Thursday, May 26, 2016

Public Open House to Discuss 395 Safety Improvements

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is looking for feedback from the public on proposed safety improvements to US 395 and will host an open house next week on the topic.

The WSDOT recently evaluated intersection-related crashes at several locations on US 395 in the area of Deer Park. From 2010 through 2014, there were 65 crashes at five intersections in this 3-mile stretch of US 395. WSDOT engineers have been working with the community to develop lower cost alternatives to improve operations and safety at these intersections.

Some higher priced options, roundabouts, are proposed for the Short/Main and Monroe/Crawford intersections and engineers are proposing closing the Burroughs/Dalton intersection and paving Short Road on the west side of US 395. 

All of the engineer's suggestions can be reviewed on the study website and instructions on how to submit comments can be found there as well. You can also submit comments at the open house on June 1, from 4-7 p.m. at Deer Park High School, 800 S. Weber Road in Deer Park.

Pilot Project Bike Lanes Going In On South Hill

Photos courtesy of the Spokesman-Review.
I get an update from the City of Spokane every week on construction projects and one project has piqued my interest but I hadn't had time to look into it. Luckily, the Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" blog did.

The project to reconstruct Havana from Glenrose Road to 37th Avenue includes adding bike lanes. But not just any bike lanes. These are pilot project "porous asphalt" bike lanes.

The lane will be made of permeable pavement, which is rougher than standard asphalt. Its' porosity allows stormwater to drain through, instead of running over, the asphalt surface.

That means during cold weather, water won't stay on the surface and freeze, making the lane dangerous.

Surface Parking Makes Up 1/4 of Downtown Spokane

One of the many surface parking lots in downtown Spokane.
Parking- necessary in an urban core, but how much do you really need? According to the Spokane Rising blog, there are 295 acres of surface parking in Spokane’s downtown area. With a total of 1,250 acres comprising the urban core (that's a large downtown area by the way), that means almost 24% of Spokane's downtown is used for parking cars- that's almost a quarter! And that's just surface lots, not the parkade or lots under buildings, etc.

What else could this property be used for? Spokane Rising suggests housing, retail, public squares and more. In fact, they say there is enough space downtown for three Kendall Yards developments and suggest starting a database of potential infill sites.

Anyway, the article includes some interesting stats and thoughts for potential use of the space for the future so check it out.

Memorial Day Closures

In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, all government offices will be closed on Monday, May 30, including SRTC.

Parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Monday so come downtown and enjoy the park or some shopping.



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Seattle Among Top Cities for Road Rage

We've all done it- lost our cool while in traffic and done something inappropriate or aggresive in reaction. A new study shows where and when we tend to get road rage, and Washington State, Seattle in particular, ranked high on the list.


According to KIRO 7 News, Seattle ranked number 12 on the list of cities that felt the most road rage, with Washington ranking number 10 for states.


The data was derived by website Auto Insurance Center, which looked at 65,535 Instagram posts between June 2013 and April 2016 with the hashtag #RoadRage.

Los Angeles took the top spot among U.S. cities, with New York second.

The study also analyzed when we are most susceptible to road rage. August appears to be the worst month and Fridays the worst day of the week for road rage.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Pedestrian Flypaper" Will Allegedly Help Pedestrians In Collisions

Is it April 1 again? Because this can't be real, can it? Google has just patented a new invention to minimize injuries between it's self-driving cars and pedestrians. According to The Verge, it's kind of like human flypaper.

The patent describes it as "an adhesive layer positioned on the front end of the vehicle" that pedestrians will simply stick to "in the event of a collision."

"The adhesive bonds the pedestrian to the vehicle so that the pedestrian remains with the vehicle until it stops and is not thrown from the vehicle," says the patent. This allegedly prevents a secondary impact between the pedestrian and the road surface or other object. Many injuries are not cause by the initial collision, but when the pedestrian is thrown to the ground. Even so... really???

Monday, May 23, 2016

Young Drivers Recognized Emojis, Not Road Signs

This is bizarre to me, but a new survey says younger drivers better recognize emojis than road signs.

According to Insurance Business Canada, the survey of 1,000 young drivers by insurer More Th>n, (a subsidiary of RSA) showed that 
more than six in ten (61%) of drivers aged 17-25 understood emojis better, demonstrating how embedded they are in millennials' lexicon.

The surveyed drivers had difficulty identifying standard road signs for zebra crossings, ring roads, no bicycles and steep hills. The sign for a ring road was mistaken by 27% of those surveyed as a sign for a ‘carbon neutral road’. Meanwhile, 25% thought that the sign for ‘no vehicles carrying explosives’ was a warning of spontaneously combusting traffic.

Unfortunately for young drivers (but probably fortunate for us older drivers who might get confused) there is little prospect of official road signs ever becoming like emojis.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fifth Annual Spokane Bike Swap A Big Success

Another successful year for the annual Spokane Bike Swap and Expo. The event was held April 9 at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center and the numbers from it have just been released:

  • Nearly 3,000 attendees
  • 63 exhibitors
  • Over 900 used bikes registered to sell in the bike corral
  • Changed from a 2-day event to a 1-day only event and still raised only $2,000 less than last year 
  • As the major fund raiser for the Friends of the Centennial Trail, the Spokane Bike Swap raised $36,000.


Local Road Construction Update

WSDOT
I-90 Eastbound near Division St./Expansion Joint Repair- On Sunday, May 22, from about 9
a.m. until as late as 2:30 p.m., the I-90 eastbound inside lane will be closed in the vicinity of the Division Street exit for bridge repair.  Eastbound I-90 will be reduced to 2 lanes.  All ramps remain open.  Eastbound drivers should be alert for slow traffic and congestion.

North Spokane Corridor-Southbound near Gerlach Rd./Sign Bridge Repair- Monday through Friday, May 23-27, the southbound NSC will be reduced to one lane for repairs.

SPOKANE VALLEY
Indiana Parkway from Desmet Court to Steen Parkway- Closed through Thursday, June 16 at 5 p.m. for utility work. Signs redirect traffic via Mission Parkway.
Mirabeau Parkway from Mansfield Avenue to the Mirabeau Park Entrance - Traffic will be reduced to one lane in both directions with flaggers for stormwater repairs and asphalt patch work beginning Monday, May 23 until Friday, May 27 from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. 

Sprague Avenue from Argonne Road to the Railroad Overpass - The northern lane of westbound Sprague will be closed for stormwater repair work from Monday, May 23 at 7 a.m. until Friday, May 27 at 2 p.m.  

Southbound Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River- Closed until Summer 2016 for bridge replacement work. Traffic is reduced to one lane northbound and two lanes southbound. Southbound Sullivan Road at Flora Pit Road will be reduced to one lane on Wednesday, May 25 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Turns from Indiana Avenue onto northbound Sullivan Road are reduced to one lane. The Centennial Trail below the bridge is open.

SPOKANE COUNTY

Market Street (Parksmith to Farwell)- The road is closed, with a detour in place, in order to rehabilitate the road and add sewer and fiber optic components.  

Seven Mile Bridge & Seven Mile Road- Constructed in 1956, the bridge is structurally deficient.
The new bridge, constructed in the footprint of the existing, will have a roadway width of 36 feet and provide safe space for the approximately 2000 vehicles that cross the bridge daily. A temporary river crossing is in place upstream and to the south of the bridge. This project is expected to take about six months to complete.

Belle Terre Ave, Evergreen Rd, 41st Avenue- Installation of sewer, force main, full width road reconstruction.

Buckeye & Grace off of Upriver Dr.- Installation of sewer and water lines from Buckeye from Carnahan to Upriver and Grace Ave from Carnahan to Upriver. This project is expected to last until about mid-June.

Perry Street North of Hawthorne- Road closed with a detour in place for sewer installation.

Chapman Road at 44th Ave.- Closing around May 26 for a water main tap.

SPOKANE CITY
Lilac Parade Road Closures- The parade begins at 7:45 p.m., street closures begin around 4 p.m. from Spokane Falls Blvd and Brown to Lincoln and Spokane Falls Blvd, and 2nd Ave north to the River. Lincoln north of the river will begin being restricted at 4:30 p.m. Cataldo will be closed from Atlantic to Howard Street.

Hayford Road Grind and Overlay- Hayford Road is closed with a detour in place. Outside of the above listed work schedule, the street will be open to local traffic (evenings and Friday through Sunday).  The road surface will have sharp edges and uneven surfaces. Proceed slowly and cautiously. The work includes grinding and paving of Hayford Rd. from 49th Avenue to just north of Thorpe Road.   

Rowan Avenue Improvements from Driscoll Boulevard to Monroe Street- Rowan Avenue from Alberta to Monroe Street is closed.  The intersections of Alberta, Belt, Ash, and Maple will remain open to north and southbound traffic. Ash southbound, and Maple northbound at Rowan are currently reduced to one lane southbound or northbound respectively, and will remain throughout the duration of the project.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Transportation Technical Committee Meeting May 25

The next meeting of the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) is next Wednesday, May 25 at 1:30 p.m. The meeting agenda is here. Everyone is welcome at all SRTC committee meetings so feel free to attend if something on the agenda interests you. The meetings are held in the SRTC office at 421 W. Riverside Ave., Suite 500 (the Paulsen Building).

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Amendment Proposed to the Transportation Improvement Program

One of the projects includes widening Pines at Grace Ave.
to add a left turn lane.
SRTC is asking for input from the public on an amendment to the 2016-2019 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) that proposes adding two new City of Spokane projects and one Spokane Valley project to the program.

The TIP is a document of projects and programs planned 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 updated regularly throughout the year as SRTC’s member jurisdictions have projects to add, change or remove from the program. The amendment currently under consideration would add the following projects:

·         Maxwell-Mission Ave. Lane Reduction, Maple St. to Washington St.- Restripe a four lane road to two lanes with a two-way left turn lane. Bike lanes and/or wide lanes will be added for the length of the project.

·         Monroe St. Lane Reduction and Hardscape, Indiana Ave. to Kiernan Ave.- This project will change North Monroe Street from five lanes to three lanes. It also includes widened sidewalks, curb extensions, pedestrian refuge islands and other improvements.

·         SR27 (Pines Road) and Grace Avenue- Widen the roadway to add a left turn lane.

Details on the projects are on the SRTC website at www.srtc.org. We encourage you to provide input on the projects. All comments must be received by 4 p.m. Friday, May 27, 2016. Comments can be submitted by emailing to contact.srtc@srtc.org, mailing to SRTC at 421 W. Riverside Ave., Suite 500, Spokane, WA, or by calling (509) 343-6370.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blogging Hiatus

I will be out of the office most of next week to both reset my brain and attend a meeting in Seattle. So that means no blog posts for a couple days.

Check back toward the end of next week and I will fill you in on anything you missed. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

AAA Says Marijuana DUI Tests Flawed

The AAA Auto Club is suggesting the six states, including Washington, that have legal marijuana useAccording to the Christian Science Monitor, a AAA study said it's not possible to set a blood-test threshold for THC, the chemical in pot that makes people high, that can accurately determine impairment.

Currently, laws in five of those states automatically presume a driver is impaired if tested higher than the set limit. AAA recommends replacing the laws with ones based on specially trained police officers to determine if a driver is impaired. The test would screen for dozens of indicators of drug use, ranging from pupil dilation to tongue color. That test would be followed by a test for the presence of THC, rather than a specific amount.
dump their pot DUI laws.

AAA says there is no science that says drivers become impaired at a specific level of THC; a lot depends on the individual. Also, some drivers may be impaired when pulled over but THC levels may fall below legal limits by the time they are tested. In addition, frequent marijuana users can have high levels of THC in their system long after the last time they used it.

To give some perspective, studies show that using marijuana roughly doubles the risk of a crash. In comparison, talking on a hands-free cellphone, which is legal in the U.S., quadruples your crash risk. 

WSDOT Decides Against Increasing I90 Speed Limit

The Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington State Patrol and Washington Traffic Safety Commission announced today that, due to safety concerns, they will not increase the speed limit on Interstate 90 in eastern Washington.

The original proposal was to increase the speed limit from 70 to 75 mph along roughly 100 miles of I-90 starting near George to the Lincoln/Spokane county line. Analysis found the increased risks and costs associated with the proposed change outweighed the projected time savings.

In particular, analysis of the roadway, crash history, current speeds and other states’ experiences predicted an additional 1.27 fatal or serious crashes annually if the speed limit was raised. A higher speed limit also would bring an estimated $8.3 million in additional annual safety costs, the analysis found.

The review also found that raising the speed limit to 75 mph would save just an estimated five minutes on a 100-mile trip, with an estimated annual value of $3.6 million in time saved.



Monday, May 9, 2016

Alaskan Way Viaduct Opens Five Days Early

Seattle commuters are rejoicing after the Alaskan Way Viaduct re-opened ahead of schedule.

The Washington State Department of Transportation reports that drilling under the viaduct made good progress, and as a result, the viaduct opened Sunday at about 7:30 p.m.- five days earlier than planned.
Officials initially estimated the viaduct would be closed for two weeks to dig the tunnel that will eventually replace the elevated viaduct.

The roadway was closed April 29, and traffic that typically used the highway squeezed onto surface streets and Interstate 5, causing major delays and lead to an increase in traffic collisions.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Next SRTC Board Meeting Thursday, May 12

The next meeting of SRTC's Board is next Thursday, May 12 at 1 p.m. at SRTC's new office; 421 W. Riverside Ave., Suite 500. The meeting agenda is here. A notable item of interest is a presentation by Washington State Department of Transportation staff on the latest on the North Spokane Corridor.

Everyone is welcome at all SRTC Board and advisory committee meetings so feel free to attend if something catches your attention.

Local Road Construction Update

WSDOT
I-90/Eastbound Monroe St. On- Ramp- Continuing through as late as Monday, May 9, the eastbound I-90/Monroe Street On Ramp is closed for water pipe installation.  This closure will be in effect 24 hours per day.  Surface street traffic is directed to the Division/Browne on ramp via a detour.

US 195 Southbound/I-90 to Excelsior- Southbound US 195 will be reduced to one lane when work is underway to seal roadway shoulders, possibly Monday and Tuesday.  This work is weather dependent.

SPOKANE CITY
2016 Street Maintenance Curb Ramp Project- Work has begun on Lyons Avenue from Perry St. to Pittsburg Street. This year’s project will include work in the following areas to install ADA compliant curb ramps at each corner intersection:
  • Maxwell Avenue from Belt to Ash Street
  • 7th Avenue from Browne to Division Street
  • Thurston Avenue from Lee to Regal StreetIndian Trail Road from Ridgecrest Drive to City Limits
  • Park Place from Euclid to Columbia Avenue
  • Wellington Place from Alice to Glass Avenue
  • Lyons Avenue from Perry to Pittsburg Street
  • Myrtle Street From Marietta to Frederick Avenue

Addison/Standard Bicycle/Pedestrian Corridor from Buckeye to Holland- Work is underway from Lincoln to Bridgeport on Addison and Standard for the next two weeks. This work will be for sidewalk and driveway installation. This project will complete a major bicycle and pedestrian corridor.  It will add new bike lanes and sidewalks along the entire corridor and make improvements to existing bike lanes.

Bridge Avenue and Monroe Street CSO Work- Rock blasting begins Monday, May 9 and lasts two to four weeks. Cars and pedestrians will be stopped from entering near the excavation location for up to 10 minutes. Traffic Control will control car and pedestrian traffic for safety. Bridge Avenue is closed.  Lincoln has one northbound lane open.  Lincoln southbound is closed at Broadway with local access maintained to Anthony’s restaurant and parking lots. This project will construct a Combined Sewer Overflow Tank (CSO) tank and the necessary piping for our Cleaner River Faster Program.

Havana Street Improvements from Glenrose Road to 37th Avenue- Havana Street is closed. 
Improvements include full width pavement replacement, complete sidewalk gaps and pilot project porous asphalt bicycle lanes.  This project will also include installation of a water main between 37th Avenue and the Brown Park reservoirs at 57th Avenue.

Indiana Avenue from Dakota to Perry Street- The water department is conducting pre-construction work along this project.  Indiana will have temporary closures at times with a detour route during this scheduled work. This project will include curb ramps, storm swales, new curb, waterline replacement, signal installation work and some parking removal

Mission Lane Closure- The southern eastbound lane and the sidewalk on Mission near the corner of Mission & Washington will be closed through May 25 for sidewalk repairs.

Pettet Drive/TJ Meenach Combined Sewer Overflow Project- Beginning Monday, May 2, Pettet Drive will have a full closure into November. The clover leaf that services TJ Meenach, Down River and Pettit Drive (three out of the four legs) will be in service. The leg that comes off of Pettit, north bound will re-direct citizens to Northwest Blvd. Vehicles that are traveling southbound on Down River Drive will have two options; enter onto TJ Meenach or continue under the bridge and turn uphill to Northwest Blvd. This project will build a 690,000 gallon storage facility and connections to existing CSO Basin 10 outfall.  Work also includes repaving of Pettet Drive and pedestrian/bike trail construction.

Rowan Avenue Improvements from Driscoll Boulevard to Monroe Street- Rowan Avenue from Alberta to Monroe Street is closed.  The intersection of Alberta, Belt, Ash, and Maple will remain open to north and southbound traffic. There will also be restrictions on both Maple and Ash May 9 – 23 at the intersections. This project is for reconstruction work from Driscoll Blvd. to Monroe Street. The project also includes installation of bike lanes, filling sidewalk gaps and replacing water lines.

Wellesley/Freya Utility Work for Future Roundabout-  Water and sewer work begins Monday, May 9 and is expected to continue through the end of July.  This work is in preparation for a future roundabout being installed by WSDOT
o   Wellesley will be closed from Market to Rebecca
o   Freya will be closed from Broad to Longfellow.

SPOKANE COUNTY
Market Street (Parksmith to Farwell)- Road closed for sewer and fiber optic installation and rehabilitation of the roadway. A marked detour is in place.

Hawthorne Road (Waikiki to US395)- This project adds stormwater drainage facilities, trees, curbing, a traffic signal, bike lanes, striping and roadway rehabilitation. 

Hawthorne Road (Division to US2)- This project adds stormwater facilities, trees, curbs, signals, bike lanes, striping and includes roadway rehabilitation.

SPOKANE VALLEY

Indiana Parkway from Desmet Court to Steen Parkway- Closed through Thursday, June 16 at 5 p.m. for utility work. Signs redirect traffic via Mission Parkway.
Southbound Sullivan Road Bridge- Traffic is reduced to one lane northbound and two lanes southbound. Southbound Sullivan Road at Flora Pit Road will be reduced to one lane on Wednesday, May 11 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Northbound traffic is restricted to vehicles ten feet wide or less.  Oversized vehicles should use Barker Road or Pines Road as alternatives.Turns from Indiana Avenue onto northbound Sullivan Road are reduced to one lane. The Centennial Trail below the bridge is currently open but has been temporarily narrowed.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Amsterdam to Elect "Bike Mayor"

This probably isn't what they have in mind but I envision
the bike mayor being kind of like a super hero on a bike.
Amsterdam is going the extra distance to ensure its reputation as the most bike-friendly city on the planet. The city will appoint the world’s first ever "bicycle mayor" this summer. This chief cyclist will promote cycling in the city, serving as a go-between connecting city hall, riders, community groups, and anyone else interested in cycling. The hope is that eventually other cities will elect a bike mayor to promote bicycling.

The bike mayor will be selected through a public vote and the deliberations of an expert jury. Funding for the "project," as yet to be confirmed, will likely be a combination of public subsidy with sponsorship money.


The bike mayor won’t have direct executive power, but an open audience with the authorities and everyday people, giving them the ability to advocate for better conditions and shape policy.



Rock Blasting Could Cause Short Traffic Delays

You may experience some delays if you drive near the construction site for the Combined Sewer Overflow project construction near Monroe and Post Street. Due to large rocks underground, rock blasting will begin Monday, May 9 and last for approximately two to four weeks. Cars and pedestrians will be stopped from entering near the excavation location for up to 10 minutes at a time when blasting is underway. 

There will be flaggers on site to control traffic and signs and traffic control devices will alert drivers about the upcoming work.

Before the controlled blasting begins, there will be a series of whistles as follows:

·         Five (5) long air horn signals to indicate five (5) minutes until the blast
·         10 short air horn signals to indicate one (1) minute until the blast
·         Then the blast occurs
·         One (1) long air horn signals to indicate that the area is clear

It is anticipated that there will not be any notable vibrations that will occur as a result of the blasting.  Due to the drilling work for the rock excavation, it is anticipated that the noise level may be slightly higher than normal in the area.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Monroe Street Lane Reduction

Monroe Street will be reduced to one lane in each direction this week as work begins on a traffic signal at the intersection of Summit Parkway and Monroe Street.

The new signal will allow for easier, safer access in this area for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers. The signal will include pedestrian count-down timers and detectors that are sensitive enough to recognize when people on bikes or motorcycles want to cross. Here is a list of project features:

·         Pedestrian count-down timers
·         Pedestrian and vehicle detection will be provided on all approaches
·         Vehicle detection has been designed to allow for detection of motorcycles/bicycles
·         The signal controller cabinet includes an uninterrupted power source (UPS) that will automatically allow the signal to operate continuously for several hours in the case of a power outage
·         Cobra head street lights attached to signal poles are LED
·         The signal will have the ability (wiring will be in place) to accommodate protected left turns in the future, when needed, for both eastbound and westbound traffic on Summit turning onto Monroe.
·         Northbound and southbound left turns will have a ‘protected-permissive’ phase using flashing yellow arrows
·         The protected left turn phases have the capability to operate by time of day
·         Provisions (wiring and signing) for future blank-out signs prohibiting left-turns by time of day will be provided


Crews are working as much as they can behind the sidewalks before closing any lanes on Monroe to complete the project.

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.