"Coming up to the Station," by flickr user natfoot.

This is an open thread.

53 Replies to “News Roundup: $19.5 Billion from the General Fund”

  1. 135mph?! Thats AWESOME! But he should have been more careful. One wrong move and he could have hit a concrete barrier, potentially loosening the duct tape that holds the bridge together, and sinking the whole damn thing.

    1. How would that have been a “wrong move”? It would have been the best thing to happen around here since Link opened!

      1. Shouldn’t 520 be shut down until it can be inspected to see that the car driving at 135 did not do any damage? The pontoons weren’t designed for that speed and I am certain the shockwaves induced by the car’s tires on the asphalt have possibly done permanent damage.

        Shut it down for the sake of the children!

      2. Let’s put it this way. If the existing 520 structure was inspected to today’s standards as a new project it would never be allowed to open. They have to open the bridge with anything over ~35mph sustained wind because they’re afraid it’s going to break. Paula Hammond had the guts to red tag the steel electrics. I’d love to see her shut down 520.

      3. Paula will NEVER shut down SR520 – she’s from the paving/highway industry – remember?

      4. Granted that it’s a pipe dream. I’m not a big fan of Paula Hammond; for someone in charge and with an engineering background she seems to be a bit behind on the details for many issues. But, I’d still love to see it shut down and I think the ability of the region to adapt might yield some surprises. As far as being pro paving/highway… of course. That is the most critical function that WSDOT performs and constitutes the majority of what they are tasked (i.e budgeted) to maintain. Lose I-5 over the Columbia and I-90 over the Pass and Puget Sound shuts down.

      5. I don’t think a car doing 135, would do anymore damages that the weight of a bus would do.

    2. I read in a Bill Gates biography that when he was younger he would occasionally drive at extremely high speeds across the bridge late at night, but first he would cross the bridge at the speed limit just to make sure the state patrol wasn’t around.

  2. the article on the 520 speeder has generated more than 300 (mostly stupid) comments. That punk should lose his license forever.

      1. CT doesn’t currently have GPS tracking on their buses, though I’ve head they are planning on upgrading on a 1-2 year timeline. In the meantime, I have asked them about getting access to schedule data, but didn’t get too far. If you’d like to have CT schedule data in OneBusAway in the meantime, I suggest you contact CT and let them know this is important to you.

    1. I love OneBusAway too, but in the latest batch of changes its usability decreased tremendously. Apparently it’s too difficult to support the neighborhood search feature, so now if you need info for a stop you’re not physically at, or one which doesn’t list its stop number (which is far too many), rather than being able to just skip to the stops in your area, you now have to listen to a list of every stop on the route. (Imagine trying to find a 48 stop this way.) The new stop lookup system is far, far worse than BUS-TIME’s annoying system.

      I emailed them and was told that they’re hoping to implement the ability to fast forward through the listed stops, but I’m afraid OneBusAway has lost one of its best features.

      1. Actually, the fast-forward feature has been implemented.

        I acknowledge that looking up a stop through the phone interface when you don’t have the stop number handy is a major hassle. Unfortunately, getting consistent neighborhood data was proving to be a hassle too. That, and a lot of users complained that they hadn’t even heard of half the neighborhoods that were included in official sources I got from the city of Seattle. I’m hoping that the fast-forward (and rewind too!) feature will help ease the pain.

        I’d also add that I’ve been asking Metro to more prominently feature the stop number on their printed schedules for over a year now, and I haven’t had much luck. If more people complained to them about this issue, maybe it would get fixed?

      2. I hear you on the “mystery neighborhoods”. I’ve lived in Ballard for 15 years and had never heard of Adams as a neighborhood until I used OneBusAway, though it was easy enough to figure out after a few uses (and the * key made it easy to go back if I effed up). But, yeah, there are a lot of so-called neighborhoods that no one’s ever heard of. Briarcliff? Sure…

        The big problem is that Metro doesn’t put printed schedules on many stops to begin with. I live in Ballard, and the vast majority of outbound stops for the 17, 15, 28, etc, simply don’t have them, so there’s no easy way to figure out when the bus is scheduled, much less when it will actually arrive. I can’t give them too much crap for not putting schedules on every post, considering that they have to change them, what, four times a year? But maybe they could put the stop number on the sign itself, like next to the wheelchair icon?

        Before OneBusAway came along, I thought about starting a rogue stickering project for schedule-less stops. I’d print up labels with a telephone icon, the BUS-TIME number, and the stop number. Maybe it’s time to finally start something like that.

        Apropos, what’s with BUS-TIME having different stop numbers from the schedules/OneBusAway?

  3. According to this post, “•Sound Transit 2010 Service Implementation Plan published. Projects 26,600 Link boardings by year end, “.

    However, quoting directly from the 2010 Service Implementation Plan linked to in this post, on page 17:

    “Performance Assessment

    “The 2009 SIP projected that Central Link ridership would average about 15,900 weekday passenger boardings during the first six months of operation. By mid-2010, this is expected to increase to about 26,600 weekday boardings following the completion of Airport Link and the full implementation of connecting bus service.”

    So, where does John Jensen get that ST is predicting 26,600 by “year end”? This ST document says by “mid-2010.”

    Airport Link has been completed and so has the full implementation of connecting bus service. Yet, Link averaged only 16,741 weekday riders in February of 2010. That is almost 10,000 per weekday less than ST predicts for “mid-2010.” Can we agree that “mid-20120” is around June or July?

    1. Norman, good point. The Seattle P-I piece we linked to wrote, “Ridership was projected to reach 26,600 by the end of 2010…” and I took that at face value.

      When I write, “no word on if the projected boardings taking these factors into account are available,” I am challenging ST to provide ridership estimates that include factors like the recession, fare policies, and frequencies.

    1. NO NO NO NO NO! Light-rail is great, but NOT on surface streets. It’s got to be built right! Put it underground!

      1. Elliot – 15th to Ballard is about the best route that a surface light rail line could hope for. Very few cross streets and the important ones are already grade-separated. And the ROW is wide enough to build without buying up property.

      2. 15th at least has the advantage of not having many cross-streets through Interbay thanks to BNSF. Should mean fewer stupid drivers getting in the way.

    2. This could be interesting if he were to make 15th Transit only. Would that even be possible?

    3. I agree. I think running Link on the surface through MLK will prove to be a mistake once headways are increased and four-car trains are running. It’s stupid that such an important regional link could be severed due to one dumb driver.

      Ballard seemed to have no problem with an elevated monorail running through the neighbourhood, so why not elevated light rail?

    4. So this would mean, no need for Ballard Rapid Ride. Whats another corridor, we could convert to Rapid Ride in place of Ballard’s?

  4. If onlt that 19.5 billion could be spent on lightrail. our highway sytem is just fine, and should stay the way it is. we need mroe options. that 19,5 billion could build us two new lines in half the time normally.

    1. “Just fine,” eh? I’m not convinced that an infrastrastructure system in which 12.1% of bridges are structurally deficient and 14.8% are functionally obsolete is “just fine.” For those who want to poo-poo the fact that I’m citing national numbers, our very own state of Washington’s bridges are in a condition worse than the national average: 29% are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

      Look, I’m certainly pro-rail, but I’m also pro-not-dying-while-traveling-across-the-state-due-to-an-untimely-bridge-failure.

  5. So how much state monies will be diverted away from transit projects in Washington State so that Kemper’s lap dog Rob McKenna can sue the federal government for requiring us all to have health insurance??

    (It IS an “Open Thread”)

    1. According to Gregiore on Dave Ross yesterday the Legislature is considering adding a ban of use of State funds for use in McKenna’s lawsuit into the budget.

      1. The lawsuit is a sure sign he’s running for Governor. He’ll probably be happy to be shut down. It accomplishes his goal of staking out a popular position without entailing any of the risk or the work. Gregoire remember road into office on the popularity of the tobacco lawsuit. Of course that was popular because she actually won and brought in a fist full of dollars for the State.

      2. It’s a politically stupid idea. Much of McKenna’s support base is from independent voters like myself in King County who have found him to be a voice of reason within the Republican party. Many of us vote primarily for Democratic candidates but still try to search for moderate Republicans that we like. With this move he has solidly pushed me into the arms of the Democratic party – at least until they put up some raving left-wing nut job.

  6. 135? *rolleyes* Black Betty’s gotten up to 137 on the Dolly Parton (a ~10m bridge over the Mobile-Tensaw Delta on 65). My buddies supped up ‘stang has gotten over 145.

  7. People have been wondering what projects will be built with the ‘high speed rail’ funding that WA will receive. Evidently, FRA doesn’t know either. They asked for a proposed list of projects from WSDOT. Here it is:

    • Tacoma – D to M Street Connection – $34.3 million
    • Advanced Signal System‐ Positive Train Control (PTC) – $62.3 million
    • Tacoma – Point Defiance Bypass – $91.6 million
    • Vancouver – Yard Bypass Track – $29.1 million
    • Corridor Reliability Upgrades South – $94.1 million
    • Kelso Martin’s Bluff New Siding – $35.6 million
    • Kelso Martin’s Bluff Toteff Siding Extension – $37.4 million
    • Kelso Martin’s Bluff Kelso to Longview Jct. – $126 million
    • King Street Station Track Upgrades – $52 million
    • Everett – Storage Track – $3.6 million
    • Purchase of one train set – $32 million

    Also, the second daily train between Seattle and Vancouver, BC has been extended until September:

    1. Gee, the high-speed-train image on the FRA website banner sure doesn’t look like an Acela trainset, does it? Curious that an American government agency is showcasing a European HSR system on their homepage.

      Apparently part of the problem the FRA is having with administering the HSR program is that they don’t have enough staff to handle the work they’ve been tasked with, which is why WSDOT and the other states have not yet gotten all the $$$ that such a big deal was made about two months ago. Oops.

    2. Wow, so pretty much only Seattle to Portland, eh? Makes sense I guess.

      Can anyone tell me how fast these projects will get trains running, for real? I know we currently have a 79mph max, but trains actually run an average of only about 50mph…

      1. Well, think about that realistically: You cannot run at an average speed approaching the maximum speed because there are numerous en route station stops which are built-in periods of “delay.” The max speed will remain at 79mph until some form of ATS/PTC is implemented and WSDOT builds the dedicated 110mph tracks in the BNSF R/W. These projects will accomplish:
        – increase of capacity for all trains to give BNSF greater flexibility in dispatching trains and thus permit more freedom of movement for Amtrak trains (e.g., the KMB projects)
        – increase capacity at KSS to get trains in/out of the station more quickly, allow parallel moves for trains to/from platforms and the maintenance yard and trains arriving/departing off the mainline
        – elimination of six minutes from the schedule and conflicts with freight trains in the Tacoma terminal area (PDB)

        As has been discussed on this blog before, the goal of these projects is continued incremental growth of the Cascades service, which has been WSDOT’s plan all along. We won’t see “faster” trains as a result of these projects, but we will see tightening of the schedules as reliability improves — and reliable, predictable service will continue to draw ridership because passengers can actually have the reasonable expectation of arriving at their destination when the timetable says they will.

      2. I realise that. Even with the station stops taken into account, we’re no where near average travel speeds of 79mph. My understanding is that these upgrades won’t do much to improve the speed on top of that.

        I know reliability is of huge importance as well. How much would it cost for WSDOT to build 110mph tracks? My guess is a lot and it probably won’t happen, except in a few stretches.

        Blah, “little by little”, I know. Until then we should stop pretending this is HSR.

      3. Build-out of the entire Portland-Seattle-Vancouver corridor is estimated at $6.7B or thereabouts (in 2006 dollars). Dedicated 110mph track is planned about about 80% of the Portland-Tacoma and Everett-Vancouver segments, with the Tacoma-Seattle segment to be restricted to the current 79mph max because of the congested corridor.

        Nobody is “pretending” the PNWRC is HSR — the decision to design/construct for and operate at 110mph was made because that was the best compromise between cost and travel time to permit the service to directly compete with driving I-5 and SEA-PDX flights. (For example, the small reduction in travel time for operating at 125mph would not be justified by the additional cost to design/construct an alignment capable of that speed.) True HSR won’t come about until an electrified line on what would likely be a dedicated R/W is constructed, and that’s many decades away from coming to fruition in this corner of the country.

    1. Does anyone know if the city has by now installed signs along US 2 and Chumstick Highway directing drivers to the station location? There were none when I drove through nearly two months ago, and if I hadn’t already known of the station’s existence there was absolutely nothing to indicate to me (or your average John and Jane Tourist visiting the town with their kids Jimmy and Jenny) that Leavenworth had Amtrak service.

  8. “Highways destroy cities, or at least decrease their population.”

    Highways do not destroy cities, they merely point out the obsolescence of centralized hubs versus a linear (highway) structure for living and doing business.

    1. “Highways do not destroy cities, they merely point out the obsolescence of centralized hubs versus a linear (highway) structure for living and doing business.”

      Actually they point out the effects of a low-price fossil fuel-based economy

  9. “Huge Ass City argues for building the street grid through Seattle Center.”

    No. Nope. Non.

    While I like some of the features he shows in the sketch ( new dev and parks along what used to be Broad ), the addition of cars in the Center is just asking for trouble and it doest work ‘fine’ by Pike Place, ( unless you are subscribing to the Golden Middle- ie if both walkers and drivers agree by hating it then it must be the right choice).

    Although to be honest, its a better idea then yet ANOTHER glass museum in the area.

    1. He doesn’t make a case for how woonerfs would benefit the Center, neighborhood drivers, or event drivers.

      There will always be tons of cars going to events (until transit is comprehensive enough to replace them), and you really don’t want those cars going through the Center. You want them parking in peripheral garages.

      Neighborhood drivers, well I don’t live on Queen Anne so I don’t fully know, but I expect few of them would find routes through the Center very important, especially if they’re slow woonerf routes.

      How would cars benefit pedestrians in the Center? I can’t think of any way. Seattle Center has always been a park and we like it that way. I wouldn’t mind a glass museum or more businesses to bring more people to the Center during off-times. I’d rather have that than woonerfs.

  10. One of the Rapid Ride coaches (6001) was at Central Base today. I guess we had a bunch of visitors from Transit Agencies around the country so they brought up the coach from South Base.

    Anyway, sounds like some minor changes were agreed apon for the new Rapid Ride coaches, and operatrors will begin, being trained on them soon. The word is, the coaches will be put on the 174 starting in May even though Rapid Ride doesn’t start until October. I guess they want to get the coaches out in service and work the bugs out, which normally happens. Seems like every type of coach has issues, when first delivered. Oh and the coach did have a farebox and and ORCA reader just like any other Metro coach. Hopefully this will only be there until October otherwise I think Metro will be making a mistake if they don’t follow SWIFT’s fare payment system.

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