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Trans-poor-tation 3: No high five for I-5

It's time to talk about our favorite elephant in the room: Interstate 5.
Chehalis River flooding is just one problem that threatens I-5.

Chehalis River flooding is just one problem that threatens I-5. WSDOT

Whenever politicians make decisions about spending, shiny new projects always seem to trump the old, taking-care-of-business kind of work.

This explains, in part at least, why the transportation proposal being considered in Olympia this week shortchanges the more urgent, but less politically gratifying efforts to (Yes, I am going to say it again) maintain our existing transportation infrastructure.  

But no story about Washington’s neglected roads and bridges is complete without acknowledging the elephant in the room. An elephant so obvious, so significant, so big that ignoring it — as state lawmakers have so effectively done — is the only comfortable course.

The elephant of which we speak is Interstate 5. End to end. Oregon to British Columbia. 275 miles of aging interstate freeway built by the federal government, owned by the state of Washington and in desperate need of repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction and modernization.  

I-5 is by far the state’s most critical transportation asset. It carries commuters and commerce on a scale never envisioned when it was built almost 50 years ago: 4.6 million people, or 70 percent of Washington’s population, live in the nine counties that straddle I-5. That’s today. The population of those counties will balloon by 750,000 people — and traffic pressure on I-5 will grow commensurately — by 2025. 

What’s more, the other biggest interstate routes in Washington, I-90 and I-405, both link directly to I-5. Neither can function effectively without a well-functioning I-5. Its failure and insufficiency are not acceptable options. Yet we are coming dangerously close to breakdown.

I-5 is our top priority mega-project. Or it should be. We need to name it, develop a comprehensive engineering, traffic management and funding plan to fix it, and then make it happen. Now. Today.

Our habit of piecemeal solutions, a stab here and a stab there, won’t get the job done. We need to recognize the obvious: It’s time to talk about the elephant.

Fix and Save the Pavement

The first item on our fix I-5 agenda is pavement distress. The highway’s 50-year-old concrete has been triaged with band-aids, patches and diamond-grinding of ruts and grooves as far as its thickness and structural integrity will allow. The worst pavement is between Tukwila and the Snohomish County line; much of that mainline carries more than 100,000 cars and trucks in each direction each day. Battered pavement can be found along many other local stretches.

We’ll have to make some tough choices: Do we go with expensive, long-life concrete? Cheaper, shorter-lived asphalt? As long as we’re doing the work, should we toss design improvements, new safety features and connected-vehicle hardware into the mix to get a better, more modern, more efficient road? What is the optimal sequence for the work? The cost of pavement reconstruction alone will be somewhere between expensive and very expensive, maybe a billion dollars over the next ten years. And that’s just in King County. 

There are ancillary challenges associated with this kind of extensive and long-term highway work. Traffic has to be re-routed. On the scale we’re talking about, even the most successful traffic management plan will make today’s I-5 roadwork disruptions seem trifling. Can we endure our own Carmegeddon in order to re-pave and rehabilitate I-5?

We have to include bridges in our fix 5 plan, 550 of them, carrying big sections of I-5 lanes, ramps and interchanges.Their average age: 45 years. Drivers hardly notice, but half the length of I-5 through Seattle is on bridges — slope-side on Beacon Hill, First Hill and Capital Hill, across the Ship Canal, and for a long section over Ravenna.

The last fresh overlay of concrete on the upper deck of the Ship Canal Bridge, for example, is now almost 30 years old. Peer at it when backed up in traffic on the bridge and you’ll see for yourself why replacement time is nigh: We’re talking $35 million.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, May 16, 6:30 a.m. Inappropriate

"Next: Time for a breakthrough tolling plan." Hey Doug, next time you want to write a series of articles to support another tax increase, just lead with it and save the ink. During the 1125 debate, remember how you stated that there was no plan "To increase tolling highways, roads and bridges in the Puget Sound area." on the David Boze show?

Cameron

Posted Thu, May 16, 7:48 a.m. Inappropriate

After agreeing with McDonald's last article (GASP!), I must admit Cameron is right. I saw it near the bottom of page one of this article. Doug is quite the spinmeister.

The Geezer

Geezer

Posted Thu, May 16, 10:15 a.m. Inappropriate

Cameron and Geezer: Just curious, do you agree with McDonald's notion that I-5 is in terrible shape and that improvements are critical and necessary, but just disagree with tolling to fund it?

Larry Ehl

Posted Thu, May 16, 6:41 a.m. Inappropriate

Having been a long time transit advocate, and supporter of rail in the state and Puget Sound, I must admit I'm ashamed of how our dream of mass transit has been squandered on a BART-like system that will do little to alleviate the needs that Mr. MacDonald has laid out.
Even after 20 years of billion dollar projects for mass transit here, cars will still be required to carry 90% of all the trips in the region. That's a small bump statistically over what it was two decades ago.
Why weren't the reversible, High Capacity lanes on I-5 uses for both bus, carpool and light rail in the 90's, coming in from the north when we had the chance? Instead, we will spend 3 Bil on a tunnel under Capital Hill with one stop, serving aother stop at Huskey stadium/UW Med Center, then on to Northgate. That would have been a smart trade.
We will be starting the 3 Bil E.Side light rail line across the floating bridge, cannibalizing the center lanes for a train that only runs every 10 minutes in the peak hours of the day, while all of todays bus and car traffic will be squeezed onto the remaining E-W pavement on narrower, slower, and more dangerous lanes, adding to the pounding they already take.
After 3 Bil spent to get to the airport, Link carries about one lane worth of traffic all day, with no way to intercept riders from I-5 or I-405, and have few stops along the way (BART II).
It didn't have to turn out this way, but our politicians drank the cool-aid and opted for the shiny new train, rather than take care of the 90% moving people problem. We had options, and promptly ignored them.
The Puget Sound Regional Council, in their latest estimate of conditions in 2040 only show our completed rail network carrying half as many riders as originally promised and projected by Sound Transit to this day, yet it will have consumed 15-20 Bil in the process and be many Billions in debt for decades after that.
HOW LONG can I-5 be starved before succoming to failure on the grandest of scales, because we are now broke, but still spending like drunken sailors on new shiny mega projects?

007

Posted Thu, May 16, 1:30 p.m. Inappropriate

"After 3 Bil spent to get to the airport, Link carries about one lane worth of traffic all day"

Not even close to one lane worth of traffic, actually. At the point where Central Link and I-5 parallel each other and are within about 100 feet of each other (just north of the I-5 exit to go to the airport), Central Link carries approximately 12,000 people per weekday, 6,000 in each direction. At that point, each lane of I-5 carries about 40,000 people per weekday in about 25,000 vehicles. So, Central Link actually carries less than 1/3 of one lane of I-5 between the Tukwila Link station and the Rainier Beach Link station -- 12,000 per weekday on Link compared to 40,000 per weekday on each lane of I-5.

Lincoln

Posted Thu, May 16, 3:38 p.m. Inappropriate

I was being kind. All of Central Link has 25-30 thousand daily boardings now, and was supposed to carry 47,000 by 2020, discounting any new boardings attributed to ULink (Source PSRC).
So, about 1 lane is ballparking it.

007

Posted Fri, May 17, 9:18 a.m. Inappropriate

You can't compare "boardings" on Link to passengers past a point on a freeway. That is what Sound Transit would like to you do, but it is very misleading. You have to compare apples to apples -- passengers past a point on I-5 to passengers past a point on Central Link. When you do that, Link carries less than 1/3 of the passengers per weekday than one lane of I-5. "Less than 1/3 of one lane" is not in the same ballpark as "one lane."

Lincoln

Posted Thu, May 16, 8:20 a.m. Inappropriate

McDonald you just don't understand -- the "powers that be" think I-5 can withstand lots more traffic just as it is, which is one reason why they are building the idiotic, ultra-expensive, environmentally and seismically suspect, traffic constricting, unsafe waterfront tunnel, and then tolling it to further restrict its use. To push ever more traffic onto I-5 and downtown Seattle streets. Oh, and to drive up private property values for monied downtown interests. That, you see, is a FAR more important priority than taking care of the most important transportation link in the state.

Posted Thu, May 16, 10:37 a.m. Inappropriate

Out of kindness, we need to remember that is was Christine Gregoire who led the charge for the SR 99 deep-bored tunnel option and, with the legislature ably focused by Judy Clibborn (D, Mercer Island), it was told it would be a fine replacement to the old viaduct. The old viaduct had access to the Seattle CBD and to Western Avenue, remember, and had an ADT of some 110,000. Conversely, the DBT has NO link to the CBD and excludes Western Avenue. In its wildest dreams, with NO TOLLS, the DBT may carry 85,000 (ADT). More troubling, the DBT fails to meet five adopted highway safety standards that arose from the 1976 Highway Safety Act. (These are lane width, shoulder width, grade, vertical clearance and left hand ramps.) Additionally, to help strangle the maintenance budget of WSDOT, a key item in McDonald's essay, the DBT needs 239 million BTUs of electric power for fans and lighting. For those of you who get regular electric bills in kilowatt hours, that translates to 70,027 KWhrs/day and, with a City Light power rate for "High Demand, General Services" the annual bill is $1,353,446. And that bill is paid from the WSDOT maintenance budget, for ever and ever, with annual COLAs of course. But, and to the pint of this reply, it was WSDOT staff who failed the legislature in all matters statistic. It was WSDOT staff who blithely told our elected members that everything was right, don't you worry one bit, life is cool. And, the guy behind that outrageous warping of data was none other than Ron Paananen - the same guy now being hired by the new but obviously wet behind the ears secretary of transportation, at the behest of an even newer and wetter governor, for the meager fee of $350 per hour for 1,000 hours of work. For short, the biter (King County motorist) is being well bitten. And the snake hired to do the biting is Mr. Paananen.

seebee

Posted Thu, May 16, 10:02 a.m. Inappropriate

One thing we can absolutely count on is that the "progressive" politicians will find a way to hold I-5 hostage to the demands of the transit boondoggle supporters.

NotFan

Posted Thu, May 16, 10:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for these informed observations, Doug MacDonald. This "#3" in your series is the best so far. It highlights the realities of transportation in this state in 2013 (and beyond), and rightfully calls for significant improvement and maintenance spending on I-5.

crossrip

Posted Thu, May 16, 10:28 a.m. Inappropriate

I appreciate this article and series very much. I see rebar on I5 in the Rainier Brewery site area, I see the uneven patches on ship canal, I see weeds growing on the retaining wall hold back Capitol Hill, and I see ZERO info from any other news source or from electeds saying we have a problem that needs to be fixed. I agree: no transportation package is worth funding unless it makes a major investment in I5.

The one thing I do wonder is what federal dollars are available for the area of I5 in King County. Some part of the traffic is non-residents passing through.

sjenner

Posted Thu, May 16, 12:09 p.m. Inappropriate

None of the other proposed waterfront solutions for the AWV match the existing viaduct in any transportation related category. The rights of ways already exist. The configuration already can handle 110,000 vehicles a day. It already provides a bypass for downtown and off ramps for the core, Ballard and West Seattle. It already meets the demands for commercial vehicles. It can incorporate modern seismic protections and other enhancements for noise abatement, bikes, pedestrians and aesthetics. It provides the only effective way to modulate traffic in the core. It also acknowledges the fact that rubber-tired, multi-passenger vehicles are still the choice of over 90% of us. And it’s billions of dollars cheaper than this present mistake in the making.

Again, here’s a link to an article by David Brewster with some opinions about how we got into this mess called, “When Chopp Speaks, Parse It closely” appearing on Crosscut on March 26, 2009. The last 3 paragraphs are prophetic.

http://crosscut.com/2009/03/26/crosscut-blog/18899/When-Chopp-speaks-parse-closely/

And since this is a recycling day, I will say again that if you think you miss the Sonics just wait until the viaduct is gone.

jmrolls

Posted Thu, May 16, 4:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Jmrolls' opening statement, roughly, "No replacement proposal matches the AWV in any transportation related category," is NOT the truth. In fact, the 'Stacked' 6-lane Cut/cover Tunnel (in the FEIS) matches the derelict AWV in capacity and access, minus 1st Ave ramps, a hazard that competent engineers reject. Completed in 2006, the Stacked Cut/cover was NOT released for public consideration during the 2007 vote though it's the "least disruptive" cut/cover option, the only one that could be built while the AWV remained in place and operating.

Wsdot director DB MacDonald "criminally" misled the public to believe all cut/cover tunnel options were equally disruptive. He rigged this ideal cut/cover tunnel 'construction process' by proposing to build a huge 6-block segment starting in its center - between Main and Spring Streets - and finish to the portals at Pike and King Streets whereby all excavation would be shoveled to the surface and trucked away.

The honest construction process would start at the south portal using the same ramp as the BORE MACHINE, build north in short-block segments, return finished segments to temporary use, excavate and remove soils south via the tunnel. MacDonald rigged the process so his automobile racket and corner-cutting developer buddies could gamble that voters would approve the elevated replacement monstrosity.

After the vote, MacDonald quit like a rat deserting a sinking ship. Right hand gal Paula Hammond took over and spent the next two years "rigging" ever more cut/cover tunnel and Surface/Transit and Fix I-5 studies so that one last elevated design could be devised and approved, but it too failed standard tests of engineering competence.

Douglas B MacDonald intends to commit homicide. His loaded gattling gun is aimed at Seattlers. If built, the DBT will gradually over time and all at once reduce Seattle to rubble with a death toll in the hundreds, even thousands.

Wells

Posted Thu, May 16, 8:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Without the 1st Ave. ramps then it's not the same now is it? And how hazardous can they be given the configuration has been providing one of the best north/south arterials in the city for over 60 years?

We're making the same mistakes with the efficiency of the I-520 termination as well...less access and capacity and higher costs.

jmrolls

Posted Fri, May 17, 11:20 a.m. Inappropriate

The SR99 ramps to 1st Ave increase traffic hazards in pedestrian areas. The central downtown I-5 ramps do the same thing. Ideally, freeway access ramps should not lead to/from steep downtown streets. Less hazardous freeway access is located at north and south ends of town. Downtown Seattle can and should devise a transit system that allows motorists to quickly park and finish trips conveniently. Blame all transportation and transit agencies for criminal incompetence. Automobile-related business interests (finance, insurance, sales, fuel, parking, advertizing) employ thugs like MacDonald to insure traffic remains chaotic and transit systems inadequate. Macdonald's tolling scheme is Highway Robbery; the funds spent with the intention of making traffic worse.

Wells

Posted Thu, May 16, 4:49 p.m. Inappropriate

What about the I-5 SB offramp to SR520, which seems to have been orphaned in the 520 rebuild project? Typical LH offramp problem - the four-lane weaving to it from the 45th Street onramp is a serious flow constrictor, as is the quickly successive lane pinching from Northgate to 85th. But then, maybe WSDOT just considers those helpful flow metering devices since the Convention Center pinching screws things up anyway. Free flow on I-5 through Seattle is obviously an afterthought or unaffordable luxury.

Posted Thu, May 16, 5:13 p.m. Inappropriate

Great article. My prediction is that I-5 will continue to fall into disrepair for another decade. The anti-tax sentiment is strong and the entire Republican party has taken an anti-tax pledge. So there will never be money to pay for all this expensive road infrastructure.

The other problem is that this was given to the states, as Doug says:
"End to end. Oregon to British Columbia. 275 miles of aging interstate freeway built by the federal government, owned by the state of Washington and in desperate need of repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction and modernization."

Just like people who win a big boat on 'Let's Make a Deal', even though the boat is free, the gas, insurance, repair and docking costs are not.

Posted Thu, May 16, 5:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Actually, we have an error to correct. I-5 was built with 90/10 federal/state money. Moreover, it was designed by state highway department engineers and/or consultants hired by the state. Additionally, the "design standards" were all WSHD (Washington State Highway Department) published standards, approved by the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR). Thus, the federal government never ever "built" I-5 in the true meaning of the word. I trust this is clear.

P.S. I was one of the designers of I-5.

seebee

Posted Thu, May 16, 6:57 p.m. Inappropriate

The future and current cost of the bore tunnel as well as the extreme costs of mass transit options that move only 2 out of 180 people at a cost that if spent on highways and ferries would move buses, highway vans back and forth to commuter parking, would move everyone, efficiently.

I keep seeing people state that if I-5 were expanded, more growth would happen. Why? If we have a better highway that actually works as intended, and more people were able to work where they wanted to work ... that would mean more growth for the region? Wow. Like that isn't happening anyway.

That logic assumes
a) everyone would move here from everywhere else (they already are)
b) ease of transportation by individual vehicles = growth
c) sprawl would happen (it already is, the GMA didn't solve that issue, not at all)

So, logically, according to some loud voices, is that people should all lived crammed together in a geographically challenged city surrounded by lots of water and mountains, and pay extraordinary tax rates/highway/ferry tolls to simply get to and from their jobs rather than live in a place where quality of life includes the ability for companies to locate their jobs near where the people want to live?

The war on MOBILITY must stop. We can't afford the dollars being stretched to include huge expenditures on fiscally irresponsible projects such as the bore tunnel and the light rail, which isn't moving mass numbers of people by any stretch of anyone's imagination.

Posted Thu, May 16, 7:44 p.m. Inappropriate

The only problem common1, is that:

Sprawl does not equal Mobility

If it did, there wouldn't be a $50 billion backlog in highway projects. Everyone would be happy with their mobility.

Posted Fri, May 17, 12:17 a.m. Inappropriate

RB,

Mobility does not equal sprawl. Sprawl happens because this region is still growing, and people refuse to sleep under their desks at work.

Call it sprawl, or call it new population growth, no matter. It is still happening, despite the war on cars, and despite the GMA goals that think preventing sprawl is even possible.

The backlog in highway projects is both because of decades of deferred maintenance, and high-growth demand because of Microsoft, Amazon, Google and everyone else who has sprouted up new companies with new employees, many of whom insist on birthing babies, and needing places to live.

Our sustained growth means our roads are trashed because all the money normally earmarked to maintain them went to fulfill the airhead dreams of a bunch of ideologists who forgot that while Washington is green green green, money still does not grow on trees.

We cannot afford to keep squandering our money on the illusion that mass transit other than plain-old-ordinary-buses will EVER be affordable.

Affordable trumps sustainable, but no one ever seems to bring that up.

Posted Fri, May 17, 4:43 a.m. Inappropriate

The roads infrastructure has never been maintained because it has never been adequately funded. There has never been an effort by any elected bodies to even try to do proper maintenance.

The collapse of the Minnesota bridge is a perfect example of how badly the infrastructure is in shape. Yet, do you hear ANY national politician talk about bridges? NO. They're too busy talking about guns or gun control. Terrorism or security or 9/11 or something else to scare the American public.

The gas tax hasn't been raised on a Federal level for years, if not decades. (the anti-tax pledge again)

So everyone can quit blaming mass transit on the roads problem. The roads need MUCH MUCH MUCH more money than that which is spent on mass transit. And that money isn't there. It never was.

Posted Fri, May 17, 9:31 a.m. Inappropriate

The huge amounts of tax revenue wasted on subsidizing transit in the Puget Sound area is the main reason why there is not enough money being spent on roads. Sound Transit alone spends around $700 million every year. Central Link cost about $2.6 BILLION and moves only about as many people per weekday as 1/3 of one lane of I-5. That $2.6 BILLION wasted on Central Link would have completely rebuilt I-5 through King County, with plenty of money left over.

King County Metro spends about $700 million every year subsidizing bus trips.

In King County alone, about $1.5 BILLION PER YEAR is spent on transit. If one billion per year of that were spent on roads instead of transit, over the past five years ($5 billion total), we could have rebuilt I-5 in King county and had enough money to finish the west end of the new 520 floating bridge, and then had an income stream of $1 billion per year for more road projects.

Lincoln

Posted Sat, May 18, 5:28 a.m. Inappropriate

Oh God, Borkowski -- grow up. I thought you were smarter than what you reveal here.

Posted Sat, May 18, 12:53 p.m. Inappropriate

You should see what he's written in other threads!

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:45 a.m. Inappropriate

" P.S. I was one of the designers of I-5."

— seebee

The anonymity of the internet is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

JimCusick

Posted Sun, May 19, 8:21 p.m. Inappropriate

So what? Really, if he gave his name, what would change? Look elsewhere in this thread. I posted a link to a U.S. Department of Energy scientist's cogent explanation of something that every highway engineer knows, which is that 99% of all vehicle-related pavement damage is done by buses and heavy trucks.

That was as factual as it gets. What did "The Raging Moderate" do? Denied it. That makes about as much sense as trying to argue that the sun rises in the South (everywhere but the North Pole, I know), but did that stop him? How would using a real name make anything different?

If you think that using real names would stop people from being stupid and anti-scientific, think again. You've got a whole industry full of real names trying to deny climate change. And here in Seattle, you have city officials declaring their interest in a local "zero carbon" plan while simultaneously pushing a bunch of policies that actually increase carbon emissions.

I think it's better to just look at the ideas and not worry so much about the name that's attached.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 9:16 p.m. Inappropriate

Knowing people involved in the region's highway design, and the history of the region, the comment was meant for 'seebee' as a poke at what we now view as design flaws, but made perfect sense given the design parameters and constraints of the time, both financial and physical.

However, since you feel compelled to answer with "I think it's better to just look at the ideas and not worry so much about the name that's attached." I can only say:

I rest my case

JimCusick

Posted Mon, May 20, 11:41 a.m. Inappropriate

Fine. Rest your case, then. We're on the Internet, where no one knows you're a dog.

NotFan

Posted Thu, May 16, 5:42 p.m. Inappropriate

Very good article and very good comments. Maybe things are not as bad as portrayed; first, Mr. MacDonald lists high volumes of working commuters and I have no reason to question those numbers but I have read that a very high percentage (like 70%) of freeway use is not work related. OK, maybe that's based on a 24hr reading but still I-5 and the other interstate highways have a very high recreational component. Count the skis on roof racks any winter morning--horse trailers too. We overuse the Interstate System because it's fast and cheap; we can get to nice places (where the sun shines) in luxurious climate controlled cars. Over the next several decades we will probably be obliged to use our cars less, both in city and otherwise. Nice smooth pavement will just slow that transition down. The gravelly texture is the stick and the public transit is supposed to be the carrot.
I think in a very broad (somewhat sloppy) cosmic view neglecting the Interstates is probably OK. Or at least not as bad as Mr. MacDonald (and commenters) would have us believe.

kieth

Posted Sat, May 18, 12:54 p.m. Inappropriate

I have to hand it to you for candor. Not too many "progressives" will come right out and admit what you just did.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 11:13 p.m. Inappropriate

"We overuse the Interstate System because it's fast and cheap"

Kieth, we don't "overuse" the Interstate system at all. We paid for it.

"Overuse" isn't right. We use the Interstate and other highway and ferry systems. And fast and cheap they ain't.

What many of us are hollering about is that the Interstate is falling apart, and our monies are being tossed down a bore hell hole and commuter train hell hole instead of maintaining the basics.

We truly cannot afford luxury before we fix the basics, yet the current group of politicians and "smart whatever" bureaucrats never met a budget they had to adhere to.

Toll 'em, tax 'em, we spend what we want! Ye gods.

Posted Thu, May 16, 7:09 p.m. Inappropriate

Keith, "Over the next several decades we will probably be obliged to use our cars less, both in city and otherwise."

I assume you mean because we'll either all be totally stuck in massive gridlock, or you mean that we'll just run out of oil?

What is with the continual focus that cars can only run on oil fuels? We all know that there have been many excellent non-oil fueled inventions and prototypes that have been squashed from being successful by not only our own Big Brother, but of course our pals in the oil fields.

Let's focus not on cramming everyone onto the same bus. Let's focus on reinventing the power that moves our wheels, and quit bashing the wheels themselves.

Posted Fri, May 17, 8:22 a.m. Inappropriate

Doesn't look like we are going to run out of oil soon but gridlock, yes. Name me a city that relies on cars for 90% of transportation and is also an attractive place to live.
There is LA, it's OK, but even with very favorable terrain and decades of good economic numbers they are (out of desperation) turning to transit. Cars are great but it's hard to see them as the future. For Missoula or Bismark, maybe but when you reach a critical size the cars self destruct.

kieth

Posted Fri, May 17, 10:07 a.m. Inappropriate

The only city that doesn't run on 90% cars is New York, and I'd never want to live there.

NotFan

Posted Thu, May 16, 7:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Given the geography of Western Washington, the built up areas, and the dollars allotted to the task, where else could they have put I-5 and have it serve the greatest number of people?

I-5 is limited by factors that many planners back in the day never envisioned or thought possible. Short of tearing the guts out several cities up and down the corridor and massive landform transformation we're stuck with their original location. I suppose we could build up and make the second level north bound and the original level south bound. The pictures of the Nimitz Freeway collapse during the 1989 World Series earthquake would limit my trips to the north bound lanes.

Over all I'm used to it, wrinkles and all. It's like an old pair of shoes that has seen better days, but they fit, so you wear them until they fall completely apart and hope that you find a replacement pair on sale the day they fail.

Djinn

Posted Sun, May 19, 11:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Djinn, you just named the problem:

"... serve the greatest number of people"

I-5 was built to serve the greatest number of people. The problem today is the greatest amount of monies are being spent to serve the fewest number of people (bore tunnel, commuter trains).

We're failing all right. It will be pathetic if we allow our infrastructure to fail while we allow the pols and bureaucrats to party on in their building sprees.

Posted Tue, May 21, 10:06 p.m. Inappropriate

I thought that it was common knowledge and that common sense would prevail.

Djinn

Posted Thu, May 16, 9:18 p.m. Inappropriate

I was under the impression I-5 was a federal highway or interstate. Maybe we should talk to the senators. At least that was Eisenhower's idea.

Posted Fri, May 17, 8:45 a.m. Inappropriate

It would be a mistake to skim over the top of I-5 with a layer of asphalt. The state's done that in the past, and the repair lasts about 2-3 years, then the condition of the roadway becomes worse than before. In Germany, if a section of Autobahn wears out (about the condition of I-5 in the late 70s) The entire thing is demolished down the the ground, re-graded and re-paved from scratch. Yeah, gasoline costs about $9 a gallon in Germany (although more efficient diesel is closer to $8) but that high tax buys the people a highway system that you can drive on at over 100 MPH in confidence and which handles much more traffic per lane than our "free"ways.


And best of all, slowpokes in the left lane, and people who pass on the right, both get nasty fines. That's worth $8 a gallon right there.

dbreneman

Posted Fri, May 17, 1:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Couldn't agree more. In fact, drive just about anywhere in western Europe for a bit than drive here and you'll be pulling your hair out. What is it about here that makes for such weird, space cadet driving?

Posted Sat, May 18, 8:54 p.m. Inappropriate

Have you driven in Italy? It's bad here, but Friday afternoon in Florence, now that'll put hair on your chest. So will the narrow, winding, shoulderless highways of Scotland, and the tailgaters who inhabit them.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 2:27 p.m. Inappropriate

I've driven on the autobahn. Most of it, and especially the part without speed limits, is two lanes in each direction. The lanes are narrower than ours, and the curves are sharper. One of the biggest differences between Germany and the U.S. is that Germany (like the rest of Europe) does not allow trucks as heavy as the U.S. allows.

Buses and (especially) super-heavy trucks cause all vehicle-related pavement damage. The U.S. could reduce pavement damage by reducing the weight of the trucks on the roads. As an aside, an SUV does no more damage to pavement than a bicycle does. Both do zero damage.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 4:04 p.m. Inappropriate

All of the unlimited sections I've driven on are three lanes. A slow lane, a "moderate" lane (usually averages 90-100 MPH), and a passing lane. In the passing lane, the fastest car has the right of way. If you're in that lane and someone is closing on you, you have to get out of his way so he can maintain his speed. Works like a charm. I'm not sure how that would work on a two-lane highway.

dbreneman

Posted Fri, May 17, 4:12 p.m. Inappropriate

Most of the unlimited sections I've been on are two lanes. The three lane sections I've been on have tended to bear nearer to big cities, and carried 130 km/h limits. Which is nice and high, but not unlimited. I loved the autobahn. There's nothing like being in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam where everyone's going 120 miles an hour.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 10:24 p.m. Inappropriate

Right you are. 17,000 pounds per axle like we have here tears the hell out of roads. All structures have to be massively strong, and as can easily be seen, it's never enough. And no one ever questions this obscenely expensive subsidy to the trucking industry.

I wonder if the author of the article here has any thoughts on it.

Regarding driving habits, it wouldn't take many Seattleites to create instant carnage on the autobahns. Many places have drivers far less polite than those in Seattle, but at least they more or less follow the rules and are mostly predictable in their actions. Here, things like turn signals may or may not indicate something about which way someone might go. Are drivers too busy visualizing world peace to pay attention? I have no explanation for it.

Posted Sat, May 18, 11:46 a.m. Inappropriate

Clearly, you've never driven in Boston. When it comes to stupid road tricks, Seattle's drivers are amateurs. What I do find interesting, though, is the steady rise of road tricks in Portland. They are beginning to do some credible imitations of Boston behavior, at least occasionally. This is probably the future for Seattle as the result of the various "progressive" policies aimed at increasing congestion to discourage the use of cars.

Thing is, all that such policies do is make for more difficult driving, but not less of it. When you put people into such environments, they start snapping. That's what the "progressives" are producing in Portland, and it's going to spread up here. All of this stuff is triggered by congestion. In Boston, the congestion is because of very real space constraints. In Portland and Seattle, the congestion is imposed by "progressives" who are fighting a war on the automobile. Here, we are doing it to ourselves.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 10:14 a.m. Inappropriate

There's a lot of complaining here about paying for mass transit - which is basically just shilling for more car welfare.

You don't like public funding for light rail or buses? Fine. Then it's time for all the handouts (read: tax subsidies) to car owners to end. You want to be able to drive everywhere, anytime, free of congestion, from BC to Oregon, then be prepared to pay what it takes - whether that's $2.00/gallon more in gas taxes, carbon taxes, tolls/fares, or maybe all of that. If not, then it's time to think about letting our road system shrink to what people are willing to pay for.

Or (gasp!) you could just recognize the fact (like other industrialized nations have) that cars, buses, trains, bikes, etc. are all part of one network that gets people and goods from one place to another. Each has advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits. And they all need funding, and we all are going to have to pay for that entire network - not just the particular transportation mode we prefer - if we want a true transportation system to benefit us all.

ba

Posted Fri, May 17, 2:31 p.m. Inappropriate

Please detail the "tax subsidies" to cars. As for bicycles, they should pay the same $85 a year that motorbikes do. Transit? Pay 100% of the cost through the fare box, plus a fee for the damage that buses do to city streets. (By the way, cars, bikes, motorbikes, SUVs, pickups and light trucks do no pavement damage, so forget about weight-based fees for light vehicles.)

I'm tired of parasite bicyclists wanting something for nothing. Same goes for the "transit" crowd. For once in your miserable "progressive" lives, pay your own way rather than picking the pockets of your betters. By the way, I'm fine with higher gas taxes if the money will go to the roads. The federal gas tax revenues should stop being used for mass transit as well.

You want mass transit? Pay for it.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 10:32 p.m. Inappropriate

Interesting - how much do buses weigh? Most have dual wheels on a single axle in rear, don't they? I rather suspect they don't equal the road destroying 17,000 pounds per axle that trucks deploy, but with just one axle in back, maybe they do?

Posted Sat, May 18, 11:41 a.m. Inappropriate

Here's the link I rely on. There are others, but I picked the one that's most cogent, and that comes from an authoritative source: the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. (The "progressives" of Seattle are just as apt to deny or ignore science as Sarah Palin and her kind, but that's another story.)

http://tinyurl.com/pavewear

There are more details out there, I'm sure. If I thought it'd matter, I'd get them. But, like I say, the "progressives" in Seattle don't like science. So I find what's easiest to find and save the heavy lifting for anyone who'll actually use it.

The numbers would certainly suggest that big trucks are more of a culprit than buses. Obviously, it would depend on how big a truck and the design of the roadbed. I have no doubt that there are people in the WA highway bureaucracy who will forget more than I'll know about it. The real question there would be whether any of these people would tell the truth, or be allowed to.

p.s.: I did a Google search. Based on what I read, a standard empty bus weighs 25,000 lbs., and double that if full. An empty articulated bus weighs 42,000 lbs., and double that if full. Within cities and on most highways, trucks are supposed to be limited to 80,000 lbs. in most states, but in Washington that limit is 105,000 lbs. On those interstates designated as "the national network," the maximum weight is 147,000 lbs. However, I don't vouch for the accuracy of all this. They are best estimates based on a Google search. I'm sure it's more complicated than that.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 11:20 p.m. Inappropriate

According to Hart and Spivak, government subsidies for highways and parking alone amount to between 8 and 10 percent of our gross national product, the equivalent of a fuel tax of approximately $3.50 per gallon. If this tax were to account for "soft" costs such as pollution cleanup and emergency medical treatment, it would he as high as $9.00 per galion. The cost of these subsidies-approximately $5,000 per car per year-is passed directly on to the American citizen in the form of increased prices for products or, more often, as income, property, and sales taxes. This means that the hidden costs of driving are paid by everyone: not just drivers, but also those too old or too poor to drive a car. And these people suffer doubly, as the very transit systems they count on for mobility have gone out of business, unable to compete with the heavily subsidized highways.1

Even more irksome is the fact that spending on transit creates twice as many new jobs as spending on highways. Every billion dollars reallocated from road-building to transit creates seven thousand jobs.2 Congress's recent $41 billion highway bill, had it been allocated to transit, would have employed an additional quarter-million people nationwide.

Because they do not pay the full price of driving, most car owners choose to drive as much as possible. They are making the correct economic decision, but not in a free-market economy. As Hart and Spivak note, an appropriate analogy is Stalin's Gosplan, a Soviet agency that set arbitrary "correct" prices for many consumer goods, irrespective of their cost of production, with unsurprising results. In the American version of Gosplan, gasoline costs one quarter of what it did in 1929 (in real dollars).3 One need look no further for a reason why American cities continue to sprawl into the countryside. In Europe, where gasoline costs about four times the American price, long-distance automotive commuting is the exclusive privilege of the wealthy, and there is relatively little suburban sprawl.

The American Gosplan pertains to shipping as well. In the current structure of subsidization, trucking is heavily favored over rail transport, even though trucks consume fifteen times the fuel for the equivalent job. The government pays a $300 billion subsidy to truckers unthinkingly, while carefully scrutinizing every dollar allocated to transit. Similarly, we try to solve our commuter traffic problems by building highways instead of railways, even though it takes fifteen lanes of highway to move as many people as one lane of track.4 This predisposition toward automobile use is plainly evident in the prevalent terminology: money spent on roads is called "highway investment," while money spent on rails is called "transit subsidy."

The American Gosplan is not a conspiracy so much as a culture-albeit one strongly supported by pervasive advertising-and it is probably unrealistic to hope that legislators will soon take steps, such as enacting a substantial gasoline tax, to allocate fairly the costs of driving. Pressured by generous automobile industry contributions on the one hand and a car-dependent public on the other, politicians have lately been using gas-tax elimination as an election strategy, with some success. But there is encouraging information suggesting that a gas tax may not be the political suicide that most politicians suspect. According to a recent Pew Foundation poll, 60 percent of those asked favored a twenty-five-cent-per-gallon gas tax to slow global warming.5

While there are many supposedly "anti-business" arguments for a higher gas tax-from fighting global warming to supporting public transit-the real justification is economic: subsidized automobile use is the single largest violation of the free-market principle in U.S. fiscal policy. Economic inefficiencies in this country due to automotive subsidization are estimated at $700 billion annually,6 which powerfully undermines America's ability to compete in the global economy. Although suburban sprawl is the concern in this book, it is not the only sad result of this fundamental error.

The problems of automobile subsidization have been well documented; this is old news. And yet it is news which few people seem to understand, and which has barely begun to influence government policy in any significant way. So, to all the concerned activists nationwide who are banging their heads against the wall on this issue, we do not have very much to say except "May we join you at the wall?" Fortunately, the automobile subsidy is only one of many forces contributing to sprawl, and there are other avenues along which anti-sprawl efforts are likely to achieve meaningful results.
FOOTNOTES

1Stanley Hart and Alvin Spivak, The Elephant in the Bedroom: Automobile Dependence and Denial. Perhaps the most serious soft cost of driving is pollution. Already, cars and other vehicles are seen as the worst polluters of urban air and the biggest producers of carbon dioxide, the chief suspect in global warming (The Economist, "Living with the Car,"). About half of U.S. air pollution emissions come from motor vehicles (MacKenzie, Dower, and Chen).

2Jane Holtz Kay, Asphalt Nation, p. 129.

3"Cheap gasoline forever, whatever," is how The Economist describes the American approach to transportation planning, adding: "Hence the paradox that the freest market in the world eschews the price mechanism and applies command-and-control regulation to a central portion of its economy" ("Living with the Car").

4Hart and Spivak, p. 111; James Howard Kuntsler, Home from Nowhere, pp. 67, 99.

5As The Boston Globe's David Nyhan notes, "If that result were an election, we'd call it a landslide ... Conclusion: the people are way out in front of the politicians again" (Nyhan, "For the Planet's Sake, Hike the Gas Tax").

6Hart and Spivak, p. 166

ba

Posted Sat, May 18, 5:40 a.m. Inappropriate

"Hart and Spivak" -- who are they? I've never heard of them. If 10% of our GDP were in fact consumed in subsidies for highways and parking, how have we lived for decades without realizing it? That assertion doesn't pass the straight-face test.

So what if they can torture numbers and twist their interpretation, it still won't change the *fact* that the users of roads pay for them, there is NO subsidy. One might argue that certain classes of users (heavy vehicles) don't pay for the costs they impose but that's a cross-subsidy (among users), not a subsidy of the entire system and all its users.

And please don't suggest as evidence of "subsidy" the recent-year appropriations from the general fund to supplement the Highway Trust Fund's gasoline tax revenues. You will find that those taxes come from the same class of taxpayers as road users: the national economy which is reliant upon streets, roads and highways.

It is long past time to bring a halt to the misleading (and extremely destructive) myths about transportation that have been foisted onto the weak minds of too many in the voting public.

Posted Sat, May 18, 11:35 a.m. Inappropriate

Giving page numbers from books is complete b.s., but the "progressives" thrive on complete b.s., don't they? And who cares what some guy from the Boston Globe says, anyway? And James Howard Kunstler, that obnoxious "progressive" blowhard? Give us a break.

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 18, 5:45 p.m. Inappropriate

An additional subsidy has been the maintenance of a Naval task force in the Middle East for several decades to maintain "peace" (or is that "a piece" of oil).

Posted Sat, May 18, 9:02 p.m. Inappropriate

The "subsidy" exists, no doubt. I'd point out that the oil is used not just to power the evil SUVs that every card-carrying Seattle "progressive" blames for every evil, but also to heat millions of homes, and to fuel the ships and planes and trains and trucks that bring you your food and the ambulances that take you to the hospital, and so on. Not to mention the plastic that you use in all kinds of products.

But yeah, the U.S. Navy patrols the oceans, doing what the British Navy once did: securing trade routes. I'd call it a subsidy for all kinds of things, including the delivery of your iPod. One of these years, we might wake up and find that the Chinese Navy has taken over a bunch of this function. And they don't use it to their advantage, now will they?

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 18, 9:45 a.m. Inappropriate

Wow. I can't believe. I actually agree with NotFan on something. I guess this guy really can talk issues when he wants to.

From NotFan:
"Buses and (especially) super-heavy trucks cause all vehicle-related pavement damage. The U.S. could reduce pavement damage by reducing the weight of the trucks on the roads. As an aside, an SUV does no more damage to pavement than a bicycle does. Both do zero damage."

Even though I'm a huge transit fan, there is no denying that Metro buses do serious damage to the roads. Just look at the streets in the vicinity of the transit tunnel. I remember after the repaving project on Olive Way, the roadway was so smooth... for about 6 months after which the buses had caused huge grooves to start forming on the asphalt. This is not damage an ordinary car would do.

But this fact bolsters the case for rail in selected corridors, so fewer buses are needed. That's why the 'BRT' arguments that have been brought forward over the years for downtown and Capitol Hill and the Univ district make no sense. These buses would cause the streets to deteriorate faster while the rail can run underground on separate right of way.

Posted Sat, May 18, 11:33 a.m. Inappropriate

Rail is the "progressive" fetish of the hour. It's a backward-looking, resource-eating boondoggle of gigantic proportions that has never been appropriate for Western cities that were never as downtown-centric as the Eastern cities the "progressives" want to imitate. (Why they want to imitate New York, I'm not sure, but they do.) For the amount of money spent on rail, we can easily mitigate street damage from buses, simply by adding a pavement damage surcharge to bus fares.

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 18, 12:53 p.m. Inappropriate

"Even though I'm a huge transit fan" writes Richard Borkowski.

LOL. I remember you shouting about the ridership projections put forth by the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP), claiming that they were simply 'making up numbers' by specially adding in sports event ridership.

Well, well...its now ten years later and if it weren't for sports stadium ridership, the LINK light rail line developed by your favorite agency, Sound Transit, would be *very* badly falling short of their ridership projections instead of merely badly falling short of their ridership forecast.

No, Richard, your 'huge transit fandom' was -and is- very selective. Perhaps depending on who pays for your fandom. You were ST's bitch.

Posted Sun, May 19, 11:23 p.m. Inappropriate

The cost of rail is massively huge compared to the cost of new pavement. The cost of underground rail is massively huge and we cannot afford it.

Posted Sat, May 18, 5:15 p.m. Inappropriate

Do the anti-mass transit writers even ride a bus or the link rail?

Road wear. If every bus rider was in a car instead, they would easily out class the weight and damage a half loaded bus creates.

Ridership on the rail to the airport can't be compared to lane capacity. They are not the same thing. Given any number of people in the train will equal people not in a car on the highway or on arterials. This makes room on the highway and I-5 won't be getting any bigger. Even if we completely defunded Metro and lite rail to fund repairs on I-5, those repairs are unlikely to increase capacity in a significant way.

Bicycling. Ride a bike for Pete's sake. Any bicyclist is making room on the road for a motorist and we often are using roads that are under used by motor vehicles (in my case W. Marginal Way S.) There were over 13,000 bicyclists out on Friday, and those are just the ones participating in the Bike to Work program. There are possibly twice that number of people biking to work on a regular bases. Talk about making Seattle livable. Less noise, no pollution unless smugness counts ;-) .

Autobahn? C'mon. No comparison because they don't use heavy trucks in the way we do. Why? Because they have a heavily subsidized rail system. In the cities? Same thing, rail and bus service throughout urban areas.

The sad hard reality is that over the last 75+ years we've developed a very expensive and difficult to maintain transportation system. This system is very dependent on asphalt and serves the desire for each individual to have convenient transportation any time they wish. Don't get me wrong, that's cool and I would love to see it continue but I don't think it can. I would love to say that hybrid and electrical vehicles will solve the problem, but they will only play a part. Bikes will play a roll, as well as buses and trains since they are in the end more energy efficient per passenger mile. As any urban area grows and becomes more densely populated we have to have to make some tough decisions and chances are that means less individuality in our choice of vehicle. If you want that choice, then you are not likely to be happy in an urban environment.

Posted Sun, May 19, 4:47 a.m. Inappropriate

"Ridership on the rail to the airport can't be compared to lane capacity."

Oh no? Tell that to Dave Ross and Cynthia Sullivan https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/29376876/2ndi5%20-%20Sullivan%20on%20KIRO%20Ross%20Mar%2013%202003.mp3

Posted Sun, May 19, 11:28 p.m. Inappropriate

Indeed: "If you want that choice, then you are not likely to be happy in an urban environment."

Which is why so many people are moving out of the urban areas, thereby making the GMA useless.

If you try to force people to do things they don't want to do, they will simply up and go. We've always been a country where moving is an attractive option.

As corporations find traffic a grueling timewaster, they move too.

We certainly don't all need or want to live in an urban area. Seattle used to be beautifully liveable. Sad to see that phase be finished.

Posted Sun, May 19, 11:31 p.m. Inappropriate

I just love a biker who proselytizes.

Posted Sat, May 18, 5:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Road wear. If every bus rider was in a car instead, they would easily out class the weight and damage a half loaded bus creates.

You're simply wrong. Pavement damage doesn't work that way. It's not a cumulative deal. It's a matter of how much weight sits on top of an axle. There's a formula. It's a science thing, and you ought to try to understand. Unless you plan to do the faith-based thing like Sarah Palin, and her like-thinking "progressive" cousins around here.

http://tinyurl.com/vehdamage

Bicycling. Ride a bike for Pete's sake.

Isn't it interesting how the local "progressive" bicyclists have so little regard for the substantial population of people who are unable to ride bicycles, or to walk for that matter? They never mention them, and treat the elderly and disabled as invisible. At times, if they should happen to object to anything, then the "progressive" claws really come out and we learn that Seattle's "progressives" regard "old people" as useless eaters who ought to just die anyway so we can make room for apodments filled with 20-something yuppies.

Any bicyclist is making room on the road for a motorist

Except when you're running that stop sign and giving every driver the finger.

We often are using roads that are under used by motor vehicles (in my case W. Marginal Way S.)

Would that be the same road where the bicyclist recently raced through a red light, hit a truck, and died? A tragic outcome for sure, but that was a bicyclist who evidently thought he was the only one on the road, or (like the one Kennedy family member on the ski hill 20 years ago) exempt from the laws of physics. I've got some news ...

There were over 13,000 bicyclists out on Friday

... getting in everyone's way

There are possibly twice that number of people biking to work on a regular bases. Talk about making Seattle livable. Less noise, no pollution unless smugness counts ;-)

Your smugness IS a form of pollution. It makes Seattle less livable. As for bike commuting, it is one-third of the level projected 10 years ago. This hasn't stopped the bicycle lobby from demanding new privileges while refusing to pay their fair share in vehicle fees. Many of us regard you as selfish parasites. And don't try the dishonest dodge about how your property taxes and car tab fees out to cover your bike. Fact is that bicycles are the only street vehicles exempt from vehicle licensing and use fees. It's selfish, obnoxious, and very divisive for one group of road users to get a special status.

buses and trains since they are in the end more energy efficient per passenger mile

I'd like to see the proof, or is that another "progressive" bit of faith? Give us the science, please.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 4:53 a.m. Inappropriate

"Your smugness IS a form of pollution. It makes Seattle less livable. As for bike commuting, it is one-third of the level projected 10 years ago."

1. oh so right (but making Seattle less livable extends beyond simple smugness)
2. maybe bike racks at Safeco and CenturyTel fields could boost that number -- look how a stadium station bumped LINK light rail ridership (it would have been even worse than it currently is.)

Posted Sun, May 19, 8:13 p.m. Inappropriate

Great comment! It gets pretty tiresome being lectured to by the "progressive" bicyclists and transit advocates who want everything but will pay nothing, eh?

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 18, 6:02 p.m. Inappropriate

Road wear is cumulative. It doesn't matter in the long run how many large and small vehicles are using it. The are numerous residential roads and arterials that never see a heavy truck or bus, but they are beat up just the same.

Sarah Palin and like minded progressives? I never thought I would see those contradictions smooshed together, but hey you tried.

I do care about elderly and disabled. That is why I support public transit, access vans etc... (in addition to social security, medicare and so on)

Not every bicyclist is a jerk and not every car driver is a saint.

Bicylists still own cars (don't know anyone that doesn't own a car), but we still are paying taxes on those cars even if we do use them less. Far from selfish, I'm leaving more room on the road for others and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As far as "many consider you as selfish parasites, not true. My ride today was exemplified by almost overly polite motorists and other cyclists. My thanks to all of them.

Posted Sat, May 18, 6:51 p.m. Inappropriate

Your response on road wear is just so typical of the fact-denying Seattle "progressives." Your group just brushes aside any science, and then asks to be taken seriously. I'm not surprised, because I've seen it time and again. But it goes a long way to illustrate why I have so little respect for your side.

As for caring about the elderly and disabled, well, sorry but I flatly do not believe you. The bicyclists, in particular, are as arrogant as it gets on that issue. I have sat in meetings where bicyclists will stand up and say that everyone can ride. It's a flat out lie.

And your dodge on the vehicle tax issue is also typical of the Seattle "progressive." You demand that everyone else pay for your hobby. If you ever wonder why you trigger so much resentment, your obtuse, evasive, and outright dishonest answers are why.

p.s.: With respect to road wear, no one claims that pavement lasts forever. The issue is what causes it to wear out. As it concerns damage done by vehicles, 99% of vehicle damage to pavement is done by buses and heavy trucks. The rest of pavement wear is caused by other factors, chiefly the weather and utility-related repairs. Not that any of this matters to you, because you've already made it clear that, just like Sarah Palin, you operate on faith rather than fact. Funny thing is that we can feel free to call Sarah Palin the idiot that she is, but we're somehow not supposed to point at Seattle's equally stupid "progressives" and call them what they are.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 11:35 p.m. Inappropriate

" do care about elderly and disabled. That is why I support public transit, access vans etc... (in addition to social security, medicare and so on)"

Just wait until you are old and feeble and someone expects you to ride the bus or get an access van.

Ye gods. When your mama needs a ride, you get a damn car and you drive her. You hear me?

Posted Sat, May 18, 6:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Road wear is cumulative. It doesn't matter in the long run how many large and small vehicles are using it. There are numerous residential roads and arterials that never see a heavy truck or bus, but they are beat up just the same.

Sarah Palin and like minded progressives? I never thought I would see those contradictions smooshed together, but hey you tried.

I do care about elderly and disabled. That is why I support public transit, access vans etc... (in addition to social security, medicare and so on)

Not every bicyclist is a jerk and not every car driver is a saint.

Bicyclists still own cars (don't know anyone that doesn't own a car), but we still are paying taxes on those cars even if we do use them less. Far from selfish, I'm leaving more room on the road for others and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As far as "many consider you as selfish parasites, not true. My ride today was exemplified by almost overly polite motorists and other cyclists. My thanks to all of them.

Posted Sat, May 18, 7:42 p.m. Inappropriate

Your response on road wear is just so typical of the fact-denying Seattle "progressives." Your group just brushes aside any science, and then asks to be taken seriously. I'm not surprised, because I've seen it time and again. But it goes a long way to illustrate why I have so little respect for your side.

As for caring about the elderly and disabled, well, sorry but I flatly do not believe you. The bicyclists, in particular, are as arrogant as it gets on that issue. I have sat in meetings where bicyclists will stand up and say that everyone can ride. It's a flat out lie.

And your dodge on the vehicle tax issue is also typical of the Seattle "progressive." You demand that everyone else pay for your hobby. If you ever wonder why you trigger so much resentment, your obtuse, evasive, and outright dishonest answers are why.

p.s.: With respect to road wear, no one claims that pavement lasts forever. The issue is what causes it to wear out. As it concerns damage done by vehicles, 99% of vehicle damage to pavement is done by buses and heavy trucks. The rest of pavement wear is caused by other factors, chiefly the weather and utility-related repairs. Not that any of this matters to you, because you've already made it clear that, just like Sarah Palin, you operate on faith rather than fact. Funny thing is that we can feel free to call Sarah Palin the idiot that she is, but we're somehow not supposed to point at Seattle's equally stupid "progressives" and call them what they are.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 11:36 p.m. Inappropriate

"Bicyclists still own cars (don't know anyone that doesn't own a car), but we still are paying taxes on those cars even if we do use them less. "

Honey boy, if I own 12 cars, I pay license fees on all 12. If you own 1 car and 11 bikes, you need to pay license fees on all 12 too.

Posted Sat, May 18, 11:09 p.m. Inappropriate

Lights -

Oh no. Not the monorail again. Yes, I opposed the monorail because it's not transit. And yes, they were lying. Either that or the SMP was delusional.

Like the Las Vegas monorail, Joel Horn proudly and continually touted that the Seattle Monorail would be profitable and no subsidy would be required. I am proud to say I was the first person in the city of Seattle to call BULLSHIT on the SMP. Pretty much all of the Progressives that NotFan likes to make fun of, including nearly all of our membership, didn't like me speaking ill of the monorail. But I went through the numbers and I knew it was headed toward disaster.

Here's what I said in 2005:
"I don't believe you can build a project that's 20 percent over budget with 30 percent less money," he said, adding that SMP is on "a glide path toward bankruptcy."

Had it been built, it would have been. The Las Vegas monorail filed bankruptcy in 2010:

Las Vegas Monorail files for bankruptcy protection
Jan. 13, 2010

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/jan/13/las-vegas-monorail-files-bankruptcy-protection/#axzz2TiPsiy5R

So go ahead and call me Sound Transit's bitch. As I see it, I saved the city of Seattle from becoming the SMP's sugar daddy to save it from what would have been certain bankruptcy.

Posted Sat, May 18, 11:45 p.m. Inappropriate

You could have saved the money on the monorail (but where's my vehicle tax refund?) AND have been Sound Transit's bitch. A train is a train is a train, one rail or two. Waste of money in Seattle.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 4:43 a.m. Inappropriate

"Here's what I said in 2005 "I don't believe you can build a project that's 20 percent over budget with 30 percent less money,"

Wow! How prescient! Check the calendar, I believe that was the year the SMP's house-of-cards $11 billion financial plan was finally revealed.

Man, you had a firm grasp of the obvious back then, didn't you?

Despite your 20:20 near hindsight, I was referring to your wailing about SMP's adding on sports event ridership. My memory about your activity is clear as day. Yet it's both ironic and revealing that you won't even acknowledge that Sound Transit LINK's poor daily ridership has been 'bailed out' by exactly the same sports event ridership. It'd have been much worse without the Mariners and Seahawks. (The peaks showing behind the rolling average here http://bit.ly/111p2kV correspond with baseball and football events.)

Posted Sun, May 19, 11:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Definitely an asset to have even more sports stadiums so we can build more light rail to move the spectators to all those various games. Perhaps sports should be taxed at a higher rate since obviously they are the only hope of being able to actually pay for light rail.

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:18 a.m. Inappropriate

Turned out -

That quote was from 2005 and that was when it got published in the newspaper. I had been saying it for YEARS before that.

As far as adding sporting event ridership, the SMP added alot to their ridership. That was my problem with their ridership numbers. They started at about 44,000 per day. Over the years, that eventually got inflated to about 69,000 per day. But they didn't redo their ridership analysis. They simply made up a number and added that on.

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:29 a.m. Inappropriate

Here's another quote I had been saying for years Turned out:

February 18, 2005
Monorail banks on tourist trains
http://seattletimes.com/html/monorail/2002183600_monorail18m.html

And opponent Richard Borkowski blistered Horn for not providing hard numbers yet on tourist train revenues — or how the agency will break even because virtually all U.S. transit requires operating subsidies.

I had been saying that for about 5 years too. No transit agency in the country runs at a profit. Just like no highway agency runs at a profit.

Another quote:
"But the SMP is eyeing tourist dollars to help it break even on operating costs by 2020, without a tax subsidy. Not only is that deadline a legal mandate of the voter-approved monorail plan, the agency intends to make it a contractual pledge to the future buyers of $1.5 billion in bonds."

It was the SMP and the ETC before it that made the stupid pledge to have the monorail be profitable. THEY were responsible for killing the concept of the monorail in Seattle. THEY promised profitability not me. It sounds like you guys (turned and notfan) would have been happy with a huge boondoggle running above the city like Las Vegas has. Is that what you're seriously saying? You WANT a bankrupt monorail?

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:35 a.m. Inappropriate

God bless the Seattle Times paywall.

JimCusick

Posted Sun, May 19, 3:22 p.m. Inappropriate

Maybe if we borrow and post Barry Ritholtz's droll presage we could dispense with at least some of the superfluous back and forth? Not likely, you say? Alas, you are probably right.

"Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous."

afreeman

Posted Sun, May 19, 11:41 p.m. Inappropriate

What paywall? I comment there all the time.

Posted Thu, May 23, 8:30 p.m. Inappropriate

Now that the I-5 bridge over the Skagit has collapsed, a bridge which wasn't even on the 2011 WSDOT list of deficient bridges, maybe there can be a serious call to action that our leaders will pay attention to.

Unless it was due to an earthquake, which as of this writing hasn't been reported, WSDOT has serious egg on its face with this collapse, as does the legislature which has been starving transportation while sitting on its hands. Time for leadership - that's why you're sent to Olympia, to take care of the public business. Get after it.

Posted Fri, May 24, 12:34 a.m. Inappropriate

Just wait. The "progressives" will find a way to hold the repair hostage to more funding for bike lanes and light rail.

NotFan

Posted Thu, May 23, 9:38 p.m. Inappropriate

Well, an update on the Skagit bridge: looks like it was caused by an oversized truck striking the bridge. But that calls into question the structural standards for bridges. (Granted, this bridge was constructed in the '50's.) Just shows this stuff is serious, and seriously expensive to construct and maintain. We can't go cheap, which seems to be the aim of many reckless and irresponsible elected officials.

Posted Thu, May 23, 9:46 p.m. Inappropriate

An oversized truck strikes the bridge and brings it down? Just like that?

How many hundreds of bridges do we have in our state that are this age or older?

Every bridge needs to be built to withstand accidents and trucks. Not to mention earthquakes, fires and of course politicians.

I wouldn't call not maintaining our infrastructure as 'going cheap'. I'd call it seriously ill-conceived, and irresponsible.

DOT, who should be fired? This seems to fall on you.

Posted Fri, May 24, 12:36 a.m. Inappropriate

Hey, there's no transportation issue that can't be solved with a road diet.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 24, 2:12 a.m. Inappropriate


NotFan,

You've made it abundantly clear you hate trains. My question for you is "where are you going to park all the cars in downtown Seattle and the U-District in ten years if you don't build something like Link?" It's clear that buses alone can't serve either downtown or the U-District adequately. Before Link opened they were struggling with the loads in downtown, and they're slowly consuming all the street capacity in the U-District.

Putting Link in the DBT with the buses has made the problem worse because of the different acceleration and braking profiles. But even if that weren't happening the buses would be squeezed to the breaking point. U-Link needs to open pronto to get a bunch of buses off Third Avenue.

You say that Western cities are not nearly as "downtown-centric" as the older eastern ones, and that's true. Except for Seattle which is not that different in layout from Boston, a city also circumscribed and sliced through by waterways.

The topography here is both a blessing and a curse: a curse because it so restricts the available "ways" for at-surface facilities and a blessing because it makes Elliott Bay the obvious center of a world city. It's at the "waistline" of the area between Lake Washington and Puget Sound. The views are fantastic and people want to be there. So it supports a much denser downtown than is normal for a US city of its size.

I'm sorry you have chosen to live in a place which so disgusts you. Perhaps a re-evaluation of whatever decision brought you here would be in order. You might be much happier in a more auto-centric culture, like Texas, Arizona or a midwestern state.

Anandakos

Posted Fri, May 24, 11:40 a.m. Inappropriate

I doubt NotFan hates trains.

I think there are many of us who love trains, but do not love the fact that they are far too expensive for taxpayers to bear the financial cost of building and running them.

When roads, ferries and bridges are not being taken care of in an appropriate fashion to keep the public safe and to keep mobility running -- why are we spending vast amounts of money for commuter trains that run empty day after day? We cannot spend our money on champagne when the beer is flat.

Buses certainly can serve anywhere adequately - they just need adequate FUNDING.

It's all about the money - we cannot afford luxury things. Perhaps you need to re-evaluate why the most money is going to a transportation system that is 1) the most costly and 2) moves the fewest number of people.

You might also be much happier in a mecca where citizens don't pay as much attention to how our governmental bodies spend our public dollars.

Why don't more of us value frugality and smart decision making?? Instead, we are drowning in pat phrases such as smart planning, re-purposing, and empowerment.

Let's get back to basics and sensibility.

Posted Fri, May 24, 3:09 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm sorry you have chosen to live in a place which so disgusts you. Perhaps a re-evaluation of whatever decision brought you here would be in order. You might be much happier in a more auto-centric culture, like Texas, Arizona or a midwestern state.

What a self-righteous, nasty, ugly, obnoxious, and oh-so-typical passive-aggressive Seattle "progressive" comment, not to put too fine a point on it! Nice and polite, until you reach the bottom line, which is: "If you don't buy into my 'progressive' fantasies, then you are inferior, stupid, and unqualified to live here, and should leave."

And then you wonder why your favorite mayor has a 22% re-election support level, and why an increasing number of people in Seattle despise your "progressive" arrogance and hypocrisy. If you think you've done any persuading, you're right: You've persuaded me to dig my heels in ever farther against you and your kind who absolutely hate everything that has, until now, made Seattle a good place to live.

I ask you: What makes you hate this city so much that you want to destroy it? By the way, I do realize that every pretentious Seattle "progressive" simultaneously thinks he's at the top of the I.Q. heap and hates facts, but what the hell: Seattle has the same population as Boston but has 60% more land. You're wrong about the two cities being somehow identical. You wouldn't know a fact if it slapped you in the face.

Metropolitan Boston has twice the population density as Seattle, and has been settled for about 400 years, as opposed to Seattle, which has been settled for barely 125 years. And Boston has one city center -- Boston -- while the Seattle MSA has three city centers, Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue.

These differences make Boston much more appropriate for mass transit and fixed rail than Seattle. Yet, even there, the MBTA carries only 8% of the trips. You protray yourself as "progressive" and intelligent, but your comment is aggressively stupid in the Sarah Palin mode. You know nothing, yet dare to think you can kindly instruct your betters to leave. The tragedy is that "progressives" have influence in Seattle. People should be laughing at your idiocy.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 24, 4:42 p.m. Inappropriate

"Let's get back to basics and sensibility"

Until those terms get corrupted, that is.

(That's something the new Gov likely will resort to....)

Posted Fri, May 24, 8:03 p.m. Inappropriate

As in: "Let's get back to world class, sustainable, walkable, vibrant, smart basics and sensibility, to be financed by a 1.5% MVT and tolls on every arterial, the speed limits of which will be reduced to 15 mph to protect whales, bicycles, and whales on bicycles."

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 24, 4:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Anandakos writes "The topography here is both a blessing and a curse: a curse because it (...) makes Elliott Bay the obvious center of a world city."

I consider that a faulty conclusion. The practical and unavoidable consequence of Seattle's narrow waistline of downtown Seattle is a shortage of land for the city to expand organically and incrementally. Downtown Seattle is only one square mile.

That said, what you consider a curse ("it so restricts the available "ways" for at-surface facilities") also applies equally -if not more so- for non-surface facilities. I mean, how many tunnels are you planning to build to supplement downtown's limited surface "pathways"?

I consider Sound Transit's LINK light rail to be an attempt to keep downtown a viable place for continued economic activity and growth, but it comes at an extraordinary cost -- a cost I believe is just too steep both for taxpayers and for commercial and residential tenants. There are many other parts of the city and region that can support growth -- at less cost. Indeed, they've been doing so for decades now. Feeding ever more people to downtown is a rather inefficient solution.

Under the now 20-year old growth management act (GMA), impact fees were authorized on new development. But none are charged in relation to the massive capital costs of the Sound Transit project. My question is why not?

Posted Fri, May 24, 3:43 p.m. Inappropriate

The crowning irony is going to be that Bellevue (and the East side in general) will be a much bigger beneficiary than Seattle, which because of its long-term, aggressive mismanagement will become Bellevue's Oakland. Just wait.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Jun 6, 10:05 p.m. Inappropriate

Seattle is dead to me.

Posted Fri, May 24, 9:07 a.m. Inappropriate

Somehow the argument that "a semi did" it doesn't reassure me, and more than blaming the wind for Galloping Gertie.

Posted Thu, Jun 6, 9:58 p.m. Inappropriate

Leaving preservation and maintenance to political votes results in the "habit of piecemeal solutions, a stab here and a stab there," which "won't get the job done."

A majority of legislators need to have the courage and wisdom to recognize this and take preservation and maintenance off of the table of political gamesmanship. Does anybody believe that the existing way of funding, a.k.a. waiting for a crisis to generate the votes, works? According to a Voice of Washington survey from several months ago, it would take a 33¢ increase in the gas tax just to be keeping up with P&M.; Yet, here we are with a 10¢ proposal, most of which is on new, visible spending, not on P&M;!

The solution is "tough love." Voters need to know what roads cost, not have solutions put off until enough incidents of the nature of the Skagit River bridge happen. You see, many bridges across the country were built similarly, i.e. "on the cheap," rather than reinforcement. As our infrastructure continues to be ignored by legislators afraid of telling the voters the truth, fearing they'll lose re-election, these incidents will increase...and so will bridges and roads closing, the latter starting to happen in King County. (1) Come up with funding for P&M.; (2) Legislate the automatic increase in funding as costs increase (or decrease). (3) Legislative oversight of cost drivers. (4) Complete transparency for voters. (5) Leave new projects plus alternate forms of transportation to legislators.

We were lucky with the Skagit River bridge in that there were no fatalities. However, there is a hidden (to most of us) cost that's being paid by travelers, residents, and businesses of the Skagit Valley, who are paying the price for building "on the cheap." Let's pay the lower price now - of P&M; - and not the higher price later - of more incidents, closures, etc. I agree with Doug - let's have a transportation package that confronts what should be the highest priority for state legislators: preservation & maintenance of what we've got.

bricsa

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