September 27, 2013 at 6:28 AM
City needs mass-transit system
The recent article on cars apparently deals with only Seattle proper, ignoring the huge amount of daily auto traffic to and from the surrounding cities. [“Cars losing grip on Seattle,” page one, Sept. 25.]
The terrible traffic conditions in Seattle are not caused by people who live and work here.
Of note, also, were the four cities in the U.S. with a higher percentage than Seattle of people who do not drive solo to work. Each of these cities has a subway system that facilitates transportation within their boundaries and from their suburban communities.
One doesn’t see many bicycle riders in New York or Boston.
Glen Kaner, Seattle
March 1, 2013 at 7:01 AM
Coal trains will be inconvenience
“ ‘Green’ strategists now back coal trains” [page one, Feb. 26] reveals that a great deal of money is being spent by proponents of coal-unit trains and terminals in Western Washington. This is discouraging and irritating.
Since the proposal was introduced, we have heard a lot about environmental effects, health and safety effects and temporary employment effects. We likely will be hearing a lot more.
The terrible and essentially perpetual adverse effects of the proposal on the public convenience and the quality of life of millions of people who live here are seldom mentioned. Anyone who has waited at a railroad crossing on the Seattle waterfront for the seemingly interminable passing of a unit train moving at a snail’s pace will know what I mean. It actually is being proposed that we all be subjected to this dozens of times a day. This is lunacy.
The coal-unit trains and terminals proposal is a selfish and inherently bad idea. It should be disposed of with all deliberate speed.
–Lee Voorhees, Mercer Island
Coal trains will disrupt environment, job market
Anyone who argues that the jobs argument trumps global warming had better learn how to subtract. The coal-train proposal would disrupt commerce daily throughout the Pacific Northwest, driving away marine-dependent employment from the harbors. Sodo would be gridlocked as commuters wait on 20 miles of coal trains. The Ballard railroad trestle would daily be down for hours, bottling up ships in Lake Union and Salmon Bay.
Exporting 150 million tons of coal puts the long-term future of my industry, North Pacific fishing, at risk. The Port of Seattle estimates 15,000 fishing-related jobs in the Seattle area alone. Increasing acidification in the oceans caused by the burning of carbon-based fuel is already causing damage to the state’s shellfish industry and will, if unchecked, threaten the marine web on which my salmon fishery depends.
Why trade sustainable livelihoods for a few jobs based on a one-time extraction of a nonrenewable resource?
–Pete Knutson, co-owner Loki Fish Company, Seattle
August 30, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Roads shouldn’t be governed by survival of the fittest
I heartily disagree with the state Court of Appeals and The Seattle Times ["Court right to reject Seattle traffic law," Opinion, editorial, Aug. 21] that a traffic infraction cannot turn into a crime.
It seems to me that turning illegally into the path of an oncoming vehicle — whether bicycle or car — and killing that other person demonstrates a certain “reckless manner” and “disregard for the safety of others.”
The issue has nothing to do with the “tensions created by traffic congestion” or with “competition for road space” or with “sharing limited space.” Drivers need to avoid killing other people whether the roads are crowded or not!
Driving is not a contact sport or a blood sport governed by the law of the jungle: survival of the fittest. If drivers are not held accountable for criminal actions, or criminal outcomes, then we are all at the mercy of the legions of drivers who commit traffic infractions through carelessness, thoughtlessness, stupidity, irresponsibility and incompetence.
– Dale Flynn, Shoreline
Judge had duty to uphold state law
A motorist should be held accountable for the injury or death of a pedestrian or cyclist. I understand the anger at the overturning of the Seattle law.
However, the anger is directed in the wrong direction. The Seattle ordinance conflicted with state law, and judges have a duty to determine what the letter of the law is. The judge overturned the Seattle law because it was against state law.
The judge can’t change the law and neither can The Times.
What really needs to be done is to change the state law so careless motorists are held accountable for their carelessness. Those angry about the court’s decision should write to their state legislators urging a change in the law.
– Bob Fleming, Seattle
July 17, 2009 at 4:00 PM
What gets a city employee fired?
The Seattle Times article about incompetence in city government ["The street crews that couldn't pour straight," page one, July 17] reminds me of why we need daily newspapers to serve as professional watchdogs. It also brought to mind The Seattle Times article from some years ago about the city employee who was caught by Seattle Police stealing city computers, and yet was allowed to remain on the payroll.
Sure makes one wonder: What does it take for a city employee to actually get fired?
– Grant Fjermedal, Seattle
Seattle streets look, function terribly
Last month, a visiting friend commented that Seattle streets were as bad as the streets of bankrupt New York during the ’70s. Despite having many years of unprecedented prosperity, Seattle’s cracked and potholed streets are the norm and the solution from the mayor is to just patch the hole until next time.
Taxpayer’s millions wasted on repeatedly built crosswalks or crooked concrete curbs isn’t the only concern with the Seattle Department of Transportation.
As in other parts of town, the curbs on Capitol Hill’s Pine Street are being pushed in so that all traffic behind every bus will have to stop every time. Intersections around town are being rebuilt with curb bulbs in order to eliminate the right turn lane, which only causes more congestion and idling.
Antiquated traffic signals on major streets stop rush-hour traffic flow every few blocks, causing guaranteed gridlock. The rest of the world somehow survives with stop signs, but we pay to install concrete traffic islands and “traffic calming” concrete slaloms while hundreds of city intersections go with no signage at all. And then there are the bike lanes and symbols, which seem to create more confusion than anything else.
SDOT’s boss, Mayor Greg Nickels, seemingly has no clear vision for the city’s transportation system and is more intent with redecorating Mercer Street. This billionaire’s new driveway will certainly look nice, but it will also increase congestion and cost a bundle. Maybe the mayor does have a vision for Seattle’s transportation after all?
Safety will always be the excuse for these SDOT beauty projects that steal precious tax dollars while our streets are crumbling into gravel. Safety is a very relative term and holds little weight when a town is planning for several hundred thousand more residents.
Eliminating arterial traffic lanes and public parking spaces is no way to encourage density or an efficient business climate. Bad decisions made now will effect our local economy for decades to come.
Trucks and cars will eventually have to be clean and they will never go away. A single light-rail line means most people will still need to get around by car or bus. It makes no sense to increase congestion while encouraging higher density at the same time. It is well past time that Seattle’s taxpayer dollars are spent for their own benefit and no one else’s.
– David G. Wright, Seattle
July 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Crunican doesn’t compare to previous city engineers
The Times article on street crews ["Curb crew blunders mean heat for Nickels," page one, July 14] reported, “Drago has been a reliable Crunican supporter and credited her Monday with outshining her predecessors on big projects.”
A more ridiculous and utterly stupid assertion is hard to imagine.
No professional engineer in Washington state, let alone King County, would dare to suggest Grace Crunican, with a long trail of engineering blunders, can hold a candle to the likes of R.H. Thompson, Roy W. Morse or Eugene Avery, past city engineers with enormous talents and concomitant citywide engineering and management success stories.
It is hard to imagine Crunican can hold a sputtering candle to these hugely successful past city engineers — let alone “outshine” them.
– Christopher V. Brown, Seattle
Holiday bus schedule more than just inconvenience
The holiday bus issue is far more serious than simply holiday bus fares, as reported in The Times ["Fourth of July bus fare unfair?" NW Monday, Bumper to Bumper, July 13]. It’s also holiday bus schedules on a working day.
My ESL students rely on buses to get to weekday jobs. Friday for them was a normal working day. But where was their normal working bus to take them to work? They told me they were in big trouble trying to get to their jobs that Friday.
Metro is “public transit.” The public’s needs should come first.
– Karleen Gerards, Seattle
Officials should go for their transportation blunders
Our government officials are wasting money that has been entrusted to them by the people they serve. At what point does a red flag go up to alert those in a position of authority to stop this gross misuse of taxpayer dollars?
Several examples: “botched street projects” as reported in the recent Seattle Times article ["The street crews that couldn't pore straight," page one, July 12]; the posting of “No street racing zone” signs in Tukwila, when normal speed-limit signs would suffice; and allowing the building and use of light-rail cars that are known now to exceed the federal standards for noise abatement — but the opening will happen anyway ["Light-rail report: Neighbors right, trains are too noisy," page one, July 11].
If a homeowner were to take out a building permit, inspectors would issue a stop-work order when codes and standards were not met. Why didn’t this happen with the light-rail cars? Instead, Sound Transit is going to use a Band-Aid and, at the taxpayer’s expense, install sound barrier walls and soundproofing of homes along the route.
I find the absence of plain common sense in all of the above appalling and totally unacceptable. We need to not only reprimand those in charge of such projects … we need to replace them.
– Barbara Rabon, Renton
July 9, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Resignations should come over $40k bonus
The Seattle Times informed the public of Mayor Greg Nickels inappropriately paying a bonus to Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. When the city cannot balance its budget and the superintendent allowed City Light to have a $90 million budget gap, there isn’t an acceptable reason to have paid Carrasco a discretionary bonus.
If Carrasco didn’t find his salary without a bonus acceptable in the current economy, he should be looking elsewhere; he clearly hasn’t been able to balance his own budget. Nickels’ authorization to pay him to stay, again, is unacceptable as was quoted in the article:
“Certainly, any kind of bonus should be scrutinized during tough times and flush times,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee. “But in the next two years, that utility’s going to need the best leadership possible, and Jorge has demonstrated the best leadership possible.”
Not only do I expect the council to scrutinize Nickels insensitive and incompetent actions regarding this bonus, I also expect the rest of Seattle City Council to scrutinize Harrell’s support of this bonus.
I am very hopeful that Harell does the right thing and resigns for supporting the bonus. We deserve top-notch leadership and neither Nickels nor Harrell represent the best that Seattle deserves.
– Henry M. Pierce, Seattle
Why do blundering transportation officials still have jobs?
After reading an article on city officials Grace Crunican and Paul Jackson Jr. ["Crunican: Promoting manager an error," NWWednesday, July 8], it is absolutely beyond me why these two people still have their jobs.
We have the transportation chief, Crunican, acknowledging her inability to manage her staff. Isn’t that what her position is all about?
And then as a reward for gridlocking the city streets during the snowstorm, Jackson gets his old job back. I guess his “problematic management style” doesn’t affect his old position. Pity those poor employees.
So after a winter of discontent, a $515,000 contracted study, a reversal of opinions on personnel, I ask again: Why do these people still have their jobs?
– Michael Kaulakis, Port Angeles
June 29, 2009 at 3:16 PM
Marathon’s impact on traffic overlooked
Editor, The Times:
During the past week, there were a number of articles in The Times about the Rock’n’ Roll Marathon and its sponsorships and subsidies. Having found it necessary to travel from southeast Seattle to the north end during the marathon, I think one item was missed.
The traffic, which a police spokesman mentioned as a minor item ["A jampacked race," page one, June 28], was horrendous, affecting the entire city. Roadways from Interstate 5 to Fourth Avenue through downtown were crawling.
When tabulating the cost of such an event, shouldn’t the organizers and the responsible jurisdictions include the lost hours (and fuel) expended by the tens of thousands who waited in traffic? After all, this was a profit-making event, grossing well over $1 million, with all profits leaving the region. I recognize The Times was a media sponsor, but the impacts to our communities from what will likely be an annual event ought to get coverage, too.
– Bill Cranston, Seattle
Rock ‘n’ Roll route maximized traffic congestion
The traffic disruptions for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon were almost too horrible to describe. The marathon started at 7 a.m., but the streets were still blocked about six hours later.
I found it nearly impossible to get from Fremont to my home in north Seattle. The people who planned this marathon route get the all-time booby prize for inflicting the maximum possible amount of misery on the maximum possible number of people. This nightmare was light-years beyond outrageous.
– Larry Lewin, Seattle
June 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Board supports radical plan for few new roads, but more tolls
An obscure committee in a relatively obscure organization is planning the future of our transportation. It’s potentially a future of 1.5 million more people but few new roads, a future where all major roads are tolled or a vehicle-miles tax is imposed.
Welcome to Transportation 2040, the Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) vision of our transportation future. The PSRC’s Transportation Policy Board has been overseeing the plan for months with little public awareness.
Last week, in an informal poll of the five plan alternatives, half of the board members supported the fifth alternative, the most radical option. It proposes little road building in the next 30 years but supports tolling of our entire road network from arterials to freeways.
I believe this alternative is unrealistic due to many approved and future developments, which will add tens of thousands of homes in suburban King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. These folks will need roads to get to distant job centers, schools and shopping centers.
It seems our elected officials will not effectively manage growth through planning and instead may attempt to control it through transportation policy. I believe this is wrong. It is not fair to these new and growing communities. They should not be ignored.
Everybody deserves effective transportation options, not just those living in major urban centers. It’s time for us to comprehensively, collectively and concurrently plan growth and transportation for everyone in our region.
Public comment on the Transportation 2040 alternatives will be accepted until July 13th at psrc.org.
– Noel Gerken, Transportation Policy Board member, Maple Valley
June 11, 2009 at 4:24 PM
Variable speed signs only a distraction
Does anyone know what those fancy new variable speed limit signs on Interstate 90 westbound cost us? All this talk of a bad economy and reduced tax collections by the state must not be real if we can afford cool stuff like this. Or perhaps this was funded with the borrowed Chinese money that the Feds have been spending by the bucketload as if we’ll never have to pay it back.
The premise is apparently that they will provide drivers with more warning if there is a traffic situation ahead of them. Here’s how they work in real life. They almost always say 60 mph like a regular cheap metal sign would say, but because they’re brightly lit they’re a distraction that slows traffic down until drivers learn to ignore them. But they do work. One day I noticed that the signs were set to 45. Of course at the time traffic was creeping along at more like 25.
Here’s the thing. In the real world, when drivers see brake lights ahead of them, or obstructions, or bad road conditions, most are smart enough to slow down to a safe speed all on their own without the “nanny state” telling them what to do. The ones who can’t figure it out are probably due for some natural selection anyway.
– Les Iwamasa, Seattle
April 23, 2009 at 4:30 PM
Washington State Department of Transportation
Encourage energy-saving transit, not traffic
Editor, The Times:
Apparently, the mayor and state Legislature aren’t getting the message ["Tunnel to take place of viaduct," page one, April 23].
Emphasis needs to be on maintenance of the existing highway system (i.e. potholes) and alternatives to driving a car, not another highway tunnel or wider freeway.
If you are going to build a waterfront deep-bore tunnel, consider a two-lane tunnel for transit-only buses or a three-lane tunnel for HOV vehicles (carpools, van pools, buses). The difference in this plan is that it encourages more energy-efficient transportation, is affordable, and is faster and easier to build.
– Martin Nix, Seattle
Spending money to go backward
You think Seattle traffic is bad now? Wait until we replace the six-lane viaduct with a four-lane tunnel.
Then consider the fact that the current viaduct has easy on-and-off access while the tunnel will have no easy central downtown access. There will be one ramp at the south end of downtown and one at the north end. It’s easy to predict the horrific bottlenecks this will cause at both ends of town.
There is a simple wisdom somewhere that says when you rebuild a thing, the end result should be at least as good as what you’re replacing. It seems with the tunnel plan, we’re
spending a lot of money to go backward.
– Greg McBrady, Seattle
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