Monthly Archives: April 2010

Canadian Politicians Complain About Kitsap Transit Testing

A story in today’s Times Colonist newspaper in Victoria, British Columbia, says Gulf Islands politicians are demanding that the Canadian government reject plans to hold high-speed wake tests of Kitsap Transit’s new prototype ferry in Canadian Waters. It’s interesting stuff I wanted to point now because I won’t be able to follow up on it until later. Got a couple other stories I have to deal with first, but I’ll get there.

Here are some of our past stories mentioning this ferry:

Kitsap Gets Fast Buses, Fast Ferries in Future Transportation Plan, April 10, 2010

Kitsap Transit’s Prototype Ferry Loses Foil During Sea Trials, April 2, 2010

Funding Restrictions Holding Up Kitsap Transit Ferry Research, February 3, 2010

State, Kitsap Transit Win Federal Ferry Awards, October 1, 2009

Kitsap Transit Buying 73 New Vans, Two Ferries, April 21, 2009

Commute Count: April 28

Had to take the kid to the orthodontist so came in late this morning. Was a totally uneventful drive until I hit the Sedgwick Road interchange, where traffic was stopped. DOT is replacing smashed guardrails on the top of the hill going down into Gorst. With good reason. Those things have taken a beating. So have those green slats on top of the jersey barriers that screen your vision. I heard it was that nut who crashed his nitro-powered Mustang in a high-speed chase, but he couldn’t have done all this damage by himself, on both sides of the highway.

The traffic jam looked worse than it was. Once the cars merged in from Sedgwick, DOT narrowed the highway down to one lane and then you had to deal with the Tremont folks. At that point, even though it was still a long ways from the work, it was smooth sailing.

I wonder if you’d have to change those guardrails so often if you made them out of rubber. You hit them and they spring back into place. And the car bounces back into the road. That might not be a good thing.

In these merging situations, do you think you should move over as soon as the signs say a lane is closed ahead, or go as far as you can before merging in. I get over right away and stew because everybody’s going past me. One cool thing today, though. I let a guy merge in front of me and he flashed me a peace sign. Hadn’t seen one of those for awhile.

By the way. The eagles are back. There were a bunch of them hanging out in the mudflats today.

Best to Avoid I-5 Near Lakewood Over Weekend

The DOT folks are going goofy, and I like it. They wrote up this press release that deserves to run as-is. I want to encourage their creativity. Here you go:

My oh my! Southbound I-5 traffic will be ‘‘Haggard’ through Tacoma and Lakewood, April 30-May 2
Crews plan fourth extended closure for concrete rehabilitation this weekend in Pierce County

LAKEWOOD – Whether your weekend itinerary includes watching the M’s at Safeco Field, listening to Merle Haggard sing “Okie from Muskogee” at Emerald Queen or getting your “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” on with Brooks and Dunn at the Tacoma Dome – if your return trip home includes traveling southbound I-5 through Tacoma and Lakewood, you can expect significant backups and delays.

Weather-permitting, crews close three lanes of southbound I-5 between 48th Street (milepost 131) in Tacoma and Gravelly Lake Drive (milepost 124) in Lakewood this weekend for concrete panel rehabilitation.  The work hours are:

Friday – two lanes of I-5 southbound close at 7 p.m. with three lanes closing by 11 p.m. All lanes reopen by 11 a.m. Saturday, May 1.

Saturday – two lanes closing at 7 p.m. with a triple-lane closure in effect by 11 p.m. All lanes reopen by noon, Sunday.

The work is part of a summer-long project that repairs and rehabilitates 25.5 miles of I-5 in Thurston and Pierce counties. To date, crews have replaced 108 of 295 panels and installed 5,466 of 56,000 dowel bars.

Drivers are encouraged to adjust their travel times or take alternate routes if at all possible. The best times to travel this weekend are Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Are Minivans Sexy Again?

Were they ever sexy?

I got a story idea from suggesting that “the minivan is bringing sexy back.” I don’t know what that means, but the gist is they’re making a comeback.

Maybe they mean minivan owners are sexy? I own one. It’s a 2004 Odyssey. Really nice car.  It took  persuading to get my wife to go for it, the van. She’s a businesswoman and didn’t like the image of a soccer mom. She wanted an SUV instead. I know one woman who did OK for herself after being a tenny-runnered soccer mom.

Even though we’re just a 3-person, 1-dog family, space was the top priority. The Odyssey was roomier than any SUV, so we bought it. There have only been a few times when we filled up all seven seats, or took them out to haul huge loads, but that’s OK. Though we don’t take full advantage of it, at least it’s not a gas guzzler. The only thing I hate is back windows don’t open and it can get claustrophobic back there. And I still haven’t figured out some of the gadgets, like putting it in park before opening a sliding door, or opening the sliding door while the gas door is open. It’ll start blaring out noises that keep going until my kid turns them off. That’s not very sexy.

But back to the minivan comeback. The press release says SUV sales continue to tail off, and that a crossover is really a minivan without a sliding door. Minivan demand is up 22.6 percent over the past 12 months, and crossovers are up 18.6 percent.

Lynn Thompson, author of, says compared to the SUV and crossover, the minivan is still the best choice for moms because “it offers all the space, functionality and features every mom could ever want when transporting kids.

And minivans are less expensive. Fully loaded vans like the Kia Sedona (28,600) and Toyota Sienna ($35,600) are cheaper than their crossover counterparts like the Buick Enclave ($42,100) and the GMC Acadia ($42,100).  It’s all relative when even the Kia is way of your price range.

So these guys are saying people are rediscovering the minivan and getting over the stigma of driving one. They’re getting helped by commercials like this one. My wife, after driving the van for six years, is back to wanting an SUV.

Commute Count: Tuesday

Motorcycle-cop speed trap on 16 between Burley-Olalla and Mullenix. Looked liked they had plenty of business. Another trooper in the median at Gorst. Two ambulances with emergency lights, one going each direction. No wrecks. No baristas.

Wildlife has been pretty scarce. One Canada goose. One hawk soaring, not sitting on a light pole. I like to brag about seeing a bald eagle every day on my way to work. Hasn’t been one in a week. Where’d they  go? This paucity of animals has forced me to  notice plants. Like why do Himalayan blackberries and Scotch broom, which aren’t even supposed to be here, outgrow everything else? We need to find some way to pit them against each other in some sort of invading plant showdown. Who do you think would win? I’d put my money on the blackberries. They can really slice you up. Scotch broom can’t hurt you much if you don’t have allergies. If the prisons wanted to go green, they could grow a 20-foot swatch of those blackberries around the joints. There’s no way you can get through that stuff.

Commute Count: Monday

There was three times as much to see than a normal day. I got all the way to work, opened the car door, grabbed for my laptop and it wasn’t there. Just friggin’ great. So I go all the way back home to find the garbage can knocked over and junk all over the place, grab the computer and drive back to work. An hour and a half of driving to kick off the week.

I had put my computer where I couldn’t miss it. It was leaning half on the door and half on the door frame. I missed it. I’ve forgotten it before but never gotten all the way into work. Unfortunately, I can’t blame anybody but myself. Wait, maybe the dog. As I went out the door she had to go outside, too. I bet she blocked my view. And if she’s the one that got into the garbage, she’s really going to get it. No sleeping on the bed for at least a night.

With all the driving back and forth, didn’t see too much. There was one cop who had somebody pulled over and his lights going. No wrecks. One real jerk of a driver. I was going between 60 and 65 and these two vans go past me in the left lane. Not flying, but maybe 70 or more. A blue-green van was about half a car length behind a maroon van and wouldn’t get off his butt. Had to keep stepping on his brakes so he didn’t hit him. I don’t know what his problem was. Don’t know if the guy in the maroon car was staying in front of him in spite, or just because he couldn’t get over. There were lots of cars in the slow lane. What’s the point of that?

It love the rare occasion when I catch up with people like that and the cops have them pulled over. I just honk and wave.

Commute Count: Friday

One dead squirrel. Shoulda zigged instead of zagged. Barry Sanders had his problems with that too. He’d get nailed behind the line three or four times in a row, then boom, he’d break one into the open and make defenders look silly grabbing at air.

Also one dead possum. 1 cool kingfisher. Alive. 2 Canada geese. One was in a depression, physically, and all you could see was this long, windy black and white neck sticking up. It looked like a snake. I hate snakes. Kinda feeling sorry for crows and seagulls. I see them every day but they never get mentioned here.

No cops. No wrecks. One broken-down semi truck. 2 hubcaps. Remembering this stuff seems to be helping my premature dementia. Tons of truck tire rubber. I have a theory that when conditions are just right, like the temperature, dewpoint, atmospheric pressure, humidity and Neptune being in Capricorn, the glue just melts on truck tire rubber and it falls all over the highway. It must be really expensive to buy those huge tires, so I’m thinking truck owners just get them recapped with fresh tread.

Was driving home after working sports years and years ago, about 1 or 2 in the morning. Pitch black. Had the highway to myself. Just spacing along in the beater Toyota pickup, listing to Art Bell and, BAM, slammed into a complete recap in the middle of the road. Woke me up. A cargo truck was sitting on the shoulder, so I got the company name and called them the next morning. They owned up to it and paid for the parts to fix my smashed-up front end. Made me pay for the labor, though.

Commute Count: Thursday

On auto pilot pretty much all the way in. Nice to have a drive where you can do that. It’s 23 miles, but a really slack commute. Just get on the highway at one end and get off at the other. Takes a little bit of attention getting around Gorst.

I guess I’m trying to say I wasn’t as perceptive as I should be today. Did see 4 cops (a sheriff hiding down on Sidney by Cedar Heights, a stater in the median in Gorst, an unmarked guy on the shoulder near Gorst, and a BPD).

A couple Canada geese were being trailed by their fuzzy yellow goslings in Gorst. I wonder what percentage of them survive. And who are their predators. Eagles? Raccoons? Possums?

Governor Visiting School That Named New Ferry Class

Gov. Chris Gregoire will be in Port Townsend Tuesday to congratulate Blue Heron Middle School students for naming the state’s newest classification of ferries.
Washington State Ferries conducted a contest to name the new classification of 64-car ferries with fourth-grade students from Chimacum, Port Townsend and Whidbey Island. Blue Heron student Rose Dunlap submitted the winning entry, Kwa-di Tabil (pronounced kwah DEE tah-bayle) Class Ferries, which is translated from the Quileute dialect for “Little Boat.” Gregoire will present the kids with a plaque.
The first Kwa-di Tabil Class ferry, Chetzemoka, is scheduled to begin service in late summer 2010. WSF is building two more Kwa-di Tabil Class ferries, which will begin service in 2011 and 2012.
For more information, visit