Ancient (1979) toll booth on the 520 bridge – courtesy WSDOT
I received the following memo from WSDOT this week. We are entering the phase of finalizing the funding plan for the Western landing for 520. One of the options is tolling I-90 to pay for the remaining $1.4 billion in work to be done.
We currently have enough money in the budget to connect the 6-lane bridge to Montlake, but not go all the way to I-5, and the Westbound connection from Montlake to Foster Island is somewhat crippled. The decision to move forward with construction of the floating and Eastside portions has saved a tremendous amount of money over waiting, and has pushed the decision forward so that the bridge will actually get done.
Leaving the 520 bridge in this partially-complete stage would be disastrous – the traffic congestion from the merge would be painful and we would not get the throughput we want. Seattle would not get the mitigation it wants.
Tolling I-90 is not the desired option, but it’s our backup plan and we’re doing the study. The memo is about ways to have input, should you so desire. There is a meeting on Thursday October 10th you may be interested in as well.
Useful info from WSDOT. Construction closures are aggravating, but getting the bridge done more quickly saves money and gets the whole project done faster.
Construction of the new West Connection Bridge is in full swing so please plan ahead for weekly closures of westbound SR 520. Crews will close all westbound lanes from 92nd Avenue NE to Montlake Boulevard beginning 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday each week from Sept. 19 through Oct. 17. Before and after each full closure, a single westbound lane will be closed from 9-11 p.m. and from 5-6 a.m. During the closures crews will build foundations and columns on Lake Washington, just to the north of SR 520. Dates are subject to change. Check the new SR 520 Orange Page for updates.
This is an interesting view of how income has migrated in the last decade – lots of high wage people moving to Washington state. The rankings are aggregate, so it might be interesting to see what the per-capita impact of this would be. The impact of $7.88 billion on 7 million people in Washington is likely to be a lot larger than the the impact of $17.6 billion on the 26 million in Texas.
The article that goes with the post has links to the raw data where I could presumably answer my question.
Totem Lake, Kirkland
While out riding around Kirkland with City Council member Shelley Kloba she had us looking at this view, and I wasn’t sure why. Turns out we’re a little further away from the pond than I thought and that it’s actually Totem Lake. I did not know this lake actually existed – it’s kinda cool that it does. The hospital and the mall are off to the right in this picture. In the map below the view is from where I put the little yellow number 1. Continue reading
In a Seattle Times Op-Ed today, Peter Ollodart throws up his hands at the prospect of filing sales tax returns in 45 states, and consequently is lobbying against the Marketplace Fairness Act if Congress.
If he really had to do that, I’d agree with him. Of course, under the structure of the bill in Congress he won’t have to. All versions of the bill require that the states pay for software services that would be available free to the business collecting the tax. He would sign up with one of the providers and they would file all the returns for him.
I’m pleased to report that the Children’s Alliance named me a “Champion for Early Learning” this year and presented me with this nice box of stale Wheaties.
We made significant moves in early learning for low-income this year and I’m glad to be recognized for it.
- We expanded the state’s program for low-income 3 and 5 year old kids. our goal is to have all kids below 110% of the federal poverty level have access to a high-quality program by 2018. This year we expanded the program about as quickly as we think we can and still maintain high quality. We also increased the rate we pay providers by about 10% as we were finding that providers were unable to run an effective program on what we were paying.
- We expanded the number of slots in what we call “Working Connections Child Care” and increased the rate we pay, including a step that is only available to providers enrolled in our quality improvement program.
- The Department of Early Learning won a federal “Race to the Top” grant and we were able to protect it from the Senate Republicans who wanted to use the money we’re using to meet the conditions of the grant for something else.
SR 520 Construction
New data from DOT on 520 closures – best to plan ahead. If you use the bridge frequently it’s worth checking in on their webpage every now and then.
Plan ahead for SR 520 construction closures as crews prepare for five closures of the floating bridge and highway, one direction at a time, during August and September. During the closures, crews will tackle a variety of work throughout the corridor – from pouring concrete for new bridge columns on the west end to shifting traffic onto new highway lanes near Bellevue.
Arthroscopic knee surgery: one of the treatments limited in Washington state’s Health Technology Assessment program. Shutterstock
In an interesting article on the “Center for Public Integrity” website Washington State is called out as having a cost-effective way to make decisions about what medical treatments don’t actually work, and to stop paying for them. This is not without controversy, as you might expect.
In order to cut costs and put Medicare on a stronger footing, many health policy experts say the program must stop covering procedures that do little to improve patient health or are not worth the price tag. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that administers the program, has for the most part failed to implement such cost-cutting measures, because its authority is limited, cuts are controversial and Congress frequently interferes.
Ardmore Elementary – Bellevue School District
I’m pleased to report that we were able to add just over a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) in new money to education funding in Washington, or about a 12% increase. This is a step towards meeting the obligation to amply provide for the education of all children residing within our borders the constitution calls for and the Supreme Court is requiring us to do in the McCleary decision. My initial proposal was for significantly more. We believe the final bill will be close to $4.5 billion, and we have 5 years to phase into a solution. This budget has 2 years in it, so 2/5 of the eventual problem would require a $1.7 billion increase. We didn’t get there, but what we did do is pretty significant. Continue reading