October 15, 2013 at 7:32 AM
City prioritizes stadiums over roads
I’m not surprised to read King County snowplows will be hard to find this winter [“King county snowplows to be scarce this winter,” page one, Oct. 14].
I mean really, is it all that necessary that roads be maintained in the county? Obviously not as the last 20 years have shown. When I worked for King County Public Works, it was our mission to keep roadways and even ditches cleaned and trimmed. Then it was decided it was more important for the county to become involved in stadiums and other Seattle projects and let the roads fail.
Back then the bridge to Duvall was painted every couple years, but the powers let it deteriorate for years until the railing needed a complete replacement at who knows what cost.
Larry Marty, Snohomish
March 1, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Tolls affect the region
I live on Mercer Island and oppose the proposed tolls [“I-90 tolls: Islanders incensed,” page one, Jan. 31]. People have written letters to the editor calling the objections of Mercer Islanders a collective tantrum of a bunch of spoiled brats (my summary). Aside from the fact that stereotypes are rarely accurate, the tolls would impact the economy in the whole area, not solely that of Mercer Island.
Those who commute from or to Seattle will be affected. Those who work on Mercer Island but do not live here will be affected. This includes hundreds of teachers and other employees.
Mercer Islanders take our commerce off the island. For example, we shop for groceries, get our cars serviced, take kids to activities and work off the island. That is an economic issue for this area. Mercer Islanders will be deterred from taking their business off the Island.
Now look at the tolling plan as a whole. I-90 runs across the state. The state needs funds to pay for their gaffs in the rebuilding of the 520 bridge. Is it fair to toll only the Puget Sound Region, one tiny part of a state? No. Is it beneficial to have free access between Seattle and the Eastside? Of course!
–Barbara Winkelman, Mercer Island
February 28, 2013 at 4:00 PM
Bad use of taxpayer money
Well it would have been a good morning if the public wasn’t being informed about another screwup by the state [“State admits costly mistakes on 520 bridge,” page one, Feb. 27].
When are the citizens of this state going to demand state employees — not the great workers, but those responsible for large contracts — have the knowledge required to do the job?
What does the state mean when it says those in charge of the 520 bridge project will be reprimanded? When will the state have the guts to actually fire those who could potentially cost us taxpayers up to millions of additional tax dollars.
The citizens of this state had better wake up and start electing politicians who will see to it that us taxpayers are receiving good value for our tax money. We are getting nothing for our hard-earned money when it is going to pay for a state official screwing up to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars!
We are now hearing that our new governor wants to raise the fuel tax, which is already one of the highest in the country.
Please call your representative in Olympia today and tell him we won’t put us with this anymore and that if he doesn’t stand up in Olympia for us, we will not vote for him in the next election.
–Dennis Haven, Port Hadlock
August 25, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Think Route 7 is bad? Try the 36
Anyone who thinks King County Metro Route 7 is slow, crowded and unpredictable obviously has not ridden Route 36 lately.
Southbound in the evening hours the 36 is often crammed with 20 or more riders standing in the aisle when the 36 arrives at the Benaroya Hall stop at Third Avenue and Union Street.
By the time the 36 arrives at 12th Avenue and South Jackson Street it is very often illegally overweight and jamb-packed beyond all reason and belief.
Southbound from downtown, I often take the relatively uncrowded Route 7 bus and transfer to the 39 or light rail to get to the top of Beacon Hill. The Seven is by far faster, less crowded and more likely on time.
– George and Patricia Robertson, Seattle
August 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Sounders’ Express goes nowhere fast at all
Did you hear the one about how almost 67,000 people sneaked into Qwest Field for a Sounders game and Sound Transit didn’t know about it?
After the Sounders FC and Barcelona game, just when I was thinking Seattle’s making it with mass transit, Sound Transit proved it can’t handle a mass of only a few hundred people. The Sounders’ Express (express what?) Route 550 Eastbound stop in the tunnel was so packed people gave up and stood in another line of a couple hundred upstairs waiting for regular bus service before giving up and resorting to taxis. The transit authorities were entirely unable to find extra buses to handle the surprise. The only representative there was unsupported and only had the solution of complaining to customer service. Do you think they would cover taxi fare?
After waiting almost two hours and watching only three Route 550 buses come through, we caved and spent money on a taxi.
Seattle Sounder FC needs to ask Sound Transit to change the name of the Sounders’ Express service so there’s no confusion about who’s lagging on the field.
– Don Chase, Bothell
An example of why many don’t take public transit
I would just like to call attention to Sound Transit’s failure of service after the August 5 Sounders’ game.
Sound Transit didn’t add extra buses to the night routes, despite e-mails from the Sounders and other outlets calling for people to arrive early and use mass transit.
At least 500 people were waiting for the Route 550 bus to Bellevue at the tunnel stop after the game, and the buses ran every half-hour. Not only does this decrease appreciation for the system and repeat riders, it caused a legitimate safety concern with people trying to force themselves on the bus through many families and their children.
I was lucky to get on the second bus to arrive at 10:30 p.m. But I am sure there were many people who waited for at least another hour to get home.
This lack of foresight or display of ignorance is unacceptable and is an example of why people do not want to ride public transit in Seattle.
– Chris Tezak, Bellevue
July 17, 2009 at 4:00 PM
We should be questioning, not applauding, pork spending
In your editorial ["Murray stimulates state ferry funding," Opinion, July 16] on how Sen. Patty Murray has righted the “error” where Seattle did not get our fair share of the stimulus money set aside for ferries, the author stated: “Murray has helped right the balance by securing the extra $7.6 million. It is for these sorts of rescues that we have senators.”
This entire stimulus process feels like the story of the frog sitting in the water when the heat is turned up to the point that frog gets used to the heat and boils to death. The editorial staff is like that frog that has become so comfortable with the premise that the stimulus package is justified that instead of simply questioning stupid spending and returning it to taxpayers, the argument is “our spending is less stupid than your spending so we should get a bigger piece of the pie.”
I just can’t tell you how disappointed I am that there is such widespread acceptance that the stimulus pork is right and justified, and it is our senator’s and congressman’s jobs to “rescue” us from our not getting our share of wasteful spending. I would have hoped that the author of this editorial would have at least questioned whether spending the money in the first place made sense. I would have hoped that they would have at least considered that our senators should act as stewards for the entire country’s tax dollars and eliminating wasteful spending is ” … the sort of rescues we have senators for.”
Maybe we have just come so comfortable with the idea of soaking the rich to pay for everything that we forget we are taking money away from some hardworking American to pay for this pork.
– Doug Ralphs, Seattle
Different ferry requests would have brought better results
There is nothing surprising about the Washington State Ferry System getting shut out of stimulus funding and then receiving only a portion of what it asked for. According to a Seattle Times article ["Feds snub biggest ferry fleet," page one, July 15], $60 million was the allocation for funding programs from the entire 50 states.
Washington put in a $26 million proposal to replace the Anacortes Ferry terminal, almost 50 percent of the potential funds. In addition, it asked for $9 million to rehab a Bremerton/Seattle ferry, whereas the largest single funded grant for a ferry was for a brand new one in Texas — and it was $2 million less.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Anacortes terminal and facility is not in that poor of shape, it services primarily island locals and visitors and not daily commuters. The grants funded were much smaller and went to areas that had serious economic downturn and where the funds would assist getting people to and from work.
Smaller, more appropriately targeted grants would have faired much better. Washington may have the largest ferry fleet in the U.S. but the logic used by the ferry system and the governor’s office in this grant submission cycle was flawed.
– Bob Squaglia, Seattle
More work from representatives would have brought results
Sen. Patty Murray’s seniority and influence was very useful in getting a whopping $750,000 for the Guemes Island ferry despite the fact that Washington has the largest ferry system in the country.
I personally hate the entire stimulus package, but since it passed you would have figured that our ferry system would have gotten a large share. Murray loves to mention her influence and ability to get projects done in our state, but seemed to have missed the mark when it truly counted.
I know what could have helped: Sen. Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell along with Rep. Norm Dicks, Rep. Rick Larsen, Rep. Adam Smith and Rep. Jim McDermott should have walked into Secretary Ray LaHood’s office with shovels in hand to demonstrate “shovel ready.”
We can make Gov. Chris Gregoire the foreman!
– Todd Welch, Everett
In recession, ferry pork is better spent elsewhere
Stimulus money should be used to provide jobs now. Using it to design a ferry that won’t be built for years is just plain pork.
That money could be used to hire workers, directly or though contractors, to fix roads, maintain parks, keep state and local workers on the payroll or do a number of other things that would enable people to earn wages. Now.
– Tom Difloe, Camano Island
Shouldn’t Murray not have to ‘rescue’ us?
I am responding to your editorial in which you concluded, “It is for these sorts of rescues that we have senators.” Why does Sen. Murray always feel the need to rescue us. Does she have to be underdog?
This is the second time that Murray has not been proactive in getting something major for businesses in our state. It wasn’t long ago she had to push and push for reconsideration of a government project for Boeing.
We need her to be our cheerleader and advocate, looking out for us and securing what is needed as it is being considered. Our senators should be proactive, not reactionary. If she truly did her job, we wouldn’t need rescuing.
– Jane Bennett, Bellevue
July 16, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Murray shows her priorities
Editor, The Times:
Sen. Patty Murray barely raised an eyebrow while for eight years the Bush administration shredded the Constitution. Now we see what makes her furious: money ["Ferries get funds after all," page one, July 16].
– Tom Ballard, Seattle
Whining for ferry funds has everything to do with recession
When I first heard about our governor whining about not getting enough of President Obama’s bailout money for our ferry system, it took me back to my childhood, remembering the wining of children when they didn’t get as many Christmas presents that “Johnny” did.
“Why did Johnny get more presents than I got?” was the cry of many children back then. Everyone looks at this money spread around the states as presents, but these presents are not free, my friends.
The money will have to be paid back, and when the states cannot find the revenue to pay back this loan, John Q. Public will be hit up for more taxes and business will suffer the same fate. Chaos will result, and the real recession will be on us. The cap-and-trade bill and health-care reform, if passed, will further damage our economy and raise prices.
Had Obama — and George W. Bush — allowed the recession to happen normally rather than trying to fix it by throwing money at it, we would now be on our way to recovery.
These downturns have happened many times before because that is the way of capitalism, but as in all past instances, the nation has risen to new heights of employment and prosperity. I’m convinced it is too late to turn things around now, but we must try by contacting our representatives in Congress and letting them know all this free money is not really free, and ask them to defeat what the Obama administration has put before them.
It’s our only chance to stop this nonsense.
– Ed Anderson, Kirkland
Where is the change in ferry finances?
In light of the fact that the people of Washington were shafted regarding the ferry money handout, I wonder what our good governor thinks about that “hope and change” thingy now.
– Richard King, Seattle
Really, a ferry terminal? Let’s keep idiocy to a minimum
When my son was a teenager he had a phrase we often got a kick out of, and it went like this: “Let’s keep the idiocity level to a minimum.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire is “extremely disappointed and asking questions” as to why we were denied $56 million in federal allocations for the state and county ferry systems ["Feds snub biggest ferry fleet," page one, July 15]. Of that $56 million, $26 million was to be used on a brand new, state-of-the-art ferry terminal in Anacortes. The ferries are in constant need of repair and maintenance, our fares go higher and higher and they want to spend that kind of money on a new building?
Equally disappointed and “furious” to learn that we were ignored, Patty Murray managed to get the feds to fork over $7.6 million. Out of that, $3 million will be spent on a design of a replacement ferry terminal in Anacortes — $3 million will be wasted on a stack of paperwork that amounts to nearly half of our precious allocation.
What we actually need help with is boats that run, not a place to wait for them.
You can’t even imagine how angry people traveling to the San Juans will be to see that kind of money going into a terminal — or a terminal proposal. Perhaps when the feds snubbed the governor they were keeping the “idiocity level to a minimum.”
– C.K. Nichols, Lopez Island
The folly of bridges outweighs that of ferries
I enjoy Danny Westneat’s column usually, but I found his column “The folly of foot ferries” [NWWednesday, July 15] to be missing quite a few pieces of the puzzle.
If Westneat is going to poke holes in the plan for an alternative for crossing Lake Washington (or any other body of water around here), he should at least seriously investigate the alternatives. Let’s start with the hundreds of millions of dollars it costs to construct a bridge across Lake Washington — and that’s just for one bridge, also of a limited life-span and subject to periodic maintenance, as we are now enjoying on Interstate 90.
Add to that: the cost of each individual vehicle that will cross that bridge; the cost to the environment for producing all those vehicles; the real cost of the fuel that would fuel those vehicles, meaning billions in military spending to secure our oil; the environmental cost of everything spewed into the atmosphere from those vehicles; the thousands of hours of productivity lost by commuters spent sitting in those vehicles while waiting to cross that bridge.
Before long, we are talking about some real money. Westneat enjoyed quoting Fred Jarrett on “that old-time romance of boats on water.” I’ll take a cheap romance over an expensive reality any time. Talk about an “unstoppable mystique!”
– Mike Joines, 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 10, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Electric bus wires should go so houses can move
Editor, The Times:
In the July 9 front-page article headlined “Houses vs. trees,” it wasn’t until deep in the story that we learn the true nature of the conflict. A more accurate headline would have been “Trees vs. electric bus wires.”
A lush overhang of mature trees makes a neighborhood walkable, enhances home values and beautifies the neighborhood and, by extension, the city. These values are not easily quantifiable, but they cannot be replaced. Based on the front-page photograph, those trees are as old as or older than the oldest residents of the street.
Electric bus wires, by contrast, can be removed and replaced relatively easily with no long-term negative impact.
Good city planning requires taking more than one issue into consideration when making important decisions. I encourage the city and Metro to rethink their decision to reject the Denny Way route for moving these houses.
– Sherry Narens, Seattle
Bus wires are the villain in ‘Houses vs. trees’
The “villain” of the story, “Houses vs. trees,” is neither. Neighbors should not be expected to sacrifice a beloved, tranquil canopy of mature growth. Such leafy refuges within our city are invaluable not only to residents but to people driving through the neighborhood. For those who live there, they would come home to face the loss each and every day.
The desire to salvage these homes is also laudable. There was another option, nixed by Metro, to move the home down Denny Way. Overhead wires are replaceable. Trees, and the wonderful refreshment of a leafy canopy, are not — at least for decades.
– Mitzi L. Simmons, Seattle
July 10, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Light rail shouldn’t disrupt bus service
The Seattle Times did a fine job of reporting the disruption to the Metro bus service due to the light rail traveling through South Seattle ["Rail may shake up bus-rider routines," NWTuesday, July 7].
It is interesting that Sound Transit hopes to have the bus riders of the Rainier Valley “ride the rail.” I thought the purpose of the light rail was to create a viable option for those still driving their fossil-fuel-burning vehicles that are clogging the roads and freeways — not to inconvenience the conscientious citizens who are accessing the already great bus system.
– C. Joy Estill, Seattle
Easy science would quiet light rail
The Times reported ["Tracks' din stirs Tukwila outcry," NWSunday, July 1] that the Tukwila Sound Transit light-rail tracks show a “10 times louder” noise impact than the predicted decibel levels. Correct reporting, but highly inaccurate.
The decibel measure reports energy levels, not “loudness.” Loudness is a perception as adjusted by the very clever human ear. The human ear registers only a doubling of loudness for every 10 decibels of increased energy. Still, a doubling of loudness is bad enough, especially for screechiness to which the decibel scale is totally deaf.
But this is just another example of the disconnect between policy chutzpah, journalism and important technical details. As for policy wonks, even a short memory reminds us that a more direct Sound Transit path to the Seatle-Tacoma International Airport was bent by Tukwila politicos to include a station of their very own, in place of what otherwise might still have been a relatively straight regional track alignment. The first routing corruption was bending the track for political reasons through Rainier Valley — and away from Boeing Field and the entire Duwamish industrial area. Now the alignment is both local and regional — and therefore neither.
And then there is the underlying issue of rail-car technology. The original regional environmental impact statement discounted rail technologies that deal with above-grade track noise. For most of a century, the Paris subway and elevated system has used very quiet rubber tires on a guideway. Not nearly trendy enough for world-class Seattle. Better to resurrect under a new name the trolleys of the 19th century.
The Times could help by getting in right — early in the public decision process — on how policy alternatives actually fit or do not fit with obscure technical details that make a difference. Never an easy thing to do, and not always appreciated by elites who pride themselves in “making the tough decisions.”
– Peter Beaulieu, Shoreline
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