EPA’s not tracking with rail goals

The appeal of commuter rail linking Everett to Tacoma was one of the primary reasons voters gave Sound Transit the $3.9 billion go-ahead (finally) in 1996. After all, Amtrak runs intercity passenger trains on the tracks with freight trains. Why not add commuter trains on the existing track and let passengers connect with ferries and local transit at new multimodal centers in Edmonds, Mukilteo and Everett? Commuter rail will be a fraction of the cost of light rail and will be used most heavily when I-5 can use some relief -- namely, during rush hours. Riders will be offered an energy-efficient, fast and friendly alternative to the nightly parade of red lights. Makes sense, right? Well, not to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA apparently fears wetland destruction and loss of eelgrass between Seattle and Everett if Sound Transit has to add 1.6 miles to the 82-mile corridor of passing track along Puget Sound. Read More ›

The Title and Epigraphs of Surprised by Joy

by John Bremer Authors give their works titles, or, at least, propose titles, which sometimes get accepted and sometimes not. The proposed titles of C.S. Lewis’s works had a mixed reception. His first book of poems Spirits in Bondage was originally to have been Spirits in Prison but was changed when Albert Lewis pointed out that there was already a Read More ›

From Scholarship to Huckstership

The remainder of Issue 74 is about something completely different, Stanley Mattson’s latest fundraising projects. His new phone number for potential donors is 1-888-CSLEWIS. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the launching of his C. S. Lewis Foundation, Mattson arranged a banquet and auction in a posh Orange County hotel and sent out formal invitations (with Frenchified spelling for an Read More ›

The Message in the Microcosm

Traditional approaches that fail to take account of new findings in molecular cell biology cannot survive the present day. Materialistic explanations for the origin of information have been systematically eliminated over the past forty years. Has origin-of-life research brought us to the brink of a new scientific revolution? Despite the now well-documented influence of Christian thinking on the rise of Read More ›

Will Java Break Windows?

THE CROAK ON THE END OF THE LINE came from a fitness center. Huffing and puffing away on his cellular phone and exercycle was Jim Rogers, famous Alabama hick centi-millionaire motorbiker, Columbia professor of finance, and dreadnought plunger into the world’s most porcupinous stockmarkets and briar-patch bourses. From Botswana to Sri Lanka, Rogers waits till there is blood in the Read More ›

Will ‘smart growth’ prove to be smart political topic?

Vice President Al Gore stopped in Seattle yesterday to pitch the administration's "livability agenda," a plan to help cities and counties battle the ills of urban sprawl. It's a subject folks around here know something about. Development has created one of the worst traffic problems in the country, helped transform the chinook salmon from a symbol of abundance to an endangered species, and steadily eroded the rural farms and forests. Across the country, sprawl has spawned a potent political issue that has leapt from the domain of cities and counties to a place of its own on the national stage, a move welcomed by some and worrisome to others. There is no denying the appeal of Gore's proposals, particularly to suburban voters. If political analysts are right, the battle for the White House next year will be won or lost in places such as Issaquah, Federal Way and Shoreline, suburban cities where voters have been feeling the effects of growth for years. Read More ›

Amtrak speeds up with ‘Acela’

In the Pacific Northwest, Amtrak is employing European-style Talgo tilt trains to incrase speeds between Eugene, Ore., and Vancouver B.C. The $10 million Northwest trains, called the Amtrak Cascades, are designed for speeds upto 125 mph, but will poke along at a more modest clip - up to a legal limit of 79 mph - until track, rail crossing and signal improvements have been made. The work could stretch out over 20 years. Read More ›

Second Amtrak Run Not In Budget

Plans to run a second Amtrak passenger train between Vancouver, B.C., and Seattle fell out of the House Transportation budget Friday. Now local hopes ride on the Senate revising the budget and including $6.3 million toward operating the train. The stakes are high for Skagit County, the region and the sate. A lone Amtrak train current streaks passengers daily between Seattle and Vancouver, stopping in Mount Vernon. The second train would leave British Columbia early in the day, allowing passengers who hop aboard in Mount Vernon to make day trips to Seattle. The train also opens up possibilities for travelers between Canada and Oregon. Read More ›

Officials try to save second rail to Canada

A proposed second daily Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., touted as an important transportation choice up and down the line, may be derailed. If it is, the consequences are all bad, warned Bruce Agnew, director of the Cascadia Project and a former Snohomish County Council member. "A second train would really make the corridor work. It wouldn't be a novelty, it would be a transportation option," he said Thursday. "If the (second) train goes a lot of things go as well." A second train, leaving Vancouver every morning, would allow passengers to make a one-way trip to Portland, Ore. As it is now, the run to Oregon requires an overnight stay in Seattle. Amtrak runs one train a day from Seattle to Vancouver, stopping in Edmonds and Everett on its way north in the morning and in the evening on the return trip. Read More ›

Planners ponder the future of “Cascadia”

The United States, mighty as it is, can't tame crowding and pollution in the growing Eugene-to-Vancouver, B.C., megalopolis without Canada's help. That's according to the visionaries behind "Cascadia" -- people in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia whose vision of a cross-border unity is becoming less of a wild-haired concept and more of a problem-solving tool. Leaders of an 8-year-old Cascadia think tank yesterday offered a rough outline of what they portrayed as a radical but realistic way of unclogging the region's bottlenecks. They chose as their audience some of the 5,700 urban planners who yetserday began their four-day annual convention in Seattle. The Cascadia think tank would like to do even more, creaing a binational organization called the Cascadia Corridor Corp. that would oversee a $100 billion, 20-year rebuild of the roads and bridges in the Interstate 5 coridor: Cascadia's 465-mile "Main Street.".....The plan, known as Gateways Phase 1, was created by the Cascadia Project of Seattle's Discovery Institute. It proposes rebuilding I-5 through downtown Seattle, for example, with layers of underground car and transit lanes. A new tunnel would channel commuters under Lake Washington. An integrated Cascadia transportation scheme also would bring 300 "seamless" miles of high-occupancy lanes to the Seattle metropolitan area, plus hundreds of miles of scenic greenbelts along highways. Modeled on the cross-border efforts to improve the East Coast's St. Lawrence Seaway, the plan would combine government and private investment from both nations through innovative financing methods. Without such new investment, (UBC prof Alan) Artibise said, freight and passenger delays will increasingly constrict the region's economy. Cross-border truck traffic has doubled in the last five years, he said, partly because of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Read More ›