Thursday, August 28, 2008

Congratulations Commute Smart Winners!

Spokane County and two local companies have been chosen as winners of the Governor's 'Commute Smart' awards. The awards were developed to recognize extraordinary efforts by Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) worksites in Washington State.

25 Commute Smart Award winners were chosen statewide. The Spokane County CTR Office nominated three employers, Pitney Bowes (for “Outstanding Management Leadership”), Rings & Things (for “Outstanding Achievement by a Voluntary Employer”), and Spokane County (for “Outstanding Achievement in Parking Management”).

All three were selected as winners and will be recognized at the 2008 Public Transportation Conference & Expo on Wednesday, September 10th in Kennewick.

What the.... ???

I found this picture on Flickr and have been trying to figure out what the heck the sign means. The picture title is listed as 'No U-Turn While Walking Your Moose.' What do you think?

Visit SRTC At Spokane County Interstate Fair

The Spokane County Interstate Fair kicks off late next week and SRTC will be there. Come visit us in the 'Go Green' area of the pavilion, where we've got a table with a group of other agencies. We'll be sharing the staffing responsibilities with people from those other agencies, so if you actually want to talk to Jeff or I, come on Monday, Wednesday or Saturday :)

The Latest 'Bad Streets' Letter To The Editor

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Worst streets in the West

I read Larry Todd's letter ("Patching streets isn't enough") in last Friday's Review with great interest. He asks why we cannot have "streets like 'normal' cities have."

Hear, hear, Mr. Todd! Recently my wife and I returned from a 3,500-mile trip through seven Western states. Interestingly enough the absolute worst driving conditions we found were upon our return home to Spokane. Why would a city that experiences the extremes in temperatures that ours does not have the wherewithal to keep our streets in decent repair? You would think that this would be a priority. Perhaps then folks like myself and Mr. Todd wouldn't question why it is we present a second-rate image to our citizens and visitors alike.

Michael Paul

Southwest Cutting Two Spokane Flights

Southwest Airlines is eliminating nearly 200 flights early next year, including two in and out of Spokane. Here's the story.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Holiday Traffic Roundup

Here's your roundup of info for the upcoming holiday weekend:

- Most construction work will be suspended by noon on Friday in anticipation of increased holiday traffic. Work will resume on Tuesday.

- Spokane City Hall will be closed on Monday, along with other City facilities, including the garbage transfer stations and the waste-to-energy plant.
Parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Labor Day, and garbage pickup and curbside recycling will be a day late all week with Friday’s pickup occurring on Saturday.

- Spokane County offices and courts will be closed on Monday.

Mudslides In August? What's Next, Snow In October???

My mood seems to be worsening with the weather. And this is really putting me over the edge: some parts of the state are already experiencing mudslides... and it's only August!

I'm faking my own death, collecting the insurance money and moving someplace warm.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Here's Your Warning...

Sheriff's deputies and Spokane Valley police will crack down on speeders on one of the Valley's most congested roads tomorrow (Wednesday).

Motorcycle officers will start on Bruce and Argonne roads and move to Sullivan Road later in the morning in an emphasis patrol lasting from 8 a.m. to noon.

Sgt. Dave Reagan said officers would be less likely to give warnings for speeding and other traffic offenses during Wednesday's emphasis patrol than they would be at other times, hint hint.

Monday, August 25, 2008

4th Ave. Closure

Tomorrow morning, August 26, through Thursday, August 28, Fourth Ave. from Bernard to McClellan streets will be closed to traffic. Motorists will be detoured to Fifth Ave. Woodard Construction will be installing water taps to a building on Fourth Ave.

Seattle man busted for biking naked with 3-year-old

Moral of this story: Go ahead and bike naked, if you must, but you better get a sitter for the kids.

Are high gas prices saving lives?

The Seattle Times has an interesting article on a recent study of what appears to be a dramatic decrease in traffic fatalities and how that decrease relates to the price of fuel. According to this article , fatal accidents are expected to fall below 37,000 for the first time since 1961. Fatal accidents peaked at over 55,600 in 1972, and they have been declining ever since. Still, that decline has been at just over 4% a year. Starting in March of this year, however, the fatalities have been dropping rapidly at a rate that is nearly 20% lower than the previous year.

Certainly automobile safety measures have contributed to some of the overall decline, and certainly the cost of fuel is causing some to alter their driving habits. But, do you believe that the rising cost of fuel is saving a significant number of lives?

See A Car Pulled Over, Change Lanes

Spokane and Idaho police would like to remind you to change lanes to give them space when they're making traffic stops on busy freeways or other arterials. Here's the Story. The spendy ticket could be an incentive as well.

Some of This Week's Upcoming Construction Delays

- On Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday of this week (August 25, 26, and 27), beginning at 7:00 a.m. until as late as 5:00 p.m., WSDOT crews will be working on the signal system on SR 904 at Betz Road in Cheney.

- When that's complete, the crew will do the same work on US 2 at the Deer Park/Milan Road intersection in Riverside. That work will be underway on Thursday and through mid-day Friday, August 28 & 29. Drivers should expect lane restrictions and possible slower traffic.

- On Tuesday, August 26, The Hatch Road Bridge, which crosses Latah Creek near U.S. 195, will be closed for maintenance work through Thursday, Aug. 28, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Motorists will need to find alternate routes. The work will include repairing broken and loose asphalt on the bridge’s deck.

- On Tuesday, August 26, WSDOT Maintenance Crews will have lanes closed on eastbound I-90 at Havana for bridge repairs from 9:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. the next morning. Drivers should expect slow traffic, congestion, and possible delays.

- On Wednesday, August 27, Maintenance Crews will be doing repairs on the Trent Bridge, mile post 0.82 on Trent Street, just east of Hamilton Street in both lanes in the east bound direction. Alternating one-way traffic flagger controlled from 1:00a.m. to 6:00 a.m. That work may also be underway Wednesday evening after 9:00 p.m. Steel plates will cover the areas for a couple of weeks, so motorcycles use caution.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gieger Spur is right on track

It's taken a few years to plan and finance the Geiger Spur, and now county officials say it should be open for business soon. (Read the story here). That is fantastic news for the 400 workers whose jobs rely on access to the rail line.

A whole lot of people deserve a great deal of credit for saving that spur, including the Greater Spokane Inc., the Spokane County commissioners and various elected officials at the state and federal levels.

After the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, the US Air Force decided that it no longer wanted the Geiger Spur to cut across Fairchild Air Force Base. The base used the track in the past for weapon shipments, but no longer needed the spur under its current refueling mission. The Air Force was simply going to abandon the track, until the county stepped in with plans to reroute the track around the base.

The commissioners worked with the economic development leaders in the community and the federal government to save the spur, and the rail dependent jobs in Airway Heights.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More construction zone closures

August 19, 2008


Lane closures on Wellesley Avenue from Perry to Pittsburg streets, in front of Rogers High School, are planned for the next three days. Traffic will be reduced by two lanes, leaving one lane open in each direction. Garco Construction will be installing a catch basin. The work is scheduled to begin Wednesday, August 20, and will end by Friday, August 22. Motorists should anticipate delays and may want to consider an alternate route.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Road maintenance issues plague the region

Over the past several years a number of cities, counties and the state for that matter, have focused their resources and energy on building and expanding new roads to accommodate record-setting growth.

But now that we have all this new infrastructure, the cost of maintaining it is getting away from us. This Cd'A Press editorial taps into the frustration that is mounting over this issue, but the problem is not local to Coeur d'Alene. It's regional.

Talk to any agency that deals with roads in Spokane or Kootenai counties and the story is pretty much the same: maintenance and preservation budgets for roads are simply tapped out, and there is no new revenue to address the issue. In many cases, these agencies are millions of dollars short of what they need to adequately maintain the public's infrastructure investment.

Some rural counties in Washington state have even considered going back to gravel roads in some areas because they are cheaper to maintain. I'm not kidding here, they are seriously contemplating tearing up the asphalt from paved roads to reduce the cost of maintenance.

As the Cd'A Press stated in its editorial, at some point "the public" will need to invest more in the preservation and maintenance of the infrastructure they have already spent millions to build.

Compound that with a need for even more expansion, and the problem gets exponentially worse. As you probably already know, the governors of Idaho and Washington have vowed to propose new revenue options in the next legislative sessions, but those state-level solutions rarely address the local needs.

Local officials have spent most of this year assessing this issue and some solution are are being considered such as a countywide transportation benefit district, which would have the authority to raise vehicle registration fees by $20 per vehicle. While that won't raise enough money to address the entire need, it will go a long way toward protecting the investments we have already made.

Question: Where do you find the money to adequately fund the preservation and maintenance of our transportation infrastructure? Also, do you support or oppose the car tab proposal?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sprague/Appleway Revitilization Public Hearing

Here's another chance to voice your opinion; the Spokane Valley City Council will hold a second public hearing on the Sprague/Appleway Revitilization Plan tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place.

Gregoire Considers 4-Day Work Week

Governor Gregoire said over the weekend that she's considering a proposal from state employees to move state government to a four-day workweek to save money on energy.
Here's the Seattle P.I. story. I say if a four day work week is good enough for state workers, it's good enough for SRTC employees. What do you think, would your boss consider it?

DUI Patrols, Bridge Closures, and Smart Commuting

Extra DUI patrols, bridge closures and smart commuting: Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Upcoming Delays/Construction Projects

Here are some of the delays/construction you have to look forward to this weekend and next week:

- Joe Albi Stadium Events Could Cause Delays, Congestion
This Saturday and Sunday, a religious rally will be held at Joe Albi Stadium from 6-11 p.m. both nights. Because of the estimated size of this event, along with major street construction in the area, local residents should try to find alternate routes in and out of the area.

- SR 27-Pines Road/Spokane Valley (MP 85)
On Sunday, August 17, from 4:30 a.m. until as late as 2:00 p.m., WSDOT crews will
install overhead signs at Sprague, Broadway, and Mission intersections with
possible lane restrictions.

- SR 290-Trent Ave./ Bridge Maintenance (MP 1)
On Sunday, August 17, maintenance Crews will do concrete repairs on the Trent
Bridge on Trent, just east of Hamilton Street in both eastbound lanes.
Steel plates will cover the areas for a couple weeks, so motorcycles should use

- I-90/Havana Street Bridge Deck Repairs (MP 284)
On Monday and Tuesday, WSDOT Maintenance Crews will have lanes closed on westbound
I-90 at Havana for bridge repairs from 9:00 pm to 5:30 am the next morning.
Drivers can expect slow traffic, congestion, and possible delays.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Free Bike Tune-Ups This Weekend!

Rest Area Wi-Fi Update

Oops, the Washington State Department of Transportation blog got ahold of some bad info last week regarding Wi-Fi service at Washington rest areas.

Here's their correction.

Could You Please Put In A Call To My Boss Jessica?

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Adopt more efficient workweek

Time has come for the four-day week. Moving from a 5/8 to a 4/10 standard would eliminate fuel consumption and pollution from one commuting/school day, would reduce energy consumption for cooling and heating of buildings, and would add a third day to the weekend for family and community time.

The elimination of one day's wasted transition times (the 15-30 minutes surrounding arriving and leaving work/school and lunchtime, when people are "getting ready to work" or "getting ready to leave") could potentially mean 1-2 hours more production time per week. Schools might use the fifth day to offer additional learning or arts opportunities, community service activities, or some of the sports and social activities cut in recent years.

The choice of five eight-hour days, set in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, was arbitrary anyway. Just as the nation adjusted once before from working six and seven days per week to the five-day week, we can change again. Many businesses, schools, and even the government of Utah have already changed to four-day schedules. If all institutions and businesses follow suit, we will survive, and soon the four-day week will feel like the natural way to be.

Jessica L. Mouser
Otis Orchards

Florida Representative Calls For More Money For NSC

SRTC Transportation Manager Glenn Miles yesterday played chaffeur to a high-ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in town to check out the North Spokane Corridor and some other big transportation projects in the area.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said the federal government should provide more money to help build the NSC and called the federal contribution amount, "a little embarrassing."

Mica is the ranking Republican on the transportation committee, which expects to develop a five-year plan for roads, bridges and other infrastructure next year.

Here's the Spokesman's writeup of Mica's visit.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Big Decline In Driving Reported For June

Americans drove 12.2 billion fewer miles in June than the same month last year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The 4.7% decline was the biggest monthly driving drop in a downward trend that began in November.

Here's the breakdown:

- Overall, Americans drove 53.2 billion fewer miles November through June than they did over the same eight-month period a year earlier.

- That's a larger decline than the 49.3 billion fewer miles driven by Americans over the entire decade of the 1970s, a period marked by oil embargoes and gas lines.

- Four out of ten people said they have used public transportation, walked or ridden a bicycle more frequently since gas prices have risen.

- Gas consumption was down, too. 400 million fewer gallons of gasoline and 318 million fewer gallons of diesel were consumed in the first quarter of 2008 than in the same period in 2007.

Board and TTC August Meetings Cancelled

If you had big plans to attend the SRTC Board and Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meetings this month, think again. Both have been cancelled for a summer 'hiatus' (it's always hard to get a quorum in August).

Items on the August 14 (tomorrow) Board meeting agenda will be addressed at the next regularly scheduled meeting on September 11 and TTC business will be taken care of at the next meeting scheduled for September 17.

Lilac Blind Foundation Translating Bus Maps Into Braille

A Spokane business is trying to get the word out about the struggles of the visually impaired by translating Spokane Transit Authority maps and bus schedules.

Here's the KXLY print and video versions of the story.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Turn Left At The Guy Passed Out On His Lawn

Because we're all about maps around here, here's a warning: DON'T GET DRUNK AND PASS OUT IN YOUR FRONT YARD. You could become a local landmark.

A man who fell asleep in a drunken stupor outside his home was horrified to find his picture posted on the internet, after he was photographed by a car-mounted video camera taking pictures for Google's 'StreetView' website.

Here's a link so you can share in his shame.

Stay-At-Home Moms Staying Home Even More

The term 'stay-at-home mom' is becoming more and more literal, according to this Spokesman-Review article. Apparently, gas prices are keeping moms from a lot of the activities they used to take the kids to do, or used to do while the kids were in school.

So moms, would you say this is accurate, or are you doing just as much running around as ever?

Public Involvement Policy Reminder

Here's another plea for you to review and comment on SRTC's revised Public Involvement Policy. I know I'm getting repetitive folks, but I've got to jump through the hoops. I write the thing, then I'm required to put it out to a public comment period and try to solicit input. No one can say I didn't do my part :)

Here's a link for your reading pleasure.

Thursday Freeway Delays

On Thursday, August 14, from 9am to as late as 3pm, eastbound I-90 will be reduced to two through lanes in the vicinity of the Hamilton Interchange so crews can make repairs to the bridge deck. Drivers should expect slow traffic, congestion, and possible delays during the project.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Stay, Play & Bus to the Beach...

In case you missed it this morning, the Spokesman Review had a piece on the various Spokane Transit routes that can get you to a refreshing beach in the hot summer months. Check it out here.

There is also a link to other "staycation" spots in our region. I have to admit that I enjoyed this series of staycation articles over the past summer. I really enjoyed the piece on Liberty Lake County Park. I grew up in North Idaho, and never once went to that park until last weekend. We spent two nights and hiked all over the place. It is a fantastic hiking area.

Question: Did you take a staycation this summer? If so, where?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Early Warning For Next Week's Travel

Eastbound traffic on Interstate 90 between Fourth of July Pass and Idaho 3 (mileposts 31-35) will be reduced to one lane for pavement work starting Monday, Aug. 11.

Crews will grind and repave the four-mile section of I-90. Speed limit reductions will be in effect and drivers are urged to be cautious when driving through the work zone.

The work is scheduled to be complete Sept. 1.

Slow Down And Take The Detour If You're A Wide Load

A reminder about the Deep Creek Bridge repair project currently underway west of Airway Heights: the speed limit is reduced to 30 MPH in the vicinity of the project and loads over eleven feet wide must use the posted detour.

I get the idea there have been problems with these two issues, as the notice the WSDOT listed them in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Get Your 'Student Driver' Signs While They're Hot!

Okay, I found what you're all getting for Christmas this year. Ever have one of those days when you find it hard to concentrate on driving; you can't find anything good on the radio, the phone keeps ringing, and you didn't think the curb was that close when you were paralell parking? Well, no one will give you the finger when you have this 'Student Driver' magnetic sign stuck to your car. And the best part, it's only $19.95 for three of them! And the website where they're sold says they 'reduce stress.' Hmmm... I'm thinking of sticking one on my desk at work if that's true.

Here's where you can buy them.

Goodbye Wi-Fi

Bad news for those of you who had gotten used to using the free Wi-Fi service at Washington State rest stops.

Here's the official word from the WSDOT on why Wi-Fi is going away, at least for a while.

Skyfest Traffic Plan

Officials are worried that the annual 'Skyfest' at Fairchild Airforce Base could tie up traffic on Highway 2 this weekend. WSDOT is warning of heavy congestion, slow traffic, stopped traffic, and long delays on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Here's the game plan to hopefully ease that situation, and a schedule of Skyfest events.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gas Cards Are The New Bonus Check

What has your boss done for you lately? This New York Times article talks about all the ways companies and corporations are giving 'perks' to their employees to help take the sting out of the high gas prices. We're on flex schedules here, and working with the City to see if we can take part in the subsidized bus pass program they're trying to re-institute. So far, no free gas cards though. Hint hint Glenn. So has anything changed at your job as a result of fuel costs?

'Car Free' Days Idea Not Welcomed By Many

We've talked about 'car free' days on this blog before and whether they'd be feasible in our area. Well, Seattle's Mayor thought they would work there, but some west-siders disagree.

Read the story then let us know if you think the business owners' concerns are reasonable, or if you think the 'car free' days could actually be a boon for business? And if we were to do one around here, what areas would you like to see be part of the experiment?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hatch Project Start Date Delayed

The project to rehabilitate Hatch Rd. from 54th to 43rd avenues has been delayed. The project was set to begin tomorrow, but will now start next Monday, August 11.

Hatch Rd. from 43rd to 54th avenues 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 to Perry St. Alternate routes include Crestline and Regal streets. The Manito Golf Course will remain open.

The $578,000 project is funded by the 10-Year Street Bond.

Check Out 'MapMyRide'

I've been hearing about the 'MapMyRide' website for a while now, but only just got around to checking it out. Say you're looking for someplace new to ride your bike to. You can log onto the site and check out rides other people have taken and mapped. They tell you about the scenery, the distance, the difficulty of the ride, etc. and provide a map.

Or maybe you want to be a little more original. MapMyRide also lets you plot your own bike rides over mountains (view elevation), through the woods (topo maps), and through the city (street level views). And once your cycling map is complete you can view it in 3D, satellite form, or share it with friends.

There are lots of other options on the site as well. Here's a link to MayMyRide. Now I just have to get the Huffy out of the garage and tuned up.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Downtown Spokane Plan Open House

We told you a couple weeks ago that the Downtown Spokane Plan Update is available for review and comment. Well if you want to comment, time is running out.

Comments will be accepted until this Thursday, Aug. 7, when an Open House is planned from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Spokane Visitors’ Center downtown at 201 W. Main.

The Plan includes a targeted list of projects that will mold downtown’s future.

You can view the Downtown Spokane Plan Update here and submit comments here.

Motorcycle Crashes Killing More Middle-Age Men

One of the subjects of the Spokesman's 'Huckleberries' blog today is the number of middle-aged men being injured or killed in motorcycle accidents. A decade ago, the victims of most motorcycle accidents were riders in their early 20s. Now, statistics show that more and more often they're middle-aged men.

Here's the link. What's your two cents?

Roundup For the Week of August 4

More scooters and motorcycles are hitting the roads, construction has started on the Deep Creek Bridge, and I90 ramps are closing.
Here's the roundup for this week's transportation activities in our area.

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.