Thursday, December 31, 2009

Parking Lot Work To Obstruct Traffic

There will be some lane reductions on Spokane Falls Blvd., Washington, Main, and Bernard in downtown Spokane next week. Work to finish the parking lot project at Washington & Spokane Falls Blvd. starts Tuesday, January 5th, and goes to Friday, January 8th.

Traffic lanes and parking lanes will be closed as work progresses around the block.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Knew I'd Seen The Grim Reaper At City Hall

I don't know who Gontram Architects are but they're some funny guys who want to wish you happy holidays with this fun video. I'm not going to say anything else, as to keep myself out of trouble here.

Montana Has Killer Highways- And Not In The Good Sense

Turns out that our neighbor state, Montana, has some of the deadliest highways per mile nationwide. There were almost 22,000 crashes in the state of Montana last year, killinhg 229 people. Why though? Is it the aging infrastructure? The steep corners and grades? Or the people who drive at ridiculous speeds, even at night?

Here's the answer from KECI News out of Missoula.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Closures- Again

A reminder that it's another short week so get your government business done early. All government offices will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1 and most will close early (around noon or 1 p.m.) on Thursday. Spokane County's Building and Planning Department will be closed on Thursday for their regular staff furlough day as well as on Friday, January 1, 2010.

The Questions You Never Thought To Ask About Your Car and Driving

Ever wonder how the gas pump nozzle shuts itself off when the gas tank in your car is full? Yeah, I never have either. Until I saw this article on MSN. I guess I just never thought about it. It's relatively simple though, and pretty impressive considering the 'technology' behind it has been around for 50 years. Impressive because there really wasn't technology back then.

This article also answers some of the other questions you've come up with while driving but never thought to actually ask. Anyone have anything that wasn't covered in the article?

Monday, December 28, 2009

North Foothills Drive Obstruction

There will be a street obstruction on North Foothills Drive just west of Perry tomorrow, December 29th.

Garco Construction will be setting a crane on North Foothills Drive to remove two train cars located on the Gonzaga Prep property. Westbound lanes of North Foothills will be closed west of Perry. Westbound traffic will be detoured north on Perry, west on Bridgeport, then south on Nevada. The Eastbound left turn lane (turning north on to Perry) will be closed to accommodate the crane outriggers.

This is a one day job-closure to be set by 9 am, with work complete by 3 pm.

Millwood Employees Recognized For Hard Work

How often do you hear news out of tiny Millwood, WA? And if you do, how often is it positive, instead of negative stories about traffic or other problems there? Well
here's an article recognizing two City of Millwood employees for the hard work they've done over the years on area roads, and other public works projects.

Thanks Cleve McCoul and Paul Allen!

Eagle Watchers Causing Traffic Havoc

If you're headed over to Coeur d'Alene to watch the eagles that visit the lake at this time every year, the Idaho Transportation Department just sent out a news release saying that the Idaho State Police will issue citations to drivers who interfere with traffic along Idaho 97. The birds gather every year near Coeur d'Alene Lake, drawing hundreds of people to watch them, and create havoc with road conditions.

Parking areas and pullouts are available on a limited basis along Idaho 97 on the eastern shore of the lake where bird watchers can safely pull off the highway. Motorists have been stopping and blocking traffic, which has prompted the state police to step up traffic patrols and issue citations. Inattentive drivers and cars suddenly stopping create a serious safety issue on the highway.

Anyone wishing to view the bald eagles should use designated parking areas, such as Higgins Point, or identified pullout areas. And slow down and pay attention when travelling around the lake.

Spokane Man Sues Idaho Over Accident

A Spokane man has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the state of Idaho for injuries he says resulted from a crash caused by potholes on Interstate 90 in North Idaho.

Here's the story.

I don't remember this when it happened, or the conditions on I90 at the time so it's hard for me to judge whether this suit is right or wrong. ITD officials say there's nothing they could do to fix the situation because of the weather though. From reading this article, do you think the accident victim should win this case or did ITD do everything they could to prevent something like this from happening?

US 395 To Close For Blasting

US 395 will be closed for short periods of time over the next several weeks to accomodate blasting required to build an interchange for the North Spokane Corridor.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Transportation Bill Extended Again

Those of you who are observant have probably already noticed that Dec. 18 has passed. What’s the significance of the date? For the non-transportation groupies out there, that was the expiration date for the extension of SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users), the funding and authorization bill that governs United States federal surface transportation spending.

So what does that mean? Are we without a bill that provides funding for transportation projects now and all construction projects will grind to a halt? No, that won’t happen. On the 18th, the ‘Omnibus Bill’ was passed, which extended SAFETEA-LU AGAIN until September of 2010.

Why should you care? Because we at SRTC partnered with the Rails to Trails Conservancy on the ‘SmartRoutes’ project to try to get Congress to double the non-motorized transportation budget from $4.5 billion to $9 billion in the next federal transportation budget. If that happens, when they finally get around to reauthorizing the bill, there will be more money available to build bicycling-friendly facilities like bike lanes, trails, paths, etc.

In the meantime, a couple other bills are expected to be voted on in January that relate to transportation. Jeff Selle is SRTC’s Manager of Government Affairs. After Congress reconvenes in January, he says he’ll write up an entire analysis of everything going on right now that involves transportation.

So, if you’re one of those people who gets that holiday letdown feeling after the holidays, just know that you have that to look forward to.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How Do I Get My Own Channel?

Did you know that the Washington State Department of Transportation has it's own youtube channel? I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't, although I should have.

So, it's Christmas Eve and you're at work. But it's a short day and the boss isn't there so what are you going to do? It's not enough time to actually get any work done, but it is enough time to watch WSDOT videos on how they prepare for winter weather, how to put chains on your tires, avalanche control, comparison of freight and passenger trains, and building smarter highways. So get started folks, you're going to be brimming with new transportation knowledge by noon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Spokane Beats Goal Of Reducing Single Occupancy Vehicles

The city of Spokane got some recognition this week for curbing wasteful driving practices in the region. Spokane is one of seven cities in the state designated as growth and transportation efficiency centers, or GTECs, and it topped the other six in terms of reducing vehicle miles traveled and the drive-alone rate. Here's more from a Spokesman-Review editorial.

Congratulations To WSDOT On Their Awards

Congratulations to Chad Simonson's project engineering team at the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Roads and Bridges magazine and the Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association gave them a national award for their innovative use of asphalt recycling on the US 2/SR 211 to Newport project this past summer. The top layer of the existing highway was ground off, mixed with asphalt oil and placed back on the roadway surface as a base layer. This recycle process saved about $1.5 million and reduced the amount of new pavement needed for the project.

Simonson’s project office was also awarded the “Partnership for Excellence in Contract Administration” for the North Spokane Corridor/BNSF Tunnel project. This job required extensive coordination with the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad and the contractor, Scarsella Brothers, in building this structure over an operating rail line.

Happy Holidays From SRTC. Here's Your Card

Here's Your PC holiday greeting from SRTC:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wish.

And here's your not-so-PC greeting, which stars some of the SRTC 'cast.' Enjoy!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lily and Bob, Your Days Are Numbered

Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog, like Lily (pictured), is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle.

But the new book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" is offending many pet owners. Here's a link to this VERY interesting article. So I wonder if that book has recipes for chow-mix dog and a really fat, shorthaired cat named Bob.

What do you think... is this going over the line in the name of being 'environmentally friendly' or is time for mandatory neutering of cats and dogs and limiting how many pets people can have?

Holiday Closures

A reminder that if you have government business to do, you'd better get it done either today or tomorrow because we'll all be at home wearing our bunny jammies the rest of the week. All government agencies are closed on Friday for the holidays, and most close around noon or 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

- Any remaining construction projects will also be shutting down early to accomodate holiday travellers. Construction will be suspended from noon on Wednesday until Monday the 28th.

- The Spokane City Council is not scheduled to meet on Monday, Dec. 28. Council meetings will resume on Monday, Jan. 4.

- Parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Friday, Dec. 25 but DO have to be plugged the day after Christmas.

- the Spokane County Building and Planning Department will close at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23rd (Executive Order), and remain closed on Thursday, December 24th (staff furlough) through Friday, December 25th (holiday).

- All government offices open again on Monday, Dec. 28.

A Couple Observations From The Bus This Morning

Some of the ladies who ride my bus route regularly passed around a holiday card this morning for all the riders to sign for the bus driver. I thought that was pretty cool and was impressed because I never would have thought of it, and the driver seemed pretty touched too.

There was a teenage boy on the bus who apparently doesn't own a mirror. I couldn't figure out what he was doing at first when he took a picture of himself with his cell phone,then looked at the picture, combed his hair, and took another picture. He then consulted that picture and did some more adjusting of his hair. It took about four pictures but he finally got his hair all combed and arranged to his satisfaction. Yet another thing I wouldn't have thought of; using your cell phone as a 'mirror.'

Monday, December 21, 2009

Straight From The City Of Spokane...

Sprague Avenue from Browne to Bernard streets will have lane reductions from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22, and Thursday, Dec. 24, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23. The restrictions are needed to install water service to the building located at 232 W. Sprague Ave. Signs will be in place.

New Flashing Signs At Two Area Schools

Spokane County Engineers have installed new flashing beacon school zone signs at Mullan Road Elementary School on Spokane's south hill and Linwood Elementary located in north Spokane County.

The flashing beacon school zone signs are part of an overall traffic safety requirement that protects more than 630,000 elementary school age children in Washington State. They were funded by Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Spokane County Engineering and Roads, and Spokane Public Schools.

Flashing yellow beacon lighting is one of the most effective ways to reduce speeds of vehicles in school zones. On average, drivers travel five to seven miles per hour slower when the flashing yellow school zone lights are present.

Another Pedestrian Dies After Being Hit By Car

Another pedestrian died this weekend after being hit by a car. Stephen W. Shockley was walking his dog Friday evening when he was hit by a minivan trying to cross Francis between Elm and Cannon streets. It's not clear yet if the driver will be cited.

What concerns me about this is that it is the seventh fatal auto-pedestrian accident in Spokane this year. Yes, SEVEN! What the heck people, what's going on out there?? I realize this last guy was crossing mid-block but I know that most of the pedestrians killed this year were in crosswalks and had the right of way. I don't have pedestrian death statistics in front of me right now, but I'm guessing this has to be some kind of record for Spokane. And not the kind of record we want.

What's Your Vision For Future Transportation?

The Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column did a piece on our 'Visioning Process' today. Plus they're warning you that if your car impedes a plow, you could pay. Here's the article.

Read it and let us know what your transportation 'vision' is for the future. Is it more/improved bus service? Better connectivity of bike lanes and trails? Light rail? Flying cars? Let us know.

Need A New Jersey?

Need a new jersey for bicycling? Here are some funny, yet applicable ones, that may get your point across to aggressive drivers. Here's where you can buy them if interested.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Couple Items From The City Of Spokane

- Browne Street, in front of Sacred Heart Medical Center, will be closed from Sixth to Seventh avenues from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow, so crews can replace windows in the hospital. Detours will be in place.

- City of Spokane leaf pickup crews are nearly finished. Crews will be working in the remaining areas, weather permitting, from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.:

Liberty/Lincoln Area: South of I-90, north of 20th Ave., east of Southeast Blvd., and west of Ray St.

Gonzaga Area: South of Empire Ave., north of Boone Ave., west of Crestline St., and east of Division St.

We Needs Something That Says 'Stop!,' Only In A Friendly, Attractive Way

Thanks to Joe at the Spokesman for sending us this little treat. Joe hit the nail on the head with this one. I swear I've actually worked with those people.

Stop signs are one of the many things we take for granted. Sometimes it's hard to believe they're a relatively new invention and someone actually 'invented' it. This video is a fun look at what it would look like had the stop sign been designed by committee.

Now For The Ray LaHood Pick Of The Day

On Facebook Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was touting this report from the Safe Routes To Schools National Partnership on how Safe Routes to School initiatives protect children walking and bicycling. We're firing up a Safe Routes To School movement in our area that will (hopefully) become more visible in the next year, so keep an eye out for that. Is this enough to get you to visit our area, Mr. LaHood?

Wrong-Way Driver Kills Self & Two Others

Three people were killed early today when a wrong-way driver struck another car on an I90 on-ramp near U.S. 2. Here's what happened, from the Spokesman-Review.

Over on the Spokesman-Review's 'Huckleberries' blog they're debating whether cable median dividers, like those on I90 through Spokane Valley, could have prevented this accident. Cable medians divide east and west bound lanes. According to KXLY News, in the four years before they were installed from Sullivan Road to the Idaho state line in 2004, there were six crossover crashes on that stretch of freeway. In the years since there have been none, though on 93 separate occasions vehicles have been stopped from crossing over by the cable barrier.

Glenn Beck Discusses The Fish Lake Trail- Worthy Or A Waste Of Taxpayer Money?

Apparently Congressman Jason Chaffetz from Utah takes offense to our Fish Lake Trail. He was on the Glenn Beck radio program last week talking about wasteful spending, and included thei trail in that category. Here's a link to the transcript. The reference to the Fish Lake Trail is about halfway down.

So what do you think folks? Chaffetz's argument is that these are worthy causes, but the American people are spending too much on taxes and projects like this should be paid for by someone else. Would you prefer to have facilities like the Fish Lake Trail or the money in your own pocket? And you don't have to be PC here, but no swearing please.

Annual Highway Report Out

Which state has the most efficient state-owned highway system? According to the 'Reason Foundations' 18th Annual Highway Report, it's North Dakota. Which states have the worst-performing highway systems? Hawaii, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island, and Alaska, according to the report. And how many bridges across the country are deficient or functionally obsolete? The report says 25%.

Want to read the whole report now? You should, because there are a lot of other interesting gems like those in there. Here's the link.

Apparently Getting Hit By A Prius Doesn't Cause A Lot Of Damage

Thanks to blogger Holly, I have just discovered the lure of the Craigslist 'Best of' ads. I can't put a link because some of the ads contain inappropriate references for this blog but here's one useable gem I found on there:

You hit me with your Prius

Date: 2009-07-25, 3:23PM PDT


Me - Bicyclist, heading to jury duty on 10th Street, Friday at 8:50am.
You - Prius driver, crossing over two lanes, hitting me with your car and speeding away.

I was hoping we could catch up for a cup of coffee, so I could get your views on the environment, and strangle you.

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Transportation Secretary LaHood On The Daily Show

Here's a little mid-week treat for you; Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on the Daily Show with John Stewart. It's interesting stuff; they talk about taking Amtrak to beat the fog, Obama's Stimulus package, and the next big thing in transportation, which LaHood says will be high speed rail and which the audience seemed to like. The pneumatic tube item isn't a bad idea either, I'm going to start working on that in my garage.

In the meantime, I'm hearing that LaHood wants to take a tour of 'rural America.' I'm starting my own campaign to get him here. We're not necessarily rural, but we are surrounded by rural lands when you consider the palouse, the west plains area, much of Idaho and on east to Montana. And we have a unique Metropolitan Planning Organization setup here where we provide transportation planning for two counties, using one staff.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Ray LaHood
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

SRTC Meeting Dates Set

Meeting dates for SRTC's Board and Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) have been set for 2010. Get out your calendar 'cause you're going to want to write these down. Click here to see the dates.

Chrysler Sets Company Policy Against Texting

Chrysler has jumped into the texting-while-driving fray. They'r the first automaker to set a corporate policy that specifically prohibits anyone driving company-owned vehicles or texting with company-provided cell devices while driving personal vehicles. Here's the story, direct from the Chrysler blog.

Area Roads Mostly Wet

Despite the slush and wet roads, the going was pretty easy this morning getting to work. I had no problems and the freeway was wide open until just past the Sprague exit heading westbound. Things slowed down significantly then, due to an oversize semi that collided with an overpass near Regal Street. The only overpass I can think of near there is the pedestrian bridge, or 'catwalk,' as we used to call it back in the day when I attended Libby Junior High School near there.

The truck apparently didn't get stuck though, as I saw it sitting on the shoulder, surrounded by state troppers, near the Hamilton Street exit.

Things were apparently a little more scary last night on the roads, although I drove home around 10:00 and the thermometer in my car said 37 degrees. Apparently there were some areas of black ice though, which caused a four car accident in Post Falls, killing two people. Here's the story.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mr. Heat Meiser Coming To Visit

It looks like the Heat Meiser will be joining us this week, melting all that snow. If you think driving was a pain today, just wait until tomorrow. We're expected to get more snow tonight, then it will turn to rain and turn this 3-5 inches of snow into piles of slush. Someone in the office said it would be like 'driving through mashed potatoes tomorrow.' And while it seems merely inconvenient to drive in slushy conditions, slow down a little as the slush can throw you all over the place.

Fewer Expected To Travel By Air This Holiday Season

The Air Transport Association of America is predicting fewer travelers will board planes to get to where they're going this Christmas. The decline in air travel is being blamed on the economy. Here's the story from the Seattle Times.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Traffic Monitoring System Called Inaccurate

The federal government has spent more than $50 million to build a sophisticated highway traffic monitoring system- a system that the transportation department now says has produced unreliable data. Here's the article from the New York Times.

TTC Meeting Agenda Available

The Transportation Technical Committee's (TTC) monthly meeting is this Wednesday, Dec. 16. You can view the meeting agenda here. And if anything on there catches your eye, you're welcome to attend the meeting. It starts at 1:30 p.m. in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. Sprague Ave., Suite 310.

Some Items Regarding Snow

- Not only did it snow last night in some areas, but it's expected to do so again tomorrow. Before you hit the roads, be sure to check the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center website for road conditions. You can watch live traffic cameras on the site, and check a map of your commute route for anything that might slow you down such as traffic accidents or slick roads.

- I got about 1 1/2 inches of snow at home last night, but the roads were pretty much clear by the time I got to Trent. And the freeway was just wet so the going was pretty easy. By the time I got downtown, there wasn't snow, wet roads, or anything. Just goes to show the little 'micro-climates' our area has.

- Blogger Holly from Olympia says it snowed there last night, about an inch, and there is a little ice on the roads, but nothing too scary. The funny part- the schools there delayed the start of the school day for two hours as a result.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Train Of The Future?

I've never ridden a train, besides the ones at the Fair or Silverwood. But I know people who use trains as their preferred method of travel. Their travels are about to get a lot more plush.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is working with Amtrak to renovate the Amtrak Cascades train fleet. They're starting with the Lounge and Bistro (pictured above) cars. Here's more on this from the WSDOT blog.

Have you ever travelled by train? Where did you go and did you prefer it to air travel? If so, why?

A Couple Of Items To Be Aware Of Next Week From The WSDOT

- This Saturday, December 12, from 4am until around noon, the Fairchild Air Force Base main gate will be closed. Drivers will be directed to the Rambo Road gate and should expect congestion on Rambo Rd. Work is being conducted inside the base near the gate.

- On Tuesday, December 15, from 9am until as late as 3:30pm, eastbound I-90 through traffic will be reduced to two lanes in the area of the Latah Creek Bridge for a routine bridge inspection. On Wednesday, December 16, from 9am to as late as 3:30pm, westbound I-90 will be reduced to two through lanes in the same area. All US 195 ramps will remain open both days. You can expect slower traffic and possible congestion during these days and hours. This project is weather dependent.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Anyone Familiar With Or Interested In 'Cities For Cycling?'

I recently did a guest blogging stint on John Speare's local Cycling Spokane blog. I did a background piece on SRTC's role in getting improved/more bicycle facilities for Spokane. One blogger responded with some comments and a question regarding what it would take to get Spokane involved in Cities for Cycling. So you folks out there who work at local jurisdictions and transportation agencies, care to chime in on this?

3 New Hybrid Buses Hit The Road Monday

STA rolls out three new hybrid electric-diesel buses on Monday, to replace the green trolleys that have shuttled riders around downtown for the past 15 years.

The new buses are quieter, more fuel efficient and have reduced maintenance costs.

Here's more information on them from the Spokesman-Review.

30 Year Mayor's Only Regret- Transportation

Thanks to Gail for sending me this video about one remarkable Mayor of a Canadian city who has been in office for 30 years! Mississauga is the ONLY city in existence that is debt free. And Mayor Hazel has a lot of other accomplishments under her belt as well. Her only regret? That they didn't build their development around transportation and are now struggling to develop a public transit system. The video is a little long and the reporter kind of cheesy but it's interesting to see what a city can do with some planning.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IPH Meeting Materials Available

If you weren't able to attend the Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) meetings last week in Pullman, Sandpoint, or Spokane Valley, but are curious as to what happened at them, all the meeting materials are now posted to the IPH website.

The IPH Transportation Study is a project to establish the Inland Pacific Region as a multi-modal global gateway to increase international commerce. It is a partnership comprised of public and private sector representatives from Idaho and Washington.

While you're checking out the meeting materials, I recommend you browse the rest of the site to find out more about the project.

Drunk Driving Fatalities Down Except In 10 States

New federal data suggests that all but 10 states have seen a decline in drunken driving deaths- and our neighbor to the east is one of the ten states that hasn't. In fact, the rate of drunk driving deaths in Idaho has increased from 2007 to 2008.

Here's the story from Seattle's KIRO TV.

Care to speculate as to what contributed to this increase in drunk driving fatalities in Idaho?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Legos Teach Kids About Transportation

This is pretty cool. Area students are learning about math, science, engineering- and transportation- through playing with legos! It's not just playing though, they're competing to be the champion when it comes to robotics. And one group of kids are even putting what they learned to use on the Centennial Trail. Here's the article.

SRTC Board Meeting Agenda Available

The monthly SRTC Board meeting is this Thursday, Dec. 10. Here's a link to the agenda. If you see anything of interest on there, feel free to attend the meeting. It starts at 1 p.m. in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310.

New Council Member Talks Complete Streets

Spokane’s newest city councilman, John Snyder, sat down with the Inlander recently. So what's on his mind? Adopting a Complete Streets policy and electric cars, it turns out. Here's the interview.

Friday, December 4, 2009

You Can Still Get A Rebate On A New Car

You can still get a deal on a car, even if you don't have a clunker to trade in. But you've only got until the end of the year to use the New Car Tax Rebate, so if you were thinking about buying, now may be the time. And buyers are needed because, unlike the Cash For Clunkers Program, not many appear to be taking advantage of this program.

Here's more information on this little-known program from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

SRTMC Website Outage Planned For Sunday, Monday

This is your notice that you're going to have to rely on your own wits and street smarts to get to work on Monday morning, as the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) cameras will be down that morning for some upgrades.

The live traffic feeds will be taken down Sunday morning (Dec. 6) and are expected to be back online by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, in time for the evening commute.

The SRTMC site, at, is a high-tech website with real-time, customizable information for the Spokane area. 24-hours a day you can watch over 40 live traffic cameras, read about incidents and events that are automatically updated as they happen, and check construction updates in order to plan your commute around upcoming construction projects.

The SRTMC is expecting to bring almost 30 new camera feeds online by early 2010. That includes three on Appleway in Spokane Valley, four along the North Spokane Corridor, and over 20 on the Maple/Ash Corridor. In order to support these additional camera feeds, a new video switch must be installed, which accounts for the outage.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Update To A Previous Post- And It's From The Top

I'm always open to corrections or updates on this blog, so if you see something you have additional info on be sure to let me know. That's exactly what Todd Solomon did recently on our sister blog for Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organzation ( And noticing his email address, I was curious and looked him up on line. According to an online bio I found of Todd Solomon, he's the Online Community Manager for President Obama's Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, managing the Secretary's blog (, online presence (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), and new media strategy! How cool is that? Good to know someone is noticing the work us little guys do. So here's his message:

FYI, just wanted to let you know that the Star-Telegram,, from which The
Olympian got the article referenced by your blog post "LaHood Wants To
Raise Federal Gas Tax," has corrected its story as below.

You'll see that--whether or not it's a good idea, Secretary LaHood did
not endorse it. He only said that it's up to Congress to hash the
funding out, and adjusting the gas tax is only one of the options they
can use.

I think it's great that the Kootenai County MPO are following this and
so many other stories so closely. Your citizens are probably better
informed than most on transportation! Hope you're also following the
Secretary's blog ( and @RayLaHood Twitter
account. And, if you really want to, you can also fan the Secretary on

Hope you guys can get to one of the Reauthorization Listening Tour stops
when the Secretary gets out west.

Star-Telegram Correction
"Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Congress should debate a range
of options on funding transportation needs, including indexing the
federal gas tax. He did not endorse any option. Information about his
remarks was incorrect Tuesday in an article about the North Texas
Transportation Summit."

What Did We Do Before Facebook?

So guess what I just did? I just became a fan of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Facebook (I can do this as I'm blogging at home today because using Facebook at work is obviously a no-no). I'm hoping this will mean I get updates from the man himself delivered directly to me, and I won't have to check his blog quite as often anymore. If you would like to check his blog though you can use this link. And if you would like to become his fan on Facebook click here. You have to give the guy credit for being proactive.

IPH Meeting Attracts Wide Variety Of Community Members

I'm doing my blogging late today because I spent all morning in the Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) meeting this morning at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley. If you're not familiar with the IPH Transportation Study, it is a project is to transform the Inland Northwest into a hub for commerce, vital to the global economy. Sound like a stretch? Well it's not; because of its central location, the Inland Northwest is perfectly positioned to be a key link to competitive commerce in the northern hemisphere.

Besides SRTC, there are several agencies partnering on this project, including Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Idaho Transportation Department.

Those jurisdictions this week hosted three forums to get input from the public in Pullman, Sandpoint, and Spokane Valley. And people seem to be interested; over 30 people attended the Pullman meeting, about 12 in Sandpoint, and just over 50 at today's Spokane Valley meeting. And they came from a variety of backgrounds. At today's meeting alone, we had representatives from the railroads, Avista, Jobs Plus, the Davenport Economic Development Council, Eastern Washington University, a couple of everyday citizens, a delegation of three from Trail, B.C., and a ton of other people. And they all had different perspectives about what we need to do to take full advantage of the potential economic development opportunities associated with international trade.

We're in the process of compiling the meeting notes and results, and will have those on the Inland Pacific Hub website sometime within the next week. The good news is that this gives you that time to go through the IPH website and get to know the project a little more. Happy reading and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm Available To Take Over- I Mean Contribute To- Your Blog Too

John Speare over at the 'Cycling Spokane' blog was looking for guest bloggers so I jumped at the chance to spread my word somewhere else. I just posted my first thread over there, although it's not nearly as rivetting as John would have liked. Check it out if you have time, it's a very interesting blog.

LaHood Wants To Raise Federal Gas Tax

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says Congress should consider raising the federal gas tax for the first time since 1993.

LaHood pledged to work with Congress on passing a five-year transportation bill in 2010. The current problem is that although about $500 billion in highway, bridge and transit needs have been identified, the federal gas tax — 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline — can't generate that much revenue.

Here's the story from the Olympian.

Drinking Boxed Wine, It's The New Way To Reduce Vehicle Emissions (Or Something Like That)

John Tesh annoys the heck out of me. I just wanted to get that on the record before I pass on something I heard on his radio show. Why was I listening to his show if I don't like him? Well, I was flipping through the stations the other night when I heard something about switching to boxed wine that caught my attention.

So I just got on John's website and found this intereting factoid, and just in time for your holiday consumption too: "These days a lot of respected wineries are doing away with the glass bottle because manufacturing and shipping them is expensive and wasteful. According to the Wine Group, the largest wine company in the world, using boxes instead of glass bottles is equivalent to taking 25,000 cars off the road every year!"

So thank you Mr. Tesh. I can overlook your smarminess for one day to pass that on. Now go out and get yourself some boxed wine (or boxed sparkling cider for you non-drinkers).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pedestrian Hit By Hit & Run Driver Dies

A second pedestrian has died this year after being hit by a vehicle in downtown Spokane. In the latest incident, A woman struck by a suspected drunken driver who then fled the scene has died. The accident happened on Nov. 20. The victim died this past Saturday. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Church Coalition To Pay Parking Tickets

Some Boise drivers may be getting their parking tickets taken care of. A Christian coalition will pay off up to $10,000 in tickets as a way to apparently show 'God's grace.'

Yeah, I'm not really seeing the connection to grace and parking tickets either but I'm betting a lot of people with parking tickets won't even care if there is a connection.

The money to pay the tickets comes from anonymous donors and area churches.Here's the story.

Train-Car Accident Leaves Driver Injured

A woman who had just dropped her child off at an elementary school was broadsided by a train as she drove her mini-van in Spokane Valley today. According to the Spokesman-Review (whom I stole the picture above from), Maria L. Walsh, 44, is in critical condition after being airlifted from the crash scene at Arden Road south of Wellesley Avenue.

The intersection is closed while emergency personnel investigate. A detective said visibility around the crossing, which is marked only by stop signs, was good, and drugs and alcohol don’t appear to be a factor.

So how many train-versus-car or train-versus-pedestrian accidents has there been this year? Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three or four, and I'm sure there's more.

The construction of proposed 'Bridging the Valley' (BTV) projects would help to prevent these kinds of accidents, by seperating cars and people from trains at crossings. BTV is a series of projects in the 42 mile corridor between Spokane and Athol, Idaho. Here's more info on Bridging the Valley. Now the main hangup in getting these projects built is the usual one- lack of funding. We're working on that though and will keep you updated.

By the way, the Havana Street Bridge project that is already underway is the first BTV project to be constructed.

What Unusual Sight Have You Seen On The Bus?

My sister-in-law rides the East Sprague #90 bus and frequently tells me about some of the more unusual passengers on that route. She says a man got off the bus one day last week wearing an entire bee keeper's suit.

I ride the Liberty Lake route, a commuter route, so it's usually pretty quiet on there. What have you seen on your route that's entertaining?

Monday, November 30, 2009

This Hello Kitty Bike Is Calling My Name

Here is blogger Holly's response to this thread yesterday: You're acting like a little kid who sees a pretty pink bike she wants and is dreaming of Christmas Day. My advice is... Get a bike on Craigslist that is actually not a POS then paint it pink and have Hello Kitty decals added to it. If you spent that much on a used bike you'd have yourself a super sweet ride.

Besides that, you're used to riding Giant Cooter (our Commute Trip Reduction bike), so this bike will not even begin to ride that nicely. Bottom Line... Friends don't let friends buy bikes from Target (or any other variety store for that matter, including Costco.) :)

Okay, she's got a point there; I'm like a crow with shiny objects. Sigh...

The back wheel on the Huffy is bent and since it's a 15-year-old bike and a Huffy it's not really worth paying to have it replaced. However, I do need something to ride, so I was thinking I should start looking around for a bike. And I was going to ask for opinions on what to get on this blog. That is, until I saw that beauty above.

That's right folks, that's a 1 speed women's cruiser Hello Kitty bike. Only $369 at Target. It's got alloy rims, a padded spring set, front and rear fenders, comes 85% assembled (how the &^%$# do they determine 85%???), and the best part; it's hideously pink and has Hello Kitty all over it.

Being government employees, we don't get Christmas bonuses, but if someone wanted to drop a hint to the boss about how I need a new ride to get to meetings it wouldn't hurt my feelings at all. I'll see if I can return the favor at some point.

Mountainside Gets New Flashing Signs

Drivers near Mountainside Middle School will see something new in the area- flashing school zone signs. The signs are part of overall traffic safety requirements that protect more than 630,000 elementary school age children in Washington State. They were funded by Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Winfield Park and Pinewood Hills Neighborhood Associations, and the Mountainside Middle School PTO and just installed.

Flashing yellow beacon lighting is one of the most effective ways to reduce speeds of vehicles in school zones. On average, drivers travel five to seven miles per hour slower when the flashing yellow school zone lights are present.

STA/City Of Spokane Looking For Volunteers

The City of Spokane and Spokane Transit Authority are teaming up to launch an analysis of transit opportunities in the downtown area- and they need your help.

The Downtown Transit Alternatives Analysis (DTAA) will assess existing downtown corridors for their potential for future transit investment and identify ways to enhance connectivity between key destinations. The result will be a recommended network of streets where enhanced transit service could be provided, the kind of service it could be--streetcar, electric trolleybus, bus or a combination of modes--and the costs.

And here's where you come in: volunteers are needed to join the project’s 'Sounding Board.' This group will advise partners in this study on alternative route proposals, vehicle technologies, and economic development opportunities.

If you're interested in being a member of the 'Sounding Board,' you have to complete an application by Dec. 10. You can get more information on this study, and an application, by clicking here.

Five Mile Open Again- But Only Until Spring

If you drive Five Mile Rd. (or used to, before the construction anyway), you've probably noticed that it's open to traffic again. Don't get too excited though, the paving is only temporary. The street will be open to traffic until the spring of 2010 when it will be shut down again so a top coat of asphalt and final detail work can be completed.

Five Mile was widened and rebuilt from Austin to Lincoln roads as a City of Spokane project.

IPH Public Meetings Start Tomorrow

With everything else going on, I've somewhat neglected the latest project we're partnering on, the Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) Transportation Study. The IPH is a project to establish the Inland Pacific Region as a multi-modal global gateway in order to increase international commerce.

Your ideas and strategies are needed to reach that goal, so we (all the agencies involved in this study including the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Idaho Transportation Department, SRTC, and Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization are hosting three public meetings this week to introduce area business leaders and the public to the IPH. The forums will gather input on transportation infrastructure necessary to drive economic growth. The meetings are at these dates and locations:

Tuesday Dec. 1, 2009, 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) Event Center
1825 Schweitzer Drive, Pullman, WA

Wednesday Dec. 2, 2009, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Sandpoint Community Hall
204 S. First Ave., Sandpoint, ID

Thursday Dec. 3, 2009, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, WA

For more information on the IPH study click here. Or you can read an article about the study in the Bonner County Daily Bee by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gas & Weather Expected To Stay Stable Through Weekend

So what gives? I've been buying gas for about $2.82 at several places around Spokane for the past week or so. I had to go to Coeur d'Alene over the weekend though, and saw that it's $2.49 at most stations over there. That's a big difference. I know Washington has a gas tax that Idaho doesn't, but it's not big enough to make a 33-cent a gallon difference!

Besides the difference between states, AAA says gas prices will stay stable throughout the holiday weekend. The weather is supposed to be pretty mild too, which means more people will be taking to the roads. Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

It's A Blogging Holiday

Just some advance notice to let you know there's probably going to be a lapse in blogging for at least a few days. Being government workers, we have Thursday and Friday off as holidays. Because I'm on a 'flex' schedule though, I also get Wednesday off. Whoo hoo, five days off in a row! I may get a wild hair and blog from home but it depends on how I feel. That picture of Mr. Potato Head usually sums up how I feel after a holiday spent with the extended family, so I'd hate to commit to anything right now. Talk amongst yourselves in my absence.

Lewiston Police Take Hard Stance On DUIs

This story is in Lewiston but I still feel it's relevant as this could be the trend. Lewiston Police say they're ramping up their stance against drunk driving from now on and may even forcibly take blood samples in some suspected drunk driving cases! Here's the story.

I know blood will only be taken forcibly in extreme cases, and I'm just as against drunken driving as anyone else, but the whole taking blood by force thing kind of creeps me out. My understanding is that people who refuse a breath test automatically have their license suspended. I would think that's punishment enough. I worry that this could be abused and eventually the guy who had one beer after work and drives home with a blood alcohol level below .08 will be harrassed and have his blood 'stolen.' Am I paranoid? Probably, but I like my blood. Am I overreacting? What do you think?

Davenport Recommends Buses, Not Limos

Rumor has it that the Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane has been recommending to their travelling clientele that they use the bus to get to the airport. I thought that's pretty cool, considering most hotels recommend taxi or shuttle services. Thanks Davenport!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slow Down On SR 27

Spokane County just sent out a news release saying you're going to see some changes on SR 27 from the town of Rockford to Trent Avenue in the City of Spokane Valley as a result of the SR 27 Traffic Safety Project.

The project is a partnership of the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and engineering, enforcement, and education agencies. Its goal is to reduce the number of injuries and collisions on the roadway. 185 collisions occurred on this section of State Route 27 last year.

The changes include more law enforcement patrols, signage improvements and a public information/education campaign. The first item you'll probably notice is new flashing beacon signs installed near Jackson Road to alert drivers they're approaching the Freeman school area.

And while you're zipping through that area at 50 miles per hour, the next thing you'll probably notice is the Washington State trooper, the Spokane County Sheriff, or the Spokane Valley officer pulling you over. They're increasing patrols to target drivers who disregard traffic lights, speed, and follow too close. So slow it down a little.

Two New Area Trails Open

Phase 2 of the Fish Lake Trail is complete and open to walkers and bicyclists... and they're using it despite the cold weather. And the town of Wilbur has a new trail as well. Here's what's happening in transportation this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

SRTC Looking For 'Visioning' Consultant

SRTC is looking for qualified firms or individuals to undertake a 'Community Visioning and Improvement Strategy for a Unified Regional Transportation System' process. The end goal is to develop a unified vision for transportation for where the entire community wants to be in 20 to 50 years.

There are already several individual plans developed that address bike and pedestrian transportation, public transportation, air travel, train travel, etc. but this 'visioning' process will look at all of the above, and more, with the intent of dovetailing it all together and coming up with a plan that addresses all of those topics.

This is the first time in it's long history that SRTC has conducted any kind of exercise, study, or project of this size, so we're excited to see what comes of the effort. The first step is to hire a consultant, so if you are interested, follow this link to the SRTC website to read more about the visioning process.

Plan Accordingly- Holiday Closures Are Coming

A reminder to get your government business done early this week, as all government offices are closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

That includes SRTC, Spokane City Hall, Spokane Valley City Hall, Washington State Department of Transportation, Liberty Lake City Hall, Spokane County, etc., etc. The County's Building and Planning Department will be closed Wednesday, November 25th through Friday, November 27th (Wednesday will be the department’s weekly furlough day). Everything opens again Monday morning, Nov. 30, at 8 a.m.

Downtown parking meters do not have to be plugged on Thursday, but it's back to normal for Black Friday. Most construction projects still underway will be put on hold from Wednesday early afternoon until Monday morning in anticipation of heavy holiday traffic.

Since I don't go in for the shopping on the most crazy day of the year, the four days off gives me time to deal with the flock of 30 turkeys that have taken up residence in my neighborhood. This is the view out my front window every morning, only usually there's a lot more of them. Don't they know they're supposed to be laying low this time of year?

35 Worst Cities For Pedestrians

Transportation for America has just released a new study on which U.S. cities are most dangerous for pedestrians, and God forbid if you have to walk anywhere in Florida! The top five worst cities for walking are in the sunshine state.

The good news though is that I didn't see any Washington or Idaho cities on the list.

Here's the top 35 worst cities for walking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

WSDOT Says Prepare Before You Drive

The Washington State Department of Transportation says, if you're travelling next week for the holiday, take your chains... and your patience. A news release just sent out says forecasts are calling for calm weather next week, meaning more drivers may brave Washington's highways for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Here are some of the highlights from WSDOT's historical data about holidays, winter, and driving:

- Thanksgiving is the busiest holiday weekend of the year for I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass and the section of I-5 south of Olympia through Lewis County. Congestion is expected along the I-5 corridor from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, on eastbound I-90 from 3-5 p.m. Wednesday and on westbound I-90 from 1-7 p.m. Sunday.

- US 2 traditionally sees an increase of traffic on the Friday following Thanksgiving.

- Transit systems follow a holiday schedule on Thanksgiving Day, so plan accordingly.

Any other holiday travel information you could possibly imagine can be found at this link on the WSDOT website.

What Would It Take To Make Our Area Into A Hub For Global Commerce?

That’s the question posed by a local transportation study we're partnering with several other agencies on. The Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) Transportation Study is a project to establish the Inland Northwest region as a multi-modal hub in order to increase international commerce.

The IPH is a very large-scope project, both conceputally and geographically. It covers ten counties in Washington (Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman) and nine in Idaho (Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce and Shoshone).

Because the study area is so big, we have created a new website to reach all the people in those areas that are interested or may want to be involved. So, while it may sound far-fetched for Eastern Washington/North Idaho to be the ideal inland port, the area is actually perfectly situated and has many economic development opportunities already in place. Check out the Inland Pacific Hub website to see why.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Some Items From The City of Spokane

- If it's not already, Market Street is expected to reopen this evening, between Garland and Francis. Work being done on it was part of a project to rehabilitate Market St. from Garland to Francis avenues. The concrete intersection at Queen Ave. and Market St. is being poured and the remaining sidewalks will be poured next week.

- Five Mile Road between Austin and Lincoln is also expected to reopen tonight- but only for a few days. Temporary paving work is being done, and the streets will reopen to traffic. Additional work will be done in the spring of 2010, when the streets will receive a top coat of asphalt and final detail work. On Monday morning, Five Mile will be closed again for paving.

This project widened and rebuilt the street to 44 feet to include curbs and a continuous sidewalk on the west side, a 5-ft. bike lane north and shared-use bike lane south on Five Mile Rd. from Austin to Lincoln roads.

- Holiday traffic flagging starts tomorrow, Friday, at Riverpark Square. Shoppers leaving the River Park Square parking garage may experience longer than normal wait times due to traffic back-ups.

Mayor Unveils Revised Snow Plan

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner officially kicked off the snow season today with a news release to explain the City's new Snow Plan. The revised approach to snow removal is designed to improve safety for motorists and pedestrians, ensure emergency responders can reach citizens, and enhance movement for pedestrians, motorists and economic activity.

As part of the plan, the City has purchased 11 additional truck plows and committed to enhancing snow removal efforts, stepping up sidewalk snow removal around City-owned property, and enhancing communications efforts with citizens. Citizens and business owners, meanwhile, are asked to follow parking restrictions and keep sidewalks, vehicles, hydrants, and storm drains clear of snow.

Details of the plan, along with a map of residential snow plow routes, can be found on the City of Spokane website.

ITD To Use Lasers To Avoid Car-Animal Accidents

When I heard that the Idaho Transportation Department was going to use lasers to try to keep animals from being hit by drivers on a stretch of US 95 near Moscow, the first thing I thought of was the sharks with lasers mounted on their heads from Austin Powers. Cool, they're going to equip game with lasers so they can shoot back at cars approaching them too fast! Uh, not quite. Turns out it's a system where lights flash when deer, elk, moose or other animals pass through laser beams focused along shoulders of the highway.

The system is supposed to give travelers an extra chance to avoid a collision. While it's not as cool as large animals that shoot laser beams, it's still pretty cool. I want some in my neighborhood.

SIA Adds New Flights

Horizon Air is starting a new service from Spokane International Airport. Flights will now connect Spokane directly to the Silicon Valley.

Here's the story.

Snow-Rain Mix Causes Accidents

A mix of snow and rain falling this morning caused a string of traffic accidents. A series of collisions was reported starting about 7 a.m. in northern Spokane County on Eloika and Eloika Lake roads and on the West Plains, including accidents at Hayford Road and U.S. Highway 2 and Brooks Road and state Highway 902.

No word yet on injuries.

Snoqualmie Pass was open to traffic with snow and slush on the highway. Stevens Pass on U.S. 2 had compact snow and ice and a temperature of 28.

AAA Expecting More Holiday Drivers This Year

AAA is predicting more people will drive to see family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday than will fly. They say reduced airline capacity, added charges, and lingering economic worries will prompt travellers to choose a cheaper way to travel.

However, in a sign that the economy may be improving, Americans are expected to travel long distances in bigger numbers than Thanksgiving weekend 2008, the AAA says.

In the Pacific Northwest, 4.6 million are expected to travel for Thanksgiving, an increase of more than 8%- much higher than the national growth rate.

AAA said the number of people who will travel 50 miles or more away from home during Thanksgiving is expected to grow to 38.4 million this year, up 1.4% from last year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Since I'm In Complete Denial That It's Going To Snow This Year, Here's One Event I Won't Be Attending

You're invited to join Spokane Mayor Mary Verner tomorrow for a dog and pony show as the City of Spokane officially launches the snow season at 11 a.m. It takes place at the City’s Normandie Complex, at West Sinto Avenue and North Normandie Street.

After two years of record snowfall, the Mayor would like to take this opportunity to inform citizens about how the City has prepared for winter weather and to encourage everyone to prepare as well.

At the last City event I attended, a tree planting, there were refreshments, so maybe they'll have them this time as well (who serves refreshments at a tree planting by the way??).

Can You Imagine A Bus With A Bunch Of Dog Heads Hanging Out The Window?

Would you let this adorable face on the bus if you were a driver? How could you say no? This is Fergie, who belongs to our IT guy Tony. And if some people in Idaho have their way, dogs like Fergie would soon be allowed to ride buses with their owners in cities like Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey.

Mountain Rides Transportation Authority is seeking public input on whether dogs should be allowed on its buses. Here's the article from the Idaho Mountain Express. And be sure to read the comments. There's some good stuff there about how dogs are better than snot-nosed kids any day, etc.

So how about it STA? Can I bring my Lily on the bus? What do you think, should dogs be allowed on buses in Spokane?

SRTC To Undertake 'Visioning Process'

I've been getting a lot of calls about the 'Visioning Process' that some people saw in our Board packet last week. Apparently, a lot of people are curious as to what it actually is.

Well, the long name for this process is 'Community Visioning and Improvement Strategy for a Unified Regional Transportation System' and the end goal is to develop a unified vision for transportation for where the entire community wants to be in 20 to 50 years.

There are already individual plans developed that address bike and pedestrian transportation, public transportation, air travel, train travel, etc. but this process will look at all of the above, and more, with the intent of dovetailing it all together and coming up with a plan that addresses all of those topics.

A consultant team will be hired to spearhead the effort and work with all the agencies and jurisdictions involved, as well as the public on what they would like to see.

This is the first time in it's long history that SRTC has conducted any kind of exercise, study, or project of this size, so we're excited to see what comes of the effort. It's in the very early stages now though, so there's not much more to tell but I'll post updates as they develop.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Portions Of Bigelow & Forker To Close Wednesday

Portions of Bigelow Gulch Road and Forker Road will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Crews will be working on the road shoulders and guardrail maintenance.

The closed section of Bigelow Gulch Road will begin at the Bruce Rd/Argonne Rd intersection and extend east to Forker Road. The closed section of Forker Road will begin at Bigelow Gulch Road and extend south to the Forker Rd/Progress Rd intersection.

Secretary LaHood Talks Complete Streets

The Complete Streets Coalition apparently has an in with the big dogs. Several members of the National Complete Streets Coalition and Transportation for America participated in a meeting yesterday with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The topic was how Complete Streets can create a safer environment for pedestrians and other road users.

Here's an article about the meeting from the Complete Streets website.

Leaf Pickup In Browne's Addition

If you live in Browne's Addition and you haven't already figured it out, the City of Spokane is proceeding with leaf pickup in Browne’s Addition today and tomorrow, Nov. 17 and 18. So don't park on the north-south streets in that area today or the east-west streets tomorrow.

That's because the streets in Browne's Addition are so narrow the trucks can't get through when there are cars parked on them. Any vehicles parked, including vehicles with disabled parking placards, in parking-restricted areas are subject to towing.

If your vehicle is towed, please call 625-4100.

STA/City of Spokane Asking For Input On Downtown Spokane Transportation Alternatives

Spokane Transit is teaming up with the City of Spokane to look at alternative transportation options for downtown Spokane. They're kicking off a study very soon to study the area and its' transportation needs, and wants your opinion.

The study area goes from Latah Creek and the river on the west side to Perry on the east and from Mission on the north to 14th Ave. on the south. As part of the study, a 'sounding board' will be assembled to provide feedback. The sounding board will be a group of people who have any kind of stake in the downtown area, whether they own businesses, shop there, use the park, work downtown, or even just come downtown to enjoy the nightlife. In order to be considered for the sounding board, you have to fill out an application. It's not available at this time, but is expected to be online later this week or early next week. I just wanted to give you a heads up so you could start thinking of reasons you should be chosen for this group. As soon as I get the word, I'll post a link.

Electric Cars- Maybe Not The Wave Of The Future

In response to my thread about the new electric cars that will be available soon, blogger 'Canada Guy' suggested
this article that says going to all electric cars is neither feasible, nor possibly beneficial to the environment.

Interesting reading. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Holiday Traffic Flagging Starts Next Friday Downtown

Here's the weekly update of transportation projects from the City of Spokane:

- The project to rehabilitate Market St. from Garland to Francis avenues is moving ahead. The concrete intersection at Queen Ave. and Market St. will be poured over the next week and remaining sidewalks over the next two. The project includes replacing existing curbs and sidewalks and installing pedestrian lighting and trees.

- Curb construction and paving of the Five Mile Rd. project will take place this week. This project includes building a continuous sidewalk on the west side, a bike lane north and shared-use bike lane south on Five Mile Rd. from Austin to Lincoln roads.

- Shoppers leaving the River Park Square parking garage may experience longer than normal wait times due to traffic back-ups. Flaggers will direct traffic. The holiday flagger schedule is as follows:

o Friday, Nov. 20: 6 to 10 p.m.
o Friday, Nov. 27: 5 to 9 p.m.
o Saturday, Nov. 28: 3 to 9 p.m.
o Friday, Dec. 18: 5 to 9 p.m.
o Saturday, Dec. 19: 4 to 9 p.m.
o Wednesday, Dec. 23: 4 to 9 p.m.
o Saturday, Dec. 26: 4 to 9 p.m.

PC Votes Down Surface Parking Lots

I've just been informed that the Plan Commission yesterday voted down a proposal involved in the Downtown Plan that would have allowed buildings to be demolished to put in new surface parking lots. Additionally, the plan commission asked for a study to be done to document need and explore other transportation and parking options.

So a friend (an engineer with the WSDOT, by the way) and I were having this discussion the other day because we were walking near the Opera House and noticing the giant new parking lot across from it. She mentioned that, as large as the lot is, she thought there would have been room for a mid-size building of some sort on the property, to house maybe a nice restaurant or bar for the Opera House crowd. I agreed, and added that, in all my years in Spokane, I have never gone to an event where I couldn't find a parking spot somewhere within a couple blocks of the Opera House. And that was before the new lot went in.

So how about you? Do you think we needed another surface parking lot downtown or are we maxed out?

Fog Slowing Things Down & Causing Accidents

Slow down out there, 'cause the fog is causing accidents again. The National Weather Service says visibility is less than a quarter-mile in some places and the heaviest fog is along the Interstate 90 corridor from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene.

Temperatures below freezing also have increased the risk for slippery roadways, forecasters said. There have been several accidents reported, including a couple in the West Plains area.

You should probably plan to leave early tomorrow morning as well, as snow is expected to fall. Yes, I said snow. Now I'm going to curl up in the fetal position under my desk and stay there until spring.

Scaled-Down Kendall Yards Could Change Traffic Plans

It looks like there's a new plan for the Kendall Yards project. Greenstone Corp. has purchased the property and has plans to build a scaled-down version of the mixed-use community seller Marshall Chesrown originally had for the land.

Why am I blogging about that on a transportation blog? Because it could change the way transportation works in the area. Chesrown had planned to build 2,500 homes in the area. Greenstone is cutting it back to less than 1,000. That means less traffic congestion getting into and out of the area. There had been talk of putting either a stoplight or a roundabout on Monroe Street at the north end of the bridge to facilitate the flow of traffic. Looks like the City will have to re-evaluate the situation to see what would work best on an already busy road.

Here's the article.

Drunken Walkers Cause Large Amount Of Accidents

Yesterday, blogger Holly commented that, when she was taking training on serving alcohol in restaurants, she was told that 10% of alcohol related injuries involving vehicles and pedestrians are actually a result of the walker being intoxicated, not the driver. I found that to be an interesting statistic and wanted to find out more. Well, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), drunken walking is somewhat of a big problem.

According to an article in the CDC's 'Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,' (yikes, there's a facinating read) pedestrians account for 14% of all motor-vehicle–related deaths. And statistics for 1982 show that 39% of those walkers involved in a fatal accident were at or above a BAC of .10 percent.

Here's the report, and it includes lots of charts and graphs in case you're like me and have a short attention span.

TTC Meeting Next Wednesday

SRTC's advisory committe, the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC), meets next Wednesday, Nov. 18. The meeting agenda is out and it includes items like a downtown transit alternatives analysis and a 2030 Model Development update. Oh yeah, it's gonna be a barn burner. Here's a link to the entire agenda so you can look it over and see if there's anything on it that would entice you to attend.

If so, the meeting starts at 1:30 and is in our conference room at 221 W. First Ave. We're on the third floor so you have to take the elevator as the stairs don't go all the way up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Not Safe To Do Anything Drunk Anymore

Have you seen this yet? It's video of a drunk woman in Boston who fell onto the tracks in a subway station. Scary stuff. Jeez, all this time we've been hearing how dangerous it is to drive drunk, but no one's said anything about riding the subway drunk.

Trail Group Applies For Designation That Would Provide Help

The group 'Friends of the Centennial Trail' is applying for a designation of 'National Recreation Trail' for the Spokane Centennial Trail. Why? Because it would help them to obtain funding and technical assistance needed to improve the trail.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Deer-Truck Accident Kills Driver

This is what I've been worried about lately, after having several near misses with deer, a moose, and even a big old bull elk lately; a motorist was killed this morning when his pickup collided with a deer north of Newport on state Highway 20.

The Cusick man died when the deer crashed through the windshield of his pickup.

Again, there's really nothing you can do to prevent an accident like this except to slow down in rural and semi-rural areas. The deer are coming out of the woodwork right now so if you're going a little slower and being observant, you may be able to hit the brakes in time if one darts out in front of you.

Cool New Electric Cars Hitting Market Soon

I shouldn't be letting this secret out, but the gas station at State Line next to the El Patio restaurant has gas for $2.49 on Monday nights during the Monday night football game.

While that helps me trim the budget a little, I still resent the new boats and other toys I'm buying for the gas company executives and their families.

Some well-known names may put an end to our gas headache though- at least a dozen new electric or hybrid cars are expected to hit the U.S. market within the next few years.

There is a drawback though- while you'll be saving on gas, the price of the car might make up for it. Here's the story on the new electrics from the L.A. Times.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't Try To Do Any Business With The County Tomorrow

While us SRTC employees will be hard at work, slaving away behind our desks tomorrow, that won't be the case at the County.

All Spokane County offices will be closed tomorrow (Wednesday) for Veterans' Day. And parking meters in downtown Spokane don't have to be plugged.

City of Spokane offices will be open though, as will Spokane Valley services.

Jaywalkers- Falsely Accused?

You see them more and more often lately, and drivers curse their existence. Jaywalkers are blamed for everything from accidents that injure walkers and drivers to global warming. Yet, one writer says jaywalkers aren't as bad as they're made out to be. Blogger Holly sent me this article from Slate in their defense.

So what do you think? I've seen some pretty crazy dashes into traffic in the downtown area but I think I've seen more cars almost hit pedestrians who had the 'walk' signal.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Overweight Truckers (the trucks- not the truckers themselves) Fined

Some truckers and the companies they work for are getting some BIG fines because of the damage their trucks can potentially do to roads, crews on the Five Mile project are working to beat the weather, and Kettle Falls is looking out for its' pedestrians.

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

Fog & Slick Roads Cause Traffic Accidents

Fog and dew freezing on the roadway made for some slick roads this morning and caused several traffic accidents, including one involving a pickup and a logging truck.

Here's the latest from the Spokesman-Review.

SRTC Monthly Board Meeting Is Thursday

It's one of those weeks where we have a lot of meetings, including our monthly Board meeting. Here's the Board agenda and packet so you can see if there's anything that interests you on the agenda. If there is, feel free to attend the meeting. It's Thursday at 1 p.m. Before that though, we'll be hosting a workshop for the Board regarding climate change and how it's going to affect the way we all get around. That workshop is open to the public to observe, but only Board members will be able to participate.

The workshop and meeting are in our conference room at 221 W. First Ave., on the third floor.

Planning Assumptions Meeting Tomorrow

A reminder that we're hosting our annual 'Planning Assumptions' public meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) evening from 4-6 p.m.

Planning Assumptions is a meeting to explain the process of transportation planning. We don't discuss projects we're working on, funding, or the politics of transportation, just how we do our jobs and what 'tools' (such as computer programs, census data, etc.) go into it.

The meeting is pretty informal and consists of a presentation and question and answer session. Everyone is welcome, so come down and pick our brains about how the whole thing works. We're located at 221 W. First Ave. in the Intermodal Center. We're on the third floor so you have to take the elevator up, there's no stair access.

I Found My New Car

I had been planning to buy something a little more fuel efficient, but this car combines my love for Hello Kitty and large old cars. I saw this in one of those 'People of Walmart' emails that goes around.

Friday, November 6, 2009

SRTC Board Changes On The Way

With the recent elections pretty much in the books, we can let you know that the makeup of the SRTC Board will change due to election results. Two SRTC Board members were up for re-election; City of Spokane Council member Nancy McLaughlin and Spokane Valley Council member Diana Wilhite.

McLaughlin won her race and will stay on the Board, as long as she's interested in doing it, anyway. I've been hearing that there may be other council members from the City of Spokane who are interested in transportation and being on our Board. My understanding is that they can work it out amongst themselves to decide who sits on the Board.

Diana Wilhite is the Vice-Chair of the SRTC Board. She was defeated at the polls, so the City of Spokane Valley will have to decide which council member (or the Mayor is eligible too) should sit on the Board.

That means the lineup of Chair and Vice-Chair will change too. Had Diana won, she would have been our Chair in 2010. Because the incoming Spokane Valley Board member will not have any experience on the SRTC Board, it wouldn't be wise to put them directly into a Chair position, so the position will go to the next jurisdiction in the rotation. Off the top of my head I couldn't tell you who that is, but once everything is formalized I will do an update about the changes.

For more information, here's a link to the SRTC website where you can see the entire list of SRTC Board members and find out more about how they oversee our activities.

New Technology Scans License Plates As Police Drive

So remember in a lot of sci-fi movies how a camera or sensor is used to scan a person's face or eye for recognition before admitting them to a building or giving them clearance? Well that's kind of what some new technology does that Spokane police are using to recover stolen cars. With a spike in car thefts lately, they're hoping the camera, which reads license plate numbers and checks them against a natiowide database of stolen vehicles, will help recover stolen cars quicker.Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

And on a related note, customs agents in Los Angeles got a big surprise recently when they opened a shipping container and found a vehicle reported stolen in Spokane- 35 years ago! Here's that story.

A Couple Items From The City Of Spokane

- Eighth Ave. from Sunset Blvd. to Government Way has reopened to traffic. The street was closed as part of the Fish Lake Trail project, which is substantially complete.

- The leaf pickup schedule for Nov. 9 through Nov. 13 is as follows:

Monday, Nov. 9— Northwest Boulevard Area: South of Northwest Blvd. north of Maxwell Ave., east of Pettit Dr., and west of Monroe St.

Clark Park Area: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Division St., and east of Wall St.

Indian Trail Area: South of Johansen Rd., north of Francis Ave., west of Cedar St., and east of Nine Mile Rd.

Northwest Terrace Area: South of the north City limits, north of Wellesley Ave., west of Assembly Rd./Nine Mile Rd., and east of the river.

Tuesday, Nov. 10— Northwest Boulevard Area: South of Northwest Blvd. north of Maxwell Ave., east of Pettit Dr., and west of Monroe St.

Clark Park Area: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Division St., and east of Wall St.

Northwest Terrace Area: South of the north City limits, north of Wellesley Ave., west of Assembly Rd./Nine Mile Rd., and east of the river.

Westview Area: south of Francis Ave., north of Wellesley Ave., west of A St., and east of Assembly St.

Wednesday, Nov. 11— West Central Area: South of Maxwell Ave., north of Bridge Ave., west of Washington St., and east of the river.

Hillyard Area: South of Francis Ave., north of Wellesley Ave., west of Greene St., and east of Perry St.

Westview Area: South of Francis Ave., north of Wellesley Ave., west of A St., and east of Assembly St.

Thursday, Nov. 12—West Central Area: South of Maxwell Ave., north of Bridge Ave., west of Washington St., and east of the river.

Hillyard Area: south of Francis Ave., north of Wellesley Ave., west of Greene St., and east of Perry St.

Friday, Nov. 13— West Central Area: South of Maxwell Ave., north of Bridge Ave., west of Washington St., and east of the river.

Hillyard Area: South of Francis Ave., north of Wellesley Ave., west of Greene St., and east of Perry St.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Would You Buy Car Insurance By The Mile?

The way, and amount, you drive is changing. With the emphasis on greenhouse gases, pollution, and congestion lately, there is going to be a strong push in the very near future to get people to drive less. Along with that change may be a change to the way you buy car insurance as well. Economists are predicting that you will be buying insurance by the mile very soon, instead of as a blanket policy.Here's an article from MSN Money, and believe it or not, this isn't a new concept.

I kind of like this idea. Not only does it encourage people to drive less and ride the bus, ride their bike or walk more, but it also gives them a financial incentive to do so. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Five Mile Rd. & Park and Ride Lot Closed Thursday

Five Mile Rd from Ash St. to Wedgewood St. will be closed for paving tomorrow(Thursday). Additionally, Austin Rd. from Strong to Five Mile roads will be closed to traffic and the STA park and ride lot at Five Mile Rd. and Ash St. will be closed. Drivers will be detoured to Cedar St.

The closure is part of the Five Mile Rd. from Austin to Lincoln roads rehabilitation project. The base paving for the remainder of the project is expected to be done the week of Nov. 16.

This project will widen and rebuild the street to include curbs and a continuous sidewalk on the west side, a 5-ft. bike lane north and shared-use bike lane south on Five Mile Rd. from Austin to Lincoln roads.

Here's A New Law Enforcement Tool- Have Drunk Drivers Report Themselves

I realize that people do stupid things when drunk, but this one takes the cake. A woman actually called the police- to report that she was driving drunk. Now she's facing DUI charges. At least she's honest I guess.

Here's the rest of the story.

Tell The WSDOT How They're Doing

So how do you feel about transportation lately? How's about the Washington State Department of Transportation? The WSDOT is asking for your opinion on how they're doing and would like you to take a quick survey to fill them in. The feedback from this survey will help WSDOT staff learn more about how they can improve their performance.

Here's a link to the survey.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Couple Ideas For Area Bus Stops

Got an old defunct bus and a bus stop with no shelter at it? We may have a love match! Designer Christopher Fennel is making bus shelters out of old buses. Here's more pictures and information on his one-man movement to provide cool, recycled bus shelters.

And while we're on the subject of bus stops, I'm using this platform to launch my campaign to place burn barrels at bus stops. This is actually Jeff's idea but I'm running with it. It's only November, but when we were waiting for the bus last night, we passed the time by complaining how cold it is. Jeff mentioned how great it would be if we had a burn barrel to stand over while waiting for the bus and- wa la- an idea was hatched. So what do you think, are you behind me on this?

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.