japan april 158
More Pretty Bridges, Shimonoseki
  • The House has approved a bill approving the deep bore tunnel option as the preferred option for replacing the aging Viaduct. However, a House amendment pushed by Speaker Chopp puts Seattle on the line for any cost overruns. Never in the history of Washington State have local taxpayers been asked to contribute to a state roadway project.
  • The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department nabbed a park-and-ride burglar by setting up a bait car. Turns out, the sheriff’s department has been running a bait program since 2007, and the amount of incidents has fallen from 82 to in 2006 to just 20 last year.
  • CHS Capitol Hill Seattle Blog talks about the upcoming transit and pedestrian improvements to Pine St. Pine is a pretty strong corridor for buses, feet, and bicyclists so these improvements will be quite welcome.
  • A commenter has posted a photo set of his ORCA card and related documents. ORCA is the region’s next transit smart card, which can be used as both a monthly pass or a fare storage card. Did we mention that it automatically handles transfer for you? You can get one for free at orcacard.com.

33 Replies to “News Round Up: Park-and-Ride Bait and Bus Bulbs”

  1. Also of interest is the CHS blog post on how ST has changed a “late 2009” “9 month” closure of the NB I-5 Olive Way exit into a “May 18” “one year+” closure. From the post, it sounds like downtown and capitol hill is going to be pretty miserable, to the point where it makes me rethink living on the hill.

    CHS blog post

    1. You know, for a downtown it seems that Seattle’s downtown has pretty good traffic. I’m not sure if the Olive Way off-ramp will make that big of a difference to traffic, but I could be wrong. I live only a few blocks from it and I’m not too worried.

      1. Isn’t that exit mostly to Capitol Hill, though? It seems as if it would make it difficult for people in that part of Capitol Hill to get there from the freeway.

    2. It’s like your transportation options are limited and you have to “transfer” from one “route” to another “route”.

    3. Yeah, the Olive closure won’t be the end of the world, but ST changing the length and start date so significantly really pisses me off.

      However, the Cherry street and pike/pine HOV access closure are going to have a significant effect on downtown, I think

  2. Another news item is Sound Transit’s amendment to the 2009 Service Implementation Plan.

    http://soundtransit.org/x1195.xml

    As we all know, sales tax collections have been less than projected.

    Sound Transit staff has developed an alternative schedule for ST2 bus service that reduces costs by stretching the implementation timeline over a longer time frame. Compared with the proposals described in Regional Transit News, this alternative delays the off-peak service improvements originally proposed for September 2009 by two years.

  3. Sounds to me like making local communities pay for part of the state road cost is long overdue.

    But what am I saying! Seattle already pays for “urban arterials” that the state also funds. Clever work-around or rip-off of the big city? You decide.

    Wherever the state goes, they find “local concerns”, which are almost always local large landowners, prolonging the process of locating and building highways and improvements. Put a tax on the costs of this delay and some of these projects might get done a little faster.

  4. I’d be surprised if having the locals contribute to state projects is truly a new thing, and it doesn’t really bother me that much to have such an arraignment laid out in advance.

    However, what I find particularly worrisome about the viaduct arraignment is that local Seattleites are on the hook for cost overruns on a state run and managed project. I wouldn’t mind so much if Seattle was on the hook for cost overruns on a Seattle funded and managed project, but putting Seattle on the hook for overruns on a WSDOT managed project? That just doesn’t sit right with me.

    And one has to wonder, with their costs capped and an unlimited source of additional funding, what incentive does WSDOT have to even “try” to stay within budget? They could spend wildly and mismanage to their hearts content and it would be no impact to them. It’s an insane arraignment, and Chop deserves a lot of the blame.

    Per the 1 year closure of the Olive exit – I don’t know what the original plan “way back when” was, but I believe this has been the plan for awhile now. I think Drago basically got caught napping on this one. And personally, I think the closure of the Cherry St. on-ramp will have more of an impact.

  5. I saw “Bus Bulbs” and assumed it was about the new LED lighting in some Metro buses. Not sure if it’s part of a larger plan but they’re pretty cool.

  6. This is just another reason to tear the viaduct down, leave the surface streets in place and don’t spend so much money to redo them. If the economy turns around then we can start the tunnel if need be.

  7. (1) Establishes that the state’s contribution to the Alaskan Way viaduct replacement project shall not exceed $2.4 billion.

    (2) Provides that if costs exceed $2.4 billion, no more than $400 million must be financed with toll revenue.

    (3) Establishes that any costs in excess of $2.8 billion must be borne by property owners in the Seattle area who benefit from replacing the existing viaduct with the tunnel.

    My question is also, who are the property owners who “benefit?” Is it downtown owners, those in proximity to the tunnel? And what is benefit? Get to use it once in a while? Coming from West Seattle, most of those who take the bus (or lots of those who drive) to downtown will NOT take the tunnel. In fact, we’ll be on the surface streets and which will, SDOT even says it, slow down our commute overall. We’ll pay the toll to get through the tunnel to pass through downtown, sure. But possibly taxing us for a tunnel that actually doesn’t help us? For a WSDOT roadway? It just gets worse and worse. Yes, I’ve written to all my reps about this for some time, never a response.

    1. Why a cap on toll revenues? Why not make the Viaduct users pay back the state for its investment, or at least cover any overruns?

      My prediction is that if it got to this point, things would change. It’s a very anit-Seattle law, but it’s also stupid and ridiculous policy that wouldn’t stand to intense pressure.

  8. A lot of good it does to have the Speaker of the House be from Seattle! If they’re going to put Seattle on the hook for tunnel cost overruns, at least let Seattle manage the project. There is absolutely no incentive for the State to keep costs in check. Woops! Sorry we went a billion over budget, now pay up! Seattle is already contibuting a quarter of the cost, is that not a good enough show of goodwill? Have any suburban cities ever paid that much towards a freeway expansion project?

    1. And if tolls (especially very high tolls for SOVs) cannot be imposed to cover ALL costs above US$2.4B, then abandon (or delay) the project. Those of us who use transit should not be paying for this project JUST because of where we work and/or live.

  9. I would love to see Pine Street as a bus or streetcar/bike/stroller/wheelchair right-of-way from 17th to first avenues from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM – more trees, more benches, wider curbs, the whole non-auto boulevard look.

  10. From the Orca Website:

    Only Adults (19+) need to create a My ORCA Account for the purposes of registering an existing card or ordering a new registered card. Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) customers, Kitsap Transit low-income customers and cardholders registered for use on King County Metro ACCESS must visit an ORCA Customer Service Office to first obtain a registered ORCA card. An account will be created for you at the time your registered ORCA card is issued.

    ORCA websites and any ORCA customer services that require personal identifying information are not intended for minors, and we will not accept or request information from individuals we know to be under 18.

    So if you are 18 years old, you many not get an ORCA by any means??

    1. My friend and I are under 18 and we both got ORCA cards and My ORCA accounts… if that’s the rule then it sounds like they’re not following it.

      1. I’m the friend– At the Westlake Customer stop, they wouldn’t give me one because I didn’t have ID with my address and birthday on it. She told me to come back with a parent or a birth certificate. Undeterred, I went to the Customer Service office at King Street Center, and the attendant just asked me for that information and handed me my card. It’s set up for a youth fare.

      2. Good for both of you – what a silly regulation. I’ve been riding transit in Seattle on my own since the summer I turned 12. What nonsense that you have to show proof of age to buy ORCA.

  11. Notice, it’s not Seattle taxpayers, but just Downtown Seattle property owners who would pay for those cost overruns. The Downtown Seattle Association has always completely supported the tunnel so it makes sense that they would be stuck with the bill, which, I hope, will be small or non-existent. If they can get the bid out quickly, they can get it under-budget before the recession ends and prices start going up. I guess the recession does have one good thing.
    And by the way, does anyone know what the extra funds from U-link are going to?

    1. Does the amendment say it’s just for Downtown Seattle property owners? I haven’t heard that elsewhere.

      Either way, that’s not how things are done. Pretend all of Seattle was super supportive of a tunnel. Gas taxes and transportation revenue should still pay for a state tunnel and, failing that, tolls.

      And by the way, does anyone know what the extra funds from U-link are going to?

      Probably the 2.1 billion gap for ST2… :)

  12. ORCA is one of those things that I’ve known was coming for so long I’d sort of forgotten it was coming soon. (After hall, how long have those card readers been on the bus now?)

    Then I got my monthly PugetPass order in the mail today, and it’s an ORCA card preloaded with a May PugetPass.

    Not sure I’m looking forward to full rollout — rail users are supposed to tap before boarding and after exiting the train. Not bad if you’re a few minutes early to get on the train, but picture a six-car train letting off passengers, many of them eager to catch a connecting bus, who now all have to stand in line for the two or three card readers at the railway station.

    We’ll see how that really works out….

    1. We are supposed to tap out at the end of the ride?!? That could explain something that puzzled me. I tapped my ORCA card at King Street for the Everett Sounder train. The value on the reader stated 2.25 (reduced fare) which was correct for me (to Everett) but what if I wanted to get off in Edmonds? Does the “checkout” verify that the correction destination is indicated? If I had gotten off at Edmonds and then tapped the reader, would my fare have been lower? When I looked at my account online, my fare (without tapping out) was $2.25.

      Incidentally, when the fare inspector came by on the train, he didn’t read my ORCA card, he just saw I had it and moved on.

      1. The reduced fare for Sounder from Seattle to Edmonds is $1.75. That doesn’t change with ORCA but to ensure people tap out at their destination this is it how it works:

        When you tap in, the fare from your beginning point (King Street) to the last station (Everett) is deducted ($2.25). When you tap out at Edmonds, the reader will credit the difference ($2.25-$1.75=50¢) back to your card resulting in ($2.25-$0.50) = $1.75 fare paid.

        That also has the effect of making the exit tap at the end of the line unnecessary. So no, there’s no need for morning queues at the King Street readers when Sounder empties, once people realize that it doesn’t matter.

      2. Thanks, Oran! This blog is so very useful. It’s effectiveness is a reason why I think that newspapers are declining. I get far better info on transportation issues then I would in a paper!

      3. You’re welcome, Shawn. It helps to have an environment that’s friendly and positive unlike some newspaper’s comment threads.

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