Bertha On Track To Resume Tunneling

Area grandmother determined to finish the job.

After being sidelined for nearly 16 months from her hobby of building infrastructure projects underneath major cities, area grandmother Bertha Slocum is said to be on track to resume her latest endeavor: building a massive highway tunnel along the Seattle waterfront.

“After I retired, I had a lot of extra time to devote to my crafts projects,” said Bertha. “I realized that tunneling under Seattle was something I had wanted to do for a long time. I figured, hey, I’m not getting any younger. So I went for it!”

Bertha won the tunneling contract in 2012, beating out major international construction firms on the promise of delivering the project on time and on budget. But in late 2013 she was forced to put her hobby on pause in favor of training for a national seniors’ shuffleboard-bridge-knitting triathlon. Read more »

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Smarter Street Talk

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways road tested messages about safe streets. Here's what they learned.
Eric and Sam. Photo used by permission.

Eric and Sam. Photo used by permission.

Policy solutions often come with their own vocabulary—acronyms, insider shorthand, and jargon. It can be alienating or confusing. Worse, policy-speak can risk obscuring the most important messages: why solutions matter and the people who should care.

The folks at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, a local coalition of safe street community groups, have seen this first hand. At countless public meetings and in hundreds of community conversations, they’ve seen how the wrong message can confuse, put off, or even backfire, pitting otherwise friendly stakeholders against one another.

They set out to find a better way. They listened, they observed, they used trial and error. And with years of road testing, they’ve learned what words and messages work to bring people together, build support for smart solutions, and create more civil and productive public discourse around how we design our streets.

The new rules of the road they’ve developed help break bad habits and more successfully engage people’s interest, values, and emotions. Here’s what they learned: Read more »

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Debating Coal and Oil Exports

Video: what fossil fuel plans mean for the region.

If you haven’t yet gotten your fill of Sightline on Northwest coal and oil plans, then I have good news for you: I was featured recently on a UWTV program, Inside Outlook.

Host Gavin P. Sullivan moderated a discussion with me, Ross Macfarlane from Climate Solutions, and Frank Holmes from the Western States Petroleum Association. The program also includes some time with me—standing track-side in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood—providing additional context and explanation. Read more »

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Washington Senate Endorses Socialism for Coal

Transportation bill would benefit a coal terminal and its international financiers.
Oregon Way rail crossing

First Wyoming, now Washington: the state Senate has endorsed an $85 million handout to the coal industry, in the form of a rail project whose sole identifiable beneficiary is the proposed and highly controversial Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export project in Longview, Washington.

The rail crossing project, innocuously labeled in the legislative record as the “SR 432 Longview Grade Crossing,” would build a massive vehicle overpass over a rail line near the banks of the Columbia, just south of Longview, Washington. The project would lift the entire Oregon Way and Industrial Way intersection, including the rail crossings circled in red, to let trains pass underneath.

The county projects rapid growth in train traffic at these rail crossings through 2035. But nearly three quarters of that projected growth is for the Millennium terminal. The remaining quarter would go to Barlow Point to the west of Millennium—an undeveloped site that, at present, has no known prospects for a tenant.

That means that the only known project that could boost traffic delays at Oregon Way and Industrial Way is the Millennium Bulk Terminals, a project whose principal proponent is wholly owned by a private equity fund based in the Cayman Islands. Read more »

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Ridley’s Coal Export Collapse Continues

Major coal port expansion now a stranded asset.

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