Damp Jersey Shore town ponders a fix for ‘sunny day’ floods


BAY HEAD, N.J. (AP) — An elite but often-underwater beach town at the Jersey Shore is looking for its own solutions to back bay flooding, deciding it can’t wait for state and federal officials to agree on a fix.

Bay Head is studying options to prevent, or at least reduce, incidents of so-called “sunny day” flooding caused by tides and rising sea levels, as well as major storm-related floods.

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a massive $16 billion plan to address back bay flooding along the shore. That plan relies on inlet gates, barriers built across the center of some bays, and elevating nearly 19,000 homes.

But Bay Head, a wealthy, Republican-led enclave whose location at the northernmost tip of Barnegat Bay gave the town its name, feels it needs to act sooner than 2030, the earliest the ambitious project could begin construction.

A fairly unremarkable storm that passed offshore at the end of October left Bay Head inundated with what residents called the most intense flooding since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, when the borough was devastated. Water remained on streets in some places for five days in the recent storm.

“I couldn’t get back to my house,” said Carol Tassini, 84. “I had to turn around three times. It was the worst I’ve seen it in a long time.”

Longtime Mayor Bill Curtis said flooding has been part of living in Bay Head his entire life. But recent events have raised the alarm.

“It’s about time we tried to do something, because it’s getting worse,” Curtis said. “We decided enough is enough.”

A preliminary plan unveiled Tuesday at a town hall meeting suggested a mix of short and long-term steps the borough could take. One recommendation borrows a proposal from the state and federal plan, installing a flood gate on Scow Ditch, a narrow body of water that connects Barnegat Bay to the south with Twilight Lake to the north.

The town also is considering building an earthen berm around the edges of the lake to keep its waters from spilling over into neighborhoods during high tides or bad storms. The berm would be covered with plants and trees to form the kind of “living shoreline” that most environmentalists advocate.

Rick McGoey, a member of Bay Head’s environmental commission who gave the presentation, said “nuisance flooding” occurs in town between 12 to 18 times a year; major flooding occurs 6 to 7 times a year. But those frequencies are sure to rise, he added.

The town has not put a price tag on its repair plans, but officials cautioned it will be significant. Bay Head will seek first-round funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a more detailed study, and the mayor said he envisioned the town might be able to finance some of the work, like the earthen dam around the lake, on its own.

Bay Head, where the average house is worth more than $1.1 million, is home to some Republican heavy hitters, including Lawrence Bathgate II, the former GOP national finance chairman under presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Former Gov. Chris Christie has a summer home here, near one owned by Bon Jovi keyboardist and Broadway playwright David Bryan.

The town realizes that climate change and sea level rise are very real problems, McGoey said.

“A lot of people don’t believe in climate change, but conditions around the world are causing it to go up,” he told the audience. “Storms are more severe, you’re getting stronger winds. All of that is contributing. The important thing is, what are you going to do about it?”

McGoey said Bay Head would need to rely on the $16 billion state and federal plan to prevent “catastrophic” flooding like what occurred during Sandy.

Since Nov. 2016, the Army Corps has been looking at ways to reduce or prevent flooding along back bays in New Jersey and elsewhere. Governments in Massachusetts, California, Florida and Maine are among those that also have grappled with the issue.

Such flooding caused major damage on the East Coast during Sandy, although more attention was paid to damage from ocean waves pounding on the beachfront.

By contrast, back bay flooding is gradual and insidious, creeping up on areas fronting on bays or places with tributaries that swell with flood water and inundate homes and businesses.

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Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at @WayneParryAC



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The Tip of the Iceberg: Why there is No Quick Fix to New Mexico’s Nursing Shortage


  Commentary: Our healthcare system is in crisis, both in New Mexico and nationwide.  The causes of the staffing shortage are complex and fixing the problem will require an urgent and holistic approach.

            In a recent KRWG interview, Dr. Alexa Doig, Director of the NMSU Nursing Program, spoke on the Nursing shortage. Dr. Doig expressed concerns about the dwindling numbers of Nurse Faculty, “Recruiting faculty is crucial… Our ability to grow is really dependent on our ability to recruit qualified nurse faculty.”

Dr. Doig makes an irrefutable point.  One million “baby boomer” Registered Nurses are expected to retire between 20202030, and many Nurse Educators and Managers chose to step down early due to the stress of COVID.  Qualified teachers for healthcare programs are essential for patient safety but adding more Nurse Faculty is nowhere near enough to fix the problem.

            The “nursing shortage” is just the tip of the iceberg.  Of the 22 million healthcare workers reported in 2021, an estimated 30 % are Registered Nurses.  The other 70 % are also in short supply, including Doctors, Physician Assistants, Diagnostic Technicians, Behavioral Health Clinicians, and Personal Care Aides, just to name a few.

While Registered Nurses play a critical role, the current interdisciplinary model requires that specialized workers collaborate for optimal patient care.  Indeed.com, a popular job search site, revealed the following data as of October 2021:

  • 1 New RN Resume for every 12 RN Jobs Posted in New Mexico
  • 1 New Surgical Tech Resume for every 4 Surgical Tech Jobs 
  • 0 New Physician Resumes for every 180 Physician Jobs
  • 1 Radiology Tech Resume for every 9 Radiology Tech Jobs

Factors including the aging baby boomer population, resignations due to COVID, lack of public awareness, high tuition costs and good old-fashioned burnout have all exacerbated the shortage. 

The interview with Dr. Doig also mentions that Nursing students currently provide hands-on help during Clinical Rotations, which are typically for observation and mentoring.  I recently spoke with a young woman in Albuquerque, who dropped out of nursing school after being told by current RN’s, “Don’t become a nurse!”  Burnout creates a vicious cycle, and as more staff buckle under the stress, conditions worsen for those who remain.

This problem must be approached holistically and with urgency to improve conditions for healthcare workers and patients.  Subsidized tuition and a collaborative marketing campaign between healthcare educational programs and government could go a long way towards enrolling new students.

Cost and accessibility remain barriers to entry.  A two-year RN program in New Mexico costs around $40,000, and scholarships and grants cover around 4 % to those who are eligible.  For many, the prospect of intensive coursework, a full-time job and other responsibilities is daunting.  The good news is there are other healthcare careers which offer shorter and less costly programs ranging from two to eighteen months.  The general public may be unaware of the perks of these careers, which include the opportunity to help others, flexibility, livable wages, and the opportunity to advance are just a few perks.  

New Mexico could increase healthcare workers and save money in the long-term by offering loan forgiveness to students.  The federal government and certain states offer these programs in exchange for years of service after graduation.  The state of Louisiana offers up to $45,000 in healthcare loan forgiveness exchange for a three-year commitment. These programs are helpful, but not nearly expansive enough.

Investing in loan forgiveness would save significant funds over time.  Hospitals are currently wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on “travelers.”  The Travel Nursing companies have used COVID to gouge desperately short-staffed facilities.  One hospital system is currently in a lawsuit battle with a large Travel Recruiting firm over $40 million in unpaid bills.  Many of our hospitals are taxpayer-subsidized, and the exorbitant cost of “travelers” compounds the millions spent in overtime pay and hiring/training expenses due to turnover.

Healthcare makes up 20% of the US economy, and this is forecasted to grow.  An investment in marketing and tuition forgiveness would be far less expensive than sticking with the current stopgap solutions.  

It benefits everyone for healthcare facilities to be adequately staffed.  Securing rewarding, stable careers for New Mexico residents would certainly benefit our state, where the median income remains well below average.  New Mexicans deserve accessible healthcare, and a brighter future.



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Our hot tips to cut costs before the big chill, include don’t fix energy rates, free flu jabs and more


1. Martin’s warning: Energy firms are pushing you to fix… don’t. In fact DO NOTHING.

Over to our founder: “The energy market is in crisis, wholesale prices have exploded. Firms are being forced to sell energy substantially below its cost price, due to the energy price cap on standard variable tariffs. And I’m starting to hear that firms’ marketing departments are therefore kicking into gear to try to persuade people to take up other tariffs.

“Expect to get fancy letters extolling the virtues of fixing – tapping into switchers’ instincts as if these were normal times, when that was the right thing to do. No surprise, they are desperate to get people off the price cap. Yet as a consumer, fixing now is almost certainly NOT the right thing to do (I can’t say 100% without a crystal ball, but it’s my very strong suspicion).

“The cheapest fixes cost 30%+ more than the price cap – a huge premium, when you consider the price cap is in itself fixed until April. If you’re on it you’re essentially locked in at the cheaper price over the high-use winter period. So DO NOTHING, and if you’ve never switched, you’ll be on the price cap. If your fix is coming to an end, or your provider has gone bust, DO NOTHING and you’ll automatically be moved to the price cap.

“If you want to see the price differentiation for yourself, do a Cheap Energy Club comparison.”





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Woman suing surgeon after ‘quick fix’ mesh operation


Claire Griffiths, pictured with her children, she is now suing her surgeon after a rectopexy operation left her in pain. (Supplied, Claire Griffiths)

Claire Griffiths, pictured with her children Kiera and Jack, she is now suing her surgeon after a rectopexy operation left her in pain. (Supplied, Claire Griffiths)

Claire Griffiths may have expected some level of discomfort when she woke up from an operation to correct a prolapsed bowel. But as the anaesthetic wore off, the married mother-of-two describes the sensation as “the most immense pain I’ve ever been in”.

“The nurses kept telling me that it was caused by the way they had positioned me in surgery,”’ says Griffiths, 39, from Herefordshire. 

“But I was in agony and they couldn’t control it, even with morphine and paracetamol. Childbirth was more manageable. This pain was like a burning sensation, all through my sacrum (the base of the spine) and despite the medication, it continued for around six weeks.”

Since Griffiths underwent a rectopexy operation she has suffered almost constant, debilitating pain. (supplied, Claire Griffiths)

Since Griffiths underwent a rectopexy operation she has suffered almost constant, debilitating pain. (supplied, Claire Griffiths)

Unfortunately for Griffiths, this intense pain was far from a one-off incident.

Since the rectopexy operation in April 2013, Griffiths now lives in almost constant, debilitating pain caused by the controversial ‘mesh’ technique used in the surgery. 

She has been forced to quit her job as an associated nurse practitioner due to ill-health. Her mother is now her carer and she requires crutches to walk and a wheelchair to travel any further than 20 yards.

Griffiths’ case is far from unique. The Rectopexy Mesh Victims And Support Group on Facebook has nearly 700 – mostly female – members. 

Read more: I Didn’t Even Know What Prolapse Was Until It Happened to Me

http://uk.style.yahoo.com/

The Sling the Mesh campaign for other victims has nearly 9,000 members but those figures are thought to be the tip of the iceberg.

“Nobody really knows how many are suffering because the NHS and the regulatory body the MHRA has not kept a database of how many women have had the operation and how many are suffering,” says Sling the Mesh’s founder Kath Samson. 

“A third of women in the support group have experienced mesh erosion – where it has sliced through the vagina walls and cut into bowels, bladders, wombs and urethras. 

“Some women now have stomas and colostomy bags where they have had to have organs removed – and all this for what was supposed to be a 20-minute simple operation to fix an embarrassing health problem.”

Watch: Mesh scandal: ‘Truth is traumatic’

Griffiths’ story began in 2012 when, after years of suffering from constipation, she was told she had a bowel prolapse. 

“My consultant said there was this new ‘quick fix’ where mesh is attached to the sacrum with pins and that’s attached to the vaginal wall to hold it into place,” she says. 

“I’d never heard of it before but I trusted the consultant and wasn’t warned of any complications or adverse effects.

“After the initial six weeks of pain after waking up from surgery, I was well for about a year but then the pain returned. 

“At first, it was manageable but eventually it became so uncomfortable that I went to see a gynaecological consultant who put it down to ‘female problems’ and told me to lose some weight.”

“But by 2017 – the year I got married – I was having to take time off from work because I was in so much pain. 

“I would get severe bloating where I’d look nine months pregnant. When Jason and I went on a cruise to Madeira, I woke one day and I couldn’t walk for the pain. My back and legs were burning. I knew it couldn’t just be ‘female problems’ and I even went back to my original surgeon who examined me and said that everything seemed to be fine with the surgery. I was at my wits’ end.”

Read more: Menstrual cup misuse ‘may trigger pelvic organ prolapse’

Claire Griffiths with her husband Jason. (Supplied, Claire Griffiths)

Claire Griffiths with her husband Jason. (Supplied, Claire Griffiths)

It wasn’t until Griffiths spotted a news report that everything changed. 

“I was watching television and heard about other women suffering from mesh surgery and I broke down in tears because I realised it wasn’t just me suffering with this pain,” she says. 

“I went back to my GP and told her I thought it was the mesh causing the problems and she prescribed low level pain medication.

“But I knew I needed further help. I was lucky as my parents paid for me to see private surgeons who examined me and said my insides are a mass of adhesions and mesh. 

“My bowel is tucked to my uterus, the mesh in incredibly tight and that’s where the pain is coming from. I have burning in my legs, no feeling in the tops of my legs, nerve damage to my stomach and rectum. I couldn’t open my bowels for six weeks so last July I had to have a stoma fitted and I have to self-catheterise seven times a day. 

“At some point in the future I will have to have an operation which will close up my anus, rectum and colon. 

“It’s too risky to remove the mesh as my tissue has grown around it so now I’m with a pain consultant who is looking at infusing lidocaine to take some of the pain away.

The surgery has not only these horrific physical but also mental scars.

Claire Griffiths, pictured with her family, feels immense mum guilt due to all the things she now can't do due to the pain (supplied, Claire Griffiths)

Claire Griffiths, pictured with her family, feels immense mum guilt due to all the things she now can’t do due to the pain (supplied, Claire Griffiths)

“The mum guilt about not being able to do things like shopping with my daughter or watching my son play football is huge,” says Griffiths. 

“And seeing my mum care for me when she should be enjoying her retirement is very upsetting.

Griffiths is now suing the surgeon with the help of Thompsons Solicitors.  

“Some women who have had mesh surgery have killed themselves because of the pain and although there have been times where I feel fed up of fighting to be heard, I am strong and I need to stay here for my husband and children,” she says.

 “Hopefully, I’ve got a long life ahead of me and if the pain can be managed better, I can have a better quality of life.”

Watch: Medical safety review into medical interventions such as pelvic mesh is a ‘wake-up call’



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The People speak: Fix traffic congestion and provide reliable travel times


Ninety percent say ‘minimizing costs’ was important to extremely important

The Interstate Bridge Replacement Project (IBRP) has an Executive Steering Group (ESG) providing oversight of the team running the day-to-day operations of the effort. They meet monthly and at the Feb. 17 meeting the group members received feedback on a community survey taken by FM3 in November and December. Another community survey was about to be launched as the IBRP staff were holding multiple virtual “Open House” events, which included an online survey.

Not surprisingly, citizens on both sides of the river are frustrated with traffic congestion. Seventy percent of respondents said “we can’t wait any longer to develop plans to help fix our region’s long-term challenges with traffic and transportation,” according to the report. They are concerned about the cost of the potential multi-billion dollar project.

The unofficial results are in from the February online survey. Overwhelmingly, the people say traffic congestion and reliable travel times are their number one priority. That’s not surprising as the INRIX March 2020 travel study reported the Portland metro area has the nation’s eighth worst traffic congestion. That was consistent with their 2018 report. In 2019, Portland had the 10th worst congestion in the nation.

Yet feedback and direction given by ESG members at the end of the meeting appears to be the opposite of what people say they want.

Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said “We have a commitment to getting people out of their automobiles as much as possible.” Her focus is on racial justice. She wants to prioritize the impacts of any policy decisions on black, indigenous and other communities of color. “We’re absolutely committed to climate mitigation, and looking at green technology that we are prepared to put in place for the future.”

“The Portland region has a policy of only three through lanes in each direction,” said Metro President Lynn Peterson. She had previously served as Secretary of Transportation in Washington. “We are still working on the rest of our system to make sure that there are three lanes in each direction,” she said. “This portion already has three lanes in each direction. And so in terms of the future, and maybe this is getting into the values, but somehow I believe our Purpose and Need (statement) needs to reflect more about moving people and goods and services and less about the vehicles.”

The surveys of citizens

The recently completed IBRP survey provided people the opportunity to add their own remarks and concerns in a number of areas. These included concerns regarding equity, bike and pedestrian facilities, transit, transportation safety, impared freight movement, and earthquake vulnerability. People were given a road map and allowed to mark locations of traffic congestion, safety problems, connection problems, the need for transit, and much more. They were allowed to describe in their own words the problems they encountered.

“Congestion and reliability” was the first choice. Unofficial survey results as of about 11 p.m. March 1 showed 6,285 voters listed congestion. That was 2,434 more than second place transportation safety.  Earthquake vulnerability was right behind transportation safety with just 21 fewer votes. It should be noted in ranking priorities, people were allowed to rank order their top three categories of six.

At the bottom of the list was “Inadequate bike/pedestrian path” with just 1,670 votes. Impared freight movement received 2,342 votes and limited public transit received 2,939 votes. 

This was the second IBRP community survey. 

A formal, more scientific survey was conducted in late November and early December by FM3 Research. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent. The results appear to mirror other government agency surveys on people’s priorities, and were reported to the ESG in February. 

Traffic congestion topped voters’ concerns, with 68 percent saying it is very or extremely concerning. A major earthquake was second with 51 percent very or extremely concerned. The survey canvassed 917 registered voters in Clark, Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. According to IBRP staff, they over-sampled people of color and Clark County citizens. 

Overall, the cost of the project was people’s largest concern when asked an open-ended question. Fully 35 percent of respondents stated cost concerns. Next was “continued delays” at 22 percent and “government mismanagement” at 19 percent. At the bottom of the list was “will not include public transit” at just 2 percent. 

IBRP staff reported traffic congestion was the top concern and risk of an earthquake was people’s second concern in the fall survey by FM3. Reasons for opposition was the cost or concerns about mismanagement or delays. Graphic IBRP
IBRP staff reported traffic congestion was the top concern and risk of an earthquake was people’s second concern in the fall survey by FM3. Reasons for opposition was the cost or concerns about mismanagement or delays. Graphic IBRP

The end of the survey asked people how they traveled prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The overwhelming majority, 84 percent, said they regularly drove alone. Half the respondents crossed the Columbia River on a bridge. The bottom responses were 21 percent rode a bicycle and 27 percent rode public transit. A larger number used a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber at 31 percent.

The 84 percent number mirrors a 2018 PEMCO survey of Oregon and Washington drivers, where 94 percent preferred their cars.  Rep. Vicki Kraft (Republican, 17th District) cited that survey in a 2018 letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. “When asked their preferred method of transportation was to commute to work, 94 percent said they prefer to drive,” wroke Kraft. “They noted it was faster and more convenient than other modes of transportation.”

In 2012, a Metro survey indicated 84 percent of Portland-area drivers preferred using their cars.

An April 2018 Oregon Transportation Commission survey found 51 percent of citizens want to “expand and improve interstates and interstate bridges;” another 14 percent want expanded arterials.

A January 2019 Metro poll showed the number one priority was roads and highways. They reported 31 percent of citizens want “widening roads and highways” as their top priority. The Portland Tribune summarized: “On its own, improving public transit is a lower priority than making road improvements and the more overarching goal of easing traffic — voters still overwhelmingly rely on driving alone to get around,” reads the poll’s conclusions.

In the FM3 survey for the IBRP, people were asked are things in the Portland/Vancouver region generally headed in the right direction, or are they on the wrong track? The majority, 56 percent said “wrong track,” with just 29 percent saying “right track.” Fifteen percent chose to not answer.

Asked to rank a list of nine issues as problems or concerns, “lack of public transportation” came in dead last, with only 14 percent saying it was extremely serious or a very serious problem. One up from the bottom was “lack of transportation choices other than driving” at 19 percent. Traffic came in fourth at 49 percent, with unemployment and the cost of housing as the top two at 67 and 66 percent.

Respondents were allowed to list what they had heard about the IBRP project and the main issues. Disagreements about who is paying (OR/WA) was the top issue at 27 percent. The plan being expensive or having tolls were cited by 14 and 13 percent. Only 8 percent cited public transit and the bridge is too old or not safe came in last at 2 percent. Ten categories were cited in the report.

People were read a statement specifically citing the age of each bridge, citing the cost of maintenance through 2040, and stating the bridge is not safe in an earthquake (no magnitude). With that prompting, they then answered that earthquakes and/or safety were the largest reason for the project, at 38 percent. It was “necessary or needs to get done” came in second at 29 percent. The expense of the project came in 3rd at 15 percent and traffic congestion was 4th at 13 percent.

Ranking the overall importance for a project, 68 percent chose growing traffic congestion as their top priority. Half were concerned about a major earthquake, and the bottom issues were transit and bike/pedestrian related at 42 and 34 percent. 

Asked about tolling to help pay for the bridge, 34 percent felt tolls were “very unacceptable.” Whereas 24 percent felt tolls were “very acceptable.” Overall, people were split on tolling.

On their political view, 39 percent of respondents indicated they were somewhat or very liberal whereas just 23 percent were somewhat or very conservative. In the middle were 28 percent saying they were politically moderate.

A 2020 INRIX report stated drivers in the Portland metro area lost 89 hours being stuck in traffic. In 2017, ODOT’s “Value Pricing” team told the Vancouver City Council that 72 percent of Oregon citizens say congestion is a very serious problem. The Interstate 5 corridor was congested over 12 hours a day. There were 35 bottlenecks in the region at the time.

In remarks to the Dec. 2020 Bi-state Bridge Committee of legislators, Sen. Lynda Wilson (Republican, 17th District) emphasized similar points. “We can’t lose sight of the fact that the primary purpose is to serve the commuters and freight haulers,” she said. She listed three primary concerns — commuters, freight mobility, and safety.

Later in the meeting Wilson added: “it just concerns me that we’re not keeping our eye on the ball here with freight mobility and congestion relief and the safety of the bridge.”

In her 2018 letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, Rep. Kraft stated: “I ask you to stop pressing mass transit on our citizens and instead support a 3rd bridge for the benefit of our commuters, freight community, and statewide commerce.”

Citizens might wonder, will the IBRP administrator Greg Johnson follow the desires of the people on both sides of the river? How will he significantly reduce traffic congestion and improve the movement of freight?

At the Feb. 17 ESG meeting, there were some surprising statements from members of the steering group providing direction and oversight of the project. During a lengthy discussion about what had changed from the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) until today, there was a lot of discussion about equity and climate change.

Peterson mentioned the cost of lost time to people. “Let’s just put on the table that there is a cost right now to the level of congestion,” she said. “And that cost is incredibly high to people in terms of their time, as well as whatever fuel they’re burning while they’re on that bridge.”

But later Peterson emphasized the need for high capacity transit. “One of the big things that’s different on both sides of the river in terms of travel demand is that conversation around tolling; as well as high capacity transit and the value that both sides have on high capacity transit now and getting that across both sides. So I think these two things are extremely important to get into the Purpose and Need statement.” 

This is contrary to the FM3 survey showing public transportation at the bottom of citizens’ concerns. When given an open ended opportunity to state their biggest concern, only 2 percent of respondents mention public transit.

Furthermore, the survey showed 77 percent felt “maximizing bridge lanes to carry more vehicles” to be very to extremely important. Only 10 percent said that was not important.

Scott Hughes, chair of the Regional Transportation Council, mentioned a population growth of 27 percent in Clark County since 2005. He went on to say “we can’t forget that this bridge will be here for another 100 years, if it does get replaced. The population growth in 20, 30, 40 years from now is going to be significantly higher.”

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny Ogle also mentioned the growing populations of Vancouver and Clark County which in turn increased congestion. But she focused on C-TRAN’s expanded Bus Rapid Transit system and their efforts at bus on shoulder. She said two separate times the growth has triggered residents demanding reliable transit. 

The demands for transit the mayor mentioned were not reflected in the survey results, nor in declining cross-river C-TRAN bus ridership numbers. 

Last October, Rep. Kraft asked Bi-State Bridge Committee members “what is the need for transit?“  Recall that over 300,000 vehicles cross the two bridges across the river on an average day.

C-TRAN offers seven express bus lines from Vancouver to Portland. They travel both the I-5 and the I-205 corridors. C-TRAN recently provided the following data on express bus ridership from 2016 through the end of August. (See previous Clark County Today story here.)

Average weekday boardings (one person boards two times a day).

• 2016 – 3,040

• 2017 – 2,874

• 2018 – 2,844

• 2019 – 2,892

• 1/1/2020 – 8/31/2020* – 1,213 

C-TRAN provided the following statement in response to those ridership totals: “Commuter ridership has declined 58.2 percent (due to COVID-19). Commuter ridership includes Express bus routes only.” Asked how much express ridership has increased from its lowest levels, C-TRAN reported: “The sum of the average previous five weeks ending May 16, 2020 compared to the same period ending the week of Sept. 26, 2020 reflects a 23.7 percent increase in commuter boardings.” 

In wrap up remarks, many ESG members echoed each other’s comments about equity and climate change. Yet in open-ended responses, only 3 percent of survey respondents mentioned the environment or impacts on communities of color or low-income communities. 

In those open-ended responses, cost concerns were number one, mentioned by 35 percent of respondents. Delays or postponement were the next two at 22 and 19 percent. The impact on traffic was 4th at 13 percent.

Respondents were split on tolling with 52 percent finding tolls acceptable and 47 percent saying they were unacceptable.

When asked for priorities for the design of the bridge, respondents were given a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 was not important at all and 7 was extremely important. “Reducing traffic congestion” was important to extremely important for 93 percent, and 90 percent said maximizing lanes to carry more vehicles. When it came to efficient movement of freight, 93 percent said it was important to extremely important. Minimizing cost also rated extremely high at 90 percent.

The verbal discussions of the members of the ESG seemed to mention traffic congestion as the excuse for pushing transit versus citizens desire for more lanes and for reliable travel times in their own cars.

IBRP staff responded, via email, to a Clark County Today question seeking more information and clarification about a statement that there is a “growing demand for modal choices.” 

Frank Green, assistant program administrator of the Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) program responded.

“The comments on slide 46 of the Feb. 17 Executive Steering Group presentation, including the reference to growing demand for modal choices, were highlighting some of the feedback we have received from partners on potential changes that should be taken into consideration as the program works to update the Purpose and Need and establish the community Vision and Values.

“The program is committed to identifying a multimodal solution that accommodates all people and modes of travel to provide equitable access to jobs and critical services. As the program moves into alternatives development, traffic analysis and travel demand modeling will be conducted to reflect current and anticipated future demand for different modes of travel including vehicles, transit, and active transportation including bikes and pedestrians.”

Green’s comments follow Portland metro voters rejecting a $5 billion transportation package last fall, where over half the money was going to a light rail expansion project. Clark County voters have rejected light rail multiple times as well.





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Chromecast with Google TV has an annoying Bluetooth audio issue, but there’s a simple fix


The Chromecast with Google TV is a brilliant product, as noted in Ryan’s review, but it’s not without its flaws. Since getting one a week ago, I’ve found Google’s new Android TV skin to be a delight, so much so that my far more powerful Nvidia Shield has been relegated to the bench. The experience isn’t perfect, however, and I’ve had to close misbehaving apps on several occasions. The most notable issue I’ve faced relates to Bluetooth audio, but thankfully there’s an easy fix.

When I connected Bluetooth headphones to the new Chromecast for the first time and fired up YouTube, I was dismayed to find that the audio stuttered and crackled. Worse still, the video was also affected. I tested with several different pairs of headphones and earbuds, but the issue persisted. I then tried Netflix and BT Sport to find that those apps operated as expected. A quick search showed that I wasn’t the only person experiencing this problem (see here and here), with the YouTube and YouTube Music apps seemingly the culprit on each occasion.

My first instinct was to force stop the YouTube app in the Settings, but this didn’t make a difference. Nor did restarting the Chromecast altogether. A number of people seem to have had success uninstalling and reinstalling the offending app, and I can confirm that did work for me. The spluttering performance went away and both audio and video went back to normal. Unfortunately, the issue returned a few days later, which gave me the opportunity to try clearing the YouTube app’s data rather than reinstalling it, and that also solved the problem.

To do this, you’ll need to head to Settings (via your profile image in the top right of the homescreen) > Apps > YouTube > Clear data. In the unlikely event that this doesn’t solve the problem, try uninstalling the app and reinstating it. As the issue has reappeared for me, this may only be a temporary solution. Let’s hope Google addresses this, along with the other occasional stability and performance problems, in an upcoming firmware update.

On a similar note, users have also complained that some apps won’t output any audio over Bluetooth whatsoever — looking at you, HBO Max and Starz. If you’re affected by this, disabling Surround sound in the Display and sound settings should resolve the issue.



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