Whoops! (Part One)
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:54 PM
"Ever have one of those projects that just seems to be snakebit? Where all of the perversity of the universe comes down on your head in one giant helping of bad mojo?Such is the case, it seems, with Bainbridge's roundabout at High School Road and Madison Avenue. The latest mishap, reported elsewhere in these pages, was the city's failure to remind its bidders on that road project that state law requires them to list their subcontractors. Because none of the five did so -- something that strikes us as odd -- the state deemed all of the bids nonresponsive and void.The only remedy, it seems, is to readvertise the project. That costs time, meaning that the chances of finishing the work before school begins drops from slim to almost non-existent. Because of the proximity to both Bainbridge High School and Ordway Elementary, the problems with having the intersection impassable during the school year are self-evident. It's particularly unfortunate that the error, which could have happened on any big job, happened on this project. We have generally favored the choice of a roundabout at the busy intersection, having attended the meetings where the concept was explained, and knowing that the presentations overwhelmingly concentrated on the issue of pedestrian safety.Like it or not, the city council listened to professional traffic engineers rather than outraged citizens, identifying the problem as a technical matter to be resolved by expert data rather than by popular opinion.But when we place our trust in experts, it's up to the experts to demonstrate that they have the know-how to do the job.This bid foul-up doesn't inspire confidence.Whoops! (Part Two)More than cost, more than convenience, the problem with higher ferry fares and the ticket books is one of communication.A 20 percent fare hike was approved in concept by the State Transportation Commission, but the effective date was delayed by legislative dithering. So the system kept selling tickets at the old price. And, as any commuter could tell you, the tickets were good for 90 days. When the hike did take place, ferry officials decided they couldn't honor the old-price fares for the full three months. So as of July 7, the old tickets would no longer pay your fare.Nobody lost any money. The old tickets can be cashed in, and new ones bought. But there is confusion and inconsistency in how that must be done, and that extends to the ticket takers, who seem to be making up their own procedures as the line backs up. Refunds by mail, or at the booth? We've heard both from those taking our money, and we now understand that we can be made whole right there at the gate.Ferry officials say they explained all this back in June, when the increases took effect. But there weren't a lot of reminders about the July 7 cutoff date, particularly to those of us who don't commute daily. Maybe you did tell us before. But tell us again -- perhaps with a sign at the Seattle terminal, so we don't have to ask questions while the boat is loading. And tell the attendants as well, so we're all on the same page.It will be greatly appreciated. "