Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SRTC's July Newsletter Available Now

Holy cow, seems like things never slow down around here anymore! Despite being the "lazy days of summer," we've been pretty busy with some major projects here at SRTC. And things are picking up even more. So what is it we've been working so diligently at? Read our July newsletter to find out.

How Will A Smart Car Fare In A Head-On Collision?

There are a lot of jokes about how driving a Smart Car could be a death sentence if you are to get into a collision because the tiny cars just don't have the bulk to stand up to a larger car, but how true is that? Bloomberg TV takes a look as a Smart Car literally goes head-to-head with a larger vehicle.

How Bad ARE Our Bridges? New Info For Each State Just Released

So how bad are our bridges, really? Well, Washington State is considered the 46th most deficient state when it comes to it's bridges, so that's not too bad really, according to a new report "The Fix We're In For: The State of Our Bridges" by Transportation for America (T4A).

Idaho ranked a little worse and Oregon is close to Washington. But guess who has the worst bridges? And the best? You can read the report at the link above to find out or T4A has provided a really cool map where you just click on the states and the info pops up. Check it out here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Parking Meters Going In Downtown, Lower South Hill

New parking meters are being installed downtown, starting today and going through the next two weeks. Meters will be put up in the following neighborhoods:

•           From Wall to Stevens streets on Sixth Avenue
•           Howard from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue
•           Fifth Avenue from Howard to Stevens streets
•           Pacific, Second, and Third avenues from Bernard to Brown streets

A map of where the meters are going in can be viewed at Spokanecity.org The new meters will help create more available parking spaces for people living in the area and help create turnover for local businesses. 

City workers distributed flyers to notify residents and businesses of the new parking meters. Parking passes will be distributed to apartment residents to allow them to park for free for this first year.

Mark Your Calendars For This One

The Spokane City Council is expected to vote at its regular meeting on Monday, July 28, on resolutions to place a proposed street levy on the ballot in November. Tonight and next Monday, the Council will accept public testimony on the issue at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

The streets refinancing proposal provides for significant new work for the community at the same rate that citizens pay today for streets and parks. Currently, Spokane’s citizens pay 91 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value toward the repayment of three street and park bonds. With strategic refinancing, the dollars generated from that same level of funding could be used to provide:

·         $25 million annually for street funding.  That level of spending, which includes matching funding, would maintain the level of street work completed annually on under the 2004 Street Bond.  Work could be focused on the City’s arterials.

If you have thoughts on this proposal, now would be the time to voice them. A lot of people are asking if the bond would provide for sidewalks, bike lanes and other amenities that the original street bond didn't. This would be a great time to go to City Council and ask, or state that those are priority items to you, if they are.

Local Road Construction Update

SPOKANE VALLEY
Argonne Road between Broadway and Sprague - Reduced to one lane at times for resurfacing.

Sprague Avenue between Thierman and Fancher  - Reduced to two lanes westbound and one lane eastbound at times for resurfacing. 

Sprague Avenue between Havana and Fancher  - Reduced to one lane each way at times for resurfacing.

Sprague Avenue between University and Herald - Reduced to two lanes at times for resurfacing.

Progress Road from Wellesley to Forker - Closed to through traffic around the clock from Monday, July 21 through Thursday, August 1 for reconstruction.  Evergreen is suggested as an alternative.

CITY OF SPOKANE
Washington/Stevens Street Bridge Repairs- Southbound lane restrictions for asphalt work from Tuesday, July 22 to  Friday, July 25.

Northwest Boulevard and Alberta- Sidewalks and the westbound traffic lane on Northwest Boulevard and the right southbound lane on Alberta will be closed due to work in a manhole on Thursday, July 23.

Cedar and Country Homes Boulevard- The southbound lane of Cedar will be closed until Tuesday, July 22 for work on utilities. 

Ray Street Closure- Ray Street will be closed beginning July 14, for 14 days for construction.  A detour is provided. Construction continues on a 1 million gallon tank on the west side of Ray Street at 21st Avenue to reduce overflows from the City’s combined sanitary and stormwater sewer system. 

North Division Sidewalks- This project will construct missing sidewalk in gaps adjacent to Division between Empire and Lyons. Work is currently underway from Lyons to Houston. The right lane is closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Westview Elementary Sidewalks- This project will remove existing curb/gutter, relocate drainage structures, and cut and remove asphalt needed to install new curb/gutter on the north-northwest side of Bismark and create a 35’ road width from Assembly to Driscoll and 32’ from Driscoll to Moore.  In addition, the project will install 5’ sidewalk with 5’ planter strip on Fotheringham from the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark and on Bismark from Fotheringham to the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark.  ADA ramps will be installed on all new sidewalk corners, and on connecting corners where needed.

Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline- Water line and storm sewer work along the south side of Francis is nearing completion. Paving, curb, sidewalk and driveway installations continues on the south side of Francis. Roadway excavation and grading continues from Nevada east to Crestline. Colton Street from Francis to Dalke Avenue is closed for approximately 1 week to continue ITS installation. Dalke Avenue from Division Street to Colton Street will have an area along the north curb closed for approximately 1 week to continue ITS installation. 

Francis and Freya Signal Installation- A signal removal and replacement is underway at the Francis/Freya intersection. The dedicated right turn lane is closed for southbound traffic on Freya Street in order to construct the new roadway at the northwest corner. The right turn onto westbound Francis Avenue will be routed from the through lane. This traffic configuration will remain in place until paving is complete. 

Arthur Street from I-90 to 2nd- Arthur Street is closed from 5th Avenue to 2nd Avenue. Third Avenue is reduced to one lane at the intersection of Arthur.  This project is to repave Arthur from I-90 to 2nd Avenue, add sidewalks along the west side of Arthur, and adds curb ramps and pedestrian lighting to various intersections. 

WSDOT
US 2/Espanola Road to Interstate 90- Between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, there will be intermittent lane closures in the vicinity of Flint Rd. Flint Road is closed from US 2 to the south. A detour is available. Flint Road is closed to the north between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday.  Grinding and paving will continue between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Fairchild Air Force Base through Airway Heights.  

I-90/Liberty Park to Havana Street- During evening and overnight hours, from about 9 p.m. until the following morning at 5 a.m., there will be on and off ramp closures and outside lane closures. Crews will be replacing lighting, poles, and wiring, plus replacement of existing irrigation system.

I-90/Barker Road to Idaho Border- Work on resurfacing the asphalt is underway evenings and overnight hours, from about 7 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. the following morning. Work may be underway on weekends. Be alert for lane restrictions, possible slow traffic, and rough pavement with equipment operating in the adjacent lane. The legal speed limit is reduced to 60 mph in some areas of the project when grooved pavement is present.  

SR 902/ Craig Road to Hayford Road- Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, July 21-23 from around 8 a.m. until as late as 3:30 p.m., be alert for single-lane, alternating traffic near the work zones as crews repair culverts.


SPOKANE COUNTY
Bruce Road Bridge- Road closed with detour in place.

Jackson Road- Road closed so that crews can replace a culvert.

Jon Stewart Takes On "Shabby Roads"

Comedian Jon Stewart recently weighed in on the fight over federal transportation funding in Congress, criticizing lawmakers for opting for a temporary spending patch instead of a long-term extension and for failing to raise the federal gas tax. Stewart even includes a reference to Washington State and not travelling there due to the state of our bridges. This is good stuff.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer Blog Hiatus

There will be an approximately week-long blogging hiatus while I take some time off to recalibrate my brain with a vacation. Posts will resume July 14 so check back. One of these times I going to surprise you and get a guest blogger but I haven't been able to convince any of the co-workers to take on an extra task in my absence yet. Can't figure out why.

SRTC Board Awards $20M To Local Projects/Programs

Good news for a bunch of local transportation projects and programs. The SRTC Policy Board just voted to award approximately $20 million dollars in federal fiscal year 2017-2019 Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds to those projects.
STP provides flexible funding that may be used by States and localities for projects to preserve and improve the conditions and performance on any Federal-aid highway, bridge projects, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and transit capital projects. Generally, projects must be located on a road functionally classified as higher than local or rural minor collectors (bicycle and pedestrian projects can be located on any public roadway or off-road trail).

For more information on the Surface Transportation Program, click the link. If you'd like to just cut to the chase though and see which projects will get money, click this link instead.

Oregon Pay-By-The-Mile Program Appears to be Working

Well, here we sit, waiting for Congress to do something about the dwindling Highway Trust Fund. Starting in August, the money in the fund starts being rationed and after it runs out- who knows? What we do know is that our transportation infrastructure isn't fixing itself, so some new method of funding maintenance and preservation projects is imperative.

The problem is that the Highway Trust Fund is funded by the gas tax. With people driving less, cars being more efficient on fuel these days and the infrastructure aging and crumbling faster than we can fix it, the tax doesn't supply as much money for repairs and maintenance as is needed.

Every state has been struggling with this for a while now and many are trying experimental funding methods to try to solve the problem at the state-level. While many are looking at raising the gas tax, Oregon has been trying out a mileage-based funding system. And it seems to be working. A new report on the pilot program says revenue from it exceeded expected gas tax earnings by 28 percent.

This CityLab article looks at why the program appears to be working so far, and why it will help change our behavior if it goes country-wide.

Get A Grip Las Vegas Drivers!

While road rage is an issue all over the country, and around the world, Las Vegas seems to have more than it's fair share of it. Three road rage incidents since the beginning of the year have left people dead on Vegas roadways and police say they get road rage calls every single day.

KLAS-TV out of Las Vegas has more details.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Car-Sharing Programs Appear to Decrease DUIs in Philly

A private car being used for the Lyft car-sharing program
We've been hearing a lot about ride-sharing companies recently, with the arrival of Uber and Lyft in
Spokane. Companies like these that have civilians renting out the empty seats in their car have been in other communities for a while now, long enough to gauge their impact in some places and one of the conclusions drawn is that there appears to be a reduction in DUI arrests in cities where ride-sharing is an option. In fact, in Philadelphia, the average number of DUIs per month dropped by 11%, mostly in the under-30 age range.

Philly.com has the story. There's a lot of backstory near the top of the article you can skip to get to the meat about the DUI rates, closer to the bottom.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The U.S. City Where Motorized Vehicles Are Banned

Hey did you know there's a U.S. city where cars are not allowed? I didn't. It's in Michigan and it's an island; Mackinac Island, located just offshore in Lake Huron.

Downtoearthnw.com tells us why motorized vehicles have been banned there pretty much since they were invented.

BNSF Releases Information On Oil Trains Moving Through WA State

BNSF Railway says it's moving less oil trains through Washington state than in past months. BNSF previously reported as many as 19 trains of Bakken crude oil trains came through the area in a week. That number dropped to 13 for June.

The railroad had tried to keep information about oil train shipments from the public, but the state declined to sign a confidentiality agreement and BNSF provided it under public records law.

The Spokesman-Review has more.

Monday, July 7, 2014

City Collects Almost $90,000 In Overdue Parking Tickets

More than 400 people paid off more than 2,000 overdue parking citations during the 60-day Parking Amnesty Program, according to a news release just sent out by the City of Spokane.

During May and June, 443 people paid 2,046 past due parking citations at a value of $89,445. Many waited until the last week when 948 of those tickets were paid. Paying those tickets during the Parking Amnesty Program saved those drivers more than $74,298 in collection fees and $22,000 in interest, plus the possibility that their cars could be impounded.

Letters will be sent this week to people who still have four or more overdue parking tickets informing them that they are now eligible for the Boot-and-Tow Program, which begins this month. That group accounts for approximately 18,000 outstanding citations and $900,000 in citation fines, collection fees and interest.

Outstanding active parking citations going back 10 years totaled 76,000 past due citations and $3.9 million in fines, fees and interest. Fees and fines account for approximately half of both values.


I90 Repaving Project In Limbo Due To Federal Funding Issues

Well this is bad news! A Washington State Department of Transportation project to repave Interstate 90 east of Barker Road in Spokane Valley is one of 43 projects that may not happen due to the dwindling amount of money in the federal Highway Trust Fund.

The Spokesman-Review has the story here.

Train Derailment Dumps Plane Fuselages In MT River

Did you see this video or these pictures over the weekend? They're pretty incredible. Three Boeing airplane fuselages slid down a steep embankment into the Clark Fork River following a train derailment in western Montana, about ten miles west of Alberton.

The fuselages were traveling from a Spirit AeroSystems plant in Wichita, Kansas, to a Boeing facility in Renton, Washington, to be assembled into airliners. With our office in the Intermodal Center, we see these fuselages travel through the area on trains all the time.


                       

SRTC Board Meets This Thursday

No hot weather break for our Policy Board! The Board meets this Thursday, July 10 at 1 p.m. for their regularly-scheduled monthly meeting. The agenda can be found here. This meeting will be interesting because the Board will be asked to approve a list of projects to receive funds from the Surface Transportation Program (STP) so you can get a sneak peek at the projects that will be underway over the next few years. Also, budget talks will start so if you're a number cruncher, feel free to attend.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Road Construction Update

SPOKANE CITY
Fireworks Road Closures for Friday, July 4- Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. Roads will re-open after  Road Closures Starting at 4 p.m.:
pedestrian traffic has cleared.
o   Glass between Calispel and Jefferson
o   Courtland between Cedar and Cora
o   Gordon between Washington and Howard
o   Cliff Drive  between Grove and Sumner

Road Closures at 9:45 p.m.:
o   Washington from Spokane Falls to North River Drive northbound
o   Washington from Boone to Spokane Falls/Stevens southbound

Maple Street Bridge Lane Inspection- Tuesday, July 8, the southbound lane will have restrictions on the Maple Street Bridge from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for repairs.

Grand Boulevard Construction- McClellan Street between 8th and 9th Avenue has one lane southbound.  Northbound is detoured onto 9th Avenue over to Cowley. 9th Avenue/Rockwood Boulevard between Grand Boulevard and the hospital tower is closed with driveway access. Southbound on Stevens has access to the medical building on 9th Avenue.


Traffic will be impacted both north and south bound mainly between 8th and McClellan, 9th and Rockwood, to Cliff and Grand. This work will take approximately 3 to 4 weeks. The movement of traffic will vary as each part of construction in this immediate area also varies. Drivers are asked to follow the detour route. Work south of 14th is being done by the Wastewater Department.  This project will apply preservation treatments that consist of crack sealing, grind and overlay and some pavement rejuvenation techniques.  Upgrades to ADA ramps and minor curb and sidewalk repairs will also be done.

Cedar Road/Country Homes Boulevard Signal Installation- Work on removals of existing asphalt pavement, curb and sidewalk has begun.  This project is for installation of a traffic signal at the Cedar Road/Country Homes Boulevard intersection. Traffic will be routed along the west 1/2 of Country Homes Blvd. through the Cedar Rd. intersection with one lane access each way (north and south).  Removal of existing asphalt, concrete curb and sidewalk and water line work will begin on the east 1/2 of the intersection.

Cedar Road between Francis Ave. and Country Homes Boulevard is closed to through traffic with local access only. Spokane County’s project is just north of Cedar to Wall Street on Country Homes Boulevard with northbound traffic only.

Mission Avenue Eastbound from Hamilton to Perry- Construction continues with the two eastbound lanes of Mission from Hamilton to Perry Street closed. This project will reconstruct the street by replacing the asphalt surfacing, including ADA ramps, as needed.  

Westview Elementary Sidewalk Project- This project will remove existing curb/gutter, relocate drainage structures, and remove asphalt to install new curb/gutter on the north-northwest side of Bismark and create a 35’ road width from Assembly to Driscoll and 32’ from Driscoll to Moore. In addition, the project will install 5’ sidewalk with 5’ planter strip on Fotheringham from the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark and on Bismark from Fotheringham to the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark. ADA ramps will be installed on all new sidewalk corners, and on connecting corners where needed.

Rowan Avenue Sidewalks- The project will install 8 foot sidewalks on both sides of Rowan Avenue from Belt Street to Monroe Street with ADA compliant curb ramps.

Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline- Traffic has switched over to the north half of Francis Ave. allowing the removal of existing curb, sidewalk and asphalt pavement on the south half.  ITS installation along Colton St. and Dalke Ave. is proceeding.  Colton Street from Francis to Dalke Avenue is closed for approximately two weeks.  Dalke Avenue from Division Street to Colton Street has an area along the north curb closed for approximately 2 weeks to perform ITS installation. This project will rehabilitate Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline Streets.  The work is curb to curb and includes installation of ADA curb ramps, where needed. 

Arthur Street from I-90 to 2nd Avenue- Arthur Street is closed from 5th Avenue to 2nd Avenue.  Third Avenue is reduced to one lane at the intersection of Arthur.  This project is to repave Arthur from I-90 to 2nd Avenue, add sidewalks along the west side of Arthur, and adds curb ramps and pedestrian lighting to various intersections.

WSDOT
I-90/Barker Road to Idaho Border- Work gets underway the week of July 7 on resurfacing the freeway.  In general, work will take place evenings and overnight hours, from about 7 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. the following morning.  Drivers should be alert for lane restrictions, possible slow traffic, and rough pavement with equipment operating in the adjacent lane.  

US 2/Espanola Road to Interstate 90- Between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, expect intermittent lane closures in the vicinity of Flint Rd. to resurface the highway and install a traffic signal at the Flint Rd. intersection. Flint is closed from US 2 to the south, with a detour available.  Flint is closed to the north between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday.  Beginning Tuesday, July 8, from about 7 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. grinding and paving will be underway between Espanola Rd. and Airway Heights. Expect single-lane, alternating traffic, directed by flaggers and pilot cars with delays between Espanola and Fairchild. 

I-90/Liberty Park to Havana Street- During evening and overnight hours, from about 9 p.m. until the following morning at 5 a.m.,  be alert for on and off ramp closures and outside lane closures. Crews are replacing existing illumination lighting, poles, and wiring, plus replacement of existing irrigation system.

I-90/Eastbound Sullivan Road Interchange Off Ramp- On Monday, July 7 from about 4 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., the Sullivan Road eastbound off ramp will be reduced to one lane for traffic signal system and lane configuration revisions.

US 195 Southbound/Qualchan Drive to Mullen Hill Road- On Tuesday, July 8, from about 8 a.m. until as late as 3:30 p.m. southbound drivers should be alert for lane restrictions due to pavement core drilling.

SR 290-Trent Avenue/Hamilton Street to Sullivan Road- Work resumes Monday, July 14 to patch the roadway surface in damaged areas. Be alert for lane restrictions.

SPOKANE VALLEY
Argonne Road from Broadway to Sprague - Reduced to one lane through early July for resurfacing.  Closed overnight on Tuesday, July 8 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Signs will redirect traffic via Broadway, Vista, and Appleway.

Barker Road Between Riverway and Trent - Reduced to one lane from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8 and Wednesday, July 9 for street repairs.  

Sprague Westbound I-90 On-Ramp - Closed overnight on Wednesday, July 9 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for Sprague resurfacing.  Use I-90 westbound on-ramp at Broadway.

I-90 Westbound On-Ramp at Fancher - Closed overnight Thursday, July 10 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for Sprague resurfacing.  Use Sprague westbound I-90 on-ramp.

I-90 Westbound Exit 285 Off-Ramp at Fancher - Closed overnight Thursday, July 10 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for Sprague resurfacing.  Use Freya exit 283B.

Sprague Ave. Between Thierman Rd and Havana  - Lane reductions through early July for resurfacing, with overnight closures as noted below. Access to businesses will remain available.
  • Wednesday, July 9 overnight from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. - Sprague closed to through-traffic between Thierman and Fancher.  Westbound traffic will be rerouted via Thierman, 8th and Havana.  Eastbound traffic will be rerouted via Fancher, Broadway and Thierman.  Access to businesses will remain available.
  • Thursday, July 10 overnight from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. - Sprague closed to through-traffic between Havana and Fancher, including the Fancher intersection.  Traffic will be rerouted via Thierman, Broadway and Havana. Access to Sprague Avenue businesses will remain available via Sprague at Havana.
Sprague Avenue between University and Herald - remains reduced to two lanes westbound around the clock through mid-July for resurfacing.   

SPOKANE COUNTY
Farwell Road from Market to the North Spokane Corridor- Watch for lane restrictions.

Bruce Road Bridge- Bridge closed to be replaced. A detour is in place.

Masonic Temple Overhaul Will Include Robotic Parking Technology

The Masonic Temple in downtown Spokane is getting a facelift to go with it's new ownership. There are some big things planned for the historic building, including new restaurants, bars and parking. Parking? Who cares about  parking when you're talking about something as cool as revamping a historic building? Well, a large reason the new owner bought the building is because he's looking for a place to build, test and showcase his plan and technology for robotic parking. That's some pretty exciting stuff for Spokane!

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.