Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spokane City Leaf Pickup Starts Nov. 3

City of Spokane crews are scheduled to begin leaf pickup next Tuesday, Nov. 3, and running into mid-December. Crews begin on Spokane’s North Side, gradually moving to the South Hill.

The City’s leaf pickup removes only the leaves that naturally fall into the streets. Please do not rake leaves into the street. And please move your vehicle from the street before leaf crews are in your neighborhood.

The leaf pickup schedule for Nov. 3 through Nov. 5 is as follows:

Tuesday, Nov. 3—Woodridge Area: south of north City limits, north of Barnes Rd., west of Wieber Dr., and east of Comanche Dr.

Driscoll Area: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Belt St., and east of Northwest Blvd.

Audubon Area: south of Garland Ave., north of Northwest Blvd., west of Monroe St., and east of Northwest Blvd.

Wednesday, Nov. 4— Woodridge Area: south of north City limits, north of Barnes Rd., west of Wieber Dr., and East of Comanche.

Driscoll Area: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Belt St., and east of Northwest Blvd.

Audubon Area: south of Garland Ave., north of Northwest Blvd., west of Monroe St., and east of Northwest Blvd.

Pacific Park: south of Barnes Rd., north of Sutherlin Dr., west of Farmdale St., and east of Forest Blvd.

Shadle Park: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Wall St., and east of Belt St.

Thursday, Nov. 5
— Pacific Park: south of Barnes Rd., north of Sutherlin Dr., west of

Farmdale St., and east of Forest Blvd.

Shadle Park: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Wall St., and east of Belt St.

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

Downriver Area: south of Northwest Blvd., north of Riverview Dr., west of Meenach Dr., and east of Columbia Circle.

Snoqualmie Construction Done For Season

Good news for you cross-state drivers. WSDOT and contractor crews are wrapping up construction on the first phase of the Lake Easton to Bullfrog project this week. That means no more long waits to get over the pass on the weekend. Oh wait, you'll probably still have those once the snow starts piling up.

Crews replaced approximately 4.5 miles of the right-hand concrete lane and asphalt shoulders of westbound I-90 between Easton (milepost 70) and Cle Elum (milepost 80).

Freeway Displaces Church

A plan to expand I90 to accomodate it's juncture with the North Spokane Corridor is causing a local congregation to be evicted. Bethany Presbyterian Church is moving from the corner of South Freya Street and East Third Avenue because the Washington State Department of Transportation has purchased the land the church sits on. But church members aren't upset; they're viewing it as a blessing. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Spokane Valley Has Plan For Snow Removal

Spokane Valley is going out on a limb this winter. They plan to try to get through the winter with just a handful of plows and graders since they no longer contract with the county for snow removal.

Here's the plan for this winter from KXLY news.

Winter Prep Underway At WSDOT

The Washington State Department of Transportation sent out their Eastern Region update for October yesterday, which talked about their main focus right now; preparation for winter.

WSDOT crews are responsible for snow and ice control on about 1,700 miles of state highways in seven counties. They're preparing for this by equipping the 21 single-axle trucks and 48 dual-axle trucks in their sanding/deicing fleet with plows.

56 of the trucks have their dump boxes removed and sanding boxes installed. Each sanding box is capable of pre-wetting solid materials such as sand or salt to help the material adhere to the pavement. 14 additional trucks are equipped with liquid deicer tanks.

The region has 39 front end loaders used to load solid deicing material and sand into the trucks. Finally, WSDOT has three large snow blowers in the Region, which are used to clear roads that are drifted shut.

Region crews will transition to winter shift hours, beginning in mid-November, to provide seven-day per week coverage with day and night shift schedules.

Here's Some Light Reading In Case You Can't Sleep At Night

The Spokane County Engineering and Roads Department is seeking public comment on the Draft Standards for Road and Sewer Construction. The standards will be used to update the design criteria for road and sewer improvements in Spokane County. The purpose of the update is to better reflect current design practices and improve consistency with other jurisdictions in the area.

You can view the draft standards and comment on them by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Not Rocket Science- Or Maybe It Is

Washington state far outperforms the national average when it comes to seat belt use. So why can't Washingtonians figure out how to correctly use child safety seats? That's the question posed in this Spokesman-Review editorial today.

Update On Car-Pedestrian Accident

An update on a car-pedestrian accident in northwest Spokane last Friday: the pedestrian in that incident, 19-year-old Caroline Hoch, died from her injuries.

Hoch was walking along a sidewalk on Assembly Street near Northwest Boulevard when a driver had a medical problem, lost control of his car, drove onto the sidewalk and hit her.

The driver also died.

All Aboard For The First Run Of Roberto's Light Rail System

So maybe we don't have the vision to make light rail a reality in our area, but the next generation might. A local engineer sent us this picture her 10-year-old son, Roberto, drew. You can click on it to make it larger so you can see the detail.

Roberto is apparently a nut for transportation, and I'm guessing he gets that from mom, or from spending time at her office (it looks like this picture was drawn on a white board which leads me to believe he may have been killing time while mom finished work).

Not only is Roberto an artist, he's also very detail-oriented. How many kids do you know who include the capacity of a vehicle in their drawings? And he deals in kilometers, which means he's already more advanced than me. The best part though? The train with the destination of 'El Pasco.'

Why do I have a feeling Roberto is going to be my boss some day?

October SRTC Newsletter Available

You get a lot of news about what we're up to here on this blog, but I don't give regular updates on all our projects. You can get those from our quarterly newsletter, and I just happened to have cranked out a new one for October.

Here's a link to it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If I Ignore It, It'll Go Away Right?

Do you see it?? Yes, that white stuff is snow on the pass. Apparently yesterday's rain translated to snow up there, complemented today by sleet and lightning. This picture was taken from one of the WSDOT live traffic cameras just after 11 a.m. today. This is it folks, if you're heading across the pass anytime soon, you'd better be in full winter driving mode.

Gas Prices Climbing

Gas prices are rising- causing some to worry that people will shop less this holiday in order to put gas in their cars.

I personally hadn't even noticed it, but according to Triple A, prices have risen 20 cents in two weeks!

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

This Remind Me of A Trailer I Just Saw For The New John Cusack Movie

Remember as kids when you used to hear people talk about an earthquake knocking California completely off the map and into the ocean? And then when Washington started having its' own little earthquakes, there was talk that the same may happen to the west side of the state some day.

Well, the Washington State Department of Transportation isn't too worried about Seattle falling off the map, but they are concerned about what would happen to the Alaskan Way Viadcut on Seattle's waterfront if 'the big one' ever struck. Here's a video simulation they put together to demonstrate what kind of damage it would cause. And here's more information on the viaduct.

Police Target Drivers Who Disobey RR Crossing Signals

Spokane police are teaming up today with enforcement officers from the Union Pacific and BNSF railroads for an enforcement campaign along rail crossings in northeast Spokane.

Officers will be watching for motorists who disobey crossing signals along the two railroads between North Haven and North Havana streets through 2:30 p.m. Both railroads operate 24 hours a day on their main lines through Spokane with busy crossings located in northeast Spokane.

This is one of my favorite 'stings' area police do because they always catch lots of people and it's a no-brainer that you shouldn't try to sneak under the crossing arms or beat them coming down when the lights start to flash. Do you have a favorite 'sting?' Maybe it's a crosswalk sting, a jaywalking sting, a john sting, etc. Let us know.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bad News For You Keller Ferry Commuters

The WSDOT just got it up and running again last week, but the Keller Ferry across the Columbia River will be down again for a while this Wednesday.

The ferry, named 'Martha S.' will be taken out of service on October 28, beginning at 6 a.m. until as late as 12 noon for an engine replacement. One of the two engines on the vessel was overheating.

Drivers will need to find alternative routes across the Columbia River. The nearest crossings are at Grand Coulee Dam on SR 155 or the Gifford/Inchelium Ferry to State Route 25 north of Davenport.

By the way, I was curious about the ferry's name. Turns out, the Martha S. was named after Martha Shain, wife of the Highway Director at the time the boat went into service in 1948.

Senate Aiming For 6 Month Extension Of Transportation Bill

'18 months' has been our mantra around the SRTC office for the past several months, but now we apparently need to change it to 'six months.' According to the blog 'CQ Politics' out of Washington, D.C., the Senate is scrapping plans for an 18-month extension of surface transportation law and is now working instead on a six-month extension. Here's the story.

Do You Believe In Global Warming?

According to a new report out from the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, fewer Americans believe that world temperatures are warming and fewer and fewer see climate change as a very serious problem. Here's more on that study.

I'll tell you who does believe in climate change though- Governor Chris Gregoire. Earlier this year, Gregoire signed an executive order to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions and increase transportation and fuel-conservation options. The order requires Metropolitan Planning Organizations like SRTC to develop strategies to reduce surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, and it provides target reduction rates and goals.

For instance, in order to reduce emissions, Gov. Gregoire would like to reduce total vehicle miles travelled by 18% by the year 2020, 30% by 2035, and 50% by 2050. That means you would be required to drive 50% less than you currently do by 2050!

Some ideas on how to encourage people to drive less include:

• Significantly increasing parking fees
• Reducing the parking supply
• Basing auto insurance rates on miles driven
• Creating a tax based on miles driven

SRTC staff will continue to track the effort to reduce greenhouse gases in the coming months and keep you updated. So what's your opinion on this? Do you believe in global warming? And do you think Governor Gregoire's target goals are too aggressive at this time?

Seat Belts, Seat Belts, Seat Belts

One in four children was not buckled in properly last week when they arrived by vehicle at three elementary schools in the Spokane area, and just because it's night doesn't mean police won't catch you when you're not wearing a seat belt.

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

Drowsy Driving Causes 195 Crash

It's that time of year again; it's cold and dark outside and the best way to spend the day would be taking a long nap. But not in your car. A 63-year-old Spokane man was injured today when he fell asleep at the wheel and went off U.S. Highway 195 near Spangle, according to the Washington State Patrol. The man went off the road to the left around 9:15 a.m., then overcorrected, returning across the northbound lanes and rolled into a ditch.

He was cited for negligent driving, so keep that in mind when setting out on the road when sleepy. Just don't do it if you can help it, or maybe take the bus so you can nap on there. That's what I do, and so far I've never missed my stop.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Driver Dies After Hitting Pedestrian

A driver is dead and a pedestrian in critical condition after the driver lost control of his car just a while ago and crashed into the female walker on Assembly Street just south of Wellesley Avenue. Police believe the driver may have been having an attack of some sort, which caused the crash.

Here are the details from the Spokesman-Review.

Drunk Driver Crashes Recliner. Yes, You Read That Right

Okay, I've heard it all now. A Minnesota man is in trouble with the law... for crashing his recliner while driving drunk. That's right, I said 'recliner.' He was driving a recliner equipped with a motor, cupholder, and stereo. Sounds nicer than my car. Here's the news report. I'm wondering how they kept a straight face.

Here's the story from 'Action 13 News.'

Pedestrian Hit By Car; Has Head Injuries

Another pedestrian is in the hospital with head injuries after being hit by a car. And, like the last ped-car accident I blogged about, this one also appears to be the fault of the pedestrian. Witnesses say in this case, the man who was hit ran across the street and into traffic.

Here's the story from KXLY.

People Are Already Using The Fish Lake Trail

The bulk of the paving on the newest segment of the Fish Lake Trail is done and I had been hearing that people are already riding it. Well here it is. Eve Nelson in our office sent this to me. That's one of her riding buddies who hit the trail with her husband yesterday to check it out. I pointed out this couldn't be the new portion of the trail because of the amount of pine needles on it and the gravel at the bottom, but Eve said it definetely is, the needles are coming down like crazy out there and the gravel is some of the leftovers from paving. So it looks like you've got another couple weeks before the snow comes down, get out there and use that trail!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

37th Reopens Friday

37th Avenue from Perry to Regal streets will open tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 23. The project rehabilitated 37th Ave. from Perry to Regal streets full-depth, including installing new curbs and sidewalks from Crestline to Mt. Vernon. The nearly $2 million project was funded by the 10-Year Street Bond, Water Department, and Spokane Transit Authority.

The Funny Part Is That The Cat Talks Back

So what do you haul on your bike? Books? Your laptop? Maybe a child if you have a baby seat? Well, I stole this off John Speare's 'Cycling Spokane' blog as a sample of something different you can haul- pets! Well, people with normal pets anyway. If I tried this with my cat Bob, he'd chew his way out of that plastic carrier, kill me, then drag the bike off to a pawn shop sell in order to buy some catnip from Canada.

A Couple Items From The WSDOT

- Next Monday through Thursday (Oct. 26-29), from about 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the eastbound inside lane of I-90 between Maple and Argonne may be closed for drain cleaning.

- Next Wednesday and Thursday (Oct. 28 and 29), beginning at 9 a.m. and going until around 3 p.m., eastbound I-90 will be reduced to one through lane in the vicinity of the weigh station at State line so crews can repair sensors in the pavement there. Drivers can expect slow traffic and possible delays.

Ask The WSDOT- They're Waiting For Your Questions

Here's something cool... ever send an email or leave a phone message with a government agency and never hear back? Well I work for the government and it happens to me sometimes when I try to contact other agencies. Maybe it's just me but I suspect it's happened to other people too.

In an effort to cut down on that, and improve customer service (there's a concept more people should embrace), the Washington State Department of Transportation has started a "Ask the Traffic Team," web page to answer your everyday questions about traffic issues in Spokane.

The site is updated weekly with new questions and answers. To ask a question, use this link. You can typically expect a response with a week.

They're on to me over there at WSDOT so someone needs to test it out and submit a question then report back with how satisfied you are.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Play The Driving Concentration Game

I blogged earlier this week about how it's Teen Driver Safety Week. Well, today I found this website by the 'Century Council' (according to them they're distillers drunk driving and underage drinking) devoted to making underage driving safer. Among other things on the site, they have the 'Concentration Game' below you can try. Let's just say I didn't do so good.

The Century Council presents National Teen Driving Safety Week, visit!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

City Of Spokane Traffic Restrictions

You can expect traffic restriction on both Maxwell and Mission avenues over the next couple days.

Starting tomorrow, westbound traffic on Maxwell Avenue between Post and Wall will be detoured to Indiana Avenue, and eastbound traffic will be reduced to one lane. The restrictions should be from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, with some work extending into Thursday. Crews are working on water and sewer connections for an apartment building in the area.

Meanwhile, starting Thursday, westbound traffic on Mission Avenue just east of Ruby Street will be detoured to Indiana Avenue, and eastbound traffic will be reduced to one lane. Restrictions are expected to start at 6:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Similar closures are possible on Friday and Saturday. Crews are upgrading the water service to the former Chapter 11 restaurant at the northeast corner of Ruby and Mission.

New Signs Will Communicate With Sensors In Pavement

Roads are getting downright high tech on the west side of the state (no need to be jealous, we don't have the congestion to warrant this kind of thing). Starting with I-5 next summer, new signs will warn drivers of slow traffic ahead. How will they know traffic is slow? Because sensors embedded in the pavement will send them a message to tell them. Then they'll rise up and take over the world. Oh sorry, got a little carried away there.

Here's what will really happen, from the WSDOT blog.

Bicycle Advocacy Workshop Reminder

A reminder that you're invited to a Bike Advocacy Workshop presented by the City of Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board and Cascade Bicycle Club. The workshop is this Saturday, Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to noon at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone, in the Senior Room. An optional bike ride will follow, weather permitting.

The purpose of the meeting is to:

- Connect with fellow cyclists
- Learn about local bike projects, what it took to put them together, and the five elements of a complete bike plan (hint: it’s not just a map!)
- Get an understanding of the policy process and how we can be more effective as advocates for cycling interests
- Hear how Cascade Bicycle Club has become a force in the public policy arena
- Help us start to build the Spokane region’s bike agenda

If you're interested in attending, PLEASE RSVP by clicking here and sending an email.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Steam Engine & Vintage Train Cars Arrive In Spokane

For you train enthusiasts out there, this doesn't give you much time to get down here, but a restored steam locomotive and train of vintage rail cars just arrived in Spokane at the Intermodal Center on west First Avenue (the same building that SRTC calls home).

These pictures were taken from our deck on the third floor as the train came to a stop below us.
It felt kind of like we were having a weak earthquake because the whole building moved as the train came through.
I'm not sure if that was due to the steam locomotive but I can tell you that most of the trains that come through here don't shake the whole building! Here's more info from the Spokesman-Review.

Trail Construction Almost Complete

Work on Phase 2 of the Fish Lake Trail is just about complete, but people are using it already! Here's an article on it from Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

This Just In From The WSDOT

The Keller Ferry service across the Columbia River on State Route 21 will resume around noon today.

During routine repair work last week, a pinhole leak was discovered on the hull of the ferry, the Martha S., and water was seeping into the hull interior.

As part of the repair work, a section of hull was removed and a new steel plate welded into place at a price of about $23 to $28,000.

The Martha S. began service on the Columbia River in September 1948. The boat operates 18 hours per day, making the nearly two-mile crossing in about 15 minutes. The route is the only non-mountain pass, State highway access to Ferry County and the Town of Republic.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And One More Thing From The City of Spokane...

Audrey L. White Parkway from the Downriver Golf Course to the Riverside Water Reclamation Facility will be closed to traffic Monday through Thursday, Oct. 19-22. Motorists will be detoured to Rifle Club Rd. from Nine Mile Rd.

Haven Closed Tomorrow; Market Opens Monday

Here's an update I promised to post if I got it today: As part of the project to rehabilitate Market St. from Garland to Francis, Haven St. from Joseph to Francis avenues will be closed on Friday. Then, on Monday, Market St. from Garland to Wellesley avenues will reopen to motorists traveling southbound.

There are more new pictures of the work available too, thanks to blogger Charles.Click here to see how the project is shaping up.

37th Ave. To Open Monday

Good news for drivers of 37th Avenue. The project to rehabilitate the street from Perry to Regal is nearly complete and expected to reopen by the evening commute next Monday, Oct. 19.

The nearly $2 million project rebuilt the road full-depth from curb-to-curb and installed new curbs and sidewalks from Crestline to Mt. Vernon streets. It was funded by the 10-Year Street Bond, Water Department, and Spokane Transit Authority.

Some Items From The WSDOT

- The inside eastbound lane of I90 may be closed at some locations next Monday through Wednesday between Maple and Argonne from about 9 a.m. to as late as 2:30 p.m. Crews will be cleaning drains.

- The right hand eastbound lane of I90 near Medical Lake may be closed next Thursday, Oct. 22 from 8 a.m. until as late as noon for guardrail repair.

- The Keller Ferry is out of service until further notice to repair the hull. Alternate river crossings are downstream at Grand Coulee Dam on SR 155 or upstream at the Gifford Ferry via SR 25.

SRTMC Website To Be Down On Friday

A reminder that the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) website will be down tomorrow for maintenance. The SRTMC site has live traffic cameras you can view, maps that show where there is construction or incidents, and construction updates; all so you can avoid congestion and delays. If you haven't checked it out before, do so now, because you won't be able to tomorrow (between about 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. anyway) Here's a link to the site.

October TTC Agenda Now Available

So I'm going to start doing something new; every month when I post our upcoming Board or Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) agenda to our website, I'm going to put a link on here directing you to it. That way you can see what we're talking about this month, and if you're interested, you can even attend the meetings.

SRTC Board and TTC meetings are open to the public and public input and comment is welcome. The next meeting coming up is TTC on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 1:30 p.m. Here's a link to the agenda.

Hillyard Work Is Coming Along Nicely

Thanks to blogger Charles who directed me to these pictures of work progressing on the Hillyard improvement projects. Awesome pictures Charles, thanks. Doesn't even look like the same place right now, and I can't wait to see the finished product.

The Washington state Transportation Improvement Board awarded the City two grants totaling $5.2 million for the projects, which include new ADA-compliant sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, and street trees with a new irrigation system, water and sewer system upgrades, a left-turn lane and sidewalks and bicycle lanes on Francis Avenue from Freya to Havana (although these last items won't be constructed until later).

Click here to see even more pictures.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Less Gas Stops, More Bathroom Breaks When Urine (Get It?- You're In) This Car

Jeff from our office is home sick today, but apparently not too sick to surf the web and send methis article, along with a note saying, 'At $140 a tank, I am going to start saving my urine now.' And even worse, the tagline for this article is 'Mazda's latest four-wheel-drive likes a wee drink.'

That's right folks, it's the first car to use a urine-like solution to reduce tailpipe emmissions. So what, exactly, is a 'urine-like solution?' According to the article, it's a special man-made liquid similar to human urine to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx). The compound, called AdBlue, is a mixture of roughly one-third pure urea and two-thirds demineralised water.

Before I get in trouble here for posting anything questionable (more questionable than the above anyway), I'm going to say, just read the article and tell me if you'd buy this car.

Should Google Create Bike Maps? Cast Your Vote

Apparently Google is considering creating maps of the best bicycling routes in any particular area, because the idea has been posted on their 'Suggest It' page where the merits of possible new developments are weighed by the public.

If this seems like a good idea to you, go to the Google site and “vote” by clicking the 'Suggest It' button. The bike route mapping is under the heading 'Route Information.' If Google is flooded with requests, the proposed feature could become reality.

One Lane of US 395 Blocked

One lane of southbound U.S. 395 t Farwell Road is blocked by a three-vehicle non-injury accident.

Washington State Patrol troopers are cleaning up the accident in the vicinity of the Wandermere shopping area but you may want to find another way to your destination if that's where you usually drive, to save yourself some time.

Secretary LaHood Talks Alternative Transportation

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has multiple battles he's fighting; not only is he the sole Republican in President Obama's cabinet, he's also championing livable communities- places that offer ample housing and transportation options considerate of residents of all ages and the environment— despite the movement being unpopular with some of his fellow Republicans.

A big part of the concept of livable communities is alternative transportation,which LaHood fears may get swept under the rug in the upcoming federal transportation bill reauthorization.

LaHood recently sat down with AARP for this interview about living in a post-car world.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SRTC: Are We Too Behind The Scenes?

Okay, informal quiz time. Obviously everyone who reads this knows what/who SRTC is. But if you asked your friends, what do you think they'd answer?

Last week during our Board retreat, one of our Board members brought up the perception that few people understand who we are or what we do, and a lot of people have never even hear of our agency. And most probably aren't familiar with Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) either. I'm inclined to believe it too, because that same day I was asked twice where I work and, both times, when I replied, 'Spokane Regional Transportation Council,' the person asking said, 'Oh, STA.'

So what's your take on this? Why do people think we're STA? Or do most people have a vague awareness of SRTC, it's just the uninformed ones I've been talking to?

How Many Electric Cars Are In Your County?

How does Spokane rank among Washington State counties for number of registered electric cars? According to the website, we have the fourth largest amount of electric cars in the state. Here's the top four, although the last count was taken in August so numbers could have changed with the Cash For Clunkers Program and all:

King County- 465
Snohomish County- 126
Thurston County- 46
Spokane County- 44

The counties with the least number of electric cars? Lincoln and Wahkiakum with zero each. And statewide, Washington boasts at total of 1103 electric cars.

New Cameras On The Pass Let You See At Night- Or During A Storm

I had hoped not to be using any phrase that involved the words 'snow on mountain passes' anytime soon, but the WSDOT is going there so it looks like I have too as well.

Those of you who have tried to use the DOT traffic cameras on Snoqualmie Pass at night- especially during a snowstorm- know that a lot of the time all the cameras can pick up are pitch black and the occasional car headlight.

Not anymore though! New and improved low-light traffic cameras have been installed on the Pass. Here's how to check them out, from the WSDOT blog.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sprague Project Wrapping Up

A project to improve old asphalt on East Sprague is wrapping up in Spokane Valley. Here's the latest from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Running Sprinklers Cause Slick Roads

Apparently residents leaving their sprinkler systems on is causing trouble for drivers, because I just got this news release from the City of Spokane:

With unseasonably cold weather continuing today, City Street Department crews are asking property owners to turn off their sprinklers and sprinkler systems to avoid creating icy spots on City streets.

With the ground frozen, the water from sprinklers is running into the street and freezing in many locations, causing potential traffic hazards.

The City’s Water Department, meanwhile, recommends that citizens drain all underground irrigation systems now to avoid frozen sprinkler pipes and broken sprinkler heads. The Water Department also suggests other water-related preparatory steps for winter:

Make sure water pipes in unheated parts of your home, including crawl spaces, are insulated.
Seal all openings in the basement around the foundation, windows, and doors.
Insulate around pipes in your basement that are close to windows.
Advise all household members where the main water shutoff valve is located in case of emergency.

Transportation Management Center Website To Be Offline Friday

You know the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center website you go to in order to see how traffic is flowing, where there are accidents, and how to avoid traffic jams and congestion? Well, it's going to be offline this Friday for some maintenance.

The SRTMC site will be down for approximately 6 to 8 hours on October 16, from 8:30 a.m. until about 3:30 p.m. The outage is scheduled for workers to install an uninterrupted power supply to the SRTMC. That means, in the event of a power outage, a generator would automatically take over to power the Transportation Management Center and ensure that the SRTMC website remained online.

The goal of SRTMC staff on Friday is to have the site up and running again before the evening rush hour.

A Survey For You Truck Operators Out There

If you operate a truck or trucks in the State of Washington, the Washington State Department of Transportation wants your input. They're curious about impediments to operating trucks our state and would like you to takethis very short survey . (only three questions!).

The information gathered will be used as part of their Highway System Plan.

Thanks for your participation! This survey will be open till October 24.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pedestrian Hit By Car; Will Be Cited

A pedestrian is being treated at Sacred Heart Medical Center this morning after being hit by a car last night on Trent in Spokane Valley.

Timothy Lee Doud, 21, of Spokane Valley, was walking west on a sidewalk and suddenly went into the road where he was struck by a 1992 Toyota Corolla about 11:15 p.m., according to Washington State Patrol Troopers.

Troopers say Doud apparently failed to yield right of way to the vehicle that hit him and would be cited for a pedestrian violation.

Post & Second Closed

Second Avenue and Post Street in downtown Spokane has been closed to traffic so fire crews could lay hoses as a precaution after smoke was seen coming from the Carlyle Care Center at 206 S. Post St.

Here are the details.

We're Done Retreating Now- Although I'd Like To Go Back

So where were you all yesterday? We had the Board retreat and only a handful of the usual 'spectators' showed up (although my sister-in-law who reads this blog did ask me about it).

The retreat went well, although we got very far behind on the agenda and didn't get all the way through it. Board members had a lot of input on items like the interlocal agreement, MPO/RTPO responsibilities, and regional transportation project priorities so the discussion was good but we didn't cover as much ground as we would have liked. As a result, the November Board meeting will start at noon instead of 1 p.m. to give us time to cover some of the items we didn't get to.

My personal favorite part of the retreat? There's no cell or internet service at the Bear Creek Lodge on Mt. Spokane where we held it, so we had a captive audience. At so many meetings I go to, people are texting or tweeting, checking email, or getting up repeatedly to take calls. Not the case this time. And the lodge's owner, Sam, said he's heard from a lot of people that they like that about the lodge.

Everything else about the lodge was great too; it was a nice homey atmosphere with great food (huckleberry pancakes for breakfast- holy cow!) and service. We're somewhat of a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants bunch, so they were very flexible with our changing agenda and special requests. And it was nice to get outside at breaks and during lunch to take a look around and plan a trip to the tubing hill this winter.

I'll be writing retreat notes up next week so if you're interested they'll be available online soon.

Some Items From The City Of Spokane

- Sprague Ave. from Helena to Crestline streets will have obstructions as crews finish replacing the fire hydrants.

- Eighth Ave. from Sunset Blvd. to Government Way remains closed as part of the Fish Lake Trail project. The project is progressing.

- Repairing Boone Ave. from Monroe to Maple streets during working hours. Motorists should expect closures and delays, and may want to drive an alternate route. Parking will be affected on Gardner Ave. and Cedar, Adams, and Walnut streets.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You're Invited... And There's A Bike Ride Afterward!

The City of Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board and Cascade Bicycle Club invite you to a Bike Advocacy Workshop.

Here are a few of the items that will be discussed:

- Local bike projects and what it took to put them together.
- The five elements of a complete bike plan.
- Gaining an understanding of the policy process and how we can be more effective as advocates for cycling interests.
- Help build the Spokane region’s bike agenda

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009
Time: 9am-noon, with optional bike ride after (weather permitting) to look at opportunities and issues
Location: East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone, Senior Room

Please RSVP by clicking here if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Don't Try To Call Me Tomorrow- I'll Be Retreating

A reminder that if you don't have to work tomorrow, the kids don't need driven anywhere, the house is clean and the soap operas are all reruns, you can always attend the SRTC Board retreat.

We try to meet with our Board outside the normal confines of SRTC once a year to discuss items that may have come up throughout the year or ongoing issues and projects. This year we're doing it from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow at Bear Creek Lodge on Mount Spokane, 24817 N Mt Spokane Park Dr. Members of the public are welcome, although your participation will be limited to the public comments section of the regularly-scheduled Board meeting.

Here's a link to the retreat agenda and packet.

And look on the bright side, if the meeting is boring, you could always go outside and take a hike or something, so your drive up to Mount Spokane won't be wasted.

The WSDOT Has Sure Been Busy Today

Another item just received from the Washington State Patrol:

Drivers in Eastern Washington should be aware that there is an ongoing possibility of intermittent blowing dust and reduced visibility on I-90. The affected area is approximately twenty miles east of Moses Lake, but may extend further if conditions worsen. These conditions are not exclusive to I-90 and may extend onto county roads in the area.

The Washington State Patrol reminds you to drive with caution and prepare your vehicle and occupants for possible extended delays. Please slow down, turn on your headlights and consider using emergency hazard lights as conditions dictate. Please get off the freeway if conditions become too much to drive in, and if you can't get off the freeway,pull as far to the right as possible and remain in your vehicle.

For Any Potential Candidates Out There...

The Washington State Department of Transportation sent out a reminder today to candidates and supporters to watch where they post political campaign signs: only traffic control signs are allowed in the right-of-way. Maintenance crews will remove all illegal roadside signs. The signs must also meet the following requirements:

•Temporary political campaign signs are limited to a maximum size of 32 square feet in area.
•Temporary political campaign signs must be removed within 10 days following the election.

It’s not always easy to know if a given location is within the boundaries of a state highway right-of-way, but there are clues in many locations:

•Utility poles are typically located inside the right-of-way. If a sign location is being considered between a utility pole and the roadway shoulder, it’s likely the sign will be removed.
•Many locations also have a fence line separating the right-of-way from private property. If a sign location is being considered on the roadway side of a right-of-way fence, it’s probable that the sign is in violation and will be removed.

Airlines To Charge Surcharge Around Holidays

The cost of flying keeps creeping up- and it may do so even more if you try to fly around the holidays.

Several big airlines, including airlines that fly into and out of Spokane International Airport, have added $10 surcharges for busy days around the holidays. Last month airlines added a $10 each-way surcharge for Nov. 29 (the Sunday after Thanksgiving) and Jan. 2 and 3. Now, the website, says airlines will also charge more to fly on Nov. 30; Dec. 19, 26, and 27; March 14, 20, 21, 28; April 11; and May 28.

The surcharges were added by Delta, Northwest, American Airlines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines and US Airways.

SRTC Planner Featured By Ironman

This isn't exactly transportation-related, but it is SRTC-related and involves running and bicycling. Our Senior Transportation Planner, Eve Nelson, is in Hawaii right now for Ironman. But besides working 30 hours a week, training almost as much for Ironman, and juggling family life, Eve has an even bigger challenge- her son's autism.

This article about Eve was featured as one of Ironman's 'profiles'.

City of Spokane Unveils New Snow Removal Plan

Following two years of record snowfalls, the City of Spokane is rolling out a revised approach to snow removal as a pilot project for the 2009-10 snow season. It's designed to improve safety for motorists and pedestrians, ensure emergency responders can reach citizens, and enhance movement for pedestrians and motorists.

As part of the plan, the City has purchased 11 additional truck plows and committed to enhancing snow removal efforts, including on sidewalks. In turn, citizens and business owners will be asked to follow parking restrictions and keep sidewalks, vehicles, hydrants, and storm drains clear of snow.

Some of the changes will require citizens to move parked cars off all arterials and STA fixed bus routes or require them to park on one side of the street in residential areas to allow plows to open up streets better. An enhanced approach to sidewalk snow removal would eventually require tickets for those who failed to comply.

Here's more information on the snow plan, including a fact sheet, a FAQ sheet, and information on how to submit comments on the plan.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bike Vs. Bulbout: Bike: 0 Bulbout: 1

The new rage with planners is to install 'bulbouts' that shelter pedestrians from oncoming cars and slow traffic somewhat. But while bulbouts are good for walkers, one Montana woman says they're not so safe for bicyclists; and she has three broken teeth and 30 stitches to prove it. Here's more information on bulbouts, and this woman's story.

NASA Photo Of Saturday's Dust Storm

Here's something pretty cool that I stole off Barb Chamberlain of Bike To Work Spokane's Facebook page. This is a picture that NASA took of the dust storm that shut down I90 on Saturday and Sunday.Click here to see the picture larger and to learn more about it.

Apparently Texting Isn't Just Affecting Your Driving Behavior

Stimulus $ Covers Variety Of Projects In Area

An analysis of stimulus money says that well over $200 million has been directed to Eastern Washington and North Idaho counties. But one of the biggest criticism of the program is that it's difficult to determine how much money's been spent and how. Here's an overview the stimulus program in our area.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Animals Are Coming Out Of The Woodwork

Here's what I saw while driving this weekend: one herd of elk, dozens of turkeys, more deer than I can shake a stick at, and six coyotes.
I know I've said it before, but it's that time of year again, so take it easy on roads in outlying areas. The animals are coming out of the woodwork so be careful. The number of roadkills I've seen lately is crazy. These pictures were taken out the bedroom window of a friend who lives near Newman Lake, by the way.

I90 Open Again Between Ritzville & Moses Lake

That was some crazy windstorm yesterday huh? In our area it just knocked down some tree limbs and knocked out the power to some homes, but a little further down the road, it actually closed I90 between Ritzville and Moses Lake! Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

I90 Trees To Be Removed Due To Safety Hazard

Some trees along I90 will come out this week to be replaced by shrubs and you can watch a free documentary on light rail transit this week at the Magic Lantern Theater.Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There'column.

ARRA To Pay For Centerline Rumble Strips

Another American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project is about to get undereway in our area. ARRA provided funding to install centerline rumble strips on 86 miles of state highways.

Today, installation starts on US 195, US 395, and State Route 902. Centerline rumble strips are a low-cost method of dramatically reducing crossover collisions by alerting inattentive drivers that they are crossing into oncoming traffic.

The rumble strips will be installed on US 195 from Dry Creek Road, just north of Colfax to Cornwall Road, near Rosalia. On US 395, the strips will go in from Loon Lake to Colville in Stevens County. In addition, centerline rumble strips will be installed on the full length of SR 902 except inside the City of Medical Lake.

Some Items To Be Aware Of This Week

- Third Ave. from Freya to Havana streets is closed for two weeks. Trent Ave. from Freya St. east to Mission Ave.; and Myrtle St. from Trent to Mission avenues are closed with local access only. Crews are working on the South Valley Interceptor connection to the new wastewater reclamation facility.

- Post St. from Riverside to Main avenues will be closed to northbound drivers from 3:30 to 8 p.m. tommorrow (Tuesday) to film a commercial. Detours will be in place.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Warning If You're Travelling The Pass This Weekend

It's a busy day for WSDOT. They just sent out this 'Special High Traffic Impact Alert for Snoqualmie Pass' due to delays caused by road construction there:

Between Cle Elum and Easton on Fridays and Saturdays, westbound travelers from eastern Washington to the Seattle area may experience heavy congestion, slow traffic, and up to two hours of additional travel time between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

On Sundays from Easton to Cle Elum, eastbound travelers may experience heavy congestion, slow traffic, and up to two hours of additional travel time between noon and 8 p.m. During other hours, drivers may experience slower traffic and some congestion. There is also a legal speed reduction to 50 mph in this area.

A Few Words From WSDOT On NSC Traffic Volumes

This item about the North Spokane Corridor was in an email newsletter I received from the Washington State Department of Transportation today:

The first drivable segment of the North Spokane Corridor (NSC) has been open to traffic for about six weeks and we at WSDOT are pleased with the operation and the mostly positive comments from the community. We have heard some negative feedback about the seemingly few cars on the NSC, mostly from the media as they watch the traffic camera feeds.

In reality, about 4,000 vehicles per day travel the 3.7 mile route and, while it may seem that there is not a lot of usage now, we expect those numbers to climb as we continue construction and open the next section in a little over a year.

We are seeing a fairly substantial percentage of truck traffic on the NSC with about 8.5% on the northbound side and 14% headed southbound.

Several factors affect traffic volumes on this section. With only 3 ½ miles open, there is a limited number of destinations it serves. When the next phase opens, connecting to US 2 and US 395, the traffic should increase substantially.

Another factor affecting NSC usage is construction in the Freya Street/Market Street/Greene Street corridor. The Freya Street Bridge over the BNSF Railroad main line is fully closed. This is sending the through truck traffic over to Division Street, the only other legal north/south truck route in the City of Spokane. In addition, the City has a major construction project underway in Hillyard.

When we opened the Freya/Francis to Farwell Road segment with one lane in each direction, we knew this was an interim step. Two-way traffic is flowing on what will be the northbound side of the full freeway when funding is obtained. We have applied for a TIGER (Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery) grant for the southbound lane work and are hopeful the project will be selected, enabling us to add those southbound lanes for a fully divided highway.

The section from Farwell Road to the existing US 395 is fully funded for both northbound and southbound traffic. Construction is underway now on two contracts that will be completed in 2011. Bridge piers for the big NSC/US 2 interchange are climbing out of the ground and motorists on US 395 near Wandermere are seeing the first construction activity on the bridges that will tie the two highways together.

It’s important to note that the NSC will be opened in segments as funding becomes available. This is the same strategy used during the construction of I90 from 1953 through the 1970’s and even into the 1980’s. In took a series of contracts to build that freeway through the Spokane area, and sections opened as they were completed.

The WSDOT is also looking at the next major portion of the corridor, the section from Francis Avenue to the Spokane River. Earlier this year the Legislature allocated $28 million to get things started. When additional right of way and construction dollars become available, we’ll be ready to turn dirt.

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.