Thursday, November 27, 2008

Some Things Jeff And I Are Thankful For This Thanksgiving

- Nice enough weather to continue to walk and bike well into this fall.
- That local lawmakers earlier this week didn't suggest stopping construction on the North Spokane Corridor all together until the economy improves. Instead they suggested scaling back the scope of the project.
- That we both still have jobs at SRTC (Glenn must not read this blog or we probably wouldn't).
- Female motorcycle cops (this was Jeff's submission).
- That voters had the foresight several years ago to approve the City's Street Bond.
- That ridership on STA has continued to rise, even after gas prices dropped drastically.
- That my office is in the very back corner, where I can pretty much do whatever all day and no one notices I'm wearing my pajamas.

Have a great Thanksgiving. We'll be back Monday, Dec. 1!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm guessing this lady will never fail to stop at a railroad crossing again.

Hillyard Gets Grants For Improvements

The Washington state Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) has awarded the City of Spokane two grants totaling $5.2 million for improvements in Hillyard.

The TIB grants include:
• $2.7 million to enhance economic development. This project will include new ADA-compliant sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, and street trees with a new irrigation system along Market Street from Heroy to Columbia. Construction is slated for 2009.
• $2.5 million to construct a left-turn lane and add sidewalks and bicycle lanes on Francis Avenue from Freya to Havana. The project is slated for construction in 2011.

Good work Hillyard!

Holiday Closures

Some advance notice of what's open and what's closed for the Thanksgiving holiday this week:

- Most Department of Transportation construction work will be suspended from Thursday, November 27th , through Sunday, November 30th, in anticipation of increased holiday traffic.
- Spokane City Hall will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 27 and 28.
- City of Spokane libraries, solid waste transfer stations, and the Waste to Energy Facility will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 27, but open regular hours the rest of the weekend.
- Thursday is a parking meter holiday, but normal meter use rules apply the rest of the weekend.
- All Spokane County offices, including the Public Safety Building, will be closed Friday and Saturday.

Price To Fly Coming Down

Airfares are falling rather than rising as the holiday travel season approaches. Due to the bad economy, many travelers are paying about $100 less per trip than people who locked in tickets months ago.

The holiday bargains come after financially strapped airlines shrank U.S. operations by about 10 percent this fall. Analysts predicted the capacity cuts would keep planes full but carriers are still struggling to fill seats, as many people are saving their money, unsure what to expect of the economy.

Plan Cuts NSC Price... And Amenities


State lawmakers Lisa Brown, Chris Marr, and Timm Ormsby held a news conference earlier this morning to propose a much smaller version of the stretch of the North Spokane Corridor between Francis Avenue and the Spokane River.

Due to funding issues, they're proposing the following changes:

•An interchange northwest of the Esmeralda Golf Course would be added later.
•The road would have four lanes instead of eight.
•Plans to put parts of the freeway below ground level would be shelved.

I was personally glad to hear that the bike/ped path will remain. And the WSDOT will still own the right of way required to build the original-planned freeway, so when the money becomes available they can expand.

Here's more information.


I heard some local DJs talking about this on the radio this morning. Their take is that the new plan sounds just like Division, minus the traffic lights. What's your thoughts on this proposal?

Monday, November 24, 2008

AAA Predicts Holiday Travel Won't Drop Much

Despite layoffs, foreclosures and stock losses, AAA is predicting that holiday travel won't drop much, and that 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here's are the numbers.

Do you plan to travel this week?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Flaggers to Direct Traffic Near Malls Starting Next Friday

It's that time again, the time when shopping starts to take over our entire lives, to the point that it can obstruct traffic.

Here's early warning that, starting next week, drivers near NorthTown Mall may experience delays due to traffic back-ups caused by people trying to get into and out of the mall. Flaggers will be on hand, starting next Friday, Nov. 28.

Same story near the entrance and exit to the River Park Square parking garage downtown. Flaggers will also be directing traffic at both those locations starting Friday.

It's that time of the year again...be careful out there

That's right. The roads iced up last night and several drivers failed to pay attention to that on their way to work this morning. The Spokaesman review did a round up of accidents in Spokane and Idaho this morning. Man, you knwo that guy that ran the redlight and hit a sheriff's deputy is going to have a bad day... Check out the story below:


Below freezing conditions overnight are causing slick roads in north and west Spokane County.

Collisions have been reported on Highway 2 near Elk-Chattaroy Road.

On Highway 27 at 24th Avenue, a two-car collision has been pulled off the roadway, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Mark Baker. Two people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.



In Idaho

Three wrecks have been reported on Highway 95, police said.

A pickup rollover at Cougar-Gulch Road south of Coeur d'Alene is being investigated.

A jackknifed Fed-Ex truck between Grangeville and Lewiston is blocking the highway, officials said. Expect a two-hour road closure.

At Highway 95 and Kathleen, a Kootenai County Sheriff's deputy was hit by a red-light runner. The deputy is a little shaken but otherwise OK, said Kootenai County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger. The driver who hit the deputy is uninjured. Idaho State Police is investigating.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Avoid Bad Roads This Winter By Finding A Different Way To Work

The weather has been amazingly mild for this time of year, but don't get used to it, we all know bad weather and nasty road conditions are on the way. So be proactive for once and think ahead about how you're going to get to work in one piece when the roads are bad. I highly recommend riding the bus, but the folks at the Spokane County Commute Trip (CTR) Reduction program have some other options you can check out too, and they even reward you for using them! Here's a link to the CTR site.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Some Stats From The WSDOT

The Washington State Department of Transportation wants you to know their crews are ready to handle snow and ice control duties. For the duration of the winter, 200 crew members will work two shifts, seven days a week, to keep the 1,600 miles of state highways in the seven northeastern counties safe.

93 snowplows are stationed throughout the region, and 14 liquid anti-ice chemical trucks. Maintenance teams are on duty from around 4:00 a.m. to midnight or later. Liquid and solid chemicals, plus sand, are important tools in snow and ice control.

Some advice from the WSDOT:

- Check for accidents and dangerous roads by logging onto the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center website.
- Watch out for slippery bridge decks, even when the rest of the road fine.
- Don’t use cruise control.
- Don’t follow too closely.
- Slow down!

Rockslide Reveals Giant Fossil

A rockslide in western Washington has revealed a huge fossil... and a tropical past for our region. Here's the story from the WSDOT blog.

City Impact Fees Approved But Delayed

Spokane leaders have finally created taxes on new development in hopes of solving a growing shortfall in street funding.

But because of restrictions in the "impact fee" ordinance, which was approved by City Council Monday, it's unclear when the city will start collecting the money.Here's the story.

Two People Hit By Car In Valley

Two people were hit by a car early this morning in Spokane Valley at Evergreen Road and Mallon Avenue. As of 8:00 this morning, the northbound, right hand lane of Evergreen is blocked, and Mallon is blocked east of the intersection. The couple were taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center with serious injuries.

Remember folks, if you're walking or driving, you need to be a lot more vigilant now that it gets light later. It's hard for drivers to see you if you don't wear light colors when walking. And this morning's fog not only cut down sight distance, but also made some roadways slick, which means it's hard to stop in a hurry.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Move Your Cars If You Live In Browne's Addition

It happens every year, the City of Spokane asks Browne's Addition residents to move their cars in order to pick up leaves, and some people don't get the message, or get their cars moved. Well, it's time again. Tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m., the trucks will be on the north-south streets in Browne’s Addition. Wednesday it's the east-west streets.

Cars must be moved because the streets are so narrow in Browne’s Addition the trucks cannot get through with parked vehicles lining the streets. Vehicles parked on the street when the trucks come in will be subject to towing.

Rockslide Drops Rocks As Big As Cars

Check out this picture of a rockslide that happened on Chuckanut Drive (SR 11) in Western Washington last week. Fortunately no one was injured or hurt when several hundred yards of rock crashed onto the roadway. Some of the rocks were as big as small cars.

Writer Not Happy With Sprague/Appleway Decision

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Street plan 'monstrous'

Regarding your editorial (Nov. 3) approving the "hybrid" traffic compromise by the city of Spokane Valley, one might say: "What's another $12 million, anyway?" It is, however, just part of a monstrous, $42 million unfunded mandate to totally change over six miles of the Sprague/ Appleway corridor almost to Greenacres.

Though Valley population and commercial activity trends eastward, our city seeks to eliminate, through zoning, any retail and land competition to force commercial growth at University City. Thus, magically, a "city" will rise, rebuilt around a grand edifice called City Hall, worthy of housing an exploding bureaucracy.

This plan is also discriminatory and arbitrary, favors a select few, and saddles hundreds of businesses and property owners with compromised titles, depressed real estate and insurance and financing worries through "nonconforming" status. Building restrictions border the absurd.

With a 2009 budget of $111 million ($304,000/day), the city appears oblivious to looming taxpayer burdens. Dissenters are lectured about their powerless status.

The tragedy is that all of us want an attractive city, built by citizen consensus. But deaf ears prevail. The plan has been bought, the planning department has been unleashed and the taxpayers lose.

Elizabeth Damascus Grafos
Spokane Valley


What's your opinion of the Sprague/Appleway Corridor 'compromise?'

Roundup For the Week of Nov. 17

If you haven't been to Spokane International Airport lately you're in for a surprise when you do go, troopers issue almost 3,000 citations to large trucks in a safety emphasis patrol, and don't warm your car up in the morning because you could get a ticket. Here's roundup from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Is Honda Withholding Natural Gas Burning Car?

Is Honda suppressing sales of a car that's being called by some "the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle in the world." That's what some writers and websites claim, and they're using Spokane Community College's auto mechanic program as proof.

The college has been trying to get their hands on a compressed natural gas-burning car, to train would-be mechanics, with no luck. SCC's prolonged effort is being cited in a book about America's reliance on foreign oil, and also in online reports for The Cutting Edge Web site. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mark Your Calendars For Master Bike Plan Open House

You're invited to attend an open house next week to learn the status of the update to the City of Spokane’s Master Bike Plan. The meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 18, 6 to 8 p.m. at Salem Lutheran Church, 1428 W. Broadway.

The update includes identifying ways to make Spokane more bicycle-friendly and improving bike routes, signage, and other elements. You'll have the opportunity to make comments and suggestions and ask questions.

We'll remind you again next week.

Bike Sharing Huge Success In Europe

We tried a variation of 'bike sharing' in Spokane years ago, with the result that a lot of the lilac-painted bicycles ended up in the river or stolen. This New York Times article tells how some new technology is keeping things like that from happening, and making bike sharing a huge sucess in Europe.

Do you think bike sharing would work if we tried it again, with the technology mentioned in the story?

Trent Lane Reduction

If you drive Trent on your commute, get ready for some possible obstructions and delays in the area from McDonald Road to the railroad tracks. Trent will be reduced to one westbound lane in this area starting next Monday, in order to install sewer line.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

STA Ridership Hits New High

Confetti didn't rain from the sky and a marching band appear out of nowhere like on TV, but ridership on Spokane Transit Authority buses and vans surpassed the one million mark for the first time last month!

The number of Citylink riders in Kootenai County is way up too. Here are the numbers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bike master plan heads for public comment

According to a story in toady's Spokesman Review, the City of Spokane's bicycle master plan is almost ready for a public open house. You can read the story here. Below is a you tube video the Bicycle Blvd. concept mentioned in the story. If you haven't watched this video already, it is worth your time.

The open house will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 18 at Salem Lutheran Church, 1428 W. Broadway Ave.

Keep the change...

No need to plug the meters in Downtown Spokane Tuesday. It's Veterans' Day, and those oh-so-dedicated parking (ahem) police are taking a well-deserved day off. Here is a press release from the city of Spokane:

TUESDAY IS A PARKING METER HOLIDAY;

CITY OFFICES OPEN AS USUAL

***********************************************

Parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Tuesday, Nov. 11, because of the Veterans Day holiday. City of Spokane offices and libraries, however, are open as usual on Tuesday, and garbage pickup and curbside recycling will proceed on a normal schedule.

Riverfront Park’s Imax Theater and Ice Palace are open on Veterans Day. Check www.spokaneriverfrontpark.com for the schedule.

Friday, November 7, 2008

For Those Who Don't Like To Read, Here's A Video On SmartRoutes

videoIf you've heard of the SmartRoutes campaign we've been talking about a lot lately, but want more information, this video may help. It was produced by Cable Channel 5 and will play all month there as part of the Insight program. For even more SmartRoutes info,check out the new SmartRoutes website.

Some Updates From The City

· Francis Avenue from Walnut to Adams streets will have lane restrictions beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, and ending at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8.

· Street crews are crack sealing Northwest Blvd. from Assembly to Alberta streets; Broadway Ave. from Oak to A streets; and Fifth Ave. from Pittsburg to Thor streets.

Spokane City Leaf Pickup Starts Monday

Spokane City residents get ready. The annual leaf pickup begins on Monday, Nov. 10.

The service is intended to remove only leaves that naturally fall into the streets. Please do NOT rake leaves into the street. Please move your vehicle from the street before leaf crews are in your neighborhood. I was going to list the pickup dates and neighborhoods, but there was way too much info to post here. If you want to know when they'll be in your neighborhood, check the,City's leaf pickup webpage.

Slow Going On I-5 Due To Flooding

Be glad you're not driving on I-5 in Western Washington this morning. Not only did a crash of multiple semi-trucks close the southbound lanes all morning, but heavy rains are causing flooding on the freeway and surrounding areas.

For more flood pictures,here's a link to KIRO TV's website.

Gas Hits $1.99 In Spokane Valley

Ta da! It's here! $1.99 gas made it's first appearance in the Spokane Valley last night at Argonne and Montgomery. And people were responding. As I was leaving after filling up, there was a huge line waiting for their turn at $1.99 gas. And I wasn't the only one taking pictures either. I noticed a couple other people using their phones to snap pictures of the price.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

West Side Light Rail Proposal Passing

A regional transit proposal that would extend light rail service from downtown Seattle into the surrounding suburbs is passing, as votes are still being counted.

Proposition 1 would impose a sales tax increase of 0.5 percent, a nickel per $10, to pay for a plan Sound Transit estimates at $22.8 billion that would expand light rail to Bellevue, Lynnwood and Federal Way.

Here are the details.

Murphy's Law?

City Councilman Bob Apple, who opposed installing red light cameras at city intersections, was hit by a red-light runner last week.

Apparently that hasn't changed his mind about the need for the program, though.

And so far the cameras are racking up violators; 650 drivers have been warned or cited since Oct. 1. Here's the story.

Here It Comes

It's a little hard to make out because of the water on the lens, but this picture is of weather conditions on Stevens Pass. Look past the water drops and you'll see lots of snow on the ground.

Snow has fallen the past few days in both Washington and Idaho mountain passes. Traction tires are being advised on Sherman Pass in northeast Washington and no oversize loads are allowed on Stevens Pass in central Washington. For Idaho's Lookout Pass, the roadways are currently clear of snow, but it's wet in shaded areas.

Thanks For Taking The Ped Plan Survey

Thanks to everyone who took the recent survey to help us develop a Regional Pedestrian Plan. We had 1222 respondents to the survey! That's huge! I'll post results as soon as I get them. Thanks again!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Daylight Savings Time Takes Toll On Pedestrians

A reminder to drivers and pedestrians to pay extra attention to pedestrian safety now that it's getting dark earlier. The Washington State Department of Transportation says that, once daylight savings time kicks in, it's difficult for drivers to see walkers and bikers. Of the 67 pedestrian fatalities that occurred between February 1, 2007 and January 30 2008, almost half occurred between October and January, when daylight savings time was in effect.

Here are some safety tips to reduce the risk of being involved in a collision:

Pedestrians
• Wear bright or reflective clothes and carry a flashlight to be seen
• Make eye contact with drivers – know that the driver is aware of your presence
• Walk where it’s safest – use sidewalks or on the edge of the road facing traffic
• Cross the roadway at intersections

Drivers
• Drive the speed limit – survivability rates for pedestrians involved in collisions with vehicles decreases as speeds increase
• Stop for pedestrians. Motorists must stop for pedestrians in unmarked or marked crosswalks (any intersection is considered a crosswalk). It is also illegal to pass another vehicle stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk
• Pay attention near schools and recreation areas

Cycling Grows, Even In Areas With Public Transportation Options

Even in areas where there is ample public transportation, the amount of people riding bicycles to get to work is growing. The New York City Department of Transportation says that commuter cycling rose a remarkable 35 percent between 2007 and 2008! Here's the story from the New York Times.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

WSDOT Gets Ready To Break Out The Big Guns

The Washington State Department of Transportation is in high gear, getting ready to battle the snow expected to fall on Snoqualmie Pass tonight.

Here's their plan, and what they expect from you if you're driving to the west side anytime soon. Someone wake me in the spring when the snow is all gone.

Please Vote; There's A Transportation Item On The Ballot

A reminder to vote today if you haven't already. Either get yourself to your polling place or drop your ballot in the mail so the postmark shows you mailed it today.

Remember, there's an item on the ballot that would affect transportation in Washington State- I-985, the initiative Tim Eymann says will reduce traffic congestion but opponents say would take money away from the east side of the state.

Be sure to do your research. For more information on all state ballot items, check out the Washington Voter website. It's a non-partisan summary of the 2008 statewide initiatives prepared by the League of Women Voters.

Satisfied Customer Thanks City Of Spokane

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
City's road response refreshing

On Sept. 17 I sent an e-mail to Mayor Mary Verner titled "Concerned Five Mile Resident." I invited the mayor to drive Strong Road that stretches across Five Mile Prairie. I wanted her to get firsthand experience of how narrow, bumpy and, I believe, dangerous this road is for the Five Mile community.

I received a telephone call from the mayor's office just two days later inquiring about my availability for a ride-along with city officials. I jumped at the chance! On Oct. 16, Ted Danek, city administrator, Gerald Gemmill, deputy director, and Mark Serbousek, director of the street department, met me for a ride-along on Five Mile's Strong Road. Though the drive only lasted a few minutes, I felt privileged to have the undivided attention of three city officials. They listened to my concerns and noticed the many improvements that needed to be made to the high-traffic Strong Road.

Within a week I received a call from Ted Danek informing me that I should see some work done on two of Strong Road's biggest dips. Two days later they were completed. I want to thank Mr. Danek, Mr. Gemmill and Mr. Serbousek for the improvements to Strong Road.

Rebecca R. Selby
Spokane


We don't see enough favorable letters to the editor concerning transportation in our area. Anyone else have a shout-out they'd like to post? I personally would like to thank Mark Curtis, the Customer Service Manager at the STA Plaza for all the help he provided us recently on an event SRTC was co-hosting.

The Math Says It's Not Worth The Drive

Yesterday I said it may be worth the trip to Kootenai County to fill your gas tank, with the 40 cent difference in gas prices between the state. Well, I've been proven wrong, which happens once in a while.

An article in the Spokesman today says you'll spend almost as much to get there and back as you would have saved. And they've done the math to prove it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Studs Are Legal Now In WA & ID

It's now legal to have studded tires on your car in both Washington and Idaho. AS of Nov. 1, you can drive with studded tires in Washington. The date in Idaho was Oct. 1.

And another sign that winter is almost here, WSDOT has started its 24-hour mountain pass reports. Here's where you can check those reports

Time To Take A Drive To Idaho?

I've always said it's a waste of time and money to drive to Idaho to fill your tank, as you use what you would save just making the trip over there. It may pay off for you Valley residents now though, since gas dropped below $2 a gallon this weekend in Kootenai County. The lowest I've seen the price here in Washingotn was $2.39 this morning in Liberty Lake. A 40-cent per gallon difference in price may be a motivating factor for me to take a scenic drive, at least to Post Falls.

Here's the latest on gas prices from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

In the meantime, what's your prediction? How long will prices continue to drop, and stay low?

Editorial Calls For Valley To Make Better Transportation Plan

Last week, the City of Spokane Valley announced they had come up with a compromise in the debate over the Sprague-Appleway couplet: the section of the one-way alignment east of Dishman-Mica Road will be restored to two-way streets, while the section to the west will remain as a couplet.

An editorial in today's Spokesman-Review says the Valley needs a better 'vision' for transportation in it's jurisdiction to develop its' identity as a city.

Ride The Bus To Slow Global Warming

Using mass transit is the single biggest thing the average person can do to slow global warming, a national leader in public transportation told transportation officials in Spokane last week. Here's the story from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

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.