Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grand Blvd. Lanes Reduced

Grand Blvd. from 27th to 28th avenues is reduced by one lane for motorists traveling southbound until tomorrow morning. Signs are in place. The closure is needed for utility work.

An Update From The City Of Spokane

The Wellesley Avenue and Belt Street Signal Upgrade project is nearing completion. The project replaced the existing traffic signal and added a left turn phase at the intersection. Belt St. at its intersection with Wellesley Ave. remains closed to traffic.

The $410,000 project was funded with federal and City funds.

Get Your Free Bike Map

With summer here, you fair weather bicyclists no longer have an excuse. And to make it even easier to ride, we'll help you out with a free bike map showing bicycle routes across the county, specifying whether they're shared use, bike lanes, recreation routes, etc.

The maps are available free at area bike shops, including:

Argonne Cycle, 3215 N. Argonne Rd.
Bicycle Butler, 6520 N. Ash
Fitness Fanatics, 12425 E. Trent
North Division Bicycle Shop, 10503 N. Division
REI, 1125 N. Monroe
Spoke 'N Sport, 212 N. Division
Two Wheel Transit, 1405 W. 1st Ave.
Wheel Sport Central, 1711 N. Division
Wheel Sport East, 606 N. Sullivan
Wheel Sport South, 2820 E. 29th Ave.
Cycle Sports, 1318 N. Libertly Lake Dr.
Bicycle Time, 210 C St., Cheney

For information on how to get yourThe 2009 Spokane Regional Bike Map is also posted on the SRTC website.- SL

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

City Releases Request For Proposal For Bus Benches

The City of Spokane today released a request for proposals (RFP) for bus benches that are safe, comfortable, and placed where riders need them. The RFP seeks private companies willing to purchase or construct, install, and maintain the benches. Proposals are due Monday, June 22.

The successful bidder will receive a 5-year contract to place bus benches in a minimum of 200 locations in the City with the possibility for a 5-year renewal. The RFP allows benches with advertising.

WA State Holiday Travel Numbers Up 10% From '08

Early traffic counts conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation show an increase of nearly 10% in holiday weekend traffic from 2008, with I-90 Snoqualmie Pass showing a 9% increase, Stevens Pass a 12% increase and I-5 near Olympia a 7% increase.

These increases, combined with traffic collisions, led to long delays. Travel was especially tough over I-90 Snoqualmie Pass both Friday afternoon and Monday.

Here are some statistics from the west side (there was no mention in the news release of traffic in other areas) for Memorial Day weekend '09, as compared to '08:

- 199,000 vehicles traveled over Snoqualmie Pass between Friday and Monday, an increase of 16,500 vehicles.

- Travelers headed west across Snoqualmie Pass on Monday faced 22 miles of stop-and-go traffic as a result of several minor collisions.

- 38,200 vehicles traveled US 2 from Friday through Monday, an increase of 4,300 vehicles.

- 269,700 vehicles traveled I-5 south of Olympia into Lewis County between Friday and Monday, an increase of 17,700 vehicles.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mission Ave. Lane Reductions

Beginning at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27, and ending at 6 a.m. on Thursday, May 28, travel on Mission Ave. from Perry St. to Upriver Dr. will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Schimmels Construction will be excavating the Witter Pool water tap.

I'm In Love... With Olympia's Bike- And Walkability

I thought it needed a change of scenery so I took SRTC's Commute Trip Reduction bike on a roadtrip this weekend. We went to Olympia to visit my friend Holly (seen here with her daughter Sarah who looks as bored as is required of a teenager). We spent all weekend riding the many bike trails in the area. In this picture, we had ridden to the farmer's market downtown and there were so many bikes we had to lock ours to trees as all the bike racks were full. I was impressed with how pretty much every street (besides the ones through purely residential areas) had bike lanes on both sides of the streets. We rode all kinds of places that I would be nervous to go on a bike in our area.

And not only were a lot of other people riding also, but they were coming up with some pretty creative ways to utilize their bikes, such as this trailer made of PVC.

The walkability was also impressive. When we got the itch to take in the nightlife Saturday night, we walked downtown. At 10:30 at night! And it wasn't considered weird, as everything is close together and centered around the downtown area. So close in fact, that most the area kids ride everywhere. We kept bumping into Holly's kids all over town, and when I would ask how they had gotten there, they would say they had ridden their bikes. And she hadn't even had to nag them to go outside and quit playing video games.

33 Spokane County Schools Take Part In 'No Idle Zone' Program

Spokane County is up to 33 schools now that are taking part in the 'No-Idle Zone' program! The program is aimed at informing parents of the impacts of vehicle idling and encourage them to not idle cars when dropping off and picking up children from school.

Research by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency shows that schools are a "hot spot" of vehicle idling. Schools that take part in the program send a letter and fact sheet home to parents along with a voluntary pledge form not to let their cars idle. There are also student activities and 'No Idle Zone' signs are provided for the school to post.

For information on how to get your child's school involved, here's a link.

Parking Restrictions Public Hearing Tonight

A reminder that the Board of County Commissioners tonight will hold a public hearing on revisions to the Spokane County Traffic Code that would restrict parking in portions of the unincorporated area around Liberty Lake.

The Spokane Valley Fire District has requested these revisions to the traffic code as a matter of public safety. Testimony will be taken at the hearing, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the BOCC Hearing Room on the lower level of the Public Works Building (1026 W. Broadway Ave, Spokane).

The proposed revisions are detailed on the Spokane County website.

WA Won't Reach Biofuels Goal

Washington state won’t reach its goal next month of having biofuels make up at least 20 percent of its fuel use in state vehicles and ferries.

The state had set a June 1 target for alternative fuels to make up a fifth of its fuel use. But as of the end of last year, such fuel accounted for just over 2%. Here's more from the Spokesman-Review.

Get Your Car Off The Street In Browne's Addition

As has been known to happen with me in the past, I'm pretty late in getting the warning to you, but if you live in Browne's Addition, YOU NEED TO GET YOUR CAR OFF THE STREET BY 9 THIS MORNING!

The City of Spokane will do street sweeping in Browne’s Addition today and tomorrow, May 26 and 27, starting at 9 a.m. The trucks will be on the north-south streets in Browne’s Addition on Tuesday and the east-west streets on Wednesday.

Cars must be moved because the streets are so narrow the trucks cannot get through with parked vehicles lining the streets. Crews posted informational signs last week notifying residents. Vehicles parked on the street when the trucks come in will be subject to towing. If your vehicle is towed, call 625-4100.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We're #1!! We're #1!!

Hey Washingtonians, we're #1 for something and it's not meth use! The League of American Bicyclists released the second annual ranking of Bicycle Friendly States and we're at the top of the list! Here's more about how the ranking criteria, then click on the link on the left to see the rankings.

Holiday Closures

I'm taking an extra day off to make the weekend even longer, so here's your early warning about holiday closures:

- SRTC will be closed on Monday, May 25

- Spokane City Hall will be closed along with other City facilities, including the garbage transfer stations and the waste-to-energy plant

- Spokane City parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Monday

- The Spokane City Council legislative meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 26 at 6 p.m.

- City offices will be closed on Monday, May 26 in observance of Memorial Day and will reopen on Tuesday, May 27

- All Spokane Valley City offices will be closed on Monday

- Washington State Department of Transportation offices will be closed on Monday and most construction work will be suspended by noon on Friday, May 22 in anticipation of increased holiday traffic.

- Liberty Lake government offices will be closed on Monday

- Spokane County offices will be closed on Monday

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Site Lets You Rent Bike Anywhere In U.S. & Canada

A new has just launched North America's only coast-to-coast bike rental service that provides bikes, accessories and tours so travelers can easily ride bikes everywhere!

Through this service, millions of cyclists across the globe can easily reserve quality bikes online from hundreds of participating bike shops before they travel throughout the US and Canada. By simply selecting a destination, travel dates and type of bike, travelers can search among available bikes and reserve the specific model that suits their size and riding style. Bikes are presented with specs, photos, pricing and shop hours to help travelers find the perfect bike and most convenient bike shop.

Has anyone tried a service like this before? What do you think?

Traffic Fatalities Down In Washington

Fatal traffic accidents are down this year, according to a report from the National Safety Council.

In Washington, fatalities involving motor vehicles were down to 91 so far in 2009, from 108 in the first three months of 2008, the Washington State Patrol said.

The WSP attributes the major causes of traffic collisions to speed, aggressive driving, driving under the influence, and drivers following other vehicles too closely.

AAA Forecasts Increase In Holiday Travel

A three-year decline in Memorial Day travel is expected to reverse itself this weekend with a small increase in the number of Americans hitting the road, rails or skies. Here's what AAA is predicting for this holiday weekend.

Verner Changes Mind About Bus Benches

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner this week backed off her original demand that all bus benches with ads be removed by next Tuesday. Verner's change of heart came after the Spokane Transit Authority refused to buy replacement benches and the Spokane City Council changed its sign law to allow the ads. Here's more from the Spokesman-Review.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Northbound Division Reduced To 2 Lanes Wednesday

Tomorrow (Wednesday), from 8:30 a.m. until about 3:30 p.m., northbound Division Street will be reduced to two through lanes from Pacific Avenue to Riverside Avenue. Crews will be replacing the lid on a utility vault.

The left-turn lane from Division to westbound Sprague Avenue will remain open. Drivers on northbound Division Street should expect slow traffic, congestion, and possible delays.

Gas Pump Fights Back- Has This Happened To Anyone Else?

So luckily this happened at the end of the day yesterday instead of the beginning, because I probably would have gone home to change my clothes and gone back to bed.

On my way home, I stopped at my neighborhood convenience store to get gas. I stuck the nozzle into the gas tank and pushed the trigger. I don't know if it was the force from the flowing gas or what, but the entire hose POPPED OFF THE GAS PUMP, dousing me in gas! So I've got one end of the hose stuck in my car and the other lying on the ground and I'm covered in gas. And the manager at the store was not very apologetic when I stormed in to complain. She simply said to move to another pump, and that the 37 cents worth of gas that sprayed all over me would show up on my debit card. After some angry words, she agreed to have my clothes cleaned if I brought them back in later. It was a long, smelly drive home. I should have taken their %$#@ hose with me.

Senate Bill Steers Away From the Car

Senate Democrats have submitted legislation that suggests the nation's transportation policy is headed for a major overhaul, with a strong emphasis on reducing automobile use and boosting public transit.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced legislation that they say lays out the guidelines of what they expect the next five-year federal transportation spending plan to accomplish. Here's more from the Washington Post.

SIA Runway Changes

Flights in and out of Spokane International Airport will be diverted to a different runway until mid-September so that work can start on a 2,000-foot extension of the main runway next year. That means South Hill residents may notice planes overhead on alternate headings as they approach the airport.

Here's the story.

Public Meeting To Review Beacon Hill Trails Plan

If you're interested in the trails plan for Beacon Hill, you're invited to a public meeting next week to view the final draft of the Beacon Hill Trails System Draft Concept Plan.

The meeting is June 3, from 5-7 p.m. at REI, 1125 N. Monroe St. so you can review the plan, ask questions, and preview the new trail map. The Draft concept Plan is also available here.

The Plan is the culmination of three years work by the Beacon Advisory Group (BAG), made of landowners, Parks representatives, neighbors, and trail users.

The trail system on Beacon Hill is heavily used; yet it has not been recognized as a community recreation resource. The Beacon Hill trail system connects to adjoining neighborhoods and links five parks. Private landowners comprise the major portion of ownerships within the system. Many have expressed support and desire to participate in the plan process and to continue to allow public use of their lands.

The Draft Concept Plan outlines a vision for the system and identifies potential maintenance needs and management issues, trail issues such as new trails, improvements or decommissioning and inventory, trailhead improvements, potential recreation opportunities, creation of an outdoor recreation center, and connections to the surrounding communities.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Car Free Day Webinar

SRTC partners with the Spokane Regional Health District, the Lands Council, the Commute Trip Reduction program, the YMCA and YWCA and several other agencies and individuals for a 'non-motorized' group that meets usually once a week.

Recently, the topic of 'car free days' have come up several times. Car Free Days are aimed at taking a number of cars off the streets of a city or neighborhood for a day, in order to give the people who live and work there a chance to see how it might look and work with fewer cars.

Seattle and Portland have both had car free days, as have countries like Spain, France, and Colombia. To explore if a car free day (or series of them) are feasible in our area, we will host a webinar this Wednesday, May 20 from 12-1 p.m. to see how other communities have gone about organizing them.

If you're interested in attending, please RSVP by clicking here.

SRTC Issues Call For Projects

SRTC is issuing a call for projects for the Section 5316 Job Access and Reverse Commute Program (JARC) and the Section 5317 New Freedom Program.

The current Federal legislation which authorizes funding, the 'Safe, Affordable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users' (SAFETEA-LU) established funding for the JARC and New Freedom programs.

Spokane Transit Authority is the designated recipient for these program funds to be used in developing local transportation programs in the Spokane Urbanized Area (UZA). All projects selected for funding from these FTA programs are to be derived from the Spokane County Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan and must be competitively selected.

The 2009 Call for Projects is to award fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009 funding for JARC and New Freedom projects. There is approximately $480,000 in JARC and $260,000
in New Freedom funds that are available for award.

To apply, or to find more information, go to our website. Applications must be received on/before June 8 2009.

SRTC's Steve Wins Big BTW Prize!!!!

Congratulations to SRTC's Steve Everett! He won the second overall prize for taking part in Bike to Work Week, a $500 gift card to Wheel Sport!!

Steve is a fairly new rider. He used to ride in his 'younger' days but recently rediscovered how much fun riding can be when we got a free bicycle from the Commute Trip Reduction program. Steve rides the bike during business hours, but has been talking a lot about buying his own bike for weekend use lately. With the economy what it is though, and having a large family, Steve wasn't certain how soon he'd be able to get a bike. Looks like this solved that problem though. Congratulations Steve, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

Roundup For the Week of May 18

It's a busy week in transportation for our area. Rut repair starts on I90 tonight, a local bike club is honored for their community service, and area students are studying the possibility of a rail line connections Spokane, Pullman, and Moscow. Here's a roundup of what's happening from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Bike Plan To Go Before Council Tonight

The folks at Bike to Work Spokane would like you to show your support for the Master Bicycle Plan by attending tonight's Spokane City Council meeting, where the plan will be presented to the City Council for adoption and inclusion into the Comprehensive Plan.

The Master Bicycle Plan lays out a 20-year implementation timeline and is essential to future efforts to get funding for infrastructure, educational programs, and other means of improving bicycling in Spokane. For copies of the Master Bike Plan, Planned Bikeway Map and Comprehensive Plan Changes, go to the City's Planning Department website.

WSDOT Paint Crews Hitting Area Roads

It's that time of year again, when you may have to watch where you're driving to avoid wet paint.

The Washington State Department of Transportation paint striping crews are hitting the roads to re-stripe every one of the 1,600+ miles of state highways in our seven-county region. It takes the crew several months to paint everything, usually finishing up just before the fall rains.

The team in the paint truck sprays the yellow and white pigments on the centerlines, fog lines, lane skip stripes, and freeway exits. Combined with every gallon of the reflective paint are thousands of small glass beads that raise the paint above the surface and help in reflecting the color back to drivers at night.

The Region uses between 70,000 and 80,000 gallons of paint every year.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

SRTC Fish Lake Trail Outing- Work Related Of Course

With construction slated to start on Phase 2 of the Fish Lake Trail very soon, Jeff and I thought we should acquaint ourselves with it a little better, such as where it starts and stops, and where it will go once completed. So, we drug a total of six of us out to take a look yesterday, since we always seem to be fielding questions about it.

Ryan is our hardcore bicyclist, so he led our expedition. Not only did he ride the 6+ miles of the trail with us novices, but he also rode back to the office afterward. In less than 30 minutes.

Here are some pictures of our expedition:

Some WSDOT Projects Getting Underway Next Week

The Washington State Department of Transportation has several projects starting next week. Here's advance warning:

- On Sunday, May 17, from 6 a.m. until about 3 p.m., eastbound I90 in downtown Spokane will be reduced to two lanes for drain cleaning.

- Beginning Monday evening, May 18 at 7pm, work will begin on resurfacing I90 through lanes from Division Street to Havana Street. Drivers should expect lane restrictions, slow traffic, and congestion from 7pm to 6am.

- Beginning Monday, May 18, I90 will be reduced to one lane in each direction at Medical Lake-Four Lakes Road Bridges to remove existing bridge deck driving surface and replace with new concrete. This location is about ½ mile west of the Cheney/Four Lakes interchange.

Public Hearing On Liberty Lake Parking Restrictions

The Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on revisions to the Spokane County Traffic Code that would restrict parking in portions of the unincorporated area around Liberty Lake. The Spokane Valley Fire District has requested these revisions to the traffic code as a matter of public safety. Testimony will be taken at the public hearing, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the BOCC Hearing Room on the lower level of the Public Works Building at 1026 W. Broadway Ave, Spokane, WA.

The proposed revisions are detailed on the Spokane County website.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gregoire Signs Transportation Budget

A news release I just received from the governor's office:

TACOMA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed the $7.5 billion transportation budget for the 2009-2011 biennium, which includes the largest two-year construction budget ever for the Washington State Department of Transportation. Gregoire noted that Legislative budget writers estimate the projects approved in this bill are expected to support or create 49,000 jobs.

“This budget couldn’t have come at a better time,” Gregoire said. “Not only will it greatly improve our transportation system, the projects I’m signing off on will ensure regular employment for tens of thousands of Washingtonians. This is a huge win for the entire state of Washington. We’re creating safer, more efficient ways of travel – while getting our economy back on track.”

Gregoire signed the historic package in Tacoma, where – as a result of this budget – additional High-Occupancy-Vehicle lanes will be constructed on Interstate 5. In addition, the budget appropriates funding to make improvements to Pierce County’s state Route 16 Nalley Valley Viaduct.

“I can’t think of a more fitting location than Pierce County to sign this budget,” Gregoire said. “Your Nalley Valley Viaduct project encompasses everything we set out do this past legislative session when it comes to transportation. It puts people to work, it reduces congestion, and it ensures our commerce moves quickly to keep our businesses thriving.”

Highlights of the transportation package include: Funding for three 64-car ferries and a fourth, which will either be a 64-car or 144-car ferry; Funding for critical safety, freight, and mobility projects – including I-90/Snoqualmie Pass, I-405 and the North Spokane corridor; Consolidation of licensing services offices, creating cost savings and better customer service; and increased highway patrols for DUI enforcement

In addition to the transportation budget bill, the Legislature also approved legislation to fund the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep bored tunnel. Lawmakers also appropriated funding to replace the state Route 520 bridge.

“Every one of these projects benefits the entire state,” Gregoire said. “By making Washington a safe place to commute, and a more efficient place to do business, we are staying competitive in the changing economy.”

Gregoire recognized Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, (D-Camano Island), and Representative Judy Clibborn, (D-Mercer Island), who chaired the House and Senate Transportation committees, for their leadership in getting the transportation budget passed.

“This was a tough legislative session,” said Haugen. “But this was the bright spot. This transportation budget achieves what we all set out to do. It improves our roads and bridges while ensuring jobs for thousands of Washingtonians.”

“The transportation budget is the good news in an otherwise bad-news budget year,” said Clibborn. “This record investment will create jobs and improve our infrastructure at the time we need it most.”

Thanks Coffman Engineers!

A big thanks to Coffman Engineers for their very enthusiastic energizer station this morning as part of Bike to Work Week. They had an army of volunteers on the sidewalk in front of the Bank of America building on Riverside this morning, handing out goodies. And I'm not exaggerating, it was a very LARGE group of volunteers to be out so early.

By the way, I got my bike out to ride this week. It's definetely an oldie (got it when I was 21 and mountain bikes were all the rage), but that's not what I've been getting flack about. Apparently, some people don't like my license plate.

Parks Department Starts New Annual Walking Event

Lots of us take part in fun runs (well not me, I couldn't run if someone was chasing me anymore), but how about fun walks?

The City of Spokane's Parks and Recreation Department is starting a new event. It's a 5.5 mile loop-walk, called 'Bridge Walk,' that crosses over 17 historic bridges in the heart of Spokane.

Bridgewalk is Saturday, June 06 at 9:30 am. It's $17 for adults, $10 for children 5-16, and children under 4 are free.

Bridge Walk will be an annual event, and each year will have a 'featured' bridge. Bridge Walk 2009 begins at the Monroe Street Bridge, which is this year’s featured bridge. From there you’ll make your way through Riverfront Park , at your own pace, and end back in the Park at the Riverfront Fountain.

Here are the bridges you’ll cover: Monroe Street Bridge, Post Street Bridge, North Fork Bridge N, North Fork Bridge S, Wood Bridge by YMCA 1, Wood Bridge by YMCA 2, Wood Bridge by YMCA 3, Wood Bridge by YMCA 4, Wood Bridge by YMCA 5, Howard Concrete Bridge S, Howard Street Foot Bridge, Howard Concrete Bridge N, Washington Bridge N, Wood Bridge E of Carousel, King Cole Foot Bridge, Wood Bridge by Inn at Park, Don Kardong Foot Bridge

You must register by June 4. You can do so by clicking here.

Construction Season Is Officially Here

It's that time of year again... it's officially construction season. And there's a LOT of work planned for this year. The Spokesman-Review's Mike Praeger put together a summary of this years' construction projects.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I90 Cleared and Open

I90 at North Bend is now open to traffic again, after a large boulder was cleared from the roadway. The rock rolled onto the freeway early this morning.

More Bicycle Commuter Classes Being Taught

I told you a couple weeks ago about a class aimed at teaching you to be a better bicycle commuter. Well, due to popular demand, more of those classes are being made available- and they're more in-depth!

Two classes are currently open. The 9-hour classes (using course content from the League of American Bicyclists) cover traffic safety, route selection, basic maintenance and more.

They're filling up quickly though- each class has room for ten people and is taught in 1 evening and 1 Saturday session. The June class is on the 9th & 13th; the August class is on the 11th and 15th. These classes are being offered at a special rate of $30 / person (will likely increase for the next set of classes). If you would like to register or need more information, email

Editorial Says Spokane Shows Signs Of Progress

An editorial in today's Spokesman-Review says that Spokane has come a long way since developing it's first Bike Master Plan in the 1970's, and the success of Bike to Work Week demonstrates that. Here's the article.

I90 Closed at North Bend

Interstate 90 eastbound is closed at North Bend due to unstable slope conditions near Denny Creek. News reports this morning say a huge boulder rolled onto the road. I heard that a truck hit the boulder and the driver was injured, but have not been able to confirm that.

So far, the WSDOT does not have an estimated time when the freeway will be open again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bike Plan To Be Considered At Council Tonight

Spokane City Council members tonight will consider the Master Bike Plan that's been in development over the past year. Developing a bike plan is generally the first step in the process of getting grants to build non-motorized projects such as bike trails and connections. Here's more.

Biking and Lots Of Construction. Here's What's Happening

It's finally Bike to Work Week, the countdown is on to the start of construction on I90, and Sprague and Pines intersection work started today. Here's what's happening this week in transportation from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

City's Five Mile Project Starts Monday

The City of Spokane's Five Mile project begins construction on Monday, May 11. The project will widen and rebuild 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 Road from Austin Road to Lincoln Road.

Additionally, from Stratton Avenue to Lincoln Street, trees will be planted, sewer and water lines, grass swales, a two-way left turn lane will be installed, and a truck climbing lane will be added from Austin Rd. to Stratton Ave.

Five Mile Rd. from Austin Rd. to Alberta St. will have two northbound lanes and one southbound lane, Five Mile Rd. from Alberta St. to Lincoln Rd. will have one lane in each direction with a center turn lane. Five Mile Rd. from Austin Rd. to Cochran Ave. will be closed. Additionally, the intersection of Lincoln Rd. and Five Mile Rd. will be closed. Motorists will be detoured to Austin Rd. to Quamish Dr. and then onto Cascade Way and back to Five Mile Rd.

Roads To Close For Parade

The Junior Lilac Parade is this Saturday, May 9. The following streets will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to noon:

· Washington St. between Main and Boone avenues
· Dean Ave. between Washington and Howard streets
· Cataldo Ave. between Washington and Howard streets
· Spokane Falls Blvd. between Bernard and Post streets
· Post St. between Spokane Falls Blvd. and Bridge Ave.
· Main St. between Bernard and Stevens streets
· Stevens St. between Main Ave. and Spokane Falls Blvd.

The parade starts at 10 a.m.

Sunday Early A.M. Slowdowns On I90

Be observant if you drive I90 through the Spokane Valley on Sunday morning. The Washington State Patrol will be assisting Avista utilities with rolling traffic slowdowns to pull a new aerial power line across the freeway and remove an aerial guy wire.

The first slowdown, near Pines Road, will occur at about sunrise. The second, near Madelia Street, will take place an hour or two later. The rolling slowdowns and ramp restrictions will be in place for 5 to 10 minutes each.

Valley Public Meeting Reminder

A reminder that the City of Spokane Valley is hosting a public meeting tonight, from 5-7 P.M. in the City Hall Council Chambers to gather public input on the idea of spending $823,000 in Federal Recovery Act grant funds on projects that result in energy savings and long-term sustainability.

One of the projects they are interested in developing with that money is a Bike Master Plan (BMP). A goal of the Comprehensive Plan is the adoption of a BMP that will enable the City to leverage funds for the construction of alternative transportation facilities.

Other ideas being considered for the grant funds are:

- Exchanging traditional traffic lights with LED lights
- Conducting energy audits on City-owned facilities
- Preparing a long-term energy plan for the City
- Sprague Avenue traffic signal coordination system from University to Sullivan

Sunday Bicycle Education Fair, Monday BTW Kickoff Breakfast

I'm trying to get all my 'week ahead' blogging done today as I will be off studying the multitude of roundabouts in the Tri Cities tomorrow (okay, I'm really just going to visit a friend but I do drive through a lot of roundabouts down there).

So here is your final reminder about Bike to Work Week before it starts: The fun starts Sunday, May 10, with a Bicycle Education Fair from 11am-4pm at River Park Square. Ride down to the bike corral on Main & Post to check out info on area bike clubs and recreational rides.

And Monday morning there's the Kickoff Breakfast in Riverfront Park, with pancakes courtesy of Mountain Gear, coffee from Thomas Hammer, our "2009 Class Photo" at around 7:45 am, and a few prizes handed out (need not be present to win). Please RSVP for this event by clicking here.

Remember that you don't have to bike every day during the week for it to count. Any bike transportation miles you put in from Sunday May 10 through Saturday May 16 count, including to school, shopping, errands, or restaurants--anywhere you would otherwise have used a vehicle for transportation. All those miles count!

Here's the BTWW website if you still haven't registered.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bike Ride Observations

Jeff and I just got back from a lunchtime bike ride along the Centennial Trail to Gonzaga and back, then through Riverfront Park. And no, it wasn't exactly like in the picture because it was raining. That didn't bother us though. We still saw some interesting sights, including:

- Three adults who should know better trying to feed a really fat squirrel that I'm convinced was infected with rabies

- A woman walking on the trail wearing a dry cleaning bag tied around her head with the remainder of it blowing out behind her like a cape

- A large group of guilty-looking chefs from a local restaurant taking a smoke break behind an air conditioning unit (That was at about 12:30. Shouldn't they have been cooking something about then?)

- Too many people walking in the lane designated for bikes, then not making any effort to move when we came through.

I90 Work Starts May 18

Start the countdown, work on a major Interstate 90 resurfacing job in Spokane starts on May 18.

Pavement rehabilitation and paving will get underway on I-90 from the Division Street Interchange in downtown east to the Custer Street pedestrian overpass near the Spokane east city limits. The project will eliminate the severely rutted highway surface and provide motorists with a smoother ride.

In addition to resurfacing the freeway, many of the on and off ramps in the area will be repaved, as far west as Geiger Blvd. and east to Sullivan Road.

Most of the work will be performed during evening and overnight hours to reduce the effects during the heavier travel periods. All travel lanes will be open to traffic from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The project is scheduled to be finished around Labor Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Charts, Graphs, & Cameras Tell You How Long It Will Take To Cross Border

Planning to cross the border at the I-5 Peace Arch anytime soon? Wondering what sort of delays you might face? Washington State Department Of Transportation has created detailed graphs that show the average delays both northbound and southbound at the I-5 Peace Arch and SR 543 Pacific Highway/Truck crossings. The graphs show average delays by hour for summer and fall weekdays and weekends. Here's a link to the WSDOT border crossing page.

Bus Benches Get City Council Stirred Up

Yikes, who would have thought that bus benches could create such a stir? That's what happened at last night's Spokane City Council meeting, where council members debated what to do about area bus benches for three hours. And that was after Mayor Verner had declared earlier in the day that she will stand by her order to advertising companies that their benches be removed by the end of the month. Here's the latest in the bus bench saga.

Riverside Ave. Extension Workshop Reminder

A reminder that a second workshop to discuss the Riverside Avenue Extension Project in the University District is tomorrow, May 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Riverpoint Campus Academic Center, Rm. 20, 600 N. Riverpoint Blvd.

The workshop is hosted by the City of Spokane and will be led by MIG, Inc., a consultant who worked on the Downtown Plan and other local projects. Participants will learn about the scope of the project, construction details, and have an opportunity to provide input. Input will center around design elements of the project and how this project will combine and connect with other projects planned for the area.

The Riverside Avenue Extension Project will extend Riverside around the southern border of the Riverpoint Campus within the University District. The project creates a more contained and campus-like area for students and faculty, improving pedestrian access and addressing safety concerns. The City has received federal and state dollars to complete this work.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Two More Stimulus Projects Go Out To Bid

News release I just got from WSDOT-

Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Washington State Department of Transportation announced that two more Washington Jobs Now projects in Eastern Washington were advertised for private contractor bids today, May 4, with funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

These two projects are pavement resurfacing jobs – the first is on US 2 from its junction with SR 211 to the City of Newport in Pend Oreille County. The second paving project is located on SR 206 from the US 2 junction just north of Spokane to the intersection of Bruce Road.

“Transportation investments are part of our state’s economic recovery. So we have acted quickly to get our projects moving,” said Paula Hammond, Washington Transportation Secretary. “In addition to their positive economic impact, these projects are investments in the long-term preservation of our highway system.”

The two projects total $8.67 million, and WSDOT estimates that the work will support 85 jobs. Bids will be opened later this month and a contract should be awarded in June. Construction should begin in June or July.

“These are heavily-traveled highway sections in Pend Oreille and Spokane Counties,” said Keith Metcalf, WSDOT Eastern Region Administrator. “The roadways were due to be resurfaced and the ARRA funding makes it possible.”

Washington received $492 million in federal ARRA funds for state highway investments, which included $341 million that will fund 34 state highway projects.

Mayor Takes On Issue Of Bus Benches

News release just received from the City regarding bus benches:

Mayor Mary Verner today announced that she is promoting a bus bench replacement plan that meets the needs of the City’s bus riders. Her goal: Benches in the public right of way that are safe and comfortable and are placed where riders need them.

“Right now, we have a system that may serve advertisers, but unfortunately, leaves the end user out of the equation,” Mayor Verner says. “We have benches that are too close to the curb, blocking sidewalks, blocking curb ramps for wheelchairs, and located yards from a bus stop. That just doesn’t make sense.”

Mayor Verner is forming a citizen committee to develop a plan to meet her goals. The committee will consider where benches are needed, how they should be placed, and what they should look like. The committee will use some of the information compiled by the Spokane Transit Authority in 2008 when the STA agreed to replace benches in 100 locations where they are needed most. The STA Board suddenly backed away from that agreement.

The Mayor first pursued the agreement with STA to replace benches because the benches currently in the right of way violate City ordinance related to off-premises advertising. Many citizens advocate clearing up visual clutter in the right of way, but she says there are greater concerns than signage.

“In recent months, I have become more and more aware of the location and condition of the benches,” Mayor Verner says. “Our citizens are not being served.”

The Spokane City Council will consider an ordinance to allow benches with advertising in the public right of way as part of its 6 p.m. City Council meeting tonight. The Mayor says she will leave that policy decision up to the Council.

Since the benches currently in the right of way are not legal or practical, the Mayor will continue with her plan to have them removed and then proceed with a replacement program. She envisions attractive and comfortable benches with greater uniformity, placed safely to serve bus riders and maintain access to public sidewalks. Her plan also would require regular maintenance and ensuring compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

“As a City, we need to decide what’s acceptable in the public right of way,” the Mayor says. “We don’t allow other citizens to place items in the right of way without any direction or approval. Bus benches shouldn’t be any different.”

The citizens’ bench committee will convene its first meeting by the middle of May and will be asked to complete it work in 45 to 60 days. The committee members will include representatives from business, education, neighborhoods, and advocates for those with disabilities.

Last Bike Commuting Workshop Before BTW

There's just one Bike Commuting Workshop left before Bike to Work Week starts this Sunday, and I plan to be there tonight.

You can update your cycling skills at the work shop, which is taught by certified instructor Eileen Hyatt. It's from 6-7:30pm tonight at the North Spokane Library, 44 E. Hawthorne.

The workshops feature traffic skills, tips on clothing, gear, and lighting as well as prize drawings and refreshments. It's free and available on a walk-in basis--no need to register-- so join me if you're curious, or interested in working your way into bicycling.

Argonne Rd. Construction Projects Starts

A project starts in Millwood tonight that could slow you down. The reconstruction of Argonne will reduce traffic to one lane in each direction until early August. Here's the details from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

New Walking Route Maps Available

Looking for great places to walk, run or hike in Spokane County? The Spokane Regional Health District just finished a project with the National Park Service to create some fantastic walking maps.

There are neighborhood maps of great walking communities like Cheney and North Spokane in the Holmberg Park area, but also scenic and historic walk routes through Riverfront Park, Riverside State Park, Medical Lake and in the Little Spokane River area. And the maps tell you how strenuous of a walk or hike each route is. All the maps are free to download and print.

There are also links to more parks, trails and county parks posted. So, with the weather improving, you don't have any excuse not to get out and walk the dog or take a run.

We'll even give you the link to register. Here's a link to the site.

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.