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Transportation Planning Archives

July 8, 1984

7 Day Transit District

Summer 1984 I was hired to coordinate the transportation for an International Conference (the International Society of Music Education) hosted by Eugene, Oregon. Though I was a bit underexperienced for this position, planning went fine, especially for a 20K contract with the Lane Transit District. The budget was tight and I ended up driving too many of the early and late airport shuttles - definitely burning out.

I do remember the closing performance, Stravinsky's 'Firebird'' in the just completed Hult Center. Definitely moving.

I'm not totally sure of the LTD Planner I worked with on this, I believe it was Bergeron? FWIW my area was the only profitable one for the conference organizer.

I was one of two finalists for a similar position with the Goodwill Games in Seattle, but didn't win it. The guy who did would later go on to notoriety at the Atlanta Olympics. My qualifying experience for this event was organizing a Whitewater Slalom race on the nearby McKenzie River, in 1979.

These map graphics are a product of the LTD route booklet design team.

June 7, 1988

20 Years Ahead of It's Time

It looks like a Union Bay expansion routing for 520 will make the final cut, perhaps this year.

The big benefit of this is that no additional lanes are needed to be built through the Montlake or Roanoke neighborhoods - not to mention reducing backups at the Montlake Cut and improved access to the UW and all of NE Seattle.

This letter concerns my first time suggesting this - correspondence from former Seattle Councilmember Jim Street from our first meeting. (Hard to believe I was once a member of the fighting 43rd - I may even have a friend or two left - in '88 I was a Dukakis Delegate.)

The letter also concerns a discussion of routing for Sound Transit, not my first mention of the UW routing/generational service planning idea. It does mark the start of a very productive discussion on the subject, not to mention a great working relationship.

(personal note, Jim's son also attended Hampshire, but only for one year - coincidentally the last for both of us.)

January 29, 1989

Innovation and Neighborhoods - Tree Planting

As I recall neighborhood matching funds were started in Seattle. I believe they were either Ford Foundation supported or the Foundation noted their success in the first year.

This was just as I was finishing off my degree (at 24) and I got involved. As a side project I did a proposal for a tree planting in Squire Park, between Seattle University and 23rd. I believe this was the first of its sort. I was not involved in the implementation - as I recall the project was completed by the YMCA led by Richard Conlin, now a Seattle City Councilmember.

One of the things this project did was give me my first opportunity at trying out Geographic Information Services. The graphics here are rough, but they are functional.

July 6, 1994

Vision Seattle Newsletter

In the summer of 1994 I was given the honor of editing the Vision Seattle Newsletter, City Watch. Here I talk a little about communications as they apply to civic and neighborhood decision making, as I take up those reins.

September 6, 1994

Sound Transit Civic

Here's a pretty good looking example of my civic involvement in Sound Transit. This particular example wasn't implemented, but others were. I still think the idea was a good one- reducing tunneling costs by exiting Capitol Hill at Lakeview.

June 5, 1995

520 Tolls

This isn't a letter I'd write today, however I do support congestion pricing with some sort of expenditure control. In my opinion the revenue need not be limited, controlled, to just autos or the specific segment of road where it is generated, but it definitely should be spent in the same corridor and general area.

How one legally defines that is tougher, especially when you've got a whole lot of people making a living off of loopholes.

At the time this was writ I was still a Sound Transit Supporter - a big booster immediately after the 1995 ballot failure. However the seeds of my conversion were well in place by this point.

April 9, 1997

Published Photo

Published photo from the Seattle Press.

Paul West, the subject, was one of the great 'tree people' employed by the City of Seattle. Other's would include Tree Steward Coordinator Liz Ellis and City Arborist Jerry Clark. All 3 are pretty darn close to my top ranked City employees.


January 6, 2009

The Future Road

The US Department of Transportation is getting ready to release a commission based study of the future of highway funding arguing for a high tech tolling solution. The folks at the Discovery Institute, whom I've been railing at lately for their support of a financially questionable bore tunnel proposal for downtown Seattle, have done a great job at predicting the likely recommendations of this Commission.

They are arguing for a concept called VMT, vehicle miles travelled, presumably technologically similar to the GPS based system now before the state of Oregon. Gas taxes will be gradually phased out, though, personally, those words are as questionable as the financing for the Seattle Tunnel.

I disagree with this proposal on the basis of what seems to be politically feasible for local voters, not to mention saleable to the Washington State driver.

I have a counter-proposal for advancing Highway funding based on what is already working in this State - HOT lanes, limiting tolling to converted HOV lanes with pricing based on congestion levels.

Continue reading "The Future Road" »

January 12, 2009

The Future 520 Lake Washington Bridge

On Thursday an ad hoc group released a study on 520 tolling looking at various alternatives, including tolling the I-90 Bridge.

Lake Washington Bridge tolling has been a big part of funding scenarios for the rebuild of the 520 Bridge. The legislature, concerned about general opposition to tolling in Washington 'State, started a project to study alternatives and, most importantly, guage feedback. Also on the table was the identification of likely 'diversion' impacts and ways to mitigate those, including among lower income drivers.

The amount of feedback was incredible - roughly 8000 letters and petition signatures, nearly as many via a web page, as well as a statistically valid phone survey. As typical, Commissioner Bob Drewel made a snide comment about public involvement, insulting all those citizens who participated as in need of 'catharsis'.

Continue reading "The Future 520 Lake Washington Bridge" »

My .02 on the Future Seattle Viaduct

The Washington State Citizen's Legislature convenes today for it's 2009 season, and, at the risk of reinforcing Seattle centrism in media, let me throw in my solution for the viaduct replacement, arguing that the surface option is the best way to act now.

Governor Gregoire once took the leadership on this subject, but she has now bailed once again, taking along with her Ron Sims and Greg Nickels. Though she claims to have a solution proposed in January we've been hearing similar promises for quite some time - in reality the ball is in the Legislature's hands.

And on this subject they have proven quite able.

Continue reading "My .02 on the Future Seattle Viaduct" »

January 13, 2009

More on 520 Tolling - Bob Drewel TVW Clip

Here's that clip (1 min, 10 seconds) of Bob Drewel talking about public participation being an opportunity for 'Catharsis' - on a task where public participation, the evaluation of tolling, is the primary charge.

Fellow ad-hoc Commissioner Dick Ford sets the stage. FWIW, he interprets Drewel's comments as regarding his, contrary to my interpretation. Ford is very smart and regardless of flaws by association he has made legendary contributions to State Transportation Planning in many commendable ways.

Drewel, in contrast, has, IMO, made a career of being a bureaucratic bully. He was hired to head the PSRC after being booted from the Executive office by the voters of Snohomish County. In my opinion he chose to sell out his County in order to advance his career with the downtown Seattle corporatists. My personal experience with him confirms this, that's another story.

Here's my opinion on the subject.

January 19, 2009

Not Ready for Prime Time - Tolling and the Seattle Deep Bore Tunnel

Though deep bore tunnel proponents are declaring a 'consensus' decision ending years of process the clear facts are that these folks have been delaying the process until they could turn this project into a boondoggle exceeding the realistic funding levels provided by the Washington State legislature in 2005. This consensus is in reality nothing more than typical Seattle PC bullying tactic from desperate folks reeling from recent losses due the financial crisis, including WAMU. Don't forget also that leadership of the deep bore team includes folks directly responsible for WAMU.

Local committments for additional funding are definitely appropriate, however the project already has an initiative filed against it preceding even a request for funds from the voters. Remember that a tunnel has also been voted against. Albeit this is not the same tunnel, but, most significantly it was the deep bore tunnel proponents previous prefered option...

Continue reading "Not Ready for Prime Time - Tolling and the Seattle Deep Bore Tunnel" »

March 2, 2009

Legislating the Future - HB 1490

A state legislative bill, HB1490, which seeks to mandate growth around light rail stations has been quite controversial. Although largely symbolic the folks who win will have garnered political 'coup' - a strange practice in Seattle.

Mayor Nickels has come out opposed to the bill, but this is really just political posturing on his part - angling against Councilmember Sally Clark. Everything being equal I'd probably choose Nickels over Clark, but Nickels himself has enough baggage to make him unfit to serve. Clark does not yet have that baggage, but definitely has the potential to be even worse - as this issue would suggest.

Clark's support of this bill should be viewed in the context of her role in neighborhood planning - as staffer to Tina Podlodowski the 'Microsoftie' who took over the effort after outspending and defeating neighborhood candidates. Neighborhood planning is being fastracked for exactly the same neighborhoods that have been the subject of HB 1490 - enthusiasm for the effort is lacking, as documented in this article. including outright opposition from the official neighborhood. Perhaps the history of Ms. Clark and her crew has something to do with this?

Continue reading "Legislating the Future - HB 1490" »

Stimulating Paul Allen

Wisely the Washington State Legislature refused to fund Seattle's Mercer street redesign through a neighborhood largely controlled by former Microsoft executive Paul Allen (and his professonial staff).

Why, why in the world should we be spending stimulus money 'bailing out' Paul Allen?

Continue reading "Stimulating Paul Allen" »

April 18, 2009

For your Consideration - A Light Rail oriented Transit Proposal for Tacoma/Pierce County

I must confess I was once a big transportation policy wonk - hopefully 15 years of abstinence have cured any weaknesses thereof. I have been getting active again over the last year and half here in Tacoma and hopefully can still indulge this obsession with a bit of prudence and productivity occassionally, as such, the following.

Proposed: A Sound Transit 2 Funded Expansion of Light Rail in Tacoma Integrating the Existing High Capacity Light Rail Corridor into the Currently Funded HOV Expansion of I-5 adding Bus service as per the same Design Specs as in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.


Click Here for the High Resolution PDF

Please note that although there is strong precedence for this approach including direct HOV access ramps, as at 320th in Federal Way, and strong general support for multi-modal systems I am not aware of any project that creates a direct HOV-Light Rail connection. Handling the seperation of car pools and HOT lane users from larger vehicles is not designed in this proposal, but is presumably resolvable with a minimum of risk.

June 19, 2009

Sound Transit and Tacoma's Dome District

Jori Adkins, Jim Merritt, and Apex Engineering have done some great professional work creating a 'post and beam' alternative to the ill-conceived Sounder 'berm' crossing of the Dome District in Tacoma and put it up on a website.

This stands in sharp contrast to the City's current position, as I hear it, that you can't use the area under the Post and Beam for anything. In addition the Sound Transit plan violates the City of Tacoma's Comprehensive Plan on both initial trail planning and the new but promising 'habitat corridor' designation which is designed to work well in denser areas.

Sound Transit does have a plan for a pedestrian connection - at 'A' Street, but this is basically a connection to nowhere, unless there is a major redesign of I-5 in this area.

Berms have construction problems as well - greater utility relocation is a very common place for costs to escalate and building close to the berm has issues with that structures 'load' profile.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Sound Transit design is aesthetics - they are taking a rural rail design and plopping it down through the 2nd largest urban center in Western Washington. Imagine, if you will, a 20-40 foot high 'mountain' of dirt running down the middle of the street by your office - with a trash collecting fence.

The arrogance of Sound Transit in responding to this professionally prepared alternative isn't too pretty either. Not to mention also fiscally irresponsible.

July 21, 2009

More Summertime DOT - Department of Tooley

From Tooley Street in London comes this curiously relevant story about a government (the burough) rejecting its own building permit for failing to complete a transportation component.

Thanks to London SE1 Community Website

For the deeper meaning of this, see the story on Tacoma's own efforts at drafting just such regulations.

August 5, 2009

More on the Dome District -
Tacoma/Pierce News Tribune

Peter Callaghan has a great piece on the Sound Transit Berm through the Dome District of Tacoma. Instead of repeating myself I'll leave it to Peter to put his spin on matter. See also the piece in the Tacoma Weekly.

October 7, 2009

Tacoma Berm Bums?

Though it might seem like a minor point, the issue of the Sound Transit heavy rail route design through the south part of downtown Tacoma is becoming the defining issue of the 2009 mayoral race and having regional impacts as important as the defeat of Sound Transit Board Chair Greg Nickels in the Seattle mayoral primary.

The Tacoma Pierce News Tribune did a multi-article feature on the October 4 Sunday front page - including an online opinion poll. The poll is near the bottom of the middle column. As of the writing of this piece on Wednesday morning there have been 2900 votes, 85% in favor of the local business/citizen 'Post and Beam' alternative compared to the Sound Transit 'Berm' design.

Last night was the public hearing.

The crowd here was in support of post and beam in similar proportions, and the testimony and comments both well thought out and dramatic.

Continue reading "Tacoma Berm Bums?" »

November 5, 2009

Transportation Planning Districts - 2009

The City of Burien, an affordable suburb south of Seattle, resoundingly rejected a Transportation Planning District (TPD) for sidewalk and bike trail improvements. TPD's are a revenue mechanism drafted by the Washington legislature last year.

This is unfortunate, but also telling. Though some might respond with a knee jerk response to those who vote against taxes, it is crucial that the community planning effort be engaging enough to sell the product of the effort, as well as produce good design based on competent engineering. In this regard it is the planning effort that failed. So, it is back to the drawing board, and rightly so.

The measure may well have also suffered from the particular form of tax used, a surcharge on vehicle licensing ($25). This particular form of taxation has been highly politicized due its role in the career of highly controversial initiative guru Tim Eyman. The drafting of this enabling legislation was done on the heels of a failed Eyman initiative on the subject of transportation. This political context may well have been the largest factor in the defeat of the measure.

Though Burien does have some expensive waterfront homes it is largely a blue collar town and it appears likely that the 'democratic' bureaucracy made errors in the community planning effort which offended the common sense of these individuals - not unlike the political dynamic that led to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

November 23, 2009

Procedural Comments on the Tacoma I5 Environmental Impact Statement

Below are procedural comments on the I5 Tacoma HOV project, including a description of my own interests.


Date: August 29, 2009

To: Carrie Berry, Tacoma HOV Environmental Coordinator

CC: Claudia Cornish, Communications Manager

RE: Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program Supplemental Environmental Assessment

The following comments go to procedural issues concerning your current Tacoma HOV environmental review. My substantive comments will follow shortly.

I have received and preliminarily reviewed the IJR report for the Tacoma HOV projects. I had assumed that a report describing the WSDOT analyses direct access HOV ramps for Freighthouse Square and Downtown Tacoma would be included, apparently incorrectly.

Additionally appendix ‘E’, the Wetland and Stream assessment is missing from both the distributed CD and the website for the NEPA assessment. Lastly, please note that although I have lay qualifications read the environmental appendices associated with this project there is too much material to reasonably review in the time allotted.

Continue reading "Procedural Comments on the Tacoma I5 Environmental Impact Statement" »

Comments on the Interstate 5 HOV Tacoma Project

Below are my comments on the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) review of the current Tacoma I5 project, from August.


To: Carrie Berry, Environmental Manager I-5 HOV Team

CC: Multiple

Re: Tacoma I-5 HOV NEPA Comments

Some 2 years ago I was walking my dog near my residence, less than 2 blocks from this WSDOT project’s stretch of I-5, and noticed the almost natural grading suitable for a bike trail on the recently completed I-5 projects just to the South. As such I was inspired to restart my civic involvement starting with the analysis of the feasibility of a local connector bike trail at the periphery of I-5 between S. 38th Street and McKinley Avenue.

Continue reading "Comments on the Interstate 5 HOV Tacoma Project" »

February 15, 2010


New York Times stringer and author Tim Egan (The Good Rain) opines in the New York Times on the steep decline of housing prices in the greater San Francisco 'sprawl' zone. Anecdotally Egan cites the case of Lathrop California, two hours from the Bay Area in the Central Valley. Housing prices there have dropped from a peak of $500,000 to $150,000.

This is an interesting phenomenon, certainly both worthy and timely. But where Egan takes his analysis of this tragedy is truly irresponsible.

First, he implies that the problem in Lathrop and surrounding communities is the model of foreclosure throughout the United States. Then, curiously, he defines such areas as slums in a typical Seattle passive aggressive manner.

Continue reading "Slumburbia?" »

February 22, 2011

Alaskan Way Viaduct
-Before the Growth Management Hearings Board of Washington State

Below the jump is a 'Petition For Review (PFR) to the Growth Management Hearings Board concerning the ramifications and processes of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The jurisdiction of this PFR extends the envelope of practice before the board, consistent with the law and appropriate to the circumstances. These circumstances include the alleged victimization of the petitioner by King County, its Courts and officers (public and private) and the State of Washington as an inappropriate growth management practice. As such, State Courts massive jurisdictional problems over the matters at hand.

Please note that petitioners academic, civic, and professional experience in these subjects is substantial, likely in a preponderance of measures exceeding that of Board members in depth and seniority. Board members Paegler and Earling have direct familiarity with this history and petitioner in fact ‘trained’ them in some regards during the professional emergence of Growth Management.

Lastly please note that there are substantive and procedural matters regarding this case that must remain confidential to the Board and Respondents.

Continue reading "Alaskan Way Viaduct
-Before the Growth Management Hearings Board of Washington State" »

April 7, 2011

The Law and Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct

The replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is turning out to be as much a legacy project for its legal precedents as it is for whatever civic edifice rises in its place - major issues so far include the State's ability to ignore environmental law before issuing contracts and contrary to public vote and the separate 'lead' authority of the Council and Mayor in that context.

This Seattle Times article concerns a third player rising to 'lead' status - the Seattle City Attorney, Pete Holmes, who has now filed suit on behalf of the City without explicit authorization from either the Mayor or the Council.

Continue reading "The Law and Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct" »

June 15, 2011

Commission on Judicial Conduct Complaint against Pierce District Judge Jack Nevin

I've had four 'anti-harassment' restraining orders placed against me, the first two by State of Washington employees retaliating against fully lawful and 'respectful' accountability complaints. The first of these was in 1989, no long after the first of these laws were passed.

Below the jump is my response to the last of these, in 2010, a complaint filed with the Commission on Judicial Conduct another such lawless retaliatory accusation coordinated by the Cascade Land Conservancy.

The biggest point of law is the inappropriateness of assigning 'malicious intent' via a civil process, by common law precedent a very difficult thing to do and made too easy through these otherwise appropriate legal reforms. Applying these statutes to constitutionally protected free speech is of course statutorily exempted and the practice of ignoring such law shameful, conspiratorial, extortionary, and criminal.

Most evil in these practices is the way they have been used to take control of land use and transportation planning, and, increasingly, private business via these abusive practices. Many of these practices have arisen in the social service legal ranks, most notably the large number of Attorneys hired by current Governor Christine Gregoire during her tenure as Attorney General. There is an evident, and unfortunate, legal practice of treating some as second class 'trash' before the law in unwritten practice that is neither criminal nor civil in nature. It is the case that many social service clients have been inappropriately subject to these stigma, and worse. But reinventing the cycle of abuse for political and financial control is a whole level of predatory behavior that exceeds that of even a level 3 sexual predator.

There is precedent for standing against this politically convenient abuse, the Duke LaCrosse Player case as handled by the Prosecutor Michael NiFong.

But the situation in Washington State is much worse. It appears, in fact, that this technique has been politically successful, and has also made major inroads into many larger corporate businesses in the state, not just academia, government, and non-profits.

It is sadly ironic and illustrative that many so-called feminists have become 'hate whores' for the man allowing their once righteous concerns to be misdirected and manipulated unto the next generation of younger white males.

Continue reading "Commission on Judicial Conduct Complaint against Pierce District Judge Jack Nevin" »

August 11, 2011

Growth Management and the Alaskan Way Viaduct

Back in February, I wrote about a 'supplemental' court filing I did to the Growth Management Hearings Board regarding the controversial 'Big Bore' tunnel replacement boondoggle.

This complaint got tied up in some rather absurd procedural problems, including, on my end, problems with my mail forwarding due my current transient status and the USPS procedures regarding same.

Best to move forward; follow the jump below to a recent re-filing of what is substantively the same case.

Continue reading "Growth Management and the Alaskan Way Viaduct" »

December 19, 2011

UPDATE: Alaskan Way Viaduct Growth Management Act Challenge

My somewhat Quixotic battle against the Gregoire power machine continues with my very symbolic Growth Management Act challenge of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project.

Two key issues which go to the edge of the Growth Management Hearing Board's authority concern the financial aspects of the Comprehensive planning. RCW 36.70a.120 concerns internal financial requirements. Perhaps even more important for the future of Growth Management is the regional coordination requirements, including fair financial dealings, as in RCW 36.70.100.

As you will recall, the State Legislature required the City of Seattle to cover any cost overruns. Numerous legal authorities have said this is unenforceable, including Rob McKenna and former King County Prosecutor Sally Bagshaw who infamously stated that "virtually every Attorney in Seattle" concurred. I argue, Pro Se, the contrary, extending the Growth Management Act to the full (and appropriate) limits of its authority.

Here's the original petition:

There were some interim pleadings, refining issues and the like that I believe are safe to omit. The Central Puget Sound GMHB's final response was in a PDF:

Download PDF File

Follow the jump to see my response, a 'MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION'.

Continue reading "UPDATE: Alaskan Way Viaduct Growth Management Act Challenge" »

March 11, 2013


Okay, in the winter this really is not a super tough climb - but given I'm knocking on 50 years of age, and well past 350 pounds in weight I ask you to pander to my delusions of toughness.

Regardless, this is a classic hike, especially in the Winter, the only sane time to visit this furnace of a biome. It climbs 3200 odd feed over 5.5 miles, one way. Unfortunately, the trip is also a good example of the failures of Federal Public Land Management so much in the news these days.

Yeah, there is a great trail head, even a bit overbuilt with railing and concrete parking blocks - but it is pretty much hidden - as sort of a private reserve only for the friends of the rangers. There is basically no signage out on Hwy 160 and what signage that is there is misleading. There are detailed interpretative displays, but none that give credit to the miners that built the trail and what mention of them is disrespectful of their entrepreneurial spirit, not to mention damn hard work.

March 27, 2013

Aztec Arches
The Eight Trails of Octopus Arch, Trail #1


This is a work in progress in the Aztec Arches area of northern New Mexico, just south of Durango, Colorado. My Indian Caves trail is the first of these. Both of these trails are of more regional interest as opposed to the internationally known spans of Natural Bridges or Arches national monuments.

These trails do make an important point about BLM land use which appears ignorant of the variety of quality on their public properties - all too often the property is managed exclusively for resource extraction or over-protective wilderness, when much of their property would be managed with a mix of these goals, like the National Wild, Scenic, and Recreational river program.


Follow the jump for a description and a few more pictures.

Continue reading "Aztec Arches
The Eight Trails of Octopus Arch, Trail #1" »

April 22, 2013


Breaking from a week plus of frequent rain, a glorious sunset over the slick-rock, transitioning to a waxing crescent moon peeking silver through sublime cumulus over glimmering pale Navajo sandstone.

Local conditions at the Behind the Rocks area just south of Moab: predominately motorized use, though mountain bikers and hikers are still present. Thanks to the addition of designated campsites on Utah State land chalk this area as a victory for the off-road crowd, but one also still suitable for non-motorized use, especially mid-week or off-peak. Some divisive 'redneck' attitudes were present among these users, but no worse than I've witnessed from mountain bikers, as of late. Sub-surface passive aggressiveness present, but was either challenge-able through conversation and/or other members of the party.

In the growing, popular Moab this is an area to focus more intensive use upon - improving some of the main access roads which would make hiking in the adjoining areas easier, likely also is additional space for more motorcycle/ATV/Jeep Trails. All in all has the potential to be a first class example of multiple use management.

Also, the near term forecast for wildflowers is excellent.


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