August 18, 2011

Second train saved by Canadian government

cascadia center staff


The second Amtrak Cascades service to Vancouver, B.C., which could have ended in October if the Canadian government had decided to implement a previously proposed $1,500 inspection fee, received a reprieve when Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced after a meeting with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, his decision to permanently waive the proposed fee.

Cascadia had worked closely with the Washington Department of Transportation, Amtrak, the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) and All Aboard Washington in pointing to the strong ridership and great economic impact to B.C. from both trains. In July, at the PNWER Summit in Portland, we collectively pressed the case with Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer. Canadian Consulate General Denis Stevens also deserves great credit for focusing Ottawa on the regional impact of the train.

Now the region can continue to press for "pre-clearance" of southbound passengers at the Pacific Central Station (to eliminate the 15-minute delay from the current double inspection at the station and at Blaine). We are counting on the new Beyond the Border Accord between Prime Minister Harper and President Obama for this reform.

Posted by cascadia center staff at 2:43 PM |
October 2, 2008

Horizon Air Wants Paine Field Flights To Portland, Spokane

Matt Rosenberg

The Everett Herald reports today that Horizon Airlines has made an official announcement that it wants to operate daily flights from Paine Field in Snohomish County, north of Seattle, to Portland and Spokane. Commercial air passengers going to or from Snohomish County at present have virtually no other option but to travel some 50-plus miles between the county and Sea-Tac Airport on congested Interstate 5.

The county is anchored by the city of Everett, famous for its Boeing manufacturing plant adjacent to Paine Field (pictured, below). But the county economy has diversified and grown, both in employment, population, traffic congestion and housing construction. Data from the state's Office Of Financial Management show April, 2008 population of Snohomish County is 696,600; its two sister counties in Central Puget Sound are King (1.88 million) and Pierce (805,400). State DOT data (third map from top, here) show by 2030 Snohomish's population is projected to grow to 968,841, King's to 2.18 million, and Pierce's to 982,230.

This growth rate suggests the need to closely consider use of existing airports such as Paine - with runways ready for commercial planes; and to revisit the even thornier issue of a new regional airport, as well. That quest seems all but inevitable, again, concluded the Seattle Times in an editorial yesterday.

More on the Horizon news from The Herald.

Horizon, which is owned by Alaska Airlines, wants to launch daily flights before next summer, likely to Portland and Spokane. The decision comes after a 6-0 vote last month by the Everett City Council in favor of a resolution supporting scheduled commercial flights at Paine Field....The Port of Everett recently approved a resolution that stops short of calling for commercial air service, but does urge the county not do anything that would hurt federal funding at the airport because it is used by the Boeing Co.

Horizon said it is considering flights that would aid same day business trips. Passengers could also use the service to connect in Portland with other destinations, bypassing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. "Rather than suffer on the I-5 slog or endure tedious hours on I-90, Snohomish County residents would be able to travel between these Northwest regions much more quickly with Horizon Air from Paine Field," said Dan Russo, Horizon's vice president of marketing and communications.

It's not a done deal yet, but it marks a real turning point in the long and often contentious dialog over the possibility of commercial flights at Paine. Horizon had in 1998 considered flights but backed off. Earlier this year Allegiant Air - which flies out of Bellingham, had mused publicly about Paine operations. The community response gave pause, but as Seattle Times' aerospace writer Dominic Gates reports this afternoon, Allegiant is still investigating the Paine option. Still, no carrier had clearly stepped up to say, "Okay, let's move forward" at Paine Field. Until now.

The airport was built as a Works Progress Administration project in 1936. It was originally conceived of as one of ten national "super-airports" around the U.S., but instead became home to the Air Force and later Boeing as it developed the 747, and then other large models in its adjacent plant built in the 1960s.

In a statement, Horizon stressed that low-noise aircraft would be used if its Paine plan takes off.

Mindful of community concerns, Horizon would operate the flights with its 76-seat Bombardier Q400 high-speed turboprops, among the quietest commercial aircraft in the world today. This neighborhood-friendly aircraft is 10 decibels quieter than a similar-size jet and more than 20 decibels quieter than an MD-80 jet. Even city center airports where stringent noise limitations are in effect -- such as those in London and Toronto -- have accepted Q400 flights. The Q400 is also among the most environmentally friendly aircraft today, burning 30 percent less fuel and producing 30 percent lower emissions than a similar-size jet.

The airline does have a caveat: facility lease and ground operations terms would have to pencil out.

The airport has three paved runways and covers about 1,300 acres.

UPDATE: Editorials on the story, from The Seattle Times, and Everett Herald.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 1:58 PM | | Comments ( 2 )
August 8, 2008

Sea-to-Sky Highway Under The Microscope

Matt Rosenberg

A major rock slide that last week temporarily closed the lovely but long-treacherous Sea-to-Sky Highway between Whistler, B.C. and the Vancouver metro region has some critics asserting the province should've built a new inland route instead of undertaking the current, $600 million public-private upgrade of the road (pictured below, right). The project is overseen by Partnerships BC, and is to be completed in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler. Supporting the inland route concept - a few years and apparently a few billion dollars short - is the inevitable retired engineer attendant to every transportation debate. See "Other Possibilities" at bottom of this Globe and Mail report.

Sea-to-Sky gets a lot of flack, of which the route second-guessing is just the latest bit, and it's all off-base, writes political correspondent Keith Baldry today in the North Shore News.

...the huge slide on the Sea to Sky Highway....revived talk about the wisdom of spending so much money on that treacherous stretch of road or, alternatively, why we weren't spending even more to build an alternative route. I get tired of hearing people who don't use that highway refer to it as the "millionaire's highway" to Whistler, as if improving it only benefits the wealthy landowners in that resort.

What nonsense. First of all, those people conveniently forget that between West Vancouver and Whistler is the more populous town of Squamish, from which many residents actually commute to the Lower Mainland. As well, Whistler is a huge contributor to the B.C. economy, generating about $1 billion a year in economic activity and attracting more foreign visitors (who spend a lot of money here) than any other resort in the province.

So quit whining about spending money on improving that highway. It benefits the entire province. And as for complaining there isn't an alternative route -- forget it. The minimum cost for another inland road is at least $3 billion (more than four times what we're spending on the Sea-to-Sky upgrade).

Baldry puts things properly in context. But going forward toward the 2010 Olympics, there have to be heightened concerns based on history and geology that even after safety improvements from the current roadway project are completed, slides could still occur on the Sea-to-Sky. Despite a perhaps reasonable degree of fatalism about Mother Nature's power and unpredictability, it'd still be wise for the province to evaluate claims now surfacing about new rock slide prevention technology. The Globe and Mail reports:

University of British Columbia geological engineer Erik Eberhardt said researchers are developing new ways to detect when a weakening plane of rock is about to shatter and plunge off a cliff, but they can be expensive. For several thousand dollars, engineers can install global positioning receivers that monitor for tiny physical movements. For tens of thousands, emerging satellite technology would do sweeping scans of large areas such as the Sea-to-Sky highway and identify problematic spots. New microseismic sensors could "hear" the infinitesimal sounds of two rock planes moving against each other - similar to technology used to detect earthquakes, but on a far more minute level.

One Vancouver-based company thinks it has the microseismic technology the Sea-to-Sky highway needs. Tex Enemark is communications director for Weir-Jones Group, which manufactures sensory devices to monitor sites such as rail beds for geological activity. He said the company's sensitive "geophones" can detect a shift between planes of rock a month before a slide occurs. "There is noise emitted as the seal [between two planes] breaks, and once it starts ... it becomes more detectable and noisier, for want of a better phrase, so by monitoring this through a sophisticated electrical filter, you can tell when something is about to happen." The system is pricey, however: Mr. Enemark said a sensor covering a 300-metre span of rock face would cost upward of $300,000.

If the technology really is feasible, a better advance-warning system of rock slide possibilities on the Sea-to-Sky - and other mountainous highways in the Northwest - would be helpful. And that's putting it mildly.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:45 AM |
April 17, 2007

"Cascadia: More Than A Dream"

Matt Rosenberg

Miro Cernetig of the Vancouver Sun takes a in-depth look at the economic and environmental firmament of North America's upper lefthand corner, in an article titled, "Cascadia - More Than A Dream."

Where you will find in the mindset of the millions of people who live on the continent's western edge...Cascadia's guiding principle today isn't nationhood but what might be best called regionhood -- the sense that Alaska, the Yukon, B.C., Alberta and the states of Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho -- often share similar regional goals and ambitions....these range from environmental issues, a heightened sense that their collective futures are tied to the Asia-Pacific and a desire for more autonomy from federal governments that are thousands of kilometres to the east, in Ottawa and Washington, D.C., and often out of touch with the big questions to the west.

In fact, when taken as a whole, Cascadia has evolved into a powerful economic entity with clout its members alone can never hope to wield. If you add up the states' and provinces' individual GDPs and populations, Cascadia is a significant geographic area and market: It comprises a market of more than 20 million people and what would be the world's eighth-richest nation, with a GDP of about $848 billion US, according to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, the entity that was formed in 1991 by the legislators of Cascadia's provinces and states. Those same leaders will be in Anchorage, Alaska, from July 22 to 26, to continue their work to foster regional cooperation and the idea of an economic bloc.

Cernetig notes B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell sees joint efforts to control global warming as a unifying principle in Cascadia, and that Campbell believes California is more and more part of the region, in part due to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's leadership role in forging alliances to address climate change. One example is an emerging Western states policy allowing clean and polluting industries to trade capped carbon emission allotments.

Other threads tie together Cascadia, writes Cernetig. These include agreement to shape a unified strategy making West Coast ports more seamless for Asia-Pacific shippers; an ongoing push to boost U.S.-Canada passenger rail; emphasis on developing shared strategies to advance alternative vehicle fuel technologies; and the evolving possibility of a joint Seattle-Vancouver bid for hosting the Olympics or World Cup. A "two-nation vacation" is glimpsed above right, looking down upon B.C.'s Harrison Lake, Harrison Hot Springs, the Fraser River and south to Washington's Mount Baker.

"I think at long last the idea of Cascadia is beginning to get some real traction," said Bruce Agnew, who heads the Cascadia Center For Regional Development, a Seattle-based think-tank that counts the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as one of its benefactors. "It was the people in Ottawa, who said it was just a western separatist thing, part of that old Ecotopia thing. But Cascadia is an idea that has staying power. In terms of trade, regional transportation, tourism, climate change and alternative energy, there are common interests in this region that make Cascadia a real thing."

For more insight on Cascadia, a good source is "The Character of Non-Governmental Transborder Organizations In The Cascadia Region of North America."


April 6, 2007

Research Compendium

Matt Rosenberg

Last updated August 25, 2008

The research, it just keeps coming. On this page, we'll compile links to key studies and reports on innovation in transportation.


Cascadia Center Reports

"Lessons In Public-Private Partnerships & Climate Change: What British Columbia Taught California, And What Washington Can Still Learn," 10/07.

"A Tale Of Three Cities: How San Diego, Denver and Vancouver, B.C. Raised Major Regional Funds For Transportation," Doug Hurley, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 9/06.

"Travel Value Pricing: Better Traffic Operations Management & New Revenue For The Puget Sound Region," John S. Niles, for Cascadia Center, 4/06.

"Transportation Working Group Recommendations," Transportation Working Group, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 2/15/05.

Transportation Working Group background, members, and resource book.

"An Institutional Conundrum - A Simplified Overview Of Metropolitan Institutional Reform Applied To Transportation In The Puget Sound Region," Deb Eddy, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 2004.

"How Do We Get There From Here? A Transportation Future For The Puget Sound Region," Bruce Agnew & Bruce Chapman, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 2003. View the video, as aired on Seattle Channel, 5/20/05.

Other Reports

"Just Pricing: The Distributional Effects Of Congestion Pricing and Sales Taxes," Brian Taylor, UCLA Institute Of Transportation Studies; Lisa Schweitzer, School Of Policy, Planning And Development, University Of Southern California, 5/08

"Transportation For Tomorrow," National Surface Transportation Policy & Revenue Study Commission, 1/08.

"Running On Empty - 2007 Annual Report," Washington Transportation Commission, 12/07.

"Building New Roads Through Public-Private Partnerships: Frequently Asked Questions," Leonard C. Gilroy, Robert W. Poole, Jr., Peter Samuel, Geoffrey Segal, Reason Foundation, 11/07.

"Review Of Congressional Earmarks Within Department Of Transportation Programs," Office Of The Inspector General, U.S. DOT, 9/7/07.

"Case Studies Of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships In The United States," Aecom Consult Team, for U.S. DOT, Federal Highway Administration, 7/7/07.

"Case Studies Of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships Around The World," Aecom Consult Team, for U.S. DOT, Federal Highway Administration, 7/7/07.

Draft Vision 2040 Puget Sound Regional Council, 7/07.

"Lake Washington Urban Partnership," Washington State Department of Transportation, 4/30/07.

"Report On SR 520 Bridge Replacement And HOV Project Funding Alternatives," Seattle-Northwest Securities Corporation, Montague DeRose & Associates, LLC, 3/28/07.

"Destination 2030 - Taking An Alternative Route," Washington State Transportation Center/Booz Allen Hamilton (For King County Executive), 3/05/07.

"Overview Of National Strategy To Reduce Congestion On America's Transportation Network," USDOT, 3/07.

"Public-Private Partnerships For Toll Highways," Robert W. Poole, Reason Foundation, Testimony To U.S. House Committee On Transportation & Infrastructure, Subcommittee On Highways & Transit, 2/13/07.

"Report On The Transportation Innnovative Partnerships Program," Washington Transportation Commission, 1/07.

"Regional Transportation Commission Final Report," Regional Transportation Commission (of Puget Sound), 12/31/06.

"Washington Transportation Plan 2007-2026," Washington Transportation Commission, 11/06.

"Reducing Congestion In Atlanta: A Bold New Approach To Mobility," Robert W. Poole, Reason Foundation, 11/06.

"Public-Private Partnerships & The Development Of Transport Infrastructure: Trends On Both Sides Of The Atlantic," Benjamin G. Perez, PB Consult Inc., James W. March, Federal Highway Administration; 9/06.

"Transportation Finance At The Ballot Box: Voters Support Increased Investment & Choice," Center For Transportation Excellence, 8/06.

"Building Roads To Reduce Congestion In America's Cities: How Much & At What Cost?," David Hartgren, M. Gregory Fields & Robert W. Poole, Reason Foundation, 8/06; (WA state congestion analysis, from study).

"Why Mobility Matters," Ted Balaker, Reason Foundation, 8/06.

"Current Toll Road Activity In The U.S.: A Survey & Analysis," Benjamin Pereze, Steve Lockwood, for U.S. DOT, Federal Highway Administration, 8/06.

"Remarks Of Pat Jacobsen - CEO, Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority - To House & Senate Transportation Committees of Washington State Legislature, 1/19/06.

"Traffic Congestion & Reliability: Trends & Advanced Strategies For Congestion Mitigation," Cambridge Systematics & Texas Transportation Institute (for Federal Highway Administration), 9/1/05.

"2005 Urban Mobility Report," Texas Transportation Institute, 2005.

"Unclogging America's Highways - Effective Relief For Highway Bottlenecks," American Highway Users Alliance, 2/04


" Canada: A Macroeconomic Study of the United States' Most Important Trade Partner,"U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Updated 9/15/06

Canadian Embassy State Trade Fact Sheet 2006, Canadian Embassy, 2006.

Canada/U.S. Regional Economies, Canadian-American Border Trade Alliance.

"Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: The Basics," U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Resolution Of The West Coast Corridor Coalition, 11/03.

"From B.C. To B.C. - And Beyond - the Story Of The West Coast Corridor Coalition."

"Spatial Concepts & Cross Border Governance Strategies," Susan E. Clarke, University of Colorado, (presented to EURA Conference On Urban & Spatial Policies), 4/02.

"The Character of Non-Governmental Transborder Organizations In The Cascadia Region of North America," Lawrence Douglas Taylor Hansen, Revista Mexicana De Estudios Canadienses, 2/02.


Cascadia Center Reports

"Testimony In Support Of King County Passenger-Only Ferry District," Matt Rosenberg, 11/13/07.

"Alaskan Way Replacement: Alternative Approaches," Ove Arup & Partners, for Cascadia Center, 11/06.

"A New Vision For Developing Transit For Livable Cities." Enrique Penalosa, former
mayor of Bogota, Columbia speaks at a Cascadia Center co-sponsored event on implementation of Bogota's TransMileno Bus Rapid Transit system. Seattle Channel video, 9/27/06.

"Statement of Tom Till to Washington Transportation Commission On Amtrak & Related Issues, Including Availability of Federal Funding," 1/18/06.

Other Reports

"King County Passenger-Only Ferries Project Briefing Paper," IBI Group, for King County Executive, 11/7/07.

Puget Sound Regional Council Passenger-Only Ferry Study, 2007 (ongoing).

Chapter 7, "I-405 Plan: Transit and HOV", in "I-405 Congestion Relief & Bus Rapid Transit Projects - Final Recommendations Report," WSDOT. (See "I-405 BRT Service").

BNSF Corridor Preservation Study, Puget Sound Regional Council, 2/27/07.

Statewide Rail Capacity and System Needs Study, Washington State Transportation Commission, 12/06.

Columbia River Crossing Project Alternatives Page.

Willamette River Ferry Feasibility Study, City Of Portland Department of Transportation, 2006.

Waterborne Transit Policy Study, King County Department of Transportation, August, 2005.

Rich Passage Passenger-Only Ferry Study, Phase I, WSDOT, Federal Transit Administration, 4/05.

"Report Card For America's Infrastructure," American Society Of Civil Engineers, 2005.


Cascadia Center Reports

Speaker Presentations At Cascadia/Microsoft/Idaho National Laboratory "Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation" conference, 9/4/08 and 9/5/08, Redmond, Wash. (Topics included electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, renewable energy, traffic management systems and technology, transit. Many of these files are very large and may take several minutes to open/download depending on your internet connection).

9/4/08 Presentations:

Sharon Banks
Scott Belcher
Charlie Botsford
John Clark
June Devoll
Rob Elam
Dick Ford
Jim Francfort
Andy Frank
Arti Gupta
Jerry Hautamaki
Craig Helmann
John Horsley
Cornie Huizenga
Ron Johnston-Rodriguez
Preet Khalsa
Dave Kristick
Felix Kramer
Justin McNew
Paul Minett
Brian Mistele
Tim Murphy
Jack Opiola
Syd Pawlowski
Dick Paylor
Ron Posthuma
Matt Sheldon
Jim Stanton
Ed Stern
Julian Taylor
Michael Weick

9/5/08 Presentations:

Kevin Banister
Rob Bernard
Don Foley
Paul Genoa
KC Golden
Paula Hammond
David Kaplan
Rich Laukhart
Jim Piro
Bill Rogers
Jim Walker
Brian Wynn

"Greening The Highway From Baja To B.C. - A Discussion Brief," Matt Rosenberg, 9/19/07.

"Replacing Oil With Electricity And Biofuels In Transportation: The Convergence Of Technology And Public Policy," Steve Marshall, 8/7/07.

Speaker Presentations at Cascadia-Microsoft "Jump Start To A Secure Clean Energy Future" Conference on Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Alternative Fuels, 5/7/07

Roger Duncan, Austin Energy/Plug-In Partners (4.78 MB)
Mark Duvall, Electric Power Research Institute (1.13 MB)
Andrew A. Frank, University of California/Davis (1.33 MB)
K.C. Golden, Climate Solutions (1.81 MB)
David Horner, U.S. Dept. of Transportation (700 KB)
Michael Kintner-Meyer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (1.91 MB)
Felix Kramer, (708 KB)
John M. Miller, Maxwell Technologies (496 KB)
Philip Mote, University of Washington (3.88 MB)
Tim Murphy, Idaho National Laboratory (674 KB)
Vic Parrish, Energy Northwest (494 KB)
Bill Reinert, Toyota USA (2.00 MB)
Bill Rogers, Idaho National Laboratory (1.05 MB)
Greg Rock, Green Car Company (82.9 KB)
Neil Schuster, Intelligent Transportation Society Of America (2.14 MB)
Rogelio Sullivan, U.S. Dept. of Energy (1.08 MB)
John Wellinghoff, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (4.23 MB)
Nick Zielinski, General Motors/Chevy Volt (1.79 MB)

Other Reports

"Basic Research Needs: Catalysis For Energy," (report from U.S. Dept. Of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Workshop), 8/07.

"Environmental Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles," Electric Power Research Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, 7/07.

" Joint Science Academies Statement on Growth and Responsibility; Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Climate Protection, for G8 Summit, 5/07.

"Fourth Assessment Report of Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change," United Nations, 4/07/07.

Annual Energy Outlook 2007 - With Projections To 2030," U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, 2/07.

Impacts Assessment of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles On Electric Utilities and Regional U.S. Power Grids; Michael Kintner-Meyer, Kevin Schneider, Robert Pratt; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 12/06.

"Alternative Fuels Study: A Report To Congress On Policy Options For Increasing The Use Of Alternative Fuels In Transit Vehicles," Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 12/06.

"Intelligent Transportation Systems Regional Architecture", Puget Sound Regional Council, IBI Group, 8/21/06.

"Future Visions," Washington Transportation Plan Update Process, WSDOT/Washington Transportation Commission, 6/17/05. (See pp. 27-34, "Intelligent Transportation Systems").

GridWise Program Overview, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Technological Basis For GridWise, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Primer On Vehicle-Infrastructure Integration, Intelligent Transportation Society Of America.


Welcome to the blog of the Cascadia Center, a Seattle-based transportation policy center.
(The views therein do not necessarily reflect those of Cascadia Center)