On Other Blogs: PacMed, Pot, 520, Delusions, and More
1. A plan to relocate Seattle Central Community College's health-training programs to the mostly empty former PacMed building on Beacon Hill has hit a snag, Beacon Hill Blog reports.
The debate is happening at the state level: The state, which has said it will provide millions to help fill up the building, wants 90 days to conduct "due diligence" before providing funds to help relocate the college programs; the public authority that owns the building wants to move forward more quickly.
If the college doesn't end up moving in, the Art Deco building, which formerly housed Amazon, could be replaced by market-rate apartments developed by competing bidder Lennar—the same company that has plans to build 370 apartments above the controversial Whole Foods-anchored development proposed in West Seattle, by the way.2. Why do so many "megaprojects," such as the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, virtually always (nine out of ten times) end up costing more than originally estimated?
The Atlantic Cities posits that rather than assuming planners are simply lying (as some studies have concluded), a more likely explanation might be that public officials are (like all people) "saddled with a cognitive bias that causes them to be unjustifiably upbeat (some might say delusional) about the prospects of their own plans. So they do whatever it takes to get them approved—certain that whatever problems have plagued others in the past will be avoided."
Why do so many "megaprojects," such as the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, end up, nine out of ten times, costing more than originally estimated?
Speaking of which: KOMO News reports that the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will have to pay $81 million to repair damaged pontoons for the new 520 bridge across Lake Washington. The pontoons have numerous structural flaws, including cracks that caused water that seeped into the pontoons themselves, which will hold up the new 520 bridge. (WSDOT points out that the project is still within its original budget; the money to fix the pontoons will come from the project's reserve fund.)
3. And another pair of related stories: The first, from Seattle Transit Blog, is that King County Metro is slowly moving toward a "cashless" system, in which all riders will pay with ORCA cards instead of cash. (The challenge with doing so immediately primarily involves infrequent riders and lower-income riders.)
Meanwhile, Human Transit reports that in some cases, transit systems actually save money by eliminating fares altogether—without incurring the number of so-called "problem" riders (that is, the belligerent riders we've all seen who refuse to pay and make the bus unpleasant for other users.) The trick? Requiring a card even for free fares—and taking it away if people break the rules.
In some cases, transit systems actually save money by eliminating fares altogether.
For a big system like King County Metro, it probably wouldn't make financial sense to let everybody ride for free; but as transit advocates consider options like a low-income fare (and given the recent elimination of the downtown ride-free area), a low-income free card might be worth considering.
4. The PI.com reports that U.S. Sen. Patty Murray has signed off on a letter opposing Obama's appointment of Larry Summers—the former U.S treasury secretary who supported the deregulatory policies that helped lead to the 2008 financial meltdown and who believes women are inherently inferior at science and math—as chair of the Federal Reserve.
The letter supports the appointment of the super-qualified Fed vice-chair Janet Yellen, who would be the first female Fed chair in history.
Consultants advising state regulators on the transition to a legal recreational marijuana market conclude that the black market may continue to exist despite legalization.
Murray's Senate colleague, Maria Cantwell (D-WA), has not signed off on the letter. Cantwell has proposed reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which created a regulatory wall between investment and consumer banks.
5. The Olympian reports that consultants advising state regulators on the transition to a legal recreational marijuana market conclude that the black market may continue to exist and be cheaper than the legal market, if legal producers "have similar production processes but face higher taxes" than the (tax-free) illegal market.
Additionally, "Customers outside Washington’s borders could help keep the black market afloat here by continuing the demand for shipments of illegal pot to their states. 'So one might expect purely illegal marijuana to remain available in Washington,' wrote the consultants, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University."