Posts

Jul 17
TSI Provides Traffic Study for Long Awaited Project on Oahu

City wants to build new walkway in Haleiwa

After a 20-year push from residents and community leaders, a pedestrian walkway could finally be coming to Haleiwa.

The city of Honolulu just approved $2.8 million to design and build a walkway through the heart of town.

Tourists and locals walk along the uneven pavement next to the busy Kamehameha Highway

"It's pretty obvious to everybody that this is a safety issue," said Antya Miller executive director of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce.
    
The paved walkway would make it easier for pedestrians, those in wheelchairs and parents with strollers to maneuver through the central Oahu town.

"It sounds like a good idea, because I am going off-roading with a stroller," said Cassandra Peyer a tourist.

While some locals and tourists say the walkway will improve safety, while others say its unnecessary.

"It's Hawaiian culture. Not everything is catered to tourists. Growing up in the country that's how it was. We walk on the side of the road."

A traffic study is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. Construction could start by the end of 2013. 

May 14
Point Ruston Springs to Life with Developments

 

After several years of marching in place, developers of a huge housing, retail and office complex along Tacoma’s Ruston Way are moving forward with construction. The first fruits of that renewed activity at Point Ruston, on the site of a former Asarco copper mill near Point Defiance Park, will open to the public late this spring.

After several years of marching in place, developers of a huge housing, retail and office complex along Tacoma’s Ruston Way are moving forward with construction.

The first fruits of that renewed activity at Point Ruston, on the site of a former Asarco copper mill near Point Defiance Park, will open to the public late this spring.

Mike Cohen, Point Ruston’s development manager, said this week he expects to open a new Ruston Way roadway extension through the development in May. That boulevard will bypass the historic Ruston tunnel, which will be filled with soil from the site and sealed.

Grand opening for the new road, which will once again connect the Commencement Bay Waterfront with the town of Ruston, is set for April 21 with a five-kilometer run. That ceremonial road opening will proceed the public road opening to traffic by about a month, said Cohen.

“We’ll have a few details to wrap up before we’re able to let traffic use the new road,” he said. The $28.7 million infrastructure project not only built a new road but also added new utility capacity to serve the Point Ruston development and surrounding areas.

The opening of the first segment of a nearly mile-long waterfront esplanade will follow the roadway opening in June, said Cohen. That 100-foot-wide strip of parkland will include a 20-foot-wide paved sidewalk for walkers and a nearby crushed stone path for runners. The esplanade, called the Waterwalk, will be heavily landscaped and furnished with benches. The full length of the esplanade extending from the present Ruston Way waterfront path to Metropolitan Park District property at Point Defiance is due for opening by the end of the year, said the developer. He put the esplanade’s cost at $5 million.

Meanwhile, construction continues on the first multi-unit housing in the development. That housing, the Copperline apartments, is scheduled for opening in September. Cohen’s development company had begun construction on the Copperline several years ago, but halted construction when the housing market collapsed in 2008. The multi-story building was originally scheduled to be condominiums, but the structure was redesigned as apartments.

The 173 units in that building will range in size from 900 to 1,300 square feet. Rents will vary from $900 to $2,000 monthly, said Cohen.

The building includes three levels of covered parking on the lower floors and retail spaces on the ground level.

Plans call for construction to begin by summer on 44 lower rise condominium units between the apartment structure and the esplanade, the developer said. The units, which range in size from 1,350 to 3,000 square feet, will be priced at $500,000 to $1.7 million.

Nine potential condo owners have made commitments to buy units in that development. Construction will begin, Cohen said, when 15 prospective owners have made commitments to the project.

On the project’s commercial side, a Texas-based media company, Cinemark Holdings, has began planning and design activities for a nine-screen multiplex theater in Point Ruston’s commercial center. That center is planned for opening in 2014.

Seattle’s Silver Cloud Hotels has committed to building a 175-room hotel in the commercial section of the development.

The developer is recruiting restaurants, a grocer and other retail and office tenants to the 250,000-square-foot commercial development. Cohen put the cost of the commercial development at $150 million.

Meanwhile, on the hill overlooking Point Ruston, a failed high-end condominium, The Commencement, is being converted to apartments.

A Minnesota developer bought the building, which was about 90 percent complete, from the bank that foreclosed on the project. That project was not part of the Point Ruston development.

Contractors now are completing the building and adding two apartments in an area that originally had been planned for common-use activities for the condo owners.

Feb 28
The Big Idea: Transportation Edition

The Big Idea: Transportation Edition

What locals would do to fix Seattle's transporation problems, if they had a blank check.
By: Kristen Russell  |   March 2012   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION

If money were no object, what single thing would you do to improve transportation in the region? We put that question to dozens of local transportation thinkers and limited their responses to 150 words—short answers to a long-debated question. Here are a few; add your own idea in the comments section below, or write to editor@tigeroak.com.

FIX THE ROADS FIRST
Aubrey Davis, cofounder of King County Metro Transit and transit advocate
I wouldn’t do any project. Our biggest need is to fix potholes and restore pavement on city, county and state roads. A friend just drove to Arizona through Salt Lake City and says that our state highways are much worse than those in Idaho or Utah, which have been paying attention to their highways. We have been unwilling to raise our gas tax to keep up our maintenance, with deplorable consequences. It has to affect our safety and our economy. 

JUST DO IT!
Bob Drewel, executive director, Puget Sound Regional Council
I still think a horse beats all the alternatives. And at my age, you sometimes wonder whether we’re going to ever do things that we’ve been planning since the earth cooled. My big idea for transportation is borrowed from Nike: Let’s just do it. We have common ground on our plans.  Light rail from Everett to Tacoma and points east. A ferry system that’s fit for the future. A freeway network that’s complete. A regional system of trails and streets that keeps everybody safe on foot, in a car, a bus or a semi. Freight systems that keep our ports competitive. Refitting older roads and bridges to keep pollution out of streams and the Sound. There’s no better time to act. Costs are down. People are hungry for work. Let’s raise the money now and build now. We’ll put people to work and emerge from this lousy economy stronger than the rest, and ready for the future. Let’s just do it.

CREATE CONNECTIONS
John Creighton, Seattle port commissioner
The Port of Seattle is 100 years old this year and today accounts for over 194,000 jobs in Washington state. The Port Commission is intent on building on the legacy of those who came before us. The vision that we are developing for the next 25 years includes some very ambitious goals—adding 100,000 new port-related jobs to the region, growing our seaport cargo operations to 3.5 million containers per year, tripling air cargo at Sea-Tac and doubling the economic impact of the cruise industry to our state. Our vision requires a seamless multimodal transportation system for people and goods. Transit, roads and rail all need to work together: Crown the Stampede Pass rail tunnel [a main train route through the Cascades] to allow for double-stacked container trains, connect the southern King County portion of S.R. 509 to Interstate 5 to relieve congestion, and complete light rail through the region to accommodate the 1 million more residents moving here in the next 20 years.

BALLARD TUNNEL VISION
Martin H. Duke, editor in chief, Seattle Transit Blog
The best thing to do is also the cheapest: Lift density restrictions around our main transit corridors so that everyone who wants to live in the city can do so. That will take cars off the road, and only requires letting property owners do what they want. No large, prosperous city truly solves congestion; instead, they create modes that allow residents to escape gridlock if they wish. When Sound Transit 2 [the current expansion of Link Light Rail and transit] is done, dense neighborhoods in the eastern half of the city will be connected by rapid, traffic-separated transit. It’s time to do the same for the western half. For around $1 billion, we can build a shallow tunnel under Second Avenue downtown (the Third Avenue tunnel will be full) and run buses to West Seattle and Ballard through it. For a bit more, we can skip that step and move straight to rail in that corridor.

MAKE TRANSIT SEXY
Carla Saulter, the “Bus Chick” transit blogger (buschick.com) and membership manager, Transportation Choices Coalition
I would make public transportation the most compelling way to travel. Cars are not inherently more convenient than other modes of transportation, but they are often the path of least resistance in this city, which was built to move cars and not people. I’d reserve right-of-way for transit; make pedestrians a priority; build safe, comfortable, accessible stops with real-time information, climate control and (ahem!) bathrooms. I’d purchase low-floor vehicles with space for strollers, groceries and other stuff people regularly transport. And then, I’d pimp the mess out of those vehicles. Seriously. You like big wheels? Metro’s got ’em. Add some rims, wood grain and a few hot drivers (no disrespect to my husband, but the guy who drives my [route] 8 really needs to be in some sort of calendar), and you’ve got a city that’s way too sexy for its car.

STRENGTHEN THE BACKBONE
Paula Hammond, secretary, state Department of Transportation and member of the governor’s Connecting Washington Task Force
It’s difficult to suggest just one project to improve our regional traffic problems. Puget Sound’s transportation system is just that: a system critical to moving freight within and through our regional and state economy, and vital to commuters and businesses that need reliable and safe travel. That said, the most important investments we must commit to are those that maintain and protect our critical highways, bridges, ferries, local roads and transit service, as these are the backbone of our economy. To lose our core assets and services from disrepair would be irresponsible and costly. From there, we need to make sure we are operating our transportation system well to ensure we make the most use of the facilities and provide an integrated and efficient network to stretch taxpayers’ dollars. If you gave me more leeway, I’d recommend modernizing our highway corridors with a project list as long as your arm.

MONEY WALKS
Dan Bertolet, urban designer and the founder of Citytank (citytank.org)
I propose a solution to our transportation woes that is over a million years old: walking. The question is: How do we motivate more of it? Part of the answer is better urban design, but I believe the biggest impediment is psychological. We need to break our habit of not walking, and here’s how to do it: Pay people to walk. Something like $5 or $10 a mile sounds about right. And because the key factor in breaking a habit is often simply getting a taste of the alternative, costs could be kept down by offering the subsidy during limited times only. It wouldn’t be that hard to track—most cell phones have GPS. Ideally, the program would be implemented at the national level (a federal income tax credit? National Walk Week?), because that would bring the added benefit of upping demand for walkable places nationwide. Ludicrous liberal social engineering fantasy? Totally. But far less ludicrous than a WALL-E world in which no one walks.

SHRINK ROADS
David Markley, founding principal, Transportation Solutions, Inc.
Think small! Yes, just as we have seen residences downsize and dedicated offices transition to shared cubicles...transportation must follow suit. Streets do not need 12-foot-wide lanes, parking on both sides of the street and continuous shoulders to serve the once-a-week vehicle breakdown. Traffic lanes can be narrower or, if wider, shared with bikes like Seattle’s sharrows. Consolidated on-street pocket parking, off-street community-owned parking areas and/or parking on only one side of the street can replace extra-wide road ribbons. Periodically spaced vehicle turnouts can be the new norm instead of continuous 8-foot-wide shoulders....These alternatives are more economical (5–20 percent lower cost); are much more compatible with the environment (reduce storm water runoff and enhance water quality and give some space back to people); and reduce maintenance costs with no significant compromise to capacity or safety.

A 5-YEAR PLAN
Larry Ehl, founder and publisher, Transportation Issues Daily blog, WSDOT veteran
There is no one solution. Since money is no object, I would build out the following within five years:

  • S.R. 509 missing link [around the southwest side of Sea-Tac airport]
  • A sidewalk on every road without one
  • A few bike greenways, and be done with it
  • A few crosstown “freightways,” too
  • An electric and natural-gas vehicle charging network
  • A Sounder stop near Pier 79
  • The planned Sound Transit lines, and be done with that

I would also:

  • Repave every potholed road.
  • Replace every older stinky diesel transit and school bus with a hybrid.
  • Relieve some congestion around Sea-Tac airport by opening Paine Field in Everett to very, very limited passenger air service.
  • Expand transit using more and smaller buses and vans, more routes; install many more covered stops, and make it easier for private providers to enter the market.
  • Rebuild the waterfront, including a world-class ferry terminal.
Jan 26
On Infrastructure, Hopes for Progress This Year Look Glum

President Obama barely mentions the need for improvements in the nation's capital stock in his State of the Union.

The contributions of the Obama Administration to the investment in improved transportation alternatives have been significant, but it was clear from the President's State of the Union address last night that 2012 will be a year of diminished expectations in the face of a general election and a tough Congressional opposition.

Mr. Obama's address, whatever its merits from a populist perspective, nonetheless failed to propose dramatic reforms to encourage new spending on transportation projects, in contrast to previous years. While the Administration has in some ways radically reformed the way Washington goes about selecting capital improvements, bringing a new emphasis on livability and underdeveloped modes like high-speed rail, there was little indication in the speech of an effort to expand such policy choices. All that we heard was a rather meek suggestion to transform a part of the money made available from the pullout from the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts — a sort of war dividend whose size is undefined — to "do some nation-building right here at home."

If these suggestions fell flat for the pro-investment audience, they were reflective of the reality of working in the context of a deeply divided political system in which such once-universally supported policies as increased roads funding have become practically impossible to pursue. Mr. Obama pushed hard, we shouldn't forget, for a huge, transformational transportation bill in early 2011, only to be rebuffed by intransigence in the GOP-led House of Representatives and only wavering support in the Democratic Senate. For the first term at least, the Administration's transportation initiatives appear to have been pushed aside.

Even so, it remains to be seen how the Administration will approach the development of a transportation reauthorization program. Such legislation remains on the Congressional agenda after three years of delays (the law expires on March 31st). There is so far no long-term solution to the continued inability of fuel tax revenues to cover the growing national need for upgraded or expanded mobility infrastructure. But if it were to pass, a new multi-year transportation bill would be the most significant single piece of legislation passed by the Congress in 2012.

The prospect of agreement between the two parties on this issue, however, seems far-fetched. That is, if we are to assume that the goal is to complete a new and improved spending bill, rather than simply further extensions of the existing legislation. The House couldconsider this month a bill that would fund new highways and transit for several more years by expanding domestic production of heavily carbon-emitting fossil fuels, a terrible plan that would produce few new revenues and encourage more ecological destruction. Members of the Senate, meanwhile, have for months been claiming they were "looking" for the missing $12 or 13 billion to complete its new transportation package but have so far come up with bupkis. The near-term thus likely consists of either continued extensions of the current law or a bipartisan bargain that fails to do much more than replicate the existing law, perhaps with a few bureaucratic reforms.

In the context of the presidential race, Mr. Obama's decision not to continue his previously strong advocacy of more and more transportation funding suggests that the campaign sees the issue as politically irrelevant. If the Administration made an effort last year to convince Americans of the importance of improving infrastructure, there seems to have been fewer positive results in terms of popular perceptions than hoped for. Perhaps the rebuffs from Republican governors on high-speed rail took their toll; perhaps the few recovery projects that entered construction were not visible enough (or at least their federal funding was not obvious enough); perhaps the truth of the matter is that people truly care more about issues like unemployment and health care than they do for public transit and roads.

This does not mean an end to the beneficial shifts in national policy that have for the first time in decades really made transportation a tool for the improvement of conditions in cities large and small. This, ultimately, is the success of the Department of Transportation under Mr. Obama: Making livability and density primary goals of the mobility system. Even if little gets done in 2012, it is hard to see these ideas disappearing from the popular discourse.

Yonah Freemark

Dec 14
Task Force Recommends $20B for Transportation

The Connecting Washington Task Force, a group appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire to come up with recommendations for a statewide transportation funding package, formally recommended a $20 billion package yesterday, along with a list of potential local funding options that could be funded either by city councils directly or by city voters.

The $20 billion would be focused on maintaining and operating the state and cities’ existing transportation infrastructure, with some new investments in key economic corridors. However, the committee members, who include elected officials, environmental advocates, industry representatives, and appointed officials like state transportation secretary Paula Hammond, did not recommend a specific list of projects. Nor did they make recommendations on how much of the money should be spent on various transportation modes, beyond proposing that the majority of any package go to the state department of transportation (WSDOT), with a slim minority going to transit projects and improvements.

The last time legislators passed a big transportation package, in 2005, conservative radio host John Carlson ran an unsuccessful initiative to repeal it.

The task force left pretty much every possible funding option on the table, and even added a few new options. Among other possibilities, the state-level funding options could include tolling, $100 fees for electric vehicles, additional gas taxes, a statewide motor vehicle excise tax, and a tax on vehicle miles traveled.

At the local level, cities could get a number of new options, including local tolls, a local MVET, a local option fuel tax, or a local property tax.

The consensus on the task force seemed to be that the state legislature should pass legislation funding maintenance and operations needs without a public vote—easier said than done, given that any new taxes require a two-thirds vote (fees require only a simple majority)—and put capital projects on a statewide ballot.

Seattle City Council transportation committee chair Tom Rasmussen, who sits on the task force, said the city would prefer that the state give it as many options to raise transportation revenue without going to the voters as possible—preferably by a simple-majority vote, rather than the two-thirds vote the King County Council needed to pass a $20 vehicle license fee to save Metro earlier this year. “Those of us who represented local jurisdictions strongly emphasized the importance of giving us options and a lot of flexibility,” Rasmussen said this morning.

The task force will issue a full report by the end of the year, and hopes to send a statewide revenue package to voters in November.

Nov 09
Voters put a stop sign on red-light camera use

Nothing less than a statewide ban of red-light cameras will satisfy opponents of the devices, following victories in all three cities with advisory votes on the issue Tuesday.

"It's a populist issue. The idea is that we want to get rid of the cameras and those who aren't with us aren't with the people," said Nick Sherwood, of Puyallup, creator of BanCams.com.

Voters Tuesday turned thumbs-down on red-light cameras in Bellingham, Monroe and Longview, campaigns that sprung out of a vote against the cameras last year in Mukilteo. The validity of the Mukilteo measure is now before the Washington Supreme Court.

Tuesday's results showed 65 percent of Monroe voters and 60 percent in Longview against continuing red-light cameras, while in Bellingham, 65 percent opposed starting a camera system.

In Longview, 58 percent of voters favored a separate surveillance-camera operation that targets speeders in school zones.

Sherwood said red-light-camera opponents will once more ask the Legislature to ban the devices, but he expects continued opposition from cities and companies making revenue from them.

The spokesman for the nation's largest installer of the cameras said he was disappointed in the votes and said the cameras save lives.

"There's no question that we will continue to share with the Legislature the benefits of the cameras, as we have in the past," said Charles Territo, of Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, which has contracts with 300 cities nationwide, including 15 in Washington.

Last week, the Redmond City Council voted to stop using the cameras.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the cameras saved 159 lives from 2004 to 2008 in the 14 biggest U.S. cities with cameras, and would have saved 815 lives if all large cities had been using them.

But a recent report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said the cameras may deter more proven safety measures, such as providing longer yellow lights.

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016720192_elexredlights09m.html

Oct 12
Citing vital need for transportation infrastructure, Port Commission opposes I-1125

Ballot measure would likely lead to delays, higher costs for future projects

The Port of Seattle Commission voted unanimously to oppose Initiative 1125, a ballot measure that would make significant changes in state law and make future transportation projects difficult to fund. The initiative would place tolling power in the hands of the Washington State Legislature, rather than the non-partisan Washington State Transportation Commission that currently holds the authority.

“Tens of thousands of jobs across the state are generated by port activities, and they depend on a transportation system that moves goods and people efficiently,” said Commission President Bill Bryant. "We are in a global fight to keep those jobs here and I-1125 could tilt the playing field against us.”

According to State Treasurer Jim McIntire, passing the initiative would result in higher bond costs and higher costs for the taxpayers. Subjecting toll-setting to the political process in the Legislature would make project funding uncertain – and bond markets have demonstrated recently how uncertainty leads to delays and higher costs to fund transportation investments.

The initiative also prohibits tools that can be used to ease congestion and could prohibit light rail on any state highway, including the voter-approved light rail across I-90 between Seattle and Bellevue.

Most important to the port are the projects that provide access to cargo terminals, cruise and fishing facilities, and Sea-Tac Airport, such as the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program and the extension of SR-167 and SR-509. Without those and similar projects, the region’s ability to move goods and people will be jeopardized – along with the jobs those industries support.

Aug 29
Interview with TSI Principal, David Markley

View this link to see Curbed's interview with David Markley.

http://seattle.curbed.com/tags/five-minute-interviews

Aug 16
The Language of Sustainability - What You Said and What Others Heard

Several of us are speaking about an aspect of the communications challenge this Sunday at the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation:

The Language of Sustainability – What You Said and What Others Heard
Moderator and Speaker: Larry Ehl, Transportation Issues Daily, Edmonds, WA, USA

Have you ever tried to convince someone about a sustainability initiative only to meet the ‘Berlin Wall’ of resistance? We have. Then we learned some skills to improve our connection with our audience and increase the odds for a positive outcome. In this session you’ll learn more about connecting with your direct and indirect audiences, and the biases and listening context of those audiences – how your words are interpreted and mischaracterized. We’ll discuss tools and strategies to positively influence conversations and proposals about sustainability in transportation.

  • Lloyd Brown, American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, Washington, DC, USA
  • Mike Rosen, PRR, Seattle, WA, USA
  • Patricia White, Defenders of Wildlife, Washington, DC, USA
Jul 27
Let's Get it Done

We have heard the recession is over, but nobody seems eager to return to the go-go of the pre-crunch heyday. Hit especially hard now are local governments, whose revenue cycles lag a year or so behind business. Some are in deep financial holes they’ve had to cut popular -- and some essential -- services. Having been in their shoes, I appreciate the tough decisions my former colleagues are making to cut jobs, force employee pay cuts, cancel important projects, and abandon services for families and victims.

But if we’ve learned anything at TSI, it’s that crisis generates creativity. We and our clients must develop new approaches to doing business. It’s time for all of us to let go of “the way we do it” and for management, labor, government and business to work together to “get it done.”