Hood Canal Bridge closure schedule starts this week

by Tim Flanagan on May 23, 2011

[The site of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. The demand for another port with agricultural capacity might take time if it develops at all. But the people planning to develop a big coal port say that shipping farm products could be a big advantage of construction at Cherry Point.]

Floyd McKay has the story at Crosscut:

Nearly 90 percent of its proposed bulk-cargo terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham is designed for open-storage cargo (coal). But for four hours last Thursday (May 19), this site SSA Marine held forth on the virtues of using the giant export terminal to ship grain and other agriculture products.

With the focus in nearby Bellingham rapidly solidifying on the impacts of coal and the massive trains bringing it from the Powder River Basin for trans-shipment to China, more about it was a chance for SSA to talk about the smaller twin in its family.

Agriculture representatives from regional and national organizations seemed supportive of another option to ship product to Asia, but it was clear from their presentations that most of any added export moving through the prospective Gateway Pacific port would come from east of Washington’s borders. The state is already a major exporter of agriculture products, but its largest export — wheat — is not among the crops expected to experience a marketing boom in Asia, because neither China nor India is a wheat importer.

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The state Department of Ecology has a new study that updates years of bad pollution data for Puget Sound. The challenge is better defined but not diminished.

This editorial appears in the Seattle Times:

PUGET Sound is not being polluted by hyperbole. Toxic runoff and stormwater present environmental hazards for the waterway that are real, prosthesis
even if contamination levels have been overstated in the past.

The state Department of Ecology issued a new study that dramatically reduces its estimate of oil-pollution levels in the Sound. Petroleum remains the biggest single contaminant, diagnosis
but the study found the mass, or weight, to be smaller than old numbers that fueled dramatic analogies.

Times reporter Craig Welch explained how DOE was held accountable by Lincoln Loehr, an oceanographer and Seattle attorney, who raised persistent challenges to state figures.

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WSDOT, clinic Coast Guard seeking public comment on pilot program

State Route 104 Hood Canal Bridge drivers are used to sporadic closures caused by everything from marine vessel openings and construction work to violent windstorms. But this summer, this site
they’ll have to get used to something else – predictability.

From May 27 to Sept. 30, sickness
the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) will try a pilot program that closes the bridge to private marine vessels from 3 to 6 p.m. daily.

WSDOT traffic engineers found that approximately 1,700 of the 16,000 travelers who cross the SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge daily do so during the peak evening commute hours. This also holds true on weekends as drivers head to and from the scenic Olympic Peninsula. Meanwhile, boaters can give as little as an hour’s notice and bridge crews are required to open the center span, closing this stretch of SR 104 in the process.

“Boating traffic on the canal is higher during the warmer months, and drivers’ schedules often take a backseat as a result,” said Chris Keegan, WSDOT Regional Operations Engineer. “Setting hours when the bridge doesn’t open for boaters makes it that much easier for motorists to plan ahead and get where they’re going on time.”

The temporary schedule is a variance to federal codes for moveable bridges and could become permanent if drivers speak up on the matter by submitting comments to the USCG at http://www.regulations.gov/ naval vessels are exempt from the schedule, and will be granted passage through the bridge’s center span any time of day.

“We’re open to adjustments, making it permanent, revoking it or trying something completely different after the test period,” said Keegan, noting that this decision would be guided by both observations and public response.

To learn more about recent improvements to the SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge, please visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr104hoodcanalbridgeeast/

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