Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Call for Federal Transportation Reform

At a Seattle forum today the National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP) made the case for an overhaul of federal transportation policy. Their case comes in the form of a report, Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy, the product of a bipartisan group of 26 politically and professionally diverse members. The report proposes five key goals for future national transportation policy: economic growth, national connectivity, metropolitan accessibility, energy security and environmental protection, and safety.

Based on these goals, the NTPP report contends that performance measures should be used to determine future federal funding allocation to state transportation agencies. While the report proposes that 67% of federal funding remain formula based, the other 33% would be competitively based on the performance of states’ transportation systems. As part of this performance determination, the group also calls for increased investment in Intelligent Transportation Systems, or systems embedded in transportation infrastructure that monitor the system and provide critical data to decision-makers and citizens.

The NTPP pitched their report to an audience of approximately 150 in the transportation field, including numerous state transportation heavy weights such as Paula Hammond, Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation and Charlie Howard, Transportation Planning Director for the Puget Sound Regional Council. Joni Earl, Sound Transit CEO, offered her eloquent and insightful thoughts on NTPP's recommendations during her keynote address, suggesting increased consideration of multimodal transportation in the NTPP's proposed goals and performance measures.

The NTPP’s report has been and will continue to be circulated on Capital Hill in the next 12 to 18 months of debate leading up to the next Federal Transportation Authorization Bill. While the current report is a finished product, NTPP representatives stressed throughout the forum that the conversation regarding federal transportation reform is ongoing and far from over.

Take a look at the NTPP's report here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

UWT Toasts to Joy

Chancellor Pat Spakes, UW Regent Herb Simon and others raised a glass of sparkling cider this morning in celebration of the Joy Building renovation at S. 17th and Pacific Avenue. The Joy Building, named after architect Russell T. Joy is the final historic UWT structure along Pacific Avenue to receive a makeover. Upon completion, the Joy Building will provide much-needed faculty offices and classrooms for the growing UWT population.

The Joy Building renovation is part of a $34 million capital construction package from the Washington State Legislature. The package also includes funding for the addition and renovation of three labs in the Science Building—already under way—and infrastructure build out to support future campus expansion up the hill towards Market St.

Monday, August 17, 2009

RIDEshare Online Promotion until September 18th!

Did you know that Pierce Transit maintains a fleet of 300 vanpools serving a variety of employers and employees in Pierce County? Sixty of those vanpools serve Tacoma, with a large portion of those coming right Downtown.

Have you considered joining up with one of these vanpools for your commute? Well, now is the time to do it! The Washington State Ridesharing Organization and your local transit agency are pleased to bring you the annual Summer promotion.

Register here, start or join a carpool or vanpool between August 10 and September 18, 2009, share the ride at least 2 days per week and you could be eligible to win a weekend getaway to Washington or Idaho for two - three days, two nights AND a $50 gas card for travel expenses.

If you are already registered in, you are halfway to winning a prize! Just go to, update your information if necessary and click on ‘Find Matches’. You'll be automatically included in the weekly drawings for a $50 gift card.

For more information about the promotion, go to
For more information on Pierce County vanpools, go to

Thanks for your support of ridesharing!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Luzon Rescue?

The Luzon Building might have got a metaphorical and physical “boost of support” to its walls thanks to Tacoma contractor Igor Kunista, owner of Serpanok Construction Inc. Kunista told the City Council this past Tuesday that he would like to begin shoring up the leaning brick walls of the six-story building this week if he can buy it from its present owner, local developer the Gintz Group.

The north wall of the building is leaning 5 inches toward South 13th Street, an ominous sign of eventual collapse. This threat of collapse prompted the city’s Public Works Department to close South 13th Street and one southbound lane of Pacific Avenue adjacent to the building in order to protect the public.

According to The News Tribune, Kunitsa’s plan calls for him to invest $2.33 million in cash in the historic building. The remainder of the $6 million in construction cost would be paid with a $2 million loan from Wells Fargo Bank and a $1.65 million low-interest loan from the City of Tacoma. The city had offered that same loan to the building’s owner, The Gintz Group, but the Tacoma developer has been unable to find tenants to rent the offices in the rehabilitated structure.

A consultant to Kunitsa, however, claims that several tenants have shown strong interest in signing up for office space if Kunitsa is the one to rehabilitate the building. In addition, Kunitsa thinks he may be able to rehabilitate the Luzon more economically than Gintz because he could be the building’s developer as well as its general contractor as opposed to an outside contractor that Gintz would need to hire.

Also in the Tribune, there is mention that the city may be able to step in to install reinforcements to keep the building intact if Kunitsa’s plan falls through or if Gintz can’t find new financing to rehabilitate the building.

For a more detailed article on this exciting new downtown news, read The News Tribune article. [link: ]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Streets to Close Around Luzon Building

At this afternoon’s City Council Study Session City staff announced that starting tomorrow S. 13th Street and the southbound outside lane of Pacific Ave., adjacent to the Luzon Building will close for an undetermined amount of time.

The street closures are the City’s response to the “life safety” risks that the deterioration of the Luzon Building poses to pedestrians and passing traffic. As S. 13th St. is a major freeway access route to downtown, traffic will be detoured to ramps at S. 21st St. and S. 9th St.

These street closures coincide with road construction along Commerce St. and S. 9th St., making parts of downtown impassable to vehicles. My recommendation for getting around downtown, at least in the interim, is jumping on your bike or putting on some walking shoes.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Security Camera Positioning: one of the keys to catching crooks

Last month the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber hosted a business discussion with security experts Sagem Morpho. Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor facilitated the conversation, which emphasized accurate positioning of security cameras to effectively identify crooks.

Learn more about how to position security cameras to capture good quality face images for assisting criminal investigations at the Chamber's Tech Connect Blog.

LINK Light Rail Closed Next Week

Beginning Saturday, August 8th Tacoma Link light rail will be closed for several days for construction. During the closure, free special Tacoma Link buses will serve the light rail route on Pacific Avenue on a similar schedule as the train.

Pavement between rails on Commerce Street between South 9th and South 13th streets needs repair due to heavy use by bus and vehicular traffic. Other maintenance activity along the Tacoma Link route will be completed during the closure. To resume Tacoma Link service as quickly as possible, the City has approved 24/7 construction activity. This work may take up to nine days.

Access to businesses and parking lots on Commerce Street will be maintained at all times during construction. The construction activity on Commerce Street requires Pierce Transit bus service to be relocated to both sides of Pacific Avenue between South 9th and South 11th streets. On-street parking in this area will be suspended during construction.

For more information about Tacoma Link construction, contact Roger Iwata at or 206-689-4904.

A Printable rider alert poster is available here.

The Pierce Transit Department of Public Safety in conjunction with the Tacoma Police Department will be addressing the security concerns of the Light Rail Closure and moving from Commerce to Pacific.

There will be Tacoma Police officers conducting foot patrol in the temporary bus hub on Pacific from 12:00 PM to 12:30 AM

Uniformed Security:
Pierce Transit Security Officers will be riding the bus service along the Light Rail line. They will be working these buses for the majority of the service hours. This may change depending on the level of activity we observe. These officers were chosen to perform this function as they have been trained specifically for bus service and are plugged into our communication system and have the ability to talk to the Pierce Transit staff and TPD officers working for Pierce Transit directly. Additionally they are familiar with and are able to issue exclusions if necessary. They will also be performing their regular patrols at 10th and Commerce and Tacoma Dome Station.

Phone Information:
Pierce Transit Police (Non-Emergency) 253.983.3371
Security Office 253.983.2703 &2703
Security Supervisor’s Office: 253.983.3313