Thursday, December 31, 2009

Parking Lot Work To Obstruct Traffic

There will be some lane reductions on Spokane Falls Blvd., Washington, Main, and Bernard in downtown Spokane next week. Work to finish the parking lot project at Washington & Spokane Falls Blvd. starts Tuesday, January 5th, and goes to Friday, January 8th.

Traffic lanes and parking lanes will be closed as work progresses around the block.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Knew I'd Seen The Grim Reaper At City Hall

I don't know who Gontram Architects are but they're some funny guys who want to wish you happy holidays with this fun video. I'm not going to say anything else, as to keep myself out of trouble here.

Montana Has Killer Highways- And Not In The Good Sense

Turns out that our neighbor state, Montana, has some of the deadliest highways per mile nationwide. There were almost 22,000 crashes in the state of Montana last year, killinhg 229 people. Why though? Is it the aging infrastructure? The steep corners and grades? Or the people who drive at ridiculous speeds, even at night?

Here's the answer from KECI News out of Missoula.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Closures- Again

A reminder that it's another short week so get your government business done early. All government offices will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1 and most will close early (around noon or 1 p.m.) on Thursday. Spokane County's Building and Planning Department will be closed on Thursday for their regular staff furlough day as well as on Friday, January 1, 2010.

The Questions You Never Thought To Ask About Your Car and Driving

Ever wonder how the gas pump nozzle shuts itself off when the gas tank in your car is full? Yeah, I never have either. Until I saw this article on MSN. I guess I just never thought about it. It's relatively simple though, and pretty impressive considering the 'technology' behind it has been around for 50 years. Impressive because there really wasn't technology back then.

This article also answers some of the other questions you've come up with while driving but never thought to actually ask. Anyone have anything that wasn't covered in the article?

Monday, December 28, 2009

North Foothills Drive Obstruction

There will be a street obstruction on North Foothills Drive just west of Perry tomorrow, December 29th.

Garco Construction will be setting a crane on North Foothills Drive to remove two train cars located on the Gonzaga Prep property. Westbound lanes of North Foothills will be closed west of Perry. Westbound traffic will be detoured north on Perry, west on Bridgeport, then south on Nevada. The Eastbound left turn lane (turning north on to Perry) will be closed to accommodate the crane outriggers.

This is a one day job-closure to be set by 9 am, with work complete by 3 pm.

Millwood Employees Recognized For Hard Work

How often do you hear news out of tiny Millwood, WA? And if you do, how often is it positive, instead of negative stories about traffic or other problems there? Well
here's an article recognizing two City of Millwood employees for the hard work they've done over the years on area roads, and other public works projects.

Thanks Cleve McCoul and Paul Allen!

Eagle Watchers Causing Traffic Havoc

If you're headed over to Coeur d'Alene to watch the eagles that visit the lake at this time every year, the Idaho Transportation Department just sent out a news release saying that the Idaho State Police will issue citations to drivers who interfere with traffic along Idaho 97. The birds gather every year near Coeur d'Alene Lake, drawing hundreds of people to watch them, and create havoc with road conditions.

Parking areas and pullouts are available on a limited basis along Idaho 97 on the eastern shore of the lake where bird watchers can safely pull off the highway. Motorists have been stopping and blocking traffic, which has prompted the state police to step up traffic patrols and issue citations. Inattentive drivers and cars suddenly stopping create a serious safety issue on the highway.

Anyone wishing to view the bald eagles should use designated parking areas, such as Higgins Point, or identified pullout areas. And slow down and pay attention when travelling around the lake.

Spokane Man Sues Idaho Over Accident

A Spokane man has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the state of Idaho for injuries he says resulted from a crash caused by potholes on Interstate 90 in North Idaho.

Here's the story.

I don't remember this when it happened, or the conditions on I90 at the time so it's hard for me to judge whether this suit is right or wrong. ITD officials say there's nothing they could do to fix the situation because of the weather though. From reading this article, do you think the accident victim should win this case or did ITD do everything they could to prevent something like this from happening?

US 395 To Close For Blasting

US 395 will be closed for short periods of time over the next several weeks to accomodate blasting required to build an interchange for the North Spokane Corridor.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Transportation Bill Extended Again

Those of you who are observant have probably already noticed that Dec. 18 has passed. What’s the significance of the date? For the non-transportation groupies out there, that was the expiration date for the extension of SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users), the funding and authorization bill that governs United States federal surface transportation spending.

So what does that mean? Are we without a bill that provides funding for transportation projects now and all construction projects will grind to a halt? No, that won’t happen. On the 18th, the ‘Omnibus Bill’ was passed, which extended SAFETEA-LU AGAIN until September of 2010.

Why should you care? Because we at SRTC partnered with the Rails to Trails Conservancy on the ‘SmartRoutes’ project to try to get Congress to double the non-motorized transportation budget from $4.5 billion to $9 billion in the next federal transportation budget. If that happens, when they finally get around to reauthorizing the bill, there will be more money available to build bicycling-friendly facilities like bike lanes, trails, paths, etc.

In the meantime, a couple other bills are expected to be voted on in January that relate to transportation. Jeff Selle is SRTC’s Manager of Government Affairs. After Congress reconvenes in January, he says he’ll write up an entire analysis of everything going on right now that involves transportation.

So, if you’re one of those people who gets that holiday letdown feeling after the holidays, just know that you have that to look forward to.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How Do I Get My Own Channel?

Did you know that the Washington State Department of Transportation has it's own youtube channel? I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't, although I should have.

So, it's Christmas Eve and you're at work. But it's a short day and the boss isn't there so what are you going to do? It's not enough time to actually get any work done, but it is enough time to watch WSDOT videos on how they prepare for winter weather, how to put chains on your tires, avalanche control, comparison of freight and passenger trains, and building smarter highways. So get started folks, you're going to be brimming with new transportation knowledge by noon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Spokane Beats Goal Of Reducing Single Occupancy Vehicles

The city of Spokane got some recognition this week for curbing wasteful driving practices in the region. Spokane is one of seven cities in the state designated as growth and transportation efficiency centers, or GTECs, and it topped the other six in terms of reducing vehicle miles traveled and the drive-alone rate. Here's more from a Spokesman-Review editorial.

Congratulations To WSDOT On Their Awards

Congratulations to Chad Simonson's project engineering team at the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Roads and Bridges magazine and the Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association gave them a national award for their innovative use of asphalt recycling on the US 2/SR 211 to Newport project this past summer. The top layer of the existing highway was ground off, mixed with asphalt oil and placed back on the roadway surface as a base layer. This recycle process saved about $1.5 million and reduced the amount of new pavement needed for the project.

Simonson’s project office was also awarded the “Partnership for Excellence in Contract Administration” for the North Spokane Corridor/BNSF Tunnel project. This job required extensive coordination with the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad and the contractor, Scarsella Brothers, in building this structure over an operating rail line.

Happy Holidays From SRTC. Here's Your Card

Here's Your PC holiday greeting from SRTC:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wish.

And here's your not-so-PC greeting, which stars some of the SRTC 'cast.' Enjoy!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lily and Bob, Your Days Are Numbered

Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog, like Lily (pictured), is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle.

But the new book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" is offending many pet owners. Here's a link to this VERY interesting article. So I wonder if that book has recipes for chow-mix dog and a really fat, shorthaired cat named Bob.

What do you think... is this going over the line in the name of being 'environmentally friendly' or is time for mandatory neutering of cats and dogs and limiting how many pets people can have?

Holiday Closures

A reminder that if you have government business to do, you'd better get it done either today or tomorrow because we'll all be at home wearing our bunny jammies the rest of the week. All government agencies are closed on Friday for the holidays, and most close around noon or 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

- Any remaining construction projects will also be shutting down early to accomodate holiday travellers. Construction will be suspended from noon on Wednesday until Monday the 28th.

- The Spokane City Council is not scheduled to meet on Monday, Dec. 28. Council meetings will resume on Monday, Jan. 4.

- Parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Friday, Dec. 25 but DO have to be plugged the day after Christmas.

- the Spokane County Building and Planning Department will close at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23rd (Executive Order), and remain closed on Thursday, December 24th (staff furlough) through Friday, December 25th (holiday).

- All government offices open again on Monday, Dec. 28.

A Couple Observations From The Bus This Morning

Some of the ladies who ride my bus route regularly passed around a holiday card this morning for all the riders to sign for the bus driver. I thought that was pretty cool and was impressed because I never would have thought of it, and the driver seemed pretty touched too.

There was a teenage boy on the bus who apparently doesn't own a mirror. I couldn't figure out what he was doing at first when he took a picture of himself with his cell phone,then looked at the picture, combed his hair, and took another picture. He then consulted that picture and did some more adjusting of his hair. It took about four pictures but he finally got his hair all combed and arranged to his satisfaction. Yet another thing I wouldn't have thought of; using your cell phone as a 'mirror.'

Monday, December 21, 2009

Straight From The City Of Spokane...

Sprague Avenue from Browne to Bernard streets will have lane reductions from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22, and Thursday, Dec. 24, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23. The restrictions are needed to install water service to the building located at 232 W. Sprague Ave. Signs will be in place.

New Flashing Signs At Two Area Schools

Spokane County Engineers have installed new flashing beacon school zone signs at Mullan Road Elementary School on Spokane's south hill and Linwood Elementary located in north Spokane County.

The flashing beacon school zone signs are part of an overall traffic safety requirement that protects more than 630,000 elementary school age children in Washington State. They were funded by Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Spokane County Engineering and Roads, and Spokane Public Schools.

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.

Another Pedestrian Dies After Being Hit By Car

Another pedestrian died this weekend after being hit by a car. Stephen W. Shockley was walking his dog Friday evening when he was hit by a minivan trying to cross Francis between Elm and Cannon streets. It's not clear yet if the driver will be cited.

What concerns me about this is that it is the seventh fatal auto-pedestrian accident in Spokane this year. Yes, SEVEN! What the heck people, what's going on out there?? I realize this last guy was crossing mid-block but I know that most of the pedestrians killed this year were in crosswalks and had the right of way. I don't have pedestrian death statistics in front of me right now, but I'm guessing this has to be some kind of record for Spokane. And not the kind of record we want.

What's Your Vision For Future Transportation?

The Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column did a piece on our 'Visioning Process' today. Plus they're warning you that if your car impedes a plow, you could pay. Here's the article.

Read it and let us know what your transportation 'vision' is for the future. Is it more/improved bus service? Better connectivity of bike lanes and trails? Light rail? Flying cars? Let us know.

Need A New Jersey?

Need a new jersey for bicycling? Here are some funny, yet applicable ones, that may get your point across to aggressive drivers. Here's where you can buy them if interested.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Couple Items From The City Of Spokane

- Browne Street, in front of Sacred Heart Medical Center, will be closed from Sixth to Seventh avenues from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow, so crews can replace windows in the hospital. Detours will be in place.

- City of Spokane leaf pickup crews are nearly finished. Crews will be working in the remaining areas, weather permitting, from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.:

Liberty/Lincoln Area: South of I-90, north of 20th Ave., east of Southeast Blvd., and west of Ray St.

Gonzaga Area: South of Empire Ave., north of Boone Ave., west of Crestline St., and east of Division St.

We Needs Something That Says 'Stop!,' Only In A Friendly, Attractive Way

Thanks to Joe at the Spokesman for sending us this little treat. Joe hit the nail on the head with this one. I swear I've actually worked with those people.

Stop signs are one of the many things we take for granted. Sometimes it's hard to believe they're a relatively new invention and someone actually 'invented' it. This video is a fun look at what it would look like had the stop sign been designed by committee.

Now For The Ray LaHood Pick Of The Day

On Facebook Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was touting this report from the Safe Routes To Schools National Partnership on how Safe Routes to School initiatives protect children walking and bicycling. We're firing up a Safe Routes To School movement in our area that will (hopefully) become more visible in the next year, so keep an eye out for that. Is this enough to get you to visit our area, Mr. LaHood?

Wrong-Way Driver Kills Self & Two Others

Three people were killed early today when a wrong-way driver struck another car on an I90 on-ramp near U.S. 2. Here's what happened, from the Spokesman-Review.

Over on the Spokesman-Review's 'Huckleberries' blog they're debating whether cable median dividers, like those on I90 through Spokane Valley, could have prevented this accident. Cable medians divide east and west bound lanes. According to KXLY News, in the four years before they were installed from Sullivan Road to the Idaho state line in 2004, there were six crossover crashes on that stretch of freeway. In the years since there have been none, though on 93 separate occasions vehicles have been stopped from crossing over by the cable barrier.

Glenn Beck Discusses The Fish Lake Trail- Worthy Or A Waste Of Taxpayer Money?

Apparently Congressman Jason Chaffetz from Utah takes offense to our Fish Lake Trail. He was on the Glenn Beck radio program last week talking about wasteful spending, and included thei trail in that category. Here's a link to the transcript. The reference to the Fish Lake Trail is about halfway down.

So what do you think folks? Chaffetz's argument is that these are worthy causes, but the American people are spending too much on taxes and projects like this should be paid for by someone else. Would you prefer to have facilities like the Fish Lake Trail or the money in your own pocket? And you don't have to be PC here, but no swearing please.

Annual Highway Report Out

Which state has the most efficient state-owned highway system? According to the 'Reason Foundations' 18th Annual Highway Report, it's North Dakota. Which states have the worst-performing highway systems? Hawaii, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island, and Alaska, according to the report. And how many bridges across the country are deficient or functionally obsolete? The report says 25%.

Want to read the whole report now? You should, because there are a lot of other interesting gems like those in there. Here's the link.

Apparently Getting Hit By A Prius Doesn't Cause A Lot Of Damage

Thanks to blogger Holly, I have just discovered the lure of the Craigslist 'Best of' ads. I can't put a link because some of the ads contain inappropriate references for this blog but here's one useable gem I found on there:

You hit me with your Prius

Date: 2009-07-25, 3:23PM PDT


Me - Bicyclist, heading to jury duty on 10th Street, Friday at 8:50am.
You - Prius driver, crossing over two lanes, hitting me with your car and speeding away.

I was hoping we could catch up for a cup of coffee, so I could get your views on the environment, and strangle you.

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Transportation Secretary LaHood On The Daily Show

Here's a little mid-week treat for you; Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on the Daily Show with John Stewart. It's interesting stuff; they talk about taking Amtrak to beat the fog, Obama's Stimulus package, and the next big thing in transportation, which LaHood says will be high speed rail and which the audience seemed to like. The pneumatic tube item isn't a bad idea either, I'm going to start working on that in my garage.

In the meantime, I'm hearing that LaHood wants to take a tour of 'rural America.' I'm starting my own campaign to get him here. We're not necessarily rural, but we are surrounded by rural lands when you consider the palouse, the west plains area, much of Idaho and on east to Montana. And we have a unique Metropolitan Planning Organization setup here where we provide transportation planning for two counties, using one staff.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Ray LaHood
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

SRTC Meeting Dates Set

Meeting dates for SRTC's Board and Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) have been set for 2010. Get out your calendar 'cause you're going to want to write these down. Click here to see the dates.

Chrysler Sets Company Policy Against Texting

Chrysler has jumped into the texting-while-driving fray. They'r the first automaker to set a corporate policy that specifically prohibits anyone driving company-owned vehicles or texting with company-provided cell devices while driving personal vehicles. Here's the story, direct from the Chrysler blog.

Area Roads Mostly Wet

Despite the slush and wet roads, the going was pretty easy this morning getting to work. I had no problems and the freeway was wide open until just past the Sprague exit heading westbound. Things slowed down significantly then, due to an oversize semi that collided with an overpass near Regal Street. The only overpass I can think of near there is the pedestrian bridge, or 'catwalk,' as we used to call it back in the day when I attended Libby Junior High School near there.

The truck apparently didn't get stuck though, as I saw it sitting on the shoulder, surrounded by state troppers, near the Hamilton Street exit.

Things were apparently a little more scary last night on the roads, although I drove home around 10:00 and the thermometer in my car said 37 degrees. Apparently there were some areas of black ice though, which caused a four car accident in Post Falls, killing two people. Here's the story.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mr. Heat Meiser Coming To Visit

It looks like the Heat Meiser will be joining us this week, melting all that snow. If you think driving was a pain today, just wait until tomorrow. We're expected to get more snow tonight, then it will turn to rain and turn this 3-5 inches of snow into piles of slush. Someone in the office said it would be like 'driving through mashed potatoes tomorrow.' And while it seems merely inconvenient to drive in slushy conditions, slow down a little as the slush can throw you all over the place.

Fewer Expected To Travel By Air This Holiday Season

The Air Transport Association of America is predicting fewer travelers will board planes to get to where they're going this Christmas. The decline in air travel is being blamed on the economy. Here's the story from the Seattle Times.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Traffic Monitoring System Called Inaccurate

The federal government has spent more than $50 million to build a sophisticated highway traffic monitoring system- a system that the transportation department now says has produced unreliable data. Here's the article from the New York Times.

TTC Meeting Agenda Available

The Transportation Technical Committee's (TTC) monthly meeting is this Wednesday, Dec. 16. You can view the meeting agenda here. And if anything on there catches your eye, you're welcome to attend the meeting. It starts at 1:30 p.m. in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. Sprague Ave., Suite 310.

Some Items Regarding Snow

- Not only did it snow last night in some areas, but it's expected to do so again tomorrow. Before you hit the roads, be sure to check the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center website for road conditions. You can watch live traffic cameras on the site, and check a map of your commute route for anything that might slow you down such as traffic accidents or slick roads.

- I got about 1 1/2 inches of snow at home last night, but the roads were pretty much clear by the time I got to Trent. And the freeway was just wet so the going was pretty easy. By the time I got downtown, there wasn't snow, wet roads, or anything. Just goes to show the little 'micro-climates' our area has.

- Blogger Holly from Olympia says it snowed there last night, about an inch, and there is a little ice on the roads, but nothing too scary. The funny part- the schools there delayed the start of the school day for two hours as a result.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Train Of The Future?

I've never ridden a train, besides the ones at the Fair or Silverwood. But I know people who use trains as their preferred method of travel. Their travels are about to get a lot more plush.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is working with Amtrak to renovate the Amtrak Cascades train fleet. They're starting with the Lounge and Bistro (pictured above) cars. Here's more on this from the WSDOT blog.

Have you ever travelled by train? Where did you go and did you prefer it to air travel? If so, why?

A Couple Of Items To Be Aware Of Next Week From The WSDOT

- This Saturday, December 12, from 4am until around noon, the Fairchild Air Force Base main gate will be closed. Drivers will be directed to the Rambo Road gate and should expect congestion on Rambo Rd. Work is being conducted inside the base near the gate.

- On Tuesday, December 15, from 9am until as late as 3:30pm, eastbound I-90 through traffic will be reduced to two lanes in the area of the Latah Creek Bridge for a routine bridge inspection. On Wednesday, December 16, from 9am to as late as 3:30pm, westbound I-90 will be reduced to two through lanes in the same area. All US 195 ramps will remain open both days. You can expect slower traffic and possible congestion during these days and hours. This project is weather dependent.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Anyone Familiar With Or Interested In 'Cities For Cycling?'

I recently did a guest blogging stint on John Speare's local Cycling Spokane blog. I did a background piece on SRTC's role in getting improved/more bicycle facilities for Spokane. One blogger responded with some comments and a question regarding what it would take to get Spokane involved in Cities for Cycling. So you folks out there who work at local jurisdictions and transportation agencies, care to chime in on this?

3 New Hybrid Buses Hit The Road Monday

STA rolls out three new hybrid electric-diesel buses on Monday, to replace the green trolleys that have shuttled riders around downtown for the past 15 years.

The new buses are quieter, more fuel efficient and have reduced maintenance costs.

Here's more information on them from the Spokesman-Review.

30 Year Mayor's Only Regret- Transportation

Thanks to Gail for sending me this video about one remarkable Mayor of a Canadian city who has been in office for 30 years! Mississauga is the ONLY city in existence that is debt free. And Mayor Hazel has a lot of other accomplishments under her belt as well. Her only regret? That they didn't build their development around transportation and are now struggling to develop a public transit system. The video is a little long and the reporter kind of cheesy but it's interesting to see what a city can do with some planning.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IPH Meeting Materials Available

If you weren't able to attend the Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) meetings last week in Pullman, Sandpoint, or Spokane Valley, but are curious as to what happened at them, all the meeting materials are now posted to the IPH website.

The IPH Transportation Study is a project to establish the Inland Pacific Region as a multi-modal global gateway to increase international commerce. It is a partnership comprised of public and private sector representatives from Idaho and Washington.

While you're checking out the meeting materials, I recommend you browse the rest of the site to find out more about the project.

Drunk Driving Fatalities Down Except In 10 States

New federal data suggests that all but 10 states have seen a decline in drunken driving deaths- and our neighbor to the east is one of the ten states that hasn't. In fact, the rate of drunk driving deaths in Idaho has increased from 2007 to 2008.

Here's the story from Seattle's KIRO TV.

Care to speculate as to what contributed to this increase in drunk driving fatalities in Idaho?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Legos Teach Kids About Transportation

This is pretty cool. Area students are learning about math, science, engineering- and transportation- through playing with legos! It's not just playing though, they're competing to be the champion when it comes to robotics. And one group of kids are even putting what they learned to use on the Centennial Trail. Here's the article.

SRTC Board Meeting Agenda Available

The monthly SRTC Board meeting is this Thursday, Dec. 10. Here's a link to the agenda. If you see anything of interest on there, feel free to attend the meeting. It starts at 1 p.m. in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310.

New Council Member Talks Complete Streets

Spokane’s newest city councilman, John Snyder, sat down with the Inlander recently. So what's on his mind? Adopting a Complete Streets policy and electric cars, it turns out. Here's the interview.

Friday, December 4, 2009

You Can Still Get A Rebate On A New Car

You can still get a deal on a car, even if you don't have a clunker to trade in. But you've only got until the end of the year to use the New Car Tax Rebate, so if you were thinking about buying, now may be the time. And buyers are needed because, unlike the Cash For Clunkers Program, not many appear to be taking advantage of this program.

Here's more information on this little-known program from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

SRTMC Website Outage Planned For Sunday, Monday

This is your notice that you're going to have to rely on your own wits and street smarts to get to work on Monday morning, as the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) cameras will be down that morning for some upgrades.

The live traffic feeds will be taken down Sunday morning (Dec. 6) and are expected to be back online by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, in time for the evening commute.

The SRTMC site, at, is a high-tech website with real-time, customizable information for the Spokane area. 24-hours a day you can watch over 40 live traffic cameras, read about incidents and events that are automatically updated as they happen, and check construction updates in order to plan your commute around upcoming construction projects.

The SRTMC is expecting to bring almost 30 new camera feeds online by early 2010. That includes three on Appleway in Spokane Valley, four along the North Spokane Corridor, and over 20 on the Maple/Ash Corridor. In order to support these additional camera feeds, a new video switch must be installed, which accounts for the outage.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Update To A Previous Post- And It's From The Top

I'm always open to corrections or updates on this blog, so if you see something you have additional info on be sure to let me know. That's exactly what Todd Solomon did recently on our sister blog for Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organzation ( And noticing his email address, I was curious and looked him up on line. According to an online bio I found of Todd Solomon, he's the Online Community Manager for President Obama's Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, managing the Secretary's blog (, online presence (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), and new media strategy! How cool is that? Good to know someone is noticing the work us little guys do. So here's his message:

FYI, just wanted to let you know that the Star-Telegram,, from which The
Olympian got the article referenced by your blog post "LaHood Wants To
Raise Federal Gas Tax," has corrected its story as below.

You'll see that--whether or not it's a good idea, Secretary LaHood did
not endorse it. He only said that it's up to Congress to hash the
funding out, and adjusting the gas tax is only one of the options they
can use.

I think it's great that the Kootenai County MPO are following this and
so many other stories so closely. Your citizens are probably better
informed than most on transportation! Hope you're also following the
Secretary's blog ( and @RayLaHood Twitter
account. And, if you really want to, you can also fan the Secretary on

Hope you guys can get to one of the Reauthorization Listening Tour stops
when the Secretary gets out west.

Star-Telegram Correction
"Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Congress should debate a range
of options on funding transportation needs, including indexing the
federal gas tax. He did not endorse any option. Information about his
remarks was incorrect Tuesday in an article about the North Texas
Transportation Summit."

What Did We Do Before Facebook?

So guess what I just did? I just became a fan of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Facebook (I can do this as I'm blogging at home today because using Facebook at work is obviously a no-no). I'm hoping this will mean I get updates from the man himself delivered directly to me, and I won't have to check his blog quite as often anymore. If you would like to check his blog though you can use this link. And if you would like to become his fan on Facebook click here. You have to give the guy credit for being proactive.

IPH Meeting Attracts Wide Variety Of Community Members

I'm doing my blogging late today because I spent all morning in the Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) meeting this morning at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley. If you're not familiar with the IPH Transportation Study, it is a project is to transform the Inland Northwest into a hub for commerce, vital to the global economy. Sound like a stretch? Well it's not; because of its central location, the Inland Northwest is perfectly positioned to be a key link to competitive commerce in the northern hemisphere.

Besides SRTC, there are several agencies partnering on this project, including Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Idaho Transportation Department.

Those jurisdictions this week hosted three forums to get input from the public in Pullman, Sandpoint, and Spokane Valley. And people seem to be interested; over 30 people attended the Pullman meeting, about 12 in Sandpoint, and just over 50 at today's Spokane Valley meeting. And they came from a variety of backgrounds. At today's meeting alone, we had representatives from the railroads, Avista, Jobs Plus, the Davenport Economic Development Council, Eastern Washington University, a couple of everyday citizens, a delegation of three from Trail, B.C., and a ton of other people. And they all had different perspectives about what we need to do to take full advantage of the potential economic development opportunities associated with international trade.

We're in the process of compiling the meeting notes and results, and will have those on the Inland Pacific Hub website sometime within the next week. The good news is that this gives you that time to go through the IPH website and get to know the project a little more. Happy reading and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm Available To Take Over- I Mean Contribute To- Your Blog Too

John Speare over at the 'Cycling Spokane' blog was looking for guest bloggers so I jumped at the chance to spread my word somewhere else. I just posted my first thread over there, although it's not nearly as rivetting as John would have liked. Check it out if you have time, it's a very interesting blog.

LaHood Wants To Raise Federal Gas Tax

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says Congress should consider raising the federal gas tax for the first time since 1993.

LaHood pledged to work with Congress on passing a five-year transportation bill in 2010. The current problem is that although about $500 billion in highway, bridge and transit needs have been identified, the federal gas tax — 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline — can't generate that much revenue.

Here's the story from the Olympian.

Drinking Boxed Wine, It's The New Way To Reduce Vehicle Emissions (Or Something Like That)

John Tesh annoys the heck out of me. I just wanted to get that on the record before I pass on something I heard on his radio show. Why was I listening to his show if I don't like him? Well, I was flipping through the stations the other night when I heard something about switching to boxed wine that caught my attention.

So I just got on John's website and found this intereting factoid, and just in time for your holiday consumption too: "These days a lot of respected wineries are doing away with the glass bottle because manufacturing and shipping them is expensive and wasteful. According to the Wine Group, the largest wine company in the world, using boxes instead of glass bottles is equivalent to taking 25,000 cars off the road every year!"

So thank you Mr. Tesh. I can overlook your smarminess for one day to pass that on. Now go out and get yourself some boxed wine (or boxed sparkling cider for you non-drinkers).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pedestrian Hit By Hit & Run Driver Dies

A second pedestrian has died this year after being hit by a vehicle in downtown Spokane. In the latest incident, A woman struck by a suspected drunken driver who then fled the scene has died. The accident happened on Nov. 20. The victim died this past Saturday. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Church Coalition To Pay Parking Tickets

Some Boise drivers may be getting their parking tickets taken care of. A Christian coalition will pay off up to $10,000 in tickets as a way to apparently show 'God's grace.'

Yeah, I'm not really seeing the connection to grace and parking tickets either but I'm betting a lot of people with parking tickets won't even care if there is a connection.

The money to pay the tickets comes from anonymous donors and area churches.Here's the story.

Train-Car Accident Leaves Driver Injured

A woman who had just dropped her child off at an elementary school was broadsided by a train as she drove her mini-van in Spokane Valley today. According to the Spokesman-Review (whom I stole the picture above from), Maria L. Walsh, 44, is in critical condition after being airlifted from the crash scene at Arden Road south of Wellesley Avenue.

The intersection is closed while emergency personnel investigate. A detective said visibility around the crossing, which is marked only by stop signs, was good, and drugs and alcohol don’t appear to be a factor.

So how many train-versus-car or train-versus-pedestrian accidents has there been this year? Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three or four, and I'm sure there's more.

The construction of proposed 'Bridging the Valley' (BTV) projects would help to prevent these kinds of accidents, by seperating cars and people from trains at crossings. BTV is a series of projects in the 42 mile corridor between Spokane and Athol, Idaho. Here's more info on Bridging the Valley. Now the main hangup in getting these projects built is the usual one- lack of funding. We're working on that though and will keep you updated.

By the way, the Havana Street Bridge project that is already underway is the first BTV project to be constructed.

What Unusual Sight Have You Seen On The Bus?

My sister-in-law rides the East Sprague #90 bus and frequently tells me about some of the more unusual passengers on that route. She says a man got off the bus one day last week wearing an entire bee keeper's suit.

I ride the Liberty Lake route, a commuter route, so it's usually pretty quiet on there. What have you seen on your route that's entertaining?

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.