Payouts on lawsuits and other legal claims cost Washington taxpayers nearly $60 million in fiscal year 2015. That’s according to a state report issued Thursday.

Volkswagen admitted it intentionally cheated on federal emissions tests. The German automaker now faces billions of dollars in fines and litigation, plus the cost of fixing some 11 million diesel cars worldwide.

That's just the company. The scandal is costing owners, too — at least those who are trying to sell their VW diesels. Not surprisingly, resale prices for the affected cars have been falling.

stop sign seattle
Flickr Photo/Thomas Hawk (CC BY NC)/

David Hyde talks with cycling advocate Cynthia Gibson about the 'Idaho Stop,' a law that allows cyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs. Gibson is executive director of the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance.

Vancouver Port Candidates Differ On Oil Terminal

Oct 22, 2015

Voters in Vancouver, Washington, will elect a new port commissioner next month. The results could affect the future of a proposed oil terminal.

The terminal, called the Vancouver Energy Project, has deeply divided the region. And it has defined the race for the next Port of Vancouver commissioner.

This year, tens of thousands of dollars have poured into an election that since 2009 has traditionally seen candidates running unopposed.

Train passengers in Oregon will see new schedules take effect Saturday. The changes are an attempt to boost ridership on the Portland-to-Eugene corridor.

Monica Sweet says cheaper asphalt sidewalks would be a good thing for neighborhoods that have been waiting decades for sidewalks.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray wants to loosen up the city’s standards for sidewalks by building them cheaper and faster. That would let money earmarked for sidewalks in the Move Seattle levy stretch much further.

An artist's depiction of what Bus Rapid Transit could look like on Madison Street.
Seattle Department of Transportation

David Hyde talks with Joni Balter and C.R. Douglas about Proposition 1, the $930 million transportation levy, more commonly called Move Seattle. Balter is host of Civic Cocktail on The Seattle Channel and Douglas is political analyst for Q13 Fox. 

Darrell Merriweather on a stretch of his route from the bus stop to the senior housing where he lives.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It’s a sunny afternoon on Aurora Avenue North, at the far northern edge of the city. A RapidRide bus pulls up and drops off a couple of guys in wheelchairs.

One of them is Darrell Merriweather. As he scoots along the road shoulder, only a thin line separates him from cars traveling much faster. He tells me what it’s like getting from his bus stop on Aurora to the senior housing where he lives: “The sidewalk is torn up. Infrastructure, man – they need to improve this infrastructure.”

A traffic camera on Mercer Street
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Ross Reynolds weighs the costs and benefits of the Move Seattle levy with Eugene Wasserman, of Keep Seattle Affordable: No on Prop 1, and Shefali Ranganathan with Transportation Choices Coalition. City leaders are asking Seattle voters to approve the nine-year, $930 million property tax for transportation projects they say will make it safer and easier to get around.

Drivers wait to cross Mercer Street
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It’s rush hour on Mercer Street, in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Tech workers are getting off work. Lauren Wheeler and Sande Ditt just finished an after-work jog – when I flag them down and ask them to share their traffic horror stories.

“On Mercer?” asks Ditt. At times, she says, “I’ve probably been here at least 45 minutes just trying to get on the freeway.”

Andrew Curry and Melissa Nitsch say they will vote no on the Move Seattle transportation levy.
KUOW photo/Amy Radil

In recent years, voter-approved property tax levies have passed easily in Seattle and King County. But the size and structure of Seattle’s transportation levy on the November ballot has drawn some unusual pushback.

It raises the question of whether even normally generous Seattle voters are feeling levy fatigue.

Tens of thousands of cars that drive themselves are about to hit the streets. Sort of. Last year, the electric carmaker Tesla started putting cameras and sensors into its Model S vehicles — making it possible, one day, for the devices to become the driver's eyes, ears and even hands. And today is the day.

The way Tesla has chosen to deliver this feature to car owners is peculiar, but let's start with what self-driving even means.

The presidential motorcade and Air Force One at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Arizona earlier in 2015.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Get ready for what could be another epic evening commute, Seattle. President Barack Obama will be in town Friday for a campaign fundraiser for Sen. Patty Murray.

Community members gather for a candlelight vigil for those killed in a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

We'll bring you the latest on investigations into the Roseburg, Oregon, shooting and last week's fatal Aurora Bridge crash. Plus: Shell’s Arctic oil abandonment as seen from the Aleutian Islands. Where did all the I-405 drivers go? And now that the Seattle Mariners have named Jerry Dipoto as their new general manager, will they finally put the right pretty Lego castle pieces in place and leave them there?

Bill Radke figures out the week’s news with former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, journalist Erica C. Barnett, former state lawmaker Bill Finkbeiner, KUOW’s John Ryan reporting from Alaska, Seattle Times reporters Lewis Kamb and Geoff Baker, Northwest News Networks’s Chris Lehman and WSDOT tolling director Craig Stone.

A photo from the Seattle Fire Department's Twitter feed shows the side of a bus ripped open after a collision with a duck amphibious vehicle on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle.
Seattle Fire Department

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Attorneys for a Seattle tour company involved in a deadly crash say the amphibious "duck" vehicles won't use the Aurora Bridge if they are returned to the road.