Thursday, October 27, 2005

That Pesky Alaskan Way Viaduct

Good morning! Long time no see. I've been out and about for the last week, but we'll be getting back to regular posting again.

Yesterday morning, I joined with other bloggers from Evergreen Politics and the Northwest Progressive Institute (among others) to point out to drivers on the Viaduct that their time may be short. You can see pictures of some of us standing at the 1st Ave S entrance to the Viaduct at the NPI link.

Before starting, we walked a bit underneath the structure - cracks are visible everywhere. There's really no way to know what kind of damage there is to the steel underneath the cracked concrete, but some of the cracks were visibly wet, so I wouldn't be surprised if there's a fair amount of internal damage. KOMO had an interesting article about this recently, in fact.

I-912 would take away $2 billion in funding for the Viaduct. There are a few competing options for replacing it - from a tunnel, which would allow for needed waterfront park space, to an in-kind replacement of a very similar structure. The tunnel is the most expensive, but the park would create demand for more downtown residential - something I think we need both to reduce commuter traffic and to rebalance age and income groups living downtown.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Seattle's Monorail Project: Planning the Route

Initiative 41 in 1997 created the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) to build a privately funded monorail system of 40 miles. After two years and no progress in identifying alignments or technologies, the City Council dissolved the ETC and developed plans for studying the alignments identified in the Intermediate Capacity Transit (ICT) study released in 2000. Initiative 53, to fund this extension of the ICT study, passed the same year.

Initiative 53:
Initiative 53 funded the Elevated Transportation Company to create the Seattle Popular Transit Plan over the next 12 to 24 months, and provided for the creation of a ballot measure for Seattle voters to enact that plan once completed. It also reinstated Initiative 41 and the original rights and responsibilities of the ETC.

Throughout 2001 and early 2002, everyone weighed in on the monorail. Largely because contractor estimates for Sound Transit's Portage Bay tunnel came in over projections, public support for the monorail was high, and Sound Transit saw significant public backlash. Most published opinions assumed that monorail was cheaper than light rail, faster, quieter, more energy-efficient, and many other qualities. These issues were not publicly discussed at the time, which I believe may have led to unreasonable expectations.

Plans take shape:
In January of 2002, the ETC released preliminary route plans, and allowed public comment. The anti-monorail Seattle Weekly was the first to point out the big difference between original estimates (at most $50 million a mile) and this plan ($69 to $124 million a mile). Because light rail was projected to cost significantly more than this - near $150 million per mile, it had little impact on support for the monorail.

In March, the state legislature approved the monorail board to secure funding using the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET), rental car sales tax, a vehicle licensing fee, and property taxes. This set the stage for the ETC to announce their proposition of a 1.4% MVET in May. The ETC then released their proposed route. Supporters were ecstatic, and Paul Allen shortly proposed a streetcar to link the monorail line with south Lake Union. Critics pointed out that the new line would not go through the Experience Music Project as the current monorail does, and that the new monorail would not serve Westlake Mall businesses.

Around this time, comments began filtering into news agencies regarding whether the monorail board should be elected. Many of the original high profile supporters, including Cleve Stockmeyer, argued that it should - that accountability in a public agency was key to its success. The monorail board disagreed. Also in mid 2002, King County Metro started working with the ETC on farebox recovery, and disagreed that it could produce as much revenue as the ETC projected. The ETC countered by saying that its ridership numbers were probably too low, anyway. A judge also had to order the ETC to provide documents to their opposition after they were ruled to have attempted to withhold public information.

Citizen Petition No. 1
The ETC put the Seattle Monorail Authority on the ballot in November 2002, with Seattle Citizen Petition No. 1. It passed, with 189,000 ballots cast and a margin of just under 900 votes. After a long certification, the Elevated Transportation Company was dissolved and the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority was created and funded to build the 14 mile Green Line. Interestingly, section 6 also defined use of a motor vehicle in Seattle as a privilege, not a right.

This is where things got complicated. The monorail, at this point, was expected to cost about $1.75 billion - but their debt cap was at $1.5 billion. This isn't as bad as it sounds, because the Authority calculated the $1.5 billion in 2002 dollars and allowed it to increase for inflation, and calculated the $1.75 billion in year-of-expenditure dollars, making it less money in 2002 terms. But this did put the monorail very close to the line in terms of cost overruns - they would already have to spread out their bond issues over a few years in order to keep their maximum debt level below that spelled out in the law. As closely as Petition No. 1 passed, the Authority was not in a good position to ask for more money.

Over the next several months, the EMP was returned to the line and it was better aligned to serve several major destinations. Questions arose about noise levels - the public had seen no studies regarding the purportedly quiet system, and the existing monorail is very loud. The public also wanted to see a real design - at this point, conceptual drawings were available, but nothing vetted by an engineering group. Media coverage of the monorail subsided, up until the project financing estimate was completed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A quick note about monorail:

I'm working on my next installment of the history of the Seattle Monorail Project, but I just wanted to point out a particularly egregious comment in a recent Seattle Times article on the part of Cindi Laws, boardmember:
"It's now or never," warned SMP board member Cindi Laws. "Vote yes, or don't have transit at all in your lifetime."
The fear tactics really get to me. From articles as early as mid-2002, I've seen comments from boardmembers and supporters simply pretending that monorail was the only transit system in existence. My problems with the system have less to do with the technology or the application and more to do simply with the dogmatic adherence to a number of talking points (many of them demonstrably incorrect) by boardmembers and supporters.

We need real bicycle lanes.

Gail Alef, a cyclist hit by the driver of a Nissan 300ZX on Willows Road (my old commute), has died at Harborview today. Willows has a narrow bicycle lane that isn't often kept clear of pebbles and dirt (making it hazardous for riding), and can't accommodate a group.

This is a fairly serious problem. Bicycles, even lit, flashing, whatever, aren't very visible. I was hit last year because a driver turning left across traffic simply didn't see me coming. I've had a few close calls where drivers stuck the nose of their car out into the street when waiting to turn, right across a bike lane.

Is bicycle safety not taught when drivers get their license? Is there a problem with enforcement? This driver faces at least a vehicular assault charge, but the driver who hit me did not (although he was ticketed). Is this just cultural? We're very worried about paving I-5 at the moment, but there are roots up through the Burke-Gilman trail in many places. The windshear across I-90 makes the bike path there incredibly dangerous, but it gets no attention - nor does anyone seem to keep track of the users of these systems.

As oil becomes more expensive, perhaps we'll see a paradigm shift. We're already seeing people have real trouble paying for $3/gallon gas, and we're not even up to what Europeans pay. What happens when it's $6?

Airlines at Boeing Field, part deux:

Today Ron Sims rejected plans to move passenger air travel to Boeing Field. This means that Airport Link light rail plans have no significant remaining obstacles - assuming that the Port of Seattle continues work as planned on the return-to-terminal loop and the North Airport Expressway, Link Light Rail will run from Downtown to the Airport by the end of 2009.

I find one bit of this article most curious. It says: "Even with the expansion, the airport expects to reach its capacity in 2021." So, right now, it's 2005 - and airlines are cutting service left and right because of rising fuel prices. Many airlines continue to benefit from fuel agreements signed many months ago, but those agreements will not protect them for much longer from current fuel prices.

Why do we believe that the people who currently fly will be able to afford to with fares increasing so drastically in price? There's no indication that fuel prices will ever fall much below their current levels again, and a strong indication that prices will continue to rise. At what point do the Port and the airlines start taking this into account?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Amtrak Cascades to Portland

My friend Andy and I had to get up very early on Saturday to make the 7:30 train. We arrived at King Street Station around 6:45 and wandered around gawking at the newly rebuilt doors and retouched plaster moulding - the restoration project is well under way, with some of the columns already marble clad once again, and harsh temporary lights where chandeliers will soon be replaced. I peeked around the edge of the false ceiling in the main lobby - the second story will probably be uncovered soon.

We avoided the ticketing line and picked up our tickets from the QuikTrak machines - $45 round trip for each of us (paid earlier), even booked only a couple of weeks in advance. $90 for two is a bit more than fuel for the truck, but certainly worth it when considering maintenance. We were first in line for seat assignments, and ended up in car 8 - nearly at the head of the train.

From the look of the crowd lined up to board, the train was fairly full. We overheard a conductor discussing this - every seat was sold. This is normal for a Saturday morning, people headed down for the weekend take this train to get the maximum amount of time in Portland. Unlike a trip to Vancouver, this run sells the dining car seats as well - and still fills up.

The train left exactly on time, and we sat back. Short stops in Tukwila and Tacoma, and no slowdowns until a couple of holds for freight traffic close to Kelso/Longview, and one more near Vancouver, WA. This happens less every year - and work is planned to eliminate both of these bottlenecks. We pulled into Portland about twenty minutes late.

We hopped on a bus for the few short blocks on the transit mall to downtown, and got on a Red Line MAX light rail train to go see the airport extension. It's pretty nice to go at highway speed along I-205 - apparently the light rail originally went faster, but there were complaints because people were speeding to keep up with it. Whatever. It was a nice ride, overall - I had never been past Gateway Station east of town, and the tight loop to get on the freeway alignment was probably the tightest rail turn I've ever been on.

Back in town, we hopped off in the Rose Quarter and walked down the floating pedestrian path along the Willamette. It's amazing to me how well Portland has connected their path network - we even saw an intersection where a bike path has its own lights, based on a special bicycle sensor in the trail. I need to take my bike on the train next time and ride around town.

We walked back across the Steel Bridge and were heading toward the pedestrian crossing at Union Station when we saw a train that looked like it was heading for the bridge - so we hurried back toward the bridge to see if it was. I'm glad we did, too! The Coast Starlight crossed the bridge from the other direction while we watched.

The rest of the afternoon was spent getting food and going to Powell's over in the Pearl District. The redevelopment of that area is beautiful - condos over shops make for an extremely pedestrian-friendly area. Powell's and Whole Foods are only a block apart, and the streetcar takes people right downtown.

We took the 6:15 Cascades train back to Seattle and got in a bit before 10. The entire trip from the U-district to Portland was done with public transportation. Assuming we didn't have bus passes for King County Metro (which we did), the trip would have cost $45 for Amtrak tickets , $2.50 for the two Metro runs, and $3.75 for a TriMet all day pass - a total of $51.25. The Amtrak tickets at the time we purchased them were normally $60, but we used the Portland Big Deal 25% discount. My employer-provided FlexPass and Andy's UPass both provide a 15% discount, but the Portland Big Deal was better.

Comparing $51.25*2 people to the standard 40.5c/mile IRS vehicle reimbursement rate - we saved about $40 (not counting travel in Portland), while retaining over 7 hours of nap/reading time.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Seattle's Monorail Project: The Beginning

The Original Monorail:
Starting in April of 1961, the Alweg Seattle Center Monorail was built in only ten months. The Monorail opened in March of 1962, and with a system cost of $3.5 million, paid for itself with the fares of eight million passengers during the Seattle World's Fair. To this day, because it connects two major pedestrian centers in Seattle's urban core, it is the only transit system in the country to fund its own operation from fare recovery. It operates at a maximum of 50 miles per hour, and carries 2.5 million passengers per year - filling up during Seattle Center events like Bumbershoot, Folklife, and the Bite of Seattle, as well as sporting events and concerts at Key Arena.

Initiative 41:
As a result of the original monorail, Seattle has had a love affair with the technology for decades. Several proposals have been made since the World's Fair to expand the existing monorail, but none made it to the ballot until Dick Falkenbury, a taxi driver with a dream of better public transit, brought us Initiative 41 in 1997. The initiative incorporated a public agency called the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) and called for the construction of a 40 mile system, referred to often as a "Big X." The system was to connect West Seattle to Lake City with one 20 mile line, and the Rainier valley to Broadview with the other. This plan was brought forward with the assurance of the grassroots campaign behind it that it would pay for itself - in fact, that private developers would build the line without taxpayer dollars because, like the Seattle Center Monorail, it would pay for its own construction costs within only a few years.

The plans in Initiative 41 were specific: The system would run on rubber tires and electricity, would have set station locations (including one at the Kingdome), and would not be publicly funded - although the twist of phrase that may have later saved the ETC allowed them, nonetheless, to appropriate public funds from the City Council. The proposed 12 ETC Councilmembers were to be appointed by an even split of the Mayor, the Governor, and the President of the City Council. The City Council was also given the authority to approve or deny expenses and salaries to be drawn by the ETC Council.

Funding dries up:
In 1998 following the passage of I-41, the City Council created the ETC and gave it $200,000 to explore the idea of the monorail system. While that money was only intended for the first year of operation, it lasted until 2000, when the ETC went to Sound Transit to ask for $50,000 (to be matched by the City Council) to study ridership of a 7 mile system to connect the new stadia and the Seattle Center. Sound Transit's three member finance committee, including Greg Nickels, approved the plan. The Sound Transit executive committee denied the grant by a vote of 6 to 3, despite a 1999 resolution by the ETC that they would not attempt to compete with Sound Transit along their planned light rail alignment.

Mayor Paul Schell and City Councilmember Richard McIver were part of that 6, and backed up their position (and the City Council's) with two major arguments: First, the ETC had raised only $5500 in private funds since their incorporation. It was not clear that private funding for the project would occur, and that was part of the company's charter. Second, the study was for ridership along the route only, not an evaluation of technology, and the City of Seattle Intermediate Capacity Transit Project (ICT) was already to complete the same goals by that fall. The ETC responded to this setback with a request to the Mayor and City Council for $2 million, $1.7 million of which was earmarked to fund the study. Because of the elimination of the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) due to Initiative 695, Metro Transit already needed a $120 million sales tax increase to continue operations, and the Mayor's office declined the request.

The City Council gets involved:
In May, while ETC had less than $20,000 left, City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Judy Nicastro proposed a $4 million study along the lines of ETC's resolution - to explore service on alignments Sound Transit did not plan to serve with intermediate or high capacity transit. Citing an estimated cost of the monorail line at up to $50 million a mile, McIver and three other councilmembers argued successfully in a 4-4 vote that with a $200 million parks levy and Metro funding already on the ballot, it was unreasonable to ask for more money from voters. A superior court ruling, however, woke up the City Council to the reality of that twist of phrase in Article IV of Initiative 41. The ruling gave the Council two options: Move forward with the monorail using public funds, or repeal the initiative.

In July, the Seattle City Council amended the initiative to effectively repeal it, creating an advisory committee named the Elevated Transportation Committee to enhance the ICT study to see how monorail would fit into overall transportation plans. The Council discussed putting a vote on the primary ballot for that year to let voters choose to pay for the line with a property tax increase of $570 to $1141 a year, but eventually chose not to in another 4-4 vote.

Initiative 53:
While the City Council remained indecisive, Peter Sherwin was at work gathering signatures and public support for an initiative. It would fund a $6 million feasibility study to determine the effectiveness of monorail for the five ICT corridors, and guarantee $200 million in debt for the Committee to use to construct the system. I-53 qualified for the November ballot and passed, and the ETC met again at the end of 2000.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

It's a two bridge day.

I-90 isn't the only bridge looking at having work done, as I'm sure you have heard. SR-520, the other bridge over Lake Washington, is close to the end of its operating life, and desperately needs to be replaced. There are two options: one to replace the structure as it stands, a four lane bridge, and one to replace it with a six lane bridge, "lidding" the Montlake and Capitol Hill communities it splits up with concrete tops to allow for park or road space overhead. An eight lane alternative was considered, but it would seriously overload I-5's ability to handle more traffic.

The outer lanes of the six lane alternative would be HOV only - making existing bus service across the bridge much more reliable, and eliminating dangerous merge situations that currently occur at the ends of the bridge. This would also reduce congestion by reducing not only the number of passenger vehicles in the regular lanes, but many of the slowdowns caused by vehicle merges as well. Sound Transit has made it clear that they want better bus access for the high ridership 545 route from downtown to Redmond (read: Microsoft), and have that service listed as "Bus Rapid Transit" in their long-range plans. It's also going to be possible to put light rail or monorail on the new bridge - the pontoons floating the roadway will be designed to accomodate rail service in the future.

There have already been a few open houses on the project, and more are expected next year. The Montlake Community Club has taken an active role in demanding strong environmental mitigation, good HOV service and effective use of lid space for commuter services. A bicycle path attached to the alignment is assured - the number of bicycle commuters is very high from Seattle to Bellevue, and racks on buses are often full already - this has even led to Sound Transit installing three-bicycle racks on their coaches.

Funding for this project will likely come from three sources: The Washington State Legislature, King County voters, and tolls collected after the new bridge is constructed. For regular users, an electronic system of tags and overhead readers will be used to keep drivers from having to slow down at all - eliminating tollbooth stops for commuter travel.
Currently, $700 million is expected to come from tolls, and $500 million is set aside from the 2005 Transportation Package. Guess what little initiative will derail the replacement for at least another year? You guessed it - I-912.

What I-912 will do to Seattle-Bellevue travel

Interstate 90 from Seattle to Bellevue was built with high capacity transit in mind. The express lanes through the center are reversible, efficiently serving the direction they are pointing, but worsening traffic in the direction they are not. As population grows (and SR-520 doesn't), traffic density is increasing on I-90, and WSDOT and Sound Transit are working together on a solution.

Sound Transit's High Capacity Transit Analysis Summary (PDF) shows that the best cost per rider solution for I-90 is HOV bus rapid transit, followed by light rail integrated with the Central Link system as rider demand increases. Do note that Sound Transit's <$10m cost estimate for HOV bus transit is misleading, because WSDOT is paying for the HOV lanes. In order to run light rail on the central express lanes, however, dedicated HOV lanes will have to be built for the existing traffic.

In four phases, WSDOT will widen the roadway and add outer HOV lanes with dedicated entrances and exits to both travel directions. This will remove bus transit from regular travel lanes and create more highway capacity, as well as make bus service more reliable over the bridge - increasing ridership, and lowering the number of cars in the regular travel lanes. The first phase, including direct HOV access ramps from I-405 South to I-90 West, is funded by - you guessed it - the 2005 Transportation Tax Package.

Initiative 912 will eliminate funding for better bus service and reduced traffic in the non-express direction, and it will delay or cancel plans for high capacity transit to Bellevue. This is bad not just for the tens of thousands who commute on I-90, but for everyone who depends on goods delivered via I-90. Local food and raw materials as well as many of the goods we ship overseas depend on truck transport through this corridor. Adding thousands of unnecessary cars per day will cost shippers more and waste billions of dollars worth of work time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Will Sound Transit's Link system be safe?

With the ongoing debate of monorail versus light rail in Seattle, I think it's a good idea to discuss the safety of the Link Light Rail system Sound Transit is building. Monorail advocates often point out that monorail is by nature separated from pedestrian and street crossings (also called grade-separated), but I have also heard incorrect assertions that light rail is by nature at street level (or at-grade).

Light rail can be elevated, at-grade or underground - and Link uses all three. Downtown, it will use the existing transit tunnel - currently closed to have work done on the rails and overhead lines to support Link. On the way south to Beacon Hill, it crosses a few streets in south downtown Seattle and rises to elevated track. Beacon Hill is tunneled, after which Link is elevated for a station stop. Link then drops to street level through the Rainier Valley, before rising to elevated track again all the way to the airport.

In south downtown, the streets the light rail crosses already have other rail tracks crossing them. There has been track along the alignment the light rail is using since the 1880s - in fact, the rail is being laid in the same place that the first tracks into Seattle were! Drivers in the area are already used to train crossings, and there are few accidents. The crossings will also be signaled and gated to prevent drivers and pedestrians from crossing the tracks when there is a train passing.

In the Rainier Valley, Martin Luther King Jr. Way will have light rail directly on the surface. Area residents called for a tunnel through the region rather than a surface or elevated system because they feared that construction on the surface would run local shops out of business, but funding was not available to continue tunneling. It's widely believed that because the Rainier Valley is one of Seattle's poorest neighborhoods, their demands were considered secondary to those of wealthier residents in Capitol Hill and Montlake - areas which will be tunneled through.

With many at-grade pedestrian and vehicle crossings, this section will be prone to accidents - but not as many as people fear. TriMet's MAX light rail system in Portland has been involved in the deaths of only 18 people since it began operation in 1986 - an average of about one per year. This is impressively low, considering the MAX system is at-grade straight through high-traffic downtown Portland as well as Gresham, and as of 2004 the Yellow Line covers an equivalent distance and density to the MLK alignment. The MAX system served 91 million passenger trips between July 2003 and June 2004. With only one fatality during that time, that's almost as safe as flying. The equivalent car traffic would cause significantly more fatalities.

As an idealist, I would like to see rail systems always grade-separated (elevated or tunneled). Unfortunately, that's not always possible, either due to public preference in service areas or due to funding constraints. Considering the success of the at-grade sections of Portland's MAX system, I don't anticipate serious problems with the MLK section of the Link system - in fact, because many local drivers are already used to Tacoma Link, Amtrak Cascades and Sounder service, new crossings may not pose as much of a problem as they did in Portland when MAX service began.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Airlines at Boeing Field:

I'll admit freely that I was opposed to the idea of Southwest moving from Sea-Tac to Boeing Field from the beginning. We don't have the road infrastructure around Boeing Field, Sea-Tac has just undergone major improvement work, and Airport Link is dependent on two Port of Seattle plans (pdf) at Sea-Tac:
  • North Expressway Relocation Phase I - the full relocation of the northbound lanes and the partial realignment of the southbound lanes of the Northern Airport Expressway to provide a corridor for the construction of the LRT alignment. The full relocation of the southbound lanes of the Northern Airport Expressway and Air Cargo Road will occur in a later phase to support the planned terminal extension. This project also includes the partial vacation and relocation of South 170th Street.
  • South 160th Street Loop Ramp - the completion of a new multi-lane return-to-terminal ramp and the demolition of the existing return-to-terminal ramps. The existing return-to-terminal ramps need to be demolished to support the construction of the LRT station.
As things develop, my position has solidified. If Southwest Airlines is allowed to move from Sea-Tac to Boeing Field, it is likely that revenue to the Port of Seattle will drop such that these plans will have to be abandoned. We now know that if Southwest moves, Alaska/Horizon, American, and Northwest Airlines intend to move some or all of their operations as well. While this could provide Seattle residents with better air service, it would severely inhibit other residents of Puget Sound:
  • I-405 would no longer provide an alternative for drivers coming from north of Seattle. 405 connects to SR-518 directly and provides a means of bypassing Seattle entirely. This would increase traffic on I-5 through Seattle, an already seriously congested corridor.
  • Drivers coming from the south would have to come farther north, into Seattle, rather than using I-5's Orilla Road exit or Highway 99. This adds five miles to a trip - right into Seattle traffic.
  • Businesses will suffer. The Sea-Tac mall can't exactly be relocated to Boeing Field, the area around Boeing is primarily industrial. If commercial development takes hold there, property values will go up, driving industry away from the port.
With Southwest planning to start with 60 flights a day and ramp up to 85, and Alaska getting the number up to 130 (King County's stated maximum), that's a lot of noise and a lot of traffic. Fortunately, the Council plans to take public comments in their chambers at the King County Courthouse on the evening of October 12th.

I hope they shoot this down - losing the light rail connection to the airport and noisy takeoffs and landings over Seattle are not my cup of tea.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Link: Beacon Hill construction update meeting

Within the next few days, the Tunnel Boring Machine sitting next to Tully's headquarters in Seattle will start digging through Beacon Hill. Sound Transit has been holding regular meetings to update interested people on the schedule, technology and design of the system.

The next such meeting will be on October 11th, from 6:30 to 7:30, at the Boy Scouts of America facility in the Rainier Valley:
Boy Scouts of America (Meeting Room)
3120 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
If you're interested in going, comment and we'll meet up there! I'm hoping to get more information about exactly what date tunneling will start, and we can walk up MLK to have a look at the embankment where Link will be going from elevated to at-grade.

Initiative 912

What it is:
I-912 is an initiative to cancel a 9.5c/gallon increase in gasoline taxes in Washington State.

In May, the Washington State Legislature passed a tax package to fund transportation projects around the state through an increase in gas taxes and vehicle weight fees. Since Initiative 695 passed in 2000 repealing the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, Washington State's transportation budget was gutted until the Nickel Funding Package passed in 2003, raising the gas tax by 5c/gallon. Many of the Nickel projects were only partially funded by that tax, and to complete them, the 2005 Transportation Tax Package was passed to raise the tax by 9.5c/gallon in increments over four years.
In response, individuals across the state put together a simple repeal - as written, the initiative simply erases the gas tax sections passed in the Legislature's tax package. The initiative gathered enough signatures to be placed on the November 2005 ballot.

I-912 does not provide a new funding source for the transportation package, so it will effectively cancel or stall work on up to 270 projects throughout the state. Opponents claim that the transportation package leaves many projects incomplete, but only a few projects are not funded to completion by the package - projects that the state expects municipalities to partially fund.
Some rail and freight projects which the package funds will not be directly affected by I-912, but funding for those projects is expected to be reallocated to road and bridge safety projects.

Link Light Rail construction in Rainier Valley

Today and tomorrow, east-west traffic at S. Graham St. and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd S. will be blocked during evenings from 7-10 pm. Exploratory excavation is taking place in preparation for water line work before light rail can be installed.

Central Link light rail will run on MLK Jr. Blvd between Mount Baker station and the Interstate 5 crossing at the south end of Boeing Field.

First Post

Higher Frequency is about our options to effectively and efficiently move people and goods in the Pacific Northwest, and especially Puget Sound (get it? Sound? Frequency? *sigh*). It will explore all our transportation options and their impacts on community development, the environment, businesses and individuals.