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September 13, 2013 at 6:26 AM
What about lottery money?
We’re hearing about how the state has no money for road repair and bridges.
Now we hear that we can’t pay our teachers more money to teach our children. We’re always hearing about not enough money to take care of our schools and roads. When we voted for the state lottery, we were told that all proceeds would go to the state’s general fund, for our roads and schools, so we wouldn’t have tax increases for these things.
Where is the money from the lottery going?
Audrey Reasy, Seattle
August 11, 2013 at 8:01 AM
Infrastructure will benefit everyone
I could not agree more with the conclusion of your editorial regarding the urgent need for more and better bicycling infrastructure in Seattle. [“Seattle is playing catch-up on bike safety,” Opinion, Aug. 8.]
If you look at cities that have built such infrastructure, you see that it leads to a virtuous cycle. Protected bicycle lanes make less-experienced, less-aggressive cyclists feel safer on the roads. More cyclists on the roads bring safety in numbers, as drivers become less oblivious and more conscientious.
Moreover, less-aggressive cyclists and official infrastructure help set new norms of good behavior — once cyclists are recognized as legitimate traffic, they become less willing to disregard traffic laws (whereas under the current “Wild West” mentality, cyclists are trained to look out for themselves at all costs, traffic rules be damned).
Seattle truly is playing catch-up, and it is never more obvious than when one looks at bicycling injuries and deaths in Seattle as compared with Portland, or New York. New York City invested in bicycling infrastructure, and saw a corresponding 73 percent decrease in the average risk of serious cycling injury over 10 years.
Thank you for taking a stand in support of safer roads and neighborhoods.
Antoine McNamara, Seattle
Anarchist bikers disrupt safety
As a longtime downtown businessman and resident of Bainbridge Island, I’ve witnessed plenty of bicycle traffic incidents.
If people really want better bicycle safety, the bicyclists should consider their role in the solution.
Ride four abreast? No problem. Go the wrong way on one-way streets? Sure. Hop from the street to the sidewalk, or weave between lanes of cars with no signal or concern for the reactions it causes? You bet.
In fairness, not every person on a bicycle is an irresponsible, I-can-do-whatever-I-want, self-important, I’m-saving-the-ecology, anarchist jerk. But the ones who are create a hostile relationship with drivers and pedestrians alike.
Bicycle safety starts in part with obeying the rules of the road when you’re on your bike.
Rick Stanton, Bainbridge Island
Urban cycle track a step in the right direction
I want to thank you for your well-written editorial.
I originally moved here in 1989 because it was one of the top five cities in the country for bicycling and recycling at the time. I have seen Seattle fall down to 10th place.
One great thing that happened was in June we got our first urban cycle track, a divided concrete barrier bikeway. This is what Dexter Avenue needs.
Until it is upgraded, it will continue to be a major danger. Thank you for getting the word out.
Victor Odlivak, Seattle
August 9, 2013 at 5:51 AM
Infrastructure not to blame for Skagit River bridge collapse
I am getting tired of people blaming the collapse of the Skagit River bridge on poor infrastructure maintenance. Times editorial page editor Kate Riley seemed to imply this in her recent commentary about the effectiveness of city vs. state and federal governments. [“Column: The economy’s future lies in cities, not the state or Congress,” Opinion, Aug. 4.]
I have seen several statements from the Washington State Department of Transportation that the bridge was old, but it was in pretty good condition and easily able to carry its design load.
The cause of the collapse was extremely inept driving by two truckers, one carrying an oversized load and another who passed the overloaded truck while they were on the bridge.
It is an indisputable fact that there is a huge backlog of bridge maintenance throughout the state and nation, but I think it is well documented that there is no need to distort the facts of the Skagit collision to emphasize this need.
Pete Beaupain, Auburn
August 6, 2013 at 6:52 PM
Cutting down workers’ benefits is not the answer
In her guest column, Erin Shannon claims “the most effective way to encourage job growth is to reduce the cost of doing business,” which means “regulatory and tax relief” for businesses. [“How everyone jumped off the ‘I’m for jobs’ bandwagon,” Opinion, Aug 5.]
Some of the policies she advocates, like repealing paid family leave and reducing workers’ compensation costs, show she’s not there for workers, just profits.
In times of recession, which we’re still in, we have a demand problem, with not enough people out buying more things or paying for services, due to being unemployed or fearing unemployment. Hence, the most effective way to create jobs is actually for government to fund projects that need doing and will underpin the economy, like maintaining and building new infrastructure.
Some unemployed people will find work on these projects, which will provide them with money to spend, thus increasing demand, which will result in more hiring by those who provide the goods and services demanded. If Shannon really wants to hop on the jobs bandwagon herself, she’d be advocating for an increase in government spending.
Timothy Walsh, Seattle
June 15, 2013 at 7:37 AM
Use money to fix roads
How about using the money gained from the pilot school-zone cameras to fix the Seattle roads and install speed bumps instead of more cameras [“School-zone cameras may speed up in city,” page one, June 12].The speed bumps in front of an elementary school in the Blue Ridge area seem to work very well and slow cars down to 15 mph. To drive any faster would damage the car, and these speed bumps are effective day and night. Cameras will not stop a drunken driver from plowing through a red light or crosswalk.
Installing speed bumps would put people to work to fix roads and eliminate damage claims caused by pot holes while protecting our kids.
Fran Whitehill, Shoreline
June 14, 2013 at 8:18 PM
Be proactive, not reactive
While it is clear that the U.S. government is cutting back its expenditures, is it wise to cut funds to our main means of transportation? This bridge collapse was a major inconvenience for people moving along the West Coast, but it was not nearly as bad as it could have been [“Feds provide $15.6 million to replace collapsed Skagit Bridge span,” seattletimes.com, June 13]. But what about the next collapse?
While the “$240 billion” required “to replace every bridge that rated as deficient,” may seem like a high cost, the safety of drivers is extremely important. People drive everywhere and they are dependent on roads to get there. Our economy also relies heavily on these infrastructures for trade.
The bridges show that it is necessary for the government to be proactive rather then reactive. It must look out for the best interests of its citizens. We don’t want to look back and say we could have done something to prevent a greater tragedy from happening.
Andrew Saiki, Bellevue
June 7, 2013 at 11:47 AM
Much has been written recently about bridges, but if there’s been any mention of insurance, I must have missed it [“Driver of pilot car in bridge crash defends herself,” NWThursday, June 6].
At one time, we insured bridges — at least we did the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Since we now have a list of at-risk bridges, it would seem sensible to take out insurance policies on them, paid for by fees charged for oversize-load permits.
William Beck, Maple Valley
June 6, 2013 at 8:38 PM
Alert drivers of overheight loads faster
A Seattle Times editorial advocates creating additional procedures and warnings to avoid another bridge collapse, despite the fact that Washington state bridges were hit “at least 59 times between 2010 and 2012.”
Procedures and warnings are usually harmless enough, but as this history amply illustrates, they are a second-rate defense against safety problems [“Editorial: Prevent bridge collapse,” Opinion, June 3].
Bridges should be provided with a more immediate and foolproof way of alerting drivers that their loads are overheight. There are a couple of good ways to do this, such as suspending a beam from cables across and above the roadway, or detecting overheight loads with a laser beam which, when interrupted, triggers a large flashing red light.
This would be an exciting challenge for some imaginative young engineers.
Ted Yellman, Bellevue
June 5, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Money was not a factor
Enough already with the letters asking the government to tax us more so no more bridges will fall down [“Mid-June opening of bridge on track,” News, June 4.]
Lack of funds had nothing to do with the demise of the I-5 bridge. It was brought down by an oversize load driven by a trucker who should have been given better information, and/or there should have been a clearance sign on the bridge.
The bridge was inspected and maintained. Money didn’t play any part in the problem.
Mark , Sammamish
June 3, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Finally, a jolt of reality in the realm of Washington state transportation [“Bill would restrict permits on oversized trucks,” NWFriday, May 31]. The demise of a span of the I-5 Skagit River bridge has focused attention on aging infrastructure. As a civil engineer, it has been clear to me for quite some time that maintenance, repair and upgrades to infrastructure are not sexy, and few politicians and government policymakers have the fortitude to fight for basic infrastructure needs. One has only to rattle down the numerous arterials in Seattle to see that the sexier striping for bikes is the only “improvement” these roads have seen in years.
Hopefully, the Skagit River bridge collapse will refocus spending to address the obvious. Mobility for freight and people is vital to our economy. The price tag to replace the destroyed span has been pegged at $15 million. That is peanuts compared with the $2.1 to $2.9 billion spent on Sound Transit’s Central Link Light Rail (Tukwila to Westlake Center), including a $500 million federal grant, or $150 million per mile at the lower end of the scale. What did that investment purchase? In the first quarter of 2013, the weekday average ridership on Sound Transit’s Central Link Light Rail was 25,606. Compare that with the more than 70,000 daily trips across the Skagit River bridge stated in news reports, and those are not necessarily single-occupancy vehicles.
The bridge collapse is a reality check that we need to fix our infrastructure. Forget sexy; focus on moving vehicles safely and efficiently (There is even an environmental benefit to such thinking, but that’s another story). Focus on the economy served by these vehicles. Think about the impacts to business when sexy (mass transit and bikes, for instance) blinds policy, design and transportation-spending strategies. It’s time to wake up.
Susan Gardner, Kenmore
Raise gas tax
After the Skagit River I-5 collapse, is there any reason not to raise the gas tax? For crying out loud, let’s get on with it. Shame on the Legislature for dithering.
At my local gas station, the price per gallon has cycled up and down by 30 cents a couple of times in the past 90 days. Any legislative increase would be lost in the “noise” of the market-force changes, meaning any tax increase would essentially be invisible.
Let’s be brave and talk about an increase that will really produce results — not 2 cents per year for five years, but 5 cents per year for four years.
I would happily pay for it, happily vote for those who support it and happily campaign against those who don’t.
Clark Douglas, Mount Vernon
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