Independence Day weekend is a dangerous time on America’s
roadways, according to the National Safety Council. From 6 p.m.
Thursday through the end of Sunday, the NSC estimates there will be
381 traffic fatalities and another 20,000 disabling
It also estimates that seat belts will save 336 lives this
holiday weekend and an additional 88 lives could be saved if all
passengers wore seat belts.
Law enforcement will be out in full force nationwide to enact a
zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving. On Independence Day and
New Years Day, 42 percent of all traffic fatalities are due to
alcohol, the highest among all holidays.
I heard today that Todd Shipyards is cutting and welding steel
for the state’s first 64-car ferry. It doesn’t look like a boat
yet, said Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Laura Johnson, but
it’s a start. Todd, as the only bidder, won the bid for $64.5
million. The 2008 transportation budget provided $84.5 million that
the state had hoped would pay for two of the boats. This first will
be finished next summer.
There was a pre-bid conference June 23 to provide potential
bidders with information on the second and third 64-car ferries
Five Puget Sound shipyards turned out. The contract is expected to
be advertised in mid-July with a builder selected in mid-September,
The Coast Guard will be out this weekend on a drunk boating
patrol called Operation Dry Water, looking for boat operators whose
blood alcohol coontent exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent.
Those who get caught could have their boat impounded, go to jail
and lose their boating or driving privileges.
“The Coast Guard in partnership with local law enforcement hopes
to send a strong message this weekend that boating while
intoxicated is a dangerous activity which carries serious
consequences and can ruin lives, said Lt. Michael Friend of Sector
Seattle Enforcement Division.In 2007, the Coast Guard said that 21
percent of boating fatalities were the result of alcohol use.
I’ve been covering ferries for 10 years and never heard about
this one, the M/V Olympic, which showed up for sale on
eBay. You’ve still got two days to bid. Just $199,500.
Islanders might know about it because it’s been sitting in Eagle
Harbor for about a decade. It used to be owned by Washington State
Ferries, but was retired in 1997 and is now owned by the Pacific
Built in 1937, the 207-foot boat could carry 55 cars and 605
passengers. It’s in lay-up status now, but all of its machinery
supposedly still works.
“She is an ideal candidate for high-end camp, hotel, corporate
training retreat or exclusive events center,” the description
The possibilities are limitless. If you’ve got a couple hundred
thou laying around, stop by Ace, pick up some sandpaper and paint,
and go for it.
I know it’s not politically correct, considering everybody is
supposed to be pissed at this huge pork project and now we’re even
supposed to be pisster now because we can’t turn right, but the new
tunnel is pretty cool. I got to walk through it yesterday and it’s
pretty nice how it winds along and the decorative walls and
As for being able to turn right on Washington Ave., we were
saying here at work that if that was the plan all along, it
wouldn’t be such a big deal.
A ferry official warned me months ago that they were worried
about how the cars would depart the boats, for good reason. There’s
not much distance between the dock and the tunnel, plus it’s all
curved. To have cars trying to get over to the right to turn on
Washington in that area would be pretty tough.
If everybody was super polite and went nice and easy, it might
work. Like that’s gonna happen.
Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, will be in
Bremerton for the opening of the tunnel on July 6. How big a deal
is that? I don’t know. I can’t say that he’s a household name, but
he’s only been on the job since January. He was previously a
Republican Congressman from Illinois.
I can’t remember any other U.S. transportation secretaries
coming here, but I’m not sure I’d remember even if they did. But
it’s got to be a pretty big deal. I can’t imagine he’s coming all
the way out here just for this. Probably a bunch of other stuff
he’ll be checking out.
There’s a story
in the Seattle Times today about a judge ruling that blaring a car
horn is not free speech.
Helen Immelt, of Monroe, got in a dispute with the neighbor in
2006, after she learned that he had filed a complaint with their
homeowners association about her chickens.
She responded by parking in front of his house at 5:50 a.m. the
next day and leaning on her horn for 10 minutes straight. After he
called the police, she returned for a second round of honking two
Immelt was cited for a noise violation and appealed her conviction
to the superior court, saying her honking was free speech. But
Judge Richard J. Thorpe ruled Monday, “Horn honking which is done
to annoy or harass others is not speech.”
The American Public Transportation Association has declared June
18 to be Dump the Pump Day. The group wants everybody to use their
bikes, sneakers and public transportation to cut down on gas.
Folks at Bill Shrink.com have piggy-backed on that day to say
that most everybody will be back in their cars on June 19, but they
can still save gas. Their site has a free gas tool to show you
where to find the cheapest stations along your commute. It’s a beta
version and I couldn’t get it to work. It might just be my old
It says you can save an average of $130 per year just by finding
the cheapest gas stations, and it’ll send you updates on where they
It also gives some other tips on saving gas, like not driving as
often, not driving so fast (each 5 mph. you drive over 60 mph is
like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon), use cruise control,
lighten up your car by getting rid of all the junk, and keep it
Clipper Navigation officials were in Olympia today to
ask the state Utilities and Transportation Commission to
discontinue their Seattle-San Juan passenger ferry route for a
The boat that normally runs the route, the Victoria
Clipper III, is being used to ferry USS Abraham Lincoln sailors
from their base in Everett to Bremerton’s Puget Sound Naval
Shipyard, where the aircraft carrier is being worked
Clipper says it doesn’t have
any other boats that would be adequate for the route — large and
fast with outdoor viewing. It hopes to resume the service in
The UTC will decide whether
to temporarily discontinue Clippers’ permit to operate the route,
cancel the permit permanently or ask the business to voluntarily
relinquish it so another vendor can use it.
The Citizens Write Plan C ferry group hasn’t gone away.
Formed to develop a third long-range plan for Washington State
Ferries from people underwhelmed by the agency’s plans A and B, the
citizens work group enjoyed some successes during the 2009
legislative session. But there’s still much to be done.
The group has scheduled a strategy meeting to discuss issues its
members say need to be addressed before the next session. It will
be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Norm Dicks Government
Center in Bremerton.
The group helped to keep service from being cut, to hold fare
increases in check and to get money for new boats. But it disagrees
about which boats to build.
The Senate wanted four 64-car ferries, the House and WSF preferred
three 64s and two 144s, and the Plan C group said no 64-car boats
were needed and to get started right away on 144s. It sought to
convert two old 87-car ferries to work on the Port Townsend-Keyport
route instead of new 64s, but ferries director David Moseley said
that had already been studied and rejected.
The 2009-2011 transportation budget pays for two 64-car ferries in
addition to one that’s already being built. The fourth, depending
on how much money remains, will carry either 64 or 144 vehicles,
and the budget begins funding for a 144-car ferry. The first boat
would be delivered in 2010, with one added each of the following
three years. At the earliest, a 144-car ferry would arrive in
That’s not soon enough, according to the group.
The state’s law that ferries have to be built in Washington
precludes them from getting federal funds, but stimulus money might
cover terminal work that’s already budgeted and the state money
could slide to ferry-building, said Kari Ulatoski, a Plan C member
and Vashon Island commuter.
“The message is loud and clear,” she said. “We have no backup
ferries on the major routes. One 144-car ferry would take the
pressure off of having to deprive one route of something when
another route needs it.
“That’s why it’s really our job as members of our ferry communities
to try to convey to the legislators the absolute importance that
additional 144 has to these communities.”
Rep. Larry Seaquist, who spearheaded the group, said the ferry
system needs about $9 million by fall to pay for the final design
of the 144-car ferry if construction is to begin right after the
third 64-car boat is finished. That’s where the juggling of
stimulus funds and state money might come into play.
The second key issue for the Plan C group locking up some
participation in the fare process and other decisions, Seaquist
said. They call that the ferry community advisory council.
And the elephant in the room, Ulatoski said, is a permanent source
of stable funding that’s been missing since 2000.
She said the ferry system is directed by the legislature and
governor “and we need to not make them the whipping boy for issues
that need to be resolved outside of their purview, whether you’re
talking about fare increases or what boats to build. I think they
are in agreement with us.”