The Washington State Department of Transportation is advertising for a contractor to conduct “statewide toll educational services” focused on the fourth of five Puget Sound highways currently designated for electronic tolling, I-405. The $2.3 million sought in “educational marketing” services will be for three years with up to two two-year renewals at an additional premium. Meanwhile, the state continues to explore a more sweeping “vehicle mileage tax” – with an update presented last week to the transportation commission outlining possible technologies and current study timelines.
Collaboration in Civic Spheres
Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ Category
by Matt Rosenberg August 5th, 2013
by Matt Rosenberg July 25th, 2013
A Washington state appeals court in a ruling this week affirmed a King County judge’s 2011 dismissal of a suit by prominent environmental groups against the Puget Sound Regional Council transportation planning organization asserting it failed under state law to require adequate greenhouse gas reduction measures in its “Transportation 2040″ plan approved in May, 2010. The plan – covered here shortly after its release by our Public Data Ferret accountability reporting project and then in a Ferret KOMO-AM 1000 radio segment – said to address a more-than-one-third hike in population and a 51 percent boost in regional jobs by 2040 – that $189 billion more would be needed to get Seattle-region roads and transit fairly close to right by then. That would include $64 billion in new monies not yet secured, about half in taxes and fees, and half tolls.
Forty-two percent of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 came from transportation versus 26 percent nationally, according to the state’s inventory published last December. “T2040″ prescribed regional electronic tolling with higher charges at peak hours, and proposed some improvements to transit , biking and pedestrian infrastructure. It’s just a wish list from an advisory body with little real decision-making power but some important local and regional elected officials on its board. Political considerations still being calculated by state legislators are central. But tectonic shifts are underway in regional transportation policy, which may in the long run boost the green priorities sought by plaintiffs in the again-failed legal action.
by Matt Rosenberg June 27th, 2013
In a draft status update to be presented this morning at its audit committee meeting, the three-county Seattle region transit agency Sound Transit pointedly rejects a score of key ethics reforms recommended for its Citizens Oversight Panel in a bristling state performance audit released last fall. If the responses are affirmed by the full ST board as is likely, there will be no COP meetings at night so citizens can more easily attend; no outside screening of COP appointees for potential conflicts of interest; no mandated geographic diversity; no restrictions on public advocacy of transit-related measures by COP members; no mandated separate annual fiscal report by the COP; and no use of outside experts by the watchdog panel. There will be some improvements to the COP’s Web page.
by Matt Rosenberg June 10th, 2013
The taxpayer-funded regional transit agency serving the three-county Greater Seattle region, Sound Transit, says its looming purchase of nine new cab cars for expanded service on its South Sounder commuter rail line between Seattle and Tacoma-Lakewood will cost $21 million more than expected, and its Pierce County regional subdivision or “sub-area” will have to issue debt to pay for the difference. According to a staff memo distributed to members of the ST Operations Committee last Thursday, that would pose at least three troublesome effects.
by Matt Rosenberg May 22nd, 2013
Proposed electronic tolling of I-90 just east of Seattle – to fill a $1.4 billion gap in building the western approach of a new bridge on SR 520 – is getting more complicated. There will now be a full Environmental Impact Statement, not just an Environmental Assessment. Regional pols are also pushing for a “system-wide” study of tolling in greater Seattle which they say should include looking at using vehicle tolling revenues to fund transit. And in the end it could be that instead of relying on I-90 user fees, tolling on a broader swath of SR 520 itself will help pay for the new bridge’s western approach.
by Matt Rosenberg March 13th, 2013
Another few weeks, and another batch of U.S. defense contracts for Washington state companies worth tens of millions of dollars. Under the new contracts, companies in Seattle, Lakewood, Bremerton and Bingen will provide channel dredging, construction and base operations services, and support for unmanned drones gathering images and data over Afghanistan. The following are via recent announcements from the Department of Defense, at its weekday contract notices hub.
The MACNAK Corte Design Build partnership of Lakewood, Wash. won from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Louisville, Kentucky a $14.3 million contract to perform construction work at an Army Reserve site in Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, New York. The work is to be competed by July, 2014.
A sister enterprise, Macnak-Saybr Joint Venture 1, also of Lakewood, won a bid worth up to $30 million over the next three years to deliver general construction services for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle.
Skookum Contract Services of Bremerton, Wash. won a $22.5 million incrementally dispensed award from the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Fort Lee, Virginia to provide base operations services at Fort Lee over the next two years. The first chunk of funding is for $2.2 million.
On the same day, InSitu, Inc. of Bingen, Wash. won from the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland a $7.8 million modification to a previously-awarded contact for operational maintenance and support for the ScanEagle unmanned drones used to deliver real-time images and data for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The contract runs to January, 2014.
by Matt Rosenberg March 1st, 2013
In its year-end 2012 Performance Report, presented Thursday at the monthly Sound Transit board meeting in Seattle, ST’s Citizen Oversight Panel took the regional transit agency to task for poor operating cost controls and questionable resource allocation choices, while revenues are 30 percent lower than expected. The COP says in its report that with the Great Recession having smacked down projected ST 2 revenues by nearly a third, Sound Transit needs to clamp down on growth in day-to-day costs such as a planned 9 percent bump in transit operations spending in 2013, and what has been an ongoing five percent average growth rate for agency operating costs. That includes overhead and a particular sore point, security.
by Matt Rosenberg February 24th, 2013
Admitting local state legislators have already warned their colleagues will likely approve electronic tolling on Interstate 90, Mercer Island City officials are still poised Monday night to approve a work plan to battle the move.
Council bill 4809 would OK an initial appropriation of $150,000 from the city’s $2.34 million general contingency fund to hire experts on the economic and traffic impacts to the well-off city of planned state tolling on I-90, plus federal and state lobbyists and a communications and government affairs consultant to fight the plan. Mercer Island has already engaged the high-powered Seattle law firm of K&L Gates, which recently completed a letter to the the Washington State Department of Transportation outlining what should be examined, and how, in the planned Environmental Assessment, or EA, on I-90 tolling.