Monthly Archives: September 2009

Narrows Bridge needs painting already

Crews painting cables will close a lane this week on the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. OK, it’s not that new anymore, but it seems like it. It opened more than two years ago, on July 16, 2007. And bridges are as bad as ships. You never get through painting before you have to start over again.

Anyway, drivers can expect the HOV lane to be closed from from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, unless it rains. Looking at the forecast, they might not get any painting done before Saturday.

New ad campaigns for ferries

There will be three new advertising campaigns on Central Sound ferry routes during October

Hawaii Tourism will advertise on the Seattle-Bainbridge route with morning coffee sampling and afternoon entertainment. Keurig Coffee will advertise on both the Seattle-Bremerton and Seattle-Bainbridge routes with coffee samplings. And the Economist will advertise on the ferry Wenatchee and at the Bainbridge terminal.

Nothing like freebies. Like a floating Costco.

Chetzemoka being pushed for new ferry name

The Jefferson County Historical Society wants the state’s next new ferry to be named the Chetzemoka, according to a letter in today’s Port Townsend Leader. The ferry, which is being built at Todd Pacific Shipyards, will be assigned to the Port Townsend-Keystone route next summer.

Chief Chetzemoka of the S’Klallam tribe was an important person in the early history of the area. The name was used on a ferry that served the Port Townsend-Edmonds route from 1938 to 1947 and elsewhere in the Puget Sound until 1973, according to the letter.

The letter asks people to support the name by writing or e-mailing Reema Griffith, executive director of the Washington State Transportation Commission, P.O. Box 47308, Olympia, WA 98504-7308 or

Fatal crashes at lowest level since 1955

An Associated Press story came across saying that deadly crashes on Washington roads are at their lowest level in more than 50 years.
Preliminary statistics from the state’s Traffic Safety Commission show 522 traffic-related deaths last year. That’s the lowest since 1955, when 461 people died in crashes.

That’s when I was born, which is a long, long time ago. It’s pretty amazing considering how much more traffic there is today.

State Patrol Chief John Batiste says strict enforcement of seat belt laws appears to be paying off. Washington’s seat belt use rate is 96.5 percent, third-highest in the nation.

I think divided highways also make a big difference. I remember when Highway 16 wasn’t divided and had a bunch of crossings and there were always serious wrecks.

VIDEO: Not your commute

Ed told me to raid his blog more often. I obliged.

What, you ask, does this video of the new Ferrari 458 Italia have to do with your commute? Nothing. Again, sorry. Nothing. Well, it IS a car. And some of you commute by car. There, it all makes sense now.

But we all need a Friday evening diversion, right? Yes, I did the whole enviro/wallet-friendly hypermiling exercise. But I really like cars. Fast cars. Non enviro/wallet-friendly cars. Someday I’ll still never have owned one of these. But hey, at least when you don’t own a Ferrari, you can afford the insurance.

Happy weekend.

– Derek Sheppard

They don’t make ’em like they used to

No, they sure don’t make cars like they used to. In a few respects, we can be thankful for that. What does this have to do with your commute? Hopefully, nothing. But I thought it was a cool video. I haven’t posted on this blog in ages (since the hypermiling thing, really.) but I thought this was too cool not to share. The IIHS showed posted this video that pretty clearly illustrates the difference between new cars and old cars. It’s a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air versus a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.

– Derek Sheppard

Transit Meeting Overflowed

With news, I mean.

There was a bunch of stuff I wanted to get in the story that ran in today’s paper about Tuesday’s Kitsap Transit board meeting, but there just wasn’t room for it. So here you have it.

There seems to be some misunderstanding or misinformation out there about what exactly would be cut. Several people have expressed concern about losing service, only to find out they won’t. Particularly Access service.

Access changes are “really minor and don’t affect 99 percent of the riders,” said executive director Dick Hayes. A lot of questions were raised Tuesday, he said, “most of which we have excellent answers for.”

Outlying areas from which ridership is moderately good might go from three trips per two per day, he said. And places like Lofall, where’s there’s nearly no ridership, could be knocked back to service three days a week.

“We’re not proposing to cut everything out, but some people were told we were cutting everything out,” Hayes said.

There is only one route that would be completely cut and not at least partially picked up by another bus. That would be the No. 23 Kariotis route that goes down Sylvan to Pine, drops into Tracyton and back to McWilliams and John Carlson roads. It carries a modest 11 passengers per hour, but runs just every other hour. Riders claim there are a lot more people on the hill that could be picked up, especially with many former Westpark residents moving there. That’s one that the board will probably be taking a good look at.

Suzanne Chinick, a bus driver and union steward, presented petitions with about 2,000 signatures to the board that urge it not to cut service. They were gathered at the county fair and a couple stores.

ORCA Making Big Splash Tuesday

Although it’s been available on a limited basis since last spring, the ORCA card will be introduced with a “Big Splash” event Tuesday in Seattle. It starts at 9:30 a.m. at the southern end of Amtrak’s Holgate Street yard.

ORCA stands for One Regional Card for All. The limited rollout period for the new electronic fare system has ended, and partner agencies will be phasing out their other transit passes and launching a major promotional campaign. There are seven partner agencies, including Kitsap Transit and Washington State Ferries.

ORCA will replace about 300 various passes, tickets and transfers with a single card that works by tapping it on a reader device.

Over the past four months, more riders have been added to the system so that there are now more than 100,000 cards in circulation.

King County Taking Over Vashon Passenger Ferry

Tomorrow, and Wednesday, representatives from Washington State Ferries and the King County Ferry District will be on board the 4:45 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. sailings out of Seattle’s Pier 50 to talk with and hand out information to customers regarding service and fare changes resulting from the county taking over the ferry route from the state on Sept. 28.

There will be a smaller (149 passengers vs. 250), faster (22-minute crossing vs. 30) , newer, nicer boat in the Melissa Ann, which once sailed between Bremerton and Seattle.

Ticket prices will go up from $8.70 per round trip to $4.50 each way. Seniors get 50 percent off and youths 20 percent with a regional permit.

And there will be an extra trip in the morning.

Everybody Stayed Home

Well, not quite everybody. And this is not quite breaking news, either, but a combination of lousy weather, lousy economy and lousy school schedule led to a decline in cars on the road over the Labor Day weekend.

According to the DOT, 9 percent fewer vehicles crossed Snoqualmie Pass, 22 percent less went over Stevens Pass and traffic was down 6 percent on I-5 between Olympia and Chehalis. Of the four places the DOT keeps an eye one during holidays, only I-5 from Bellingham to Canada had an increase (2 percent) over last year.

There were three highway fatalities, according to the State Patrol.