Friday, January 30, 2009

WSDOT Wins Design/Construction Award

Congratulations to Washington State Patrol Project Engineer Darrel McCallum and his team. They recently received the National Award for Excellence in Concrete Pavement from the American Concrete Pavement Association.

The team was given the Silver award in the Municipal Street & Intersections category for outstanding design and construction work on the Interstate 90/Sullivan Road Interchange Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Intersection Rehabilitation project.

These awards are presented annually and recognize contractors, engineers and project owners who completed exceptional concrete pavement projects during the previous year.

The Sullivan Road project was constructed during the summer of 2007.

Zombies- The New Road Hazard

This is wrong, so don't try it at home, but also kind of funny. Although the Texas Department of Transportation isn't laughing.

Someone yesterday hacked into a digital traffic sign in Austin that was placed to warn drivers of detours. They changed the messages to say things like, "Caution! Zombies Ahead," "Nazi Zombies! Run!!!, and "Run for cold climates."

Traffic controllers say the signs generated safety hazards thanks to drivers slowing down to view the messages and take photos.

TxDOT is trying to figure out who hacked into its digital road sign system. The sign manufacturing company had to be brought in to override the hacker's work.

There is good news though; no zombies have been sighted in the area.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shadle Pool Work Could Cause Traffic Delays

Traffic backups and delays are expected tomorrow in the area of the Shadle Park Swimming Pool, as a steady stream of cement mixers is expected to spend the day pouring 275 cubic yards of concrete for the pool bottom.

Delays should be between the hours of 7 a.m. and mid-afternoon on Friday.

The pool's parking lot will have limited access for the public during this time.

Democrats Suggest 'Green' Transportation Changes

Senate Democrats in Olympia yesterday detailed plans to combine “green jobs” with a renewed push for conservation and alternative sources of power.

On the transportation front, their proposals included adding electrical charging stations along I-5, reducing driving by encouraging insurance companies to offer insurance plans linked to miles driven, extend the state sales tax exemption on hybrid cars through June 30, and more.Here's the rest of the story.

Airport Numbers Down Over Past Year

Spokane International Airport reported a sharp drop in business last month over December of 2007.

- 126,000 passenger boardings were recorded in December, about 22,000 fewer than a year earlier, the airport says. That’s a decrease of nearly 15%

- For the year, the airport handled 3,423,500 passenger boardings, a 1.4% decrease from 2007

- 4,639 tons of freight moved through the airport last month, down 7%

- More than 52,000 tons of freight moved through the airport in 2008, a decrease of about 5% from 2007

- At Felts Field, there were about 65,800 aviation operations in 2008, a 5.7% decrease from the prior year.

Maple Street Bridge On-Ramp Closed Temporarily

I rode the bus this morning so I didn't realize that it's apparently pretty slick on some roads. The Riverside Avenue on-ramp to the Maple Street Bridge is shut down temporarily due to icy conditions.

Police have received several reports of slick bridge decks and on-ramps this morning. And a semi versus van crash has been reported at Havana and Wellesley.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stimulus Package Passed By House

The House today approved President Obama's $819 billion stimulus bill, meaning it moves onto the Senate now. Here's the story.

And if you want to know what road and transit projects the Spokane area is hoping to get out of the stimulus package, Here's the list.

Watch Your Weight, Restrictions Go Into Effect Soon

Seasonal weight restrictions are about to go into effect in Spokane County.

Road become weakened during a cycle of freezing and thawing, making roads vulnerable to damage at this time of year. Weight restrictions reduce the need for increased road maintenance.

Effected roads will be posted with signs indicating the maximum allowable weight. Typically, these restrictions don't apply to the average car or pickup but commercial and construction vehicles may need to lighten their loads to comply with the restrictions.

Spokane County commercial vehicle enforcement officers will be on patrol and violators will be fined!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Now THIS Is Roadkill!

Remember when I blogged about the large amount of roadkill lately? Well I was referring to deer, skunks, raccoons, and the occasional moose. A Mt. Vernon, Ill. man hit something a lot bigger though. This mountain lion allegedly weighed 260 pounds. Most mature male mountain lions supposedly weight between 80 and 150 pounds, so that's a big cat. Must have made a big dent in his car too.

Homes Purchased For NSC Project Used For SWAT Training

Here's something interesting; the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Department of Transportation have partnered to provide realistic training opportunities for the Sheriff’s SWAT Team.

The WSDOT is in the process of purchasing a number of houses as part of the North Spokane Corridor project. Many of these structures are slated for demolition, but prior to removal, the SWAT Team has staged training exercises in several of them.

The SWAT Team uses the houses to conduct training in basic entry skills for their members, working on techniques for approach and entry into residences and rooms plus searching and clearing of the home. The training benefits the SWAT Team by training their staff with homes realistic to real life situations.

Obama Takes Up Auto Standards

President Obama yesterday addressed the ailing auto industry, telling them to accept tougher standards on how much fuel vehicles use. In return, the government will consider helping to find money to meet those standards.

Obama ordered his administration to reconsider rules by California to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and trucks. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Record Crowds Fill D.C. For Inauguration With No Traffic Snarls. How Did That Happen?

Thanks to poster 'mjking' who provided this very interesting link.

It's about how all bridges into downtown Washington, D.C. were closed for Inauguration Day last Tuesday. But the amazing part is that it didn't lead to a complete breakdown of the transportation system, it actually made it work better!

On an average day, 400,000 commuters enter downtown DC. Last Tuesday, 1.8 million people did, and with very few traffic snarls or accidents. So why did everything flow so smoothly despite the huge number of people trying to get around? No commuters in single-passenger cars.

Read the story (and the comments following it are interesting too) and tell us what you think.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Snow Removal Statistics

Spokesman-Review Letter To The Editor
Plowing comparison fails

Concerning Ms. Scotts Letter of Jan. 21, I would like to correct some errors and misconceptions. The town of Bountiful, Utah, has 150 lane miles to plow (that is not a typo, 150 miles) and 22 pieces of equipment. I know; I called them.

Likewise, Salt Lake City has 1,785 lane miles, 77 pieces of equipment and 177 employees. The city of Spokane has 2,186 lane miles to plow, 40 pieces of equipment and approximately 50 employees.

The ratio of lane miles to plow vs. pieces of equipment and people to run said equipment is much higher in the mentioned cities in Ms. Scott’s letter. This requires tax dollars!

Knowledge of how to plow isn’t what is lacking, it’s public funding to buy adequate equipment and manpower. As far as how soon they were plowing, the snow started falling Dec. 17, crews were plowing by Dec. 17. As an educator in the schools, might I suggest you do the research and the math before you put the pen to paper.

Shelley Anderson

By the way, no one from the City of Spokane responded to my inquiry from last week about putting plows on the front of garbage trucks. Someone from the City of Coeur d'Alene did though. Tim Martin said:

I think you would find that this would not be feasible for the city of Coeur d'Alene. Several factors are involved in this reasoning,

The city of Coeur d’Alene contracts Waste Management for the curb or alleyway pickup for refuse and recyclable goods. With that process we would have to coordinate with them so we could use our “State of the Art” loaders with gates on the plows. This allows us to reduce the size of the berms in driveways.

By coordinating this effort, I believe snow service would be reduced as we would be limited to only being able to plow where these routes were for that given day.

If I were to look into the city of Detroit and New York’s snow plan I would imagine that they did not plow residential areas. I did look up their respective annual amount of snow and they are meager I compared to what we receive. Less than 35 inches.

Volunteer Driving Service Running Out Of Funding

A program that provides rides for residents 60 and older who have mental or physical disabilities has only enough funding to continue operating through February.

Care Cars for Elders provided 3,599 trips to doctors for 242 frail and elderly clients last year. Volunteers drove more than 50,000 miles. There's a huge need for this kind of service but not enough money to go around for all the area social service agencies. Here's the story.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pothole Hotline is Open

With most snow removal taken care of, City of Spokane Street Department crews are now tackling potholes caused by this freeze-thaw cycle. This work is prioritized based on the size and location of the pothole, but you can help get your 'favorite' pothole repaired quicker by calling the pothold hotline.

If there is a pothole in your neighborhood or on your daily route, report it by calling 625-7733. Please include as much information as possible on the location of the problem and its approximate size.

Road Kill Piling Up In Outlying Areas

If you drive rural or outlying roads, take it easy, the deer have a death wish lately. Hard winters drive wildlife into the lower areas and onto roadways. I've noticed a ton of roadkill lately. When I was driving in on Trent the other morning, I saw a WSDOT crew picking up dead deer, and even one moose killed near my house. They had a pickup truck full of carcasses. Job security I guess, although that's one job I don't envy.

Anyway, my point is, be observant, especially at night. Animals are just waiting to jump out in front of you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Snow Control Suggestions

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Mayor should flex muscle

Thank You to Jody Cramsie for her letter of Jan. 16 (“A better snow plan”). Your suggestions are wonderful. Here are two more. First, use dump trucks to pick up snow berms from the middle of downtown streets and dump it into the river. Secondly, can city vehicles be modified to accommodate plow blades? If so, the blades could be available to put on when needed, doubling the plowing force.

We elected a strong mayor in Spokane, and I’d sure like to start seeing some muscle. Designate days for north/south and east/west streets. If someone is parked on streets where plowing is scheduled, either tow them away or fine the owners. The added revenue will help offset the cost of plow blades.
When sidewalks need shoveling, get out there and shovel them if you’re able. Be a good neighbor and shovel your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk also. Martin Nelson (“Spokane man clearing sidewalks,” Janm. 16) set a beautiful example by shoveling sidewalks for four city blocks downtown just to help keep pedestrians safe.
Although this winter broke all kinds of records, winter happens every year and a large snowfall should never be a surprise.

Wendy Boggs

I cringed when I read Ms. Boggs' suggestion to dump snow from downtown snow berms into the river. I couldn't tell you the exact laws or ordinances this would violate, but with all the rules in place to protect our water quality and control the total maximum daily load of phosphates into the river, I'm pretty sure that would be considered polluting the river. Not only does that snow have dirt and rocks in it, but also deicing chemicals, gas, and oil.

As for designating north/south and east/west days to plow, that's already done in the neighborhoods with narrow roads. The other areas are all done based on priority.

Ms. Boggs doesn't specify what kind of City vehicles she recommends putting plows on. When I worked for the City, I drove either a Toyota Prius or a really old Crown Vic. It was almost big enough for a plow...

Fiat Forming Alliance With Chrysler

Will Chrysler fans soon be driving Italian cars? It could happen... Fiat and Chrysler are forming an alliance that would give the Italian auto empire a 35% stake in the U.S. carmaker and could eventually bring it full control.Here's the partnership details.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Website To Get You From Washington To Wisconsin

There's a new website to help you gather information about conditions and amenities of Interstates 90 and 94 between the states of Wisconsin and Washington. The site features:

- Live camera images along the corridor
- Weather information
- Rest area locations and features
- Truck stop information
- Commercial vehicle restrictions
- Links to detailed road reports in each state

Interstates 90 and 94 function as major corridors for commercial and recreational travel. Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are predominantly rural and face similar transportation issues related to traffic management, traveler information, and commercial vehicle operations. The states have pooled their resources to develop the corridor-wide Web site; providing traveler information at one easy location.

Here's a link to check it out.

Oil Prices Are Down, Gas Is Up- What's The Story?

Oil prices are down, but gas prices are up. How does that work?The Spokesman-Review has some questions and answers about the connections between oil and gasoline prices.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's A Garbage Truck... No, It's A Plow

There was a letter to the editor in yesterday's Spokesman-Review (which I can't find now) about how the cities of New York and Detroit attach plows to the front of garbage trucks when they have storms. The trucks plow their way to each garbage stop, killing two birds with one stone.

Very interesting, but how feasible is that for Spokane? I contacted the City Street Department to ask, but probably won't hear back until tomorrow since the City is closed for the holiday today. I'll give an update when I know more.

Master Bike Plan Headed For Public Hearing

The City of Spokane's Master Bike Plan update is nearing completion. A public hearing is scheduled for next week to gather comment on the plan. Here's the latest.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This Just In...

A Union Pacific train jumped the track in Millwood and is blocking the railroad crossing at North Marguerite Road.

At least half a dozen cars derailed, including a couple that were tipped to the side, according to witnesses. Will update if any good new details become available.

City Obstruction Notices

A couple of obstructions from the City of Spokane to be aware of for next week:

- Riverside Ave. from Post to Wall streets will be reduced to one lane of traffic in each direction beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 18, until 5:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 19. Additionally, there will be no parking on the north side of the street. Crews will be working on the HVAC system in the building at 718 W. Riverside Ave.

- Main Ave. will be closed to motorists traveling eastbound on Monday, Jan. 19, from 6:30 a.m. until around 3 p.m. Motorists will be detoured to Riverside Ave. or Spokane Falls Blvd. Additionally, the sidewalk will be closed to pedestrian traffic and parking will not be allowed 24 hours in advance of the street closure. Crews will be working on the HVAC system in the Federal building.

Holiday Notes

Here are a couple things to take note of with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day coming up:

– Most Spokane County offices will be closed on Monday, including the Spokane County Courthouse, Public Safety Building and Veterans Services

- There will be a Martin Luther King, Jr. Rememberance Celebration and Unity March on Monday at 10:00 a.m. in the INB Performing Arts Center

- Downtown Spokane parking meters will not need to be plugged on Monday.

Paula Hammond's 'State Of Transportation'

Earlier this week, Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond spoke to the state House and Senate Transportation Committees on the "state of transportation" in Washington and our flood response.

One of the points that Paula wanted to convey is how important safe, reliable transportation is to all of us and the economy. Here's a link to the WSDOT blog where you can find the power point presentation that accompanied her speech.

Good Samaritan Shovels Blocks Of Sidewalks

A Spokane good samaritan took it upon himself to shovel the sidewalk all the way from 10th Ave. to 14th Ave. along Monroe Street. Here's Martin Nelson's story

Thursday, January 15, 2009

City Street Department Head Answers Plow Questions

You may not know the man, but you may have cursed him lately. Mark Serbousek, head of the City of Spokane's Street Department, sat down with the Inlander lately to answer questions on the recent 'snow emergency' in Spokane and how his crews dealt with it.
Here's what Mark has to say about blocking your driveway, why you see plows driving around with their blades up, and why STA shut down some operations during the worst of the snow days.

Speed Control Method Or Crafty Advertising Device?

These pictures were emailed to me by our accountant who thought they were interesting, as the text that accompanied them claims 'This is actually a speed control device that is in use.' Turning to the trusty internet, I was not able to find any evidence that they're actual speed control devices. Plus, the writing on the picture that says 'Feels like Pioneer Suspension' leads me to believe that they're an ad for Pioneer brand shocks. Either way, they're a funny idea, but can you imagine the liability agencies would face from the people who would try to avoid falling into one of these 'holes' and sideswipe another car in the process?

On the other hand, I've talked to people recently who actually claim to have seen potholes this big in our area.

City Of Spokane Asks For Your Opinion

The City of Spokane wants your opinion on plans to extend Riverside Avenue from Division Street to Spokane Falls Boulevard along the south side of the river.

Project designers will host a public open house tomorrow (Friday) at 11 a.m. in the second floor conference room at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. Staff will be on hand to answer questions and consider suggestions.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Local List Of Proposed Stimulus Package Projects

If you pay any attention whatsoever to what's happening in local transportation, you've most likely heard talk about president-elect Barack Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package.

The package is a $700 to $850 billion package aimed at funding the construction of infrastructure such as road, highway, and transit projects, in an effort to stimulate the economy by creating 3 million jobs over two years.

SRTC has been working with local officials and transportation agencies on a list of projects to submit for possible stimulus funding. At this time, we don’t have much information on how much money to plan for or what the requirements will be. All we have is a proposed list.

Here's a link to the SRTC website where more info on the Stimulus Package and the list of proposed projects can be found.

Any questions? Jeff's the authority on this. As much of an authority as you can be when you have limited information, anyway.

Tax Break For Bike Commuting

Starting this month, people who ride their bike to work can get a federal tax break for doing so.

The credit was among a range of energy and tax provisions quickly added to the $700 billion financial rescue in November. Here are the details from the New York Times.

If you don't already ride your bike to work but have been considering doing so, will this encourage you to do so?

Prisoners Clearing Bus Stop Snow

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Hand shovels to inmates

In the summer, we see the Spokane County prisoners picking up rubbish on the highways. What’s wrong with having them shovel off roofs of the elderly or shoveling off snowbound cars for those folks that need help? If folks made a voluntary contribution, it could go to the prisoners’ account either for paybacks or for some savings for later release.

Also, it’s nice to see Jim Camden and Bert Caldwell writing again for the Review. The editors can cut and cut until folks drop their deliveries because we miss local stories of interest. You can only cut so far.

Nathan Narrance

Actually Mr. Narrance, area prisoners are being utilized for snow removal. STA's Ombudsman Susan Millbank was at SRTC yesterday and she said that, for the first time, prisoners were and are being used this year to clear snow away from STA bus stops!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

CDA Gas Prices Still Super Low

Gas prices have already started going back up in our area. A couple weeks ago I got gas for as low as $1.45 a gallon. Now it's back up to $1.59 at a lot of Spokane stations. Prices have remained low in Coeur d'Alene though, with one person telling me they got gas for $1.35 this week! Analysts say don't get used to it though. Here's a Coeur d'Alene Press story on north Idaho gas prices.

Western WA Flood Pictures

If you think we've got a problem with standing water at intersections and storm drains, here's some perspective for you: click here for flooding pictures from the WSDOT blog.

A Little Bit Of Transportation History

Here's an interesting Youtube video on the history of the Model T. The part that I found interesting is toward the end where it talks about how cities were just starting to develop infrastructure at the time of the Model T, and there were few roads and the ones that did exist were rough to say the least. Because of that, the Model T was built to withstand everything. Guess you could call it the predecessor to the Hummer.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Letter Writer Says Side Streets Neglected

Spokesman-Review Letters To The Editor
Even out the plowing

Everyone is struggling with driving at this time — and the plows are not much help. I am on my third try with chains and I don’t mean cheap ones.
More than one source has confirmed what I thought to be the problem. Why are some streets, Division, Ash, etc., gone over and over to the point of being perfectly clear while side streets are left barely passable? They brag that the main arterials are clear so people can get around.
Right. Are we supposed to have our vehicles towed from the ignored streets to those taking priority? That’s the dilemma they’re causing, because chains are not made for bare pavement, and that’s what we have to contend with.
When the storms attack to the max, please take the time to keep all streets the way the side streets look when they’re finally reached. Chains will then serve their purpose!

Pam Billington

What's your thoughts? It's important to have the arterials clear, but do you feel they were kept too clear, at the expense to side streets?

The Numbers Behind STA's Proposed Fare Increases

The Spokane Transit Authority board is considering a fare increase later this year, due to rising costs at STA. Here's how fares would increase under the two-step plan:

- $1 fares for youths and adults would go to $1.25 in September, then to $1.50 in January 2011.

- The adult monthly pass would go from $33 to $40 in September and $45 in 2011.

- Adult fares for express routes have been the same as regular routes. Those fares would become more expensive, increasing them to $1.50 in September and $2 in 2011.

- Express routes would have monthly pass of $45 in September and $50 in 2011.

- A single fare for seniors and people with disabilities would go from 50 cents now to 60 cents in September and 75 cents in 2011.

Here's some more info you may not know:

- Sales taxes currently pay 83% of the cost of running Spokane Transit Authority buses.

- STA last raised fares in 2002.

- If bus riders paid the full cost of providing transit service in Spokane, a one-way fare would be $5.

- Public open houses to take comment on the fare increase proposal will be scheduled in March.

Not All Cities Passive About Winter Sidewalk Maintenance

Area roads are finally getting cleaned up, but most area sidewalks are still impassable, especially after repeated thawing and freezing of snow pushed onto the sidewalks by plows.

Local officials say there's nothing they can do though, besides asking residents to shovel sidewalks in front of their house. Officials in other cities take a different approach though. Here's what other jurisdictions are doing to keep their sidewalks clear.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Check For Road Closures Here

Across the state, some roads that were closed yesterday are now open, and some that were open yesterday are now closed. If you're traveling, you may want to check out this county-by-county list of road closures from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Eastbound I90 @ Snoqualmie Now Open

The eastbound lanes of I-90 Snoqualmie Pass are now open to all traffic. Westbound lanes will open by noon. Here are some crazy pictures from the pass that show why you couldn't use it prior to this morning.

The Washington State Department Of Transportation is also working to open I-5 from 11miles south of Chehalis to about 20 miles south of Olympia.

In the meantime, the closure has caused thousands of truckers to cool their heels on either side of the pass, causing area shortages on things like snow tires, snow chains, snow shovels and de-icer as well as a few types of groceries.Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Drivers Aren't Obeying Hands-Free Law

An editorial in the Spokesman-Review today says that drivers don't take the law banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving seriously. Here's the story.

Now, the Spokesman's 'Huckleberries' blog is asking if Idaho should ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving and/or should such an offense be a primary rather than secondary one? Click here to weigh in with your opinion.

State Road Closures & Flooding Pictures

If you're planning to head to the west side this week, better think twice. Close to 60 sections of roadway are closed across the state, most in Western Washington.

The closures from yesterday in our area are open again (most were in the Palouse area) but all major passes over the Cascades are closed and I-5 remains closed from 11 miles south of Chehalis to about 20 miles south of Olympia due to flooding.

Other closures are in a county-by-county list of road closures at the WSDOT web site.
The main north south rail lines along I-5 are closed at Chehalis due to water over the lines. The Amtrak Cascades have cancelled service today.

KING TV out of Seattle has a slide show of flooding pictures. If you haven't seen enough water yet, here are some more pictures.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Washington State Road Closures

Just in case you're trying to get anywhere in the state, here's a map of road closures from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

L.A. Approves Cyclist Bill of Rights

It's not bicycling weather with all this ice on the ground, but this should take your mind off the cruddy weather: the Los Angeles City Council recently voted to
approve a Cyclist’s Bill of Rights!

It still has some hoops to jump through (the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights will be forwarded to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Planning Department, Department of Public Works, and Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee to report with recommendations on how to incorporate the principles into the City of Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan and other relevant documents)but this is a big first step. Here's a look at L.A.'s 'Cyclists Bill of Rights.

This Just In From The City of Spokane

The City of Spokane Street Department will end its Condition Red snow emergency early this evening, moving snow removal crews from the City’s Water and Wastewater departments back to their regular duties and changing shifting from 24 hours a day to usual winter scheduling of 20 hours a day. City snow removal crews have worked under Condition Red status since Dec. 17.

Two pothole repair crews are even working today to fill potholes that have been created through this freeze-thaw cycle.

In the meantime, City of Spokane Mayor Mary Verner will hold a press conference at noon today at the City's Streets Department Normandie complex near Washington and Sinto. She will address current conditions and plans and take a moment to reflect on the last three weeks.

Latest Closures

Here are some closures for Wednesday, Jan. 7:

- In Whitman County, U.S. Highway 272 just west of Palouse

- Highway 26 three miles west of Colfax and Highway 194 near the Almota grain elevators is partially blocked by mudslides

- Highway 27 is reduced to one lane due to snow drifts

- Snoqualmie and Stevens passes are closed due to extreme avalanche danger

- US 97 Blewett Pass is closed from the Big Y junction to the Lauderdale junction due to heavy snow and mud slides over the roadway.

- Whites Pass is open, but traction devices are required

Deep snow is no longer the issue causing driving problems, it's now deep puddles. Spokane City crews today are switching from plowing to storm drain cleaning to try to clear the roads of standing water and prevent flooding. They can't get to all the drains though and are asking for your help to keep your neighborhood from flooding. If you can help, the City has added information on the location of storm drains to its GIS mapping program on the Internet. Here's a link.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Area Mountain Pass Pictures

If you think we have a lot of snow, check out more pictures like this one of area passes on the Washington State Department of Transportation blog, then thank whomever you believe in that you don't live there!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Drifting Traps Drivers

Winter driving is more than just annoying and slow, it can be dangerous too, and not just because of the threat of accidents. You can also get stranded on remote roads due to drifting. The Spokane County Sheriff's Department last week had to call in a snowmobiling club to check for stranded drivers in a remote part of Spokane County.
Here's the story.

Just Move Over & Let Cars Merge Please

Just an observation on my part, but there is a serious lack of courtesy on I90 lately. It took me 1 1/2 hours to get downtown this morning from Newman Lake. Not because there were a lot of accidents (I only saw one slide-off), but because people are not letting others merge. There are basically two lanes now. People getting on the freeway need to merge into the right lane, but people already in that lane are doing anything but moving over to let them in. It was a huge cluster as speeds slowed to a crawl near every on-ramp between Liberty Lake and downtown. And the on-ramps were backed up and at a dead stop. Come on people, have some courtesy!

Road Closures & Areas To Avoid

Several area state highways are closed due to drifting snow today and Whitman County is basically locked down. Here are the closures:

- Route 23- from Steptoe to the Lincoln County line
- Route 26- from Colfax west for 13 miles
- Route 271- from Rosalia to Oaksdale
- Route 27 from Pullman to Oaksdale
- Route 195 from Spangle to Stateline
- Shoqualmie Pass is closed due to avalanche danger. Both White and Stevens pass are still open at this time.
- SR 129 from Anatone to the Oregon State Line in Asotin County is closed for the same reasons.

And here are some areas to avoid this morning:

- A semi is stuck at First and Division
- Havana Street is closed just north of Sprague to Main due to a broken water main about 150 feet north of Sprague Avenue.
- Several slide offs have been reported on Interstate 90

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Anyone Know How Much It Costs To Replace License Plates?

Things just kept getting worse yesterday. First, I realized I was snowed in when I got up at 5:30 a.m. and found a fresh 8 inches of snow on the ground, instead of the predicted 2-5 inches. On top of that, the neighbor's plow was out of commission after he got a little crazy plowing after the last storm. So, I'm stuck at home. No big deal right? I'll do a little blogging, etc. Oh wait, now the power goes out. Five hours later, the power comes back on and the neighbor gets the road plowed. I get my car out and discover... my front license plate is missing.

Anyone care to guess how much new license plates are? $31.75. I dug around looking for the plate, but with the drifts and drifts of snow, I gave up and paid the money. So don't 'misplace' your plates, they're kind of spendy.

Saturday Morning Update From City of Spokane

City of Spokane snow removal crews are concentrating on residential plowing today and tonight, thanks to a break from new snow. Sanders also are out in all quadrants of the City, and de-icers will begin to work on the snow emergency routes as the temperature rises.

Browne's Addition will be plowed again in the upcoming week; north-south streets on Tuesday, Jan. 6, and east-west streets on Wednesday, Jan. 7. Plowing will begin at 9a.m. each day. Because the streets are very narrow in Browne's Addition, parked cars must be moved from the streets or they will be towed.

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.