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December 18, 2008

Snow Days, With and Without Snow

Yesterday (Wednesday) most schools in the Seattle area closed because it was supposed to start snowing in the middle of the day...but it never did. Then today they were closed because it did snow overnight, and then kept snowing (they are also closed tomorrow because the roads are hopeless).

Today was a legitimate snow day; I measured 7 inches at our house, but some people said it was more like 9:

In any amount, snow in Seattle (or lack of snow in Seattle) seems to bring out various attitudes in the locals:

  1. Complaints about how wimpy we are because the city isn't equipped to deal with even a small snowfall.
  2. Complaints about how nobody knows how to drive in the snow.
  3. Complaints about the Washington football team (not specifically due to snow, but induced by anything or nothing, as always).

I find these complaints tedious. Of course Seattle isn't equipped to deal with snow; why should we be, when it rarely snows here? If we spent lots of money on a big fleet of snowplows and snowblowers, people would complain we were wasting money. It would be silly for people to put snow tires on their cars when they would only be useful a couple of times a year. Anyway I find that the area actually is pretty well equipped to deal with snow; even li'l old Redmond has some plows and sanding machines they can hook onto pickup trucks, and there IS a fleet of snowplows (and snowblowers and all that) to keep the mountain passes open, a mere 50 miles east of here. And people put chains on their cars if needed. Meanwhile, the moaning about bad driving is just people acting superior; everybody is a good snow driver until they spin out and hit a tree. I find that there is no such thing as "knowing how" to drive on snow, any more than people "know how" to drive on gravel roads; you've either had enough experience on snow (to figure out that you have to drive slower, you maniac!) or you haven't. When I drive up to the ski hills, all the Seattleites magically seem to drive just fine on the snow.

Of course people are complaining that school was canceled yesterday when it didn't snow, but really I don't see how the school boards could have decided otherwise. Having kids stuck at school when it snows mid-day is much worse than missing a day which they can make up in June, when it will merely be raining all the time. I guess the moral of the story is that people in Seattle like to complain--like I'm doing right now (except I'm meta-complaining, which is better or worse, depending on your viewpoint).

Whatever you think of snow as an adult, it certainly was a good day to be a kid:

Posted by AdamBa at 10:51 PM | Comments (2)

December 11, 2008

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Sound Transit Eastlink

A Draft EIS may not make your heart beat faster, but it does mine. Eastlink is Sound Transit's voter-approved misallocation of taxpayer funds to extend light rail to the Eastside. If you go to the Eastlink page you can get to the Draft EIS, which among discussions of geology and electromagnetic fields has the Alternatives Considered report, which has the good stuff, that is, the maps of where they plan to build it.

The route first crosses the I-90 bridge, destroying the express lanes in the process, then saws through downtown Bellevue before heading towards Microsoft. This is one of the 4 options (all similar) considered for Segment D, as it approaches the campus:

All of the options in that area have a stop at the Overlake Park&Ride (aka Overlake Village) and then one at the Overlake Transit Center, just to the west of main campus and across the highway from the new campus being built; a good central location for a "Microsoft" stop.

The route then proceeds towards downtown Redmond, where there are three alternatives being considered. The maps and descriptions are taken from the Draft EIS:

"The Redmond Way Alternative (E1) becomes elevated and crosses north over SR 520, follows the northwest side of West Lake Sammamish Parkway, and turns northeast on the south side of Redmond Way in a new bridge structure over the Sammamish River. E1 continues along Redmond Way and turns southeast into an at-grade profile into the BNSF Railway right–of-way to Redmond Town Center Station at NE 76th Street, then transitions to an elevated structure over Bear Creek and the SR 520/ SR 202 interchange to the terminus, SE Redmond Station. This station would include a four-story structured park-and-ride facility in the industrial park adjacent to the BNSF Railway corridor."

"The Marymoor Alternative (E2) remains elevated on the south side of SR 520 in a new bridge structure over the Sammamish River, descending down to grade and straddling the SR 520 right-of-way and Marymoor Park property lines. The SE Redmond station and parking structure is located on the south side of the SR 520/ SR 202 interchange, including a park-and-ride lot. After the station, E2 turns west going under the SR 520/ SR 202 interchange and enters the BNSF Railway right–of-way elevated over Bear Creek. E2 becomes at-grade for the Redmond Town Center Station and then continues north at NE 161st Street in the center roadway, with a terminus station at the Redmond Transit Center."

"The Leary Way Alternative (E4) crosses north over SR 520 and is elevated on the northwest side of West Lake Sammamish Parkway, and it turns northeast along the south side of Leary Way, crossing the Sammamish River on a new bridge structure, then transitions to an at-grade profile south of Bear Creek Parkway and turns southeast in the BNSF Railway right-of-way. The alternative continues along the BNSF Railway, crosses over Bear Creek on a bridge, and then transitions into a retained-cut profile under SR 520 before terminating in an at-grade profile. The SE Redmond terminus station would include a four-story structured park-and-ride facility in the industrial park adjacent to the BNSF Railway corridor."

E1 and E4 are pretty similar, with E4 being a bit more direct but E1 probably being a bit less conspicuous (rather than marching down Leary, it sneaks behind the Celtic Bayou and 7-11). I can appreciate E2's notion of reaching the Park&Ride in downtown Redmond, but it's not that big a Park&Ride, the route would be longer and more disruptive (it looks like it would take out Kanishka and mess up 161st), and the natural extension beyond Redmond is east to the Sammamish Plateau, so E1 and E4 end up pointing in the right direction.

Posted by AdamBa at 10:43 PM | Comments (2)