At a meeting in Seattle last week, lawmakers heard that the funding gap for replacing the storm- and seismically-vulnerable, crowded four-lane SR 520 bridge across Lake Washington can be shaved from $2.6 billion to $2.38 billion through a sales tax deferral of $220 million. They also had a look at the current menu of gap-closers. It includes more borrowing against electronic tolling revenues, plus higher toll rates on the 520 bridge, and especially, tolling of the parallel I-90 bridge. As ever, tolling’s a flash point, but it needn’t be ugly. It can equitable, and farsighted. Metro Puget Sound needs a comprehensive regional highway corridor electronic tolling plan, typically with express “HOT” lanes aside free lanes, and higher rates at peak hours.
Corridor-length Approach Is Favored; I-405/SR 167 Seen As Model Reporter Newspapers covers East and South King County, and has produced a lengthy special section – also available online – delving into the region’s surface transportation challenges. In an in interview for “Navigate King County’s Future,” Washington Department of Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond talks about funding, with an emphasis on beginning to to add variable-rate express toll lanes for the full length of major highway corridors such as I-405/SR 167. She also alludes to the next-generation approach of charging vehicles for all miles driven, with on-board units. In the future, you could be paying for your right to use roads the same way you pay your utilities — a bill based Read More ›
The newly-signed federal stimulus legislation includes $8 billion for intercity passenger rail projects – preferably high-speed rail in major corridors connecting metro regions. In addition, as reported by The Politico, the Obama administration will seek an additional $5 billion in high-speed rail funding over the next five years. The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated six main high-speed rail corridors, all of which would link major metro areas. Here’s a map. The corridors are: Eugene-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver, B.C.; San Diego-Los Angeles-Bay Area-Sacramento; South Central; Midwest; Southeast; and Northeast (a.k.a. “Keystone-Empire”). The California High Speed Rail Authority, which last fall won voter approval for $10 billion in bonds to help develop its system, has already prepared preliminary plans for how it would spend Read More ›
In an interview with Ross Reynolds on KUOW-FM – MP3 audio file here – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said it was “very likely” that tolling would be applied to the new deep bored tunnel planned to replace the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 in Seattle. (A state rendering of the bored tunnel’s cross-section is below, right.) At the 3:02 mark, she states: It’s very likely that we will toll. Any mega-project that we do today is having to be tolled because historically we had so much federal money coming in (but) we no longer do… Reflecting a viewpoint similar to Gregoire’s, State Senator Ed Murray told the Seattle Times about the tunnel funding mix: “There has Read More ›
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire yesterday announced she’d push back by two weeks a recommendation on how to best replace the aging, earthquake-prone Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 along Seattle’s downtown waterfront. But there’s more. A top Gregoire advisor tells the Seattle Times that the deep bored tunnel proposal – energetically advanced by Viaduct Stakeholders Advisory Committee members plus our Cascadia Center and the general public – is “probably the most viable option.” Deep bore tunneling technology has advanced greatly in recent years and the method is considered highly suitable for an inland downtown tunnel away from Seattle’s waterfront. (A tunnel boring machine used for Madrid’s M30 roadway project is pictured below, right.) The Times: OLYMPIA – A proposed Read More ›
A report titled “Large Diameter Soft Ground Bored Tunnel Review” has just been released by the transportation think tank Cascadia Center and global engineering and consulting firm Arup. It strongly suggests that a new state cost estimate for a deep bored tunnel of approximately two miles to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct could be greatly inflated. The state’s Alaskan Way Viaduct Stakeholders Committee (SAC) pegs the cost of the one-mile tunnel at $3.5 billion, but the Cascadia-Arup report surveyed deep-bored vehicle tunnels worldwide and found costs typically fall in the range of $200 million-$700 million per mile, for large diameter soft ground bored tunnels, created with assistance of a tunnel boring machine (pictured below at right). A Nov. 20 Read More ›
The Washington State Department of Transportation last spring began a four-year pilot project to see how High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lanes would work on a nine-mile stretch of State Route 167 in the near-south suburban part of the Seattle region, from Renton to Auburn. Carpoolers and transit use the fast lanes for free, solo drivers pay a sliding-scale fee based on current congestion. It’s all electronic, with gantries and transponders, not a toll booth in sight, thank goodness. Prices can range from 50 cents to $9 on SR 167’s HOT lanes, but have tended toward the lower end of the scale so far. The aim is to keep traffic flowing at 45 mph or higher at least 90 percent Read More ›
With funding from the Washington State Department of Transportation and advice from 75 employers, the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council will develop common standards for telework. Derek Sheppard of the Kitsap Sun has more: Often, the idea of telework comes with some reservations. Will companies and employees miss out on the spontaneous creativity that trickles down next to the water cooler? What about slackers? Who will middle managers manage if there’s no one around? The focus, (Poulsbo City Council Member and telework advocate Ed) Stern said, is finding the right employees who can produce “deliverables,” so there’s a definable product they can show for their time at home. And the idea isn’t proposing wholesale abandonment of a company’s workplace. Stern hopes Read More ›