Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Proposal Would Change Pedestrian Project & Restripe Crestline Street

There have been a couple changes suggested to our Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and we're looking for input on them.

The TIP is a document that identifies projects programmed to be undertaken or constructed during the upcoming four years. It includes project names and descriptions, the jurisdiction sponsoring them, funding attached to each project, and where the funding came from (local, state or federal funds).

The TIP is amended regularly as SRTC’s member jurisdictions have projects to add, change or remove from the Plan. The latest proposed amendment would make these changes:
  • ·  Modify the City of Spokane’s 2013 Downtown Pedestrian Improvements project to remove sidewalk bump-outs (a traffic calming measure used to extend the sidewalk to reduce the distance pedestrians have to cross a street) and apply state funds over two years.
  • ·         Restripe Crestline Street between Euclid and Francis from a four lane street into two lanes with a two-way left turn lane and bike lanes.

You can view all the details on the requested changes by clicking the image below to view it full size. It can also be viewed at If you have comments, get them to us by 4 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2015. Comments can be submitted by emailing to, mailed to SRTC at 221 W. 1st Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA, or by calling (509) 343-6370.

Friday, March 20, 2015

There. I think that says it all. If you didn't figure it out, I'm out of here for a week so there will be a small disruption in posting. Check back Mar. 31 for all the latest in transportation happenings. 

Spokane City Construction Projects

Garden park booster station rehabilitation on 37th Ave.- This project will rehabilitate the existing booster station. A full road closure on 37TH between Lee and Altamont  will occur Monday, March 23 for approximately four weeks for installation of a transmission main and connection to the new Booster Station. The detour is Crestline to Thurston to Regal.

CSO 6, control facility and integrated interceptor, from Kiernan Ave. to Northwest Blvd.
- Northwest Boulevard will be closed from H St. to Garland St. for installation of a 900,000 gallon stormwater storage facility.  The short detour route for this project is along G Street and Garland Street.

2014 Arterial Curb Ramp projects resume- This project to replace sidewalk curbs and ramps resumed on March 9 on Monroe Street at the intersections of Queen and Everett. Traffic control will be in place for signal lane closures starting on the west side of Monroe at these intersections. The work is scheduled to take approximately 12 days. There will be some delays. 

East Sprague Ave. CSO Basin 33-2 Control Facility- This project will construct a combined sewer overflow facility on City property across from the City’s Sewer Maintenance Facility. One lane will be open in each direction on Sprague from Scott St. to the Hamilton Overpass. Beginning Monday, February 23rd northbound and southbound Sprague Way (NOT Sprague Ave.) will be closed through May 15.

It's Construction Time, Which Means You'll Be Needing Our Online Construction Map

Zoom in to your neighborhood or commute route
to see what projects are planned there.
Road construction projects are starting up around the area so it's time to check out the 2015 Spokane Regional Road Construction Map. Every year, SRTC partners with jurisdictions in Spokane County to put all construction projects that impact traffic on one map. It’s a clearinghouse of information to help you avoid road construction because delays and traffic jams cost us all time and money.

Click on a line or point identifying a project
to see a description of it.
The online map can be viewed on your smartphone, tablet or computer. It is interactive and lets you zoom in on your neighborhood or commute route, read project descriptions by clicking on a location, and click on links embedded in the map to learn more about each project. The Regional Road Construction map is updated often to reflect progress made, including when new projects start and others are completed.

You can also click on the logo
to go to that jurisdictions page for more
information on each project.
Using ArcGIS technology for this map allows SRTC to more actively involve the public in transportation planning and activities. By reducing the number of vehicles delayed by road construction, the amount of pollution released into the air is also reduced, safety is increased through driver awareness of construction zones, and the impact on the economy caused by time wasted in traffic is lessened. 

Click the "Share" link to send the map in an email
or embed it in a website or blog.
ArcGIS Online maps also provide more information than traditional paper maps by allowing users to access additional project information through links to other websites and allowing users to pass the information to others by emailing a link to the map or embedding it in a blog or website.

Check out the 2015 Spokane Regional Road Construction Map by clicking here and see what projects are scheduled for your neighborhood. 

Firefox, Safari, Chrome, the latest versions of Internet Explorer and mobile browsers work the best with ArcGIS Online. 

Honda Expands Airbag Recall

Honda is adding nearly 105,000 vehicles to its U.S. recall of driver’s side air bag inflators that can explode with too much force.

The added vehicles include nearly 89,000 2008 model Pilot SUVs,11,000 2004 Civics and 5,000 2001 model year Accords, according to the Spokesman-Review.

Dealers will replace the driver air bag inflators for free. With the added vehicles, Honda has now recalled 5.5 million Honda and Acura cars and SUVs nationwide from the 2001 to 2011 model years because of the air bag problems.

The company said it will send letters to owners of vehicles in the expanded recall “over time” as replacement parts become available. 

Carpooling May Require 3 People on West Side's Newest Interstate

Here's to hoping your carpool is THIS much fun right?
Update: The Washington state Transportation Commission on Wednesday night made it official: carpools with three or more people will be exempt from paying a toll, as will motorcycles, transit vehicles and vanpools.

A carpool may not be considered two people any longer, at least on the new Interstate 405 express toll lanes on the west side of the state. The Tri-Cites Herald is reporting that the Washington State Transportation Commission is considering requiring carpools of at least three people at peak hours, plus an annual pass, to use the express lanes for free. Others would have to pay between 75 cents and $10 — in cases of extreme congestion — to travel one way between Bellevue and Lynnwood.

The seven-member Transportation Commission already has held two public meetings on the new toll lanes. Members are expected to vote on rates and carpool size Wednesday in Kirkland.

Seattle Asks Citizens to "Hack the Commute"

So say your city is having some problems with transportation. For instance, maybe there's a lot of congestion and constant construction happening. What do you do? In Seattle, they're calling in the techies and asking them to " Hack the Commute."

Between 80 and 100 coders, designers, data analysts and entrepreneurs are expected to participate in the hackathon that goes from today through Sunday. The event is focused on coming up with new ideas and tools to address transportation issues while considering the growing population and need to accommodate disabled people and seniors.

There will be prizes for the best ideas and a "championship round." Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Inrix, Pronto, Socrata and Walk Score are providing funding and data about Seattle transportation.

This is a pretty big event and a big deal so I'm curious to see what ideas they come up with. I'll report back when I see the results.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

WSDOT Construction Work Starts Next Week

The weather is warm, the sun is out and you know what that means... road construction! The Washington State Department of Transportation has a few projects with work starting next week you should know about:

NSC/BNSF Railway Structures/Realignment & Ped/Bike Trail Extension- On Monday, Mar. 23, be alert for flaggers directing traffic on Freya Street and the southbound NSC roundabout off-ramp.  No other traffic impacts. Crews will be continuing work to construct two freeway mainline bridges over the BNSF tracks and two pedestrian bridges.  

I-90/Spokane Area Guardrail Upgrades- Beginning Wednesday, Mar. 25, between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning, be alert for eastbound and/or westbound shoulder and/or lane restrictions on I-90 between the Broadway and Argonne Interchanges plus in the vicinity of the Appleway/Country Vista interchange. Crews will be replacing or adjusting guardrail.

I-90/Sullivan Road Interchange- Monday, Mar. 23, through Thursday, Mar. 26, from 8 p.m. in the evening until as late as 7 a.m. the following morning, drivers on Sullivan and/or Indiana should be alert for lane restrictions with flaggers directing traffic due to concrete pavement repair work at the Sullivan/Indiana intersection.

Teens Report They Change Clothes, Study Behind the Wheel

Okay, this is something I didn't want to hear. Teen drivers may be more aware that texting and driving is dangerous than some adult drivers but apparently they're less concerned about driving and doing other activities. According to a new study, 27% of teens say they sometimes change clothes or shoes while driving and often put on makeup or do homework while behind the wheel.

The good news though is that the teens who responded reported that they text while driving at a lower rate than earlier studies. But still, changing clothes?? I'm not sure they have a good grasp on the term "distracted driving" in general.

Here's more on the study from NPR.

Seattle Proposes $900 Million Transportation Levy

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is asking his citizens for a big favor- to approve a $900 million tax to be spent over the next nine years on transportation improvements.

"Move Seattle" would replace the expiring $365 million "Bridging the Gap" (BTG) levy, which expires in 2015 and would cost taxpayers significantly more than BTG per year.

If funded, the program would reinforce bridges for earthquakes, repave arterials and sidewalks, complete some Safe Routes to School projects and some other major improvements.

All the projects planned for money are here. Plus how much more people will have to pay. The question is- will voters be willing to pay more for better transportation?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Portland's Car-Free Bridge

A car-free bridge? How does that work? Portland's new Tilikum Bridge is just being completed. It is
a multi-modal span that will serve buses, cyclists, pedestrians and trains — but no cars. It's got everything else though; a walking and biking path, transitways free of traffic congestion, sleek design, bike counters and even a scenic lookout.

Streetsblog has a preview of the bridge and all it's amenities before it even opens to the public.

Proposed Law Would Let Bicyclists Run Some Red Lights

A bill that would allow bicyclists to run certain red lights could get the green light from state lawmakers. Substitute Senate Bill 5438 seeks to address some of the broken or aging traffic signals that are unable to detect bicyclists, and as a result, often don't change from red to green when they're supposed to.

The bill went before the House Committee on Transportation Monday afternoon for a public hearing. It's scheduled for a vote in that committee tomorrow.

While most bicyclists at the hearing supported the change, a few said it might lead to safety issues of bicyclists thinking they can run any red light and pedestrians thinking they can walk against the light because bicyclists did.

The bill would require bicyclists to wait through one full cycle of the traffic signal before they're legally able to proceed through a red light, with caution. King 5 news has reaction from bicyclists on the bill.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

City of Spokane Kicks Off A Major Construction Season

The City of Spokane isn't wasting any time. They kicked off their construction season yesterday with work on a 900,000-gallon combined stormwater and wastewater storage facility near Northwest Boulevard. And it's just the first of $73 million in construction projects to get underway this year. Nearly four dozen projects and street levy work is planned citywide for 2015, according to a news conference held by Mayor David Condon yesterday.

The list includes eight combined sewer overflow (CSO) projects, six sidewalk projects, 17 street projects, three trail projects, six water projects and one storm sewer, restoration and bridge inspection project. Street maintenance work, which involves grind and overlay, crack seal and pothole repair, will also be ongoing throughout the season.

The first of the street levy projects approved by voters last fall begin this season. Those projects include the first phase of work on Rowan Avenue from Driscoll Boulevard to Monroe Street, Havana Street from 37th Avenue to Glenrose Road, the second phase Lincoln-Monroe from Eighth Avenue north, the first phase of Ray-Thor streets from 29th to Third avenues, and Indiana Avenue from Division to Perry streets. 

A complete map of Spokane City projects can be found here. SRTC will be releasing a map of all road construction for the entire county later this week so check back.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Why Should West Siders Care About Transit in Spokane?

Speaking of STA (see previous post), the Seattle Transit Blog is looking at our side of the state for a series on the transit company's "Moving Forward" ten-year plan to improve public transit in the area.

But why would Seattlites compare about what we're doing over here? That's what the first article in the series focuses on and it cites some pretty impressive reasons, such as that Spokane is THE city for a large number of people in the northern United States. After all, it's the biggest urban area between Seattle and Minneapolis and therefore the one where many people come to shop and play.

For the rest of the reasons, check out the blog post.

STA Looking For Public Input on West Plains Transit Center

A visualization of a West Plains Transit Center.
One of the main components of Spokane Transit's "Moving Forward" plan is a West Plains transit
center at the Highway 902 exit along Interstate 90. This center would have 100 parking spots and better connections to locations in the West Plains.

STA is hosting a public meeting to get input from the public on how this could affect traffic in the area. It is 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 at the Irv Reed Event Center on McFarlane Road next to the economy parking lot at Spokane International Airport.

The Spokesman-Review has more on the services a West Plains Transit Center would provide.

City Council to Vote on Changes to Photo Red Funding

Spokane's City Council tonight will discuss Photo Red cameras and traffic calming projects. A portion of the money that comes in from tickets issued to people caught on camera running red lights goes to projects that make the streets safer, such as crosswalk lights, "bump outs' that extend the sidewalk into the street giving pedestrians a shorter distance to cross the street and other items. Tonight the council will vote on a resolution to include LED lighting, pruning of trees or bushes in the right of way, flashing School Zone signs and "street furniture" (that's what the notice said that I received- I'm thinking it refers to benches) as items the Photo Red funds could pay for. As always at Spokane City Council meetings, there is opportunity for members of the public to express their opinion so if you have input on this you'd like to share, feel free to attend the meeting at City Hall starting at 6 p.m.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Pedestrian Hit, Killed in Spokane Valley

Sad news out of Spokane Valley where Spokane County sheriff’s deputies are investigating a crash that killed a pedestrian on Mission Avenue east of Progress Road this morning.

The Spokesman-Review reports that a male pedestrian was hit by an SUV around 5:30 a.m. A witness attempted to give the man CPR but neither he, deputies or paramedics were able to resuscitate him.

The driver has been cooperating with the investigation and deputies don't believe he was under the influence but a drug test is being done per protocol.

Workers Comp Claims Near $1M on Seattle Drilling Project

Don't get your hands near Bertha!
Not only has the giant drilling machine boring a tunnel under Seattle suffered some injuries, but so
have many workers on the project. Workers compensation claims on the project total almost a million dollars!

At least 117 workers have been injured working on the Alaskan Way Viaduct project from 2012 to mid-2014.  Ouch. Literally. The injuries run the gamut from chemical burns to crushed hands. But why so many hurt workers? Bertha herself (the drill used on the project) caused one of the injuries, but one group is blaming the contractor.

Roads & Bridges has more on why some say the company doesn't have a "culture of safety."

Fort Lauderdale to Use First Camera Based Parking Guidance System

Parking at the airport- kind of a pain right? It seems like you're always in a hurry and you pull up to this massive parking area with no idea where there are going to be open spots. Especially at some of the major airports where open spots are few and far between.

Florida's Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport is taking a new strategy to get people to parking quicker, by using a new camera-based parking guidance system.

When a driver arrives, they will be guided to the nearest available empty parking spot using an electronic sign that says what spots are free. From there, LED lights installed at the center of the driveway will be lit green for an open space or red for a taken space.

Holy cow, that's a lot of parking spaces to monitor! So how does the system keep everything straight?

Miami CBS Local takes a look at the newest development in airport parking.

Traffic Cameras Used for One Thing and One Thing Only- Monitoring Traffic

Following the disappearance of a Pennsylvania woman last week, and the discovery of her car abandoned along a highway, some people are asking why investigators didn't use highway traffic cameras to try to track her. CBS Philly reports that traffic engineers for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation say it's because those cameras are specifically for monitoring traffic flow. 

And I get that. The Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) is located within the SRTC office (see picture). There are operators who sit in the SRTMC all day and watch traffic, just to make sure it's moving like it should be and to dispatch emergency services when needed. But they don't record the cameras nor archive video. However, they get a LOT of calls from people wanting video to support their case when pulled over by law enforcement or insurance companies and lawyers trying to prove who hit who in the case of collisions.

Sorry folks, not gonna happen. The cameras are not only not meant for this use, but there's not the server space, equipment or staffing available to archive video. So if you were in a traffic accident, or some other kind of incident, where you noticed a traffic camera nearby, it's not going to help your case.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.