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transportation

It’s taken five years, but injured railroad worker Dwight Hauck sees victory at hand. Washington lawmakers are on the verge of requiring new safety standards for private transport companies that shuttle rail crews between trains. 


On March 23, 2011, union railroader Hauck nearly lost his life. He was the lone survivor of a crash in a rail yard in Kelso, Washington. 


“I don’t remember anything at all,” Hauck said. 

 


Jeannie Yandel talks with travel writer Harriet Baskas about what airlines can and cannot do when flights are overbooked. Baskas blogs at Stuck at the Airport.

File photo of Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The city of Seattle's law to let Lyft, Uber and taxi drivers form a union has been halted in federal court. The law is the first of its kind in the nation.

Members of Bertha's crew pose with the American flag after the SR 99 tunneling machine broke into her disassembly pit on April 4, 2017.
WSDOT

It’s over.

As dozens of people looked on Tuesday, Bertha broke through to daylight after a nearly two mile dig under Seattle that took almost four years. Seattle is one step closer to replacing the aging Alaskan Way viaduct and moving a two mile section of state route 99 underground. 


Updated at 4 p.m. ET

It was the world's biggest tunneling machine when it first chewed into the loose dirt and gravel on Seattle's waterfront in 2013. With a cutting head nearly 60 feet wide, it had been built in Japan and shipped across the Pacific to dig a two-mile-long double-decker highway tunnel under downtown.

The machine was named "Bertha" in honor of a 1920s-era mayor — the prefatory "Big" always implied, never stated.

Flickr Photo/Jean-Pierre Chamberland (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks with Mark Hallenbeck about transportation in the Seattle region. Hallenbeck is the director of the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington. 

Scroll down to see what listeners had to say during the show. Or join the discussion on KUOW's Facebook page

Ryan Packer, senior editor at The Urbanist, and daily Pronto commuter checks in his bike at the end of his last morning ride to work.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

City crews are loading up those lime green bikes you may have seen people riding around. The bikes were part of Pronto, Seattle’s short-lived bikeshare program. The city has put the brakes on the system because not enough people were actually riding the bikes.

WSDOT

Remember Bertha, and how lots of people thought it would never finish digging the two-mile tunnel beneath Seattle's waterfront?

Well, the machine reached daylight around midday on Tuesday. After nearly four years of digging, the machine is about to reach the finish line on Highway 99 near the Space Needle.

Sound Transit's light rail shot from the SeaTac Airport Station.
Flickr Photo/Michael @NW Lens (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9P9hnJ

Bill Radke speaks with Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff about the future of mass transit in Seattle. Rogoff also answers questions from callers and social media. 

At its peak, the Pronto system had 54 stations throughout Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

The lime green bikes stationed throughout Seattle will be gone by next week as the Pronto bike share program shuts down.

But it may not be the final chapter.

Sound Transit bus.
Flickr Photo/wings777 (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/63X142

Sound Transit has agreed to work with the state legislature on concerns over car tab fees.

Voters approved an increased car tab tax when they voted for the Sound Transit 3 package in November. However, as car-tab bills began arriving, the increases shocked some voters. And there's growing outrage over the way the tax is calculated.

KUOW PHOTO/BOND HUBERMAN

The fate of President Trump's health care plan comes down to the wire.

We get into the pros and cons of Seattle's proposed soda tax and homeless levy.

How generous might Washington state get when it comes to paid leave?

And some people are pretty surprised to find out that their car tabs are way more expensive this time around.

The nation's roads, bridges, airports, water and transit systems are in pretty bad shape, according to the civil engineers who plan and design such infrastructure.

The new report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the infrastructure of the United States a D-plus.

You may brag about your ability to multitask, but lawmakers in the Pacific Northwest insist you don’t do it behind the wheel. The Washington Legislature passed a pair of bills this week that would increase penalties for dangerous driving habits.

Lawmakers in Salem and Olympia are debating measures intended to crack down on distracted driving.

Some drivers in the Puget Sound region are experiencing sticker shock over their car tab renewals. That’s because of the formula Sound Transit uses to assess vehicle values as it implements a new tax for light rail expansion.

King County Metro bus
Flickr Photo/clappstar (CC BY-NC-ND)

Transit officials in King County have heard your rush hour complaints: Buses are often late or they’re jam-packed.

Riders will get some relief later this month, when Metro puts more buses on the road. It's an overhaul that will affect about a third of Metro's system, 80 routes in total.

FLICKR PHOTO/LUKE MCGUFF (CC BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/7b6Etm

The so-called "missing link" in the Burke-Gilman trail is a step closer to being finished. Seattle officials say they've reached a new agreement with businesses in Ballard that have long opposed the project, in a dispute that has spanned more than two decades.

FLICKR PHOTO/HEATHER (CC BY 2.0)/HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/3HVNXD

As bad as the traffic was on Monday, the propane truck rollover on I-5 could have been catastrophic.

Tanker trucks are basically giant movable bombs. So says Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center, a think tank at the University of Washington.

Roads in a large swath of central and eastern Washington and Oregon have been devastated by melting snow and heavy rain. The flood of potholes and washouts has stalled heavy trucks carrying wheat, cattle and equipment.

Steve Hinton has a pretty unusual mindset when it comes to his job.

“I try to think like a fish,” he says.

That’s a crucial part of Hinton’s job as the director of habitat restoration for the Swinomish Tribal Community and the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe. He spends a lot of his time trying to figure out how salmon will respond to obstacles in their way as they return from the Puget Sound, up the Skagit River, into little creeks and streams to spawn. One of the problems they encounter are road culverts.

The 520 bridge under construction.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Drive over the 520 or I-90 floating bridges often? Both have made a new list of bridges that are structurally deficient. It doesn't necessarily mean the bridges are unsafe for travel, but that they need some attention.


In the world of electric cars, there's a chicken-and-egg problem: More people might buy electric vehicles, or EVs, if they were confident there would always be a charger nearby. And businesses might install more chargers if there were more EVs on the road.

Drivers and professional lobbyists for the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft are urging state lawmakers to replace what they call a "patchwork" of city regulations with uniform statewide rules for their industry. They testified in Olympia Wednesday that this would expand the availability of the smartphone-based ride-booking services.

Lawmakers in Olympia heard a set of bills Monday, that would enhance regulations around oil transportation by rail, water, and pipeline.

A joint House and Senate panel of the Oregon Legislature is getting down to work this month on crafting a massive transportation funding package.

File photo of Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Downtown Seattle streets are getting congested. This month the city will roll out its plan to redesign downtown’s roads to ease traffic. Part of that includes examining where Uber and Lyft fit in.


In the second large consumer settlement related to its diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen says it will pay around $1.2 billion to help people who bought its vehicles with the larger 3.0-liter diesel engine. The plan includes a buyback as well as a repair program.

Drivers wait to cross Mercer Street
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Traffic engineers have a nickname for the years 2019 to 2021, when a slew of new megaprojects will get underway in downtown Seattle around the same time. They call it “The Period of Maximum Constraint.” Translated into plainspeak, it means during those three years, we’ll be up the creek in a leaky canoe without a paddle.


A vanpool through King County Metro.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9wZJiu

It's getting more expensive to use King County's biggest carpool system. Members of the county's Vanpool program pay $0.33 a month for the rides, on average. This year that will go up to $13 a month, and in 2019 it jumps to $40 a month.

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