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On Other Blogs Today: Gridlock, Gay Marriage, and GOP Advantage in Olympia

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By Erica C. Barnett December 5, 2012



1. The New York Times offers a by-the-numbers look at the changing face of Seattle's waterfront, which will soon be transformed by a new seawall and the deep-bore tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

One of the most startling stats: According to engineers' estimate, 20,000 old-growth trees were driven into the loose waterfront soil to build the original seawall between the turn of the century and the 1930s.

2. Should Governor-elect Jay Inslee replace state transportation secretary Paula Hammond? Transit advocates say yes, arguing that Hammond, appointed by outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire to replace former WSDOT head Doug MacDonald, has focused too much on funding for roads at the expense of transit, bike lanes, and pedestrian amenities.

At Crosscut, though, Larry Ehl, who runs the blog Transportation Issues Daily, argues for Hammond's retention, saying she has fought for light rail on major highway reconstruction projects, has fought to preserve federal funds for bike and pedestrian projects, and has worked to quantify the greenhouse-gas impacts of major highway projects.

"Compared to her counterparts around the country, and to most other Washington State agency directors," Ehl argues, "Hammond has been the disruptive change agent that Governor-elect Inslee wants to attract."

3. Not so fast, though: KING 5 reports that in an effort to "tame gridlock," WSDOT may allow drivers to use the shoulders of congested highways during rush hour.

Having argued (and, on occasion, agreed) with Schram on his radio show many times over the years, we're saddened by the news and we wish him well.

That strikes us as an unsafe "solution" to congestion (where, for example, will emergency vehicles go if they can't use highway shoulders?), not to mention one that, like every highway expansion project, won't do anything in the long term to solve traffic congestion. 

4. The city has shelved a plan to give $90-a-month bonuses to gay employees who marry their partners, KOMO reports. The proposal, which would have cost Seattle about $162,000 a year, was intended to compensate gay couples who aren't eligible for a tax break straight couples receive when they marry. Our only question is: Why give couples a tax break for marrying, period?

5. On the heels of news that Robert Mak is leaving KING 5 after the cancellation of his show, "Up Front," and the cancellation of Enrique Cerna's public-TV show "KCTS Connects," longtime KOMO TV and radio personality Ken Schram's position at the station has been "eliminated," according to the PI.com.

Having argued (and, on occasion, agreed) with Schram on his radio show many times over the years, we're saddened by the news and we wish him well. 

6. It's official: By a 74-vote margin, Republican state Sen. Don Benton has won reelection, according to the Columbian, giving a coalition of Republicans and two conservative Democrats an effective 25-24 majority in the senate. 


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