"Ped Safety Gates", by Oran

This is an open thread.

29 Replies to “News Roundup: Earmarks”

  1. I am convinced that if the anti-texting/handset law was enforced by summary roadside execution, we would still have the same number of people breaking it…

  2. I haven’t gotten answers from anyone yet, from Sound Transit, Seattle DOT, or the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board about why the gates were installed there and how they justify them. I commute by these every day and often see pedestrians squeezing between the gates and the fence, but I haven’t stopped to ask them if they are aware that they open or not.

    These are pretty problematic for casual bicycle riders on the sidewalks who don’t feel safe riding in the street as they must dismount and pull the gate out away from the tracks to cross them. On the north side of Holgate, one of the gates has been removed on each side, but on opposite ends. These feels, less than brilliant, and due to the signs being removed from one of the middle gates I wonder if this was intentional or not.

    I’d really hate to see this idea catch on. Another photo here.

    1. They were probably removed at opposite ends for ADA purposes. Since there’s no auto-opener, a person who is unable to pull open the gate can usually still push it open. With one removed, the pull is eliminated.

      1. I was actually going to ask how easily they open when pushed (i.e. how light or heavy they are) for this very reason. There isn’t a wheelchair’s width between the gate and the track; it would be pretty disastrous for a wheelchair crosser to cross the tracks and have any difficulty getting through the opposite gate.

    2. Personally I find this way excessive. You don’t see all this at a railroad crossing (eg a bnsf crossing) and those trains are can be moving way faster.

  3. It sure looks like ST is not going to fund the study phase of the Aloha Extension, and nor should they, but surely our new mayor could do something to get this moving, right?

    I hear the mayor and the Seattle City Council have come to an agreement to use $800K of the Master Transit Plan to study West Seattle to Ballard LR, and that an additional $300K has been added to study city wide transit improvements.

    It sure would be nice if that $1.1M was redirected to study a city wide Streetcar network with the Aloha Extension being Phase I. Design the Streetcar network around an eventual West Seattle to Ballard Central Link style LR line funded by ST3 and we’d be sitting pretty.


  4. BigBelly proposed Seattle Parks adopt their cans to the tune of annual cost savings of $300-500,000 and significant GHG emissions savings. Parks decided to remove garbage cans instead. These things are all over the country and some versions even call home via wireless to let maintenance know they are full (no wasted trips to pick up partially full cans).

    In an era of budget crunches, technology like this can reduce costs. With leasing programs, the cash out of pocket is less than the cash saved from day one.

  5. I wouldn’t generalize that bike lanes are not popular, rather that drivers don’t want their parking and any extra lanes they may be able to use now reclaimed for cyclists. Even though it may not detrimentally effect their commute in the end.

  6. Regarding the D-to-M bid controvery: How much railroad construction experience does MidMountain have? (Hint: Not much.) One has to question whether awarding a low-bid railroad construction contract to a firm which isn’t experienced in that field is the best long-term decision — it isn’t unreasonable to postulate that $800,000 difference in bids could be eaten up in change orders.

  7. Comment by Brian Bundridge
    2010-07-24 21:51:37

    I’ve heard down the grapevine that GNP has 6 passenger cars coming this way…

    They have been running freight for some time now.

    Found this interesting article regarding GNP and “Eastside Rail Freight.”

    1. Another article that talks mostly about Tom Payne’s Golden Pacific debacle in Tacoma. They mention there were 6 passenger cars as part of this venture. Coincidence or are those the 6 that are going to be used for the GNP excursion train? And I assume Mr. Payne still owns his Steam Locomotive, it’s still in the US and is now in working condition? Where exactly does one park their personal steam engine?

  8. One side question:

    Does anyone know how far north on Broadway the separated bike path will run?

    1. I think at first only as far as the streetcar will go. Part of the reason that they started lookomg at the cycletrack in the first place is that they’re rebuilding the street anyways so it’s minimal extra cost to also reconfigure traffic flow. I bet itwould be extended alomg with the streetcar up to Aloha when that extension is funded.

  9. Great more earmarks. States stealing money from each other to fund local projects. This needss to stop. It is wrong.

  10. Two news worth items I caught this evening on the radio (while driving a car, gasp := ) First as part of Mayor McGinn’s Walk, Bike, Ride plan (at least the radio story branded it as McGinn’s plan) Seattle was putting in some bike boxes which allow bikes to jump the cue at traffic lights. Sounded like some green paint that formed a corral at the front of the line but supposedly the “materials” and labor cost $15k per install. Personally I just ride up to the front and if there’s a right turn lane park myself on the white line.

    Second, WSDOT has inked a contract with a Kent firm (Control Electronics?) to install an earth quake shutdown system for the AK Wy Viaduct. It’s a system of RR like gates that close off the road automatically if a 5.0 or greater quake is detected anywhere in the Puget Sound region. I forget the price tag but it was surprisingly cheap actually as far as road projects tend to go. It can also be used to “manual” close the road (by manual I assume the mean somebody somewhere remote pushes a button) in the event of a hazardous chemical spill or other incident. Although not terribly expensive you have to wonder about any investment in a roadway the Governor promised to close by next year. Why not just close it now?

    Lot’s more viaduct porn here.

    1. People keep referring to the bike boxes as “just green paint”. It is not just paint. It’s a material that’s textured presumably so the stuff isn’t slick as hell when wet. You can see it on any of the green bike lanes that have already been installed around the city at locations like the south end of the Fremont Bridge, Green Lake & 50th, Dexter & Denny, 7th Ave N, etc.

      Many DOTs rarely use “paint” these days; almost all the markings are thermoplastic, which is more expensive to buy and requires specialized equipment to install, but which last 6-8x longer than paint. Now, some places like NYC have used what is clearly just good ol’ paint, presumably because doing all their lanes in thermoplastic would be expensive as hell. I can only imagine how poorly those things hold up under salting, plowing, and sweeping.

    2. Third and final comment on the matter: The media are, as usual, stoking the bike v. car fight with the cost of these bike boxes. The PI was the first place I saw this story, and virtually all the comments were about the 15k cost. It was only after the sh*tstorm in the comments that the article was amended to not simply say “paint”. Now they have this: “UPDATE: the paint is actually an aggregate of crushed rock set in epoxy and costs about $10,000. It requires special skills to put down correctly, which results in $5,000 for labor, according to SDOT.”

      But any reporter worth a damn, if they were going to include the 15K price tag, should have known that the first thing any reader was going to want to know is why they cost so much. But rather than explain that from the get go, they just tossed the fuel on the fire and stood back.

  11. A rant about suburban jobs.

    I recently moved next to downtown (Bellevue Ave), to be near the largest contingent of buses until ST2 Link opens. My roommate is also a transit fan, but he has reserve duty in Everett (now changed to Fort Lewis), and is a firefighter in Black Diamond. So he’ll have to drive at least some of the time, even if he can take the bus to Everett. But he needed a fill-in job, and found one in northeast Kent, 9pm-2am. And an occasional weekend job on Willows Road (Redmond). I said, “Wow, you’ve really got quite the suburban jobs.” He was hurt and said, “What, do you want me to quit them?” Because it’s a recession and there aren’t a lot of jobs around.

    My attitude is, “If it’s not in Seattle, I’m not applying for it.” But I realize that’s not realistic for everybody, especially if you really like the military or firefighting, or if you don’t have a lot of skills. Most industrial/warehouse jobs nowadays are in Kent, Bothell, or Issaquah. I’ve known several people who work in Kent, and won’t take transit because it stops too far or infrequently. So when people say, “Let the suburbs eat cake; if they want to live low-density, then no transit for them” — it doesn’t affect just people in McMansions. It affects people who have to work wherever the jobs are located, and it thus affects the whole metropolitan area.

    I don’t believe in 40/40/20. If suburbanites won’t take even the smallest step to arrange themselves in a more transit-friendly way, and people in Seattle who do ride transit find it inadequate, then put the transit where the bulk of riders are. But at the same time, there should be better transit at least to suburban employment areas, even if not to all the single-family homes.

    So, this one Kent job is 14 blocks from the 150, which is no worse than Ballard if you miss the 15 and have to catch the 18. It runs half-hourly in the evening (good job Metro, it used to be hourly), but not at all after 12:20am. My friend might be able to walk to Grady Way and catch the 280. I estimate it as a 45-minute walk, but it might be over an hour. He could drive, but besides wanting to minimize driving, his car is in the shop right now. He said, “Well, I can just wait till the first bus in the morning.” That would make an 8pm-3am shift+commute into 8pm-6am, or not much time to sleep and get to another job. Then he said, “Well, I can take a taxi to Grady Way.” That would eat up a quarter of his daily income right there. I hope that maybe somebody who gets off at the same time is going to Renton or 405 anyway and can drop him off at the P&R. But still, it shows the real-world reality a lack of transit causes. The idea that two night owl routes are sufficient for south King County (8×12 miles) is ridiculous.

    Oh, and there’s no express bus to Kent in the morning or mid-day, just from Kent in the morning. Because everybody works in downtown Seattle, of course. The situation did enable me to get out of jury duty in Kent once though. :) I said I didn’t have a car and it would take over an hour to get there from Seattle, and I’d be perfectly happy to serve in downtown Seattle, so they let me off.

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