Transportation

The Transportation Security Administration says it will be using Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's north security checkpoint for its new expedited screening program.

TSA is testing its new PreCheck system at 28 airports this year.

The peak toll on the Highway 520 floating bridge that began at $3.50 at the end of last year will rise to $4.35 in 2016 after a series of scheduled increases.

Sound Transit says it reached another milestone in construction of a light rail line through Seattle on Wednesday when a tunnel boring machine reached the Capitol Hill station site after a 10-month dig from the direction of Husky Stadium.

Grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation will help fund ongoing studies looking at critical transportation issues in the Northwest.

Transportation issues affect all of us, whether it’s simply wondering why that red traffic light is blinking, or wondering why the commuter traffic is jammed up again. It’s these kinds of issues, both national and regional in scope, which will be addressed by universities around the Northwest with the help of grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are moving forward with plans to allow tolls on the proposed Columbia River Crossing between Portland and Vancouver. The project will cost as much as $3.5 billion and drivers will likely bear some of that cost.

Public outcry may rescue a popular South Seattle bus line. An amendment to the transit re-alignment plan passed by the King County council late Monday afternoon has temporarily spared the route.

Ten other bus lines that are considered inefficient have been eliminated.

It’s the first phase of a voter-approved plan to make King County's  Metro Transit agency more efficient.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — The AAA auto club reports the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Washington is $3.49.

That's up 2 cents in a week and 7 cents in a month. It's 6 cents higher than the national average.

Some metro prices from Monday's AAA survey: Bellingham $3.62, Bremerton $3.54, Seattle-Bellevue-Everett $3.56, Tacoma $3.54, Olympia $3.55, Vancouver $3.53, Yakima $3.61, Tri-Cities $3.29, Spokane $3.18.

If you drove the 520 floating bridge in the past few weeks without a Good To Go pass, expect a bill to come in the mail soon.  The State Department of Transportation sent out 19,000 bills to drivers that will arrive this week.

That might seem like a lot, but it’s a number far less than officials expected.

Courtesy Zach Lewis / theseattlesalmon.com

Get ready for tolling charges on the 520 bridge.

The state department of transportation will be flipping a virtual switch one week from today.

That means now is a really good time to set up a Good to Go account online – or face more expensive travel.

King County Metro

If you rely on the bus to get around Seattle, Shoreline or South King County, changes could be coming to your route. Metro is proposing reducing or redirecting more than 60 bus lines. 

The shifts are part of a plan to use revenue from King County’s car tab fee to preserve bus service.

Keith Seinfeld / KPLU

If you ever drive or walk in Seattle, it’s easy to spot places where the streets and bus system could work better. Voters have a chance to make improvements this fall, if they approve a $60 licensing fee on every car in the city.

However, some complain that the measure would cost too much and deliver too little. 

Charla Bear / KPLU

Seattle has selected a contractor to build its new fleet of streetcars. The city is gearing up to start construction of a route through First Hill. 

Officials say it could be the beginning of many more streetcar possibilities.

Joey Cohn / KPLU

So far – not so bad. That seems to be the upshot of the first weekday commute without the Alaskan Way Viaduct through Seattle. Traffic was slow, but not totally gridlocked Monday morning.

The state Department of Transportation says many people heeded their warnings and changed their commute patterns. That was certainly the case on board the West Seattle water taxi, which picked up nearly twice as many riders.

WSDOT / flickr.com

It's become an autumn tradition: the annual survey of bicyclists and pedestrians in Washington. For the fourth year in a row, volunteers are needed to help the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Cascade Bicycle Club take a statistical snapshot of the number of people who get around by walking and biking.

AP

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has filed a legal challenge to a citizen referendum on Seattle's proposed deep-bore waterfront tunnel.

Holmes has asked a judge to rule on whether the construction agreements between the city and the state that targeted by the referendum are “administrative actions” which can't be overturned by the vote. 

House lawmakers have released their proposed 2011-2013 transportation budget, and it includes less service cuts and a smaller rate hike to Washington's ferry system than Gov. Chris Gregoire's earlier bid.

The House proposal cuts ferry services by $3.1 million, compared to Gregoire's $20 million reduction in her December budget. Gregoire also had proposed a rate hike of 10%. The House proposal puts it at 7.5% in 2011 and 2.5% in 2012.

Gary Davis / KPLU

King County's Metro Transit is making lots of changes to its bus schedules starting this Saturday, February 5.

Who's affected?

The changes will impact all areas of the county and include routing and bus stop changes for approximately two dozen routes from various areas of the county that pass through downtown Seattle.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle are rejecting Governor Gregoire's proposal to fix the state ferry system's chronic deficit by making it into an independent taxing district. 

At a House Transportation Committee hearing yesterday, lawmakers nixed the idea, saying they don't think it has the votes to pass.  And as John Stang of the Kitsap Sun reports, the Chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee says she won't even give the proposal a hearing

It’s sink or swim time for Washington state ferries. That’s the message from Governor Chris Gregoire. The nation’s largest ferry system is under water financially. 

AP

The planned  tunnel to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way viaduct will include tolls, and that will push traffic onto nearby streets and I-5, according to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.  So, he’s hiring a consultant to look at ways to handle extra traffic.  

WSDOT

Our icy roads continue to make for reduced Metro bus services. Snow routes will be observed again Wednesday, as the agency copes with tough driving conditions and the cold temperatures keeping the ice frozen solid.

Twitpic/@elise81

If you don't have to be on the roads today you're being asked to stay home. State and local transportation officials around western Washington say conditions remain extremely poor, and won't improve much as the region remains in a deep freeze.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has decided to keep the I-5 express lanes open in the southbound direction through Tuesday afternoon.

In certain snow and ice conditions WSDOT leaves these lanes open during normally scheduled closures to prevent ice and snow accumulation. Drivers headed in the northbound direction through downtown Seattle should plan accordingly. 

Updated traffic conditions are available on the WSDOT website

Twitpic/@ksymer

Monday's snow is wreaking havoc in Pierce County. The conditions have clogged roads with multiple accidents and spinouts, leaving some commuters stranded and affecting public transit operations.

Justin Steyer/KPLU

The people who get paid to worry about our public roads want you to delay any travel plans for a day or two. State transportation officials are asking drivers to stay off the roads today as a cold and snow system pushes through western Washington today.

Beth Redfield photo.

The first new car ferry in Washington State in more than a decade enters scheduled service in Port Townsend this morning.  The Chetzemoka (pronounced CHET-za-MOCH-ah) was christened Sunday.

If you've been stuck in traffic jams on I-5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord recently, you're not alone. The back-ups are an almost daily occurrence since thousands of soldiers returned from deployments. The race is on to come up with some long-term solutions, not only to the transportation troubles but to education and social service demands. That's because military analysts predict an additional 14,000 more soldiers and their families will arrive by 2015.

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