Thursday, March 13, 2008

Improving your experience on the Good to Go! site...

We are constantly reviewing and analyzing the way you use our site and making changes to improve the way we offer you information. Most of the time we try to make slight changes so that the overall experience isn't too effected. In this case we made significant changes to a site and want to let you know about it and give you the opportunity to let us know what you think of it.

We are very excited to announce we have launched improvements to the Good To Go! site. This page is the access point to get to your Good To Go! transponder for tolling on the Narrows Bridge and more. This site allows you to access your account information and verify payment, billing and more.

We made these changes based on feedback you sent us and made it easier to get the information you need, but we won't be happy with it unless you are happy with it.

Is it clearer and easier to use or do you hate it and wish it was back to the old version?

Let us know.

Friday, March 7, 2008

WSF Lights the Way for Salmon

WSDOT’s Ferry Division hopes to light the way for migrating salmon in Port Townsend. A new research project is taking place at the Port Townsend Ferry Terminal that will assess how migrating fish respond to artificial light.

(at left: Two solar dishes provide not only power for the dock lights but also adjust the intensity so that the natural light is replicated under the dock.)

Studies have shown that structures like ferry docks cast shadows over the waters near shore and affect the migration of juvenile fish. Because the small fish are used to bright water, they avoid the dark areas and maneuver around the structures, driving them into deeper water where they are more likely to become prey for other fish and birds.

To counter this effect, WSDOT, along with the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, are installing a fiber-optic lighting system under the Port Townsend Ferry Terminal to encourage fish to migrate under the structure. A solar power system above the terminal will run the lights during the day in an attempt to match sun levels in open water.

(at right: Fiber optic lights may help juvenile fish continue their migration in near shore waters that are covered with docks and other structures.)

“We’ve tried metal grates and glass blocks to allow light to pass through ferry docks at other terminals with some success,” explained Rhonda Brooks, WSDOT research manager. “The hypothesis of the research is that fiber-optic lighting is even closer to natural light and will have benefits to the fish as well as eel grass, which is essential in the juvenile salmon habitat.”

The research project will last two years and will be monitored by WSDOT environmental experts. During this period, researchers will track the patterns of the migrating salmon, measure light levels under the dock and fish behavior, and look for growth of eel grass under the dock. The data being collected will help better measure the impacts of structures over water and identify ways to minimize those effects.

WSDOT’s Research Office and Ferry Division funded the $300,000 study. A final report will be developed in 2009. Visit the Research Office to learn more about other research projects taking place at WSDOT.