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transportation

President-elect Donald Trump ran an insurgent, anti-establishment campaign, but the latest addition to his prospective Cabinet is about as establishment as it gets.

Elaine Chao, whom Trump picked Tuesday to head the Department of Transportation, worked in both Bush administrations, has ties to the conservative Heritage Foundation, has sat on numerous corporate boards and spent several years running the United Way of America. She also happens to be married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

traffic commute transportation car
Flickr Photo/JBLM (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Light rail planners aren't wasting any time after voters approved the transportation package known as Sound Transit 3.

The full project list will take up to 25 years to complete. Residents in Ballard and Everett will get light rail service in about 20 years. It's a shorter timeline to West Seattle and Tacoma — about 15 years.

Bill Radke speaks with Port of Seattle spokesman Brian DeRoy about planned improvements to the walkway between Sound Transit's Airport Station and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Among the improvements to the approximately quarter-mile walk: wind screens, heat lamps and golf carts.

Mechanical failure caused the fatal Ride the Ducks Seattle crash in 2015. The National Transportation Safety Board issued that formal ruling Tuesday.


A federal civil trial in Seattle against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is on hold pending a tentative settlement in a case brought by seven environmental groups that has been in litigation since 2013.

Plaintiffs argued coal dust and pieces of coal the company ships from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin across the Northwest have been polluting Washington’s waterways for years in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and others tried to spin Sound Transit's win into a reason to stay optimistic as presidential politics and Pacific Northwest values seemed to go in opposite directions.
KUOW Photo/Ann Kane

In Washington state, the presidential election didn’t go the way most voters wanted. But one thing drew faint, complicated cheers in the greater Seattle Area: Sound Transit 3 passed.


File photo of Interstate 5 passing through downtown Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bill Radke speaks with senior editor at The Urbanist, Doug Trumm, about his idea to rip out I-5 from downtown Seattle.

In an recent article, Trumm argued that I-5 should be removed from I-90 to 520 and the land used for parks, affordable housing and business development. 

Seven environmental groups want to prove coal being hauled by rail is polluting Washington’s waterways. If they are successful, the outcome could have huge implications for the way trains are regulated going forward.

The case is scheduled to go to trial in Seattle Monday.

Northwest oil train opponents are celebrating after a county in the Columbia River Gorge rejected a track-expansion request from Union Pacific Railroad.

National Archives, Seattle collection

Seattle traffic, as you know, has become monstrous.

Delays on regional freeways doubled between 2010 and 2015, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council. 

Why have our highways failed us so? A 50-year-old document provides one answer. 

Detta Hayes, 9 year driver for Microsoft's connector bus and vanpool service. Hayes is prone to frequent bursts of laughter, such as when I asked her if her bus ever gets stuck in traffic.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Chuck Collins is the guy who ran Metro in the 1970s.

He should be the kind of guy who salivates over light rail. But instead, he’s dreaming of more vanpools.

Light rail runs on the surface in Seattle's Rainier Valley.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

A lot of claims are floating around in the public relations struggle over the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 proposal that voters will decide Nov. 8. Who's right?

This week, ST3 supporter Shefali Ranganathan of Transportation Choices Coalition and detractor Maggie Fimia of Smarter Transit debated on KUOW's "The Record."


Our cars and trucks are being made with more safety features. New technologies such as lane departure warnings, blind spot detection, vehicle stabilizers and anti-lock brakes can, and do, save lives.

Yet more people are dying on the nation's roadways — nearly 18,000 in the first six months of this year. That's a huge jump of 10.4 percent over the same time period in 2015, and it's part of a disturbing trend, according to federal officials, because traffic fatalities rose significantly last year, too.

Is the Sound Transit plan worth $54 billion?

Oct 18, 2016
Sound Transit
Flickr photo/ Atomic Taco (CC BY SA 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1Uf2PYF

Bill Radke sits down with Maggie Fimia of SmarterTransit.org, and Shefali Ranganathan, executive director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, to discuss the proposed $54 billion Sound Transit expansion. The plan is on the ballot this November, with Fimia claiming it's not worth the cost and Ranganathan saying it's a once-in-a-generation opportunity. 

Bicycles are a type of vehicle so they belong on the road, right?

This is how the wheels turn in places such as New York City and San Francisco, where bicyclists older than age 13 are banned from riding on the sidewalk. Similar laws exist in many cities and towns throughout the country, such as Columbus, Ohio, and Chapel Hill, N.C.

That's not the case everywhere, though. In Boston and Washington, D.C., sidewalk cycling is allowed — with the exception of the downtown areas. But just because bicyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk doesn't mean they are welcome there.

Sound Transit's Capitol Hill Station, prior to opening, 25 January 2016.
Flickr Photo/Don Wilson (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/Efv737

Money keeps pouring into the battle over the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, with Mass Transit Now, the campaign working to pass the $54 billion transit package, up to nearly $3 million in contributions.

After more than a decade of construction, a section of U.S. Highway 20 in Oregon's Coast Range is now open to traffic. But work isn't done on the project yet.

Protesters -- all from the Pacific Northwest -- were arrested Tuesday at all five sites across the northern U.S. where pipelines deliver oil from Canada’s oil sands to American refineries.

The pipelines cross the U.S.-Canadian border in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Washington state.

A Lamborghini at the University of Washington. Nearly 2,000 cars in Seattle are listed as having cost more than $80,349 – the current median household income for Seattle.
Flickr Photo/ericnvntr (CC BY 2.0) http://bit.ly/2dla8Pz

The most expensive car in Seattle is a $653,000 Enzo Ferrari (2003). It is registered to someone who lives somewhere downtown. 

It ties with an Enzo Ferrari in tony Medina for most expensive car in King County, followed by a Ferrari F40 in Bellevue that cost $643,000.

The company behind the oil-by-rail terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver announced new safety measures Friday. It hopes they will quell fears about the project.

Oil company Tesoro says it wants to prove to the community and regulators that it takes safety concerns seriously.

A new proposed ballot initiative in Spokane, Washington, could prohibit coal and oil companies from transporting their products through the city by rail. It comes after the city council rolled back a similar effort last month.

This time around, the proposal targets the owners of the rail cars and not the railroad companies tasked with transporting them.

Downtown Seattle on a stormy night.
Flickr Photo/Oran Viriyincy CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/2dFHThz

You have to get creative if you want to take a bus in Seattle late at night. Only 20 bus routes in King County run between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. 

A new King County Metro plan would expand those bus options. According to Metro, it's not just late-night workers or bar-goers who benefit. So do homeless people.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown discussed a potential new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River during a phone call this week. Inslee mentioned his conversation with Governor Brown during an interview with the editorial board of the Columbian newspaper in Vancouver.

A startup company from North Idaho captivated donors and YouTube viewers worldwide a few years ago with its idea for turning roads and parking lots into solar farms. Now that far-out idea is available for public inspection for the first time.

Amy Walgamott at her home in Shoreline, where homes have been rezoned so that developers may erect 70-foot apartment buildings.
Courtesy of Amy Walgamott

Sound Transit's light rail expansion project is changing neighborhoods.

People who use the train generally like to live near the station.


You can now use your credit or debit card when you visit the DMV in Oregon. The agency is now accepting plastic at all 60 of its field offices.

A commuter train in New Jersey crashed into Hoboken Terminal in New Jersey on Thursday morning, resulting in multiple injuries and visible structural damage.

One person was killed and at least 65 people were injured, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. New Jersey transit officials said at least 100 people were hurt, Stephen Nessen of WNYC reports.

Joseph Scott, the CEO of Jersey City Medical Center, said the hospital had admitted some victims in critical or serious condition.

It has been a common belief that low-emissions vehicles, like hybrids and electric cars, are more expensive than other choices. But a new study finds that when operating and maintenance costs are included in a vehicle's price, cleaner cars may actually be a better bet.

The cars and trucks we drive are responsible for about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions in this country. That's why Jessika Trancik, an energy scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, decided it was time to take a closer look at vehicle emissions.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Sound Transit's newest light rail station opened Saturday at Angle Lake, just south of Sea-Tac International Airport, to live music, dance troupes and protests.

In addition to choosing our next president and some members of Congress this fall, voters in many areas of the country may be able to vote for new trains and buses.

In several cities, counties and regions, the Nov. 8 ballots will include measures asking voters to pay more taxes to fund transit projects. From Atlanta to Seattle, Detroit to Los Angeles, there are close to $200 billion in transit and infrastructure improvements at stake.

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