Salk writes: "I don't think any real information was exchanged Tuesday night. It felt like most everyone there had previously made up their mind. Most folks (on both sides) weren't there to learn the truth – they simply wanted to make their voices heard. That's OK. ... The real question is whether the 18 members of the two councils are sifting through the misinformation, complex financial models and real economic realities to find the truth."
Salk said he was also surprised at the number of arena opponents who wanted to reconsider renovating KeyArena for basketball, given that investor Chris Hansen has said he considers that location unacceptable.
2. At a time when more people across the US are choosing to bike than ever before, the Cascade Bicycle Club writes on its blog, that the new two-year transportation bill will set funding for bike programs back decades.
Among other reductions, the transportation bill cuts federal funding for bike programs like Safe Routes to School by at least a third; gives states the ability to transfer "flexible" bike and pedestrian funds for use on just about any transportation project, including highways; eliminates "Complete Streets" language that required transportation planners to consider the safety of all street users, not just cars, in upgrading roads and highways; and defunded several federal programs aimed at increasing bicyclist and pedestrian safety.
The law, Cascade's John Mauro writes, "will likely result in more than a 60% cut in funding for biking and walking, turning back 20 years of progress to make our streets safer, healthier and more accessible." The silver lining? At one point ... it looked as though all funding would be slashed, meaning no Safe Routes to School projects to get our kids more safely to school, no bike safety projects like cycle tracks and greenways—not even any sidewalks in our communities.
3. Meanwhile, according to Transportation Issues Daily, the changes in the transpo bill could cost King County Metro upward of $10 million a year, and Sound Transit as much as $3 million a year.
4. The Boston Globe reports that the rising cost of the Big Dig tunnel---originally budgeted at around $8 billion, now at more than $24 billion and rising---is "strangling the state’s ability to fund other critical transportation projects"---a sobering message for Seattle, which is just getting ready to embark on one of the largest deep-bored highway tunnels in the world.
Though the Big Dig — the nation’s costliest highway project — was essentially completed years ago, the state still owes about $9.3 billion in principal and interest on the Big Dig and related projects with payments scheduled to continue through 2038, according to a summary presented to the House Post Audit and Oversight Committee.
Annual debt service was pegged at roughly $550 million, including debt owed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority on public transit improvements that were mandated as part of the original approval process for the Big Dig.
The viaduct replacement project and the Big Dig share an engineering consultant, Bechtel/Parsons Brinkerhoff.
5. Streetsblog reports that following the launch of New York's first 20 mph zone in the Bronx last year, the city has chosen 13 more areas for lower speed limits, making parts of the city safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable users.
The context here: Earlier this year, the Washington State legislature rejected a bill that would have simply allowed cities to lower speed limits as low as 20 mph on non-arterial streets without going through costly speed and traffic-engineering studies. Advocates for the change argued that the faster a driver is going when he or she hits a cyclist or pedestrian, the more likely the pedestrian or cyclist is to die of their injuries.