Friday, November 21, 2014

Pay Your Parking Meter By Phone In Spokane

Drivers can now ‘plug’ certain City parking meters using their smartphones in Spokane. A test period for the pay by phone technology launched today.

The test includes 41 meters on the block adjacent to City Hall and Riverfront Park.

To use pay by phone parking, you must download the QuickPay App onto your smartphones. A link to the app can be found at  If the maximum time limit is purchased for a parking meter, smartphone users are allowed a one-time paid extension of 15 minutes on that meter. After the maximum limit including the extension expires, drivers must move their vehicle. Drivers who attempt to use the pay by phone feature after the maximum time limit allowed will receive a message that they have exceeded the stay allowance at that meter. When setting up QuickPay on a smartphone, users can choose to receive notice of payment and time expiration via text, email, or both.

When the test period is over, the pay by phone feature will be gradually extended to all 3, 000 meters in the City.

Board Votes To Move Ahead With Engineering On Central City Line

Spokane Transit got the okay last night to move ahead with engineering for the Central City Line, a plan to update and improve transit in our area.

Yesterday, STA's board voted to start preliminary engineering on the trolley line that would serve downtown, the university district, Gonzaga University and Spokane Community College. No move yet to put it the Central City Line on the ballot though for voters to decide if that's how they want to spend their tax dollars. And that has some local elected officials nervous about putting money into designing the line.

The Spokesman-Review has a wrap-up of yesterday's board meeting.

Former Transportation Secretary Says Hundreds of Bridges are "Dangerous"

I hope he's wrong but former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is talking to 60 Minutes this Sunday, Nov. 23 at 7p.m. on channel 2 about how hundreds of bridges across the country are "dangerous"- his word. One of the bridges in the story even has a structure built beneath it to catch the chunks of concrete that fall off! Scary. Here's a preview.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Local Road Construction Update

Holiday Travel Alert- WSDOT construction work in the Eastern Region will not affect traffic from noon, Wednesday November 26th, through Sunday, November 30th, in anticipation of increased Thanksgiving holiday traffic. Be prepared for winter driving conditions, especially if you plan to travel across mountain passes or in higher elevation areas such as the Palouse or the mountains of northeast Washington. 

I-90/Vicinity of Downtown Spokane & Sunset Hill- Tonight, Thursday, Nov. 20 to possibly Friday morning, Nov 21, from 8 p.m. to as late as 6 a.m., I-90 will be reduced to one lane.  Work will start on the westbound slide for two nights, then move to the eastbound side. Be alert for slow traffic, congestion, and delays. BNSF crews will be repairing the bridge that crosses I-90 at the west edge of downtown Spokane.

Broadway lane and sidewalk closure-  The northbound right lane and sidewalks on Broadway and Monroe will be closed until Nov. 25 to paint the upper portion of a building.

4th Avenue between Blake and McDonald- Closed through Wednesday, November 26 for utility work. Signs redirect traffic via 5th Avenue.

Sprague Avenue from Bowdish to Pines)- A portion of the roadway will be blocked from Monday, November 24 to Wednesday, November 26 due to manhole work done by CenturyLink.

Sullivan Rd Bridge Project area:
·         Sullivan Road northbound curb lane remains closed between I-90 and Flora Pit Road. One northbound lane will remain open at all times on the bridge. 
·         Northbound turns from Indiana Avenue onto Sullivan Road will be reduced to one lane.
·         The Centennial Trail below the Sullivan Bridges will be closed from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 24) and Tuesday (Nov 25) as well as 7 a.m. to noon Wednesday (Nov. 26) to complete construction of the Centennial Trail protective covering.  Signs will redirect Trail users along Indiana Avenue when the Trail closure is in effect.

Puget Sound MPO Suggests Taxing Themselves To Pay For Transportation Improvements

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is preparing a new transportation plan separate from a statewide road package in case Olympia lawmakers fail to pass a new transportation plan of their own. PSRC is the Puget Sound equivalent of SRTC.

While it is still months from containing any specifics, the plan would allow the four counties encompassed by PSRC (King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap) to tax themselves to fill the need for transportation improvements.

The story, from KING5 News, is below. So what do you think? Is it time we do the same to finish the North Spokane Corridor and other projects?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What Message Would Grab Your Attention?

Here's something fun! The Spokane Regional Health District is looking for input on messaging for a program they have coming up that will encourage people to get where they're going using forms of transportation other than driving.

They've got some themes, logos and branding they'd like you to take a look at and let them know which you like best. It's in a survey format and will only take ten minutes. Some of the ideas are kind of funny, so this isn't a hard assignment.

So if you've got a few minutes, please check them out and weigh in with what you think people will respond to.

Upscale L.A. Neighborhoods Go To War With The Waze App

Some people in Los Angeles neighborhoods are declaring war on the Waze app that helps drivers find shortcuts that avoid congestion.

The 405 freeway is legendary for it's traffic jams through L.A. Well, now some of the upscale neighborhoods around it have become as gridlocked as the 405 itself as thousands of people try to find ways around getting stuck on the freeway.

Some neighborhood meetings have come up with an interesting way to fight back against the app. TMZ tells us what they're planning.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spokane City Named Bicycle Friendly Community

Congratulations to the City of Spokane! It was just recognized today with a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community award by the League of American Bicyclists. 

The award recognizes the City’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies. Specifically, Spokane was awarded in part for its public outreach education, bike month and bike to work events, bike plan implementation and bicycle-friendly laws and ordinances.

Spokane joins a group of 326 Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) in all 50 states.

Currently, the City is working to expand Spokane’s on and off street bike network, to increase network connectivity, and to complete the trail gaps of the "Centennial Trail.” There are also plans to adopt and implement the bike plan update being prepared and to create a City web page dedicated to bicycle education, city projects, and more.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Transportation Technical Committee Meeting This Week

The November meeting of the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) is this Wednesday, November 19 at 1:30 p.m. The meeting agenda can be found here. One interesting item on it you may wish to check out is a presentation on the new "Walk.Bike.Bus." program that will target the Perry and Garland districts starting in 2015. Walk. Bike. Bus. is an individualized marketing campaign to get people to do their errand-running and other trips a different way than driving alone. A representative from the Spokane Regional Health District (one of the partners in the program) will be at the meeting to talk about it.

As always, all TTC meetings are open to the public so feel free to attend.

Local Road Construction Update

I-90/Vicinity of Downtown Spokane & Sunset Hill- Beginning Monday, Nov. 17, to possibly
Friday morning, Nov 21, from 8 p.m. to as late as 6 a.m., I-90 will be reduced to one lane for repairs to the train bridge that crosses I-90 at the west edge of downtown Spokane. Work will start on the westbound side for two nights, then move to the eastbound side. Be alert for slow traffic.

Northside Decant Facility- Facility under construction near Ruby and Farwell, Flaggers may direct traffic through the area.

4th Avenue between Blake and McDonald - Closed from Wednesday, October 22 through Wednesday, November 26 for utility work.  Signs redirect traffic via 5th Avenue.

Southbound Adams (from Wellesley to Trent) - If weather permits, expect reductions to a single lane Wednesday, November 19 through Tuesday, November 25 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for storm drainage improvements.

Sprague between University and Vista - If weather permits, expect single lane closures from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. through early November for resurfacing, stormwater drainage improvements and sidewalk work.

Sullivan Rd Bridge Project area:

  • Sullivan northbound curb lane remains closed between I-90 and Flora Pit Road. One northbound lane will remain open at all times on the bridge. 
  • Northbound turns from Indiana onto Sullivan will be reduced to one lane.
  • East Flora Pit Road at N. Sullivan Road will be closed for utility work.
  • The Centennial Trail below the Sullivan Bridges may be closed from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM Monday, November 17 through Friday, November 21 if necessary to complete construction of the protective Trail covering.  Signs will redirect Trail users along Indiana Avenue when the Trail closure is in effect.
Westbound Wellesley (from Moore to Sullivan) - If weather permits, expect narrowed lanes at times Tuesday, November 18 through Tuesday, November 25 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for stormwater drainage improvements.

Washington Street Lane Closures- 
 Two eastbound lanes of Washington north of 2nd will be closed from November 17 – 19 for water line work.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gender Equality Called For In German Traffic Lights

I've never been to Germany so I didn't know what a big deal their "traffic-light men" are. In the east of the country, pedestrian lights show little men, some with hats or walking sticks, when it's safe for pedestrians to cross the road. These lights are even tourist attractions in many towns.

The tradition of showing the little men started more than 50 years ago, but may come to an end soon. There is an effort underway to introduce gender equality by using "traffic light women" as well. Not everyone agrees and even a major newspaper isn't sold on the idea, instead offering a compromise of using "traffic light couples." The lights will have to be huge to accommodate that.

Here's the link to the Washington Post article on this. There's also a picture of the traffic light woman there that's kind of funny. She looks a little bulky but hey, I guess it's a start.

I90 To Close on Snoqualmie Pass Saturday and Sunday Mornings

If you're headed to the west side of the state this weekend, be prepared for a closure on Snoqualmie Pass. Weather permitting, the Washington State Department of Transportation will close I90 at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 15 and Sunday, Nov. 16 for about an hour to remove trees near the Cabin Creek area. Eastbound traffic will be stopped at milepost 56 near Hyak and westbound traffic will be stopped at milepost 70 near Easton.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

First Solar Road Opening Today- For Bicycles

The first solar road in the world is opening today and it's not for cars. The road, made with solar cells
to generate power, is opening in the Netherlands. It will be for bikes. In fact, 2,000 bicyclists are expected on the road every day. That's a lot of bike traffic!

If solar roads sound familiar, it's because a Sandpoint, ID couple has a similar product, and aims to replace traditional asphalt with solar panels encased in glass. 

Meeting Agenda Item To Discuss 44th Ave. Project

No plans tonight and you live, work or travel through the Southgate neighborhood? Then you'll probably want to stop by the neighborhood council meeting. One item on the agenda is a discussion of a project at east 44th Avenue scheduled for the 2015 construction season.

The discussion will address the installation of a water main at 44th Avenue between Freya and Myrtle Streets. Also up for discussion is how access to water will be provided to residents during construction. Several pine trees in the area must be removed in order to set up the water access. After construction is finished, the neighborhood will have the opportunity to get trees replanted in the area.

Meeting attendees can also learn more about plans to install a 12-foot wide paved pedestrian bike trail from Freya Street to Havana Street as proposed in the Southgate Neighborhood Plan.

The meeting is tonight, 7-8 p.m. at the Education Service District 101 building, 4202 S. Regal Street.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Hummer Is Back, Thanks To Falling Gas Prices

The Hummer is back. Along with it's smaller cousins the Navigator, Expedition and other large SUVs. And it's all because of dropping gas prices. The Washington Post reports that sales of the Hummer off used car lots have picked up substantially in the past few weeks. Before that, they would languish on lots for long amounts of time due to the amount of gas they required. Analysts say the sales of other large SUV's are up too. Here's the Washington Post article.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting Next Monday

The next meeting of SRTC's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) is next Monday, November 17. Normally TAC meetings fall on the fourth Monday of every month but that put it a little close to Thanksgiving so we moved it up a week this time.

The TAC is SRTC's citizen's committee that provides transparency to the transportation planning process. Everyone is welcome at TAC meetings, so feel free to stop by. Here's a look at the agenda.

Commute Of The Century Organizers Want To Say Thanks

If you participated in the City of Spokane's Commute of the Century earlier this year, you're invited to attend an awards ceremony tonight.

The Commute of the Century bike rides took place during Bike to Work Week in May. Participants were asked to fill out surveys after finishing the rides and City staff says they've gotten a lot of very helpful input and they're putting it to use.

Now, they'd like to thank you for taking part. As part of the Spokane Bicycle Club meeting tonight, there will be a wrap-up of the event and prize drawings. More info on how the Commute of the Century went, and tonight's awards ceremony, is here.

Falling Gas Prices Encouraging Spending In Other Areas

Retailers are looking forward to what's expected to be a profitable holiday shopping season this year- because of gas prices.

Economists say falling gas prices are boosting consumer spending, which means more money for holiday shopping, which in turn results in economic growth.

The Spokesman-Review has current gas prices, and how long they're expected to stay low.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Some Govt. Offices Closed, Some Open For Veteran's Day

A young man I know recently told me about some of the things he saw while in Iraq recently. It was pretty horrific. He's 23 years old and extremely poised, well spoken and devoted to what he does. When I was 23, I was devoted to drinking beer. When I think of veterans, I think of those from the baby boomer generation. That's no longer the case.

So on Veteran's Day on Tuesday, Nov. 11, thank the Veterans in your life, young and old. SRTC will be open that day but many government offices will not. Here's a list of closures I've seen:
  • Spokane County offices will be closed 
  • Spokane Valley offices will be closed
  • City of Spokane offices will be open
  • SRTC will be open
Also, parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Tuesday.  

SRTC Board Meeting Next Week

The monthly meeting of SRTC's Board is next Thursday, November 13. If you're a budget watcher, SRTC's 2015 budget is on the agenda. And for you folks interested in railroad topics, a representative from the Washington State Department of Transportation will be here to talk about the Palouse Coulee City Rail Strategic Plan. Should be interesting to hear what the future holds for it.

Here's the meeting agenda. As always, guests are always welcome so feel free to come check out what we talk about.

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.