The Commute

An informative and entertaining discussion on our ferries and highways with Kitsap Sun reporters.
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Archive for February, 2012

Larry must’ve looked seedy

Monday, February 27th, 2012

We almost got through airport security without a hitch this morning, but then they pulled Larry aside. Said it was a random check. They wiped some goo on his palms and ran them under a machine searching for bomb residue. Guess they didn’t find any.

Outside of that, we got from the hotel to the plane like clockwork. Got a couple Dixie-size cups of Starbucks on the 737 and a two-bite bag of pretzels/bagel chips. Tried to sleep because we got up at 4:30, but you know how that goes.

You know how they measure your carry-on bag to make sure you’re not sneaking on an extra inch or two. They should do that with people. There are some big people. Pretty soon they’ll start measuring them and if they’re too big they won’t let them sit in coach. They just did something like that with ferries. The Coast Guard bumped up the average person’s weight from something like 150 to 185, off the top of my head, so they can’t carry as many people.

San Diego looks pretty nice. We haven’t done any sightseeing, but the sun is coming out and it’s getting more comfortable. Can’t complain, considering it was in the 20s or 30s up there this morning when we left.

I haven’t been here for years. Once, when I was covering the Tacoma Stars, the team flew me down with them to cover a game against the hated San Diego Sockers. But it was in and out the same night. I remember something about barely being able to leave because it was late and the airport’s right downtown and they shut it down at night because of the noise, or something like that.

We’ll probably kill some time around town today and plan our coverage. We don’t get on the Stennis until 7:30 tomorrow morning. Don’t know when she’ll pull out. You know, OPSEC.


We’re off to see the Stennis

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Since there hasn’t been much happening in Kitsap lately, Larry and I decided to pop down to San Diego and jump on the USS John C. Stennis for her last leg home to Bremerton. We can’t tell you when that will be because it’s super secret. We don’t even know how long we’ll be away. The editors just said go and you’ll get here when you get here.

What I can tell you is we plan all kinds of good coverage of the ship’s recent deployment, the Tiger Cruise, what it’s like to live on an aircraft carrier and some of the characters.

We got in about 9:30 a.m. and the ship had already arrived. So it’s here and that much closer to getting all these guys and gals back home.


Dick Hayes’ last day behind the wheel

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Charlotte Garrido, county commissioner and chairwoman of the Kitsap Transit board of directors, said Tuesday that the agency and service development director John Clauson have a verbal agreement about him replacing Dick Hayes as executive director. All that’s left is signing the papers on Wednesday. Garrido said she believes Hayes considered Tuesday his last day running the show.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Hayes, who was the director for more than 28 years, wondered where all the time went. Then it took all nine board members and all the agency’s department heads taking turns to get through a four-page resolution honoring him and Kitsap Transit’s accomplishments. “The resolution speaks to that,” he said of the time.

Employees got an old propeller from the Carlisle II, spiffed it all up and mounted it on a wheeled platform for Hayes, a huge booster of passenger-only ferries. A plate on it reads, “Your leadership as the founding executive director and your dedication and commitment to land and water transportaton will benefit the citizens of Kitsap County for many years to come.”

Hayes also got two standing ovations and a the traditional bus farebox.

“I’m not sure I’ll miss the stress and strain, but I’ll miss the people,” he said. “It’s just been wonderful. I thank everybody for sticking with me and the staff for putting up with me.”

 


Highway 3/304 mess getting a look

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The state is looking into fixing the Highway 3-Highway 304 interchange, the worst bottleneck in the county.

That’s where Highway 3 comes south from Silverdale and merges from two lanes to one as it passes the car dealerships and sewer plant. Highway 304 whittles from three lanes to one if you count the carpool lane. Then they meet, with Highway 304 going over Highway 3 and becoming the right lane of Highway 3. It’s a funky connection, but not really the problem. The problems are the merges themselves. During the evening commute, cars get all backed up on both highways.

I hadn’t heard any plans for a fix, then it shows up this morning in the state Senate’s proposed supplemental transportation budget. Eleven projects would split $27 million for very preliminary design, engineering or to buy right of way. Highway 3-304 would get $500,000. This would be the first step, and who knows when if ever it would get done, but at least they’re thinking about it.

I vaguely remember writing something years ago about a study on blasting more lanes out of the basalt cliff. I think they determined it’d be too expensive, or dangerous. In fact, I think there was argument that a bridge across Sinclair Inlet would be just as cheap.

Ron Landon of Olympic Region DOT said they want to eliminate the “drop lane” coming down Highway 3 from the car dealers.

“The $500,000 would be to start some preliminary engineering to see how best to reconfigure that intersection to take away that drop lane and keep a good level of service on the leg coming in from 304,” he said.

 


By 2020, there should be a new Colman Dock

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Ferry folks will be riding the Bainbridge and Bremerton boats this week to tell people about plans to renovate Colman Dock in Seattle.
It’s not the fancy expansion and redevelopment they were talking about earlier, with a garden on the roof and all. It’ll just be fixing up what’s there, a big job in itself. The cost is estimated at $210 million.
The big plan was shelved because of low ridership projections and the focus on preserving existing facilities, according to a Department of Transportation information sheet. But the same paper says by 2030, the Seattle-Bainbridge Island route’s ridership is expected to increase by 39 percent, and by 25 percent for Seattle-Bremerton. Last year, 8.5 million riders used the Seattle terminal.
Part of the environmental process’ first step is outreach, which is bringing officials aboard the ferries. They’ll ride the 4:40 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. sailings from Seattle to Bainbridge on Wednesday and the 4:20 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. departures from Seattle to Bremerton on Thursday. The following Thursday, Feb. 16, there’ll be a public meeting from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Puget Sound Regional Council board room, 1011 Western Ave., Suite 500, a short walk from the dock. Public comments will be accepted between Wednesday and March 15.
Colman Dock is aging, deteriorating and not the best place to be during an earthquake. The plan is to replace the timber trestle part of the dock, replace the main terminal building, reconfigure the dock layout, replace the vehicle transfer span and overhead loading structures on the northern slip, and replace vessel landing aids.
Advantages would be fewer conflicts between cars and pedestrians, better pedestrian connections to local transit service, and removal of tons of creosote-treated timber piles form Elliott Bay.
The tentative timetable is environmental process and preliminary design into 2013, design from 2013 to 2015 and construction from 2015 to 2020.