Washington Passes $8.4 Billion Transportation Bill

Here’s a quick blurb on this transportation package in Washington. It looks like, sounds like, reads like the Washington Democrats have voted in to throw down $450 million match for the I5 Columbia River Crossing in spite of heavy local contention on the Portland and Vancouver sides of the bridge. It appears that the politicians in both Oregon and Washington give no care to those residents in these cities.

The CRC wreck continues to move forward. It’s starting to get to the point of, who’s going to pay for the massive overruns that are starting to take shape. Remember the bridge needs redesigned to meet Coast Guard height restrictions, it’s going to limit overall height which will close down businesses along the Columbia up river. Beyond those two immediate things Oregon has not established an actual funding source for the bridge or setup actual bonds or other mechanisms. In other words, the politicians in Oregon have spent money they don’t have in any budget, the politicians in Washington have completely disregarded Vancovuerites and of course have no vested interest in Portland form this perspective.

None of them seem to be paying attention to the future, nor the fact that traffic hasn’t increased on this stretch of interstate or the fact that 70% of traffic congestion is caused by local traffic. In other words, EVERY logical solution to this is to build an arterial bridge and let local traffic travel on it instead of being forced to funnel into the I-5 corridor.

Why is this simple solution such an insanely hard thing for these politicians to wrap their head around? It seems someone with some deep pockets and serious intent to build the bridge – broke as it is – keeps pulling the strings of the politician puppets. Just sad.  😦

My Two Cents of What’s Happening

The Republicans are in favor of just paving a massive bridge across the Columbia River. A few of them have even suggested BRT, albeit they know how BRT works out (i.e. it usually doesn’t get funded and when it does it’s shoved into traffic anyway).

What this is starting to shape up like, in a twist of irony, is Oregon is supporting the bridge to get light rail and Washington is supporting it to get light rail, in spite of and against the will of the sprawling areas’ Vancouver citizens. The irony is that Vancouver’s state – Washington – is in favor of light rail, the biggest sticking point for Vancouverites.

In Oregon, we’ve actually got a number of the features we demanded were must haves; safer and better pedestrian and bike access, light rail into downtown Vancouver and on to the College, reduced overall lanes and slowly decreased scope to fix all these other ingress points on the Interstate.

Overall, Portland and Oregon as a whole have gained a lot of things we wanted. However the biggest problem is that it is still unwanted by the overall communities it affects the most, it doesn’t actually provide real traffic congestion relief (and even if it did, induced demand would fix that in short order). The bridge is largely unfinanced which will fall on the backs of our children. The trend is also AGAINST increased car ownership, it’s actually dropping, and Portland is a leader in that dropping demand. Building this thing is against the trend that is occurring.

Overall, it seems like Oregon and Washington politicians are blinded by the desire to get light rail built and find it acceptable to sink us into massive debt by building an Interstate that is entirely unfunded, even with the tolls for Washington Commuters coming into Portland.

Overall, things are whack for the CRC.

Seattle Loses 17% of Transit Service

Ok, so it hasn’t happened yet. But as one would expect, more cuts are on the table. The Feds haven’t fixed the transit situation with funding options & the local cities & states just keep sucking money out into other solutions. It’s kind of par for the course. Seattle is threatened with a 17% loss in service. Most bus lines would lose one out of every bus. The only lines that would likely remain untouched would be a few of the Rapid Ride lines and high capacity runs during rush hour. But everything else is up for cutting.

What can you do about it as a citizen of Washington and Seattle? Go and message your elected leaders.

The US is seriously losing it’s ground right now, it’s happening fast. This is seriously getting interesting in some scary kinds of ways. Weigh in with your opinion, it may be the difference between standing in the cold, sitting in MORE traffic in Seattle or worse.

Another Way Home

I set out on a very round about alternate route home today.  Events and scheduling of the day had lined up perfectly for such an alternate trip.

My normal trip home from Redmond, Washington is to board the #545 at Overlake Transit Center bound west for Seattle proper, once there I just walk about towards home, sometimes from the downtown core or sometimes down Denny or through South Lake Union.

Today I’m heading south from Overlake Transit Center on the #566 headed for Auburn, Washington.  The bus takes a trip south down through Bellevue, then on down I-405 toward Kent.  From either Kent, or a stop before then, I intend to transfer and hopefully catch a north bound Sounder Train.  Since this is a rather spontaneous effort, I could be stranded at any random location.  However, I’ve no fear, so “meh” I say.

I ended up realizing I wasn’t going to make the Sounder, so decided to get off at the Renton Transit Center in downtown Renton.  It seemed I had good timing as I got off the bus and walked right into the Renton Farmer’s Market!  Kettle corn was smelling great, freshly cooked up, and all sorts of tents offering various things.  I love these bits of community, absolutely great!

I however skipped out on the farmers market and went into a local establishment called Best Burger.  It was located directly across the street from the transit center.  Further along 3rd the Italian Joint almost caught me, but I wanted something along the junk food line of American Burger.

Route #106

Afterwards I scoped out a return trip to Seattle proper.  I ended up with deciding on the Metro #106 Route.  It has a winding route from Renton, by Rainer Beach a ways, and up and over Beacon Hill.  Unfortunately it doesn’t pass by the actual Beach, I’m still curious to see the area.

The bus wound up over steep hills, twisting and turning through the streets.  We left Renton without much to notice we did and onward toward Rainier Beach Area.  The skyline was beautiful, with trees reaching up broke the spears of sunlight.  Each ray of light flashing as the trees gave relief to those sitting by the windows of the bus.  However several people still shielded their eyes from the brightness.

Once the bus made it to the top of the hill, one could look back and see off into the distance as we turned.  The bus stops seemed like they were every block or two now.  If you’ve checked out the link for the #106 route, you’ll see that there are a great number of stops along this route.  This is one of the reasons that I chose it, as I knew the run would be a bit slower, making it easier to take in the view of the route.

Moving along the spine of the hills we entered Skyway.  Once on this rode I knew I had picked a gem of a route.  This part of town was pretty sketchy.  Businesses along the way were open, but just as many were shuddered.  Some of the single level buildings, and some two story buildings weren’t shuddered, but could easily have been mistaken for being so.

We rolled further along the route through residential and commercial districts.  Along the decline of Skyway I looked out and could see the southern stretches of Lake Washington.  Highway 90 was in the distance, with cars the size of ants zipping across.  The water looked smooth glimmering in the sunlight.  The tree lined shores of the island broke the water with vertical ease.  With the sun and blue  skies this was a rare sight for this area I’m sure!

A little further along the route intersected with the Link Light Rail at the Rainier Beach Stop.  From this intersection the route zigzagged back uphill.  Some of the views down on Lake Washington are awesome from up here on this route.  At this point, I’m glad I decided on this one!

Georgetown!

After a bit further a plane came SCREAMING overhead!  I bound across the bus to see where it was in bound for.  Sure enough we were by the Boeing Airfield south of downtown Seattle.  We pulled up at the first stop in Georgetown and I saw a cool music shop and next to it a coffee shop.  I then commenced to walk along the street in Georgetown and be wowed and the coolness of the area.  Absolutely loud, being sandwiched between an air field, the Interstate, multiple rail lines, and other industrial nitty gritty, but awesome atmosphere for rock n’ roll, biker bars, and the like.  Very rock star is what I’m saying.

I walked around for about 45 minutes and then headed onwards toward downtown.  That was my commute home for today, slightly different than the norm.  :)  Cheers!