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 ›

Lawmakers seek compromise plan for another Amtrak train in county

Legislators may derail plans for a second Amtrak train tip through Whatcom County. The state House of Representatives has approved a transportation budget that doesn't include money for operating a second train, and boosters are scrambling to find a way to fget the money back into the budget through the Senate. "The one train we have now isn't much of a transportation option for people," said Bruce Agnew, who works with Seattle's Cascadia Project pushing transportation alternatives and improvements. "This second train is in line with regional plans to increase the options to driving on I-5."...Cascadia's Agnew said there is a move afoot in British Columbia to get on board with the new service. The B.C. Transportation Finance Authority is considering spending $30 million (Canadian) on track improvements, Agnew said Read More ›

Cascadia: borderless solutions

Most of us grew up listening to the songs of government in four-four time. The metronome ticked off a familiar beat: city, county, state fed. But the world has never been that plain. There are all sorts of borders, lines of government jurisdiction written with distinct rhythms. Thesounds also can come from international agreements and treaties, from tribes, and from Read More ›

Harcourt warns of growth crisis

A human tsunami is heading for British Columbia and Washington state, and threatens to devastate cities in its path, former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt said Friday. Harcourt, an expert on sustainable cities, was the guest speaker for the second Cascadia Mayors' Council, a day-long event held at the Victoria Conference Centre. The council and conference, initiated two years ago by Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, was created to encourage cooperation between the regions in Cascadia -- B.C., Washington and Oregon. Harcourt told more than 25 Cascadia mayors, including host Victoria Mayor Bob Cross, the region must implement an urban growth and sustainable development strategy in the next few years. If not, population growth will devastate the area -- socially, environmentally, economically. In 1960, the region was home to 2.6 million people, he said. "Today over six million people live here. By 2020 there may be an additional three-to-five million here," he said. Read More ›

Rapid rail may link more of our cities

In the Pacific Northwest...backers of improved "Cascadia" service -- trains linking Vancouver to Seattle, Portland and Eugene -- have set a national example by pressing successfully for sleek, big-windowed "Talgo" trains....Annual Cascadia train ridership topped 550,000 last year, 137 percent more tha 1993. Legislatures of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia are starting to collaborate on funding. The environment is being spared hundreds of tons of carbon monoxide and nitrous oxides pumped into the atmosphere each year. Listen to Bruce Agnew, head of the Cascadia Project at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit, and you hear a full set of "gateway and trade corridor" strategies to avert mounting traffic gridlock. Example: A joint U.S.-Canadaian Corridor Corporation, with a variety of infrastructure banks to tap and combine U.S. and Canadian federal, state, provincial and other funds for rebuilt, and in some areas relocated, rail and highway lines. Agnew suggests direct baggage-checking facilities -- onto international flights from Vancouver, Seattle or Portland -- at train stations. Collaboration between the airports and with rail, sharply reducing the hundreds of commuter flights along the corridor. New train tracks to move containerized frieght off the highways. The result would be a cleaner, more efficient, more competitive, customer-friendly region. Read More ›