A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘washington state

[URBAN NOTE] Five notes on change: Richard Florida, Sidewalk & Quayside, Hong Kong, Seattle, Iceland

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  • Noah Smith of Bloomberg interviews RIchard Florida on the downsides of the urban renaissance, considering the possibility of countries fragmenting into booming city-states and declining hinterlands, over at Bloomberg.
  • Christopher Hume considers how the Google Sidewalk dream for Toronto’s Quayside could fall apart, over at the Toronto Star.
  • VICE reports on how Hong Kong is making massive investments in land reclamation, in response to shortages of territory.
  • Global News reports that Chinese homebuying investors have turned from Vancouver towards Seattle, in search of lower prices.
  • Iceland is in the middle of massive housing price increases, though this is apparently growth driven by demand not by a bubble. Bloomberg reports.
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[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes that our first confirmed extrasolar visitor has been named, I/U2017 U1.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the dynamics allowing Enceladus to keep its subsurface water ocean.
  • Crooked Timber reacts to the alarming rift opening up between Saudi Arabia and its Shi’ite neighbours, including Lebanon and Iran.
  • D-Brief notes that the New Horizons team planners are seeking a new name for their next target, (486958) 2014 MU69.
  • Dangerous Minds takes a look at some of the greeting cards designed for American Greetings by Robert Crumb.
  • Hornet Stories notes the rise of explicitly homophobic and transphobic ideologues in Paraguay, and its implications for wider South America.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes growing Democratic strength in Washington State.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a New York Times map of the Virginia election for governor.
  • The NYR Daily looks how the brutally quick shutdown of DNAInfo and the Gothamist network reflects the generally parlous state of journalism (among other things).
  • Roads and Kingdoms takes a look at the humble momo, a breakfast food in (among other places) Bhutan.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains why quark fusion can never be a potent energy source.
  • Understanding Society celebrates its tenth anniversary.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the disinterest of most Russians in personally costly revolutionary actions.

[ISL] “#MIPL and the death of shame”

Earlier this week, djw at Lawyers, Guns and Money wrote a blog post criticizing how inhabitants of <a href="Mercer Island, a very well-off lake island in the east of the Seattle metropolitan area, have been trying to stall or avert altogether light rail access to their island that might diminish their privileged position re: roads running across this island.

For those unfamiliar with the topography of the Puget Sound region: Seattle is a long, thin city; around 20 miles from its northern to southern border but about 3-6 miles East to West, bounded by water on either side: Puget Sound to the West, and Lake Washington (which extends slightly beyond Seattle both North and South) to the East. This lake sharply separates Seattle from its Eastern suburbs, which have for some time been the location of many (but not all) of the wealthier sections of the region, with the middle class and historically more downscale suburbs generally located to the North and South of the city. Lake Washington has but one island: Mercer. At approximately 13 square miles and a population of around 25,000, Mercer Island is the most populous island on a lake in the United States. Culturally and economically, Mercer Island belongs squarely on the Eastside, as it has become one of the wealthier towns of its size in the country, with an average household income well north of 130,000 and an average home value of 1.4 million. It enjoys excellent schools and parks, and is made up almost entirely of low-density single family homes.

Long ago, Mercer Island was primarily rural. One of the first major projects was a Gilded Age opulent resort, the Caulkins Hotel, for Seattle’s elite. In 1908, a “Japanese houseboy” (sic) in the employ of the Caulkins took offense at some unspecified act of verbal abuse from hotel management, and in retaliation stuffed a large number of oily rags in a chimney, causing the hotel to burn down. Left behind, however, was an extensive dock that spurred some development in the island’s Northwest corner, which eventually incorporated as “East Seattle.” The island remained accessible by private boat and by steamboats such as the Atlanta, which connected Mercer Island to Seattle well into the 1930’s. A bridge to Bellevue on the Eastside was completed in 1928, and, following pressure from prominent islanders, the construction of the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial bridge, named for WSDOT’s second director and journalist Edward Murrow’s older brother, in 1940, then the largest floating bridge in the world. (Today, it is second only to the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, a second Lake Washington crossing that doesn’t connect to Mercer Island, just a few miles to the North.) In 1976, the bridge became part of I-90. A much wider second bridge was added in 1989, dramatically increasing capacity. This was Followed almost immediately by the sinking of the original Murrow bridge in a storm over Thanksgiving weekend–a dramatic event I recall watching live on television as a teenager. The Murrow bridge was repaired/replaced, at great public expense, by 1993, giving I-90 its current capacity. The 1940 bridge was largely paid for by a bond paid off by tolls, which ended after about 10 years. The new bridges were not.

Presently, these bridges and the freeway segment they form give Mercer Island residents, on average, the shortest commute times of any city in the region, a particularly remarkable statistic for an island connected to the mainland via a high-traffic bridge, with virtually no residents who work on the island itself. How do they pull off this remarkable feat? Location is part of it; the island is very close to downtown Seattle to the West and Bellevue, the largest city and second-largest job center on the Eastside, to the East. While traffic on the bridge can be quite brutal during rush hour, Mercer Island residents have a unique arrangement that allows them to access the HOV lands Westbound to Seattle as SOVs. This arrangement, codified via a memorandum of understand during negotiations over the construction and future plans for I-90 in 1976, was always meant to be temporary: the center lanes of the new bridge, reversible for increasing peak direction capacity, were designed explicitly with eventual light rail in mind. (The temporary nature of the arrangement was, in particular, highlighted by the Federal Highway Administration, whose regulations don’t generally allow for this kind of arrangement). Several decades later, the time has come: construction is scheduled to begin on Eastlink, which will take these center lanes for rail from downtown Seattle various Eastside locations, with a stop on Mercer Island.

Construction of Eastlink necessitates taking the center lanes currently used for HOV, and last month WSDOT told the city formally that their SOV freeloading days are over: they will no longer have uniquely privileged access to HOV lanes, and will be forced to access the city the way the rest of plebes do: in normal, high volume SOV lanes. (Or by bus, but who are we kidding?)

Seattleites?

Written by Randy McDonald

February 18, 2017 at 10:30 pm

[LINK] “B.C. supports feasibility study of high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver”

The Globe and Mail‘s Dominika Lirette reports on the support of the British Columbian government for funding a study looking into the feasibility of a high-speed rail route connecting Vancouver with Oregon’s Portland.

British Columbia’s Transportation Minister says the province supports Washington State’s decision to study the feasibility of a high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has allotted $1-million (U.S.) from his 2017-19 state budget to examine the costs and benefits of building a system to carry travellers 400 kilometres an hour with stops in Seattle and Bellingham. A report is due in December.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said it’s “far too premature” to talk about a potential financial commitment to a high-speed rail line, but he said the province is interested in the idea.

“The Premier sent a letter to Governor Inslee recently, extending provincial support for the state of Washington’s decision to actually do some due diligence, some analysis on this proposed high-speed rail link, and we certainly support them doing that,” Mr. Stone said.

He noted that that an agreement signed last year between British Columbia and Washington State, known as the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, highlights transportation as a key priority.

The study will examine the design and cost of a high-speed rail system, the potential demand and whether it would be economically viable. A budget document outlining the study says the high-speed rail system, if built, could connect with east-west routes in the state, as well as a similar system, in California.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Next Big Tech Corridor? Between Seattle and Vancouver, Planners Hope”

Nick Wingfield’s October article in The New York Times looks positively prescient.

Seattle and Vancouver are like fraternal twins separated at birth. Both are bustling Pacific Northwest coastal cities with eco-conscious populations that have accepted the bargain of dispiriting weather for much of the year in exchange for nearby ski slopes and kayaking and glorious summers.

Yet 140 miles of traffic-choked roads and an international border divide the two cities, keeping them farther apart than their geographic and cultural identities would suggest.

Now the political, academic and tech elite of both cities are looking for ways to bring them closer together, with the aim of continuing the growth of two of the most vibrant economies in North America.

“Vancouver has a lot more in common with Seattle than we do with Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, anywhere else in our country,” Christy Clark, the premier of British Columbia, said in an interview. “We should make the most of those cultural commonalities.”

Whether their grand vision of a “Cascadia innovation corridor” — which borrows its name from the region’s Cascade mountain range — ever materializes, leaders on both sides of the border have motives for getting cozier immediately. American tech icons like Microsoft, with voracious needs for global engineering talent, are expanding their Vancouver offices, partly because of Canada’s smoother immigration process.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 11, 2016 at 11:40 pm

[LINK] “Washington state and Native tribe strike deal on marijuana sales”

Al Jazeera America notes the marijuana pact in Washington State with the Suquamish.

Washington state and a Native American tribe have reached an agreement on the growth and sale of marijuana, a deal that will pave the way for the tribe to run a legal cannabis store and is the first agreement of its kind in the United States, the tribe and state officials said.

Under the pact, a tribal tax equivalent to the state excise tax will be applied to pot sales to non-tribal customers on Suquamish tribal lands.

Washington voters legalized the possession of marijuana and its regulated sale when they approved Initiative 502 in 2013, and the state’s first stores opened early this year.

“This agreement is an excellent model for future compacts,” said Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board chairman Jane Rushford, according to the Seattle Times.

Board officials said in a news release that the 10-year agreement signed Monday will govern the production, processing and sale of marijuana on the tribe’s land located in Kitsap County, which is just a few miles west of Seattle.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 24, 2015 at 9:18 pm