Thursday, April 02, 2009

Bridge Recipe Gives Me Gas

The article 520 bridge bill may be recipe for more delays in today's Seattle SomeTimes (H/T to Mikey) makes me want to belch. First off this isn't a propsal for the bridge. It's a hearing on HB 2211, an authorization to toll SR 520. Introduced by Rep. Clibborn (D Mercer Island) it prohibits tolling I-90. There is an alternative bill, HB 2319, introduced by Rep Hunter (D Medina) which would toll I-90 subject to certain conditions (congestion from traffic avoiding the tolls on 520 or failure to meet revenue projections with a toll on 520 only).

  • Spend a mere $4.6 billion on the corridor from Interstate 5 to Redmond.

    A mere $125,000 per foot. We could sell commemorative bricks for $250 a piece and not only pay for it but pave it. We only need to sell 21 million of them. That's only six bricks a piece for everyone in the greater Seattle area. Maybe this isn't a great plan but it's better than anything the legislature's come up with.

    House Speaker Frank Chopp (as in the Great Wall of Chopp as his viaduct replacement has been dubbed) wants a $2B tunnel under the Montlake Cut to connect with the UW. To be fair I don't see this option adding $2B to the project. In fact it shouldn't cost half that amount to build the tunnel and the Pacific Street interchange options are probably similar in price and ugly as sin. If the tunnel was transit only and tied into the Husky Stadium Link station I think it would be worth it.

    The call for the 520 roadway to run in shallow cut at the Washington Park Arboretum and cover the roadway with a Mercer Island style lid are my big objection. This precludes a standard interchange at Montlake and does away with the Metro flyer stop. I think the best solution for now is a west bound exit only and east bound on ramp only. Both of these would be HOV available to single occupancy vehicles from 7PM until 7AM (maybe 5AM to match existing HOV restrictions on I-405). The corridor should be laid out so that a tunnel can be added later. Perhaps space reserved for this could be a center roadway flyer stop in the interim. Project mitigation should be limited to making the new interchange no worse than what it is replacing in terms of visual impact and sound levels (that shouldn't be too hard). Any additional mitigation must come from Local Improvement District funding.

    Collecting tolls on 520 is something that needs to happen not only for funding but for Traffic Demand Management. As the article points out the feds will kick in free money right now if the State will implement it. I think diversion traffic to I-90 to "beat the toll" will quickly change peoples minds about tolling I-90. That's the intent of the late session bill HB 2319 introduced by Rep. Hunter and Eddy. Money from tolls on I-90 have to be used on that corridor according to E2SHB 1773 passed by the legislature last session. The reduction in the diversion traffic is the reason tolling I-90 makes such a big difference to revenue generated by the tolls on 520.

    I really loved this thought from Rep. Clibburn:

    And if the Montlake problem isn't solved, Clibborn said, DOT could install the new pontoons on the lake, and fasten those to the Seattle stub of the existing bridge — to deal with the safety risk of the old bridge sinking.

    Sort of like how we all built tree forts when we were kids. Take what ever you have lying around, lash it all together and see what you come up with. Somehow I don't think this sort of construction "planning" would fly with her if it was a bridge to Mercer Island. The dark of the night pontoon construct is really just a tactic to assure that the bridge can never support anything more than six substandard lanes. No room to add additional transit in the future, no breakdown lane and reduced speed limits because the narrow lanes don't meet the minimum federal standards.
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