The Commute

An informative and entertaining discussion on our ferries and highways with Kitsap Sun reporters.
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Archive for June, 2010

Dive Bombers From Hell

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The annual car washing is coming early this year.

Got off of work and went out to my car last weekend. It was about covered in seagull crap. Couldn’t even see out of the windshield. There’s no way one bird could do that. Or one human. Which reminds me of a police report I read the other day. I’m not going to tell you what it said. For one, I can’t figure out what the guy was doing. For another, it was too gross. The guy told the cops he was a freak. I’ll leave it at that.

Anyway, no one seagull could’ve bombed my car like that. There had to be a whole flock of them hanging out on the tideflats, slurping clams, worms and other slimy beach fare, along with an occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the ferry tourists. Stuffed, they go on a strafing run.

“Check out that green Honda down there. We haven’t hit that one in a couple days.”

They weave between the government center and Chase Bank building, shoot the gap down Fourth Street, pull up just before smacking the Kitsap Sun wall and let loose. Pfffflllaaaaattt. By firing on the fly, they can hit the sides as well as the top.

Just glad it was my car instead of me.


The $890,000 Oops

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Seems the state’s eastbound engineers weren’t talking with the westbound engineers on the Nalley Valley interchange in Tacoma.

According to a Tacoma News Tribune story, the Highway 16 off-ramp to Sprague Avenue was built in the wrong spot. When the highway was changed from two lanes to three, engineers needed to shift the off-ramp to make room for the extra lane. But that wasn’t communicated between the design teams and the engineering plan went out with the off-ramp in the wrong place. Contractors followed the plan.

The mistake was caught back in October when the off-ramp was 90 percent completed, but it didn’t come to light until now. Engineers spent the winter redesigning. Last week, the pavement was torn up. A contingency fund will cover the $890,000 to remove pavement, lower the grade and rebuild the offramp.

Nobody will be disciplined, but new safeguards are being put in place so nothing like that happens again, said Kevin Dayton, administrator for the state Department of Transportation’s Olympic Region,

“Mistakes do get made in engineering and construction,” Dayton said. “We generally catch it in the field. … The big embarrassment is it got built. That seldom, if ever, happens.”

Commissioner Scolded for Losing Temper With Ferry Workers

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Washington State Ferries workers had enough of Bob Distler, the Washington State Transportation Commission’s expert on ferry matters. They turned him in to their bosses, who wrote him a letter saying to leave them alone, according to a story last week in the San Juan Journal.

Steve Rodgers, WSF’s director of marine operations, wrote to Distler on June 18 that, “I … want to be sure you understand that harassment or hostility towards WSF employees engaged in their duties will not be tolerated. WSF has the authority to deny passage to anyone who engages in disruptive behavior and will exercise that authority if necessary.”

The letter was in response to May 14 incident in which Distler, who lives in the San Juans, said he was short-tempered with a worker about how the boat was being boarded in Anacortes. He later apologized.

It wasn’t the first time it had happened, according to WSF spokeswoman Marta Coursey.

“It had happened on more than one occasion and they wanted to make sure Bob didn’t do it again,” the paper quotes Coursey as saying.

Distler admitted he “can get a little heated at times” and that he’s a “brusque person.”

There are few people who know more about ferries than Distler, which is an asset for the Transportation Commission, most of whom don’t live in the Puget Sound area. I’d even bet he was right in his dispute with the workers, but that doesn’t excuse being a jerk. He’d win more people to his way of thinking if he was nicer to them.

Distler’s commission term expires June 30. He said he has applied for reappointment.


Where in the World Is Keystone?

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

People in Coupeville on Whidbey Island say there’s no such town as Keystone, and they want to change the name of the ferry terminal there to Coupeville. Sure, Coupeville’s on the other side of the island from the terminal, but it’s a skinny island. We’re only talking a few miles here. Plus, they say people get the Keystone terminal mixed up with the Kingston terminal. I always write Keyport when I mean Keystone. In fact, I already did it once in this item.

Anyway, there’re trying to round up support and get it to the Washington State Transportation Commission, which is in charge of naming all things transportation — ferries, bridge, roads, even terminals. The town council and chamber of commerce are hoping to get the name changed at the transportation commission’s July meeting. Then Washington State Ferries will change the name of the route to the Port Townsend-Coupeville route, they say. That would give Coupeville more visibility as a tourist destination, they say, what with search engines and such.

Coupeville is a pretty cool old town, I must say. It’s like a mini Port Townsend. I’d just as soon it stay like it is, but the business folks want to stay in business and they think this would help. Guess I can’t blame them.

Also at the July meeting, I think they’ll pick a name for the second new 64-car ferry that will be on that route. Whidbey’s recommendation, fortunately, didn’t make the list. It was Squi-qui.

Here’s a more in-depth story from the Whidbey Examiner.


Name That Passenger Ferry Service

Monday, June 21st, 2010

The Port of Kingston is taking suggestions for the the name of its passenger-only ferry service to downtown Seattle that will begin in October. Here are some that it has received so far.

Kingston Flyer
SeaKing
Kingston Passenger Express
Cross Sound Express
Kingston Water Taxi
Kingston Water Bus
KingSea
PTP (Port To Port)
Puget Sound Express
Kingston Sound Express
KSP Ferry

Out of that bunch, I like Cross Sound Express the best. Kingston Flyer’s pretty good, too. They’re all a little boring, though. I think you guys could come up with something more entertaining.The port wants people to be creative, think about what the service is all about, and what name would be a good descriptor of that service. And have some fun with it.

You can reach the port at (360) 297-3016, paxferry.info@portofkingston.org, www.portofkingston.org, on Twitter at @KingstonPOF or on Facebook at Kingston Passenger-only Ferry.