November 14, 2006
Transportation Does Well at the Ballot Box
According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, last Tuesday voters across the nation approved some 23 ballot measures for transportation projects (PDF, 108K), generating about $40B in revenue.
Looking over the list, it seems to be a mix of roads and transit.
Perhaps we should have paired up Greenspaces with a transportation package here in the region last week. Maybe next time...
November 14, 2006 12:47 PM
Maybe a statewide transit, greenspaces & transit-oriented economic development bond package might do well next time?
November 16, 2006 9:55 PM
I know of 3 Transit Measures and one Road Measure that I was following up here. Actually only 1 and 1 were Seattle, the other was the STA meausres. Both of those failed. In the case of Seattle Prop. 1, a property tax levy to fix Seattle's backlog of road-repairs that got up to over $500 million thanks to mismanagement, plus the voters of Washington. I-695 took away the MVET, then I-776 took away the $15 liscense fee that was only in effect in 4 counties, and a street-utility fee was ruled uncostitutional by the State Supreme Court. Prop 1 passed. King County Prop.2, passed, and is a .1% Sales and Use Tax that will build capacity for KING COUNTY METRO to carry up to 120 million, with frequent service on 35 important routes, and 5 new Bus Rapid Transit lines.
The voters in Spokane tend to think they are not connected to the rest of the state. It has been hard to breach the Cascade Curtain.
I could not believe I-933, which is loosely based on your Measure 37, failed. With some land-use laws of King County being too bad(an attempt to prevent sprawl from over-running some of the last un-incorporated and rural areas of King County), and the US Supreme Court action on Eminent Domain , it was going to pass. You can thank, in the cruicial populated precincts, a talk-show host that bills himself as the Crusader for Common Sense, Dave Ross on KIRO 710 for some of the credit. When this qualified for the ballot, he asked for callers to call-in with specific examples of how their property was harmed, and after that, he was looking for cases from Oregon to see what has happened. Those who listened to his show, were well informed. Although his station is slipping in the arbitron ratings, they also stream, and podcast. I personally believed, the writers forgot something that would have got my vote, and that was if you want the laws to be compensated, and only go back 10 years(leaving out three laws that they said made their case), you should put in funding. THe pay or waive idea might not have been practical up here, so after hearing that, I believed it was just another unfunded mandate.
I would like to see Olympia get back in the act of matching the sales taxes that fund local transit. That was eliminated when I695 took away the state money.
November 17, 2006 10:19 AM
Ron Swaren Says:
If you don't mind getting a little off the subject (not that we ever do that)--What is the possibility of microhydro power projects in Washington State?
As I have driven the Interstate 84 recently I thought about how those 1000 ft. cliffs with creeks spilling over them would be perfect for penstock hydro plants. Except (big problem) they're in the protected Gorge Scenic Area.
So I got my DeLORME gazeteers out and looked for spots around Oregon and Washington with the neccesary topographic formula: abundant water at a high altitude and some nearby cliffs. Being close to a town would be a big plus. And I also suppose having a water supply that doesn't freeze solid in winter helps, too! If you had that combination next to a hot springs I think you could even get power generation via a Stirling machine.
I noticed that State Hwy 20 through the North Cascades has that potential. To the east of Rainier and St Helens I also saw some similar topography. So what would one do with the power?
You may have noticed that Google has located an operation in The Dalles, Oregon. The city had the land and the proximity to a large dam has probably been the major factor. Could the electronics/IT industry make use of smaller sites, if they could be next to reliable power? This could establish a trend that would bring more IT companies to more remote portions of the Northwest. Not the excitement of the big city,perhaps, but if you like skiing it would be perfect....!
November 17, 2006 11:51 AM
Not sure on MicroHydro, there were arguments about why it was not included in I-937(The only one of three statewide initiatives to pass) that dealt with renewable resources. THere are plenty of spots that small hydro plants can be used, The propoenents did not include it in the mandate because they felt that we had enough Hydro. It seems Wind Energy is the source of the day. I bet on some of our small streams MicroHydro would work. The best thing about I-937, is that it is phased in over 15 years.
Some of our PUDs are proposing the idea of Tidal and Ocean Wave Power. Probably out on the ocean coast, Puget Sound is very deep, and very fast. Pier 91 on Elliot Bay is supposed to become a cruise terminal, but the Port could not get the dredging permits in time for 2 lines who were going to come here. Now that temporary terminal at Terminal 30 will be decomissioned and reverted to container use. At 91 they need dredging, at Terminal 30, which is to the south, at Harbor Island, is already deep. Off Alki Point(just NW of Harbor Island, is the remains of an amusement park, visible at June/July's extreme low tide, and just down from that, as an example of how deep, and fast Puget Sound can get, is the remains of the Steamer Dix, went down 100 years ago tommorrow, over 40 died. It is in 600ft of water. Kind of hard to build things there. To replace the Viaduct, a cable-stayed bridge over the water has been proposed, but the DoT keeps rejecting it because of the depth. I bet wave power would not be good enough.
November 17, 2006 12:47 PM
Ron Swaren Says:
"as an example of how deep, and fast Puget Sound can get"
I know. I had a boat on Lake Union (til the fire department burned it up) and was always hearing stories about swift tidal currents around the Sound--comparable to river currents.
I'm saying the Northwest could enter a new phase of hydroelectric power. So many people, myself included, switched to natural gas usage in the last two decades, because it was at the time cheaper and more convenient. But electric power can be (almost)totally clean, and there are new conservation measures invented all the time.
Besides vehicles, the big energy waster is heating and AC in buildings. For many years, though, radiant electric heaters have been on the market that heat objects, not air, so someone at a desk could sit underneath one and be comfortable for probably a quarter of the energy usage. Natural cooling. i.e. night purge cycle, could keep buildings cool during the summer without the powered AC usage ( a big air pollution factor where power is produced from fossil fuel). I suppose there are some people who would have some type of health problem with radiant energy--like some people can't stand mold spores.
A guy like me, who works outdoors, or in buildings not yet completed and with little climate control, observes that office buildings are big energy users most of the year and around the clock, too. That is why just bicycling to your office job isn't necesarily being an eco-hero.
So, sounds like a lot of electrical schemes in the NW. Question: Is our society entering a new era of more use for electrical power--or one of vegetable fuels? I have been suggesting in other discussions that the Great Lakes region would be an excellent lab for refining windpower--and maybe wave/tidal power, too-- and having Detroit in the region, provide a reason for electric vehicle R&D with the Big Three.