Shovel Ready

With Obama pledging a massive infrastructure investment, I think we can all identify the main car related stimulus projects. I would still hope that some other things are in the discussion. While most of the examples below could apply to the rest of the state and much of the country, this a few suggestions for Seattle and suburbs. Of course, people with more knowledge of Spokane and the Tri-Cities can chime in if they want.

– Sidewalks: As people who’ve been reading me here and elsewhere for a while know, this is a bit of a hobbyhorse of mine. Specifically, Seattle North of 85th needs sidewalks, and many downtown sidewalks are in need of repair.

– Bus Pay Stations: I’d like to be able to pay for the bus before it gets there, and then either have a token or a card or whatever and just use that instead of trying to put that bill in the feeder and fish out the right change from my wallet while people are lining up behind me. This would speed up bus service and make the bus easier for casual users.

– Other Bus Improvements: Metro buses already have GPS systems installed, and it’s neat to be able to see where the buses are. And if your phone is more advanced than mine, it’s even better. Still, it would be nice to put the technology to more use: We could have more bus stops tell you when the next buses are coming. It would also be good for passengers (again casual ones especially) to be able to have an on-bus display of where they are and what the next stop is. These are probably too expensive for Metro right now, but I don’t see why couldn’t be included in a stimulus package.

– Ferries. We need to replace our fleet, and frankly I don’t see how we get the money to do that in a post I-695 world. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get some new boats in the water.


  1. 1

    Alcina spews:

    Here’s a link to a map of the streets in Seattle without sidewalks.
    Seattle annexed the area north of 85th in the 1950s and City officials promised they would get sidewalks. They are still waiting.

    Sidewalk repair is the responsibility of the abutting property owner Because this can be costly, many don’t do it.

  2. 2


    The GPS on bus stops is a great idea. I was thinking the exact same thing when I was waiting for the bus the other day.

    One of the biggest issues with attracting drivers to public transit is the bad PR transit has. The GPS thing might make a small dent in that by making transit a little more modern a lot more logical. People like convenient technology they easily understand.

  3. 3



    I should have been more clear that, yes, that is the norm, but we could still figure out a way for the administration to pick up the tab.

  4. 4



    I do think this is a moment to get people on the bus. There is a lot of technology if you’ve got a phone that you can check these things out on and you know where to find it. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t.

  5. 5

    me spews:


    Please be a bit bolder in your prognostications:

    The major project that will be presented to the Federal Government will be the tunnel to replace the Viaduct. If that goes through, the Mayor will probably be reelected without a ‘snow job’ problem.

    The second project will be the 520 bridge.

    If the Porn Industry feels free to ‘touch’ the government then Seattle and Washington State should do the same.

  6. 6

    Alcina spews:

    @3, According to Councilmember Licata it could cost anywhere between $270 million and $4.5 billion to build sidewalks on all of Seattle’s streets. I’m not suggesting sidewalks aren’t a good idea, because I agree that they are. However, the problem is how to pay for this. Should Seattle have yet another levy or what should they cut to pay for sidewalks?

    The Bridging the Gap levy funds will build 117 blocks of new sidewalks, but when there are 30 percent (480 miles) of Seattle streets with no sidewalks at all and 40 percent (650 miles) have sidewalks on only one side of the street, that isn’t going to solve much of the problem. It costs roughly $2 million to build one mile of sidewalk.

  7. 7

    Gordon spews:

    Rather than complete concrete sidewalks it would be nice to see Seattle build some sort of barriers for true separated bike lanes on many of these streets. Make a whole system that is sensibly shared with pedestrian and cyclist alike. Something like dual lanes like you see at greenlake. Just cut a sliver off of the road where required. Separate it from traffic and parking sufficiently and pedestrians should be comfortable enough walking on asphalt. Seems cheaper option and would serve both the bike and pedestrian community.

    Carl, I would be curious to hear your view on this. The unfortunate thing is that I think painted bike lane arrows on busy streets is a half ass solution. e.g Stone Way. I hate riding with cars breathing down my neck.

    The bus stop ideas, makes a lot of sense.

  8. 8

    Michael spews:

    Tacoma needs sidewalks like crazy.

    Property owners don’t pay to pave and maintain the street in front of their houses, why should they pay for the sidewalks?

  9. 9



    This was a post for non-car items I’d like to see (although the ferry system is in large part to move cars around).


    I’d love to see the city made more bike friendly. I don’t think we’re shovel ready at this point beyond sharrows and maybe a few lanes.

  10. 10

    Alcina spews:

    The MRSC has a good analysis about sidewalk repair and maintenance
    as well as how cities can transer the responsibility for the maintenance to the abutting property owners, but not the liability.

    Given that in mind, I guess the only way to get all of the sidewalks in Seattle repaired would be for Seattle to hire a bunch of “sidewalk inspectors” to inspect all of the City’s sidewalks, notify the abutting owners of the ones needing to be repaired and, then if those property owners don’t complete the repairs, the City would have the work done and bill the property owners.

    Probably isn’t a chance this would happen, because it seems like it could be political suicide for any Seattle Councilmember who would advocate for such an approach given that property owners often vote.

  11. 11


    I think you’re going to like the new ORCA card that’s coming soon. It’s smart card technology that will automatically account for different fares on Metro, Sound Transit, Community, Everett, Pierce, Kitsap Transit, and Washington State Ferries. ORCA stands for One Regional Card for All. And the “for all” does not mean for all people, it means for all modes of transportation. So you can use it on almost any public transportation.

    You can load value onto the card online, over the phone, by mail, or in person at various retail and other locations. You can also use an autoload feature which is a reoccurring fund transfer from your credit card.

    To use it you just touch your card to the ORCA box, and the fare will be deducted from your card. It’s not a flash pass. And you might not even have to take your card out of your wallet. You might just be able to tap your wallet to the ORCA box and have it deduct your fare. We’ll see.

  12. 12

    I Got Nuthin' spews:

    Other Bus Improvements: Metro buses already have GPS systems installed, and it’s neat to be able to see where the buses are. And if your phone is more advanced than mine, it’s even better.

    Can someone direct me to the system requirements for smartphones?

  13. 13

    Puddybud, Hey it's the New Year... spews:

    Get out the shovel next week. According to the Institute for Liberty, Barack Obama’s inaugural Washington will produce about 575 million pounds of CO2 emissions. That’s a lot of shoveling… Why isn’t Henry The Nose Waxman complaining? Maybe Obama should use those HollyWeird Greek Columns down Pennsylvania Avenue.

  14. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 “Make a whole system that is sensibly shared with pedestrian and cyclist alike.”

    Cyclists and pedestrians don’t mix! Whatever is built should separate cyclists from pedestrians.

  15. 18

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    I like the bus pay stations at major stops at least. ALso, can the ones they have already at Streetcar Stops take dollar bills? Or is it a stealth way of getting acceptance for the $1 coins?(I like both the bill and the coin). I love the Dollar Coins because I can drop them in the coin slot of the farebox, seems faster.

  16. 19

    Puddybud, Hey it's the New Year... spews:

    Get out the shovel, they eliminated Michelle Obama’s job.

    So what does that really tell you about what she did for that money?

  17. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    Federal Way students won’t be able to watch President Obama’s inauguration without their parents’ written permission, KING 5 News reported tonight.

    According to KING 5 News, “Federal way principals received an e-mail notifying them of the rule.”

    KING 5 News quoted a school administrator as saying “we want the parents to make that call” about whether their kids can watch Obama being sworn in. The administrator said the district’s concern was Obama’s inauguration “was not listed in syllabus handed out at the beginning of the term” and explained he “considers the inauguration a full length documentary, unlike some newspaper or internet reference articles which do not require pre-approval.”

    The Federal Way School District was embroiled in an earlier controversy when the school board blocked a teacher from showing Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” to his students.

    (quoted under fair use)

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: I have just one question for the Federal Way School Board. Did this policy also apply to Bush’s inauguration? Well … did it?

    If you disagree with this policy, you can send a comment to Federal Way Schools at

  18. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @19 et al. – I can see that puttynut already loathes the next 8 years — and they haven’t even started yet! In fact, I don’t think he’s gonna make it through 8 years of Obama, or even Obama’s first 4 years! His head will explode long before then. Get out the mops and pails ‘cuz there’s gonna be a mess to clean up.

  19. 23

    RightWingTroll spews:

    @22 Roger Rabbit – don’t worry libTURD, we conservatives know how to cull the weak from our herd. Only the strong survive. Only the hard, only the strong. No room for weaklings.

  20. 24

    Puddybud, Hey it's the New Year... spews:

    Pelletizer, it’s not about loathing, it’s about fair reporting.

    The Libtard MSM, by liberals for liberals

  21. 25


    So, I’m reading about this plane crash in NY. “First Responders,” my ass. Police and Fire were Second Responders. The First Responders were the tour boat and passenger boats on the river. They were the first to respond and help!

  22. 26

    YLB spews:

    Only the hard, only the strong. No room for weaklings.

    Terrific, please take care of Mitch McConnell, Limbaugh, Savage-Weiner and all of Faux Noise.

  23. 27

    YLB spews:

    But then why don’t you take all of yourselves out. “The Strong” isn’t supposed to lose elections to a “socialist”.


  24. 28

    YLB spews:

    According to the Institute for Liberty,

    Freedom to be idiots, I suppose. The outgoing chimp gang spews that much greenhouse gas at least every every hour.

  25. 29

    SeattleJew spews:

    Carl ..

    This worries me.

    These moneys should be spent as investments on things that add ton our productivity. I can see spending dollars on the Viatunnel, grid, light rail .. anything that adds to productivity.

  26. 31

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @24 You wouldn’t know what “fair reporting” is even if it hit you over the head with a 2×4.

  27. 32

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hee’s an example of what “fair reporting” is not. A reporter is standing on a street corner. He sees a wingnut in a pickup truck run a red light and hit a little old lady with a walker in the crosswalk with the “walk” sign in her favor. He writes a story that says, “She said she had the light. He said he had the light.” Puddy, I agree there hasn’t been much “fair reporting” in the last 8 years, but not for the reason you think. The MSM “reported” stuff that their own eyes told them was bullshit. The MSM willingly played the “he said, she said” game with the lying Republicans who ran the country into the ground. The media seems to have forgotten that part of their job is to separate truth from fiction, fact from lies, propaganda from actuality. They seemed to think their job was to avoid offending the lying swine in power. Yes, there’s a problem with the quality of reporting in this country, but not in the way you think.

  28. 33

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @23 I didn’t see the “hard and strong” lining up to volunteer for Iraq. For that matter, I didn’t see them lining up to volunteer for Vietnam, either. Nearly all of the Vietnam veterans in Congress were Democrats. I can give you a long list of Republican draft dodgers if you’d like to see it — starting with Bush and Cheney, and working down from there.

  29. 34

    rhp6033 spews:

    Troll @ 25: Longstanding Maritme law requires all boats in the immediate vicinity of an emergency to render all aid and assistance possible, until relieved by the Coast Guard. This is also supported by several centuries of tradition.

    Of course, even if there weren’t such a law, I’m sure anyone nearby would be assisting to the best of their ability.

    So what’s your point? That we should have fire, police, and Coast Guard boats on every square half-mile of waterfront, just in case an airplane should happen to crash nearby? Or that somehow the fact that citizens pitched in to help one another proves that the fire, police, and Coast Guard is an unnecessary expense, and we should just go back to citizen night-watchmen, volunteer or private-subscription fire departments, etc.???????

  30. 35

    rhp6033 spews:

    RR @ 32: Nice explanation. It got me thinking about how a story like that might appear in print:

    “Today Puddy Wingnut was cited for running a red light when the 1948 Ford Pickup he was driving struck and injured Mariel Walker, 82, a local resident and belove Bible-school teacher.

    Several witnesses said the light was red when Wingnut entered the interesection. The police refused to comment, only saying that a citation had been issued, although the incident remains under investigation.

    Wingnut, age, occupation, and residence unknown, denied the claims, saying that the light was clearly green when he ran it, that Mrs. Walker was probably intoxicated and an enviro-Nazi and a Democrat and got what she deserved, and that any reports to the contrary were “part of a liberal conspiracy to discredit him (Mr. Wingnut), and everything he stands for.” (sic).

    When asked for comment by the editors of this paper, the editor has been instructed by the publisher to apologize in advance to Mr. Wingnut for any bias which might appear in this story, and to warn readers that any eyewitness reports or allegations against Mr. Wingnut are unproven, and that even if this matter were to go to trial and a verdict against him, it would in no way indicate that his version of this incident were not the correct one, as any such verdict would only be proof of bias on the part of the justice system against him.

    When reached for comment at the hospital, Ms. Walker said that “Mr. Wingnut can go **** himself”.

  31. 36

    YLB spews:

    Poor Stupes blames the failure of chimp policies on the crappy media. The same media that more or less cheerleaded him to a shitty war that my grandkids will be paying for.

    Deflect, deflect, deflect the blame everywhere from where it truly lies: the chimp, his corrupt gang and his enablers.

    Enablers like Stupes.

  32. 37

    rhp6033 spews:

    Not to keep harping on the train system in Japan, but since it’s on-topic:

    In Tokyo when you enter a train station, the first thing you see are screens on either side of the hallway. The amount you pay is based upon the distance (# of stations) you travel, so the fare varies. But if you go to the screens, you will see that you can touch a button to get a display in English which tells you how much you need (several other languages are available, also).

    When you buy a ticket, you are actually loading it up with money (like a pre-paid phone card) which subtracts the exact fare when you exit the station at your destination.

    With this system, the Japanese move an incredible number of people with minimal delays.

  33. 38

    pslrts spews:

    Those new parking token vending machines on every block can spit out a transit ticket by adding one more button and some instructions. One fare gets you anywhere in town for up to 2 hours. Woo Hoo!