Talking Headways: A Streetsblog Podcast
Episode 44: Here I Am, Stuck in Seattle With You

Stuck in Seattle or Stuck in Sherman Oaks. There are so many places to get stuck these days and so many clowns and jokers making it worse. 

First, poor Bertha, stuck 100 feet under Seattle. All the tunnel boring machine wanted to do was drill a 1.7-mile tunnel for a highway that won't even access downtown and is projected to cause more congestion at a higher price than a parallel surface/transit option -- and it got stuck just 1,000 feet in. Last December. Now the rescue plan is making downtown sink. It's not going well. And to be honest, it was always destined to not go well, but it was a crappy plan to begin with. Luckily, there is a rescue plan for the rescue plan, if anyone cares to carry it out. It starts with some accountability and ends -- spoiler alert! -- with pulling the damn plug.

But if the new tunnel to replace Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct is likely to cause traffic tie-ups, it's nothing compared to the perennial jam on LA's I-405. The popular navigation app Waze has started directing drivers off the freeway and into the residential neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, infuriating the people who live there. Their solution: Try to convince Waze there are traffic jams in Sherman Oaks too. Our solution: Build a better transportation system.

And that's it! This is our last podcast until the New Year. You can catch up on anything you missed on iTunes or Stitcher, and if you follow our RSS feed (or our Twitter feeds) you'll be the first to know when a new episode is out.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Trails!

Direct download: podcast_121714_Mixdown_final_3241.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 3:11pm EDT

Episode 43: Level of Disservice

Whether you’re building an office tower or a new transit line in California, you’re going to run up against the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The law determines how much environmental analysis you need to do for new projects. But sadly, it’s better at supporting auto oriented development than it is at determining environmental impacts. 

That’s because instead of looking at a project’s impact on the environment, it looks mostly at its impact on traffic. And the measures CEQA uses to determine traffic impact focus on individual intersections, instead of the region as a whole. As a result, they end up penalizing urban infill development and transit projects while promoting sprawl and road expansion. 

Here’s the good news: This traffic measure, known as Level of Service (LOS), is set to be overhauled in California. Last year, Governor Brown signed into law SB743. Mostly what that bill does is allow the Sacramento Kings to build a new stadium. But the other thing it does is allow for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to come up with a new measure to replace LOS. We’ve discussed this on Streetsblog before, and this week’s Talking Headways is a special podcast episode all about how LOS works against sustainable development patterns and what is being done to change it. 

Jeff produced this podcast for the NRDC Urban Solutions Program. Guests include Jeff Tumlin of Nelson\Nygaard, Amanda Eaken of NRDC, and Chris Ganson of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Hope you enjoy it.

Catch us on iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed. And we'll see you on Twitter.

Direct download: SB_Level_of_Service.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 9:33am EDT