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On Other Blogs Today: HOT Lanes, Hockey, Harrell, and More

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By Erica C. Barnett June 24, 2013



1. Capitol Hill Seattle has an interview with mayoral hopeful (and current city council member) Bruce Harrell. In between his usual push for more technology like cop body cameras and a tepid endorsement of aPodments, there's this: 

Harrell also said he supports the expansion of light rail through the city coupled with more parking around stations. He lamented the low ridership on current lines and said it’s likely that more people would use light rail if they could drive to the station.

“I can assure you that my grandkids will be driving cars,” he said. “While we discourage a dependence on cars, it’s a part of our American fabric.”

Harrell, who's struggled to stand out in a huge pack of primary contenders, is almost certainly the only candidate advocating for inner-city parking lots at light rail stations and predicting that cars are the future.

2. The Atlantic tackles a problem that has vexed Washington state transportation planners for years: Why don't high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes—essentially, HOV lanes that solo drivers can access by paying a toll—turn a profit?

On SR-167, which charges solo drivers between 50 cents and $9 to drive in HOT lanes between Renton and Auburn, actual revenues were a fraction of the state department of transportation's (WSDOT's) worst-case scenario.

The answer, the Atlantic suggests, is twofold: Poor traffic planning, and a lack of driver familiarity with HOT lanes. Essentially, WSDOT assumed people would continue to drive more and more, when people are actually driving less. And people don't understand the relationship between the cost of a HOT lane and the value of the time they're saving by bypassing traffic—prompting many to simply avoid the lanes.

3. A Republican-sponsored state senate bill would put the brakes on teacher pay increases, the AP reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island), would ban raises greater than the rate of inflation over the next two years.

Although both houses have adopted budgets that deny teachers the cost-of-living pay increases that are required under Initiative 732, legislators are also debating how to put an additional $1 billion into schools as required by the state supreme court's McCleary decision. Litzow's bill would effectively ensure that none of that $1 billion would be spent increasing teacher pay.

4. If you think Litzow's bill is unsympathetic to teachers, check out what Republican state Rep. Liz Pike (R-18, Camas) has to say about those greedy public employees: According to the Columbian, Pike put up a post on her Facebook page telling teachers who don't like their pay to find another line of work. 

"Congratulations on enjoying your last day of the school year. If I had the opportunity to choose my career all over, I would have opted to get the necessary degree and teaching certificate so that I too could enjoy summertime off with my children, spring break vacations, Christmas break vacations, paid holidays, a generous pension and health insurance benefits.

"Instead," Pike continued, "I chose to work a career in private sector business so that I could be one of those tax payers who funds your salaries and benefits as a state employee in a local school district."

Pike, contacted by the Columbian, stood by her statement.

5. Seattle hockey fans hoping the city will snap up the Phoenix Coyotes shouldn't hold their breath, Seattle Times sports columnist Geoff Baker writes. "Indeed, the NHL’s half-baked “Plan B’’ involves uprooting by September to a Seattle market with foggy ownership, no firm arena deal and questionable hockey demand."

Baker thinks the city of Glendale, where the Coyotes are based, is using Seattle as a bargaining chip to get the city and prospective new Coyotes owners to ink a long-term arena deal that would keep the Coyotes in Glendale for at least 10 more years and give the team as much as $15 million a year.

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