1. With a nod to one of the most chilling scenes in television history (Google it, non-Gen Xers), Sightline's Clark Williams-Derry points out that, despite steadily declining traffic levels across the state, "It is happening again": State transportation planners continue to project a steady increase in traffic volumes on roadways statewide, with annual growth rates increasing from 2 percent in 2015 to 4 percent in 2017.
The problem here is twofold. First, if traffic volumes don't keep going up forever, there will be no way to fund all the megaprojects and extra highway lanes the state has planned. On the other hand, if the projections are wrong, there's no need to build all those new megaprojects.
"We have built, and are still building, more high-cost road projects than we actually need, even as revenue from gas taxes and tolls just isn’t showing up to pay for it all," Williams-Derry writes.
By predicting endless traffic growth today, Williams-Derry concludes, the state is ensuring that "future generations will have to keep paying for our bad infrastructure bets."
2. The Columbia River Crossing between Vancouver and Portland appears to be off the table during the special session of the Oregon state legislature that convened this week, the Oregonian reports, in part because Oregon legislators want to hear a stronger statement of support from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee before signing off on the $450 million proposal.
Washington state legislators rejected a proposal to pay for our state's own $450 million contribution for the bridge, in part because the Republicans who dominate the state senate oppose the light rail component of the bridge proposal.
Check out this thoroughly researched and utterly compelling piece in the Pacific NW Inlander, which traces the history of the labeling battle, the benefits and drawbacks of GMO crops, and the genesis of a creepy-ass-sounding apple that doesn't turn brown. 3. KUOW's David Hyde put me on the spot last week by asking me a technical question about the science behind genetically modified foods. While I'm no scientist, I do oppose the proliferation of GMOs because they reduce crop diversity, subject people to food that has literally been drenched in poison yet does not die ("Roundup-Ready" crops), contribute to lower crop yields, and hand ownership of one of the most basic sources of life on earth—our seed stock—to a handful of megacorporations like Monsanto.
But that's just my opinion. If you want some seriously convincing evidence that we should, at the very least, have the right to know whether the food we eat is genetically modified (and, for that matter, what "genetically modified" even means), check out this thoroughly researched and utterly compelling piece in the Pacific NW Inlander, which traces the history of the labeling battle, the benefits and drawbacks of GMO crops, and the genesis of a creepy-ass-sounding apple that doesn't turn brown.
4. How will the federal shutdown impact local agencies and political offices? For U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray (D-WA), it means they'll be furloughing most of their staffs, the Seattle Times reports. Murray and Cantwell have both shut down six offices between Everett and Yakima and cut their staff in Washington down to a "core crew" of essential employees. U.S. Representatives like Suzan DelBene (D-1) and Dave Reichert (R-8) have not yet cut back on staff, the Times reports.
Meanwhile, according to the News Tribune, the Lewis-McChord Air Force base "appeared relatively empty" today, with thousands of workers staying home, and national forests like Mount St. Helens were open but their visitor centers and campgrounds were closed.
5. Seattle Transit Blog reports that the typical transit system works great for men, who tend to use it for direct, one-seat commutes from home to work and back, but less well for women, who typically bear the brunt of household errands, which aren't well-accommodated by the typical downtown-to-neighborhood hub and spoke system.
Traveling from neighborhood to neighborhood without going downtown—the type of travel women do when running errands for their families, taking kids from place to place, or accompanying elderly family members to appointments—isn't the kind of thing our public transit systems tend to accommodate. It's time to do better.
6. Ugggggghhhhhhhh: "Sub-Urban Adventures" is a new company specializing in poverty tourism. Clutch Magazine reports that for a mere $2,000 a night, male Seattle residents can get a 3-day "reality tour" to find out "how homeless people survive" on the streets and to "see the seedy side of Seattle in a new light" by living on the streets. Or you could give $2,000 to, I don't know, a charity that helps the homeless?