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    The road ahead on federal transportation funding

    How is the U.S. going to fund surface transportation improvements in the future? Congress created the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission in 2005 to look at just that question and their report to Congress is due out Tuesday, Jan. 15. But Ken Orski, a Washington, D.C.-based transportation consultant, has a sneak preview. He reports that it includes some fairly controversial recommendations regarding tolling, congestion pricing, public private partnerships, and the future of the gas tax, all front-burner issues here in the Great Nearby. Are you bus and rail commuters ready for a "federal ticket tax?" Or how about a tax on every mile you drive?


    Next time, be prepared, Snowhawks!

    It was obvious for all to see yesterday, Jan. 12, that the Seahawks weren't prepared for the Packers and their snowstorm. But coming from the rainy, temperate Northwest, how could they have been? Easy. Here's what they should do next year if they find themselves headed for Green Bay or any other upper-Midwest or northeastern outdoor stadium in January:


    Fare coverage

    Let's say you run a business and your front door opens 310,000 times a day to let customers inside. Many are regulars, going in and out a few times daily. They are mostly strangers to each other, and once inside they spend a lot of time crowded together in small spaces. At any given time, some are running late and very cranky; others are lonely or wasted; buried in a tattered copy of The Da Vinci Code; and/or just plain nuts. If you had just three reports of people being hurt or harassed each day, people would think you were doing a decent job on the safety front, right? Yes, unless you're a public-transit agency.


    Ed Hansen's other UW involvement

    University of Washington athletic boosters and regular fans have inundated President Mark Emmert, Athletic Director Todd Turner, and football Coach Ty Willingham with hate e-mail over the Huskies' abysmal performance. So found the Seattle Times from a public records request. Of the 1,000 or so e-mail messages was Ed Hansen's pledge of $100,000 to fund a law school scholarship if Willingham was terminated and another $100,000 to also fund a law school scholarship if Turner was terminated. Time to take note of Ed Hansen's other tie to UW.


    Getting rolling on road tolling

    It was Edgar Allan Poe who wrote "tolling, tolling, tolling,/In that muffled monotone. ..." This year, talk of road tolling and congestion pricing will increase above a whisper. With the defeat of Prop. 1 and big transportation infrastructure decisions to be made on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the 520 floating bridge, and with federal grant money a carrot for regions that embark on road pricing plans, the tolling of Puget Sound's roads will begin to move from theory to active discussion and implementation.


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