Friday, February 27, 2015

WA Highway Speed Limits Could Be Going Up

Your lead foot may okay in the near future. The Legislature is considering bills that would increase Washington’s highway speed limit to 75 mph. But only on sections of roadway deemed safe by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), according to the Spokesman-Review. 

Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, sponsored that bill. Another similar bill, to raise the speed limit on I-90 from Ellensburg to the Spokane County line to 75 mph, was propsoed by Spokane Sen. Michale Baumgartner. It could come to a floor vote in the next few weeks. Baumgartner said some stretches of I-90 are clearly suitable for higher speeds, so the Legislature should raise the speed limit.

The WSDOT and the Traffic Safety Commission have concerns about each proposal, including the safety impact and the growing difference in speeds between passenger vehicles and trucks, which would still have a 60 mph limit.

Under current law, the department or local authorities can adjust speed limits on any road, but only up to 70 mph.

Llamas on the Lam- Just Because It's Friday

For those that missed the llamas on the lam that captivated the nation yesterday, you're welcome. Just because it's Friday. And before you say this isn't transportation related so what the heck am I doing posting it, there was a big discussion in the office about the noticeable lack of llama infrastructure in Sun City. However, as viewed from above, they have an impressive sidewalk network.

Plan Commission Approves Proposed Changes to Spokane City Master Bike Plan

The Spokane Plan Commission held a hearing on updates to the Master Bike Plan this past Wednesday night according to City Councilmember Jon Snyder's blog, and unanimously approved the updates.

The Master Bike Plan was originally passed by City Council in 2009 and had not been updated since then. In the meantime, new bicycle facilities have been built and new concepts embraced.

Councilmember Snyder brought these revisions to the Commission to ensure the plan accurately reflects past, present and future planning efforts for bicycle facilities. The proposed updates will now go before City Council for approval. To find out more about them, click here.

"Guerrilla Wayfinding" Goes Mainstream

It started as a technically illegal grass roots movement to help people find their way around the streets of Raleigh, South Carolina. But now a "guerrilla wayfinding" project is going mainstream with a website where everyday people may soon be able to make wayfinding signs for their city.

This week, thanks to a $182,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, Walk [Your City] announced it is launching pilot projects in Lexington, Kentucky, and San Jose, California, designed to bring its methodology to the next level. People in those cities can create signs directing people to places they think are important to the general public.

Citylabs has how it works.

Spokane Valley Pothole Hotline Open

You may want to call 911 instead of the pothole
hotline if you see something like this.
The folks at the City of Spokane Valley want you to know that pothole repair crews are plugging away at patching potholes early this year. But they need your help identifying where there are holes that need to be fixed.

To report potholes, call 921-1000 or go online to and select the "Report a Pothole" link.  To file your concern, scroll to the "Create a new C.A.R.E.S Request" and select the "Report a Pothole" link from the Public Works options listed.  From here, you will be directed to the online form.
Be sure to provide the following information to help locate the pothole to be repaired:

  • Location of the pothole: a street address closest to the pothole, or a description that includes the name of the street, nearest cross streets, side of the street (north, south, east, west) and the lane in which the pothole can be found (northbound, southbound, eastbound, westbound, curbside, turn lane, etc.).
  • Pothole description: the size or severity of the pothole.
  • Additional information: any supplementary details that may help us fix it.
  • Contact information: if you wish to be contacted about your report, please provide your name and an email address or daytime telephone number where you can be reached.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Some Local Traffic Signals Will No Longer Flash During Early Morning Hours

The City will be terminating programmed flash – setting traffic signals flash during early morning hours – at four intersections along Division Street in Spokane.

Programmed flash will be eliminated at the following intersections beginning Tuesday, March 3:

·         Division Street & Garland Avenue
·         Division Street & Queen Avenue
·         Division Street & Rowan Avenue
·         Division Street & Central Avenue

Vehicle detection systems at each intersection were completed in January, so programmed flash is no longer needed to facilitate traffic flows. Vehicle detection allows the signals to respond promptly to vehicle demand. The system will allow for more efficient service during low volumes times when programmed flash was previously used (1 a.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays and 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends). 

Eliminating programmed flash also provides for 24/7 operation of pedestrian signals at those intersections. Pedestrian signals do not work during programmed flash.

Shaming Drivers Who Park In Bike Lanes

So far it doesn't appear to be a problem in our area because most of our bicycling infrastructure is fairly new but other communities have a major problem with vehicles parking in bike lanes.

It's been happening so much in Toronto that some bicyclists are taking vigilante justice, sticking bright green stickers on violator's cars that say "I parked in a bike lane." And they're going through them fast.

CoExist has the story, and how drivers are reacting to finding a sticker on their car.

Bill Would Require Neon Clothes & A Govt ID to Ride Your Bike

How about this? Is this enough inches
of reflective awesomeness?
You've got your bike lock, your helmet, your bike light, a rack for carrying stuff and.... two hundred square inches of reflective neon and a government issued identification? Those last two items could be requirements for bicyclists in Wyoming if a bill passes that goes before the state House today.

The text of the bill requires cyclists to wear no less than 200 square inches “of high-visibility fluorescent orange, green or pink color clothing visible from the front and rear of the bicycle,” which many bicycling advocates say is overkill, especially during the day and for children who may not even have 200 square inches of body surface.

Their biggest complaint though is the requirement to carry identification while riding and some who oppose the bill asked if pedestrians will also be ordered to carry ID while walking.

Big Drop In Commuters Who Drive Alone In Seattle

New numbers out of Seattle show that the share of downtown workers who commute alone by car has dropped significantly in the last 15 years.

The rate of solo car commuting to downtown Seattle was 50 percent in 2000. It was measured again in 2012. Streetsblog tells us what the percentage is today.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Smart Signs" Could Soon Tell Police If You're Speeding

You know those electronic signs that show you how fast you're going when you drive past them? Well in some areas they'll be doing a lot more than showing your speed in the near future. They'll be alerting nearby police officers if you're speeding. KING TV has the story.

Refinements to US 2 Safety Improvements

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has been studying the situation on US 2 just north of Spokane for a while now. Increased commercial and residential development there has caused traffic volumes to increase by nearly 9 percent in the last 10 years. As a result, collisions related to traffic congestion are on the rise.

In late 2014, WSDOT announced several potential changes to the lane configuration on US 2 between the SR 206 intersection and Day-Mt. Spokane Road.  Citizen and business owners followed up with questions, concerns, and comments on the design, giving WSDOT planners some additional challenges to work through.

On Thursday, March 12, the Washington State Department of Transportation wants to get everyone back together again for a public open house to present the new design refinements for this section of US 2. 

Here are the details:

5 – 8 p.m., Thursday, Mar. 12, 2015
Mountainside Middle School
4717 E. Day-Mt. Spokane Rd., Colbert, WA

Changes Proposed to the Transportation Improvement Program

We're proposing a couple changes to the 2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and looking for input on them.

The TIP is a document that identifies projects programmed to be undertaken or constructed during the upcoming four years. The TIP 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).

It is amended regularly as our partner agencies have projects to add, change or remove from the document. Details for this latest proposed amendment are here (click the picture to see it full size):

If you have anything to share on this proposed amendment, you're encouraged to provide comments by emailing, mailing to SRTC at 221 W. 1st Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201 or by calling (509) 343-6370. All comments must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, March 6, 2015.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Giant Mound of Snow No Match For Tunnel Digging Bicyclists

Okay, THIS is hardcore. Ever had to change your bicycling or walking route because Mother Nature left a bunch of snow on the ground and it was plowed up into a giant mound right in the way of your regular commute. That's what happened in Boston.

The impediment didn't stay long though because of one bicyclist and his friends who didn't want to wait months for it to melt but instead turned it into a tunnel. Check it out in the video, it's pretty cool.

"Taxibot" to Save Jet Fuel Used To Taxi To Runway

Why drive when you can be towed? If you drive an airplane anyway. Jet fuel is extremely expensive and apparently a lot of it gets burned just taxiing from the gate to the runway. A new robot in Germany is aimed at reducing this waste by towing planes to the takeoff position.

Here's more about it.

Report Paints Scary Picture of Predicted Fuel Train Derailments

If you were already worried about the potential for accidents involving trains hauling fuel, a new report isn't going to make you feel any better. The federal government predicts trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades. If that's not bad enough, the analysis by the Department of Transportation (DOT) says these derailments will cause more than $4 billion in damage and possibly kill hundreds of people if they take place in densely populated areas.

Want more? The Spokesman-Review breaks down the numbers even more. And just so you know- the highest amount of derailments is predicted to happen this year. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Kendall Yards Intersection Getting A Traffic Signal

Kendall Yards while still under cosntruction.
A potentially dangerous intersection in Spokane is about to get a new traffic light. With construction of the Kendall Yards development north of the Spokane River, an increase in traffic has been noticed, along with more people traveling via foot or bike. In response, the developer of Kendall Yards is paying to install the signal.

The Spokesman-Review has more on why this is not only good for those trying to cross the street but also those trying to get out into traffic in vehicles.

Spokane Valley Comp Plan Update- Here's the Latest

Click to view this flyer full size.
The City of Spokane Valley is updating it's Comprehensive Plan, including the part on transportation and community development.

An initial round of public meetings were held in February on the topic with a strong turnout from the community who provided a lot of input.

Now the City is hosting a “report-back” meeting to present the themes that emerged from the input received. The following topics will be revisited: Transportation, Housing, Community Character, and Economic Opportunity, and the Community Vision.  Additional exercises will be conducted and staff will describe the next steps of the update process. 

This Comp Plan update is important as it is the first major one since the City incorporated in 2003.  The Comp Plan is the City’s official statement concerning its vision for future growth and development and you can help shape that vision by participating in the "report-back" meeting on March 4, 2015 at 6 p.m. at CenterPlace Regional Event Center, 2426 N Discovery Pl, Spokane Valley, WA 99216.

The Many Benefits of Simply Sweeping the Streets

Spokane Valley is cleaning up it's streets. And a lot earlier than usual. Street sweeping crews are already out picking up sand and debris left from winter. This isn't just done to make roads look better, if left in place dirt and other items can clog stormwater drainage systems. 

Coupled with rain or runoff from the warmer weather, pooled water at the clogged drain not only poses a driving hazard, it accelerates deterioration of the street surface. It's also more cost-effective to sweep debris out of the roadway and away from drains rather than vacuuming accumulations out of the drywells.  

In addition, sweeping helps maintain air quality by removing excess dust and dirt that can get blown into the air by breezes and passing vehicles.  That's especially important to keeping air clean and minimizing health risks from breathing airborne particulates. 

 Pedestrians, bicyclists and those using wheeled mobility devices also benefit from increased stability due to less dirt and gravel on sidewalks and in bike lanes.

With that said, keep all those benefits in mind if you encounter slow-moving street sweeping vehicles along arterials over the next few weeks during daylight hours from 7 a.m. to  5 p.m.  Depending on the weather, sweeping in residential areas could begin as early as mid-March.  Regular sweeping of arterials will continue into fall along with sweeping of other areas as needed. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Walking School Bus Practice

It's a bus that transports children but there's no driver and no engine. "Walking School Buses" are headed to schools near you this spring, through the Spokane Regional Health District's Safe Routes to School program. The "buses" are groups of children walking together, with adult volunteers who pick up more children as they progress on the route. They're aimed at encouraging exercise, keeping kids safe and reducing vehicles on the roadway that would otherwise be driving these kids to school.

In advance of the program's launch in April at Holmes and Seth Woodard elementary schools, practice runs have been underway. The Spokesman-Review went along for the "ride" yesterday.

Online Tool Helps Truck Drivers Avoid Getting Stuck Under Bridges

You know those truck drivers you see with their trucks stuck under bridges that didn't have enough
clearance? If you're a truck driver, there's a way to avoid now, and it doesn't involve trying to guess how tall a bridge is. The Washington State Department has a new online tool that allows truck drivers to easily research bridge heights – and potential conflicts – along their route.

The state route bridge vertical clearance trip planner uses GIS mapping to show drivers which bridges on their proposed route should be avoided or approached with caution because heights may vary by lane. It also helps when applying for trip permits.

There are also some potential private-sector uses for the trip planner. Fore more information, here's a WSDOT article on it. To try it out, you can go here. It's kind of fun to play around with.

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.