The Commute

An informative and entertaining discussion on our ferries and highways with Kitsap Sun reporters.
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Archive for November, 2011

People willing to pay more for transportation

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

A Washington State Transportation Commission survey released Tuesday shows residents would raise taxes and fees to maintain a good transportation system. Considering the mood of the recession-weary, anti-government populace these days, that’s hard to believe.

Fifty-nine percent said they’d generally support raising some transportation and fees, but only three of nine potential funding sources got a majority. Sixty-one percent would support a vehicle emissions fee, 60 percent a special license fee for electric cars and 52 percent tolls.

The money should first got to maintaining and repairing the existing transportation system, they said, followed by increasing capacity and expanding travel options.

Fifty-nine percent support tolling as a way to pay for major projects, 62 percent support express HOV lanes that single-occupant vehicles can use for a price, 51 percent think toll money should be available for improvements in a traffic corridor instead of just for the project, 63 percent support more state funding for public transit and passenger rail, and 57 percent support using state funds to operate and maintain the state ferry system.

The Transportation Commission invited 100,000 Washington residents to participate in the online survey, with a goal of 5,000 actually taking it. There were 5,518 total responses.

There’s now a survey online for the broader public. It can be taken until the end of the year at www.voiceofwashingtonsurvey.org.

 

The governor’s Connecting Washington Task Force can use the survey insight into what tax and fees the public will tolerate in making recommendations for a 10-year transportation investment plan.

 


State getting another new ferry

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Well, it’s true, but nothing to get excited about unless you need to get from Wilbur to Keller. Problem is, Lake Roosevelt cuts between the Eastern Washington communities, and residents, school kids, freight haulers and emergency reponders rely on the 63-year-old Martha S. to make the 1.25-mile connection.

On Thursday, the state awarded the contract for a new 20-car ferry to Foss Maritime Co. of Seattle. It’ll build the all-aluminum boat in pieces at it’s Rainier, Ore. plant and ship them to the site for assembly.

Foss’ bid was $9,557,178, about $250,000 less than the state’s estimate. It’s supposed to deliver the ferry in May 2013.


Pent-up demand to fuel Thanksgiving trips

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Despite travel-related costs jumping from a year ago, more people are expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving, according to AAA forecasts. The recession has kept them pent up for so long, they can’t take it anymore. They haven’t seen Grandma in a couple years so they’re taking a trip, cost be damned.

People haven’t been traveling the last couple years. In 2007, there were 50.6 million Thanksgiving weekend travelers. That dropped to 37.8 in 2008, 37.7 in 2009 and came back a little to 40.9 million last year. Last year’s trend is expected to continue with 42.5 million travelers next weekend, despite the average cost of unleaded rising 63 cents from a year ago, to $3.74 a gallon.

Thanksgiving will buck the trend so far this year, with travel flat for Memorial Day and down for Independence Day and Labor Day.

Air fares are about 20 percent higher than last year, but AAA expects 1.8 percent more fliers. Hotels are up 6 percent. About the only thing to get a deal on is weekend car rental, at $37 a day.

Travelers will be staying closer to home this year, averaging 706 miles instead of last year’s 816. I’ll be driving 23 miles to work and 23 miles back home, probably somewhere to cover an event and to the sheriff’s office to read reports. You folks be good so I’m not having to write up a bunch of police items, and have a great Thanksgiving.

 


I-5 north of Seattle among most congested spots in America

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

A stretch of Interstate 5 north of Seattle is the seventh-most jammed-up highway in the country, according to information released by the Weather Channel, Texas Transportation Institute and INRX on Tuesday. It’s a section going south from 145th Street to Union Street in downtown Seattle.

At 145th, commuters from the east side going around the north end of Lake Washington merge onto I-5 with those from the northern suburbs. Then they all combine with commuters coming across the lake on the 520 floating bridge. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when they start collecting tolls on the bridge in a couple months.

California dominated the official top 10 list, so researches chose to look at the list regionally and highlight some of the worst traffic trouble spots for each area. It’s hard to find an open stretch of highway anywhere from San Diego to San Francisco, but the worst stretch in America is the Harbor Freeway/California 110 Northbound route, they say.