Monthly Archives: January 2009

Kingston Ferry Meeting Site Changed

The Kingston public hearing about Washington State Ferries’ long-range plan has been moved because of an expected large turnout.
The meeting, which is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, will be held at Kingston Community Center, 11212 Highway 104. It had originally been set for the Kingston Cove Yacht Club.
There’s also a public hearing tonight in Bainbridge. It will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Bainbridge Island Commons, 402 Brien Drive.
To get a copy of the draft plan, go online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/planning/ESHB2358 or request a CD by calling (206) 515-3411. If you can’t make it to a hearing, you can comment by e-mail to wsfplanning@wsdot.wa.gov or by writing to Washington State Ferries, Attn. Joy Goldenberg, 2901 3rd Ave., Seattle, WA 98121.

Viaduct to Be Replaced With Tunnel

An entry by Chris McGann on the Seattle P-I’s Strange Bedfellows blog says the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be replaced with a deep-bore tunnel under downtown Seattle. Sources close to the negotiations confirm that all three parties have agreed to go forward with a plan that would involve major funding from the state bolstered, with investment from the county, city and a yet-to-be created local investment district.

To read the entry, go here.

Highway 302 Meeting Tonight

The state was a little late getting this notice out, announcing this morning that the public is invited to comment about congested Highway 302 during a scoping open house tonight.
The event, put on by the state Department of Transportation, will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Key Peninsula Civic Center, 17010 South Vaughn Road KPN.
The state is conducting a Highway 302 Corridor Study to address safety and congestion of the stretch from the Key Peninsula Highway to Highway 16. The public will have the chance to comment on why the project is needed and on the alternatives being considered.
The study evaluates the environmental impacts of creating a new corridor.
Scoping is part of the National Policy Environmental Act process where the scale of the project is determined. All comments must be submitted by Feb. 13 in order to be included in the official scoping report. Information gathered will be used to identify issues and impacts that will be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement.
For more information or to submit a comment, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr302/newcorridor/.

Snoqualmie Also Getting Back to Normal

From the AP at 9 a.m.:

The Washington Transportation Department has reopened the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 through Snoqualmie Pass. The westbound reopen lanes at noon.
Road crews worked around the clock to clear snow, debris and standing water that closed the pass on Wednesday.
Highway 2 through Stevens Pass reopened Thursday after a two-day closure caused by heavy snow and avalanche danger.
The department says Highway 12 through White Pass is not a viable east-west route due to flooding and a washout. But traffic is allowed on parts of the highway that had been closed.

I-5 Opening at Noon

Hot off the AP wire:

The state Transportation Department says it’s reopening Interstate 5 at Chehalis at noon today.
Waiting trucks will be the first allowed through and then general traffic.
The freeway has been closed by flooding since Wednesday evening along a 20-mile stretch from Chehalis to south of Olympia

There Really Is A Bremerton Ferry Strategy

Mayor Bozeman called today to discuss the city’s strategy for trying to keep the existing level of ferry service for two years. By then, he said, either the economy will be better, the state will have figured out a meatier financing plan, or both.
It’s not a yell-and-scream strategy, he said. It’s to work with the power brokers who will be making the decisions.
“My plan is to work behind the scenes with the people that are going to make the big decisions,” he said. “ I think that’s the most effective way to do this.”
Bozeman said he’s already met personally with ferries director David Moseley five times and two or three with the Transportation Commission, which is coming up with funding alternatives. He plans to speak with transportation secretary Paula Hammond and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, who grew up in Bremerton, and to another Bremerton native, Congressman Norm Dicks.
“To be honest with you, Frank Chopp’s going to have to help us here,” Bozeman said. “He understands the issue of ferries in Bremerton. I think we can get some help from him.”
Bozeman said the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council has made it clear to the area’s nine legislators that “this is the year you really have to step up and accept responsibility for providing leadership on this issue.”
There’s no way the ferry system’s draft long-range Plan B, which follows the governor’s proposed budget, would be acceptable, Bozeman said. It would cut the Bremerton-Seattle route from two to one car ferry and the Southworth-Vashon Island-Fauntleroy route from three to two boats, hoping that local governments can fill the gaps with passenger-only ferries. Plan A would keep service pretty much as it is. He said the ferry system needs to come up with $80 million more this legislative session to maintain existing service for the next two years.
“Our legislators and me, being able to get Norm Dicks involved, and Chopp … the goal is to come out of the session with assurance of continuing the level of service the way it is, he said. “That’s the plan and has always been the plan. The key is to get the legislators to get it done for us.”
Bozeman said he met with county and city leaders Wednesday and they agreed to go back and look for money to conduct a study on the ferries’ economic impact on their communities.
“I think we’re going to get this done,” he said. “The fight is just starting.”

Ferries Part of Stimulus Package?

That never entered my mind. Then Mayor Bozeman brought it up a couple days ago, saying he’s hoping to get money to build at least one boat and maybe two, and he’s been speaking with Norm Dicks about it.

I talked to George Behan in Norm’s office and he said there has been talk. He said there have been a lot of ideas from the state to be part of the stimulus package. Building ferries to create jobs has been one of them mentioned by Bremerton.

George said he didn’t feel comfortable saying ferries are going to be part of the stimulus bill because the state will have discretion in how to spend the money. Norm can only lean on the state to spend some of it that way.

The bill originally was going to be ready by Obama’s inauguration on the 20th, Behan said, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be ready by then. But pretty soon after that.

Hurry Up, Nalley Valley

Got a press release from DOT the other day that they’re going to start working on the Nalley Valley Interchange bottleneck in Tacoma, where Highway 16 meets I-5. It can’t come soon enough.

Driving back from Olympia yesterday in a monsoon, I pulled off I-5, and stopped. Twenty-five minutes later, after two different merges, I finally came out the other side. I expected to see an 8-car pileup that caused the mess, but there was nothing. At that point I was at Union Avenue, where Narrows Bridge traffic used to back up to, and raced to and across the bridge at the speed limit.

Work started on Monday on the interchange, but the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning with all the big shots was canceled by bad weather.

The $184 million project will take three years to rebuild the westbound part of the viaduct. It will eliminate the weave where cars from I-5 change lanes to merge onto Highway 16 or exit at Sprague Avenue — and will reduce collisions by 60 percent. I was stuck going eastbound and they won’t that until westbound is finished in fall 2011. An average of 131,000 vehicles use the viaduct each day.

For more information on the project, go here.

Good to Be Riverless

Rivers are cool, but this is a good time not to have any. Faxes and e-mails are flying in from DOT telling me all the roads that are under water or closed by avalanches and mudslides. TV stations are freaking out. The only mention of us so far is water sitting on Highway 16, making driving dangerous. They didn’t say where on Highway 16.

Another time when I said Kitsap was riverless some readers objected. I already knew that the DeWatto, Tahuya and Union rivers all start in Kitsap, but that’s a technicality, plus they’re really no more than big creeks. I remember as a teenager people would have keggers up in the middle of nowhere on the Tahuya. Somehow I wandered by and saw the river. I could step over it. I couldn’t believe it was a river. What a disappointment.

The other thing that stuck with me, to get off the point, were the rhododendrons. It was what I pictured the Amazon jungle to look like, a rhody jungle, 50 feet high or more, with all these wiry stems wrapping around. Lots of fun to climb around on.

Oh, check this out on the National Weather Service page. Almost all of western Washington is bright green, meaning they’re under a flood warning. An little ol’ Kitsap is a dark green dot right in the middle of it, meaning we’re under the less severe flood watch.