Archive for July 2009

Grays Harbor PUD Financial Analysis Determines Utility to Face Significantly Increased Costs

The PUD's financial analysis determined the BPA increase would raise the utility's costs by about $760,000 for the remainder of 2009, more than $3 million in 2010 and about $2.3 million for the remainder of the rate period, which ends in September of 2011 (the PUD does not expect a reduction at this point, and is preparing for more increases by BPA). 

Despite the BPA increase beginning October 1, the PUD's rates will remain stable through the end of the 2009, thanks to cost-saving measures implemented in early 2009. These included reduced staffing levels through attrition; salary freezes for employees not covered under collective bargaining agreements, elimination of non-essential travel and training, and a reduction in the number of summer students hired.

Grays Harbor PUD will determine the best way to manage its response to this BPA  rate increase next year as the District develops the 2010 budget in the coming months. "Grays Harbor PUD will continue to be very cost conscious and only consider a rate increase if necessary," Lovely said. "As the PUD budgets for 2010, we will determine the best way to minimize the impact of the BPA rate increase on our customers while continuing to provide quality service and a highly reliable system." In the coming budget year, some cost savings are expected from additional staffing level reductions through attrition. During the next 24 months, the PUD expects a total reduction of up to 10 full time positions (this includes three positions in 2009) with an estimated total savings of up to $1.25 million annually.

During the rate case, the PUD urged BPA to undertake several cost-savings measures to avoid any wholesale power rate increases, including:

  • Rejecting all power sale agreements with aluminum companies that require cost increases to consumer owned utilities
  • Eliminating cash payments to customers of investor owned utilities that still owe consumer owned utilities millions of dollars as the result of illegal payments previously made by BPA
  • Identifying and implementing BPA program cost savings
  • Using all financial tools, including an expanded Treasury line of credit and a less restrictive reserve policy, to make the Treasury payment

While BPA is making use of some financial tools to help reduce the rate increase, they continue to offer subsidies to aluminum companies and investor owned utility customers.

In an earlier statement after the announcement of the BPA rate increase last week, Rick Lovely stated, "While we were pleased to see some effort on the part of BPA to reduce costs, we were disappointed BPA continues to pursue activities that are costly to public power."

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WSDOT Stimulus News of the Week

Tri-State's bid amount of $31,095,383 is about 25 percent below estimated cost, continuing a trend directly linked to tough economic times. While the low bids allow Washington state to deliver more highway projects with federal stimulus dollars, they also reinforce how important these projects are for getting people back to work.

An estimated 130 jobs are supported by the I-5 Port of Tacoma Road Interchange to King County Line HOV project. Tri-State has committed to hiring two Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) firms and the contractor intends to reach 8.1 percent DBE participation on the project. The purpose of the DBE program is to ensure a level playing field for firms owned and operated by disadvantaged individuals on USDOT-assisted contracts and procurements.

WSDOT and the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program continue to piece together a series of improvement projects that include the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the widening and HOV lanes on State Route 16, the new northbound I-5 collector-distributor lanes between the Tacoma Mall and Tacoma Dome, and the ongoing work to replace the Nalley Valley Viaduct. The full congestion-relief and safety benefits of these projects will not be fully realized until all the connecting projects are complete.

 

The stimulus story this week

Over 100 state and local stimulus highway American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects have now been awarded to contractors as more projects continue to advance to construction. Crews finished painting the Evergreen State ferry, concluding a preservation project designed to prevent corrosion on the 87-vehicle vessel. Local governments continue to advance projects for construction with 17 new projects awarded this past week, and six more projects advertised.

This week by the numbers – as of July 21

Status of 36 state and 147 local ARRA highway projects

  • 3 projects are substantially complete
    • 1 state: I-90/Yakima River to W Ellensburg
    • 2 local: City of Conconully and Garfield County
  • 106 projects have been awarded to contractors or are under construction (25 state, 81 local)
  • 159 projects have been advertised to date (29 state, 130 local)
  • 24 projects are certified, but not yet advertised
  • 183 individual projects (36 state, 147 local) have been certified by the Governor 
    • 4 of the state projects received surplus Recovery Act funding
  • 2 project funding buckets address priority safety needs statewide. From those funds, 27 projects to install rumble strips and 6 cable median barrier projects have been advertised. 17 rumble strip projects and 6 cable median barrier projects have been awarded.
  • Employment: WSDOT and local governments reported nearly $2.2 million in payroll over 57,698 hours in June as construction work increased.
  • Approximately 334 full time equivalents were employed by the Recovery Act projects, at an average salary of $38 per hour.

Highway funds authorized:

  • WSDOT has obligated $244.5 million (71%) of $344.6 million, and has until March 1, 2010 to obligate the rest. Funds are now obligated to 33 of 36 individual state projects. (The 2009 Supplemental transportation budget provided WSDOT with $340M in stimulus funding and provided $4M of state enhancements to local governments. For reporting purposes, WSDOT will be measured against obligating $344.6M; however, only $340M is available for state ARRA-funded projects.)
  • Local governments have obligated 82% of local funds, $128.4 million of $152.1 million, and have until March 1, 2010 to obligate the rest. Funds are now obligated for 133 of 147 local projects.

Transit projects awarded:

  • Statewide: Washington transit agencies have received awards for 95% of the $179 million designated for transit projects.
  • Nonurban rural: WSDOT and 10 transit agencies have received awards for 100% of the nearly $12.3 million designated for nonurban and rural transit projects.
  • Small urban: Eight transit agencies have received awards for 93% of the $12.1 million designated for small urban transit projects.
  • Large urban: Nine transit agencies and Washington State Ferries have received awards for 95% of the $154.1 million designated for large urban transit projects.

Key issues: State

Most highway projects now awarded or under construction – With 17 more local projects awarded, 106 state and local projects are now awarded or under construction.

WSDOT ferry project completed – WSDOT Ferries Division used $914,000 in Recovery Act funds to complete a topside paint job on the 87-auto ferry Evergreen State. The vessel was delivered to Fairhaven Shipyard in Bellingham on April 27 and left the shipyard with is new paint job on July 25.

  • The project was funded with part of the $4.25 million in stimulus funds the Puget Sound Regional Council voted on March 12 to use for ferry vessel preservation.

Second local highway project completed – Garfield County completed construction on its $231,000 County Wide Pavement Preservation project earlier this month.

Seven more highway projects awarded
Local projects

  • Sumas – Bob Mitchell Avenue 
  • La Conner – Maple Street Overlay and Sidewalks 
  • Mount Vernon – Laventure/Anderson Extension (Phase 1)
  • Skamania County – Cascade Drive Pedestrian Walkway 
  • Skamania County – Wind River Road 
  • Whatcom County – Scott Ditch Bridge
  • Stanwood – 68th Road Realignment and School Safety Improvement 
  • Island County – Roadway Preservation
  • Cowlitz County – Coal Creek Road Reconstruction
  • Yakima – Nob Hill Blvd Improvements
  • Omak – Okoma Drive/SR 215 Sidewalk Project
  • Forks – Bogachiel Way
  • Mason County – Countywide Paver 
  • Tulalip Tribes – 116th/34th Ave Fish Passage Culvert 
  • Rainier – 507 Overlay & Enhancements
  • Marysville – Street Overlay Project
  • Pend Oreille County – Deer Valley Road 

Key issues: National

ARRA highway projects under construction nationwide – 2,406 projects costing almost $7.5 billion are under construction in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and on federal lands, the FHWA reported on its website. The FHWA has obligated $17.1 billion of $26.8 billion to 5,949 projects in all 50 states.

Congressional committee releases new report – Chairman James Oberstar and the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure published the latest report on state transportation data on July 27.

  • The committee will hold its next oversight hearing at 7 a.m. on July 31.
  • Governor Gregoire submitted Washington’s fourth status report to the committee on July 20. There will be no report in August. The next report will be submitted on September 20.

 

Important dates
July 31:
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing
August 10: Next federal project status report due
August 20: Next federal employment report (1587) due
August 24: First deadline for High-Speed Passenger Rail grant applications
August 31: Next status report to the Legislature is due
September 15: Deadline for $1.5 billion TIGER discretionary grant applications
September 20: Next congressional report is due
October 10: WSDOT submits first new federal OMB quarterly performance report

Websites of interest
WSDOT ARRA website: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/funding/stimulus
Washington recovery website: http://www.recovery.wa.gov/
Federal recovery website: http://www.recovery.gov/
FHWA recovery website: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery/index.htm
Federal Transit Administration recovery website: www.fta.dot.gov/recovery
Federal Rail Administration recovery website: www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/2153
Federal Aviation Administration recovery website: http://www.faa.gov/recovery
OMB recovery website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/recovery_default/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highway projects advertised or planned for advertisement soon
   

Lead agency

Project
description

OFM jobs estimate 1

Funding – stimulus dollars

Total
project
budget

Advertisement date

College Place*

Whitman Drive Multi Use Path

1

$58,000

$58,000

Advertised on
July 26

Walla Walla*

13th Avenue Improvements Rose to Rees

20

$1,980,000

$2,000,000

Advertised on
July 24

Chewelah

Court Street Bridge Replacement

3

$350,000

$350,000

Advertised on
July 23

Sunnyside2

Yakima Valley Highway at Lincoln Ave Intersection

1

$150,000

$150,000

Advertised on
July 23

Colfax

Fairview Street Overlay

2

$192,000

$222,000

Advertised on
July 14

Forks

Bogachiel Way

17

$160,000

$1,700,000

Advertised on
June 26

For the Coming Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 The OFM job estimate is calculated using the Office of Financial Management’s multiplier, which includes direct, indirect, and induced jobs.

2 The advertisement date for these projects was delayed. The projects were previously listed as advertised on June 30 (Sunnyside) and July 14 (College Place).

*The original advertisement date for this project has changed.

Data Source: WSDOT Project Control and Reporting and WSDOT Highways and Local Programs.

 

See full project list at – http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Funding/stimulus/ProjectList.htm

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10th Annual Shipwreck Beads Modified Nationals This Weekend

Heading the entry list is last year's Nationals Winner and the defending Grays Harbor Raceway Champion Blair Shoemaker from Yakima.  Shoemaker will be driving the Duane D"Amico owned number 27 this weekend.  Shoemaker can expect tough competition from three time Nationals Winner Jon DeBenedetti from Rogue River, Oregon, 2001 Nationals Winner Brian Poppa from Central Point, Oregon.  Cottage Grove hotshoes include,  Braedon Hand,  Craig Hanson,  Jesse Williamson and Curtis Towns, Medford's Scott Lenz, and  Mark Wauge.  Local drivers expected to challenge for the win include the current Grays Harbor Raceway points leader and three time main event winner in 2009, Josh Muller from Montesano, former GHR Modified Champion Scott Miller from Shelton, St Helens Scott Dorie who has two main event wins so far in 2009, another former champion Craig Moore from Seabeck.  Banks and St. Helens drivers include Kenny Miller, Clint Petty, Don Jenner, Doug Davenport, and Sean Fox.  Canadian drivers up to the challenge include Jason Beaulieu from Campbell River, B.C and Graham Cook from Port Hardy, B.C.

The front gate will open at 4:30 pm on both Friday and Saturday Nights, with racing to start at 7:00 pm.

For more information please go to www.graysharborracewayway.com or call the Raceway office at (360) 482-4374.

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Excessive Heat Warning Cancelled for Coast and Willipa Hills

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland has cancelled the excessive heat warning for the areas of the coast and the Willapa Hills.   An increase in onshore flow has caused temperatures to fall this morning to levels about 10 degrees cooler than Wednesday morning across most of the coast range.  The enhanced marine influence will help hold temperatures down somewhat today, with high temperatures in the area expected to be generally in the 80s and lower 90s.  While these temperatures are still above normal they represent a significant drop from the triple digit heat of the past couple days. 

For the most up to date weather information from the NWS please visit http://www.weather.gov/portland.  This page brings up all advisories, watches, and warnings for the southwest Washington area.

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A Last-Minute Healthcare Plea to Washington Lawmakers

"I think what they need to understand is that this is not a political issue. This has everything to do with the health of our citizens. Health care costs have gotten so out of hand that it has to be addressed."

Critics of a public health care plan should compare it to Medicare, argues Dain, rather than branding it "socialized medicine."

"Socialized medicine makes the assumption that the government will now own hospitals. No, we're not talking that at all. What we're talking about is looking at improving a system that exists, and asking the question, 'Why are treatments so expensive?'"

The volunteers have scheduled meetings with both Washington senators and four representatives, Baird, Inslee, Reichert and Smith. AARP states its priorities include affordable health coverage that doesn't squeeze out people ages 50 to 64 who don't yet qualify for Medicare, as well as lowering prescription drug prices and improving coverage for chronic care and long-term care.

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Washigton State Patrol Warns: Check Your Trailer Before You Tow It

This reminder comes after a wheel came loose from a boat trailer at approximately 12:40 am on July 25th. The boat trailer was being towed in the southbound lanes of I-5 at 304th St in Federal Way when the right wheel came loose. The wheel hit a semi truck and shot across the median and landed on top of a passenger car in the northbound lanes. The impact was so extreme that it crushed the roof of the car forcing it into the passenger compartment. The female driver, a Pennsylvania resident and sole occupant, was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

 

July 25th Accident

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Missing Shelton Man Found Dead

On July 10, deputies launched a second search for Curtis in the area of his camp along Mill Creek.  This search involved about 60 searchers in an expanded search area.  Again, Curtis was not located.  Deputies conducted an analysis of the investigation and the search operation concluding that one more search of the area was called for. 

On July 28, a third search was conducted.  This time the search concentrated exclusively on Mill Creek itself.  Swift water swimmers were used to search Mill Creek.  At about 9AM the swimmers located Mr. Curtis' body about ¼ mile downstream from his campsite.  Deputies discovered no signs of foul play.

According to Mason County Coroner, Wes Stockwell, the deceased was positively identified as David Curtis.  Stockwell told investigators the cause of death was probably fresh water drowning.  Stockwell is listing the manner of death as undetermined at this time.  The investigation is continuing, but detectives say there is no indication Curtis died by criminal means.

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