Friday, November 11, 2005

A busy few weeks: Transportation happenings

Howdy! I've been busy changing jobs and doing some moving over the last few weeks, but I wanted to cover some of the big things that have happened to impact the future of transit and roads in the area:

  • University Link, the extension of Link Light rail north of downtown to Husky Stadium and the hospital received the highest possible rating from the Federal Transit Administration. This means Sound Transit will likely be in line for federal money to help construction. This also means that the First Hill station is unlikely to be constructed - since it was removed from the plan as presented to the FTA, a station addition would require the plan be resubmitted.
  • I-912 was shot down by about 53%-47%. I can't even list all the projects it will fund - 274 projects, about 240 of which are fully funded by the transportation package. New lanes for I-5 to upgrade the remaining 4-lane sections to 6-lane; Lanes for I-405 southbound from I-90 to SR-167 and northbound from I-5 to SR-167 - with a new interchange; Planning work for the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass rebuild; Viaduct funding; 520 bridge replacement funding; many others.
  • One of the challenges to the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax has been shot down by the Supreme Court. Tim Eyman argued that I-776 would have made such a tax illegal, but voters approved Sound Move originally. The state Supreme Court disagreed with challengers in a 7-2 decision.
  • The monorail was finally laid to rest. While Seattle car owners will still pay the 1.4% excise tax to cover the SMP's $110 million debt, we can now look to other agencies and other technologies to serve the West Seattle and Ballard corridors. The Sierra Club has a meeting scheduled at REI to discuss future options.
Several other road projects are now under way, including HOV and transit access work on I-405 and planning work for a new SR-16 interchange in Tacoma. I'll be talking more about HOV lanes and freeway stops in the next few days.


At 1:50 AM, Anonymous EvergreenRailfan said...

Nice to see the attack on the transportation funding in this state failed to happen. I-912 started out strong, nearly collecting as much signatures as I-695. The backers would have won, despite being outspent. Perhaps the Hurricanes and the Snoqualmie Pass Rockslides helped out.

Good News on the Monorail being shot down. Now we can plan something in it's place. Rapid Buses like LA's Metro Rapid could should be tried on several routes, and perhaps a streetcar to West Seattle and Ballard. Light Rail Transit is the modern Interurban, and the Interurbans in many cases used modified streetcars. Streetcars are best used today as Neighborhood Circulators, and can work good alone, and even better if they are part of a multi-modal transportation sytem, even working good with Light Rail Transit.

In New Orleans, they had one aspect of modern Light Rail Transit all along, medians in the boulevards called Neutral Ground. All of New Orleans Public Service Inc.'s lines had that feature for the majority of their route(except along Canal street, as it once had six streetcar tracks along it, with two of them in the Neutral Ground) except one, Desire Ave. Buses replaced all but the St. Charles Ave line, and last year, using replicas of the St. Charles cars, Canal St service was restored after a 40 year absence. There was talk befor Katrina that Desire Ave would be next.

Also, we need more Light Rail lines. and UniversityLINK will be the first step in headed North. That will be the hardest part headed North, and we have to get crossing Montlake and past the U-District, then it should be easy headed North to Everett.


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