Natural gas explosion
Five people were injured in an explosion Monday morning at a natural gas facility near Plymouth, Wash., along the Columbia River. According to the Tri-City Herald, the explosion sent shrapnel flying into a nearby gas tank, which caused a leak and the potential for explosion in a 2-mile radius around the building. Nearly 1,000 residents and farm workers were evacuated across the river to Hermiston, Ore., and Highway 14 was closed between Interstate 82 and Paterson. — B.A.
Did a clear cut contribute to the Oso slide?
The August 2005 clearcut, of land owned by Grandy Lake Forest, covered much of the area that would have been protected had DNR followed the prescription of the Miller map. The Seattle Times also notes that clearcutting appears to have extended beyond its permit onto restricted land. Less than six months later, in January, 2006, a landslide hit Oso, a landslide that looked eerily similar to this year's fatal hillside collapse — only smaller. — C.H.
Bus cuts, visualized
Those who haven't yet made up their minds about whether to vote yes on King County's Proposition 1, which would raise vehicle fees to avoid King County bus service cuts and fix local roads, have a new resource to consider. Seattle Transit Blog's Oran Viriyincy has created a visualization of how "frequent transit service" in neighborhoods (defined as routes that run every 15 minutes or less on weekdays before 6 pm) will be affected if the measure doesn't pass. Keep in mind, these routes will not be cut entirely, just run less frequently. Still, it gives a pretty bleak picture of easy busriding in Seattle neighborhoods. —B.A.
Each time Seattle elects a new mayor, he or she (oh, wait, there hasn't been a she in, well, never mind) dutifully takes up the city's better, faster broadband drum and begins a slow, measured beat toward 'progress'. Though he brought fast Internet to Pioneer Square, former Mayor Mike McGinn's elaborate Gigabit Seattle ploy turned out not to have any financing.
Now, according to the Seattle Times' Brier Dudley, Mayor Ed Murray is planning to give phone companies free rein when it comes to placing utility cabinets — those big metal boxes so loved by street marketers and guerilla artists — on parking strips. Previously, the installation of new cabinets required written permission from nearby homeowners — a practice Crosscut writer Bill Schrier criticized as a roadblock to competing services like Google Fiber just last month. Now, Murray says he'll throw the rule out by the end of June, making way for 349 new cabinets in the first year. Progress, of a sort.
The big question, which Dudley raises, is about strategy. If Murray really, as he claims, wants a city-owned broadband network, why is he giving away one of his best bargaining chips to a corporate broadband provider (CenturyLink stands to gain the most) without any guarantee of a return? As Dudley reports, "The company and its lobbyist gave his mayoral campaign the maximum possible donations. He also received a $5,000 donation from the state broadband-providers association." — B.A.
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