Thursday, July 31, 2008

Study Says Spokane Bridges Need More Work

A new study by the Associated Press study reviewed data from the 20 most heavily-traveled bridges with structural deficiencies in each state.

The survey found limited progress toward the goal of making repairs.

Here's a link to the story on the KHQ website.

New Construction Project Starting

A project to rehabilitate Hatch Road from 43rd to 54th avenues will begin Monday, August 4.

Taht stretch of Hatch will be closed to traffic. Motorists traveling southbound will be detoured to 37th Ave. and then onto Perry St., and northbound traffic will be detoured from 57th Ave. to Perry St. Alternate routes include Crestline and Regal streets. The Manito Golf Course will remain open.

More Early Warning

Beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 3, through 7 a.m. Monday, August 4, Spokane Falls Blvd. from Washington to Browne streets will be completely closed to traffic for paving. Additionally, Washington and Bernard streets will be closed to traffic at their intersections with Spokane Falls Blvd. Motorists traveling northbound on Washington or Bernard streets will be detoured to Division St. Westbound traffic on Spokane Falls Blvd. will be detoured to Riverside Ave.

Limited access has been coordinated with businesses in the area.

Early Warning For You Sunday Drivers

On Sunday, August 3rd, from 4:00 a.m. until as late as 9:00 a.m., northbound Division Street will be reduced to one lane at the Spokane River Bridge so that crews can do joint repairs on the bridge.

Read SRTC's Revised Public Involvement Policy... Please

Being a government agency, SRTC is required to have a 'Public Involvement Policy' showing all the ways we interact with the public such as through tools like this blog, news releases, public meetings, etc., etc.

We recently updated that policy to better meet federal and state public participation requirements and now we're asking you, the public, to take a look at it and give us some feedback. Here's a link.

After you look at it, let us know: are we doing all we can to reach people like yourself? How do you prefer to get your transportation news? Are public meetings a thing of the past? If you have suggestions, opinions, ideas on the subject- let us know. You can do so by emailing us or by mailing comments to SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201.

Comment are due by Sept. 17, 2008.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sometimes being in the top ten isn't all that much fun



Forbes Magazine has been good to Spokane over the years, favorably editorializing on the quality of life we have here. They have even ranked our state as one of the top five places to do business. But now this... Forbes just ranked Washington State in the top 10 states for high gas taxes. On the bright side, we are pretty low on that list. There are still six states that are taxing there residents significantly higher than us.

The state gas tax is currently at 37.5 per gallon, but that still is not enough to cover all the needs that mounting in Washington. It is likely that the legislature will look at raising it again in 2009. It is also possible that the state might look at other sources of revenue to ease the "pain at the pump." We'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, let's play King for the day. If you were king (or queen), how would you propose to raise the money necessary to meet our state's transportation needs?

West Side Travel Time Tool

Travelling to Seattle this summer for recreation or to see the sights? If you have destinations on the west side in mind,try the WSDOT's '95% reliable travel times' tool.

You can enter starting and destination city and arrival time for many central Puget sound cities, and it will return to you an estimated amount of time it will take to get there. And the name? WSDOT says that 95% of the time this is how long it will take to get to your destination.

Asphalt Shortage Effects Washington State Projects

A change in the type of oil processed at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes has led to a liquid asphalt shortage for at least four counties in Washington, affecting miles of road maintenance.

Here's the story.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thanks For Clearing This Up Dave

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Meter information clearly posted

I am pleased to clarify observations made by Tracey L. Whybrow ("Post parking meter schedule," July 20), which suggested that meter stickers or street signs be provided to indicate to motorists what hours the city meters are in operation.

A 2 ½"-by-1" black-on-white placard is normally mounted on the curb side of every parking meter. It is located inside a clear polycarbonate dome, to protect the placard from the elements, and states, "Hours of Operation are 8AM to 7PM except Sundays." On the opposite side of the meter, where coins are deposited, there is another placard stating the amount of time that can be purchased for each coin denomination and a label indicating the maximum allowable parking period (90 minutes, two hours, three hours, etc.).

Unfortunately, installing and maintaining street signs on every block to list meter operating hours would be an expensive effort and would add to the litany of messages that already compete for the attention of drivers in a downtown core environment.

We invite citizens having concerns about parking meters to contact the Street Department at 232-8800 and provide information regarding the problem and location of meters in question. We appreciate citizen input and will investigate any reported problems as soon as possible.

Dave Shaw
Traffic control supervisor, Spokane Street Department

Anyone Looking To Put A Tourist Attraction In Their (Very Big) Back Yard?

Four 80-year-old ferries pulled from service on Washington's Puget Sound didn't receive a single bid when listed on EBay last week.

The minimum bid was $350,000 each. Still, a spokeswoman for the ferry system says there are some people interested in purchasing the boats.

She says potential buyers have expressed an interest in buying all four at a lower, nondisclosed price.

KXLY Piece On Cross-State Transit

Spokane Transit Authority has recently started crunching the numbers with agencies in North Idaho (including SRTC sister agency Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization) to determine the feasibility of implementing public transit between Post Falls and Spokane. At a recent 'Public Transportation Roundtable,' a new committee formed by KMPO, the discussion was what kind of route to provide; a through route with a variety of stops or a direct commuter route from Post Falls straight to downtown Spokane with limited stops. The consensus was to provide a little of both. The talks are in the early stages so it will still be a while before you can use public transportation to travel between Spokane and North Idaho. In the meantime, here's a piece KXLY did on the situation yesterday.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Construction Project Starting

A project to rehabilitate Driscoll Blvd. from Alberta to Assembly streets starts today. Both Driscoll and Alberta will be closed to traffic and a 4-way stop will be posted at Wellesley Ave. and Driscoll Blvd.

The $2,170,000 project is funded with money from Spokane Transit Authority and City of Spokane funds.

Driving Down Nearly 5% In June

The Washington State Department of Transportation says traffic was nearly 5 percent less last month than it was in 2007, 2006 and in 2005.

Here's a link to their blog and some very interesting facts and figures.

And if you're interested in even more traffic info, the WSDOT's 'Annual Traffic Report' summarizes traffic data maintained for the State Highway System. The report includes Annual Average Daily Traffic figures and truck percentages, a table of Average Weekday Traffic, and Annual Vehicle Miles of Travel information for the State Highway System, among other information.

Here's a link to the Annual Traffic Report

Roundup For the Week of July 28

A possible cross-state bus link, Highway 2 construction, and surveillance on Washington State ferries: Here's what's happening in our area this week courtesy of the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Friday, July 25, 2008

This should be a fun ride, and the money goes to a good cause...

The Panhandle Public Health Foundation (PPHF) believes quality of life starts with a physically, mentally and emotionally healthy population. That's why the foundation raises money to promote public health programs such as low-cost clinics, senior companionship and child abuse prevention in the five northern counties.

Saturday, Aug. 16, is PPHF's second annual Pedalin' for Public Health bike ride on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. The family event stretches from Plummer to Enaville and ranges from 15 to 43 scenic miles. Most importantly, it raises money for public health projects that improve life for everyone in the Panhandle.

The ride starts anytime from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Registration costs $25 for adults and $5 for children. Adult registrations by Aug. 8 include a T-shirt. To register, visit www.pphf.net.

PPHF was able to award $3,000 in public health grants this year thanks in part to enthusiastic participation last year in Pedalin' for Public Health. Don't miss out on a perfect family outing that has the potential to benefit thousands.

JEANNE BOCK, PHD Director

KAY KINDIG, PPHF Chairman

Thursday, July 24, 2008

SRTC July Newsletter

SRTC's July newsletter is finally out.Click here to see what we've been up to so far this summer.

Post & Wall Streets Closed

For the few of you who haven't heard, Post and Wall Streets downtown are closed from First to Second avenues indefinetely, due to a fire at the Joel Building at 161 S. Post St.

We'll keep you updated.

Would You Support A 'Bike There' Function On Google?

Google recently partnered on an initiative that measured how walkable neighborhoods are. Since then, a lot of people have been saying how cool it would be if they did the same with bike routes and facilities.

And some people aren't waiting for Google to think it up themselves, they've started a petition to ask Google to add a 'Bike There' function to their mapping capabilities.

The Metro Spokane blog has more information and a link to the petition.

US 2/Deep Creek bridge work starts Monday

I won't be here tomorrow so here's your construction warning for Monday morning:

Work begins Monday, July 28th on the US 2/Deep Creek Bridge in western Spokane County. The project consists of replacing the deteriorated bridge rail and grinding out the existing asphalt surface and repaving.

Drivers can expect single lane traffic directed by flaggers and a temporary traffic signal system. A reduced speed of 30 mph will be in place through the work zone.

The project should be completed by early October.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is this a good problem to have?

It seems that all of the bicycle traffic, and disregard for the rules of the road, in Portland has drawn the attention of law enforcement. They have had emphasis patrols out for the past couple of days to "re-educate" all modes of commuters -- but primarily bicyclists on the traffic rules.

Most violators are receiving warnings, but a couple of citations have been issued. One has to believe that this emphasis was sparked in part by recent road rage incidents between motorists and bicyclists in Portland. You can read the full story here.

Okay, I admit it. When I ride my bike, I rarely follow the same rules I would ordinarily follow in my car. I can see where that could become problematic, so I will vow to change my ways.

How about you...do you always follow the proper rules while bicycling?

UPDATE: Huckleberries Online linked our post here to a discussion over there. Also, a Spokesman Review editor named Ken Paulman provided this link to Washington's bicycling laws. It's pretty interesting stuff.

Do We Need To Give Thieves Ideas On How To Steal More Efficiently?

The bad economy is now affecting how companies advertise their products. I was surprised when I stumbled on this item for sale, with one of its' selling point being that it 'makes stealing gas easy.'

I don't know what to say folks...

Early Warning For Possible Delays On Thursday

On Thursday, July 24, from 9:00 a.m. to as late as 3:00 p.m. westbound I-90 will be reduced to two lanes in the vicinity of the Hamilton Street Interchange and the Perry curves, in order for WSDOT to do bridge joint repairs.

Westbound motorists should be alert for possible slow traffic and congestion.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fire Near I90 Slows Traffic

A brush fire at Third and Altamont, just off Interstate 90, slowed the morning commute down earlier today as people slowed to look at it.

Traffic was reduced to two lanes on the eastbound side of the freeway for about 20 minutes as crews put the fire out. Traffic in the area is now back to normal.

Mayor's Report Card For First Six Month's of '08

Spokane City Mayor Mary Verner last week (yes, I'm running a day late and a dollar short as usual) released her mid-year report of the City's accomplishments, and it includes several items related to road maintenance, construction, and repair.

Among other things the Mayor says the City has:

- Continued to fix streets identified in the Street Bond plan on time and on budget
- Has patched nearly 3,000 potholes that developed over the winter
- Launched a grant program to place new street trees in downtown Spokane
- Convened an ad hoc work group to prepare a plan to maintain streets reconstructed by the Street Bond plan
- Secured $2.4 million in state funds to complete street construction in the
University District
- Is evaluating subsidized bus passes for employees to reduce commute trips to City facilities
- Added hybrid vehicles to the City's vehicle fleet

Here's a link to the entire progress report if you'd like to read it. So what's your opinion, how is the Mayor doing, in your opinion, when it comes to road construction/maintenance issues?

How Does Trash Get From The Roadside To The Dump?

Ever seen those Ecology trash bags full of litter on the side of the road and wonder how they got there? Well all that trash didn't bag itself, the Ecology Youth Corps did.

The Youth Corps program removes more than one million pounds of litter and illegally dumped materials annually from along Washington's roadways.

Holy cow that's a lot of trash! Here's more on the program from the WSDOT blog.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pedestrian Plan Survey Results

KXLY tomorrow morning will be doing a couple of live shots on the results of the Regional Pedestrian Plan Survey. Reporter Kjerstin Ramsing will talk with Heleen Dewey of the Spokane Regional Health District (one of our partners in developing the Pedestrian Plan.

The live reports will be between 6 and 7 a.m. on KXLY channel 4.

Or, if you don't want to wait until tomorrow to hear the results of the surveyYou can check them out here.

Here's Your Warning For Tomorrow Morning

On Tuesday, July 22, from 9:00 a.m. to as late as 3:00 p.m., the eastbound Hamilton St. Off Ramp will be reduced to one lane for paving work.

Let's Not Get All Vigilante On The Bike Lanes

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Connect disjointed bike routes

Spokanites are aware of the health benefits and cost efficiency of commuting by bicycle. But why do we only have 0.8 percent of riders in a population our size? It is because we are not providing our residents a network of bike routes that are connected fluidly.

I have been riding my bike every spring and summer month since 2004 and have noticed that most routes just don't connect well to each other at all. Bikers such as myself are forced to take the side streets and intersections, which, according to the 2007 Washington State DOT, were the spots in Spokane where 70 pedestrian and bicycle accidents occurred.

Currently, a study is being done in order to add new routes, updating Spokane's 30-year old bike master plan. But this plan might not be the best action to take. A length of time is needed to finish and implement the study, then a good sum of money will be needed to add new bike routes. It seems more logical to make the current bike routes more accessible. My proposal consists of the following: One summer day, a handful of volunteers, buckets of white paint and brushes. Connect the lines.

Malia Ambata
Spokane


Ms. Ambata, we agree with your point that we need to connect the bike routes, and there are indeed plans in the works (besides the City's Bike Plan, there is also a recently-completed Regional Bike Plan, the Spokane County Trails Plan, and talks are underway concerning possible 'bicycle boulevards'), but what if everyone grabbed some paint and connected the lines? You wouldn't be able to pass other cars for one thing, as all the lanes would now have solid lines, making them no passing lanes.

Roundup For the Week of July 21

The City releases it's U-District/Downtown Spokane Transportation Improvement Study, local law enforcement is watching you so don't litter, and the Washington State Department of Licensing is trying to crack down on the sale of 'contaminated' vehicles.

Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

WSDOT Gets New Duty; Wrangling Animals


Okay, after hearing about this you can't say that the government is all bad. Washington State Department of Transportation workers today saved the life of a porcupine stranded on the freeway.

Here's the story. Have you ever rescued an animal stuck on a roadway?

Friday, July 18, 2008

More Bikes Mean More Accidents

Since the average price of gasoline hit about $3.25 a gallon early this year, bike sales have skyrocketed. But more bikes mean more accidents.

This MSNBC article tells how authorities across the country say they are seeing a sharp rise in the number of accidents involving bicyclists.

'SmartRoutes' Editorial

The Spokesman-Review today ran an editorial about the 'SmartRoutes' initiative that SRTC teamed up with other agencies to develop in an effort to obtain up to $50 million in grant money for transportation projects aimed at getting more people to walk or ride a bike rather than drive a vehicle.

Here's the article and here's the SmartRoutes application for funding in case you want to know more about it.

Geiger Spur Project Open House



You're invited to join representatives from the County and WSDOT next Monday for an open house to discuss the Geiger Spur Rail project.

The $6.8 million Geiger Spur Rail project will connect the Geiger Spur with the former Palouse River and Coulee City (PCC) rail line which connects with the BNSF main line at Cheney. This will maintain the connections of the rail-dependent companies already at Airway Heights Industrial Park to the national rail system, and provide an opportunity for further economic development of the area.

The Open House is in the Sunset Elementary School library (located at 12824 W. 12th Avenue) from 5-7 p.m. Representatives from WSDOT and Spokane County will share the latest updates and construction plans on the Geiger Spur, such as the new route, the S.R. 902 rail crossing, operations, noise considerations, the construction schedule and the environmental process details.

Upcoming Construction Alert

The Third Ave. residential construction project is set to begin next Monday, July 21.
The project will be a grind and overlay on Third Ave. from Magnolia to Ray streets; partial grind and overlay on Fourth Ave. from Magnolia to Regal streets; grind and overlay on Crestline St. from Third to Fifth avenues; and full-depth curb-to-curb rehabilitation of Magnolia and Regal streets from Third to Fifth avenues.

Regal St. from Third to Fifth avenue is expected to be closed later in the week. Drivers will encounter obstructions and lane closures, but access will be maintained.

The $930,000 project is funded by the City of Spokane's 10-Year Street Bond.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

University District/Downtown Spokane Transportation Improvement Study

The City of Spokane is seeking public comment on the draft University District/Downtown Spokane Transportation Improvement Study.

You can view the draft here.

The study is designed to determine transportation deficiencies, improve traffic flow and congestion problems, identify and establish safe travel routes for bicyclists and pedestrians, and evaluate future plans.

Significant issues addressed in the study, include:

Mitigating traffic congestion.
Improvements to pedestrian access and safety
Improvements to bicycle access, safety and parking facilities
Transit interactions with all modes of transportation
Understanding possible air quality impacts of future development.
Evaluating circulation concepts and their performance on the transportation system.
Converting parallel parking to angled parking.
Determining efficient traffic signal system operations.

Public comments are due by Aug. 8 and should be emailed to DKSTransportationStudy@spokanecity.org.

Are there more bikes on the road, or does it just seem that way?

The Spokesman Review had an interesting editorial today (here). They are calling on all agencies with jurisdiction over roads to take increased bicycling into account in their planning efforts. We at SRTC would agree with the SR's editorial, but it's worth pointing out that many jurisdictions are, in fact, already doing this.

Recently, many of the large jurisdictions have actively supported the "SmartRoutes" project, and they have also started developing and updating their bicycle master plans. The City of Spokane is also trying to figure out how to incorporate a bicycle coordinator position into its planning and engineering departments.

The STA bicycle rack problem that is mentioned in the editorial is a tough one, but I wonder if the problem could be solved by having the buses pull trailers for the bikes. Just a thought...

Question: How would you purpose to fix the shortage of bike rack space on the STA buses?

Sorry For The Late Notice

Today, beginning at 9 a.m. to as late as 3 p.m., the eastbound US 2 on ramp will be reduced to one lane. In addition, the far right auxiliary lane on I-90 will be closed near the on-ramp for pavement repair.

Bigelow Gulch Meeting Reminder

Phase one of the Bigelow Gulch Road Project starts in September, and the County wants to tell you what to expect.

This is your reminder that Spokane County is hosting an open house tonight for Phase one of the project, which begins at Havana Street and continues eastward for approximately 3,000 feet. Construction will take approximately a year to complete.

The open house is from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Spokane County Fire District 9, Station 94 (7017 N. Jenson Road). You will have an opportunity to discuss the project in detail, including its potential impact on residents and traffic.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

SIA Flights Getting Fewer With Economic Problems

Bad news for those of us who fly in and out of Spokane International Airport, it's going to offer fewer flights in the near future.

Express Jet is discontinuing service at the begining of September and Horizon plans to reduce service over the next year. The problem isn't that people can't afford to fly anymore because of the economy. Even the full planes are losing money because the cost of fuel isn't being covered by airfare costs.

If The Sign Says Closed, Don't Try Driving Over The Bridge

An interesting tidbit out of SRTC's Transportation Technical Committee meeting today. A staff member from the City of Spokane Valley says the Barker Road Bridge is closed for reconstruction, and signs are clearly posted, but they're still having problems with people going around barricades to drive across the bridge.

The problem was so bad that cranes apparently had to be moved into place to physically prevent cars from passing through. Folks, there's a reason you're not allowed to drive through there: it's called safety. Don't say we didn't warn you if you end up with a flat tire or worse. And that's minor when you think what could happen if you sneak around the barricades once the bridge is torn out.

Oil Prices Drop For Second Day In A Row

Don't get your hopes up, but oil prices settled sharply lower for the second day in a row today, leaving crude more than $10 cheaper in two days of frenzied trading.

The two-day slide of $10.58 a barrel marks a dramatic turnaround in crude prices but
analysts are unsure whether the drop represents a long-term shift in sentiment or simply a brief correction to crude’s monthslong bull run.

Here's the details.

Bike Racks Needed

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Bike racks good business

It's no surprise that more folks are opting out of driving and are turning to the simplicity, economy and sheer fun of riding a bicycle. Not only do cyclists incorporate physical fitness into their daily lives, they make our city more fit – less pollution, less traffic congestion, less wear and tear on our roads.

It is surprising, however, that some Spokane retailers have been slow to extend a simple welcome to cyclists by providing a bicycle rack in front of their establishments. Statistics show bicycle commuters usually have a good income and are willing to spend it. When a business does not provide a place for a cyclist to securely "park" his or her bike, it is saying, "I don't want your money. Keep pedaling until you find a place that does."

Luckily, it's a simple thing for a rider to do just that. Thanks to the Internet, when the searching cyclist finds a place that is bicycle-friendly, word gets out quickly. The bike rack eventually fills up – perhaps, too, the merchant's cash register.

Thanks to the many Spokane retailers who already understand this simple business concept.

John Griffith
Spokane


I've been hearing this more and more often lately. For you folks who ride to work or other destinations, how hard is it to find a place to lock your bike up?

Court Rules County Owns Undeveloped Portion of Appleway

A ruling by the Washington Court of Appeals yesterday means the County now gets to make decisions on how to extend Appleway Boulevard east from University Road while preserving the option of a light rail line in the future.

The court says the undeveloped portion of Appleway Boulevard in Spokane Valley doesn't belong to the city. The County and City of Spokane Valley have been arguing over the ownership of the former Milwaukee Road railroad right of way for months. The City said it automatically passed from Spokane County to Spokane Valley when the city was incorporated five years ago, but the County disagreed.

Here's the full story.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gas prices cause historic inflation hike

The Labor Department reported yesterday that soaring costs for gasoline and food pushed inflation at the wholesale level up by a bigger-than-expected 1.8% in June, leaving inflation rising over the past year at the fastest pace in more than 25 years.

Here are the numbers.

Bigelow Gulch Project Open House

The public is invited to an open house for phase one of the Bigelow Gulch Road Project. Phase one will begin at Havana Street and continue eastward for approximately 3,000 feet. Construction for this project is expected to begin in September and will take approximately a year to complete.

The open house is Thursday, July 17th from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Spokane County Fire District 9, Station 94 (7017 N. Jenson Road). It will provide the public an opportunity to discuss the project in detail, including its potential impact on residents and traffic.

Here's a link to the County's Engineering website for more information.

Monday, July 14, 2008

This Could Slow Things Down A Little Downtown

Monroe Street near its intersection with Sprague Avenue will have lane closures from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day this week until Friday, July 18. Avista crews will be working on utilities.

Pedestrian Plan Survey Results

Results from the first in a series of surveys designed to gather information on pedestrian habits in our area are now available.

SRTC, the City of Spokane, the Spokane Regional Health District, and the Regional Pedestrian Plan Committee are in the process of developing a Regional Pedestrian Plan for the area of Spokane County.

To develop a plan that addresses the needs and issues of pedestrians and promotes an increase in physical activity for residents of our area, a series of public surveys is being used to gather feedback on a variety of issues, such as why people walk, where they walk to, and what prevents them from walking. The information collected will be used to identify areas/issues that should be focused on to make it easier to walk in our community.

The first Pedestrian Plan survey was distributed electronically in June 2008. Approximately 1090 area citizens responded.
Here's a link to the results. Take a look, then let us know if any of these results surprise you.

37th Ave. Restrictions

37th Ave. from Freya to Havana streets will have lane restrictions and obstructions Wednesday, July 15, through Friday, July 18, while sewer crews raise the manholes. Then on Monday, July 21, street crews will pave the work area.

Variable tolling is knocking at the door

As the federal highway trust fund fizzles out at the national level, and the state coffers for transportation are tapped out, various new revenue sources to fund transportation infrastructure are being considered and tested out.

It appears that one of the most viable sources for transportation is going to be some form tolling the users of the system. Of course, traditional tolling is always going to work due to economies of scale and for other geographic reasons. But it does look like we are headed for some form of a pay-as-you-go type of revenue stream.

Take Seattle for instance, the city is pilot testing a new concept called congestion pricing on the 520 bridge project. Seattle is one of five major metropolitan areas in the country to test the concept. In essence, congestion pricing is way to manage demand on the transportation network by charging higher tolls during the peak driving times and reduced tolls during the non-peak hours. The goal is to incentivize commuters to use public transportation, ride a bike, or adjust their driving times (if possible) to reduce congestion during the traditional "rush hours."

The concept is really gaining traction in the major metropolitan areas. Just last week, the city of Portland conditionally approved a $4.2 billion bridge expansion over the Columbia River on U.S. I-5, and they plan to use variable tolls, or congestion pricing, to pay for the project. Read the whole story here.

Question: Do you think some form of congestion pricing would work in the Spokane region? If so, how would it work?

Belt St. Closed

If you haven't already figured it out, Belt Street from Augusta to Montgomery avenues is closed today so crews can install a water line. Drivers are being detoured Cannon Street.

The water line installation is part of a larger project to rehabilitate a number of residential streets in the area of Belt St. and Indiana Ave. The project is a full-depth rehabilitation of Belt St. northbound from the alley at Augusta/Nora to Montgomery avenues, and Cannon St. southbound from Nora to Montgomery avenues; a grind and overlay of Belt St. southbound and Cannon St. northbound as well as the remaining streets; and replacement of a 12-inch water line.

The overall project will repair the following streets: Belt St. from Nora to Montgomery avenues; Cannon St. from Nora to Montgomery avenues; Buell St. from Hemlock to Montgomery avenues; Hemlock St. from Shannon to Montgomery avenues; Indiana Ave. from Hemlock to Ash streets; Knox Ave. from Belt St. to the cul-de-sac; Mansfield Ave. from Belt to Elm streets; Montgomery Ave. from Nettleton to Belt streets; Nora Ave. from Hemlock to Ash streets; Shannon Ave. from Hemlock to Elm streets.

The $1.2 million project is funded with money from the 10-Year Street Bond.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ouch...

Okay, with camping season upon us, we need to be careful out there.



Hat Tip: Huckleberries online

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Who owns the road: bicyclist vs. driver with an ironic twist

This is an interesting story about the tensions that exist between bicyclists and motorists, but its more than just that. First of all, it's bicycle story set in Portland, which you know will be interesting in its own right. But add the fact that driver in this story has been a bicycle advocate for over 30 years, and it really starts to get interesting.


Question: Have you ever confronted an unruly bicycle rider while driving? After reading this story, would you?

Here is something to do this weekend

The River City Rod Run kicks off at the Hot Rod Cafe in Post Falls Friday evening. According to this Coeur d'Alene Press article, the festivities begin at 6 p.m. Friday until midnight, and resume on Saturday from 8 a.m until midnight. Check out the detailed schedule of events in the story that is linked above.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pedestrian Plan Development Video

As you may have seen here in June, SRTC is working with the City of Spokane, the Spokane Regional Health District, and the Regional Pedestrian Plan Committee to develop a Regional Pedestrian Plan for the area of Spokane County.

To develop a plan that addresses the needs of pedestrians in our area, we are looking for feedback on a variety of issues. This information is being gathered through a series of Regional Pedestrian Plan surveys to be done over the summer.

Here is a piece we put together in conjunction with the Health District and City Cable 5 on the purpose and goals of the Pedestrian Plan and the surveys we will be utilizing to develop the plan.

video

Check Fine Print When Buying Cheap Gas

If you think you're saving money at some area gas stations that still have prices below $4 a gallon, think again and read the fine print.
Some stations are apparently charging us more for using debit and credit cards!

Gas Saving Tricks Could Be Dangerous

We've all read the articles on 'hypermilers,' people who use extreme methods to increase gas mileage; such as coasting with your engine off, drafting behind big rigs, and driving much slower than the speed limit.

Law enforcement and driving experts now say what they're doing is not only dangerous, but could be illegal too.

Here's the story. Have you ever tried any of these techniques to save gas? If so, did it work?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Division Street Lane Reductions

Repairs to the joints of the Division Street Bridge just outside of downtown Spokane will cause some obstructions this week.

Tuesday and Wednesday, July 8 and 9, from 9 a.m. until as late as 2 p.m., northbound Division Street will be reduced to two lanes. Thursday, July 10, southbound Division Street will be reduced to two lanes from 9 a.m. until as late as 2 p.m. Saturday, July 12 from 11:30 p.m. until 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 13, southbound and/or northbound Division may be reduced to one lane.

Transportatin Roundup For Week Of July 7

A pat on the back for Spokane drivers from a major national magazine, a seminar for young drivers, Barker Road Bridge is closed starting today, and you may want to avoid Spokane Falls Boulevard downtown if possible.

Here's what happening in our area this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Area Drivers Tell How They're Cutting Costs

A recent national poll says that a third of Americans say they’ve changed their vacation plans this summer due to higher gas prices. Some have decided to go camping instead of take a road trip, some are just staying home, and some are even going so far as to say goodbye to their cars. Here's what some people from our area are doing to cut costs this summer.

I've been riding the bus as much as possible recently and had to downgrade my cell phone plan to a less expensive one. What are you doing to cut costs?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Magnesium Road Closed By Gas Leak

Magnesium Road in north Spokane is closed east of Division Street after Avista Utilities crews reported a gas leak. Crews are digging to try to find the source of the leak, which was discovered about 10:30 a.m. Commuters should avoid the area if possible.

Car-Free Day- A Possibility In Spokane?

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has just announced plans for a temporary Saturday-only seven mile car-free route through the centre of Manhattan this summer, under the name 'Summer Streets.'

For three Saturdays in August, a route linking Brooklyn Bridge in the south and the Upper East Side and Central Park in the north will be cleared of all traffic to be freed for use by cyclists and walkers.

Here's the details.

Do you think a 'car free' day would fly in Spokane?

Few Cell Phone Citations Issued

Few citations were issued during the first day of Washington's hands-free cell phone law yesterday. Authorities said though that they weren't exactly focusing on the violation.

The law states that drivers cannot have cell phones up to their ears, but they can use hands-free devices or talk on speakerphone. A cell-related ticket will be issued only if the driver first commits another violation, such as speeding or failure to yield. The ticket is $124. Drivers calling 911 and on-duty emergency workers are exempt from the law.

Eyman Initiative Gets Enough Signatures

It appears that Tim Eyman has gotten his latest initiative on the ballot. Eyman yesterday turned in the latest batch of what he says are 299,019 signatures. Election officials must now check to be sure there are at least 224,880 valid signatures.

Eyman’s Initiative 985 would:

• open freeway carpool lanes to everyone during off-peak hours;
• require cities and counties to synchronize traffic lights on busy roads;
• boost roadside help so accidents are cleared faster;
• and require that any tolls are used only on the same project.

Here are the details.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Better make sure that 2009 model is a California car

Remember when the legislature agreed to establish the California emission standards on new automobiles in the 2005 session? Well, as of today those new regulations take effect. Starting with the 2009 models, all new automobiles purchased by "Washington residents" must be certified to meet the California standards. That means if you reside in Washington state, you cannot go over to Idaho to purchase a car that doesn't meet the standards. If you try, you will not be able to register the car in Washington. (BTW, Idaho dealers say they will stock the cleaner burning California cars for their Washington customers). However, there is an exception for people moving to Washington state. They will be able to register their 2009 cars even if they don't meet the standards. Here is a link to the Spokesman Review story on this issue.

Interesting Info From The WSDOT

The final 1.5-cent gas tax increase from the 2005 transportation revenue package takes effect today. And the Washington State Department of Transportation wants to remind us that, yes, gas is expensive, but this increase will only raise the fuel bill of the typical driver by $9 per year per vehicle (see chart below).

What Does the Average Driver Pay Annually in Gas Tax?
(assumes 12,000 miles of driving per year)
implemented 30 mpg 20 mpg 10 mpg
July 1, 2003 (Nickel Gas Tax) 5¢ $20.00 $30.00 $60.00
July 1, 2005 (portion of the 9.5¢) 3¢ $12.00 $18.00 $36.00
July 1, 2006 (portion of the 9.5¢) 3¢ $12.00 $18.00 $36.00
July 1, 2007 (portion of the 9.5¢) 2¢ $8.00 $12.00 $24.00
July 1, 2008 (portion of the 9.5¢) 1.5¢ $6.00 $9.00 $18.00
subtotal of increases 14.5¢ $58.00 $87.00 $174.00
Existing state gas tax 23¢ $92.00 $138.00 $276.00
total state gas tax 37.5¢ $150.00 $225.00 $450.00

High Gas Prices Translate Into Lower Insurance Prices?

The insurance industry is trying to make us feel better about high gas prices by saying high prices force people to drive less, resulting in lower insurance rates.

Commuters who no longer drive to work may be eligible for an insurance rate reduction, as well as people who reduce their miles driven per week, if the reduction drops them into a lower rate category for their insurer.

Read the details, then get on the phone to your insurance agent. And let us know if you end up with a reduction, because we want to switch to your company.

SmartRoutes Application Submitted


SRTC is teaming up with other area agencies to seek up to $50 million in grant money for transportation projects aimed at getting more people to walk or ride a bike rather than drive a vehicle.

SRTC and the Spokane Regional Health District yesterday submitted an application for the 'SmartRoutes' initiative, which could provide funding for projects that cater to non-motorized transportation. Click here to read the request for funding that was submitted.

County & City Holiday Closures

Get your official business done in the next two days, because County and City offices are closed Friday. Here's a rundown of what's closed Friday:

* Spokane County offices
* The Spokane County Courthouse
* Public Safety Building
* Veterans Services
* Spokane City Hall
* Garbage transfer stations
* Waste-to-Energy facility
* Spokane Public Library branches
* The Spokane City Council briefing session and legislative meeting for Monday, July 7, have been cancelled because of a lack of a quorum. The Council will resume their regular schedule on Monday, July 14.

Here's what will stay open on Friday:

* The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office
* 911
* the Spokane County Crime Reporting Center (7:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m
* Riverfront Park attractions, including the Imax Theater, Spokane Falls Skyride, Pavilion rides, and Carousel.
* City golf courses
* City pools

Parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Friday, and garbage pickup and curbside recycling scheduled for Friday will occur on Saturday, July 5.

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.