Law chiefs encourage people to report suspicious packages

September 3, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 3, 2011

Local law enforcement leaders called on residents to report suspicious packages to police as the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches.

King County Sheriff Sue Rahr, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz and Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste acted after a recent article in USA Today said such calls overwhelm law enforcement agencies. The officials fear the information could discourage people from reporting suspicious packages to the authorities.

“We are not overwhelmed, and we still want those calls,” Diaz said in a statement. “Our mantra remains ‘If you see something, say something.’”

The local officials reminded residents to call 911 if they see a suspicious package — and not to touch the possible threat.

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State offers tools to liberate motorists from Fourth of July headaches

July 3, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. July 3, 2011

The state Department of Transportation reminds motorists to prepare for increased traffic during Independence Day weekend.

The agency offers tools to help motorists to keep headaches to a minimum.

Still, expect delays along Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass and U.S. 2 at Stevens Pass, as well as along Interstate 5 at the Canadian border and between Olympia and Tacoma.

Work at most construction projects around the state moved off of highways at noon July 1 until Tuesday morning. Though active construction might not take place during the holiday weekend, motorists should prepare for shifted lanes, roadway detours and reduced speed zones in places.

The agency offers many ways for motorists to check road conditions, including a travel website and a travel information hotline, 511.

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Explore a national park and ‘Twilight’ mysteries on the Olympic Peninsula

August 3, 2010

A tree in the Hoh Rainforest forms an arch over a walking trail in the woods. Photo by Kristi Feder

WEEKEND WANDERER

Summer is road-trip time and a great weekend adventure is making a loop through the Olympic Peninsula, home to Olympic National Park, the fifth most-visited national park in the country.

Since one of our travel goals is to stay in all of the lodges featured in the PBS series, “Great Lodges of the National Parks,” this weekend jaunt was the perfect way to check two more off our list.

We headed out early on a gray and misty Friday afternoon to take the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston. A lot of other people obviously had the same idea, so there was a lengthy wait. The ferry to Bainbridge might be a better option, as the boats are larger and can accommodate more cars. Once we got to Sequim, however, the sun was out, which definitely reinforced the nickname the area has acquired as the “Banana Belt” due to its low rainfall and sunny weather.

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Governor seeks residents’ budget ideas as state faces shortfall

July 22, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. July 22, 2010

The governor has asked regular Joes and Janes to help shape the state budget.

Gov. Chris Gregoire launched a website Monday to allow citizens to share, comment and vote on budget ideas. State budget writers will consider the highest-rated items as they toil to develop a 2011-13 spending plan.

Ideas will be posted between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The site will be moderated; no profane or vulgar postings will be accepted.

The state could face a $3 billion shortfall next year. Deep cuts to spending and possible privatization of some state services — such as Washington State Ferries — could become a reality as state leaders pinch pennies.

“Closing our state’s budget gap requires innovative thinking as well as making some tough decisions,” Gregoire said in a news release. “This interactive website gives people an opportunity to share ideas and engage in a discussion about what ideas might work best for us. I’m eager to hear what people have to tell us.”

DOT offers travel tools for drivers to declare independence from holiday traffic

June 30, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. June 30, 2010

Use state Department of Transportation travel tools to declare independence from delays during the Fourth of July weekend.

The agency encouraged holiday travelers use its website and 24-hour traveler-information line, 511, to find out about traffic congestion and delays.

Officials hope the tools help travelers avoid traffic snarls, like the 27-mile backup through Snoqualmie Pass at the end of Memorial Day weekend.

Check the website for the most-traveled — and delay-prone — routes: Interstate 90, Interstate 5 at the Canadian border, I-5 south of Olympia through Lewis County and U.S. Route 2.

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Prepare for Independence Day travel delays

June 29, 2010

Road crews will take a break for Independence Day weekend, but drivers across Washington should prepare for added travel times during the holiday weekend.

Work at most state Department of Transportation construction projects in the state will move off highways from noon July 2 until the morning of July 6. But drivers should still prepare for shifted lanes, detours and reduced speed limits near worksites.

Check the transportation agency website, for the most-traveled — and delay-prone — routes: Interstate 90, Interstate 5 at the Canadian border, I-5 through Lewis County and U.S. Route 2.

Or call the 24-hour traveler information hotline, 511.

Expect longer-than-typical waits at ferry docks and Canadian border crossings most of the holiday weekend. Travel times should be much lighter June 30, and July 1 and 5.

Prepare for Memorial Day travel delays

May 25, 2010

Road crews will take a break for Memorial Day weekend, but drivers across Washington should prepare for added travel time during the traditional summer travel kickoff.

Work at most state Department of Transportation construction projects around the state will move off highways from noon May 28 until the morning of June 1. But drivers should still prepare for shifted lanes, detours and reduced speed limits near worksites.

Check the transportation agency website for the most-traveled — and delay-prone — routes: Interstate 90, Interstate 5 at the Canadian border, I-5 through Lewis County and U.S. Route 2.

Or call the 24-hour traveler information hotline, 511, for information.

Drivers should also expect additional traffic on U.S. 2 through Stevens Pass and I-90 through Snoqualmie Pass on May 28 and 31.

Drivers headed through Snoqualmie Pass can expect higher-than-normal traffic the afternoon of May 28, the morning of May 29 and the afternoon of May 31. Memorial Day marks the busiest day of westbound travel on U.S. 2 each year.

Travel on Puget Sound-area highways will increase May 27, with peak travel times from noon – 9 p.m. May 28 and early May 29. On Memorial Day afternoon, traffic returning to the region will peak just before noon and continue into the late evening.

Travelers using other forms of transportation might not be immune from delays.

Expect longer-than-typical waits at ferry docks and Canadian border crossings most of the holiday weekend. Travel times should be much lighter May 26 and the morning of May 27 and June 1.

Ferry tale

February 23, 2010

Vessel named for Issaquah overcomes early troubles to become fleet workhorse

Night descended hours earlier, when the weak, winter sun slunk behind the Olympic Mountains. Stragglers wait along Fauntleroy Cove; the afternoon rush ended long ago. The last commuters sit, impatient and weary, in vehicles, sealed behind steel and safety glass. Lines form and vehicles — mud-caked Subaru wagons, worn SUVs with stickers on the rear windows — inch into position. Destination: Vashon Island.

The ferry glides into view across Puget Sound. The hull carries the same name as a place 20 miles east: Issaquah.

The vessel matters little to the travelers; the Klahowya or the Tillikum could carry them home just the same.

Come daylight, the boxy Issaquah looks as unglamorous as a mail truck, with the same work ethic as a letter carrier — neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom keeps the ferry idle.

Darkness softens the hard edges, and the Issaquah looks handsome, even majestic. Light spills from the oblong windows and the open vehicle deck. Reflections glimmer across the dark water.

As the ferry approaches the West Seattle terminal, propellers churn the inky water into foam, like the frothy head on a glass of pilsner. The vessel nudges the dock, the ramp lowers and attendants in fluorescent gear direct vehicles from the maw. Not 20 minutes later, more cars, trucks and SUVs fill the hold.

The placid efficiency contrasts with the years in the Carter era when the Issaquah entered service and headlines blared problems aboard — and caused by — the ferry.

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Plump up your wallet on Dump the Pump Day

June 17, 2009

NEW — 5 p.m. June 17, 2009

Concerned about saving money and cutting down on expenses? As local gas prices again begin to creep up to $3 a gallon, one of the easiest ways to keep more money in your wallet is to park your car at home and hop on public transportation.

The region’s transportation agencies are urging residents to ride a bus, train, boat, bike, take a walk or share the ride tomorrow, the fourth annual National Dump the Pump Day.

Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, the 2009 National Dump the Pump Day encourages people to ride public transportation to save money, protect the environment, reduce dependence on foreign oil and improve our quality of life. The association’s monthly Transit Savings Report consistently ranks the Seattle metropolitan area as one of the top 10 regions for potential transit savings.

Various agencies in Washington are joining agencies across the country to ask those who’ve never tried public transportation to get on board with saving and take a new ride. Regular transit users are encouraged to make it a “zero drive” day, and only use transit.

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