SEATTLE – The clock is ticking on WSDOT’s biggest construction closure ever. On Aug. 10 WSDOT crews will close multiple lanes and ramps on northbound Interstate 5 between Spokane Street and I-90 around the clock for 19 days to perform extensive rehabilitation work on the freeway.
This closure will dramatically affect traffic in the greater-Seattle area. WSDOT is asking drivers to make a plan now so you can get around without getting stuck in extensive traffic backups.
During the 19-day closure, crews will break apart and remove 34 failing expansion joints that link the concrete bridge slabs that comprise this 40-year-old freeway section. If these expansion joints completely fail, large pieces of metal and three-foot-long bolts would pop up from the freeway deck and lead to potentially deadly collisions. Crews will also pave northbound I-5 between Spokane Street and I-90.
We want to reduce the number of vehicles on northbound I-5 just south of downtown by more than fifty percent to help prevent gridlock. Unless drivers help, WSDOT traffic engineers expect severe congestion on I-5 from 4 a.m. to midnight every day, and worst-case scenario backups extending from downtown Seattle to Tacoma. If drivers help, as they have in the past, worst-case traffic backups won’t occur. We are counting on drivers to help keep traffic moving while we get this important construction done.
WSDOT has been preparing for this closure for months. We have contacted hundreds of community and business groups; worked extensively with the city of Seattle and transit agencies, mailed informational packets to a thousand major employers, and much more.
Now that the closure is 10 days away, we need drivers to help. We are asking drivers to:
• take a look at bus and Sounder train schedules and vanpool options in your area and consider how they could work for you
• talk to your employer about teleworking one or more days a week
• consider flexing your work schedule and commuting very early or late
• plan to arrive early and stay late when visiting downtown for shopping and entertainment. Arrive early and go out for breakfast or stay late and enjoy dinner in the city
• visit our commute options Web page www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I5/SpokaneStreetBridgeRepair/CommuteOptions
For more information, please visit our Web page at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I5/SpokaneStreetBridgeRepair
By Paul Schrag
An errant remark by Sen. John Kerry earlier this month has rekindled a debate left over from the Vietnam era. His statement to a college audience that they should stay in school so they don't get "stuck in Iraq," was later dismissed by Kerry as a verbal stumble, saying he meant to say that lack of education could “get us stuck in Iraq” – a criticism of what Kerry believes to be the president’s poorly approached war in Iraq. And while pundits, partisans and vote-hungry politicians sling verbal turds about what Kerry really meant, the debate about the below-average soldier can be solved by simply looking at the numbers. The truth is, statistically speaking, the average American soldier is a cut above their civilian counterpart in several areas, and are the victims of still prevalent myths that many attribute to Vietnam- and draft-era debates.
Myth 1: Military recruits are less educated and have fewer work alternatives than other young Americans.
In fact, military recruits are far better educated than the general youth population, according to Bill Carr, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy in a statement to the American Forces Press Service. More than 90 percent of recruits have a high school diploma, compared to about 75 percent of the U.S. youth population. A traditional high school diploma is the single best indicator of a recruit’s likelihood of successfully adjusting to military service, Carr asserts. Recruits with a high school diploma have a 70 percent probability of completing a three-year enlistment versus a 50 percent chance for non-graduates. The military has in fact exceeded the 90-percent benchmark for recruits with high school diplomas every year since 1983.
Myth 2: The military tends to attract people with lower aptitudes.
Recruits actually have much higher average aptitudes than the general youth population. In 2005, 67 percent of recruits scored above the 60th percentile on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, which is designed so that the average test subject will score 50 percent. Some 60 percent of new enlistees have scored at or above the 50 percentile—the military’s benchmark for recruits—every year since 1985.
Myth 3: The military attracts a disproportionate number of poor or underprivileged youth.
In reality, military recruits mirror the U.S. population and are solidly middle class, Carr says. According to a recent Heritage Foundation, most recruits come from middle-class families, rather than poorer or wealthier ones. Patterns in recent years reinforce this trend, showing a slight dip in recruits from lower socioeconomic groups and a slight increase from upper-class groups. A report from policy research group National Priorities Center found that young men and women from families with household incomes ranging between $30,000 and $60,000 a year are over-represented in Army recruitment levels. As income levels rise above $60,000 a year, representation drops off steadily, the study showed.
Myth 4: A disproportionate number of recruits come from urban areas.
Inner cities are actually the most underrepresented area among new recruits, according to a report from National Priorities Project. Both suburban and rural areas, meanwhile, are overrepresented.
Myth 5: The military isn’t geographically representative of America.
The southern part of the United States generates the most recruits, 41 percent, but also has the biggest youth population to draw from, 36 percent, according to National Priorities Project reports. Twenty-four percent of recruits come from north-central regions, which have 23 percent of the youth population. The west, with 24 percent of the nation’s youth, contributes 21 percent of the new enlistees. And the northeast, with 18 percent of the youth population, provides 14 percent of new recruits.