Tuesday morning's headlines

Mar 29, 2011

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Heavy Rains Coming Wednesday Trigger Flood Watch
  • Pierce Transit Makes Some Deep Service Cuts Permanent
  • King County Project Likely Culprit of Massive Sinkhole


Flood Watch Tomorrow for Western Washington

Heavy rains over the next few days have triggered a flood watch beginning tomorrow afternoon for many western Washington counties. The National Weather Service office in Seattle forecasts warmer temperatures as a very wet frontal system stalls over the region tonight and tomorrow, dumping rain and raising mountain freezing levels from 7,000 to 9,000 feet. 

That means a lot of snow will melt quickly. The biggest worry is the flood-prone Skokomish River in Mason County, but other rivers could be placed under flood warning, depending on just how much rain falls.

The weather service has placed the flood watch on these counties starting Wednesday afternoon:

  • King
  • Pierce
  • Snohomish
  • Thurston
  • Lewis
  • Mason
  • Skagit 
  • Whatcom 
  • Clallam
  • Jefferson


Services Slashed by Pierce Transit

The budget ax is falling earlier than planned on bus service in Pierce County. That's because the recent natural gas explosion and fire at a  Lakewood transit facility has inflicted costs that need to be stanched by immediate cuts, according to The News Tribune's Kris Sherman. 

About a third of Pierce Transit's budget had to be eliminated, Sherman writes. The plan was to do that in October; the cuts will become permanent in June instead. Emergency services put in place after the February 28th explosion at the gas refueling station will now remain in place.

The Trib reports cuts will include:

  • Permanent elimination of Route 207 to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Route 60 to the Port of Tacoma. Neither is operating now.
  • Less midday service, with many routes running hourly instead of more frequently.
  • Major cuts in weekend and evening service.

In February, voters in Pierce County rejected a .03% sales tax increase to bolster the transit agency's budget. 


Bothell Sinkhole Discovered Near Brightwater Tunnel Project 

King County’s Brightwater sewage treatment project is being blamed for another huge sinkhole opening up, this time in Bothell. The 30-foot wide, 15-foot deep hole is in an undeveloped wooded area. It was discovered when a neighbor reported seeing a tree leaning into a cable TV line, according to The Seattle Times' Keith Ervin:

"It's so close to the Brightwater alignment that it's pretty reasonable to assume that it's related to Brightwater," said Annie Kolb-Nelson, spokeswoman for the county's Wastewater Treatment Division, which is building the $1.8 billion plant and related pipelines.

The sinkhole is now fenced off, and crews will work to fill it in once permits are obtained. This is the second time the deep-bore tunnel for the Brightwater project has caused a sinkhole. In 2009, a 15-foot deep hole opened up near a residential driveway in Kenmore. 

The $1.8 billion project is nearing completion, with the wastewater treatment plant almost built.  There are less than two miles of tunnel left to dig. It’s slated to be in operation by mid-2012.