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transportation

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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.

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

The global ride-hailing company Uber is suing the city of Seattle. Uber is challenging new city rules that allow for-hire drivers to unionize.

There’s a lot the Democratic governors of Washington and Oregon don’t want from President-elect Donald Trump. They’re miles apart on health care, immigration and trade. But it turns out each governor does have a wish list for the new administration.

Trains running through Marysville can be up six minutes long, which doesn't sound like a lot unless you are constantly getting stuck in their traffic backup.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Donald Wilson should be eating breakfast with his friends at the Tulalip Casino. But Wilson is not eating breakfast. He’s sitting in his car, at a railroad crossing.

It's a situation he faces just about every other day when he's just trying to get from one side of town to the other. "Every time we run into the train," he said, "it’s like, ‘God darn it!’”


Union Pacific Railroad is suing Oregon's Wasco County and Columbia River Gorge commissioners in an effort to push through a proposed track expansion.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the company asked a federal court to preempt a Wasco County ordinance that is blocking the company from expanding its track through the Columbia River Gorge.

State Representative John Lovick in his car. The former state trooper and Snohomish County Executive offered to drive a reporter around in the early morning to demonstrate a particular form of suffering felt by commuters North of Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Bill Radke speaks with Carolyn Adolph about how — and why — she ended up stuck in traffic with state Representative John Lovick.

This heat map produced by real estate company Trulia shows the commute times for Seattle residents. The warmer the color, the longer the commute away from Seattle's core.
Screenshot with permission from Trulia

About 236 people move to the Seattle area every day, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council.

This means more people driving to their jobs, some more than an hour. About 100,000 people commute to the region from Whidbey Island, Aberdeen, Mount Vernon and beyond, according to the regional council.

Coal Train Derails Near Vancouver, Washington

Dec 28, 2016

A single Burlington Northern Santa Fe train car carrying coal derailed early Wednesday about 5 miles east of Vancouver, Washington.

The train was traveling from Montana to British Columbia, Canada.

Gus Melonas, a spokesperson with BNSF, said the railroad has a team on site that's investigating the cause of the derailment, but so far it has ruled out track failure.

Deborah Daoust of Seattle Center says when Harrison Street busts through Aurora in 2019, it'll be much easier for people to get from South Lake Union to the Seattle Center. Thomas and John streets will also break through later.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The tunnel boring machine called Bertha is currently about a half mile from the end of its journey. Contractors expect to be pulling it out of the ground by June. But the tunnel through downtown Seattle is only part of the project. 

The neighborhood around the tunnel’s northern entrance is also getting a makeover.


After years of requests from drivers, Uber has added a tipping function on its app
Flickr photo/Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures (CC BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/kAYh8Z

Many commuters drive from home to transit, often because there isn’t a bus or Vanpool that works for them. 


Park and rides like this one at Mountlake and I-5 are filling too early
Flickr photo/SounderBruce (CC BY-SA 2.0) http://bit.ly/2hjshle

6:30 a.m. 

That's how early you better show up to a park and ride lot to land a spot these days. 

As traffic worsens in King and Snohomish counties, drivers are avoiding the gridlocked highways by driving to a free park and ride lot where they pick up the bus or train. As such, those park and rides are filling up at increasingly early hours.

Uber and Lyft are gradually expanding their coverage in the Pacific Northwest beyond the major metro areas. Uber launched its smartphone ride-booking service in Kennewick and Yakima, Washington, last week and similar-sized Oregon cities may get their shot in 2017.

When Donald Trump won the presidential election, he made a pledge to every citizen: that he would be president for all Americans. In the weeks before Trump's inauguration, we're going to hear about some of the communities that make up this nation, from the people who know them best, in our series Finding America.

The No. 48 bus runs through the Central District of Seattle.

seattle snow man
Flickr Photo/Panchenks (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/bhfYon

Kim Malcolm talks with Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson Sue Romero about how Seattle is preparing for snow. Between one and three inches is expected to fall in the Seattle area on Thursday night.

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

Uber drivers packed themselves into a public hearing hosted by the City of Seattle Tuesday. The topic: an ordinance that lets drivers vote on whether to unionize.

The debate now is over which drivers will get to vote on whether to form a union. The city's proposal would give most drivers a vote, except those that only give a few rides a week.

How a boat named Nap Tyme crashed into a ferry

Dec 6, 2016
A still from a video taken aboard a Washington state ferry as it crashed into Nap Tyme.
YouTube/Amanda Shuffield

How appropriate that the captain of Nap Tyme was sitting on the pot when a Washington state ferry rammed into the side of his boat.

“A convenient place considering how he must have felt at the time of collision,” said Jake Beattie, executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

Traffic safety officials regularly warn us of the risks of driving while drunk or distracted.

But Americans still need to wake up to the dangers of getting behind the wheel when sleepy, according to a recent study of crash rates.

A report released Tuesday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that drivers who sleep only five or six hours in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to crash as drivers who get seven hours of sleep or more.

An oil tanker and a container ship about to cross paths near Seattle.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Bill Radke speaks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about a major expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the expansion Tuesday. It could mean a large increase in the number of oil tankers going through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 

R
Bob Strong/Reuters 

The city of Copenhagen is known as a place where bicycles rule. 

But now they really rule.

The capital of Denmark reached a milestone last month: More people now ride their bikes downtown than drive. This didn't happen by magic or from public goodwill. The process could actually be a model for other cities to follow, as traffic and population increase.

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