Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ramp Takes Leap

Last week, the spectrum of funding partners took shovels in hand for the official groundbreaking for the Lincoln Avenue Grade Separation.

Photo: Kathy Tomandl, Port of Tacoma

Nowadays, no ONE builds transportation infrastructure. And last Friday's ceremony demonstrated the collaborative effort that results in success.

As the Port says on their website: Although local in nature, this project offers economic benefits for both Washington state and the nation. Tacoma is a gateway port, and much of the cargo moving through here is bound for inland markets such as Chicago and New York.

Upon completion, the grade separation will significantly improve rail and road efficiency and will also enhance air quality.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Most Popular Pavings - Good Intentions

Paula Hammond, Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), was featured at today's Transportation Club of Tacoma meeting.

Her presentation could be considered a lament. She recounted her first day of the job, when the Milwaukee bridge collapsed that lead directly to WSDOT's decision to close the Murray Morgan Bridge. Then, she recalled the first (of three) floodings of I-5 that lead to miles of truck-trailers queued with no alternative routes. And, she talked of a funding tie between cents per gallon and a declining gas sales/miles driven both because of consumer behavior changes and recessionary responses. And, let's not even get started on the state's ferries!

She did point to the $10 billion of projects just in the Puget Sound area, with another $5 billion in other parts of the state. Of 391 projects at the beginning, 183 are completed, 82 are under construction and 22 are about to go into construction. For anyone who wants to check up on their particular interest in a project(s), go to their website.

Q's from the audience covered a wide range of topics, but the most popular subject seemed to be SR-167. In response, Hammond noted that the corridor lost its funding proposal with the failure of Proposition 1. Now that transit has passed its expansion measure, the region is left without addressing its road future. The legislature has funded a tolling study for the completion of SR-167, to measure revenue potential and traffic diversions. SR-167 remains a hot topic, not because of the HOT Lanes tolling in the HOV lanes, but because of the new threat to flooding from failures in the Howard Hanson Dam.

All this and more makes one wish for debates of old when road surfaces were evaluated for quieter performance versus cost-effective permanency.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lincoln Ave. Overpass Breaks Ground- You're invited

Please join Senator Patty Murray and the Port of Tacoma Commission and staff as we “lift” Lincoln Avenue. It took over a decade of workbut thanks to our many transportation partners, the final phase of the Lincoln Avenue Grade Separation will finally begin!

Some people would call this a Groundbreaking, but we call it a Roadraising!

Friday, September 18, 2009
1:00 to 1:45 p.m.

Cookies and beverages served.

From Interstate 5 take the Portland Avenue exit(Northbound Exit #134 or Southbound Exit #135). At Portland Avenue, head north to Lincoln Avenue (0.7 miles).At the light, take a right onto Lincoln Avenue and proceedapproximately 0.4 miles to the parking area.

Please consider flat-soled shoes.

RSVP by email to

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Call for Federal Transportation Reform

At a Seattle forum last week the National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP) made the case for an overhaul of federal transportation policy. Their case comes in the form of a report, Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy, the product of a bipartisan group of 26 politically and professionally diverse members. The report proposes five key goals for future national transportation policy: economic growth, national connectivity, metropolitan accessibility, energy security and environmental protection, and safety.

Based on these goals, the NTPP report contends that performance measures should be used to determine future federal funding allocation to state transportation agencies. While the report proposes that 67% of federal funding remain formula based, the other 33% would be competitively based on the performance of states’ transportation systems. As part of this performance determination, the group also calls for increased investment in Intelligent Transportation Systems, or systems embedded in transportation infrastructure that monitor the system and provide critical data to decision-makers and citizens.

The NTPP pitched their report to an audience of approximately 150 in the transportation field, including numerous state transportation heavy weights such as Paula Hammond, Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation and Charlie Howard, Transportation Planning Director for the Puget Sound Regional Council. Joni Earl, Sound Transit CEO, offered her eloquent and insightful thoughts on NTPP's recommendations during her keynote address, suggesting increased consideration of multimodal transportation in the NTPP's proposed goals and performance measures.

The NTPP’s report has been and will continue to be circulated on Capital Hill in the next 12 to 18 months of debate leading up to the next Federal Transportation Authorization Bill. While the current report is a finished product, NTPP representatives stressed throughout the forum that the conversation regarding federal transportation reform is ongoing and far from over.

Take a look at the NTPP's report here