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SDOT Finally Announces the West Seattle Bridge’s Opening Date

West Seattle Bridge

The Seattle Department of Transportation has established a date for the reopening of the West Seattle Bridge, which was closed for more than two years. On Sept. 12, the West Seattle Bridge, which has been closed for more than two years after discovering cracks considered to be hazardous, is slated to reopen after a lengthy restoration process.

As per the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the West Seattle Bridge has traditionally been the city’s most-trafficked bridge, transporting an average of 100,000 cars every day.

The bridge’s reopening date is many months behind the city’s original estimate. As a result of a lengthy concrete workers’ strike, the city’s high-profile projects and others around the area have been delayed.

Concrete pouring was slated to begin at the start of the year, but the contractor didn’t begin until mid-April, a month behind schedule. The structural concrete pour was completed on May 26 by the construction team.

In order for the bridge to reopen, technicians need to complete pouring epoxy into fractures, encapsulating carbon fiber to strengthen the structure, and post-tensioning using steel cables.

There are still “difficult and complicated” tasks ahead, and SDOT warns there may be unanticipated issues that might influence on the timetable, even though it says it would keep its contractor responsible to reach the revised timelines.

When inspectors observed fast-increasing fractures in the 40-year-old bridge on March 23, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee had already ordered a stay-home order because of the pandemic. Repairs to avoid future cracking were finished in 2020 and the last phase of the project started in 2021, SDOT said.

It was at this point in time that the city was debating whether to repair or rebuild the bridge, which could have taken millions and kept the route closed until at least 2026 if the bridge was completely replaced.

During Jenny Durkan’s first term as mayor, she said that the city will rehabilitate the bridge as a means of boosting the economy, which depends on transportation.

The West Seattle Bridge Project History

Traditionally, the West Seattle Bridge has been the city’s busiest thoroughfare, with an average daily traffic count of more than 100,000 people.

Since its completion in 1984, the concrete bridge has served as a vital artery for the movement of people and products between West Seattle and its surrounding neighborhoods, including SODO and the Duwamish Valley.

The 1,300-foot-long, three-span bridge rises 140 feet over the Duwamish River at its highest point. Because the bridge was built on-site, workers built segments on each side of the piers until all segments were linked, making it an overhanging and segmental concrete bridge.

Travelers and companies in South Park, SODO, West Seattle, Georgetown, and Seattle meanwhile have been affected by the shutdown. SDOT is grateful for everyone’s perseverance and sense of camaraderie as they work through this difficult closing.

The 1st Avenue S Bridge and the South Park Bridge are two possible diversions. In order to guarantee quick emergency vehicle movement, the Spokane St. Swing Bridge has been limited to authorized users only.

Photo Credit: “Under west side of West Seattle Bridge” by theslowlane is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Why is This Seattle Highway Exit an Accident Magnet?

Seattle Traffic

The I-5 off-ramp at the Seattle Convention Center is a frequent site of car accidents. So much that many residents have begun asking why this is so. Although the DOT has made various modifications, this off-ramp continues to be a wrecking ball.

At least one risky road or crossroads may be found in every city. In certain cases, it might be that there aren’t enough turn lanes, or that there is a piece of road with a different speed restriction than the rest of the road. The I-5 off-ramp at the Seattle Convention Center is an excellent example of this.

Actually, this route has been the topic of a recent viral video compilation that has swept the internet. As the videos show, this exit ramp has seen a number of collisions over the years, prompting many to wonder whether or not it is safe for other motorists and pedestrians to continue using it.

Apparently, this specific off-ramp has been problematic for some time. A Seattle YouTuber, Michael Basconcillo, has been documenting the spot since 2017 when he filmed a Lamborghini catching fire as it veered off the freeway. Basconcillo says he saw many vehicles speeding through the intersection while driving, which prompted him to record them and share the information online.

Many residents and visitors are wondering why this particular exit is such a hotbed of car accidents yet there is concrete and reflective signage all around this short one-lane exit in Google Street View. One of the reasons is that most motorists don’t seem to be capable of reducing their speed from the highway’s limit of 60 mph to the suggested departure speed of 20 mph.

There are roughly 464 feet from the exit gore to the middle of the steep bend where accidents are happening, according to a Washington Department of Transportation spokeswoman. Because the speed limit on I-5 is 60 miles per hour, the driver of a 60-mph vehicle would have around 5.25 seconds to slow down before exiting the freeway.

As a reminder to slow down, there are multiple warning signs and reflective markings on concrete barriers: a 30mph sign at the solid white line before the exit, 20mph signs before the exit gore, and a 20mph warning below the exit gore, and stoplight warning signs.

The reflective poles and markers visible in the video shot at the site, as well as the extra speed warning under the exit sign, had all been erected by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) as of 2019. Since the new signs were put up, Basconcillo’s cameras have filmed at least three more collisions.

Even towing firms were taken aback by the high number of automobile accidents on that specific off-ramp, considering how abrupt the bend is. Regardless, the clearly designated portion of the road has seen its fair number of fatalities through the years, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

No particular future upgrades were mentioned by WSDOT, although that does not exclude interim measures. According to Basconcillo, rumble strips might help prevent inattentive drivers from making errors.

People in the area need to keep an eye out for how many accidents occur and how many automobiles end up leaping over the curb. This steep off-ramp might one day be the cause of the death of an innocent pedestrian if a reckless driver fails to slow down.

Seattle’s Free Riders Are Creating a Strain on the City’s Transit System

Sound Transit Map

Passengers who refuse to pay for the city’s transit system are causing problems. A recent study showed that almost two-thirds of all passengers in Seattle are free riders.

Most stations lack turnstiles. This being the case, passengers have to either buy tickets or use pre-paid cards as they enter the station. As a result of the low number of users who are willing to pay, only 5% of the system’s operating costs are covered by fares, a far cry from the required 40% by Sound Transit.

The departing CEO of Sound Transit, Peter Rogoff gave a succinct summary of the issue at a recent Board meeting. “Our fee collecting system depends largely on an honor system,” he stated. “And our extremely severe issue is that our passengers aren’t following the system.”

Estimates show that close to 70% of passengers in the city ride free. This is just an estimate because fare enforcement measures have not yet been implemented. In the wake of a study revealing a disparity in the amount of money fined to passengers of color, Sound Transit eliminated its fare enforcement officers.

There’s however a new “fare ambassadors” system currently in place. If you’re on the light rail system, you’ll only see a few of these vehicles. The fare ambassadors’ approach only works on 2 percent of all the transit system users. They currently only work with 2% of all riders.

When fare ambassadors board a train, they inquire as to whether or not passengers have paid their fare. Usually, not everyone has. Rather than removing ticket evaders off the train, fare ambassadors begin the conversation by requesting proof of identity. It is hard to issue a warning since 76 percent of the free-riders fail to present a valid ID.

Prior to issuing the first fine, Sound Transit provides two warnings to the offender. However, penalties are seldom issued and even less commonly paid due to a lack of identity. Fare ambassadors may not be able to persuade many free riders to pay their fare, but they do gather useful information about them. Non-payers are compelled to provide personal information such as their home address, race, and gender.

Councilmember Reagan Dunn views the lack of enforcement as only a piece of the greater issue in the transportation system in King County. “We are currently experiencing a form of decriminalization of many things, including farebox recovery and even failure to register known sex offenders under the pretext of equity and social justice,” said Dunn. “And the result is an increase in crime”.

Several additional light rail systems, like those in Portland, Denver, and Dallas, depend on the honor system. The first time a fare evader is found, they are all going to impose substantial penalties.

A majority of the Sound Transit Board do not show a lot of concern for the decreased fare collection problem. Claudia Balducci is one of the few who applaud the nonchalant approach of the ticket ambassador. “It’s less scary for people to utilize our system because of the lack of fare enforcement,” said Balducci.

The Sound Transit Board’s only Republican, Bruce Dammeier, says taxpayers who paid more than $168 billion for the system are being scammed. “This is the largest waste of money we’ve ever seen,” said Bruce Dammeier.

Photo: “Sound Transit System Map” by Oran Viriyincy is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0

Seattle Ride Sharing Rules Coming Soon

Seattle Ride Share Sevices

December 13, 2012 the City of Seattle Council held a public meeting regarding ride share services. These new services are popping up everywhere now and the taxi drivers are getting mad because they are offering a lower, faster, CHEAPER, and in reality better service.  They are saying they can’t compete and they are not safe ect.  Some of these new services include Sidecar, Lyft and Uber for example. However, city taxis of course are regulated by the city and they want the new ride share services to be also. I certainly can understand that frustration if I was an owner.  The city is holding them back.

As I’ve mentioned several times now on the Emerald Journal when an opportunity presents itself for more tax revenue the Council with certainly take you up on that opportunity. Here is another example of how these services are deemed “illegal” and we need to come up with a “fair” solution to regulate and tax them appropriately.

Seattle talks a big game about wanting riders to share, use buses, bikes, ect but when something new and innovated comes around and provides a real service of doing just that – they are quick to knock it down.  These services are really innovated and have the business down not like the old taxi systems in place.  These companies use apps on their phones, easy to use, and much cheaper.  It’s sad but the reality is that it’s all smoke and mirrors with the City of Seattle Council to make the public opinion positive about them and what they do for the city.

The City is proposing an annual license fee of $50,000 for these companies. Well that sounds “fair” to me (not). That sure is horrible for these companies and obvious sign the City Council is all about regulation, control, and revenue. It’s not about better air, less traffic, or anything like that – it’s about revenue first.  This effort pretty much puts them out of business and/or makes it extremely difficult to do business here in Seattle.  I thought the goal was to increase transportation and encourage great ideas to solve the traffic, parking, air, car issues in Seattle.  This move in licensing just kills that effort.

If they really wanted to solve this problem they would simply lower the regulations on Taxi owners and let them all compete evenly. The best service will win over the public. That would just be to easy, however, and would limit the cash flow and regulations which the city would never agree to. Sad but true. Take note just another case of grabbing more cash and not really caring to come up with innovated solutions which are available right now.

Next time you vote to support those businesses or public transportation just remember the City killed these cheap innovated companies so they can continue to control and regulate this area.

Seattle Taxi Drivers Losing Business

Seattle Taxi Drivers
Local Seattle taxi drivers are angry. The complaint comes from the new rideshare type companies in Seattle. Taxi owners feel they are stuck because their prices are controlled by the City of Seattle while these other type of transportation services are not. Mike Judd, the owner of Yellow Taxi, has a good point in my opinion and he says, “These guys don’t have business licenses, the drivers, they don’t have proper insurance, they’re doing a tremendous bite into our business and undercutting our rates that are regulated by the city and undercutting the safety of the public…” I do agree with that for the most part. I don’t agree with the public safety. Taxi’s are no safer than any of the other newer transportation options available. Common Mike Judd we all know how these Taxi drivers drive around town lets be real.

The Seattle Council has a meeting scheduled tonight with the committee on taxi for-hire and limousines. Who knew there was a committee to handle Taxi’s! Sounds like more wasted money to me. None the less, that is the situation for now. What I find most interesting is that in public, TV, and in ads they push and encourage more options for riders. They want the public to use the other public transportation options available. They want people to rideshare to work. Leave your car at home and ride to work or ride the bus – we have all seen this type of propaganda. EXCEPT – when they start to lose money because they are overpriced and new companies/solutions are readily available. That is NOT ok with the City and they must be shut down or highly regulated quickly.

What happened to capitalism and entrepreneurship? These companies have found a solution that a lot of Seattle residents are embracing. The demand is high and this is what American is about. It’s about being creative, finding a new solution, and that includes competitiveness for businesses. They are considerably less and easier to work with. You can order a ride from you mobile phone! Some of these newer solutions just ask for a donation for the driver. Another named UberX charges similar rates as the taxi’s but doesn’t require tips. These are just creative options and in my opinion the more options and competitiveness the better.

It’s a shame I feel the City is going to side with the taxi drivers on this one due to the money and regulations involved for the City. I feel, however, if the taxi drivers would actually clean up their acts, lower their fees, and COMPETE they actually may do quite well. With the monopoly in place there are no reason to do anything. They can continue to be rude, blow off pickup times, keep their cars filthy, and continue to only shower once a week. Why change anything when you’re the only option available? Time for a change and time to allow entrepreneurship to grow. This is supposed to be America after all.

How To Travel Like A Local In Seattle This Weekend

Lost In Seattle Washington Traveling

With the summer vacation season getting ready to begin over Memorial Day weekend, you might be interested in the American Public Transportation Association (APTA)’s survey about the projected number of travelers who will be visiting cities – like Seattle – and riding public transportation this year.

The official release is located below:

This Summer Vacation Season Brings Seven Percent More Tourists to Cities and Public Transportation than Last Year

70 million plan to “Travel Like a Local” and use public transit in U.S. cities this summer with Millenials leading the way

As the temperatures rise and schools close down, over 126 million Americans are planning to vacation in a city this year – a seven percent increase over 2012.  The American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) annual “Travel Like a Local” Summer Travel Survey shows that around 56 percent (70 million) of those visiting cities plan on using public transportation for at least one activity during their stay. APTA notes that the improved economy is the reason for the increase in travel to cities.  The five most popular cities for travel this summer are New York, Miami, Chicago, Orlando and San Francisco.

The survey found that a majority in all age groups will take public transportation while on their city trip, but Millenials (18-24) are most likely to use public transportation while on vacation, with 73 percent reporting yes. Major motivators for using public transportation included not having to worry about finding a parking space (73 percent), saving money on parking fees (69 percent), and not having to navigate a car within a new city (64 percent).

“City visitors can experience more of the local culture and hustle-and-bustle of city life by taking public transportation alongside local residents,” said APTA Chair Flora Castillo.  “We are offering guidance to help tourists get around like the locals do.  We hope that this effort will be a fun way to remind residents and tourists that public transportation systems are not just a great way to get from point A to point B, but also unique, cultural institutions that shape our urban landscapes and reflect the nation’s diverse communities.”

“With the economy on the rebound, cities are becoming a more attractive destination for the summer because they are close by and have a wide array of amenities,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.  “A growing number of travelers are discovering that one of a city’s greatest assest is its local public transportation system.  These travelers are saving money while taking advantage of the local systems’ high-frequency routes which are designed to stop at the most popular spots and attractions a city has to offer.”

Forty-nine million city vacationers will use public transportation to sightsee and for restaurant dining and nightlife, 47 million to travel to and from their place of lodging, while 42 million will take public transportation to travel to and from the airport during their visit.

According to the survey, a growing number of individuals with incomes over $75,000 will rely on public transportation during their trip to a city and those traveling from all regions, including the South and Midwest will use public transportation during their city stay.  A majority of travelers with children (62 percent) will use public transportation during their city visit.

As the number of Americans headed to a city on vacation continues to increase, APTA is issuing a series of insider tip guides for vacationers traveling to some of the top city destinations.  These tips will provide insight into local public transit idiocyncracies, unspoken protocols, and tips to help vacationers to travel like a local and avoid public transit faux paux. For more details on how you can “Travel Like a Local” this summer, visit us at www.publictransportation.org.

Seattle-Travel-Photo Travel like a local in Seattle Washington

Seattle Streetcar Ten Million Dollar Plan

After the shock and disappointment of the election, I thought I would try to make a fresh start in my thinking and try to accept the fact that i just don’t fit into the way most Washington voters think. I thought I might just sort of give up and go with the flow, then the Times runs this big article that Mayor McGinn and the City Council are going to spend ten million dollars planning where some new street cars would go. This is just planning, and they don’t really have a clear cut idea of what they are planning so for sure they will run out of money fast. They say the city is broke. Had to re-do the bus routes and cut service to thousands of people. Georgetown had 3 buses and now we don’t have one bus along the highway or 4th ave. We have to either walk a half mile or so to get to the only bus stop in Georgetown that will get us to town without transferring. We have a little community of residents that the 131 got us downtown and to Burien for years but now it comes from Burien over the 1st Ave Bridge and the only stop at what they call their new and improved service for Georgetown is at Keep Reading

Seattle Streetcar Projects A Big Drain

It appears Seattle continues to look at ways to blow our tax money.  The City Council is going to spend $10 million dollars to just review adding streetcars in Seattle.  The $10 million will be spent on just reviewing the roads, locations, areas, tracks, population etc.  In the event, the City decides to move forward on a streetcar, it will cost $50 million dollars.  How could anyone actually be considering this?  It’s just way out of our budget and simply doesn’t make any sense.  We would be better off buying a new bus, painting it (thus branding it) and naming it the Emerald City Shuttle.  It’s dedicated to just this mile and goes back and fourth all day.  The costs are maybe 100K for the bus and another 30K per year for the driver.  Do you know how many years it would take with my plan and budget compared to your $50 million+ plan?  It would take 50 years on my plan to even reach you’re $50 million initial construction work easily.  You’re plan doesn’t even include millions per year for maintenance of your plan.  It’s just a no brainer.

Lets talk about the extra revenue.  My plan and your plan does create revenue except my plan Keep Reading

Advisory Vote No. 2 (Substitute House Bill 2590)

This is on the table and I do support it.  It’s a tax break, however, I do think it’s justified.  We all know our tax system is messed up and more complicated than a 10,000 piece puzzle.  That is why I have to pay people to manage it for me quarterly and yearly.  I shouldn’t have to do that!  I think measures used to less complicated things should be installed and that means less measures complicating the system.  I understand we are not lose some money here for taxes, however, the tax was unfair as it was.  I don’t believe some people or business owners should pay more for what they do or who they are.  That includes the taxing the rich which I don’t support.

Even Though this should have gone to a public vote and not just eliminated without anyone knowing, I do support the expiration of the tax.

 

Advisory Vote No. 2 (Substitute House Bill 2590)

“The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, expiration of a tax on possession of petroleum products and reduced the tax rate, costing $24,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending.”

Seattle Pothole Repair – The Solution

Seattle potholes are all over.  With the recent proposal from King County Executive Dow Constantine charging cities of 250,000 or more $20 per car each year, I figured I would present another solution.  The reality is that this job isn’t to complicated and we are paying people $30 per hour running all over town repairing potholes.  We need it out of the cities hands (labor wise).  How much talent does it take to get a shovel and fill a pot hole?  You shove the hot mess into the hole smooth it out and pat it down tight.  It’s so simple a monkey could do it.  We need to stop wasting the money and talent on pot hole repair.

Obviously from the budget review report by Dow Constantine stating we’re spending 73% of our budget on court cases and criminals we need to start putting them to work.  We have an army of community service workers every day.  They are out cleaning up the roads (garbage, tires, paper etc), cutting back bushes and sticker bushes, feeding the homeless, so lets give them a shovel and put them to work.  Seriously.  Add a crew, put one guy in charge like they do now and take road trips filling up all these pot holes.  Most of their actual “work time” would be driving to different cities anyway so labor wise it wouldn’t be to difficult.  I know I would rather be driving around town and filling holes then having to do real community service work like cleaning the east side of I5 all day long.

It’s a solution and one to consider.  We would save so much money considering what we are paying people to do it now and the management involved.

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