The Commute

An informative and entertaining discussion on our ferries and highways with Kitsap Sun reporters.
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Archive for March, 2009

How Will the Hood Canal Bridge Closure Affect You?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The Hood Canal bridge is closing for six weeks beginning May 1, and a couple of my cohorts at the Kitsap Sun want to know what that will mean for you?

Is your commute going to be a slog? Maybe that family fishing trip is being postponed. Do you see any upsides to the closure? (Less traffic around the bridge, or parks that are less crowded?)

Tells us your story. Send an e-mail to including your contact information, or call reporter Derek Sheppard at (360) 792-9212 or Brynn Grimley at (360) 792-5242.

While Derek and Grim are doing that, I’ll be writing about some other aspects of the bridge. It’ll all be put together in a big package coming to you soon.

What’s Behind Those Ferry Switches

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Washington State Ferries has made several boat moves in the past few days, the result of the Elwha breaking down in the San Juans and regularly scheduled maintenance.
When the 144-car Elwha was yanked on Wednesday, it was replaced by the 87-car Evergreen State from the interisland route and the Evergreen State was replaced by the only backup boat available, the 34-car Hiyu. The Evergreen State was too slow for such a long route, causing service delays, so it was replaced by the 144-car Hyak, which just finished its annual inspection.
The Evergreen State was moved to the triangle route, replacing the same-sized Tillikum, which went in for its annual inspection. The sizes are a wash, but the Evergreen State has no galley service or Wi-Fi.
And some more dominos. The 124-car Issaquah had to go into drydock from the Mukilteo-Clinton route, so the same-sized Kitsap was moved there from Bremerton and the Bremerton route got the 188-car Walla Walla, which just got out of drydock. So Bremerton has extra capacity now, but just for a week.
You follow?

Super Ferries Having Some Troubles

Monday, March 30th, 2009

The Super ferry Elwha got pulled from service last week because of a drive motor problem. It’s going to be at least a few more days before they get it figured out and fixed.
I hope this isn’t contagious. We need to get through a couple more years without any major breakdowns. The Kaleetan, Yakima and Hyak have all had similar troubles.
I’ll try to check around about it tomorrow, but today I have to write about the House transportation budget.
If you have any insight, let me know.

Highway Budget By the Numbers

Friday, March 27th, 2009

I grabbed the complete Senate transportation budget while in Olympia Thursday. It has all the project numbers in the back. In flipping through the highways, I didn’t find much locally.

The Belfair widening and safety improvements are down for $2.1 million in 2009-11, $13.3 million in 2011-13 and $2 million in 2013-15.

The Belfair Bypass got $3.8 million in the past, but won’t get anymore. It shows $11.2 million in 2019+, but that money is make believe.

There’s $9.9 million to finish the Burley-Olalla Interchange in 2009-11.

There’s $3.6 million for a Highway 307/104 safety corridor study and spot improvements.

There’s this spring/summer’s work on Sedgwick Road from Highway 16 to Sedgwick Road, down for 3.6 million in 2009-11.

There’s $9.9 million in 2009-11 to finish off the Hood Canal bridge, which this budget says has already gotten $489 million.

Highway 16 to Close in Tacoma Saturday

Friday, March 27th, 2009

If you’re headed for I-5 Saturday night, you’ll have to detour around some highway work. Highway 16 will be closed overnight while crews install three street lights.

Eastbound traffic will get off at Union Avenue and use 38th Street to reach I-5. If you don’t know the way, there’ll be signs, or just follow the guy in front of you.

Night Work to Alternate Traffic on Hood Canal Bridge

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Crews prepping for upcoming construction work on the Hood Canal bridge will cause nighttime delays for drivers.
Motorists can expect pilot car-controlled, one-way, alternating traffic
and delays of up to 10 minutes Monday through Friday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Not the Way to Protest Tolls

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

A 50-year-old Gig Harbor man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly sling-shotting ball bearings at Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll booths. He was apparently upset about his treatment after his “Good to Go” account expired.
On March 12, a toll booth attendant was covered with shattered glass and had to close the booth. She wasn’t hurt. Two days later, an unoccupied booth was hit.
Detectives checked surveillance footage and saw the same blue truck driving through the toll plaza each time, and got the license plate number.
The man was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault, second-degree malicious mischief and reckless endangerment.

First Person Jumps From New Narrows Bridge

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

More than a year and a half after the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened, somebody jumped off Wednesday morning. According to the State Patrol, at about 11 a.m., a man in a red sweatshirt walked onto the bridge from the Tacoma side and at midspan, without hesitating, jumped right over the side. The far right lane of the old bridge was closed because the current was going north and police were looking for him, but there was no backup. Several rescue boats are still looking for the man. No car was left near the bridge. Police are searching for an abandoned vehicle nearby.

Senate Comes Out With Transportation Budget

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I haven’t had time to look into it yet, but you can see it at
I’ll dig into it tomorrow. I did notice there’s $268 mi8llion for Washington State Ferries construction. A public hearing is schedule for Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Ferries Help Rescue Three in 10 Days

Friday, March 20th, 2009

This, according to David Moseley’s weekly update:

“In the past two weeks our vessel crews have performed three separate rescues of boaters in distress. On Saturday, March 7, around noon, the crew of the Steilacoom II launched its rescue boat and pulled two kayakers from the water amid high winds and heavy seas. On Saturday, March 14, the crew of the Kittitas launched its rescue boat to assist the Mukilteo Fire Department in removing an injured person from a sailboat in distress just offshore at Mukilteo. On Monday evening, March 16, the crew of the Issaquah rescued a kayaker in distress near the Fauntleroy terminal. The crew of the rescue boat also went back to retrieve the kayak after the boater was delivered safely to emergency medical personnel. I want to thank all involved in these rescues for their courage, professionalism and dedication.”