Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Show us your MS Paint skills

By Mike Allende

By now most of you have seen our busy weekend maps featuring some pretty impressive Microsoft Paint drawings. We use these maps as a creative way to help paint a picture of what travelers can expect over the weekend, including special events and road closures. The maps, which we’ve used regularly since the start of summer, have proven to be one of our most popular pieces of content.

Now we want to see what you can do.

We’re holding our first Busy Weekend Map MS Paint contest! Show us your skills in balancing information with art and you could find your submission posted on our various social media platforms, which are followed by about a million people!

Our busy weekend MS Paint maps have been very popular, and we want to see what you can come up with.
The contest
Use the base map below as your starting point. Then take a look at the various special events and road closures below. Using MS Paint (to ensure a level playing field other programs can’t be substituted), produce a map that shows what special events are happening, and what construction work is going on. It’s up to you to decide which events and closures to use and how you’ll present them. Can you squeeze them all onto the map? Do you have to be selective? Are your art skills up to creating certain items?
Save this base map to your desk top and use it as the starting point for
your MS Paint masterpiece.
Not sure how it’s done, or want some tips? Check out the video below featuring our ace MS Paint artist Ally Barrera:
Remember, the primary purpose of the map is to provide information about where people may encounter traffic delays, so keep that in mind while you’re drawing a WSU football helmet or a picture of Don Henley.

Oh, and WSDOT employees and their family are not eligible.

Deadlines
Submissions will be accepted until 7 a.m. Friday, Sept. 22, and can be sent to mjallend@wsdot.wa.gov. Please include your name and where you live. We will select the 10 finalists and open it up to voting on our Facebook, Instagram and Flickr pages. Comment on which picture you like best, or give it a “like,” to vote. Voting will continue until noon on Tuesday, Sept. 26 and we will announce the winner via a Facebook Live broadcast on Wednesday.

The winner will have their work shown on our various Twitter accounts as well as Facebook and Instagram.

What to include
OK, so you’ve got your map ready and MS Paint pulled up. But what to put on it? Here’s a list of what’s going on. Remember, you decide what should go on your map, where, and how it should look:

Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 weekend
Special events

  • Central Washington Fair, Friday-Sunday, Yakima
  • Leavenworth Oktoberfest, Friday-Sunday
  • WSU football vs. USC, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Pullman
  • Fright Fest, Friday-Sunday, Wild Waves (Federal Way)
  • GeekGirlCon, 9 a.m. Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Washington State Convention Center (Seattle)
  • Eagles and Doobie Brothers concert, 6 p.m. Saturday, Safeco Field
  • Sturgill Simpson concert, 7 p.m. Saturday, Marymoor Park (Redmond)
  • Seahawks vs. Colts, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, CenturyLink Field
Roadwork
  • #ReviveI5. Northbound I-5 reduced to two lanes between the I-405/SR 518 interchange and the Duwamish River Bridge from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.
  • Southbound I-5 Ship Canal Bridge maintenance (Seattle). Two left lanes between NE 50th St. and Boylston Ave. closed 2-10 a.m. Saturday. Two right lanes between NE 50th St. and Boylston Ave. closed from 2-10 a.m. Sunday. The NE 45th St. on-ramp to southbound I-5 closed 2-10 a.m. Sunday.
  • I-90 Bellevue ramps. The I-90 on- and off-ramps at Bellevue Way will be closed from 5:30 a.m. Saturday to 9 p.m. Sunday.
  • SR 410 closed due to fire activity west of Chinook Pass between mileposts 65 (SR 123 junction) and milepost 88 (Bumping River Road).
  • Ongoing construction work on I-90 between North Bend and Ellensburg.
OK, you’ve got your map, your information and a helpful video from our resident expert. The ball is in your court. Send us your submissions by 7 a.m. Sept. 22 and let your creativity and information sharing shine!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How it’s made: Busy traffic weekend maps

By Ally Barrera

This year, you might have noticed maps like this pop up on our social media platforms. Our busy weekend traffic maps are one of the most popular ways we spread the word about major road work and special events happening on the weekends.

Mixed with the right amount of colors, fun emojis, and sub-par-at-best Microsoft Paint artwork, they have become the talk of social media this summer.

Every week people ask, "How do you make those maps?" or "How did you draw that (whatever doodle) that looks like something a 5-year-old drew?" Well, you're in luck, because in this week's Busy Traffic Weekend video, we are pulling back the curtain to reveal how we put together these popular maps.
The finished product:

There are a few other things going on that we couldn't fit in the video or map.
  • Boats Afloat Show, Thursday to Sunday, Lake Union
  • Renton City Comic Con, Saturday to Sunday, Renton
  • Hank Williams, Jr. concert, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Puyallup
  • #ReviveI5 overnight lane closures
    • Up to two lanes closed between South 260th Street and SR 516, including ramp closures at the I-5/SR 516 interchange
    • Lane closures will start at 8 to 9 p.m. and finish by 9 to 10 a.m. the following morning
  • Seattle ramp closures (10 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday)
    • The southbound I-5 ramp to 45th/50th Street Northeast
Clearly, there is lots of stuff happening this weekend. No matter which side of the mountains you are traveling to this weekend, PLAN AHEAD! We have several resources that help you know what is happening on the roads before you leave the house.
We'll be posting closures and updates on those three platforms throughout the weekend to help you #KnowBeforeYouGo.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Putting people to work: Transportation, trades and community services team up for a win-win

By Ann Briggs

As our workforce ages and Baby Boomers continue to retire in droves, the transportation industry is struggling to fill positions with qualified, skilled tradespeople. These traditional “blue collar” jobs – including carpenters, welders, electricians, ironworkers, and masons – rank among top high-demand jobs that are hardest to fill.

At the same time, many capable young minority men, women and disadvantaged persons in urban communities face barriers and challenges to getting the education and skills training needed to hold living-wage jobs. Typical barriers for low income individuals trying to find better paying jobs are a lack of:
  • Reliable transportation
  • Gas money
  • Proper safety equipment and work boots
  • Language skills
  • Driver’s license

So how do we resolve these two needs? Enter a new program, Pre-Apprenticeship Support Services (or PASS for short), that brings together the state, highway construction industry and community services to give disadvantaged individuals in pre-apprenticeship programs the support they need to succeed. Authorized through the Connecting Washington transportation funding package, the PASS program is already showing great success in its startup phase.

In the past year, the PASS program has sponsored two training classes conducted by the Ironworkers Union, Local 86, in Tukwila. As part of the PASS program agreement, the union provides training through its certified apprenticeship program as well as job placement assistance for those who graduate. For the 28 individuals who completed the four-week training, 25 are now employed as ironworker apprentices, earning wages up to $25 per hour. They also have the potential for regular wage increases as they gain experience. These are people who were previously dependent on social programs; working multiple, low wage jobs; or unemployed.
People going through our PASS program train with the Ironworkers Union to
become the next generation of skilled trades workers.

While in the training program, community-support-services providers were there to help trainees by removing barriers that might have otherwise caused them to fail. For one person, it was getting funds to pay for driver’s training so they could get a license; for another, a gas card to help get them to and from training. Other PASS trainees received housing assistance that allowed them to cut back on their work schedule so they could attend training, and many trainees were provided required safety equipment in order to work.

Using this model, we’re expanding the PASS program in next phase and offering training classes for carpenters and cement masons, in addition to ironworkers.

As of August 2017, the state invested approximately $83,000, and in return the graduated ironworkers have earned total wages of $537,800. That’s money that supports their family, helps support their local economy and has reduced or eliminated their dependence on public assistance – a true win-win for Washington.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Weekend traffic is going to the dogs...and cats

By Ally Barrera

The dog days of summer may be winding down but we still have lots of road work and special events that will impact your weekend travels. To get you prepared for what's ahead, we called on actual dogs – and a couple kittens – from Seattle Humane to help us out in this week's Busy Traffic Weekend video.
If you’d like to adopt an animal from this video, or any other animals, contact Seattle Humane at seattlehumane.org
Video highlights:
  • #ReviveI5 is back with more lane closures, and if past weekends are any indication, it will create traffic impacts for a lot of Western Washington travelers.
  • It's a full sports weekend in Seattle with Mariners, Sounders and Husky football.
  • Expect to see a lot of Cougs on I-90 as they make their way to Pullman for WSU's big game against Boise State.
Our latest Microsoft Paint map gives you an even better idea of where we'll see the biggest traffic impacts this weekend. It also features some of our best doodling to date! (I'm particularly proud of the Husky logo and Ol' Crimson flag)

We couldn't cram all the big events onto this week's map, so here's what else you'll need to plan for:
  • Seattle's Night Market & Autumn Moon Festival, Saturday 4 p.m. – midnight, Seattle's International District
  • Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival, Friday to Sunday, near Mukilteo Ferry Terminal
  • Wooden Boat Festival, Friday to Sunday, Port Townsend
  • San Gennaro Festival, Friday to Sunday, Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood
Once again, the best way to get through this weekend of traffic is to PLAN AHEAD! We have several resources that help you know what is happening on the roads before you leave the house.
We'll be posting closures and updates on those three platforms throughout the weekend to help you #KnowBeforeYouGo.