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About this City Journal

[SC4] A realistic re-imagining of Bellingham, WA into a world-class city!

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SounderBruce

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Tahoma is one of the three principal cities of the Whatcom Region. Boasting a population of 75,000 within the city proper and over 100,000 more in its outlying suburbs, the city has shed its exurban status with the advent of better connectivity to Whatcom, via high-speed rail service and a new, six-lane freeway.

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From its very founding, Tahoma has been planned on a series of grids, one for each of its somewhat distinct neighborhoods. Downtown, bounded on the west by Tahoma Bay and on the east by the steep Market Hillclimb, is home to most of the city's highrise buildings. The city has invested heavily into renovating its waterfront, building a new pier and Ferris wheel adjacent to its former skid row.

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Downtown Tahoma is served by two ferry docks, with regular service from its suburbs in Westpoint as well as the Port of Tahoma, to alleviate traffic on the few north-south streets during rush hour. Two new sports venues, BT Arena (left) and Tahoma Stadium (right), were built in the central boulevard of the city for its popular teams, part of the superclub Tahoma North Star (abbreviated as Tahoma NS), which fields teams in over 30 sports.

(AN: Ignore the intersection error. It was not seen until the images were uploaded to Majhost.)

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Tahoma Central Station is served by trains coming approximately every 6 minutes at peak hours, arriving from destinations as far away as Newport/Baker and even Westgate Island. High-speed rail service to Whatcom, which runs through South Tahoma and Elliot Bay, operates on 15-minute frequencies during normal service, but is increased during special events and holidays.

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At the north end of Tahoma's downtown sits her tourist areas, home to the sprawling Downtown Mall and Tahoma Performing Arts Center on Plaza Street and the small Tahoma City Beach, often crowded with sunbathing tourists and locals, only differentiated by their choice in more generic towels.

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At Downtown's other end lies the new Tahoma City Pier, home to a museum dedicated to the local shipping industry as well as the popular combination arcade/aquarium. New hotels have sprung up in the two blocks adjacent to the pier's only entrance, filling the streets with tourists on any remotely nice day.

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Above the train station sits the Tahoma Public Market and the rest of Market Hill, including a 3-block park that reaches the Tahoma Viaduct.

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Market Hill is one of the densest neighborhoods in the region, with older brownstone apartments and modern condos sitting side-by-side, well served by frequent bus service to Downtown and other neighborhoods.

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The Tahoma Viaduct carries six lanes of freeway through the eastern neighborhoods of Tahoma. Various plans to replace the aging structure, which is at risk of collapse during the next megathrust earthquake, have ranged from deep-bore and cut-and-cover tunnels to replacing the freeway entirely with a boulevard. As of writing, no official plans have been announced by the Tahoma municipal government.

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Most of Tahoma's big box stores are only allowed on designated corridors that can handle increased traffic, such as arterial streets that connect Downtown to the Tahoma Viaduct.

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South of Tahoma's Downtown lies the Industrial District, home to the Port of Tahoma and plenty of heavy industry.

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The Port of Tahoma is the third largest in the Whatcom region, behind the ports of Whatcom and Baker. The ease of access between the port and various connections to other cities in the region give it a major advantage over its larger competitors.

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The Industrial District and the upscale southern neighborhoods of Tahoma are served by a newly-constructed rail station with frequent service to Downtown during peak hours in addition to regional rail service.

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The first diverging diamond interchange in the region was built in Tahoma to better serve port traffic without interfering with commuters from Tahoma's eastern suburbs.

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One final parting shot of Downtown Tahoma. Stay tuned for the next update, to come in a few more months!

SounderBruce

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Further down the Newport Highway lies Portland, where industry and some well-to-do suburbs are only a freeway underpass and a gentle hill apart. The city of barely over 5,000 prides itself on the newly-renovated Port of Portland, often forgotten in the shadows of the more visible and larger ports of Tahoma and Whatcom, and the their Coast Guard installation.

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Let's begin with an overview of the entire city, bisected by the elevated Newport Highway and rails carrying freight trains from the port as well as the Newport Express passenger line.

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From another angle and hours later, you can see the port at full capacity, switching out foreign-made goods going to big-box retailers in Baker and its suburbs for jobs being moved overseas old cars and parts for "recycling" in the third world.

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Speaking of imported goods from the Far East, the southern end of Portland is home to its very own dealership row, where Hyundai and Toyota try to show off their "freshest" vehicles straight out of the shipping container.

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Adjacent to the container port is the recently-opened Portland Docklands Station, built to replace the 80-year-old Portland Passenger Depot to better serve passengers disembarking the Newport Express with adequate local bus service and a peak-only ferry service to Baker City and Newport.

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It's pretty obvious to see why the elevated bypass freeway of Portland was built, since the old highway is by multiple railroad crossings and lined with businesses and other traffic-generating buildings.

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The Portland-Newport Coast Guard Station was christened after fears of escalating terrorism reaching the quaint shores of Baker Bay managed to send even the calmest of citizens into a panic. The station is located directly behind the offices of the Port Authority of Portland & Newport and two oil tanks that supply the many gas stations around the South Baker Bay area.

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The big-box retailers receiving shipments from the port decided to move closer to their source in order to appease the Port Authority after it had threatened to restrict trade from countries with "less than favorable" working conditions.

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Downtown Portland consists mostly of retail and suburban-styled office space, with the exception of the new Portland General Hospital and the barely-visible Newport-Portland Stadium.

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Above the retail and factories is Chapel Hill, the only residential area in Portland. A bike trail loops around the entire base of Chapel Hill, providing a useful way to commute without having to wait in traffic on one of the three two-lane roads that cut off access to the houses.

SounderBruce

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Newport, one of the "big four" ferry terminals in the Whatcom Sound, is home to a thriving tourist resort located at the westernmost point of the Newport Peninsula. The city is home to barley over 3,000 permanent year-round residents, but can swell to over 24,000 during the summer when students and white-collar workers look for a close getaway from Baker City without having to risk losing Internet access on one of the islands.

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The two docks at the Newport Ferry Terminal are served by frequent "lifeline" ferries coming in from Redwood Island and Kitsap Island as well as frequent commuter ferries to Baker City and Westport on Westgate Island. The terminal was recently upgraded to have a bypass lane for daily ferry users that have the area's regional transit smart card that can be scanned from a vehicle's windshield while quickly boarding without waiting for snowbirds fumbling around with loose change and old discount coupons.

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The city was built around the terminal and the waterfront clocktower at the exact center of the street grid. The terminal also acts as the western end of the Newport Highway, which is the only road connection between Newport and its neighbors to the east.

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The North Beach neighborhood is home to six high-rise hotels as well as the only parking garage for miles around. The art-deco Neon Triplet Hotel are the oldest on the island, having opened weeks after the little North Beach in 1939.

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At the center of North Beach is a hedge maze park, which is frequented by police officers looking for lost children and lost drunks.

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The larger and less popular South Beach is located in the middle of condominiums and the Queens Hotel, which features faux-Victorian architecture and a small nature park beside it. The Newport Fountain Park is great place to cool off during the summer without having to be too close to seawater, originally built as a large gazebo for local events that were too large for the neighboring Newport Municipal Building.

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Without rental cars or seaplane service, the only two options for pedestrians to leave Newport is either boarding WTA Route 299 with express service to Portland and Bay City or riding the fast and streamlined Newport Express passenger train to Baker City, which travels at a maximum of 125 mph (250 km/h) while passing through Portland and Bay City. The low fare of $7 one-way attracts massive amounts of riders during the summer months, which necessitated expanding the Newport Terminal Station to eight platforms and expanding service to 24-hours from May to September as well as 10-minute headway during peak hours.

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The rail line is located in the median of the Newport Highway on the thin Newport Isthmus, home to hundreds of native trees replanted after the reclamation of land when the highway was widened to 4 lanes less than a decade ago.

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During peak hours of commuter ferry service, two trains will leave Newport seconds behind each other in order to serve all the walk-on passengers traveling towards Baker City and Bay City.

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The Newport Highway, once a two-lane shoulder-less country road, was upgraded to freeway standards and moved to an elevated bypass of the Port of Portland in order to better serve expanded ferry service.

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A parting overview of Newport itself. Thanks for reading!

SounderBruce

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Redwood Island, nestled between three of the largest islands in the Whatcom Sound and a wildlife preserve, has recently undergone a rapid transformation that resulted in a scummy stopover for sailors becoming a home for upper middle class families. Attracted by the scenery, the unique and eponymous redwood forests along the island's coasts, and the relative closeness to amenities, an influx of new residents has let the population of the areas above the town's central core to swell over 7,000. The only way off the island, other than personal watercraft, is by one of the dozens of vessels that make up the legendary fleet of the Whatcom Department of Ferry Services (WFS).

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The Redwood Island terminal was rebuilt, with many hardships, during the town's renaissance in the early 2000s along with the rest of the waterfront and a new marina. The terminal is well served by the main arterial of the island, Central Avenue, and all three of the island's bus routes, operated by the Whatcom Transit Authority (WTA).

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The northern end of Redwood Island's central core features several civic buildings, including the local post office, fire station, police station, and public market, as well as a fishing pier and the dock for the tourist steamboat MV Salish Sailor that stops weekly on its way to and from various islands and the mainland port of Tahoma. The public market, which once served as the local town hall and courthouse, attracts vendors ranging from farmers living on the southeastern tip of the island, to fishermen operating out of the nearby marina, as well as imports from as far as the Baker Valley. This area of the town is served by WTA Route 946, which loops around the central core with a small spur line to the marina.

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The southern end of the central core is home to three major landmarks: the Island's 154-foot-high (47m) limestone castle-like Water Tower and adjacent City Civic Center as well as Redwood Stadium, home of the humble Redwood Timbers Football Club.

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The club has yet to escape the rough-and-tumble local leagues even after an injection of Middle Eastern oil money from a wealth sheikh who fell in love with the island on a vacation and promptly bought out the team and its crippling debts. The Timbers, named for the former logging industry that was more welcomed by long-time residents than the drunken sailors of the past and tourists in Hawaiian shirts of the present, are well-supported and boast an average attendance of over a thousand per match, nearly 15% of the island's residents.

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The Redwood Marina is one of the newest and most sought-after of any marinas available in the Greater Whatcom region, despite being able to house only over two dozen permanent boats in its slips. A nearby boat launch at the end of Marina Way and ample trailer parking spaces provide residents with ways to wait out the long waiting list for the marina whilst still on the water.

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A new staircase embedded into the faux-granite retaining wall provides access to both the marina front office and a bus stop for WTA Route 946 for residents living in the nearby Marina View housing area or attending services at the Redwood Religious Assembly.

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A parting shot of the central core of Redwood Island, looking west along the only road connection to the housing areas above the retaining wall.

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One such housing area is the aforementioned upper-middle class and upper class-oriented Marina View, paved with brick streets and lined with brick pedestrian paths that connect to a bus stop along Central Avenue, served by WTA Route 947 that runs every 15 minutes on Central Avenue to coincide with ferry arrivals/departures from/to Westgate Island and Newport on the mainland.

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Almost all of the homes on Redwood Island are insulated from traffic noise along thoroughfares such as Evergreen Boulevard by sets of low walls or hedges, providing a sense of security from hostile animals such as the fear-inducing squirrel and raccoon.

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The only secondary school that serves the island, the aptly-named Redwood Secondary School, is at the northern end of Evergreen Boulevard at a roundabout along the older northern brick seawall, yet to be replaced by the stone used in the newer retaining wall around the central core. The secondary school is notable for its one-of-a-kind class on marine biology that takes monthly scuba diving trips near the eastern coast of the island.

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Central Avenue, despite being the only road linking the central core with the rest of the island, was only extended and widened to a roundabout at the edge of the island's designated urban growth area and instead shifts traffic to an older two-lane road that winds through the forests on the island's eastern shore instead of being a direct, limited-access connection to farmland in the southeast.

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A final overview of the island from the south, followed by...

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A mosaic, from untamed wilderness coast to bustling waterfront shopping district!

SounderBruce

Welcome to Whatcom

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Hello! This is SounderBruce, the CJ'er formerly known as CG/ComputerGuy, and I've returned to the SimCity community for the fourth (or is it fifth?) time! I'm here with a new CJ that will have some ties to my Republic of Puget CJ, without affiliation with any unions or groups, centered on a megalopolis known as the Greater Whatcom Region. My goal for the Greater Whatcom Region, which will be centered around two urban centers surrounding a world-class city in a similar fashion to Seattle, will be to showcase what I've learned regarding city design over my last hiatus and to show that I am back, bigger and better than ever.

The base map I will be using for the Whatcom region is a made by mpetryni and skippydam73 several years ago. Many of the names for nearby cities and natural features come from around Western Washington and southwestern British Columbia. Many of the names do not correspond with real-life features in order to not encourage prospective readers from thinking that this will be faithful re-creation of Bellingham. I repeat, this will not be a re-creation of Bellingham.

Now, with the disclaimer out of the way, we can start looking into what I've started planning out for the series, beginning with the names of cities and major natural features.

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As you can see, most of the cities' names are borrowed from the names of other cities and areas around Western Washington as well as some generic names that make geographic sense. The principal cities of the Greater Whatcom Region are (in order of decreasing population and influence): Whatcom, Baker, and Tahoma, all of whom have distinct and separate metropolitan areas of their own that are linked by various forms of transportation. Whatcom will be the primary focus of the CJ once some outlying areas, mainly in the far-off Salish Sea and Baker Valley, are worked on. The city will be analogous to Seattle in many ways, but will have a single grid and better rapid transit (hint hint, Sound Transit). Baker is far away from the core of the region, so it grew fairly independent until the completion of railroads and high-capacity roads across the mountains. Tahoma will have only recently stepped out of Whatcom's shadow and growing its own dense urban core around an existing port and low-density homes.

I hope everyone enjoys this city journal! Suggestions and constructive criticism is greatly appreciated.