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    Sex ads make strange bedfellows

    The crisis in repairing pavement of our streets has been getting worse for 25 years. In the next few days, the Seattle City Council must decide on a November ballot measure that would raise car tab fees to address a little of this acute problem. Here's new data on how bad the pothole plague has become.

    Patching on a Seattle street.

    Patching on a Seattle street. Douglas MacDonald

    Public agencies relish documenting with numbers what might be taken for their good-news accomplishments. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), for example, relates in its report for 2010 that it filled 10,124 potholes. That’s a lot more potholes filled than in 2009, when the tally was just 6,504. In 2011, Seattle has already allocated to street maintenance a one-time $3 million windfall from a land sale in order to fill 5,000 extra potholes. Mayor McGinn’s blog just announced that SDOT’s nine pothole crews had already filled 19,851 potholes for the first half of 2011.

    All previous records will be smashed. But it’s truly a dubious achievement, since anyone encountering our city’s “Walk, Bike, Ride” transportation slogan knows that Seattle’s dismal street conditions — virtual sidewalks, crumbling curbs, broken pavements, rutted transit routes — mock the mantra. And if you should still have any interest in driving a car, prepare for the shocks. You’re going to need new ones a lot sooner than you had probably hoped. Maybe you’ll be able to file a street-defect claim against the city; Seattle settled two-thirds more damage claims from potholes in 2010 than in 2008.

    Recently SDOT got beyond the pothole counts to release the numbers that really matter: the 2010 report on Seattle’s pavement conditions. The news was grim, but not surprising. Streets really are falling apart and there are a lot more potholes ahead — tens or even hundreds of thousands at the rate we are going.

    But the worst of it is how many streets unnecessarily are already in or fast heading for the dreary realm of their pavement life cycle where they require major reconstruction, not just routine regular repair. When deterioration goes more than surface deep, the future costs to put things right go through the roof. Filling potholes doesn’t fix the problem. That’s just slapping band-aids on the symptomatic skin blisters of the underlying disease, rather than making prudent reinvestment to forestall the baleful, expensive progression of pavement aging.

    You can skip this paragraph if you already know there is an international uniform standard protocol, used by SDOT and many other road agencies, for judging road pavement condition into six categories: “Good,” “Satisfactory,” and “Fair” condition ratings mean that pavements just need routine maintenance. “Poor” condition means the onset of notable deterioration: major regular maintenance like asphalt overlays or new concrete panels is required. “Very Poor” means the street has to be expensively reconstructed, often right from the subbase under the surface pavement. “Serious or Failed:” Well, that’s bad. If you need more information, check out Standard D6433-09 of ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials. Or, refer to the manual the pavement engineers use to name what’s happening before your eyes as joint spalling or alligator cracking or traverse cracking or raveling or more, and call in to tell SDOT if the severity is low, medium, or high. In Seattle, you can see it all.

    The newly released 2010 pavement condition ratings from SDOT only cover the arterial streets. That’s 1,541 lane miles of pavement. Generally these are the busiest and most important streets; it’s the only pavement SDOT had money to evaluate.

    Here are some of the returns. Fifty-seven lane miles are in the dismal category, “Serious or Failed.” 138 additional lane miles are rated “Very Poor.” Together, that reaches 195 lane miles or almost 13 percent of the total system of arterials. Portions of Market Street in Ballard, 23rd and 24th in the Central District, NW 85th in Greenwood,, and Delridge Way in West Seattle are part of a list of 10 especially bad locations SDOT hands out. Another 205 miles are rated “Poor": major work required. This means SDOT has tallied up a total of significantly distressed pavement reaching 400 lane miles or over a quarter of the lane miles of the entire inventory of arterials in the city.

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    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 6:52 a.m. Inappropriate

    In 1953, Seattle annexed from N.85th to N.145th they got residences to agree through the promise of paved streets. Of course, those paved streets did not fully appear until the early 60’s. In those days, many residential streets were gravel, not even chip seal. With all the talk of “street diet” and bicycle friendly, perhaps we should go back to gravel. Cars would drive slower in residential areas, which would make it safer for children and the Mayor’s biker friends. You can dress a road once a year with a grader and under normal conditions, a competent operator can dress around three miles a day. A bonus is then the city has snow removal equipment (the graders) not just sitting around rusting waiting for the next snowfall sometime in the next decade.

    In all seriousness, a substantial benefit would be the lack of storm runoff from streets, less pavement is good for the environment. There would be a cost savings in labor, instead of a ten-person pothole crew which one sees wandering around Seattle all the time multiplied by nine crews, you could buy ten graders, and redirect crews to better projects. This would free up money to fix arterials properly.

    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 7 a.m. Inappropriate

    I was hoping that as ill-advised as the road diet on 125th was they would at least repair the street. They wouldn't just spend money putting in bike lanes and reducing traffic capacity without addressing the underlying problems with the road, would they?

    Well, yes, as a matter of fact. They would. They repaired one lane - where the bikes would ride if they rode up 125th - but left the rest of the street in the same condition as they found it. Ruts, potholes... just scraped off the old lane markings and added new ones.

    Why spend the money on restriping if you aren't going to repair the street at the same time? When they come back in a few years to repave the street, then they'll just have to repaint it any way? The road diets on streets when they are due for a repaving in the next several years anyway is a colossal waste of money by an activist mayor.

    SDOT also just paved a short stretch of Boylston Avenue in a small triangle block next to Swedish First Hill. Great... but that street is going to be torn out and turned in to part of a pedestrian plaza next to a streetcar stop in the next year or two.

    So SDOT spends money to pave streets that won't even be streets in a year, and spends money to paint new lane markings on a street that they'll have to paint new lane markings on in a few years anyway when they resurface it.



    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 8:02 a.m. Inappropriate

    Excellent research and tons of valuable data here shows that the autophobes have been at work for decades at neglecting basic, annual, and deferred maintenance. Of special value is the breakdown of which type of vehicle does the most damage to streets. So much for buses, tofu and bicycle delivery trucks, and recycling and garbage trucks. Let's have separate tax increase votes on bikes, cars, and 'transit' and not lump all the whining into an overall one tax that screws the auto driver and the roads.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 8:07 a.m. Inappropriate

    What are they spending the money on now? "Road diets" and bike lanes and ridiculous light rail and streetcars. Buses are impossible and so are the roads. One suggestion I have is to tax the bejeebers out of owners of heavy trucks and SUVs since they, being heavier, do more damage more quickly than reasonable ordinary sized cars. Forget the bike lanes, markers, and signs I've seen going up everywhere in the last few years. Let bikers figure out how to navigate their routes on their own. Roads must serve everyone, so fix them first. That way bikes, buses, and yes, cars, can all travel more safely. And forget adding yet more to my car tabs. I drive a reasonable passenger car and am tired of subsidizing all these political wish lists. Last year my $30 car tabs came in at $75! I will certainly vote NO on any further increases.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 8:13 a.m. Inappropriate

    seattlelifer you forget that they also promised us sidewalks when 85th to 145th were annexed.

    I might be willing to vote for this car tab increase if it was only for paving and transit. Skip the bikelane crap until we get our roads fixed or better yet, only do the bikelane repaint when also repaving the street. How about some coordination of these efforts?


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 8:35 a.m. Inappropriate

    I received two emails from the Mayor's office touting the $80 level for tab fees. The first was especially disconcerting as it highlighted Portland's Max system. If you have recently traveled to Portland, you will have seen that not only does the city have excellent transit, but their streets also are in excellent shape as well.

    I don't know how they manage it as I don't believe Portland has any more money than we do--perhaps they have political will to get the every day maintenance done, while here in Seattle we prefer to obsess about doing something rather than actually doing anything.

    We have to stop 'thinking big' and do the equivalent of repairing the roof instead of adding a sun porch. Let's just fix the damned streets and make a start on our promises to the north end (I don't live there) to create their walkable portion of the city.

    Sorry but more in-the-ground transit tracks have to wait until this commitment is realized, and politians will have to wait to cut their ribbons and have word bites for their re-election mailers.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 8:47 a.m. Inappropriate

    My principal experience driving outside the US and Canada is in Germany. The roads there are excellent. On two-lane roads between towns you'll occasionally see signs that warn "Straßenschäden" (road damage) or "Spurrillen" (ruts) on roads that in this state would be considered in excellent condition. Seattle's anti-auto sentiment seems to be based in large part on a misguided Euro-envy; the notion that Europe does everything better, coupled with a total ignorance of how Europe actually does things. In Germany, gas frequently tops $9/gallon and cars are taxed on their engine displacement. But people there have a "love affair with their cars" just as much as in the US. The difference is, over there the government doesn't try to make them feel guilty for loving cars. Cars are seen as a rational, useful and frequently efficient part of the transportation mix, and the infrastructure to support them is well-maintained. I'd gladly support a dollar a gallon increase in gas taxes if it went to maintaining roads (as it does in Germany). But we all know it wouldn't go for that. It would go for Euro-envy projects like light rail and carpool lanes. Funny thing, I don't think I've ever seen a bike lane in Europe. Hmmm...


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 9:59 a.m. Inappropriate

    The trouble with a "bond" to pay for street maintenance is that you are borrowing money from the future to pay for today's problems. That can easily double the real cost of the repair. It's much better to do pay-as-you go.

    On the road usage, it's pretty clear that bicycles aren't causing the road deterioration. Garbage trucks are bad, but if 3 trucks (recycle, compost & land fill) come once a week, that's not as bad as a daily bus trip running on a 1/2hr schedule.

    With Street cars, at least they aren't causing new potholes although there is track maintenance every decade or so. (grind and repair)

    Allowing city streets to go back to gravel probably isn't an option either. What to do? Why do what Portland has done and reduce the number of car trips people take by supporting bicycling! (And reduce bus trips as well.) It's the least cost option here folks. It's the healthiest, it reduces the flow of money out of the city, it reduces the wear on the roads.

    People take transit because a) parking is expensive, b) traffic sucks, c) gasoline is expensive.

    People don't ride bicycles because a) roads are perceived to be dangerous b) no parking facilitates in major office buildings c) no shower/lockers in same office buildings.

    Portland fixed (a) by creating bicycle boulevards. Land use planning can fix (b) & (c) same way we zone height limits, we can zone in bicycle parking and showers.

    If we move people out of buses and cars and onto bicycles we'll have less road deterioration which means less money to pave/repair. Which means the roads we do run buses on we can maintain on a pay-as-we-go plan.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 10:07 a.m. Inappropriate

    Our streets are falling into ruin, but let's look at the bright side. It's costing only $300,000,000 to gussy up 6 blocks of Mercer Street pretty for Paul Allen.

    Mud Baby

    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 10:21 a.m. Inappropriate

    Washington State highway department officials should not be trusted.
    Call them incompetent "Old School" or call them corrupt, too many of their engineered roadways are horribly substandard, poorly built, planned to be obsolescent, excessively expensive boondoggles surrepticiously loaded with graft and cronyism. MacDonald had best hope his DBT SCHEME is discarded soon.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 10:27 a.m. Inappropriate

    On the topic of German roads: the Germans also spend more money up front on high-quality road construction and have a higher-quality roadway that lasts much, much longer than the shoddier (cheaper) construction methods typically used in the U.S. (and certainly in Seattle). Over 50 years, German roadways are cheaper per kilometer than are American roadways. Americans are too myopic or sticker-shock-prone to do what would actually cost us less over time to get the infrastructure we need.

    Even the sidewalks we do see going in in Seattle are shoddy, low-quality projects that will need repairing or replacement in relatively little time. Germans again typically spend lots money up front for high-quality work and end up with beautiful sidewalks that will need maintenance or repair only once a generation at a lower cost over time.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 10:34 a.m. Inappropriate

    @dbreneman: I'm not sure where in Europe you've been but bike lanes are super common in the Netherlands and Denmark (usually painted red and set apart by a boulevard from car traffic, where possible), and they are more and more common in German towns with the rise of "bicycle path associations." German college towns often have bike lanes or whole dedicated bike streets (e.g., Breda-Tillburg, and Münster has a famous bike-only "highway" that circles the downtown area).

    But Northern Europe also does a lot more with "woonerfs" in urban design, integrating bikes and cars and pedestrians in a way that turns out to be safer for everyone (and more attractive), but woonerfs are counter-intuitive to Americans until they see them in action.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 11:02 a.m. Inappropriate

    I'm delighted to see this rather dull and boring subject finally come up. I lived in central Seattle from 1977 until 1994, when I moved to the mysterious Eastside. About the only thing remarkable about "municipal services" in unincorporated King County were, and still are, the roads. For the most part, while not of modern design, they are well-maintained.

    It stirs a combination of sadness and anger in me when I go back to my old neighborhood and discover that in the 17 years since I left, nothing has been done save patching one pothole after another. There's no hint of a comprehensive plan at work.

    Potholes are boring and don't inspire people...unless they become such an irritant that people get stirred, but in that case, it's always a matter of catch up.

    Roads are one of the core functions of municipal government. After police, fire & emergency, water & sewer, roads are next. Not parks. Not magnificent World's Fair legacies, not off-leash dog walks.

    Never, never, never should there have to be a special levy to finance a core municipal service. If the engineers determine that, on the average, roads wear out in 20 years, then the city, as a matter of routine, should be repaving 1/20 of the city streets, on the average, every year.

    Of course, major roads will need more and little nooks and crannies less, but there should be an overall theme, year after year, administration after administration, that we "replant" every year what we "harvest."


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 11:46 a.m. Inappropriate

    Not a penny for bike improvements unless the bike riders have to pay too. They complain about the roads, and then run every red light they see. Bad pavement, they endanger pedestrians on sidewalks. The bikes use public resources just as the rest of us do. If we have to pay $20,000 to paint an intersection green for their "safety" then they should have to pay for it just as much as drivers do.

    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 11:55 a.m. Inappropriate

    We owe the author our thanks for a very comprehensive and timely review of a major problem that our City’s elected officials have long failed to adequately address. Infrastructure maintenance isn’t a sexy subject, but it can be very costly when ignored.

    One can only hope that the current candidates for the five Seattle Council seats up for election will take notice and begin to incorporate it among their priorities. A review of candidate statements in the voter’s pamphlet for the primary doesn’t indicate that they clearly see the problem. None of the seven candidates for the two positions on the primary ballot, including the two incumbents, mention it. Two challengers do promise to fill potholes.

    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 12:04 p.m. Inappropriate

    Gary P said: People don't ride bicycles because a) roads are perceived to be dangerous b) no parking facilitates in major office buildings c) no shower/lockers in same office buildings.

    I don't ride a bike a) too many hills b) can't carry groceries c) 2 kids to move to activities. Bikes will never work for the vast majority of families.

    You fix the roads it will be better for bikes too.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 12:14 p.m. Inappropriate

    "The biggest discouragement in all this, of course, is that it is so extraordinarily and disastrously expensive to wait until pavements are really bad to fix them"

    Not to mention the big disruption. The city is finally, finally, rebuilding 15th Ave NE -- last year between Pacific and NE 45th and this year between NE 45th and 50th. I'm thrilled that they are doing this -- watching the asphalt bulge under the constantly overloaded busses has been a family hobby for years -- but navigating the slaalom course that the avenue has been during all this work is an ongoing challenge.

    I know that new projects -- light rail and whatever we finally choose to do about the viaduct -- are much sexier topics of conversation than routine maintenance, but it's the same equation whether it's the public roads or your teeth. If you don't brush, you'll eventually need dentures. If you don't mend the roads as they develop small problems, you'll have to build it from scratch, all over again.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 12:24 p.m. Inappropriate

    Bravo! Well said.

    Let me add one thing: probably the most promising approach to making streets pedestrian and bike friendly is called "complete streets." The idea behind complete streets is to add the elements that are missing whenever you reconstruct a street, such as sidewalks and bike improvements. But complete streets can only be achieved if there's a chance that street rebuilding will ever happen! The two objectives are married politically, or should be at least.

    I agree with the comment that bonds are not the best way to pay for ongoing needs; in the long run using bonds reduces the output by more than half, since more than half the money taxed is spent in finance costs rather than on transportation. I think the street utility is the best solution if it can be made to pass constitutional muster, because it can be a sustainable ongoing funding source and can be administered to cost more for heavy vehicles or to give credit for measurable trip reduction (like subsidizing bus passes for employees).

    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 12:28 p.m. Inappropriate

    This is another perfect example of why our currently "at large" council should be elected by "districts." It would be a start in breaking up this current lock step in which they all march and would divide their focus to include issues spread across the city. Right now most of their attention is commanded by the same special interests who are advancing mega-projects in a few neighborhoods. If that's the case then we don't need 9...we could get by with 2 or 3.

    Our city council is the second highest paid in the United States and we should expect at least some basic, common sense solutions for standard problems like potholes. Only Los Angeles pays their council more and they are elected by districts.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 1:29 p.m. Inappropriate

    The newly released 2010 pavement condition ratings — I didn't see a link to these. Does the author have one?

    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 1:41 p.m. Inappropriate

    @ dbreneman, the reason you don't see bike lanes as we have them here is because the bike routes are completely separated from motor vehicle traffic. Everyone in Europe agrees that such an arrangement is safer and results in more efficient traffic flow; cars and bicycles get in each others' way because of their vastly different speed capabilities.

    And in Europe, bicyclists are not trying to "socialize" all other road users into moving at their speed. Riding a bicycle is seen as one of many ways of getting around. While there is excellent public transportation, car ownership is widespread and roads are well-maintained because everyone recognizes public transportation can't go everywhere, all the time. Not much chance of that happening here...


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 2:33 p.m. Inappropriate

    Seattle is getting a European style cycle track on Broadway in conjunction with the 1st hill streetcar. You can see a simulation here:


    This kind of project is why we need to pass the full $80 fee with bonding capabilities to fund rail development for Seattle.

    The age of driving in a car everywhere--with few alternative modes of transport--is rapidly coming to an end. Sure, people will still drive cars (I know I will), but it will be more of a special occasion event.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 2:34 p.m. Inappropriate

    I agree, we're getting what we pay for. Or what we don't pay for.
    $80 per year = $1.54 per week.

    Yes, we need to spend our money well -- but that's hard to do when their ain't no money to spend. Gas taxes, car tab fees, bake sales -- you name it, let's raise some dough and fix the roads for everyone!! Nitpicking over bike lane striping is fiddling while Rome's potholes burn. Has Seattle become a Can't-Do city?
    I do like the idea of graduating what we pay, at least in part, based on vehicle weight, or miles driven, etc.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 2:54 p.m. Inappropriate

    A few facts for the anti-bike commentators:

    1) City streets are paid for primarily with property taxes
    2) Bicycle trips are 3% of traffic and bike infrastructure gets 2% of the road money
    3) Almost all cyclists own cars (I own two cars and two bikes), so they will pay the same tab fees as car only people but use the roads less.

    Do the math--who is subsidizing whom?


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 2:59 p.m. Inappropriate

    "I don't ride a bike a) too many hills b) can't carry groceries c) 2 kids to move to activities. Bikes will never work for the vast majority of families."

    However an electric assist cargo bike would work for short trips.


    Those arguments when you look closely aren't true. I buy that you choose to use a car because it works easily, but it's not because a bicycle won't work.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 3:20 p.m. Inappropriate

    Apropos GaryP's comment -- What ever happened to mopeds? They were all the rage a generation ago (although not in the US). I haven't seen one in years. Seems like they'd be the perfect answer for non-Tour-de-France-conditioned riders in hilly areas like Seattle.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 5:21 p.m. Inappropriate

    "What ever happened to mopeds?"

    The cool rich kids ride them. I see a few on my commute in every day. There are a dozen or so at my work place. "Vespa" the hot version. The thing is you get charged for parking like any motorcycle, but it can't cross Lake Washington on either of the bridges, because they can't do highway speeds. Vs Bicycle parking which my company provides for free. So if you live close enough to not have to drive on the Freeway, you probably live close enough to ride a bicycle. The upfront cost of the bicycle is considerably less. The safety in traffic probably about the same. You still need mostly the same wet weather gear for both modes but you don't get any exercise. You still can bring the kids, or pack much in the way of groceries.

    An electric assisted cargo bike works better for less money upfront and less running expense and you can still ride on bicycle paths.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 5:21 p.m. Inappropriate

    ("can't bring the kids.") Sorry.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 5:25 p.m. Inappropriate

    "non-Tour-de-France-conditioned riders in hilly areas like Seattle."

    I'm a middle aged guy, and I ride the hills nearly every day. You get in shape pretty fast. I do see that not everybody is blessed with genes and good luck to arrive at middle age with a body that can ride a bicycle but you would be amazed at the number of old and fat people who are now riding. Yes the weather is nice, but a lot of them ride even in the winter.

    Non bicycle riders, have no idea that with gears, and a bit of time, you can climb any hill around here. People who drive cars see hills as an effort. And it is if you don't regularly exercise. It's actually not as hard as it looks. Even the climb to Harborview from the ID is possible.


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 5:34 p.m. Inappropriate

    Thanks to GaryP for illustrating perfectly why most people - good liberals included - think bike advocates are a bunch of insufferable, sanctimonious hectoring jerks.

    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 6:32 p.m. Inappropriate

    @GaryP, a Vespa is not a "moped." A moped is limited to a 50cc engine of 2 bhp or less, and a top speed of 30 mph on a level surface, by Washington State law.

    Vespas and other similar devices are called "scooters" by the powersports industry and Class 1 motorcycles if their engine displaces less than 180cc by the State of Washington.

    My Vespa GTS has a 250cc 4-stroke engine that fully complies with California emissions standards; I get 75 mpg no matter how I ride it, and once had it up to an indicated 75 mph. When I lived in Seattle I rode it across the 520 and I-90 bridges regularly and often. Its odometer shows over 20,000 miles, which were accumulated in three states and one Canadian province. The longest trip I've taken on it was from Portland to Spokane. A bunch of my scooter friends rode from Tacoma to San Jose, CA a couple years ago. Some of them rode back, instead of shipping their scooters.

    For nearly five years I've been writing a blog about owning and riding a scooter. I try to show how it can be used in pretty much any situation one would use a car, and how one's own scooter has a far, far smaller carbon footprint that gazillion-dollar taxpayer-subsidized public transportation. Click on my name below, and then on the link on my profile page if you'd like to have a look.

    Oh, and @bubbleator+1...


    Posted Fri, Aug 12, 9:02 p.m. Inappropriate

    Thank you, orino, for pointing this out. I've NEVER seen a moped in North America. When I was in high school in Germany they were extremely popular because they were regulated as bicycles rather than motor vehicles. (The driving age in most European countries then, maybe all of them today, was 18.) I went to the Gymnasium in Mayen, which sits at the top of a very steep hill, and so anyone who couldn't get a ride or hoof it, rode a moped. Up that hill, you had to use the motor AND pedal, but it made the ascent a little lighter. Needless to say, Vespas don't have pedals.


    Posted Sat, Aug 13, 2:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    Regarding the idea of letting side streets revert to gravel, there are a number of things to consider. Gravel is nothing at all like vegetated soil, it is practically impermeable. Not only does water run off of it like it does off pavement, it also takes a lot of the roadway with it when it does so. Gravel washes and slides and migrates off a road surface. It "goes away" and needs replacing rather frequently. Maintenance is not a simple matter of running a grader over it every now and then. What you'd end up with would be more properly called "dirt," muddy in winter and dusty in summer.

    The barrios and colonias surrounding Tijuana B.C. are an example of what it can look like . Hard surfaced roads have their problems, but they are a big part of civilized living, like water, sewers and all the other unglamorous stuff we rely on. When they go away, it's called decline.

    Posted Sat, Aug 13, 2:27 p.m. Inappropriate

    Cool site -orino,

    Remember Cushman Eagles? Not nearly as elegant as your Vespas but fun in their day. Also those unique custom scooters from the Mods and Rockers era in the UK. I saw a handbill for a "Quadraphenia" exhibit somewhere and there were several exotic scooters with multiple headlights on the cover. Maybe there should be a movement to allow only scooter transportation 2-3 days a week. Might even make gridlock enjoyable.


    Posted Sun, Aug 14, 8:29 p.m. Inappropriate

    Heres a sunday night Missive, Anti-DBT:

    "Washdot engineers have a Grudge Against Nature"

    The "Crown" of the 60' diameter bore, bolted in like 10 segments of 10' rings for nearly 2 miles is about 60' below footings of many downtown building; that's how close to the buildings, falling off by Marion or so. But still too close at both portals and other weak points.

    The DBT will fail one day. Count on it. It would be plugged-up, but the subsurface water hydrological changes are permanent, ie, unstable soils made more unstable by the tunnnel bore.

    So there you go. An argument NOT to be denied its answer which isn't "Don't worry about it, jerkwad," and not "Let us do what we please with your stupid city, librul car drivors."

    Get off your asses and think about it. Get someone else with actual smarts to think about THIS. Speak out or pen word about the issue as a serious concern, not ignored. Many other equally serious traffic management concerns cannot be left ignored/unanswered. It's dishonest.

    Washington engineers are not to be trusted on this one. Mercer West is not good. New Alaskan Way is plainly faulty with/without the DBT. Crunch the numbers. With only the word of the DOTs on those two projects, and they're oh so trustworthy after years spent on wowwie-zowie "70" different plans; like there weren't simpler plans as the most obvious, with least impact or least concrete, and probably the deserving never getting a fair public hearing...

    Wsdot does overbuild poorly and rejects simpler designs. It's like Wurshdirt engineers have a grudge against nature. They can't be that incompetent, though very competently they convince others to believe their planning process doesn't lead to predetermined outcomes, poor results, consistent controversy, etc.
    Such incompetence. All Seattlers should be ashamed.

    Mayor McGinn deserves thanks and apologies.
    His gut instinct against is spot on.
    The DBT is NOT to be built, ever, under any circumstances, Referendum or not.
    It's stupidlee risky.


    Posted Sun, Aug 14, 8:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    MacDonald's piece is excellent. I have often cited our transport maintenance deficit on this site. as Doug makes clear, the problem is decades long. Note the comment about Germany. In Europe and Japan, gas taxes are the equivalent of several dollars per gallon. This is the course we should follow. In the US, we suffer from severe tax aversion. The federal highway trust fund in nearly empty. it would be great if Congress would increase the federal gas tax by about $2/gallon. In the state, maintenace has been neglected. the last two statewide gas tax increases spent nothing on local maintenance. The county has latent authority to ask the voters to approve a local option gas tax at 10 percent the state rate. I have written the electeds several times, but they do not think it is politically feasible. should we attempt an initiative? It could be the eat your brocoli maintenance measure. The gas tax seems the most efficient way to raise maintenance funds. It is subject to the 18th amendement, so cannot be used for transit as the TBD funds can be. It is exactly proportional to each households and firms use of the roadway network and even related to vehicle weight. the street utility only has legs due to the reluctance of the Legislature to raise the gas tax for maintenance (instead of bonded mega projects). the price effects of a significant gas tax increase would have environmental and land use benefits and could even help from further degrading Puget Sound.


    Posted Sun, Aug 14, 8:57 p.m. Inappropriate

    the gas tax is much easier to collect than the street utility that requires arcane measurement and is subject to appeal. with the gas tax, it is no tax, no fill up.


    Posted Mon, Aug 15, 11:50 a.m. Inappropriate

    Gas tax, Gas Tax, GAS TAX. A gas tax causes those who use the street to pay for it, and taxes those who use the street more, with more vehicle weight and road damage, even more. The tax revenue MUST be linked to the road spend in a way that is unbreakable by anyone in government, and it must be sunsetted in a reasonable period of time so that voters can cause it to be removed when the need is over or if it is misused. A beneficial side effect will be fewer miles driven and cleaner air and earth.

    Posted Mon, Aug 15, 2:30 p.m. Inappropriate

    "think bike advocates are a bunch of insufferable, sanctimonious hectoring jerks.

    — bubbleator "

    Gee thanks for the thoughtful and insightful comment. It shows the bias of the author vs that of the general population.

    Ok, "Mopeds" came, and went. I've seen a few around town. Condition: rusted, junk. At a top speed of 30 you can't keep up with traffic. You don't get the treatment a bicycle gets, which is that cars just assume they'll pass you. Instead you get a 2 cycle dirty gasoline engine on a machine that can't climb the hills either. "Scooters" have replaced them for all the obvious reasons of having enough power to handle city traffic. Electric bicycles have replaced the moped.


    Posted Mon, Aug 15, 3:03 p.m. Inappropriate

    Orino, nice web site!

    "More moped parking: Bellingham" the photo is of all scooters! opps. eh?


    Posted Mon, Aug 15, 3:07 p.m. Inappropriate

    "because the bike routes are completely separated from motor vehicle traffic. Everyone in Europe agrees that such an arrangement is safer and results in more efficient traffic flow; cars and bicycles get in each others' way because of their vastly different speed capabilities."

    Mr. Forester would disagree with you on this: http://www.johnforester.com/ And in the city I tend to agree, intersections are dang dangerous enough without hiding the bicycles behind a cycle track.

    You might like "Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities" by Jeff Mapes. He talks a lot about the various issues with bicycle lanes, cycle tracks etc.


    Posted Mon, Aug 15, 7:34 p.m. Inappropriate

    I watched a city worker fill a pothole on Rainier Ave. S recently. He shoveled some asphalt into the hole, placed a bit of plastic over it and began stomping on it to tamp it in and level it off. It would have been funny if it weren't for the fact that traffic will destroy the "fix" within a month. I'm no fan of McGinn, but I must say that this mess predates him. Back when I was biking to work, I had the location of all of the potholes along my route memorized, there were many. Makes you wonder where the money was going when we actually had it to spend.


    Posted Thu, Aug 18, 10:37 a.m. Inappropriate

    Simple resource-allocation study which will not cost the city anything:

    On your way to and from work, count the number of motor vehicles, and the number of bicycles. Tally the percentage of motor vehicles versus bicycles. Send your results to the city council and ask them to allocate public resources according to the percentages in your study.

    Posted Thu, Aug 18, 12:46 p.m. Inappropriate

    I guess Mr MacDonald simply couldn't find room in this nearly 3,000-word jeremiad to squeeze in 8 more characters: 684-ROAD. Portland may have an app, but people who actually give a damn can quite easily call SDOT and let them know where a pothole (or street sign, or traffic light, or street tree) needs maintenance. But of course most people would rather not make any effort except to whine after the fact about how everything's gone to pot. That's exactly how we got into this mess in the first place: Seattleites (and Americans in general) aren't willing to pony up the cash that it actually takes to run a city (and country). Infrastructure everywhere in this country is falling apart, and yet we manage to fund two full wars. Imagine that.

    Posted Thu, Aug 18, 11:01 p.m. Inappropriate


    Here's a response I got when I contacted the city about a pothole last July.... so much for that advice.

    Thank you for contacting the City's Customer Service Bureau about a failed pothole repair at Letitia Avenue South and South Adams Street. As you may already know, we sent out our crews to make another repair.

    The major problem that leads to reoccurring potholes in this area is the base material of which the street is constructed. The soft under-material continues to flex with temperature and heavy traffic, causing the potholes. There also seems to be a drainage run-off in the area contributing to the problem as well. Unfortunately, given the current budget situation, the Seattle Department of Transportation does not have excess funds to correct the problem.


    Posted Fri, Aug 19, 7:26 p.m. Inappropriate

    At least it's honest. No money, no fix.


    Posted Wed, Aug 24, 5:46 p.m. Inappropriate

    It looks like we can either pay now – via taxes to fill the potholes – or later – via a claim for damages. It would seem that the tax would cost less, particularly when more people become aware that they can file a claim, and find out where and how to do so.


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