Tags >> transportation
Aug 10
2009

Death Row Veto

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , public safety , politics , Marin , legislation , jail , government , California , budget

Bruce Robinson

  A dispute over funding for a new Death Row at San Quentin is just one of the subtexts in the latest legislative showdown over the state’s budget.

 The existing death row cellblock is shown in the photo on the right, while the entire prison is seen from the air, below.

Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) suggests that the renewed debate over funding for the construction of a new Death Row at San Quentin should be an opportunity for the state to also revisit the larger question of capital punishment in California.

State Senator Jeff Denham (left) and Assembly Jared Huffman (right) at news conference in front of San Quentin State Prison last spring at which they articulated their opposition to the new Death Row proposal.

Jul 13
2009

SMART's Railcar Decision

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , technology , Sonoma County , policy , planning , nonprofit orgs , Marin , government , finances , environment , energy , economy , design , construction , community , carbon , business , budget , air quality

Bruce Robinson

The Sonoma-Marin commuter train faces a pivotal decision this week, as its directors choose the type of rail cars they will design the rest of the line to match.

The SMART Board of Directors Meets on Wednesday, July 15 at 12:30 pm in the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors chambers to consider the railcar purchase and other business.

 The regulatory standards set by the US Federal Railroad Administration are the biggest single factor shaping SMART's choice for new rolling stock (as railroad cars are often called). SMART General Manager Lillian Hames explains those standards are especially stringent in situations where freight and passenger trains share the same set of tracks.

 The global financial woes of the past year are also affecting SMART, Says Hames, particularly their plans to issue bonds against future sales tax revenues. They are hoping to bridge the funding gap with grants, cost savings in planning and construction, and other measures.

One of the variables tied to the choice of rail vehicles that SMART will use is the height of the floor height above the tracks, which is a function of such design considerations as fuel tank placement and structural engineering. The difference could be 24 inches or more, but either way, the passenger loading platforms at each of the 15 stations along the line will have to be built to match the train's floor level, so that wheelchair users can easily access the cars. These new platforms, says Hames, will likely look quite different than the wooden decks seen along historic train stations.

{mp3remote}http://media.krcb.org/audio/nbr/platformsremote}

 

Jul 06
2009

Landfill Leak

Posted by Bruce Robinson in waste , transportation , toxic , Sonoma , resources , politics , government , garbage , finances , environment , conservation , chemicals , budget

Bruce Robinson

Although the Sonoma County dump, west of Cotati,  has been closed for more than three and a half years, the former manager of the facility says the issues behind its closure are political, not environmental.

 

Ken Wells (right), the former manager of the Sonoma County landfill says the  "leak" discovered beneath the dump back in 2004, has taken on an exaggerated significance due to subsequent regulatory conflict between the county and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. The actual contamination was quite minor, he contends, and was easily contained and repaired, so that no pollutants escaped into the local groundwater.

  County officials won't say, but indutry observers say Waste ManagementInc. is the only potential buyer for the Meacham Road dumsite that meets the criteria set forth in the county's Request for Proposals.

Ken Wells is also among those who would prefer that the county retain ownership of the landfill, perhaps contracting with a private firm to operate it. As the county's waste diversion rate-currently at 64%-goes up even more, the volume of trash going into the dump will contuine to shrink, he predicts. That's part of his overall vision of a long-term future for the facility.

 

Although the Sonoma County dump (seen from the air, above) is no longer accecpting trash, all other services there are continuing. There's a list of them, and related operation, such as local transfer stations, available here.

Jun 29
2009

Two Wheels North

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , tourism , sports , seniors , recreation , open space , media , Ideas , history , events , environment

Bruce Robinson

 Bicycling from Santa Rosa to Seattle is no small accomplishment, but doing it a century ago was a far greater challenge.

 The intent of his 15-day ride to Seattle, explains Bill Harrison, was to repeat the trip made by two young Santa Rosans 100 years earlier. But changes to the landscape over the past century made that impossible in places.

 

Bill Harrison celebrates his arrival at the landmark fountain on the University of Washington campus was the final destination for both Vic and  Ray—the 1909 riders whose journey was chronicled in the book, Two Wheels North (published by Oregon State University Press), and for Harrison 100 years later.

Interstate 5 was not part of the landscape 100 years ago, but Harrison explains that it now serves as the only possible route in some parts of the trip north. Curiously, though, the legal status of bicyclists varies between states.


Traveling by bicycle is an excellent way to savor the landscape as one passes through it. Harrison says one of his most memorable vistas-from among many-was this view of Mount Shasta, look back the morning he continued on from Yreka.

 

 

Harrison also remarked on this view in his online diary from the journey, which you can read here:

 Another, larger repeat of the 1909 ride is being planned for later this summer by a group in Sacramento, as a fund-raising event to help fight Histiocytosis, a rare blood disease that primarily affects children under 10 years old.

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