Monday, July 28, 2014

A Little of This, A Little of That

The Spokane Transit Authority Board of Directors last week voted to extend the proposed electric trolley bus line through downtown Spokane to Spokane Community College. Some folks in the Logan Neighborhood don't like some new signs that recently went up that prohibit pedestrians from crossing Mission Avenue at some intersections east of Hamilton. Construction begins on High Drive in south Spokane today. And there's a bunch of other projects underway throughout the county. The Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" column has a roundup of all things transportation-related locally.

Private Companies Urged To Invest In Infrastructure

We have a lot of these that need fixed.
So you're a private company sitting on a pile of cash. Why not invest it? In the nation's infrastructure. That
was President Obama's suggestion at the Rural Opportunity Investment Conference last week where representatives of large investment firms from all over the world get together with high-ranking administration officials.

Now Douglas Peterson, Chief Executive Officer of McGraw Hill Financial, says his firm is working on a system to create a platform for investors to see what projects need financing and what the financial benefits are. It's a lot like when they look at stocks. Peterson shares his commentary on this major and historical undertaking on the 25 CNBC website.

Missouri Highway Signs Get A New Attitude

You see those electronic signs on the freeway and highways so often that you just ignore them sometimes right? Well the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) doesn't want travelers ignoring its digital messaging signs so they're using some unusual messages to grab attention.


Dynamic Messaging Signs (DMS) are used to provide needed information such as weather-related alerts and road closures. The rest of the time, they display safety reminders, which is why a lot of people just ignore them. With a sassy new attitude though, and signs that say things like the one above and "Changing lanes? Show me your blinker," that's quickly changing. LakeExpo.com has more on these signs.

My Bus Pass Isn't This Fashionable; But Then Maybe That's Because It Has My Picture On It

In Boston, you can now wear your bus or subway pass- as a piece of jewelry. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has recently started selling rings of 3D printed wearable technology that have a chip in them that acts as their bus pass. So not only do the people who own them look like they have some pretty unique jewelry, they also look pretty cool when they 'fist bump' to pay for their ride on public transit.

Another cool thing about this jewelry? It came about because of a Kickstarter campaign. Boston Magazine has more details.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Local Road Construction Update

WSDOT
US 2/Espanola Road to Interstate 90 Resurfacing- Intermittent lane closures between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, in the vicinity of Flint Rd. Flint 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 FAFB 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., be alert for on and off ramp closures. Also watch for outside lane closures from 7 p.m. to the following morning at 6 a.m. for replacement of existing illumination lighting, poles, and wiring.

I-90/Barker Road to Idaho Border resurfacing- Work on this project 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. The legal speed limit is reduced to 60 mph in some areas of the project when grooved pavement is present.  

SPOKANE CITYHigh Drive, Phase One- Construction begins on a pavement reconstruction job on High Drive from 29th Ave. to Bernard St. on Monday, July 28. This project also includes Combined Sewer Overflow storage facilities, storm, sewer, swales, and water main replacement from 29th Avenue to Bernard Street. Phase Two of this project, Bernard Street to Hatch Road will begin spring of 2015.

Grand Boulevard Construction- The Grind and Overlay on Grand Boulevard from 14th to 22nd Avenues begins Monday, July 28.  One lane will be open in each direction. 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.  There is local access only at Cowley and 9th to the hospital.  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. 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 Intersection Signalization- Installation of signal pole bases, curb, sidewalk and asphalt pavement are underway on the west half of the intersection. This project is for installation of a traffic signal at the Cedar Road/Country Homes Boulevard intersection. The west half of the intersection and Cedar Rd. to the west, have been paved. Restoration of the traffic islands begins Friday, July 25.

Ray Street will open, Friday, July 25- 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.  Occasionally, southbound Ray Street may be reduced to one lane.  When lane restrictions are required, they will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

North Division Sidewalk Project- This project will construct missing sidewalk in gaps adjacent to Division between Empire and Lyons. Work has begun on North Division from Lyons to Houston.  The right lane will be closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

South Perry Street Parade- 
The area from Arthur to Helena from 13th to 8th will be closed for the parade this Saturday, July 26. This closure includes main arterials Perry and 9th, from 9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Traffic will be re-routed for the duration of the event.

Maple Street Bridge Lane RestrictionsBeginning Tuesday, July 29, there will be southbound lane restrictions on the Maple Bridge from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for repairs.
West Trent Bridge Lane Restrictions-  
The West Trent bridge crossing over the Spokane River will be inspected, Tuesday, July 29, 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. One west bound curb lane will be closed moving to the east bound curb lane.

Sprague/Riverside from Helena to Lee- Geo Engineers will be boring for a city project with possible lane closures on the outermost eastbound lane of Sprague and Riverside from Wednesday, July 30 through Friday, August 1.

Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline- 
Water and storm/sewer work on the south side of Francis is complete.  Roadway excavation and grading continues from Nevada east to Crestline.  Colton St. and Dalke Ave. are open to traffic.  Francis Avenue continues to have one lane in each direction open from Division to Crestline. 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. 

Francis and Freya Signalization- A signal removal and replacement is underway at the Francis/Freya intersection. Flagging at the intersection will occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The dedicated right turn lane is closed for southbound traffic on Freya Street in order to construct the new roadway at the northwest corner.  All traffic movements are still allowed. The right turn onto westbound Francis Avenue will be routed from the through lane.  This traffic configuration will remain in place for approximately one month or until HMA paving is complete. 

Division/Ruby and Cleveland Intersection Work- Avista will be working at the intersection of Division, Ruby and Cleveland. Two southbound lanes of Division will be closed. The work is scheduled Wednesday, July 23 and continues through the end of August.

Arthur Street from I-90 to 2nd- The Arthur Street intersection is now open. 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. 

Division Sidewalk Closure- There will be a continuing sidewalk closure Wednesday, July 23 - Sunday, August 31 for demolition work at 1120 N. Division.

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.

SPOKANE VALLEY
Progress Road from Wellesley to Forker- Closed through through Thursday, August 1 for reconstruction.  Use Evergreen as an alternative.

SPOKANE COUNTY
Country Homes Restoration Project - Country Homes Blvd. from Cedar Rd to Wall St., southbound lane is closed to thru traffic.  Northbound lane is open with occasional restrictions.

Bruce Rd Bridge Replacement/Road Work - Bridge replacement work and road closure.  

Farwell Rd. (Market St. to North Spokane Corridor - Under construction, watch for lane restrictions. 

I Have A Feeling I Won't Be Getting Much Work Done Today

Before
After
So, for the first time in the eight years that I've been at SRTC, I've been allowed to pick up some swag to give away at events. And I'm excited about it.

Because I'm like a crow or pack rat that's attracted to shiny objects, I picked these light up pens. Our Transportation Planner Eve and I were having a rave with them in my office this morning when we started discussing how multi-useful (that's a word I just made up) they really are. Besides the boring act of writing with them, here are some of the other things you can do with them:

  • Dance with them at a rave as if they were glow sticks
  • Clip them on your clothes while riding your bike at night for added visibility
  • Direct traffic when there is an accident
  • Land planes like an air traffic controller
  • Use them to write when the power is out (we learned about this use during the storm yesterday)
  • Hypnotize people (now relax and follow the light with your eyes...)
  • Come up with your own use
So here's the deal; look for us at community events this summer, talk a little about transportation with us (or even the weather) and ask us for a pen!

Feds Propose Rules for Oil Train Tank Cars

There have been MANY concerns voiced recently about the increased number of trainloads of crude oil
being shipped across the country, especially after several of the trains crashed and caught fire. In response, the government proposed rules yesterday that would phase out tens of thousands of older tank cars.

There are still a lot of details to be worked out though, as this article in today's Spokesman-Review tells us.


Fundraising Effort Underway For Transit Advertising

Times are tight, the economy still hasn't fully recovered and the ads you see on public transit sometimes aren't exactly entertaining or uplifting after a rough day at the office. The answer to this "issue?" A Kickstarter campaign to warn Chicago transit riders of squirrel attacks. Yep, one young man is using Kickstarter to raise money for advertising on trains, but not just any kind of boring old advertising.

Here's the story from Redeye. Perhaps I should utilize Kickstarter to fund my outreach efforts...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Look At All The Things Our 2014 Bike Map Can Do!

Have I mentioned how much we at SRTC love those guys at the City's television station, Cable 5? To help get the word out about our new interactive 2014 Bike Map, they put together this cool video about it. Watch the video to find out about all the things the Bike Map can do, then check out the map at the link. There are other maps on that site too, just hit the "Home" button in the upper left of the screen to check out all the interactive options.

Council Considers Suspending Cab Fees

Spokane cab drivers could soon face fewer regulations. Spokane's City Council is considering temporarily eliminating fees on cab drivers and loosening some cab rules in response to some new ride-sharing companies that have entered the Spokane market.

The council is mulling a six-month suspension of taxi fees before the end of summer. Cab drivers and representatives have been complaining that rules that pertain to them don't pertain to companies like Lyft and Uber, which makes it hard to compete with the ride-sharing companies.

The Spokesman-Review has the background on this story.

Ford Driving Course Takes On Selfies

So now everyone knows you're
a distracted driver...
You see them everywhere these days- people taking pictures of themselves everywhere they go. Selfies at the beach, at cultural events, at concerts, while driving. Wait, while driving? Yep, driving selfies are a new trend. A new dangerous trend, because they contribute to distracted driving.

The Ford Motor Company is trying to get the word out about why driving selfies are a bad idea and their "Ford Driving Skills for Life" program for young drivers is taking on the pictures. The Denver Post has the story.

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.

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.