Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: DOT

Aug.
7th

WSDOT’s secrecy undercuts its own tunnel plans

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

The state Department of Transportation really does want to build a deep-bore tunnel to replace the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct, right?

Why in the world, then, are transportation officials giving tunnel opponents campaign fodder by denying their request for public records?

Late last week, the group behind an Aug. 16 referendum on the tunnel went to court, supposedly to force the state to produce the latest version of the tunnel financing plan.

State officials had earlier denied the document request, invoking the “deliberative process” exemption to the public records law because the financing plan is currently being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration.
Read more »

March
17th

Good to Go tolling system should live up to its name

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The “Good to Go” electronic tolling system devised for Tacoma Narrows Bridge commuters is now just “Sort of OK to Go.”

Drivers who sign up now for a $5 Good to Go transponder will get one that isn’t readable on the Narrows bridge – even if commuting over that bridge is the main reason they want the pass that allows them to pay a lower toll. It will, however, be readable on the state Route 520 bridge, which will begin tolling later in the spring, and on the state Route 167 hot lanes.

Not to worry, though, says the state Department of Transportation. Drivers with the new transponder who cross the Narrows won’t be fined. Cameras on the bridge will send images of their license plates to the tolling contractor, and a worker will check to see if that vehicle is signed up for Good to Go. If yes, $2.75 will be deducted from the driver’s account. If no, a $5.50 charge will be mailed to the driver.

Wasn’t the whole point of getting a Good to Go transponder the idea that it could be used seamlessly wherever tolls were collected in the state? It doesn’t seem beyond the realm of technical expertise to come up with that kind of system, even if the state switched from the original contractor (TransCore) to the current one (Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp.) Read more »

April
28th

Cities have valid concerns about rail bypass

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

It’s understandable that state officials are hot to get their hands on a share of the $8 billion in federal stimulus money available for rail projects.

The quest for federal dollars is why a plan to separate freight and passenger trains through the South Sound – one that originally wasn’t going to be funded until about 2019 – is being fast-tracked, so to speak.

That’s a serious concern for the cities that will bear the brunt of the impacts when 14 Amtrak trains a day start traveling at 79 mph through several busy intersections.

The plan is for those trains, which now take the Point Defiance route, to be rerouted through South Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont, chopping all of six minutes off the Seattle-to-Portland trip and leaving the scenic route to freight trains. The state, which will get nearly $600 million for its Seattle-to-Vancouver corridor, could begin construction on the bypass this fall.

Lakewood stands to get the worst of the impacts, with seven different intersections affected – most of them paralleling the busy South Tacoma Way/Pacific Highway South corridor. That city’s officials have been vocal in trying to get the state to at least modify the rail plan to increase safety measures with overpasses, and now DuPont has joined the fight. It only has one crossing, near Fort Lewis, but it’s already a busy one even without the holdups involved with 14 trains barreling through. Read more »