transportation | KUOW News and Information

transportation

Aubrey and Irene Beausoleil aren't afraid of transit oriented development. They just wish it wouldn't bury their home and community.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Irene Beausoleil and her husband recently moved to Pinehurst, just north of Northgate. She went to her very first community meeting just this week.

Beausoleil: “It’s the first time I found a community where I wanted to participate. Because I knew that I would be here for awhile. And it was at this meeting that I learned that there’s a very good chance that my house will be knocked down.”

 


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

It's official: Voters throughout the region will decide on a giant transportation plan on November's ballot.

The Sound Transit board unanimously approved the $54 billion ST-3 plan on Thursday.

It’s Union Pacific’s fault. That’s the basic thrust of a preliminary report from federal railroad regulators on Thursday. It investigates why a nearly 100-car oil train partially derailed and caught fire in the Columbia River Gorge on June 3.

OPB's Kate Davidson spoke to Sarah Feinberg, the head of the Federal Railroad Administration to learn more. The following exchange has been edited for clarity and brevity.

You can hear their full conversation by clicking play on the audio player at the top of the article.

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

Kim Malcolm talks with growth and development reporter Joshua McNichols about Sound Transit's final proposal for ST3. The $50 billion transportation package will be decided on by voters this fall.

A new report from the Federal Railroad Administration released Thursday said Union Pacific is solely responsible for an oil train derailment earlier this month in the Columbia River Gorge.

The federal rail agency said in its preliminary findings that the derailment was caused by broken lag bolts that the railroad failed to maintain, which led to a widened track that caused the 16-car derailment.

“When it comes down to it, it’s Union Pacific’s failure to maintain its track led to this incident," said Sarah Feinberg, who heads up the Federal Rail Administration.

Union Pacific Locomotive Spills Fuel Near Troutdale

Jun 22, 2016

A 92-car Union Pacific train heading east spilled an undetermined amount of diesel fuel near Troutdale, Oregon, on Tuesday night.

The diesel leaked out of the locomotive. The cause was a fuel filter ring that failed, according to Justin Jacobs, a spokesman for Union Pacific.

The railroad has moved the locomotive to a location where officials can get a better sense of the amount of diesel that spilled.

Despite state and local calls for a moratorium, Union Pacific officials say they plan to resume sending crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge this week.

These would be the first trains carrying crude oil to pass on the Oregon side of the Gorge since the June 3 derailment in Mosier where 16 cars carrying crude oil left the tracks. The derailment spilled 42,000 gallons of crude oil and caused a fire that forced 100 people to evacuate their homes. The crash closed Interstate 84 for hours and left a small oil sheen on the Columbia River.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at Capitol Hill's light rail station.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

If you see an ad pushing the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure anytime soon, odds are it will have been paid for by a group that stands to make millions of dollars from ST3’s passage.

A stairway descends into Capitol Hill’s light rail station.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It’s been three months since two light rail stations opened in Seattle, bringing tens of thousands of riders to the system. 

But if you've had trouble with your cell phone down in those tunnels, here's why: There's no working network there yet.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (holding giant scissors) and other officials celebrate the opening of a light-rail station on Capitol Hill.
Flickr Photo/Sound Transit

The launch party for the two light rail stations was, in hindsight, “too much.”

The consultants, tote bags, security and ads – it added up to $858,000 of taxpayer money.

The Chetzemoka was placed in the water for the first time on March 2, 2010 in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND) http://bit.ly/1V2AtiL

When you sink millions of dollars into a brand-new Washington state ferryboat, you hope it'll stay in good working order for years.

Just after noon on June 3, the two-man Union Pacific crew hauling 96 cars of Tacoma-bound crude oil felt a tug on the train as they passed through the Columbia River Gorge.

The train’s emergency brakes triggered unexpectedly, according to railroad union leaders, indicating bad track or equipment failure could be to blame. The crew looked back and saw smoke — the beginnings of a fire that would burn for much of the night.

The state of Oregon is delaying a decision on two permits submitted by the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal and pipeline project. The Oregon Department of State Lands says it will take another five months to make a decision.

A year before 16 of its oil tanker cars derailed and caused a fire, a spill and an evacuation order in the Columbia River Gorge, Union Pacific lobbied against stronger oversight of oil trains moving through the Northwest.

The railroad industry lost in Washington. But in Oregon, it won.

Oregon lawmakers are hitting the road Monday to get a first-hand look at the state's traffic chokepoints. It's part of an effort to develop a transportation funding package for a vote in next year's legislative session.

The idea: a drone taxi that can transport a single passenger for up to 23 minutes.

Bricks that fell from an earthquake cover parked cars in Seattle's Pioneer Square district, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2001 after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake which damaging buildings and roads, and closing Seattle's two airports.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Emergency responders across the Pacific Northwest are holding an exercise to test their skills in a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. It's called Cascadia Rising

And one of the challenges that responders would face after a real earthquake would be getting supplies through downtown Seattle.


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants oil trains to slow down and safety improvements to speed up. Inslee said Wednesday that he personally delivered that message to the CEO of Union Pacific and the executive chairman of BNSF over the last 48 hours.

oil train, transportation
Flickr Photo/Russ Allison Loar (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/aqtNAn

The oil train spill June 3 in Mosier, Oregon was the latest of about 20 oil train derailments in the US since 2013. The group Earth Justice tracks derailments and spills with an online map.

One Washington lawmaker says there's a way to limit the danger of derailments or oil spills in this state: build an oil pipeline. (The state already has some fuel pipelines, but not one that's state-wide.)

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at Capitol Hill's light rail station.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle-based Sound Transit has made its plan to expand regional transit slightly faster and slightly more expensive.


Washington state officials are holding a public hearing Friday in Vancouver on new rules targeting oil train safety.

One proposed rule would require trains carrying refined or crude oil to submit spill response plans that the state would approve.

Another proposed rule would make oil terminals and refineries alert the state that they plan to receive crude oil. Right now, companies that move oil by rail aren’t required to share that information with state officials.

This week we're making it up as we go

May 27, 2016
'Week in Review' panel Sydney Brownstone, C.R. Douglas, Rob McKenna and Ron Sims.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Seattle's Mayor is combating the city's homeless problem by "making it up as we go." That means, in part, shutting down the homeless encampment known as the Jungle. So where will those people go?

And how did Bernie Sanders go from winning the caucus to losing the primary? 

We'll tackle these subjects and more on Week in Review.

Listen to the live discussion Friday at noon, join in by following @KUOW and using #KUOWwir. Audio and podcast for this show will be available at 3 p.m.

Sound Transit

Everett could get light rail in 20 years instead of 25 under a new plan discussed by the Sound Transit board Thursday afternoon.

Light rail would reach Ballard in 19 years instead of 22.


You may have heard about "rails-to-trails" conversions. Thanks to some entrepreneurial bicycle enthusiasts, you don't need to wait for the rails to come out in two Oregon counties. Friday, a company begins offering scenic tours along Tillamook Bay using pedal-powered contraptions that ride on the rails.

Has Seattle declared a war on cars?

May 26, 2016
Traffic on Second Avenue in downtown Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Oran Viriyincy (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1irsJLd

Bill Radke speaks with Brier Dudley about his recent column in the Seattle Times about what he argues is Mayor Ed Murray's attack on single occupancy cars. Also, Tom Fucoloro from the Seattle Bike Blog joins the conversation. He wrote a response to Dudley's article here.

Efforts to ban future crude oil projects in Vancouver are moving forward. The city of Vancouver’s planning commission voted Tuesday to prohibit future crude oil storage facilities.

“And to prohibit the expansion of any existing crude oil facilities," said Sandra Towne, the city’s long-range planning manager.

The proposal would also prohibit petroleum refineries, she said.

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

The Seattle City Council wants two more light rail stations added to Sound Transit 3, the expansion plan that will be on the November ballot.

Monday, the City Council unanimously passed a wish list for what they want added to ST3. It includes light rail stops at South Graham St. in south Seattle and Northeast 130th St. in north Seattle's Olympic Hills.

'Week in Review' panel Erica C. Barnett, Ross Reynolds, Gyasi Ross and Jonathan Martin.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Ever heard of Seattle's 20-year plan? We discuss why you should care about it.  And what kind of hope should we have for the new approach to the homeless encampment known as the Jungle? Also, as Sound Transit move towards a light-rail future, are they spending too much on the opening day festivities? What does it mean for Washington state now that the Army Corps of Engineers has put a stop to a new deep water terminal in Cherry Point? 

Ross Reynolds talks over the week's news with writer Erica C. Barnett, columnist Jonathan Martin and lawyer and activist Gyasi Ross.  

Drivers on Interstate 90 through eastern Washington won’t be able to legally go 75 miles per hour. That was the announcement Wednesday from the Washington Department of Transportation, the State Patrol and the state’s Traffic Safety Commission.

As the car's bumper breaks the laser curtains, cameras capture the front and back license plates and a sensor pings for any Good To Go transponders.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Stricter security is needed when it comes to people's payment information for Washington’s four highway tolls.

Overall, the toll system needs improvement. That's the summary of a state audit on WSDOT’s toll division.

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