Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Urban Planning & Design’ Category

Now THAT’S Boring!

by September 18th, 2012

From the Washington State Department of Transportation via Flickr comes this arresting image. Here’s WSDOT’s caption:

“Workers stand in the shadow of what will become the world’s largest-diameter tunnel boring machine.

Currently being assembled in Japan, the machine will dig the (State Route) 99 tunnel beneath downtown Seattle starting in summer 2013. Scheduled to open to traffic in late 2015, the tunnel will replace the central waterfront section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

WSDOT’s record-breaking tunnel boring machine takesshape


  • WSDOT’s SR 99 tunnel project page and document library.
  • WSDOT’s SR 99 “Preparing For Tunnel Construction” Flickr photo vault.
  • Public Data Ferret’s Washington State+Transportation archive.

  • Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

    Woodinville traffic impact fee hike sparks council debate

    by August 15th, 2012

    Woodinville’s City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to revamping its traffic impact fees – opting for a system that would charge developers of newly-built homes a one-time per house fee more than double the current level but still in the middle range of such fees levied in nearby Eastide suburbs. The council backed by a 4-2 vote a formula that would eventually charge $440 for every new “average daily trip” per new dwelling in the town of 11,000. The city currently pegs almost ten new average daily trips to each new home, so after a planned five-year phase-in of the raised fee, a new Woodinville single-famly house would be charged $4,210 for traffic impacts. The fees are typically passed on from developers to home buyers. The city’s fee hike will not be approved unless it passes a second council vote on Sept.11.

    Green tourism campaign eyes fewer cars to San Juans

    by July 16th, 2012

    It’s a Pacific Northwest ritual endured by visitors, newcomers and even old-timers who should know better. Book a trip to one of the idyllic San Juan Islands served by the Washington State Ferries’ stolid vehicle-bearing vessels. Then wait for hours in line at the mainland dock in Anacortes, and plot a better strategy for next time. Rinse, and repeat a few summers later. A consortium of San Juans government, tourism, and non-profit officials say there’s a better way, or at least some painless alternatives that warrant stronger promotion. So at a presentation to the Friday Harbor, Wash. Town Council July 19, leaders of the San Juan Islands Scenic Byways Partnership will discuss their plans to accent car-free travel to the popular vacation spots of San Juan Island and Orcas Island, aided by a new, two-year $171,000 alternative transportation grant from the America’s Byways office of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    Atop Mount Constitution, Orcas Island/San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

    The new grant to promote transportation alternatives comes at a timely juncture.

    Lately, In Transparency – #2

    by July 8th, 2011

    To complement the work at Public Data Ferret hub, we’re using the Ferret’s Twitter account to accent news highlights from the world of government transparency, freedom of the press and human rights. Here are some of the most recent finds, for June 28 through July 7, 2011.

    The British government releases a trove of data in their new transparency initiative for a more open government. Via The Guardian.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota will launch the Open Government Partnership, a “new, multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.” Via the US State Department.

    A 164-page report by UN Women is filled with research to support recommendations for eliminating the global gender inequality. The Christian Science Monitor summarizes the report’s 10 key recommendations. In additional UN-related news, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay voiced skepticism on the world’s financial commitment to human rights: “It (funding for UN’s human rights system) is reportedly about the same amount as Australians spend on Easter eggs. It is about the same as the cost of three F-16 jet-fighters. It is one 50th of the 2010 cinema box office revenues in the United States; and the amount Europeans spent on their pets in 2010 alone (Euros 56.8 billion) would fund the entire UN human rights system, including my office, for something like 250 years.”

    Public Data Ferret intern Kyle Kim reports how the benefits of Washington State’s initiative for greener buildings are unclear.

    Highlighting concerns about concentration of media ownership, critics are voicing sharp criticism over the British government’s approval for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to acquire British Sky Broadcasting, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

    Politico reported the U.S. Army’s $2.7 billion cloud computing system has hurt more than it has helped the war efforts in Afhganistan and Iraq due to malfunction.

    Washington Post:”Radiohead takes tentative step into censored Chinese cyberspace, launches Twitter-like page”

    The Texas Watchdog has created a video on how to use open government laws to learn more about education-related issues.

    A Texas law is requiring state agencies to post high-value data sets online. The aim is to improve government transparency and civic engagement. Via the Texas Tribune.

    Tens of thousands of questions in the form of tweets were sent to President Obama in the Twitter Town Halll event, making him the first president in history to live tweet.

    Public Data Ferret intern Melissa Steffan reports how the Washington State legislative audit committee found the state paid $399 million in government negligence, or tort claims from 2004 through 2010.

    The White House launched an “engage” page in an attempt to encourage civic dialogue and participation. In the same week, the top White House salaries were released.

    The Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency and accountability proponent, reports on how the public has been left out of the American debt ceiling discussion. The organization also covered how two reporters were arrested in a Washington D.C. public meeting.

    The Associated Press is to open bureau in North Korea. Via Poynter.

    Google’s Transparency Report reveals the U.S government made 54 content removal requests to the company in the second half of 2010.

    Follow MrDataFerret on Twitter.

    Legislative audit: benefits of Washington state’s green buildings not clear

    by July 7th, 2011

    SUMMARY: The benefits of Washington state’s push for environmentally friendlier public buildings remain unclear, according to a legislative report. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee’s High Performance Public Buildings report revealed they could not completely assess the program because state agencies and some school districts are failing to report information as required by law. Where a full year’s performance data was available by the reporting deadline, most high-performance buildings exceeded their estimated energy usage due to factors such as changes in design or equipment, difficulties in operating “new and complex energy technology,” greater than anticipated after-hours use of the buildings, and energy wasting by occupants such as covering vents. The committee recommended more time to measure performance and better agency compliance on submitting energy performance data.

    South Kirkland Transit-Oriented Mixed-Use Project Advancing; But Fate Still Uncertain

    by January 18th, 2011

    SUMMARY: The cities of Kirkland and Bellevue have approved an agreement outlining principles to guide the development of the South Kirkland Park and Ride into a regional transit, commercial and housing hub intended to boost transit usage and model the benefits of transit-oriented development. Following upcoming public hearings and final amendments to the development plan, a $6.25 million federal grant could be released and would help cover some of the costs of adding 250 new parking spaces to the current 600 spaces which are at capacity now. 200 housing multifamily housing units are also planned, and 12,500 square feet of commercial space. If private and perhaps non-profit investors can partner on the housing, then the expanded parking component of the development plan can be fully funded; otherwise, not. Demand for commuter parking at the transit hub is likely to increase as tolling begins this spring on the nearby State Route 520 bridge, and then reconstruction of the bridge follows.