Monday, November 30, 2009

This Hello Kitty Bike Is Calling My Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mountainside Gets New Flashing Signs

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

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

STA/City Of Spokane Looking For Volunteers

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

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

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

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

Five Mile Open Again- But Only Until Spring

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

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

IPH Public Meetings Start Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gas & Weather Expected To Stay Stable Through Weekend

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

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

It's A Blogging Holiday

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

Lewiston Police Take Hard Stance On DUIs

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

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

Davenport Recommends Buses, Not Limos

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slow Down On SR 27

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

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

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

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

Two New Area Trails Open

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

SRTC Looking For 'Visioning' Consultant

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

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

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

Plan Accordingly- Holiday Closures Are Coming

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

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

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

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

35 Worst Cities For Pedestrians

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

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

Here's the top 35 worst cities for walking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

WSDOT Says Prepare Before You Drive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Some Items From The City of Spokane

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

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

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

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

Mayor Unveils Revised Snow Plan

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

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

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

ITD To Use Lasers To Avoid Car-Animal Accidents

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

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

SIA Adds New Flights

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

Here's the story.

Snow-Rain Mix Causes Accidents

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

No word yet on injuries.

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

AAA Expecting More Holiday Drivers This Year

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SRTC To Undertake 'Visioning Process'

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Portions Of Bigelow & Forker To Close Wednesday

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

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

Secretary LaHood Talks Complete Streets

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

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

Leaf Pickup In Browne's Addition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Electric Cars- Maybe Not The Wave Of The Future

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

Interesting reading. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Holiday Traffic Flagging Starts Next Friday Downtown

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

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

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

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

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

PC Votes Down Surface Parking Lots

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

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

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

Fog Slowing Things Down & Causing Accidents

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

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

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

Scaled-Down Kendall Yards Could Change Traffic Plans

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

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

Here's the article.

Drunken Walkers Cause Large Amount Of Accidents

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

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

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

TTC Meeting Next Wednesday

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

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Not Safe To Do Anything Drunk Anymore

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

Trail Group Applies For Designation That Would Provide Help

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

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Deer-Truck Accident Kills Driver

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

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

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

Cool New Electric Cars Hitting Market Soon

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

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

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

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

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

Jaywalkers- Falsely Accused?

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

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

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

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

Fog & Slick Roads Cause Traffic Accidents

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

Here's the latest from the Spokesman-Review.

SRTC Monthly Board Meeting Is Thursday

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

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

Planning Assumptions Meeting Tomorrow

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

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

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

I Found My New Car

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

Friday, November 6, 2009

SRTC Board Changes On The Way

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

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

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

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

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

New Technology Scans License Plates As Police Drive

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

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

A Couple Items From The City Of Spokane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Would You Buy Car Insurance By The Mile?

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

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Five Mile Rd. & Park and Ride Lot Closed Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the rest of the story.

Tell The WSDOT How They're Doing

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

Here's a link to the survey.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Couple Ideas For Area Bus Stops

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

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

Speaking Of Planes And Flying...

Boardings at Spokane International Airport declined 6.5% in September, the best year-over-year results since Express Jet Airlines shut down service.

Airport spokesman Todd Woodard said Express Jet's low-cost flights, and the response from competitors, inflated traffic numbers during the 17 months the airline served Spokane. High fuel costs forced Express Jet out of business in September of 2008.

Since then, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines or its regional partner, SkyWest Airlines, have added or restored flights to Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago and Denver.

In September, 123,618 passengers boarded in Spokane, compared with 131,771 a year earlier.

Fog Slowing Down Morning Commute

It's slow going out there because of the fog. According to the National Weather Service, the abrupt changes in visibility are creating hazardous driving conditions. In some areas, the water on the roadway is freezing and making for slick conditions.

The fog is expected to dissipate after 10 a.m.

Tweetin On A Jet Plane

I heard this song on the radio this morning and it made me laugh. It's in reference to the pilots fired from their jobs last week for using their laptop computers in the cockpit and overshooting their landing target by 150 miles. It's an epidemic- it's not just texting in cars anymore, but now tweeting on planes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I found this picture while digging around the internet and thought it was funny.

WSDOT Travel Alerts Web Update Starts In 24 Minutes

This is last minute on my part I know, but a warning that the Washington State Department of Transportation will not be providing traffic information for close to an hour today, starting at noon. The outage is scheduled so that technicians can upgrade the data-entry system that feeds WSDOT’s real-time statewide and regional traffic information Web sites and the 5-1-1 travel information phone system.

During the upgrade, a banner at the top of WSDOT’s Travel Alerts Web pages will keep drivers advised of how to find information on any critical highway updates.

Here's a link to the WSDOT travel alert website.

Here's Your Chance To Get Into Our Heads... Although That Would Probably Be Scary

Ever wonder how the transportation planning process works? Or what 'tools' we use to do the planning? Well here's your chance to find out wwwaaaayyyyy more about SRTC than you ever wanted to.

On Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 4-6 p.m., we'll host our annual 'Planning Assumptions' public meeting. The meeting consists of a presentation and question and answer session about the planning process and explains about the travel demand model that we use, the data that is used to make it work, and where we get our direction as to what projects, studies, etc. to conduct.

Myself and Anna, our Transportation Planning Supervisor, will be conducting the meeting and, while the topic has the potential to be somewhat boring, we try to jazz it up a little and make it fun. I may even be able to talk Anna into a little song and dance number about air quality monitoring.

So come on down, everyone's invited. The meeting is in our conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310.

End Of The Line For Trolley Buses

It's the end of the line for the trolley buses in downtown Spokane. Plus, STA is holding workshops to talk with the public about maintaining service levels while tax revenues decline, and a busy Spokane Valley street will be closing for a couple days. Here's what's happening this week in transportation from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Local Company Gets Bicycle Friendly Business Award

Congratulations to J-U-B ENGINEERS, Inc.! The local company was one of only three businesses in North Idaho/Eastern Washington recognized as 'Bicycle Friendly Businesses' by the League of American Bicyclists.

The Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program recognizes socially responsible businesses that promote healthy, happy, and green workplaces (and I've met those guys at J-U-B; they're definetely happy). BFB businesses make bicycle friendliness a core element in the workplace and use innovative tools to promote bicycling as an easy and fun option for transportation and recreation. For instance, J-U-B provides showers and indoor bike parking for its' employees. Way to go J-U-B!!

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.