“You shouldn’t feel like less of a man, but you do,” said Erik Buholm, (above) a 35-year-old Lacey man with a wife, a 3-year-old daughter and a baby on the way. Buholm has been out of work for nearly a year. That is, until now.
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Tomorrow night at around 9 p.m. we will be closing the carpool lane on southbound I-405, which will have the potential to wreak havoc on traffic over the weekend. I would just stay home, but that's not necessarily feasible for a lot of people - plus, there are Mariners and Sounders games to go to! We are really trying to get the word out and let people know that the HOV lane closures this weekend have the potential to affect not only I-405, but SR 167 and SR 181 as well.
Here is a sampling of some the best photos uploaded this week to flickr.
Workers moving 200lb blocks of Geofoam into place as fill material for the east and west approaches of the Royal Brougham Way Bridge. Check out more photos and information on the project. Geofoam is pretty cool stuff. We'll talk about it a little bit more next week.
On Wednesday we held an auction for more than two dozen cabins on property we recently purchased for a bridge project near Mount Baker. Some of the cabins went for as little as five or 10 dollars. But here’s the catch: the buyers must move the cabins from the state-owned land by the end of September. One house mover told me that could cost between $5000 and $7000 for the smaller cabins. The buyers also had to pay a refundable bond of at least $5000 to ensure they actually followed through.
Portland and Vancouver, B.C. are now directly connected by the addition of a second Amtrak Cascades train. We have been working for over a year to get this new train on the rails. Amtrak typically needs 90 days to start up service, so getting the second round trip train to Vancouver, B.C. going within 45 days is a major accomplishment and incredibly exciting.
Previously, riders going up to Vancouver, B.C. had to deal with both a layover in Seattle and a train change. Not only is this new train is going to be a lot more schedule friendly for travelers along the corridor, it will be a fantastic transportation alternative for the 2010 Olympics. Not having to hassle with parking is going to be glorious (getting tickets to events, however, is another problem).
Bicyclists take note: bike racks are back! The Talgo trains with bike racks are back in service after having their interiors refurbished. Starting last summer we were substituting the Talgo trains with Amtrak Superliners. These trains did not have bike racks, which made bringing a bike along a complete hassle. So: bike racks, new interiors and a direct route to Vancouver - I see a weekend get away coming. Don't forget to double-check the items you will need for crossing the border.
Do you take the train? What was your experience like? Will this new service change how you think about traveling? Let me know!
Trying to convey the changes that will result from a large transportation project is a challenge. For smaller projects – repaving a road, adding a roundabout – it’s easy for people to picture what the end result will be. For a project like the SR 99 bored tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, it’s a little more complicated.
Not only does the proposed replacement include an almost two-mile-long bored tunnel beneath downtown, we also plan to rebuild the surface street along the waterfront. People ask – What will the tunnel look like? How will I be able to access it? How will the new waterfront street be different than what exists today? Well, we now have some new tools to help provide answers.
The program team has posted two simulations to YouTube. The first video shows the current design concept for the proposed SR 99 bored tunnel. The drive-through starts at the tunnel’s south portal, which is near the stadium district and the Port of Seattle’s terminals, and takes you to the exit in the north, onto Aurora Avenue N. Along the way, you can see the ramps at either end of the tunnel that will allow drivers to access the downtown street grid from SR 99, as well as the new street connections that will be built over the tunnel’s portals.
Once the tunnel is built and the viaduct is removed from the waterfront, what will go in its place? The answer is in the second video. We plan to build a new Alaskan Way boulevard in the footprint of the current viaduct. The new road will connect to Elliott and Western avenues, which is important for those traveling to the northwest section of the city, and will provide access to downtown and SR 99. Removal of the viaduct will allow creation of new public open space on the waterfront.
You can visit the Alaskan Way Viaduct program Web site at www.alaskanwayviaduct.org to learn more about these and other improvements that are part of the viaduct’s replacement.
When John from the Ravenna neighborhood e-mails me at 2 a.m. saying pavement grinding work on I-5 in Seattle sounds like “airplanes landing in [his] neighbor’s backyard,” I decide to check out the noise myself. I don’t see any crash-landing Boeing jets, but it sure does sound like it.
To get a good idea of how loud it is, listen to this video with your headphones on. I shot this video at midnight 200 feet from I-5 near John’s house at NE 72nd Street.
The noise started back in February with screeching concrete saws ripping out crumbling concrete panels in the snow (photo, right).