Ron Sims: Rip up Tracks or No Deal.

Ron Sims is making life difficult not only for himself but everyone in King County….

My Opinion will come later about this but some of it is located in the Sound Off at the bottom of the article….

Waterfront Streetcar Tracks

I know we talk about the waterfront streetcar way too much, but the process is pretty opaque, so we have to expend a lot of effort to find out what’s going on.

Anyway, I emailed WSDOT about the mysterious paving over of the streetcar tracks. Here’s what I got back:

Yes, we’re using it as a temporary detour for bikes and pedestrians while we repair several viaduct columns between Columbia Street and Yesler Way. Construction on that project should be done by the end of April, and the streetcar tracks will be restored.
So there you go. No need to panic.

Prop 1. too big, costly, but…..

The survey also showed 65 percent support to build 50 more miles of light rail, in response to a favorably-worded question.

But Sound Transit heard bad news, too. Only 23 percent thought sales taxes — the agency’s largest source of money — are a good way to pay for transportation. Car-tab fees, tolls and gas taxes were more acceptable.

More at

My thoughts:

I really don’t go off the results of these surveys anymore simply because the number of people are so low. If we went by these small polls each and every time, we wouldn’t need any real elections other than to make it “official” This is based on only 1,013 people…when I start seeing numbers of 5 to 6,000 people surveyed then I would take it a bit more creditable.

Yes, we are taxed out here to death in regards to sales tax. I would be comfortable paying a State Income Tax and reducing the Sales tax to say, 2.5% from it’s current 9.4% and I also would not mind using Toll or HOT lanes to fund transportation and maintenance projects.

We need leadership in this State however to get us moving and not crawling along on our knees. We should have had a light-rail system going by now and in the process of expanding it. We should have had plans to replace the trolley barn that was destroyed to make room for a park. It is a shame that our leaders are too self absorbed to not think ahead and let things go to waste before it’s time to replace them (86 year old ferries ring a bell?)

Something needs to change and I’m really starting to see that it isn’t the public attitude but our older leaders that no longer have a vision of keeping us going and what makes him/her look good to the people that support them. Look at Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Dallas, Charlotte, New York, Washington DC, that all are in the process of great, huge transportation projects…then look at us…It’s a sad comparison.

Times Opinion: Passenger ferries

Here is a good opinion by Dow Constantine of the Seattle Times on the upcoming passenger ferry system. I wholeheartedly agree with this and glad to see more focus on it. I still am puzzled on why the State was going to sell the Chinook and the Snohomish when they are barely just out of ‘warranty’ One of the ferries is now on the Port Townsend – Keystone run.

Prop. 1 Survey Released

Sound Transit Commissioned Moore Information to make a post-Prop. 1 survey earlier this month. The results were not terribly suprising, I’ll make a summary of the ones that stuck out to me:

Most people (72%) support expanding light rail. Not suprising, Seattle leads the way with 84% supporting it, while the rest of the subareas are between 65%-72%. I was suprised to see that Snohomish is the most pro-light rail region after Seattle.

Every Subarea supports future transit packages focusing on light rail over express bus service (52%-62%). Seattle leads the way on this side again. This shows that BRT may be popular amongst talking heads, but not the man on the street. That guy knows better.

Every region supported splitting roads and transit (70%-77%), and every sub region other than Pierce County (only 31%) support a mostly transit package in the future over a mostly roads package.

Every region also supports a series of smaller individual ballot measures for specific projects rather than large comprehensive packages (53%-65%). I reckon this is because people vote know on confusing packages with long time frames and large bills.

65% of people supported the light rail package in Prop. 1, though only 53% of people would have voted for it on its own with 38% against, and 9% undecided. Suprisingly, the roads had a similar result, with 50% for it, 10% undecided and 40% against. Seattle and Snohomish(!!!) were most for the package 73% for Seattle, and 70% for Snohomish. East King was least for it, with only 54% supporting it.

Only Seattle (43% vs. 49%) supports safety and maintance for roads over Capacity, safety and maintence. East King is most for more capacity (69% vs. 29%), but every other subarea is around 56~58% for capacity as well as maintenance, and 35~39% for just maintenance. This shows the Sierra Club side is in a mild minority outside of Seattle.

Another weak point for the Sierra Club/Ron Sims argument is that a minority supports congestion pricing, with only Seattle (53%) being more than 50%. Congestion pricing is going to be a really tough sell.

Sound Transit is more favorable overall than WSDOT, but less favorable than the local agencies (Metro, Pierce Transit, and Community Transit).

Amazingly, Light Rail North and South were the most important issues after Fixing unsafe roads and bridges. Even replacing 520 fell short of that. Light Rail East was important to only 55%, but still more important than widening 405 with it’s $11 billion dollar price tag. Yeah and people say transit is expensive.

Amazingly, the $157 billion tactic didn’t work well against prop. 1, because as many people (16%) thought it cost less than $10 billion as tought it cost more than $100 billion (11%) Most people just didn’t know 67%. That what happens when 10 different numbers float around.

The final blow is that people hate sales taxes. Only 23% of people support using sales taxes to pay for transportation projects. Of course people hate taxes, but the MVET was the most popular with 51% of people supporting it. Unfortunately, there may not be much that can be done on this front, Sound Transit doesn’t have much taxing authority beyond sales tax.

In all, the poll makes a good case for smaller incremental packages, with small taxes that aren’t sales taxes and without roads attached. Let’s hope it gets on the ballot next year.

Update Here’s the a summary, and the full results. Thanks to Bill LaBorde for the link, I was going off a hard-print out.

What’s interesting about the board minutes, is that they authorized $1.5 million to PB Americas to come up with more planning for a phase two, which shows they are serious about getting it back on the ballot!

Street Car opens December 14

The SLU street car will open December 14th, with an opening ceremony on Wednesday, December 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the corner of Westlake and Olive Way. There will be speeches by politicians, a “Golden Ticket” memento and a chance to ride the street car before it opens.

All paved up

The King County Road Services Division took advantage of dry fall weather to wrap up the 2007 countywide paving program for 2007 in October.

This year, more than 103,000 tons of asphalt were used to overlay 52 miles of roads in unincorporated King County and the local cities that contract with the Roads Division. Even through the cost of asphalt increased about 17 percent over last year, the division was able to meet its paving goals by adjusting the thickness of the overlay on the less-traveled roadways.

In conjunction with the paving, the division also built 143 ramps at intersections in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

King County Road Services Division

Ferries might not be fixed until next year

Washington State Ferry officials reported today that “It could be the first or second week in February before the Port Townsend-Whidbey Island ferry routes offer vehicle service again.”

WSF has pulled the 80-year old Illahee and Klickitat from service for hull inspections after “serious metal pitting” was found on one of her sister ships, the Quinault, while it was in dry dock.

The Quinault is expected to return to service in February, 2008 and the Illahee might return in January depending upon what issues are uncovered during inspection. Dry dock for the Klickitat has not been scheduled as of yet.

Responding to WSF officials who claimed that the more serious problems were obfuscated by the hull’s paint, State Representative Lynne Kessler (D-Hoquiam) asked why the ferries had been “continually repainted without looking for problems underneath.”

State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond explained that certain inspections were not performed on these vessels because until 18 months ago WSF was planning on replacing all four 1927-era Steel-Electric Class boats (including the Nisqually, also out of service). However, the decision to keep the smaller Keystone Terminal changed all of WSF’s plans, leaving them without any short-term options.

Troubled Nichols Bros. Boatbuilders has reportedly offered to construct a 216-foot-long 54-car ferry for $20 million using an already-developed design, however it could take upwards of 4 years to produce a ferry using a brand-new design.

Chief Executive Matt Nicholshas stated the new boat “would be maneuverable in the narrow Keystone ship channel, carry up to 325 passengers, and would travel at about the same speed as the older vessels do on the run now.”

The Steel-Electric Class boats carry 75 cars and more than 600 passengers.

State Representative Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) has questioned whether a smaller boat would be able to accommodate planned and future traffic growth and no decision was made by the end of the meeting.

State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camino Island), chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, as well as State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond have both expressed interest in the quicker solution suggested by Nichols Bros. Boatbuilders.

International Air Service Changes for Seattle (Pax/Cargo)

The following international airlines have applied to offer service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

AEROFLOT Cargo: Khabarovsk, Russia – Seattle
Application filed 14NOV07.

China Airlines (Taiwan): Taipei, Taiwan – Seattle

China Airlines once will again will increase Seattle service from 3 to 5 weekly from 09JAN08.

CI016 TPE1640 – 1130SEA 343 257
CI022 TPE2235 – 1725SEA 343 13

CI021 SEA0015 – 0600+1TPE 343 24
CI015 SEA0055 – 0620+1TPE 343 136

CI016/015 extends to/from Houston.

Hainan Airlines: Beijing, China – Seattle
Application filed 09NOV07.

In the application, it plans to operate either Boeing 767-300 or Airbus 330 on this route, effective June 2008. Eventually it’ll be operating Boeing 787 on this route, which its own configuration will be between 184 – 215 seats.

Lufthansa: Frankfurt, Germany – Seattle

Lufthansa is continuing to expands its global coverage when service to Seattle, Lufthansa’s 17th US gateway, will be launched on 30MAR08.

LH490 FRA1005 – 1120SEA 333 D
LH491 SEA1430 – 0925+1FRA 333 D

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Wins Overall Griesbach Award of Excellence in ACI-NA Concessions Contest

While most people will never equate food and airports, the delays caused by our nation’s antiquated Air Traffic Control system have made this relationship all the more important.  Anyone who has had to spend more time in an airport than originally planned will appreciate a good selection of concession options, be they shopping, food, or drink.

Therefore it is good news that our local International Airport, Sea-Tac, has won the Richard A. Griesbach Award of Excellence for its’ concession options by the Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA).
At the 2007 Concessions Conference Awards luncheon today, Richard White, Director of Properties for the Memphis-Shelby International Airport, winner of the 2006 Griesbach Award, presented the Griesbach award to SEA-TAC.

SEA-TAC’s excellent mix of national, regional, and particularly local brands in the areas of food and beverage, retail, and consumer services, has created a dynamic new experience for its passengers. The positioning of the retail and food service outlets throughout the terminal maximizes visibility and passenger movement. The design and fixtures contribute to establishing a unique Pacific Northwest sense of place. The store fronts are eye catching and the financial performance is superbRichard White
Director of Properties for the Memphis-Shelby International Airport

More …

Entries for this year’s contest were judged by an independent panel comprised of high-level professionals from each of the various disciplines reflected in the contest (i.e. food and beverage, retail mall development, consumer groups, architecture and academic communities). In addition to the independent panel, one representative from the previous years’ overall winner was also involved in the judging process.
The contest, which began in 1998, is named for Richard A. Griesbach, a long-time industry professional in airport concession programs from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Board Meeting is Thursday

… Let the board know you want transit back on the ballot in 2008!

Go here and let the board know you want transit on the ballot in 2008.

Waterfront Streetcar PAVED over?

I got these photos today:

Wow, so they are already paving over the rail… when is this train coming back?

While rail keeps slipping away… ferry service kicks in to full gear. Seattle is a funny place, efficient rail transit is shunned, but inefficient water-borne transit is encouraged.

Be the first to hop on Seattle’s modern streetcar on December 12!

A big thank you to CorryAnn for finding this information!

Ride the Streetcar!
Be the first to hop on Seattle’s modern streetcar on December 12!

Come celebrate the grand opening of Seattle’s first modern streetcar! Festivities begin at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 12, with music, refreshments, and opening remarks by Mayor Nickels. The mayor will then lead the streetcar inaugural run and “break” the ribbons, followed by the official start of passenger service. Streetcar rides will continue to be free for the rest of December, conveniently connecting downtown, the Denny Triangle, and South Lake Union.

The grand opening celebration will take place along the streetcar route. Starting from the Westlake Hub (Westlake Ave & Olive Way), passengers can pick up a fun South Lake Union Passport to explore the neighborhood and collect stamps from participating businesses.

Riders can turn in their completed passports to win fantastic prizes at the South Lake Union Discovery Center. Continue on to the Pan Pacific Station at 2200 (Westlake Ave & Denny Way) and stations along Westlake Ave for more festivities and giveaways.

During the entire weekend following grand opening day, passengers can also ride the streetcar down to the Lake Union Park station to experience a free ride on a classic sail or steamboat from the Center for Wooden Boats.
Don’t miss this momentous celebration of a Seattle milestone! To learn more about the Seattle Streetcar, visit:

Or, to learn about the proposed city-wide streetcar network, visit:

All aboard!

Looking for 2 co-bloggers

Hey everyone.

I’m on a new computer and needless to say lost those that were interested in being a co-blogger.

The requirements for those wanting to be a co-blogger need to live in Washington State and cover transportation items within Washington State.

The topics that Washington State Transportation will cover is the following.

Rail transportation such as Short Line Railroads like Meeker Southern Railroad, Class 1 Railroads, like BNSF and Union Pacific railroads, Passenger Rail operations, Amtrak and Sounder Commuter Rail. Light Rail and Streetcar information and construction updates and news like LINK light-rail and Seattle Streetcar.

Air transportation that affects Washington, updates on Sea-Tac Airports 3rd Runway and construction in and around Sea-Tac airport. This also includes security, significant flight delays, etc.

Ferry news, like the construction of new ferries, updates on the Steel Electrics, etc.

Bus transportation all in Washington regions including Bus Rapid Transit.

Road news and construction updates like 520, the Alaskan Way Viaduct and other thoughts, etc.

You can respond to this via my e-mail –

A decision will be made by the end of the week.

Thank you!


RSS Feed is operational

In case you hadn’t noticed, we put up an RSS feed a few days ago. You can get it by clicking at right.

Thanks to Daimajin for getting this done.

Sea-Tac Airport third runway – 1 year to go

This year for Thanksgiving could be a first for the Puget Sound region – It won’t be raining and low chance of fog! This will mean minimal flight delays in and out of Sea-Tac Airport. Typically during the holiday season, Sea-Tac Airport is overflowing with people leaving and departing the Puget Sound region but flight delays has always been a huge issue because of heavy, dense fog, hard rain, windy, and just about every other year, power would go out thanks to these elements. The 3rd runway will be open about this time next year which will allow the use of 2 runways landing and departing without interruption. This will be a welcome site to all when it goes open. I’m not sure how things will be setup for landing and departures but I’m sure it will speed things up along nicely.

The other good tidbit is that the initial road work construction at Sea-Tac Airport, including the new loop should be completed by this point as well. The new roadway, which was needed for Sound Transit’s Central Link Light-Rail system will speed up getting into and out of the airport and the improvements on SR-518 will be a welcomed addition.

WSF Steel Electric Ferries pulled from service

With Thanksgiving coming up later this week, Washington State Ferries made a challenging decision to pull the 80-year old Steel Electric class ferries, the Quinault, Klickitat, Illahee and Nisqually, from operating service to examine the hulls of these ships. Hull pitting on the Quinault has officials concerned about weak hull structure and safety. The Steel Electric class ferries are the only boats that can navigate the shallow and narrow waterways of the Keystone harbor.

To help lessen the impacts of the loss of passenger-vehicle service on Port Townsend-Keystone, WSF will:

  • Operate three vessels on the Edmonds-Kingston route from Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday evening, November 25 to handle the extra traffic expected over the Thanksgiving weekend. This route is the best detour for people traveling from the Olympic Peninsula to Whidbey Island.
  • Operate the high-speed passenger ferry Snohomish between Port Townsend and Keystone. WSF is making every attempt to have the service up and running by Friday, November 23 to serve customers during their Thanksgiving travel. The passenger ferry will maintain the current schedule.

If you recall, the Snohomish and the Chinook were placed up for sale last week but due to this issue the vessels are in dry dock and will operate on the Port Townsend – Keystone route.

More at WSDOT –

Seattle Times –

Seattle Post-Intelligencer –

Central Link Update – Nov 15th, 2007

These observations are from the Sound Transit Lunch Bus and members of construction crews that I have talked with the past few days. I rode the Sound Transit Lunch Bus on November 15th, 2007. It was a very pleasant trip and throughly enjoyed the MCI D4500 coach we had for the trip. Just needed a coffee, newspaper, and a place for laptop and I’d be set!

Rail is complete from Pine Street Tunnel located in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to Beacon Hill East Portal/Airport Way.

Rail is complete from Beacon Hill West Portland/MLK Way aka Mt. Baker to Tukwila International Blvd Station.

Rail is staged for Tukwila to Airport segment at Sea-Tac Airport. Guideway will be finished from Tukwila Intl. Blvd to the Airport by the end of the year. OCS poles have also been staged near

Foundation for Airport Station is finished and build up is in progress.

Central Link 101-110 is on the properly at the Operations and Maintenance Facility (unless it ST 108 was the last one.. thought I saw 109/110 sitting outside as well)

According to ST Public Relations, rail halfway completed in Southbound tunnel. The Emerald Mole/Tunnel Boring Machine is scheduled to come out of the Northbound Tunnel in mid-December. The TBM has been chewing 35-55 feet per day with good soil content.

Wire is strung from Tukwila Intl. Blvd Station to I-5/Southcenter and Martin Luther King Jr Way near Alaska St to Boeing Access Road, leaving I-5 to Boeing Access Road and Alaska Street to West Portal and through the tunnels remaining for wire.

Testing is scheduled to begin Spring/Summer 2008 from the O&M and Tukwila Intl. Blvd Station.

For more images of Central Link, including the Lunch Bus photos, check out my flickr….

Seattle Streetcar in Testing

Coming to the City of Seattle in less a month, the Seattle Streetcar running from Westlake Center to Fred Hutchison Research Center in South Lake Union.

Here are some images of the Seattle Streetcar in testing on Thursday, November 15th, 2007 after the Sound Transit Lunch Bus

Rainier Valley Segment Photos

At about the same time that the Washington Transportation Blog posted these, I went and took some photos along the Rainier Valley Light Rail segment. I also have a few comments about the line’s design.

Down around Rainier Beach station, the track seems completely done, with the station apparently complete and the overhead wires installed. As you go north, things get progressively less developed till you reach Mount Baker station and the Beacon Hill segment.

Here’s Othello Station, which as you can see is surrounded by retail development.

Immediately north of Othello, the pylons are in with the pointy tips that my friend remarked made them look like “weapons for giant fighting robots.”

Up at Columbia City station, they’re putting in little plazas at each corner of the station. They’re looking nice.

And the station itself is coming along nicely.

One thing that could be a problem is a lack of crossing gates at major intersections. Here at MLK & Alaska, I can certainly envision some idiot trying to turn left and blocking the train.

And lastly, a pedestrian crossing near the Rainier Vista development. There’s a boys and girls’ club going in near here, and I’m really concerned kids are going to run across the tracks wherever they like. It’s a matter of time until the first accident. That’s not only a tragedy in its own right, but will almost certainly result in reduced speeds afterwards, which makes LINK a less attractive option.

I would propose a tasteful, 2 or 3 foot black iron fence along the length of the right-of-way to channel people into the signalized crossing, as well as crossing gates at intersections. How much more investment could it be on a multi-billion dollar project?

By the way, you can see that drainage on the tracks already sucks.