally grim.

The same goes for a similar proposal made a few years ago to link Silverdale Way with Central Valley Road along a private right of way called Lone Maple just north of Island Lake. As I recall, fire officials find that one desirable to shorten response times.

There has been no discussion among county or city of Bremerton officials (a lot of the Barney White area is part of the city) about either extension, their officials tell me, and money for any kind of new road construction is in very short supply. An infusion of federal money, such as helped get Greaves Way built north of Silverdale, would likely be needed.

West Belfair Valley Road is as bad as it gets, city admits

The in basket: Josh Fullington has a question about the prospects for West Belfair Valley Road (Old Belfair Highway to many of us) getting a badly needed paving around the access to Gold Mountain Golf Course and nearby.

“I have grown up driving this road every day

and now drive it to and from work,” he said. “Maybe eight years ago, the road was repaved from around Bear Creek Store to McKenna Falls (Road). I expected them to pick up the next year and finish the rest of the road

because it is very bumpy and is constantly needing repair. I keep telling myself it will happen this year but after eight years its still not


“They have done some patching but that is clearly failing, giving

way to pot holes and tears in the pavement. Adding insult to injury, I noticed today that they just re-striped the road! New fog lines and

yellow lines!!! I am very curious what this road ‘scores’ on the

county’s road assessment and what, if any, plans there are for


“This road gets quite a lot of use and is very necessary if something is blocking on Highway 3 between Gorst and Belfair,” Josh said.

The out basket: The county’s scores for the road are irrelevant to Josh’s concerns. It was Kitsap County that did the paving a few years ago.

The stretch about which Josh is concerned is in the city of Bremerton, annexed years ago when the city annexed its watershed, which includes the golf course and hundreds of acres across the road.

Anyone who has been paying attention to news stories about the city’s street fund woes won’t be surprised that it hasn’t spent the hundreds of thousands needed to restore its portion of West Belfair Valley Road.

“Our last

road assessment in 2010 for the section of (the road) in the  city limits has it rated as poor to failing with a score below 50,” says Gunnar Fridriksson of the city’s engineering staff.

“Roadways below 50 typically can no longer be repaired, but need to be torn up and completely rebuilt.”

But there isn’t money for it. City officials even now are debating whether to impose a $15 or $20 auto tab add-on to better allow them to address the various needs on city streets.

By way of example, Gunnar says,  “Our last year for a substantial overlay/repair program was 2008, when we

spent about $250K.  Current projection for us to keep streets at existing 2011 condition (not upgrading, just no further deterioration) is about $800k a year.”

The city and just about every other jurisdiction responsible for public roadways restripe them every year, regardless of their condition.