Word on the Street

The latest news in and around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

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Category: Seattle


Sound Transit buses have Christmas Day schedule

Sound Transit  buses will operate with special holiday hours on Christmas Day this Saturday.

There will be no Sounder rail service, and Sunday schedules will apply for all ST Express buses, Central Link light rail, and Tacoma Link on Christmas Day.

All Sound Transit trains and buses, however,  will operate on regular weekday service on Friday, the official holiday.

Riders are asked to check Sound Transit’s website for potential service changes in response to winter weather conditions.

Riders can sign up to receive automatic e-mail service alerts for Central Link, Sounder Seattle-Everett, Sounder Seattle-Tacoma, Tacoma Link or ST

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Expect congestion this weekend on I-5

Drivers heading to Seattle this weekend, including fans going to the Seahawks game on Saturday night, should plan for backups on Interstate 5, the Washington State Department of Transportation advises.

A lane and a ramp in downtown Seattle will be closed almost all day Saturday and half of Sunday.

On Saturday WSDOT is expecting southbound delays of up to 60 minutes through downtown and delays of up to 20 minutes on Sunday.

The I-5 express lanes will be open southbound all day and that means northbound drivers heading into Seattle on Saturday afternoon and evening should

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It’s too much for one person, but tons of fun for others

Mark Kirsch paced the concrete expanses adjacent to the runways at Seattle’s Boeing Field. Every few feet, he leaned over and placed a level on the ground.

The Tacoma resident and owner of World Strongman Entertainment was trying to find the perfect patch of ground, a perfect mix of hard asphalt and a favorable slope, to set a world record and complete the centerpiece event of a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound on Saturday.

Three times he tried to pull a 200,000-pound Boeing 767. Two times, the jet didn’t move. A third time, it didn’t get very far – maybe 15 feet, and only after others pushed on the plane’s wheels. But he wasn’t going to give up.

"It’s frustrating," he said after his third attempt. "It’s really frustrating. I wanted to put on a show for everyone here."

The hundreds in attendance at the charity’s largest community of event of the year didn’t seem to mind. They cheered Kirsch, a 1998 graduate of Wilson High School, during his attempts. And after his three tries, he turned the fun over to them.

Twelve teams, most with about 10-15 people, took turns pulling on a tow rope attached to the jet. Each attempt followed the same form: The participants looked as if they weren’t making any progress for the first few seconds. Slowly, the jet began rolling. Once it did, the task became markedly easier.

"I was actually surprised how easy it was once we got that thing moving," said Puyallup’s Jeff Ernst.

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More photos from China relief flight

The folks at Boeing sent these snapshots from Saturday’s relief flight to China.

Jimmy Chen (from left), vice chair of the Washington-Sichuan Friendship Association; Qing Ai, managing director of China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group Corporation American Office; James Kwong, Commercial Airplanes sales program manager for China and East Asia; and Jiang Pan, vice general manager of Shenzhen Airlines Flight Department, assist Boeing employees as they load Shenzhen Airlines’ new 737-800 with cone masks to help people in the earthquake-stricken areas of Sichuan Province in China.

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A flight with a bigger mission

Jimmy Chen entered the lounge with a white bag slung over his right shoulder and a wide smile on his face.

Everyone inside the room quieted and gravitated toward Chen. The man exerted a contagious energy; soon, most of the bleary-eyed 20 or so people sitting around tables perked up.

Chen displayed the contents of the bag: stacks of multicolored paper. One had ribbon glued to it. Another a crayon drawing of the Chinese and American flags. Chen nodded as he showed off the boxes and folders full of cards and letters – more than 800, all written by Pierce County elementary- and middle-school students destined for the earthquake-damaged areas of southwestern China.

Outside, a much larger shipment destined for Sichuan province sat on the Boeing Field tarmac.

A new 737-800 bearing the white, gold and red livery of Shenzhen Airlines was jammed with 6,000 pounds of facemasks and coveralls. Boxes filled the cargo holds and overhead bins.

When the jet finishes its delivery flight into Shenzhen, the supplies will be distributed via aid workers to those who need it the most almost a month after the quake killed more than 70,000 people and displaced millions.

The flight is the second in a new Boeing program dubbed Flight of Hope. The aviation manufacturer is partnering with Chinese airlines to pack new jets with supplies as they head from the south Seattle airport to their destinations.

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Tacoma, Seattle square off in Drive Nice Day competition

Clipboard in hand, Jack Jensen stood atop the South 72nd Street overpass in Tacoma and grappled with a Sisyphean task: recording the number of drivers who were following too closely on Interstate 5.

Each time he witnessed a dangerous distance between two cars during the morning rush, he made a tally mark on the paper. Blue marks soon were scribbled all over the page. He ran out of room to make marks in the box for the 7-7:15 a.m. period, so he was marking down transgressors well into the left margin of the sheet.

"There are almost too many to write down," the Bothell resident laughed. "There’s a real sense of community out there – everyone wants to be close to one another."

Jensen and nine other judges in the Drive Nice Day City Challenge assessed driving habits at busy intersections in Tacoma and Seattle during the morning rush Thursday. They tagged drivers for several judgment errors that can lead to auto wrecks: talking on a cell phone, not using a turn signal, not stopping for yellow and red lights and not wearing a seatbelt.

And apparently Seattle residents drive nicer. Judges penalized 10 percent of motorists there for their behavior behind the wheel. Sixteen percent of Tacoma’s drivers received negative marks.

Teams in Tacoma set up at the overpass and a few blocks away at the intersection of South 72nd and South Hosmer streets. Seattle teams set up at the intersection of Boren Avenue and Pike Street and Boren Avenue and Interstate 5.

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