Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Olympia Transit System Named Best In Nation

Congratulations to Olympia, Washington's Intercity Transit! The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has named Intercity Transit the best transit system in the nation for its size. Intercity Transit won the title in the medium-size category of transit systems providing between 4 and 30 million rides annually.

APTA presents the award each year to the transit system that best demonstrates achievement in efficiency and effectiveness over the previous three-year period.
Here's more on that award.

Monday, June 29, 2009

U District Local Revitalization Area Proposed

The City of Spokane has proposed developing a Local Revitalization Area in the University District on the east end of downtown and is seeking input from citizens on the proposal.

A public meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday, July 1 from 6-8 p.m. in the Nursing Center, Auditorium 105, on the Riverpoint Campus at 103 Spokane Falls Blvd.

Creation of a Local Revitalization Area would provide funding for public improvement projects within the District through a new version of tax-increment financing approved by the state Legislature in 2009. The funding could provide a boost toward the construction of a railroad overpass for pedestrians and bicyclists in the District, along with other potential projects.

You're encouraged to attend the meeting to learn about the Local Revitalization Area idea. The City is seeking input on the boundaries of the area, as well as the projects that could be constructed using this funding.

Poll Shows Spokane Citizens Want Better Streets

Early results from an online Spokane City Council survey show that the biggest 'want' of citizens is smoother streets.

In a list of 22 items, street improvements, more job opportunities, and the creation of a centralized public market ranked the highest among the 683 completed surveys as of Friday afternoon. Here are more early poll results from the Spokesman-Review.

And here's a link to the survey. You can take it through this Friday, July 3.

Stimulus Highway Projects About To Start

$20 million worth of stimulus highway projects are about to start in our area and holiday travel is expected to be down from past years over the 4th of July weekend.
Here's the details from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Name Chosen For NSC Path

In the Fall of 2008 the Washington State Department Of Transportation solicited ideas from the public to name the pedestrian-bike path which runs parallel to the North Spokane Corridor (NSC). This path will connect to neighborhoods along with other trails in the community.

Over 45 potential names were submitted. WSDOT then invited representatives from Tribal, biking, and outdoor groups to choose from those submitted names. The group chose "Children of the Sun" which is the rough translation of the word "Spokane" in the Salish language.

Lane Closures On Lower North Side

Here's your warning; there will be lane closures and obstructions each day this week, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. so crews can install fiber optic cable. The work starts at City Hall and will move across the Monroe St. Bridge to Bridge Ave., then across Kendall Yards to College Ave., and up Maple St. to Indiana Ave., then down to the Fire Station on Ash St. Flaggers will be in place.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Traffic Signals Out In Northeast Spokane

The panic is over- the streetlights are back up and running.

Time to tuneup your four-way stop skills folks, some traffic signals in an area of Northeast Spokane are not functioning due to a power outage. The dark signals are from Division St. east to Nevada and Hamilton streets from Illinois Ave. north Wellesley Ave.

City crews have brought in generators for major intersections, but other signals are without power.

So here's the official protocal. EVERYONE stops when a signal is out and treats it like a four-way stop.

'LightLane' Gives You Your Own Bike Lane

Start saving your money folks, because I can envision a lot of people running out to buy this little gadget. The gadget blog Gizmodo says this new product called 'LightLane' will be available soon. Using lasers affixed to your bicycle, the LightLane projects a virtual bike lane around you, letting cars know their boundaries and, hopefully, making riding safer for you. It's got it's obvious flaws, such as the fact that it probably isn't very visible during daylight hours, but all in all I think it's pretty cool. No word yet how much 'LightLane' will cost but I'm sure it won't be cheap.

19 Cities Sued Over Red Light Cameras

Red Light Cameras are being challenged again. 19 Washington cities, including Spokane, are being sued by a group that claims people who get automated traffic-camera fines are being overcharged.

Here's an article by the Spokesman-Review.

Not All Parking Lots Are Ugly

Who says parking lots have to be ugly, barren places? The Neva-Wood COPS Shop has a brand new parking lot that's more of a compliment to their building than just a place to leave your car while you do business inside. Here's the story.

Washington State Bike Map

Got big vacation plans this year? Looking for something cheap to do? How about a bicycle trip across the state? Or just across your county? Wherever you're going on two wheels across Washington, the Washington State Department of Transportation has a bike map to help you. Here's a link. Just click the area you're interested in for local area details. Now get packing, you've got a bike trip to make. And thanks to Holly for sending me this link.

We're Done Retreating Now

So I'm happy to report that we all made it through the first annual SRTC staff retreat with no deaths, injuries, or even cuts or scratches. Centerplace was nice enough to let us use one of their rooms, where we not only had some fun, but also figured out some ways we can

work more effectively, work better with other agencies and jurisdictions, work better with each other, and how we can serve our 'clients' (other agencies, local electeds, the public, etc.)better.

One thing I'm really excited about is that Glenn agreed to let us take 'field trips.' We talk to all the area jurisdictions on a daily basis about their projects, but ask me about the NSC and I'm pretty fuzzy on a lot of the details. Same with some of our planners and some of the area bike paths. So we decided to take periodic field trips where we either ride a local bike path, take a hike or a walk through a park or neighborhood, or even take a drive through an area of interest. This will make us better prepared to answer questions when we're out in the public.

Oh yeah, and he also said we can grow vegetables on the deck if we do it on our own time. Whoo hoo!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

King County Audit Finds Major Problems

King County is in trouble over financial records, after an audit turned up construction projects that went over the authorized price- by $26 million!- many examples of poor record keeping, and piles of cash transit fares left unsecured. There were a lot of other less-than-stellar findings too.

Click here to read the Seattle P.I.'s article on the other audit findings

Writer Says Bike Plan Will Educate More Riders

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor

In response to Mr. Ray Moss’ letter (June 13), as both a cyclist and a motorist, I too am bothered by the “lawlessness” of many individuals on bicycles in the downtown area. The ill will they create only serves to arrest the progress Spokane is making in becoming more multimodal. I would also suggest they represent a very small minority of cyclists, the majority of whom use bicycles in a safe and respectful manner.

By having recently adopted the Spokane Master Bicycle Plan and hiring a bicycle-pedestrian coordinator, the city and City Council have demonstrated their desire to support all modes of transportation on Spokane’s streets. A component of the plan focuses on education and enforcement.

It’s our belief that over the coming years, such offenses will be lessened as both these areas are emphasized.

Whereas Mr. Moss’ recommendation about licensing as proof of rudimentary knowledge of rules of the road has merit, such efforts have often been unsuccessful in other communities, as well as having the unintentional consequence of discouraging cycling.

Bob Lutz
Chairman, Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board

What are your thoughts on the possibility of requiring bicyclists to license their bikes, much like drivers license their vehicles?

Pothole Work Closing I90 Lanes

If you drive westbound I90 out of downtown, be prepared for some slow downs on your drive home tonight.

Pothole repair work today on the west side of downtown Spokane is causing partial lane closures and some delays on the freeway. The work is occurring at the west end of the bridge across Latah Creek between Maple Street and the U.S. Highway 195 interchange.

Ruby St. Lane Closures

Lane closures are planned on Ruby St. from Augusta to Indiana avenues starting at 6 a.m. tomorrow, June 24. During working hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., City crews will close two lanes for grinding and other street repairs. After 5 p.m., one of those lanes will reopen to traffic and then be closed again at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

SRTC Office Closed On Wednesday

If you've got business to conduct with SRTC, better do it today or you'll have to wait until Thursday. The office will be closed all day tomorrow (Wednesday) for a staff 'retreat.' Rumor has it we're getting a dunk tank and taking turns trying to knock the boss into the water. I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen though. SRTC will reopen at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Emphasis Patrol Nets Lots Of People Not Wearing Seatbelts

Spokane County law enforcement officers wrote 351 citations this spring for people not wearing seat belts during their annual “click it or ticket” emphasis patrols.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission today released results from the night time enforcement period from May 21 through June 7.

In addition to the seat belt violations, officers made 10 arrests; three for driving while intoxicated, six for outstanding misdemeanor warrants, and one for an unspecified felony.

They wrote up 128 drivers for speeding, three for aggressive driving, two for reckless driving, 16 for child passenger safety restraint violations and 71 for no insurance.

NSC Open House Meeting

An informational open house meeting is scheduled for this week to update the community regarding the North Spokane Corridor (NSC) project. The open house is this Thursday, June 25th, from 5-8 p.m. at Northwood Middle School, 13120 N. Pittsburg.

Washington State Department of Transportation staff will be on hand to answer questions about the overall status of the project and construction details. Real Estate Services representatives will also be available. There will be no formal presentation at the Open House. Interested citizens are invited to drop by at any time during the meeting.

The first segment of the NSC, from Francis to Farwell Rd., will open in August of this year.

775 Pages Of Transportation Bill Reading

Chairman Jim Oberstar and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee late last week released the full 775-page transportation bill text. Jeff in our office is looking it over to glean the highlights, but if you don't want to wait, or need something to help you sleep at night, here's a link to it.

City Dwellers Healthier Than Suburbanites- Because Of Sidewalks

No matter which country you're in, new research finds those who live in an urban neighborhood are twice as likely to be physically active than those in the suburbs. According to a San Diego State University study published in this month’s American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the biggest single factor influencing physical activity around the world is accessibility to sidewalks. Here's more on this study.

Naked Bicyclists Crash Fremont Parade

The weather was a little chilly on the west side this weekend, but that didn't stop a bunch of people from getting naked and getting on their bikes. The tradition of naked bicyclists crashing Fremont's annual Solstice Day Parade is alive and well.
Here's the story and video from the Seattle P.I. Spoiler alert though, there's no gratuitous nudity so if you were just going to watch to see naked people, don't bother.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bike Rack Update

I haven't checked these locations yet to see if they've received their racks, but several downtown businesses are slated to have new bike racks installed sometime in June.

Those businesses include Leland's on Wall, SRBC, Runner's Soul, Spokane Entrepreneurial Center, Parkside Physical Therapy, and the Spokane Club.

And coffee shop 'Press' on Grand will be installing a 10-bike rack shaped like a coffee cup soon.

If you're a downtown business that doesn't have a bike rack but would like one, there are more available for $50 each (including installation!).

Contact Andrew Rolwes of the Downtown Spokane Partnership for more information.

10 Things Gas Stations Won't Tell You

Did you know that paying for gas with your debit card could possibly lock up some of your money for several days? Or that you may not be getting as much gas as you paid for? According to this article from MSN, 10 Things Gas Stations Won't Tell You, you're rolling the dice everytime you gas up.

Indiana & Ruby Intersection Closed For Fatal Crash Investigation

You'll want to avoid the intersection of Indiana Avenue and Ruby Street for at least this morning and probably into the afternoon today. Police have the intersection closed to investigate a fiery crash there that killed a woman driving a car that was taken in an early morning carjacking incident.

Here's more on this story.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Altamont Project Starts Monday

Work on the Altamont Bouleveard project, from 9th to 11th Avenues, will start on Monday, June 22.

The project involves a combination of grinding and overlaying and full-depth curb-to-curb rehabilitation of Altamont Blvd. from 11th to Ninth avenues; Cook St. from Altamont Blvd. to 14th Ave.; Woodfern St. at Altamont Blvd.; and Ninth Ave. from Altamont Blvd. to Jaques St. These streets will be closed with local access only.

The nearly $800,000 project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond.

Congressman Oberstar's Proposed Fix For The Highway Trust Fund

Who would have thought that congressmen have their own blogs? Well, at least one does. Congressman James Oberstar is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and is apparently a blogger. Today, he
posted this thread about his proposed highway reauthorization bill that will replenish the Highway Trust Fund. The report on this comes out tomorrow and is allegedly 800-pages long. I've got Jeff Selle in our office resting up to read it tomorrow, so we'll fill you in after we get a look at it and an idea of what it contains.

West Side Weeks Away From New Mass Transit System Readiness

In just a few weeks, the west side's Sound Transit will begin a new light-rail service; from the downtown Seattle bus tunnel to Tukwila. It's the first part of a new mass transit system, and according to 'The Stranger' newspaper, it's really cool. A warning aboutthis article, 'Seven Things We Learned While Riding Light Rail for the First Time' though; there's one bad word in it, and it's right off the top. As always, we don't condone bad language here at SRTC.

City Celebrating Completion Of First '09 Bond Project

Join Spokane City Administrator Ted Danek at a celebration Friday, June 19, to recognize the completion of the first 10-Year Street Bond project in 2009, the Alberta and Cochran streets project. The celebration will be held at 10:00 a.m. in the Shadle Park Presbyterian Church parking lot, 5508 N. Alberta St.

The $3.8 million Alberta and Cochran streets project, funded by the 10-Year Street Bond, began in April and wrapped up today, approximately one month early. The project rehabilitated Alberta and Cochran streets from Northwest Boulevard to Francis Avenue and installed concrete intersections at Garland and Wellesley avenues and ADA-approved curb ramps.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Groups Argue Over Street Tree Size- Again

Does the City of Spokane hate big trees? That's what the Spokane Preservation Advocates thinks. They say Spokane city policies are encouraging small trees along city streets at the expense of big ones.

City officials argue they're trying to solve problems created by large trees in small spaces, not forgoing large trees altogether.

Now, an 'urban forestry expert' from Utah has been invited to speak on the subject. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

I can see both sides of this debate, and have several times here locally. Everyone loves big trees and the environment they create, but can we justify spending thousands, even millions, of dollars to re-construct a street, only to have tree roots destroy sections of it just a few years later? Touchy subject I know, but what are your thoughts?

Writer Says Drop Speed Limit On US 195

Spokesman-Review Letter To The Editor:

I am concerned about the unsafe entrances and exits on U.S. 195, between Hatch Road and downtown Spokane. The tragic deaths of a local teenager last winter and of a 9-year-old on Mother’s Day bring great urgency to finding a solution.

I am proposing an immediate and cost-effective short term fix: Post signs lowering the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph, between Hatch Road and 16th Avenue. This reduced speed limit would give drivers more reaction time and, logically, reduce accidents.

District 81 school buses travel this highway daily and the Eagle Ridge and Qualchan communities are full of soon-to-be 16-year-old drivers who will be navigating this treacherous stretch of highway. As a parent, I am terrified that there will be more accidents and heartbreak.

The reduced speed limit might add a minute to your commute, but would be well worth it if just one life was saved.

Rose Kelly Rhoades

Ms. Rhoades is right; this can be a scary stretch of road. The Washington State Department of Transportation is aware of this and has a plan to remedy it. Here's a link to the WSDOT web page devoted to this project. Unfortunately, no funding is currently available to construct it, so do you agree with Ms. Rhoades that the speed limit should be dropped until something can be done?

City's Bike/Ped Coordinator Is Officially On The Job

The City of Spokane's new Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator is officially on the job now. I haven't met him yet but have been hearing a lot about him in the past few days. Apparently he jumped right into things by attending last nights Bike Advisory Board meeting. Local bicycling advocate John Speare was at that meeting. Here's a link to John's blog, where there's a brand new thread about meeting the Bike/Ped Coordinator last night.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Bicycle Advisory Board Wants You

Do you love riding bikes? Do you love Spokane? Do you want to be active in shaping city policy while helping to make Spokane more bicycle-friendly? Can you commit to about 10 hours a month of hard work? Is your primary residence in the city of Spokane?

If you answered "Yes" to all those questions, then the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board wants you! The Board has two open seats to fill and is especially interested in finding northside bicyclists to take part in order to get better geographic representation. Here's how to get involved.

Gas Prices Rising Again

Gas prices are once again rising at a record pace. The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is almost $2.70, up 16 percent in the last month and more than 60 percent since the first of the year. And it's still rising. Here's more from Q6 News.

City Considering Purchasing More Plow Blades

Apparently your complaints were heard, because the City of Spokane is considering buying eleven new plow blades to put on water and sewer department fleets to get roads cleared faster in the event of another rough winter. Here's more from the Spokesman-Review.

Monday, June 15, 2009

More Red Light Cameras Coming To Spokane

You may want to practice using your brake pedal, because Spokane is getting four more red light cameras within the next couple months. Here's where they'll be located.

Francis Avenue Lane Reductions

Francis Ave. from Wall St. to Indian Trail Rd. will have lane reductions for westbound drivers this week. City crews will be repairing the street. You can expect delays in the area.

New Form Of Transportation- The Powered La-Z Boy

We've seen powered coolers, porta potties and pretty much everything else. But here's what I've been working on in my garage for good old dad for Father's Day.

Monday Morning Mess On Sprague Avenue

I complain about this to co-workers almost every Monday, so I thought I might as well make my complaint public today. Most Mondays I walk to work from the STA Plaza. This involves walking about six blocks down Sprague Avenue. Most Mondays without fail there is a mess of debris in front of both Jimmy'Z bar and the old Ridpath Hotel (which now has a nightclub inside but no hotel ammenities). This includes piles of vomit, puddles that look and smell like urine, occasional condoms, all kinds of litter, cigarette butts, and today a rubber surgical glove.

I bring this up because it's gross for pedestrians to have to walk past, and with summer here, we're going to have a lot more tourists in town on Monday mornings who might not be impressed with our city after seeing that mess. I'm going to write an angry letter to Jimmy'Z and the current Ridpath ownership. I'll let you know if I get any response.

STA Driver Places In National 'Roadeo'

A good showing for a local STA driver in the national 'Roadeo' and the WSDOT puts out their largest bid yet for North Spokane Corridor construction. Here's a roundup of what's happening in transportation this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

WSDOT Publishes Weekly Stimulus Newsletter

Washington received $492 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for highway projects. WSDOT is now publishing a weekly online newsletter with the latest information on ARRA projects. The newsletter, called 'Stimulus News You Can Use', features weekly information on highway project delivery, updates on grant applications for high-speed passenger rail and transit projects, and updates on the national context of Recovery Act accountability reporting.

Here's where you can go to check out the newsletter.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Speed Limit Dropped Near Parks For The Summer

In preparation for school being out for the summer, drivers are being asked to slow down around parks. The City Street Department has repainted the crosswalks near the following parks and will be installing the lower 20 mile per hour speed limit signs this week:

• A.M. Cannon Park • Chief Gary Park
• Lincoln Park • Mission Park

Signs will be installed the following week at:

• Hays Park • Comstock Park
• Audubon Park

Francis and Nevada Intersection Expected To Open Friday

The intersection of Francis Avenue and Nevada Street is expected to be complete tomorrow, Friday, June 12.

A construction project there installed a concrete intersection and made improvements to the traffic signals (timing and new signals. Nevada St. from Rosewood to Decatur avenues has been closed during the course of the construction; and Francis Ave. is reduced to one lane in each direction.

Pedestrian Count Turns Up Large Number of Walkers/Bicyclists On Monroe

As part of the work I do with an area 'non-motorized transportation' group, I took part in a pedestrian count along Monroe Street yesterday afternoon. We had done a walking audit of the street the day before from the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge up to Boone Street and noticed that bike and pedestrian facilities are seriously lacking, so we were surprised to see a large amount of people walking and bicycling on that stretch of road. Granted, there were only one or two bicyclists who actually rode in the street. It's illegal in downtown Spokane and on that stretch of Monroe to ride on the sidewalk, but that's what most people were doing.

There was also a large amount of pedestrians who crossed the road mid-block instead of going to an intersection with a crosswalk. There is a pretty long stretch without any crosswalks though so it's not really surprising.

We saw one kid on a bike make a death-defying weave through traffic to get across the road and another group that included two roller bladers, a dog and a person on a recumbent bike all trying to get across the street at the same time. Awesome! We got video of it but I don't have it yet. I'll post it when I get it.

You Can Voice Concerns To Transportation Commissioners

You'll have the opportunity to share transportation concerns and challenges with the Washington State Transportation Commission. Transportation Commissioners will be in Spokane Valley next week as part of their community outreach efforts.

A public meeting will be held Tuesday, June 16, at the Oxford Suites, Town Meeting Room 1, 15015 East Indiana starting at 9 a.m. The meeting is open to the public, and persons wishing to speak to the Commission may do so during the public comment period scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

The meeting will consist of a series of panel discussions and short presentations about current activities, future plans and needs for transportation at the local, regional and state level.

For more information, check out the Washington State Transportation Commission website.

Market Street Projects Gets WSDOT Funds

The City of Spokane has just been notified they've been selected for $1.5 million of funding for their Market Street Pedestrian project! That money will come from Washington State Department of Transportation's Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety program.

The entire project involves replacing sidewalks along 13 blocks of Market, adding lighting, street trees, bulb outs (traffic-calming devices that narrow the street by widening the curb and sidewalk), and other ammenities. That $1.5 million will be spent specifically on six blocks of the work between Queen and Columbia.

Construction starts on the project within the next six weeks.

Nova Scotia Has A Crush On Us

Okay, I admit, this isn't exactly transportation related except that it involves taking a road trip to our fair city. But I found it very interesting when a friend emailed it to me yesterday. Apparently, people in Nova Scotia think Spokane is a great travel destination! Who would have thought it?? I found it funny that this article in the Cape Breton Post lists 'attractions' Spokane has to offer, the top one being 'dive bars and cafes.' Huh? I thought all cities have dive bars.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spokane May Name Street After Civil Rights Leader

After almost two decades of discussions and debate, Spokane may finally name a street after Martin Luther King, Jr. The Spokane Plan Commission today will discuss a proposal to name a new stretch of Riverside Avenue after the Civil Rights leader.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Cars Parked In Bike Lanes? Turn Them In To MyBikeLane.org

Barb Chamberlain, of Bike To Work Week Spokane, shared a website with us you may want to check out. It's called MyBikeLane.org and it documents cases of drivers parking in bike lanes around the world. You can pick any city and see pictures of violators. Spokane has 15 pictures submitted (!!!), including several of cars parked not only in bike lanes, but also half in the bike lane, half on the sidewalk. That's right folks, don't just offend one group of people, but be sure to make both bicyclists and walkers angry!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Altamont Closed Wednesday, Too

Altamont Boulevard from 9th to 7th avenues will be closed tomorrow, June 10, from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. for paving.

Crews were hoping to have the street paved today, but will need to work in the area again tomorrow.

Walking Audit Turns Up Lots Of Bad Sidewalks, Other Scary Conditions

I work with a 'non-motorized transportation group' made up of members of local agencies and civic groups. As one of our projects, we conducted a walking audit of Monroe Street today. Our group consisted of a wide variety of people who can hopefully make conditions better along the busy street; representatives from the Lands Council, STA, City of Spokane, Futurewise, the Spokane Regional Health District, the County's Commute Trip Reduction program, and even Officer Teresa Fuller from the Spokane Police Department and a citizen volunteer, Jenny Hoff, who is in a power chair and looked at accesibility issues.

So what did we find? A lot of narrow sidewalks, fast moving traffic, bicyclists darting in and out of traffic, cracked and potholed sidewalks, steep ADA ramps, very few striped crosswalks, and no bike parking- just to name a couple things.

The results are still being tabulated, but in the meantime, you can look at the pictures from our 'field trip.' Some days I really love my job.

City of Spokane Master Bike Plan Approved By Council

This just in (not really, I'm just trying to be dramatic): the City of Spokane's Master Bike Plan was approved at last night's City Council meeting.

The plan originally went on the agenda in May but was delayed until this week. If you haven't read it, here's a link to the document and information on it.

STA Has Game Plan For Transporting Hundreds Of Wheelchair Athletes

The world’s largest annual wheelchair sporting event comes to Spokane next month, and STA has a game plan to get all 630 athletes where they need to go. STA will provide shuttle service for everyone involved both from the airport and to and from local hotels to the Convention Center... and they'll do all that without interrupting regular bus service. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Interactive Bike Map Launched Online

There's a new kind of bike map out these days. Seattle's Cascade Bicycle Club has
launched an online mapping tool that gives the public, including in Spokane, a place to report bicycle collisions, hazards and thefts, and look at trends.

Since the map went online a couple weeks ago, more than 125 people have registered and reported 30 collisions in Seattle alone. People have posted where road hazards
exist for cyclists in cities in Washington and six other states, although there hasn't been any information input for the Spokane area yet that I could see.

So be the first in our area to register. Here's the link. Get going and let us know the challenges you face when bicycling.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Altamont Closed Tuesday

Altamont Boulevard from Ninth to Seventh avenues will be closed tomorrow (Tuesday) from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. for paving. Flaggers will be in place but you may want to use Ray/Thor Streets or Perry Street as an alternate route to avoid slow traffic.

Low Bids Mean More Projects For Washington

A news release out of Governor Gregoire's office says that low construction bids are resulting in more construction projects in Washington.

On Friday, Gregoire and Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond announced the state will deliver more highway projects with stimulus funds than first envisioned. That's due to the recent trend toward lower construction bids.

As of June 1, WSDOT has awarded 15 state stimulus contracts worth $64 million- averaging 21% below estimates. Between July 1, 2008, and April 30, 2009, WSDOT awarded 115 construction contracts, 100 of which came in an average of 29.5 percent below cost estimates.

To date, 63% of the local recovery funding has been obligated, with 15 projects awarded and 43 projects now being advertised for bids.

The transportation department will begin applying federal stimulus funds to a secondary list of more than $80 million in projects identified by Gregoire and the Legislature as projects that WSDOT could advance if stimulus funding became available.

Travel Back In Time On Vintage Train

Remember that episode of Star Trek where Kirk and the gang travel back in time to the 1920's? Well you'll be able to do a little time travel yourself when a restored locomotive and vintage rail cars visit Spokane in July. Tickets are on sale now for day trips on the train, which is apparently quite a big deal for rail enthusiasts.
Here's more information from the Spokesman-Review.

Friday, June 5, 2009

More Of Alberta And Cochran Streets Open To Traffic

Alberta and Cochran streets have reopened to traffic from Garland to Wellesley avenues today; but remain closed from Wellesley to Francis avenues, including the streets’ intersection with Rowan Ave.

Both streets are being rehabilitated as part of a City of Spokane Street Bond project.

City Council Wants Your Opinion In Online Survey

The Spokane City Council wants to hear from you. The Council has developed an on-line survey designed to gauge opinions about the community and how satisfied citizens are with services provided by the City of Spokane. The Council will use the information to help develop their work plans and areas of focus.

I just took the survey and it only takes a few minutes to do. It contains a lot of questions about road conditions, sidewalks, ease of walking and bicycling in Spokane.

To take the survey, click here.

The Cranky Bureaucrats Have Good Showing For BTW

Results are in from Bike to Work Week Spokane... sort of. They're not posted on the BTW website yet, but a couple emails were sent out to participants yesterday with results.

SRTC's team, the Cranky Bureaucrats, tied for second place in the overall category for percentage of new commuters. We also took first place for percentage of new commuters in the public agency category.

Spokane Company Fined For Bridge Collapse

A Spokane company is being fined by OSHA for the collapse of a bridge under construction last summer in southwestern Idaho.

The company is contesting the fines though, saying it's not their fault. Here's the Spokesman-Review Story.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Eastbound I90 Very Slow Going Coming Into Downtown

You may want to avoid I90 near the Sunset Hill for a little while this afternoon. Eastbound traffic from the hill into downtown is bumper-to-bumper and stop and go due to two multiple vehicle accidents.

Both accidents were in the left-hand lane, according to Washington State Patrol troopers.

We know there is at least one injury but don't have further details at this point.

Sections Of Alberta/Cochran Reopened

Progress is being made on the Alberta/Cochran project in north Spokane. Both Alberta and Cochran streets have reopened from Northwest Boulevard to Garland Avenue. They both remain closed from Garland to Francis though.

The project is rehabilitating Alberta Street from Northwest Boulevard to Francis Avenue and Cochran Street from Northwest Blvd. to Alberta St.

The $3.8 million project is being funded by the City of Spokane's 10-Year Street Bond.
This isn't transportation related, but I thought I should explain why I'll be blogging less and less in the future. My neighbor must have sold a bodily organ because he bought this toy. Everyday when I get up in the morning, I just can't see myself going to work and sitting in front of a computer every day. Glenn, I'm not feeling so well (cough cough).

Chalk & New Sidewalks; Come To Hillyard This Weekend

Here's an event that has a couple things I really like; chalk drawings and new sidewalks.

Hillyard will host it's 13th annual Chalk Art Walk this Saturday. This is the last time the current sidewalks will be used as canvases for chalk artists because the 2009 streetscape project (to renew the historic Market Street district) will replace the old damaged sidewalks with new ones. Work on that project is scheduled to begin within the next few weeks.

In the meantime, the sidewalks will be used for this free competition. Starting at 10:00 A.M. Saturday, contestants get their own sidewalk square and chalk. They have until mid-afternoon to complete their picture before judging. For more information, or to enter the contest, here's a link.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fifth & Maple Traffic Signal Repaired

The traffic signal at Maple St. and Fifth Ave. that was not working earlier today has now been fixed. The signal was damaged as a result of construction in the area.

Millwood Construction Project

If you've been through the Spokane Valley headed north recently, you've probably been through the Argonne Road revitalization project. And you've probably experienced at least a short wait due to construction.

The City of Millwood wants to remind you that the businesses in that area are still open, but if you're not using them, you may want to find a detour if you're just passing through on your way somewhere else.

The project to upgrade Argonne started in May and is slated to last all summer, but in the meantime you may want to save yourself some time and avoid the area. To help with the congestion problem, work is being done overnight, from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. each day. Side streets are closed during the work to prevent traffic jams.

The project includes resurfacing a section of Argonne from Frederick to Riverway, installing a new concrete intersection at the juncture of Euclid and Empire and adding sidewalks and wheelchair ramps.

$1.3 million of the funds to pay for the project is provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation. An additional $120,000 grant from the state Transportation Improvement Board will help with other pedestrian improvements. Welch-Comer Engineers has been contracted to manage this project.

Wellesley and Belt Intersection Open To Traffic

The project that replaced the existing traffic signal and added a left turn phase at the intersection of Wellesley Ave. and Belt St. is complete and the intersection is open to traffic. The $410,000 was funded with federal and City funds.

Plant-Based Jet Fuel Only Year Away; According To Airline Companies

A plant-based jet fuel could be only a year away from hitting the market, according to Boeing and other airline companies. An editorial in the Spokesman-Review today talks about a jet fuel made from a weed called camelina that delivers better mileage and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Here's the editorial.

Bridge Rebuilding Project Blamed For Dangerous River Conditions

I've heard of construction projects causing a lot of congestion and traffic problems, but here's a new one- the Barker Road Bridge reconstruction project is being blamed for increasing danger on the river.

The bridge is supposedly snagging lots of logs and debris, causing a jam-up under it. This could cause people using the river to get stuck as well, as was the case with one rafter over the weekend. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

New Border Restrictions Not Causing Backups

If you're travelling to Canada anytime soon- good news! Yesterday, stricter rules went into effect for U.S. citizens returning from Canada and Mexico, but no unusual backups were reported at area border crossings.

In fact, at the Peace Arch crossing in Blaine, WA, Customs and Border agents reported a compliance rate of 90%+ of American citizens showing passports or one of the new 'enhanced' IDs required for border crossings.

Here's more on this story.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bridge Walk 2009 Registration Deadline Coming

A reminder that you only have a couple more days to register for Bridge Walk 2009. It takes place this Saturday, June 6, but you only have until Thursday to register.

The walk is a relaxing 4.5 mile loop-walk that crosses over 17 historic bridges in the heart of Spokane. Here's more information and the registration form.

US 2 Route Development Plan Public Meeting

The Washington State Department of Transportation has completed a route development plan for US 2 from the Lincoln County line to Interstate 90 near Spokane.

An informational open house meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, June 4 to update the public on the findings and suggested improvements for the corridor. WSDOT staff will be on hand to answer questions. Citizens are invited to drop by at any time between 5-7 p.m. at Sunset Elementary School, 12824 W. 12th in Airway Heights.

Route development plans identify deficiencies in the transportation system and propose potential improvements. Open house attendees will learn more about why we need a route development plan, what improvements were considered, how improvements are evaluated, and what the next steps will be for this highway section from just east of Reardan to I-90 in Spokane. Here's more information.

GM Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

As part of a plan to make General Motors more manageable and give a majority ownership stake to the government, GM today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

President Obama has a scheduled speech for around noon to address GM’s future and it's impact on everyday people. Here's more.

In the meantime, an letter to the editor in today's Spokesman-Review says the answer to saving GM is for the company to start producing an electric car that company managers originally said would never work. Here's the letter.

Lots of Trail-Related Events For Nation Trails Day

Saturday, June 6 is National Trails Day and there will be a lot going on locally throughout the week to celebrate. You can voice your opinion on proposed trails for the Beacon Hill area, help build a new trail segment in the Dishman-Mica area, help clean up the Fish Lake Trail, or several other trail-related opportunities.

Here's a roundup of what will be happening from the Spokesman-Review.

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.