1. State lawmakers are considering a scheme to borrow against future lottery proceeds to pay for basic education, the Olympian reports. The money—$50 million, borrowed against future state lottery profits—would pay for an estimated $700 million in school construction necessary to help meet the state supreme court's McCleary mandate that the state fully fund K-12 education. 

The proposal would fund hundreds of new K-3 classrooms to meet classroom-size reduction mandates. 

Currently, the lottery proceeds the legislature is eyeing pay for higher-education scholarships. The proposal, the Olympian reports, has bipartisan support in the state house. 

2. Plummeting traffic on the Alaskan Way Viaduct wasn't an anomaly: As traffic on the viaduct plummeted from more than 110,000 car trips a day in 2009 to just 62,000 three years later, Sightline reports, traffic throughout the city declined as well—meaning that the common assumption, that drivers who once used the viaduct simply moved onto city streets and I-5, was dead wrong. 

Since 1998, Sightline reports, north-south trips through downtown Seattle have declined steadily every year—from 535,138 trips a day in 1998, to 461,120 in 2012. That trend held steady even after tunnel construction and viaduct demolition began in 2010: Between 2010 and 2012, traffic through downtown decreased from 504,730 trips a day to 461,120. That means that between the beginning of viaduct construction and 2012, "about 1 trip out of 12 vanished," Sightline's Clark Williams-Derry writes. 

Image via Sightline.

How many of those trips are on the viaduct? Hard to say, but given that highways can only carry about 2,000 trips per lane per hour, and given that the viaduct, with its narrow lanes and tight curves, probably carries closer to 1,500, a conservative estimate puts traffic on the four-lane viaduct at about 6,000 trips per hour. And that, Sightline concludes, "seems a particularly relevant number to keep in mind when evaluating a project that’s costing the state $4.2 billion."

3. As both the city council and the state legislature consider proposals to require stricter regulations of and more disclosure about oil-train transports through the region, the Everett Herald reports that the West Coast is actually poised to see a flood of domestic (and Canadian) oil pour into our region by rail from places like Canada and North Dakota.

Currently, the West Coast is relatively isolated and dependent on foreign oil; domestic producers see an opporunity in bringing more (and cheaper) crude oil into the region by rail. In California, six rail "offloading" projects (terminals) are awaiting approval; in Washington, the Herald reports, regulators have pushed back against new facilities but "almost all the refineries in Washington state have their own offloading complexes."

(Meanwhile, the AP reports that a member of the National Transportation Safety Board has deemed the rail tank cars used to ship crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken region an "unacceptable risk" to the public, after two derailments involving a particular model of train cars, known as DOT-111s, resulted in massive explosions and fires; one of the derailments, in Quebec, killed 47 people and destroyed 30 buildings.)

4. The Atlantic Cities charticles the ten steepest hills in the U.S. Shockingly, not one street in Seattle makes the cut: The majority are in California, with four hills in Los Angeles clocking in at grades above 32 percent, and two hills in San Francisco ranking grades of 31.5 percent. (The steepest hill in the U.S. is in Honokaa, HI, with a grade of 45 percent—"only four-wheel-drive vehicles," the Atlantic notes, "are permitted on this road." 

But Seattle isn't far behind. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, several of our hills come close to the top 10, including NW 60th St. between 2nd and 3rd Aves. NW (28 percent), East Roy St. Between 25th Ave. N. and 26th Ave. N. (26.04 percent) and E. Boston St. between Harvard and Broadway Aves. (23.8 percent). Remember, cyclists, it could always be worse.


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