We salute the women and men of Washington’s marine highways

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

By Broch Bender

As Labor Day approaches, we at Washington State Ferries tip our hats to the well over one thousand five hundred individuals who labor through all kinds of weather, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to keep the largest, safest ferry system in the United States moving.

Tony Boaz works through the night at the Eagle Harbor ferry maintenance yard to make sure your ferry is ship-shape for the morning commute. With 30 years of experience as a WSF machinist, he knows how to fix ‘em all. One of his top tasks is to train new staff on a variety of engines from the new Rolls Royce powered Olympic Class vessels to our three-boat-fleet of World War Two era Evergreen State ships. When Tony isn’t arm-deep inside an onboard power plant, you’ll likely find him backpacking in the Olympic Mountains with his two sons.

Tony Boaz, a machinist and member of the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union.
If you’ve ever charged your phone, enjoyed a hot meal or noticed the smooth ride aboard our ferries, it’s dedicated marine electricians like David Coulter who help make it happen. David’s job is to keep the entire electrical grid buzzing, keep the lights on, the propeller spinning, and the outlets ready for plug-ins. He has worked on boats for decades; in fact he lives aboard a 1970’s era sailboat just a short bike ride from where he works at the Eagle Harbor ferry maintenance yard.

David Coulter, a marine electrician and International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union member.

It takes a talented terminal supervisor like Jennie Buswell to make the Fauntleroy (West Seattle) ferry dock hum. She assists with the budget, assigns staff and treats our customers like family. Jennie’s also responsible for making sure the vessels stay on schedule on this busy commuter and tourist route. In her spare time, she likes to train for triathlons by riding her bike up and down the hills of Tacoma.

Jennie Buswell, a terminal supervisor and member of the Ferry
Agents, Supervisors and Project Administrator’s
Association union.
Whether the ferry is tied up for the night, at the maintenance yard or underway, crews are constantly at work to maintain and repair the fleet. Oilers like Dan Delaney, of the Edmonds-Kingston route, monitors temperature and pressure gauges inside the boat’s engine room which prevents the huge diesel engines from overheating.

Dan Delaney, an oiler and member of the Marine Engineers’
Beneficial Association, the oldest maritime trade union
in the U.S.
We operate up to 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Many of those days are gray and rainy. When visibility is an issue, it takes the careful stewardship of crew like Quartermaster Cindy Amo to navigate your ferry through pea-soup fog. Cindy safely navigates the vessel between Edmonds and Kingston. She constantly checks the radar for obstacles, to plot a careful course around unseen fishing trawlers, kayaks, even large freighters that could cross the ferry’s path. Cindy began her career at WSF in 1980, working her way up from cleaning the cabin as an Ordinary Seaman to her current work, side-by-side with the captain in the pilot house.

Cindy Amo, a quartermaster and member of the
Inlandboatman’s Union of the Pacific.
These are just a few of the amazing professional, highly trained mariners working on our vessels and terminals system wide.  On this Labor Day, we say, “Thanks, we can’t do it without you,” and salute them all for a job well done.

Three things you need to know about the new I-405 braided ramps in Bothell

Monday, August 31, 2015

By Caitlin Morris

Today is a new day and a new way in Bothell.

Early this morning, crews unveiled the new braided ramp system that carries traffic from NE 160th Street to Northbound Interstate-405 and State Route 522. This morning’s commuters will be the first to use the new congestion-reducing on- and off-ramps at one of I-405’s busiest interchanges or as we call it the Bothell Braids.

Here's what you need to know...

1. Back to the future: Since 2013, drivers have been using a temporary loop ramp south of NE 160th Street to enter northbound I-405. Now drivers will use the new ramp north of NE 160th to get to I-405. This may be familiar to some drivers as it is very similar to the old configuration.

2. Choose your own adventure: Drivers on NE 160th Street can go straight to SR 522 or head to Northbound I-405. Divers are encouraged to select their destination early and stay in their lane.

3. Move it or lose it: Northbound I-405 drivers headed to SR 522 will need to exit about a mile earlier than before. So if you’re planning on driving to Woodinville or Monroe, you’ll want to start merging over to the right-hand lane earlier than before. Look for overhead signs for your cue that the exit is coming up.

How do the Bothell Braids work? Check out our previous blog story to see how the braided ramps ease congestion on Northbound I-405 by separating the 42,000 vehicles jockeying to exit I-405.

Popular calendar with statewide traffic impacts back for the month of September

By Harmony Weinberg

All you planners out there have spoken and we listened! We received a lot of positive feedback about our August calendar with significant traffic impacts for state highways so we’ve decided to put another one together for the month of September.

Be sure to take a look and check this calendar frequently as work plans and event times can change. Happy planning!

View the calendar below in Adobe .pdf format for more details.


Getting ready for I-405 express toll lanes

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

By Ethan Bergerson

What do a man in a bathtub, a teenage drummer, and a couple on their first date have in common?

Answer: They’re all helping to raise awareness about the new express toll lanes.

Confused? It will all make sense when you view the new TV commercial for the express toll lanes, which will begin airing on local stations this week.

Helping drivers get ready for September 27

The I-405 express toll lanes will open on September 27.  People take nearly 500,000 trips in the north end of I-405 each day, and we are working hard to get the word out to each of these travelers letting them know what to expect and how to get ready for the big changes coming to I-405.

In order to reach as many people as possible, we got creative in order to get your attention. So we’re hitting the airwaves and pounding the pavement in order to make sure drivers know that changes are coming to I-405.

That’s why we’re putting up billboards around town like this one:

Billboards make sure nearly 500,000 daily commuters know
to get ready for I-405 express toll lanes

Broadening our reach

The I-405 express toll lanes mean a lot changes for drivers and it is essential that we do everything we can to keep people informed and help people get ready. Over the past six months we’ve reached nearly 10,000 people through over 100 public briefings and outreach at fairs and festivals. We’ve also released an animated video showing how the express toll lanes will work, but to really spread the word we needed to create something a little more… eye catching.

We’re launching an educational campaign to get people’s attention and tell them where to find information – at GoodToGo405.org. TV commercials and radio ads are great tools to build awareness and encourage people to look for us in order to learn more. After we grab people’s attention, we hope that drivers will visit our web page to find out how the lanes work, explore an interactive map, and request their free Good To Go! pass.

Transit wraps will help educate drivers and transit riders about the options
for a faster, more reliable trip on I-405.

The Bothell Braids Untangled: Understanding the new I-405/160th interchange

Monday, August 24, 2015

 By Caitlin Morris

A new day, a new way

The braided ramp system in Bothell is nearing completion.
On the morning of August 31, Bothell drivers who haven’t had their first cup of coffee could find themselves headed for a surprise as they attempt to enter northbound Interstate 405 from Northeast 160th Street. Currently, drivers are using a temporary ramp located on the south side of Northeast160th Street. But Monday morning, drivers will notice the temporary ramp has been replaced by the new braided ramp system on the north side of the road.

What’s going on here? Currently, on an average weekday, the 30,000 drivers who take northbound I-405 to State Route 522 must weave between 12,000 drivers entering northbound I-405 from Northeast160th Street. Throughout the day, those 42,000 cars vying for room cause unnecessary traffic and delays. The new braided ramp system will separate drivers heading to SR 522 from those heading to northbound I-405, eliminating the need to weave and ensuring a safer, more efficient trip.

Weekend closures ahead

With the new braided ramp system, drivers
entering State Route 522 from northbound
I-405 can bypass drivers entering
I-405 from NE 160th Street.
To open the new braided ramp system, crews will close a series of I-405 ramps and lanes between Northeast 124th and SR 522 the weekend of August 28-31. To prepare for the closure, we suggest drivers plan ahead and take alternate routes (pdf 2 mb).

After Monday, drivers may also want to allow extra time to adjust to the new on- and off-ramp arrangement. Folks on northbound I-405 will have to exit a little earlier to take SR 522, because the new ramp will begin just under the NE 160th Street overpass.

If you’re entering the system from Northeast 160th Street, you will have to choose ahead of time whether you want to continue to northbound I-405 or drive directly to SR 522.

What’s a braided ramp?

 While the word braid is associated with knots, this ramp configuration is given its name because of its resemblance to braided hair from an aerial view. Braided ramps actually eliminate lines on entrance ramps by decreasing traffic weaving. Braided ramp systems also improve safety for drivers. Studies on a San Antonio highway showed that separating drivers reduced crash frequencies by 71 percent.

We now interrupt this blog post to bring you information on the I-405 express toll lanes…coming this September

We need to set aside the braided ramps for a moment to tell you about another key component of the Bellevue to Lynwood Widening and Express Toll Lane project. You guessed it, express toll lanes. They are coming in September. Are you Good To Go? Do you have a Flex Pass or even know what a Flex Pass is? We’ll break it all down for you at GoodToGo405.org and tell you how to prepare.

And now back to your braided ramps messaging…

Don’t’ forget, it’s “a new day, a new way” Monday morning on August 31!

Featured Flickr Photo

I-405 Bellevue to Lynnwood Widening and Express Toll Lanes project

Blog Archive