Monthly Archives: December 2006

Re-Racking RTID

With the Governor announcing the priorities of Puget Sound’s highway projects approved in 2003 will have to be “re-racked” to account for cost overruns, the current round of projects under consideration by RTID may suffer a similar fate. The I-405 corridor will be one of the likeliest projects for deferral. Some suggestions on making an impact without as much expensive concrete past the jump.
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RTID & ST2: Prisoner’s Dilemma

When the legislature began the process of addressing the growing infrastructure gaps in Washington, it was always envisioned a regional funding mechanism would be born at the same time. This is as it should be, since Puget Sound has needs orders of magnitude greater than the rest of the state, and to ask those in Pasco or Omak to share them uniformly through the gas tax would be quite inequitable.

However, this noble intention has been fraught with problems. The legislature looked to the success of megaprojects combining roads and transit elsewhere, and decided to forcibly tie the newborn RTID’s fate to that of an undeveloped proposal from a formerly troubled transit agency, Sound Transit.

This was based on traditional assumptions about voting patterns: the suburbs love roads and hate transit, and urban centers have never met a road project they would vote for. While urban regions are still hostile to highway projects, (see Vancouver’s Gateway Project) the suburban regions of Puget Sound seem to have begun to warm to transit. Should we decouple these initiatives?

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Learning from Denver

The Stranger’s Erica Barnett is in Denver reporting on the opening of the regions new T-REX transportation project. The T-REX project can certainly teach us something about how to handle megaprojects. A $1.7 billion project, completed in 5 years, widening 17 miles of freeway and adding 19 miles of light rail.

T-REX

However, this project has disproved one frequently made assertion: light rail is not always preferred to buses. From the Rocky Mountain News:

Swamped with an “unprecedented” barrage of complaints about longer commutes that accompanied the startup of T-REX light-rail service, RTD is making changes to bus schedules and routes, but it won’t bring back the popular express buses it eliminated.

But the source of many of the complaints – elimination of direct nonstop coach bus rides from far-out suburban park-n-Rides to downtown or the Denver Tech Center – remains. Regional Transportation District staff said with Southeast light-rail lines serving as the new spine of the corridor, it can’t afford to compete with itself by adding some of the canceled bus routes.

Something to think about as Sound Transit 2 proposes a massive light rail expansion.

BRT the Japanese way…

While the US has its share of vehicles that can operate on rails or roads for quite a while, they’re all pickups for railroad maintenance:

RailTruck

Via Engadget, the Japanese do us one better. With rural villages shrinking, a Japanese railroad has developed a railbus that has two sets of wheels: steel for rail lines, and rubber to serve remote villages that are no longer economical to maintain rails to. Undergoing testing now, the railcars will cost $170,000 each. Those fancy new hybid buses Metro is running? $645,000 each.

Railbus

These would certainly be some of the “unique vehicles” Ron Sims’ RapidBus BRT plans call for.

In the year 2025…

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
-Chinese Proverb

What will Seattle transit look like in 2025? The beginnings of a major change are arriving, with Link scheduled to advance to Northgate, and many proposed streetcar lines under consideration. But how do we get from that to an integrated system? Some thoughts, after the jump. Continue reading

The Sufrace Alternative

While the People’s Waterfront Coalition wants a boulevard as a stick to reduce demand by inducing gridlock, that is certainly not the only way a boulevard could work. Beyond the flip, a boulevard concept that retains capacity while maintaining a vibrant waterfront.
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What about Ballard?

Ballard is another neighborhood heavily dependent on the Viaduct. The untimely demise of the monorail leaves transit riders dependent on bus routes made increasingly slow and unreliable by congestion on 15th NW and Westlake. After the break, a modest proposal to rectify the situation…
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