UPDATE: Apparently, I missed the fact that the US Army Corps hasn’t received a request to help with subway tunnels. From the look of MTA’s web site, they appear to have things under control. I can only imagine how long it’s going to take to pump all that water out and then inspect the electrical equipment.
I ran across an interesting article in Wired Science about the process of removing flood water from New York’s tunnels. It’s a fascinating short read worth your time. A few highlights: The US Army Corps of Engineers has built up a specialized Task Force for such operations in the years after Katrina. Interestingly enough, they have the people but no equipment on standby. It’s going to take some time since they are waiting for pumps and the dewatering process needs to be done slowly to prevent damage to the tunnels. I also found it interesting that they are focusing on the Brooklyn Battery tunnel for cars first rather than Subway tunnels. MTA’s Subway Recovery Map shows that the Brooklyn Subway lines are all completely cut off from Manhattan. In New York of all places it seems like you’d want to focus on the rail system first, but perhaps there is other damage further up the line or the MTA has things in hand on their own.
The demise of the Ride Free Area and surging demand for public transportation have combined forces to virtually guarantee packed standing loads on my final trip. When I get stuck behind a train, which happens almost every evening, I usually start denying rides at University Street or Pioneer Square stations where frustrated passengers longingly eye the space in front of the yellow line. I’ve heard stories of harried passengers, after being passed by multiple overflowing buses, being pushed to the brink of violence and DEMANDING to be allowed to ride forward of the yellow line. Some drivers may demur and allow it, but as the bulletin to the left shows, management appears to be quite serious about enforcing this rule.
But perhaps management pressure on drivers doesn’t motivate you. Frankly, why should it? How about enlightened self interest? When you are on a 30-ton vehicle you may think it’s very safe, and it is. A combination of the heavy frame, professional drivers, and stringent safety regulation makes them so. But there are times where the safety bubble of a bus can be pierced. The picture to the right illustrates why being in front of the yellow line can be such a bad idea during a crash. So please stay back and, ideally, move as far to the back of the bus as you can to make room for more people. We’ll get you there, even if you have to wait for one of the next couple of buses.
On December 11th, 2011, the Kirkland City Council approved the purchase of the abandoned BNSF rail corridor within the city limits of Kirkland. The purchase closed sometime back in March and shortly afterwards, Kirkland placed concrete blocks across the rail line. Because the tracks have already been severed south of the Wilburton trestle in Bellevue, it is currently impossible for trains to travel anywhere within the city of Bellevue. With Kirkland planning to convert their section into a bicycle and pedestrian trail you can be assured that trains will not be crossing at either NE 8th in Bellevue or 108th near the South Kirkland park & ride any time in the near future.
Unfortunately, because of the way State law is written, commercial drivers in buses and trucks are still required to stop at these crossings, because they both lack an “Exempt” or “Out of service” sign. Given the mandatory penalty of a 60-day license suspension for not stopping, you can bet that the vast majority of commercial drivers will be stopping. (The State Patrol has recently been stepping up enforcement at other crossings in the area – ones with active train traffic – so there has been increased awareness among commercial drivers of the rules and penalties)
I’m not sure what the hold up is in getting these crossings marked “Exempt” but it is likely due to the fact that the Port of Seattle still owns the corridor within Bellevue. Rest assured though, that marking these crossing as “Exempt” will improve traffic flow in both areas. Cars can’t pass stopped buses at 108th and NE 8th has a considerable amount of bus traffic since it has the RapidRide B-line and is a deadheading route for buses coming from the east side bases.
A noticeable improvement in traffic flow for two congested areas for the cost of 4 “Exempt” signs? I’d call that a prime example of low hanging fruit.