2017 Bombardier BiLevel cab car

This is an open thread.

31 Replies to “News Roundup: Trick or Treat”

  1. Throwing this out to the horde– who do you want to lead SDOT? What should be his/her first priority?

    1. With what we’ve seen from Durkan I think I’m fine with the position remaining vacant indefinitely. Durkan doing nothing or Seattle Processing for 4, 8, or god forbid 12 years and being spineless in the face of BS like Save 35th is more appealing than imaging what sort of backward thinking she’d actually accomplish if she cared enough to appoint a director.

      1. How ridiculous. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the way the first female mayor of this city is attacked with no justification, but I still find it appalling. You are, clearly, just some guy. Just another guy who makes baseless claims about the mayor.

        You have completely ignored the mess the previous mayor made of transit in this city, while ignoring her accomplishments. But go ahead, please tell me who has done better, with or without an SDOT chief. Please, tell me about the mayor you remember so fondly, and what he did that was so much better than what Durkan has done (without the help of an SDOT chief).

      2. RossB,
        Bertha Landes, mayor of Seattle from 1926 to 1928, wants a word with you. It was her that the SR-99 tunnel boring machine was named for..

      3. Fair enough. I stand corrected (I forgot my history). Good thing she didn’t have to put with idiotic comments on the Internet.

      4. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the way the first female mayor of this city
        [wrong, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertha_Knight_Landes%5D

        is attacked with no justification,
        [wrong ex 1 https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2017/07/07/jessyn-farrell-for-mayor/ (disclosure: I voted and donated to Farell)]
        [wrong ex 2 https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/09/10/why-is-seattle-mayor-jenny-durkan-playing-games-with-transit/%5D
        [wrong ex 3 https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/08/27/31432060/durkan-kills-yet-another-significant-public-transportation-project%5D
        [wrong ex 4 https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/seattle-embraced-dockless-bike-shares-but-bans-scooter-ones-how-come/%5D

        but I still find it appalling. You are, clearly, just some guy. Just another guy who makes baseless claims about the mayor.
        [wrong, see above]

        You have completely ignored the mess the previous mayor made of transit in this city,
        [Wrong. “Jenny Durkan has positioned herself as the continuity candidate from Mayor Ed Murray. We believe Mayor Murray has been historically effective in passing significant transit and land use policy changes, and a continuation of his policy machine is attractive.” –Seattle Transit Blog]

        while ignoring her accomplishments.
        [Ha! I’m here to talk about transit!]
        [She does deserve credit for floating the idea of congestion pricing.]

        But go ahead, please tell me who has done better, with or without an SDOT chief.
        [No one in Seattle has done great. Seattle has been dragged kicking and screaming– into not even the future but just to present realities.]

        Please, tell me about the mayor you remember so fondly, and what he did that was so much better than what Durkan has done (without the help of an SDOT chief).
        [I’m from NYC. Bloomberg had a lot of transit problems. But I remember the breath of fresh air that was Janette Sadik-Khan. Durkin won’t appoint a Sadik-Khan: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-one-nyc-traffic-commissioner-cut-through-bureaucracy-1456849978 ]

        Change my mind! List her transit accomplishments, please.

      5. The reason people dislike Durkan has nothing to do with the fact that she is a woman and everything to do with the fact that she is pretty clearly the mayor of the Magnolias, Ravennas, and Laurelhursts – for people who love their free parking and restrictive zoning. The multifamily-zoned neighborhoods all went heavily for Moon or Oliver, but old rich white folks went for Durkan.

        She deserves credit for 1) universal ORCA cards for public school students and 2) extending transit priority hours on 3rd Ave, although it’s not unrealistic to suggest that Moon would’ve done the same. On pretty much everything else, meh. I for one am excited for the prospect of Mayor Mosqueda in a few years.

    2. Anyway, good question. Obviously, at this point, no on one has a good answer. That, in itself, shows how messed up the political system is. We can all talk about the news, and talk about particular things going on, but we have no idea who is doing a great job of overcoming the political obstacles in their town and improving the transportation system. Oh, sure, we can all see the changes going in, but understanding what is happening all across the country, in the various cities is relatively hard. It is much easier to find detailed sports analysis.

      Anyway, it often comes down to choosing someone who has been in charge of a similar city, or someone who has worked for a leader who has accomplished great things. Personally, I prefer the latter. I prefer she hire someone who may not have had the same level or responsibility, but has learned from someone who has done really well. This is a common model in sports (and well known by casual fans, which goes to my earlier point).

      So, basically, I figure we wait, and look at who the candidates are. But if it comes down to someone who has handled a similar job in a city that hasn’t really done much, or someone who has worked for a city that has done a lot, I would choose the latter. Oh, and I really don’t think we should “hire from within”. I think that worked just fine for the police, but I think the police department was running reasonable well (especially after O’Toole took over). Best was an extraordinary candidate — well liked by the rank and file *and* the reformers. There may be someone in SDOT who is also extraordinary (and who suffered from the horrible mismanagement of Kubly) but I doubt it. More than anything though, I think the organization needs a major shakeup, which means someone from outside. While Best is a fine candidate, I think it was good that O’Toole (someone from outside) took over for a while, instead of going directly from Diaz to Best.

  2. On the Pierce County Canyon Road project, the engineers are so convinced that the historic Milroy Bridge needs to be demolished, and they back it up with this quote:

    “It’s functionally obsolete. It’s really narrow, probably heard people talk about it before, not really designed for accommodating people,”

    Actually, it can accommodate people just fine. It just can’t accommodate cars. This historic bridge would make a beautiful county park, and a great ped/bike alternative to what would be a very busy 70th Ave bridge.

    Of course, this just goes to show how Pierce County doesn’t understand anything that doesn’t have cars on it.

    1. Definitely could be used as a bridge for something else. That doesn’t mean it won’t be used for that purpose but nobody has approached them with the funding or means to move said bridge when that time comes.

      When you factor in the cost of removal, disassembly, moving to said site, rebuilt, repair, and repaint the bridge, the cost will be equal to that of a new span that will be far safer than the existing bridge.

      As somebody that utilizes this bridge almost daily, I CANNOT wait until that thing is gone. It is the bain of the valley’s existence.

      1. Brian, I live in Olympia now, but spend a fair amount of time in Tacoma, and much driving in all directions. Still very curious about whether there’s any realistic way to bring passenger trains into Olympia itself.

        With massive increase in traffic on I-5 since I came here five years ago, think there must be increasing demand for a freeway-free route to points north.

        Still can’t find any reference to the route- any suggestions online or anyplace else? Because I really would like to see passenger rail service come back.

        For my own interest, a lot less interested in the politics of it, but a lot more on what’s technically possible. Can see an express bus route from Olympia Transit Center to Lacey station.

        Any info, really welcome.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Brian, you misunderstand completely.

        The sequence is this: New bridge at 70th Ave. Close Milroy Bridge. Repair bridge. Open to pedestrians. With 70th available for cars and Milroy only allowing pedestrians, it would no longer be a “bane”.

        Since the new 70th bridge will be 1/4 mile upstream, the Milroy Bridge doesn’t need to be moved. It can just stay exactly where it is. As a historically significant bridge that can’t manage car traffic, it is horrible for a transportation department and ideal for a parks department.

        You may remember that several years ago everyone was convinced that the 11th St Bridge in downtown Tacoma was a goner after the new bridge opened, but, needless to say, it’s still there and doing just fine.

      3. Mark,

        It would have to be on the UP loop. Too much of the BNSF right of way is subsumed into Lacey Boulevard.

    2. Having grown up crossing that bridge often, I disagree with your opinion.

      It is a terrible bridge for pedestrians. Granted, it has a single, wood plank, pedestrian walkway on the east side, which is wide enough, but the pedestrian benefits end there.

      There’s no ADA ramps to the walkway on either side. There’s a pedestrian crossing signal at River Road, but you’d have to be brave as hell to even get there, because there’s no sidewalks to be seen anywhere on the south side. If you can survive that and get to the north side of the bridge, again you’re spit out to Levee Rd, with no sidewalks. So even if they leave the bridge there as a pedestrian/bike only amenity, it’s useless because getting there as a pedestrian or cyclist is very dangerous.

      The Canyon extension project will at least build sidewalks and pedestrian amenities. And it will connect to the 70th sea of warehouses, where pedestrian amenities start again and pedestrians/cyclists are more apt to be headed.

      Instead of wasting money trying to maintain a 90 year old bridge that even WSDOT has decided is functionally obsolete, they should focus on adding some form of pedestrian/bicycle access to the east, along River Rd, towards Puyallup

      1. Yeah but the plan is to build a brand new bridge, to the east (at 70th) (https://www.co.pierce.wa.us/2844/Canyon-Rd-E-Northerly-Extension-CRP-5643). At that point, I’m assuming things become a lot quieter north of 52 Street.

        That could mean that the old bridge could be turned into a pedestrian/bike bridge (with no cars going over it). It would still need to be repaired, but the loads on it would be much smaller, and it wouldn’t need to be any wider. You would need to build a curb cut, to connect the sidewalk. It also wouldn’t be too expensive to put in a beg button on the south side (there already are crosswalks). The biggest problem appears to be lack of sidewalks in the area (as you mentioned). On the south side, there is only the one paralleling the river. On the north side, there is nothing, although there is a de-facto pathway next to the river (https://goo.gl/maps/Z76wC7VNzS72).

        I think to make this work would require a fair amount of effort. You would have to fix the bridge, improve the crossing and formalize that path on the north side (maybe pave it, maybe just put down gravel). None of that is cheap. Just the planning would probably take some money (since there are big environmental concerns). When all is said and done, I’m not sure how great it is (someone who knows the area better than me might be able to provide some insight). Are there are lot of pedestrians who want to cross? Would this be more valuable as a major bike path (which would probably require even more work)?

        It is not impossible, certainly. There are a lot of similar projects, but most of them are “rail to trail” projects, and this wouldn’t be. To make this really appealing, you would have to carve out space on country roads, or cut through farm land. The city (or county) can do that, certainly, but the owners might not want that (although who knows — if they paved it, and cars weren’t allowed, they might be able to swing it). I just don’t see an obvious way to make this worth it.

      2. Rapidrider, the only reason Milroy Bridge is terrible for pedestrians is cars. With cars banned from the bridge (using a new 70th bridge instead), it becomes a very good pedestrian path. The idea is that two bridges is better than one.

        One thing I frequently see on River Road is people fishing next to the river. River Road is a 50 MPH highway, so they certainly can’t be enjoying standing next to those high speed cars. The Milroy Bridge, with cars banned, would become a safe location for people to fish or otherwise enjoy the river.

        And someday when the boodoggle 167 Puyallup-Fife freeway opens, you can reduce River Road to three lanes and use the extra space to create a miles-long riverfront park, with Milroy Bridge smack dab in the middle.

      3. I am not opposed to leaving the bridge there and closing it off to cars. Even though the bridge is functionally obsolete, I believe it’s still structurally OK and since it completely clears the river, it would probably stand for a looooong time, barring a Mt. Rainier lahar..

        But that’s it. They shouldn’t spend a dime on improving the bridge in any way. There’s nothing for pedestrians on either side, especially once Canyon connects to 70th and it’s too high for fishing.

        Some day, like you mentioned, we may get a nice river path when River Road loses it’s SR-167 signage and doesn’t need 5 lanes anymore. Then I could see spending some money, sprucing up the bridge. Of course, then there’s the issue of regular maintenance to keep the thing from rusting out.

    3. This project is needed. I like the old bridge but it is a major bottleneck for traffic in this area. Connecting 70th to Canyon has been in the works for a good long while and it needs to be done.

      I am so sick of the ivory-tower-looking-down-on-everything-that-is-not-light-rail attitude of this blog. Pedestrian traffic? Go down there yourself and you try walking across that bridge. There is zero need to convert it to a pedestrian bridge. There is nothing of interest for miles in any direction that someone needs to get there on foot.

  3. Kirkland ranks 20th best out of 1268 US small cities. But how can that be? The experts in this comment section say Kirkland is living hell, filled with poor transit, low density, lack of affordable housing, too many single family homes, and an out-of-the-way downtown.

    You people need to get in touch with whoever did this study and set them straight. Only cities with trains and tall buildings can be great.


    1. Best possible answer to reported outcome of any survey, especially it it is online:

      “Who is willing to donate one (1) segment of organic fertilizer to its furtherance.” Unless there is a very large tax credit for your donation.

      WGAC is excellent acronym for this concept, because it encompasses both possible Washingtons. So in recognition, I think it is basic brevity oriented gratitude to preface every reply to one of Sam’s postings with it. Bumper sticker depicting a male cow.

      Having said that, since Kirkland has one (1) excellent espresso cafe, a fine library, a transit center, a wonderful Greek restaurant and a statue of a wolf standing on top of a cow and howling all in walking distance of each other, would rate toward the top of the spectrum.

      Absolute worst is anyplace whose elegant and freshly sandblasted buildings contain bars where one can fracture one’s skull on pipes that used to help it be a factory, and restaurants where something roasted is so tiny it can only be a mammal whose last hour was spent running in a wheel, and costs as much as a destroyer.

      With restrictive covenants forbidding presence of anybody who used to be a passenger on the Route 7. Or drove it. Do I hear a donation?


    2. This is a Wallethub ranking. Any Wallethub ranking is a waste of time to debate. They release rankings often that have little basis. It’s mainly a ploy to expose a reader to ads.

    3. Keyword = “small city.” And does it even count as being a “small city” if you’re really just part of a much larger metro area?

  4. But look at it like this, Al. Like many infections and diseases- Lord, what a close analogy-exposure is absolutely necessary to develop an immunity. Though I hope it’s not too late for McDonald’s disease in Sweden.


  5. When I first moved to Olympia in 2014, I immediately started putting hundreds of miles on my car learning mostly 2-lane routes to escape from the place if, for instance, a truck blew up where I-5 crosses the Nisqually River.

    Discovered two escape routes- SR 162 to the East, and SR’s 3 and 101 to the West. Maybe reason legal weed got so big down here is the approaching sprawl-squall that’ll make every acre to the Oregon line look just like Southeast Pierce County does now.

    Still sure that rational land-use will eventually impose itself when nothing wheeled can move. Hope I get re-incarnated as something that either doesn’t care, like a dog, or poison sumac.

    So can’t lose the idea of getting a transit system where it can head off present wave of destruction and at least let people see some trains already established in the territory ahead of them.

    Don’t want to hear about all the regs in the way. Because those alone won’t either kill or assist. Three to five TOD communities with streetcars in town and interurban spurs to future cross-country rail, or bus centers along I-5.

    Main point is to show an actual alternative way to expand living space in an organized way. Just getting a badly needed new idea where people can see it would be worth a lot.



    And if the whole thing falls flat- we’ll still have land to sell to developers soon as all the parks and wetlands can be paved for subdivisions and shopping malls.

    Mark Dublin

  6. I lived down the road from “One of the best small towns in America” growing up, per a survey. Those surveys are a bunch of bologna.

  7. Kinda funny the Portland Business Alliance was, 10 years ago, the voice that opened the transit mall to cars when the green line was added. Before the rebuild, the street was only 2 lanes wide in places, so auto traffic had no through route. This limited all auto traffic to mistakes or local traffic.

    The transit mall really isn’t the issue in Portland. What is needed is a dedicated east-west transit lane that crosses either the Hawthorne or Morrison bridge. This will not happen any time soon.

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