legislation

Interchange

I’ve driven under the new 41st St. Interchange up in Everett a few times, but I’ve never gotten off there, and thus never seen the really neat signal setup they’ve got going on. I’ve never seen anything quite like this:

41stInterchange.png

You can watch an animation of the interchange in action here.

This comes via WSDOT’s announcement that the HOV lanes on I-5 have been completed from Seattle to Everett.

70MPG

The new Golf diesel-hybrid. Greener than the Prius. Not on sale in the U.S. yet, though.

Innovations like this make me even more convinced that high gas prices are not enough to dissuate the majority of us from our SOV lifestyles. You could trade in a 22mpg Ford for one of these Golfs, and gas would have to hit $11/gallon before you started feeling it in the wallet.

To take this one step further, I’m generally concerned with the idea of guilting or shaming people into density: “get rid of your house in the suburbs or the polar bears will die and the ice caps will melt!.” People are psychologically and developmentally attuned to reject those sorts of arguments.

Transit-oriented lifestyles can (and should) be spun positively:

  • Nightlife is cool.
  • Walking to the grocery store and not having to circle for parking is cool!
  • Being able to walk home or take the bus home drunk from the bar is really cool!!
  • Being assured that your teenage kids aren’t driving around drunk is extra super cool!!!
  • Being home in time to help your kids do their homework and not just tuck them in to bed is ZOMG the coolest thing ever!!!!
  • Etc…

You catch more flies with honey, right?

I’m not trying to discount the role of public policy here. Clearly I support policies like denser zoning, mixed use, carbon-sensitive zoning, etc. But the point is that you build support for those sorts of things by making the lifestyles associated with them attractive and compelling.

Changing Priorities

As per usual, Joe Turner at the TNT has a wonderfully comprehensive breakdown on the state of play of various road projects around the sound, and how they’re faring in this legislative session. The stuff on 520 isn’t new, we basically knew that the state had $2B or so of the $4.4B price tag allocated, and that’s indeed what the project is going to get.

But Turner also quotes some legislators who think that many of the Prop. 1 highway projects — the Cross-Base Highway, SR 509 extension, SR 167 extension — may be DOA altogether:

That’s bad news for a lot of other projects across the state, said Rep. Doug Ericksen, the Republican deputy minority leader from Ferndale.

“If those projects are delayed after 2013, I would not take that to the bank and I wouldn’t promise your constituents (the projects will be built),” Ericksen said during Friday’s debate on the House floor.

Ericksen could be posturing, but it’s clear that priorities have shifted post-Prop. 1. Only the most essential projects are getting the green light.

More interestingly, the Governor says we’ll know more about the Viaduct in December 2008. Not too long ago it was supposed to be early this year.

I sure hope she’s not just stalling until after the election. Democrats nationally and locally have gotten it into their deluded heads that after November, when the Governor’s re-elected, and The Chosen One is in the White House, there will be much rejoicing throught the land and all the liberal pony plans will sail through the legislature and all the Repulbicans will crawl back into their caves or move to Canada.

Sorry folks, it ain’t gonna happen.

Ford Kuga

Sweet car. 37mpg, 4WD, and it’s not even a hybrid. Makes me want to buy American again. Ironic that I’d have to fly to Europe to do so.

Everything's Bigger in Texas

Even the proposed multimodal toll roads:

The project grew to consist of four “priority segments:” new multimodal toll roads up to 1,200 feet wide paralleling Interstates 35 and 37 from Denison in North Texas to the Rio Grande Valley; a proposed I-69 from Texarkana to Houston and Laredo; I-45 from Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston; and I-10 from El Paso to Orange on the Louisiana border. But the exact routes are years away from being designated.

With construction, land acquisition and other expenses, the cost was estimated in 2002 at up to $183.5 billion, all of it to be put up by private investors, state officials say. No existing roads would gain tolls.

I can’t even imagine a 1200-foot-wide road. That’s a quarter-mile!

(h/t Matski)

Fuel Efficiency Bill

Interesting bill coming out at the last minute in Olympia, wth Mayor Nickels’ support, penalizing drivers for driving less fuel-efficient cars.

An interesting idea, in theory, but I’m generally opposed to narrow interventions like this. Better to simply raise the gas tax, which rewards people for driving less.

Headlights

I’m disappointed to learn that it’s not illegal to keep your headlights off in the rain. Several other states have laws on the books like this, wherein you have to keep your headlights on any time your windshield wipers are on.

It’s genuinely unsafe — I’ve had several near-misses in rainy conditions with cars who don’t have their headlights on.

Controlled Chaos in Action

I was skeptical about the idea that reducing signage on the roads can make them safer. But I did note that, in many third-world countries, they get by without any signs or traffic signals at all.

Reader JB sends this YouTube clip of an intersection in India that shows such a system in action:

PSA: More Red Light Cameras Coming

Don’t try and sneak through those red lights! 19 more red-light cameras are coming to Seattle next year.

The four that were installed in the pilot program cost $460K and brought in $1.1M in revenue, not a bad investment! Oh yeah… accidents dropped, too. :)

Controlled Chaos

This is wild:

Like countless other communities, this western German town lived for years with a miserable traffic problem. Each day, thousands of cars and big trucks barreled along the two-lane main street, forcing pedestrians and cyclists to scamper for their lives.

The usual remedies – from safety crossings to speed traps – did no good. So the citizens of Bohmte decided to take a big risk. Since September, they’ve been tearing up the sidewalks, removing curbs and erasing street markers as part of a radical plan to abandon nearly all traffic regulations and force people to rely on common sense and courtesy instead.

This contrarian approach to traffic management, known as shared space, is gaining a foothold in Europe. Towns in the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain and Belgium have tossed out their traffic lights and stop signs in a bid to reclaim their streets for everyone.

If you’ve ever travelled in the third world, you know this is basically how the streets work. It’s chaos, but it works. People adapt to it pretty quickly. And when a car hits a bicycle, the driver gets out and basically throws wads of cash at the injured bicyclist until he stops screaming. It’s nuts.

I’m pretty skeptical that something like this could work in the U.S. After one accident there would be intense commmunity pressure to put up new signs “in memory of little Timmy” or whatever, the local media would pounce on the transpo agency for failing to “do something” and we’d be right back where we started.

Still, it’s interesting.