Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Photo Red Grace Period Over Today

Starting tomorrow, the City isn't goofing around. If you run a red light at four intersections where photo red cameras were installed recently, you're going to get a ticket. The grace period is over.

Here's the location of those cameras and how many warning were issued in the last month.

WA State Transportation Budget Signed

Governor Gregoire yesterday signed into law an updated $8.5 billion state transportation budget that lawmakers say will bankroll thousands of construction jobs- but get rid of some management and licensing positions.

The supplemental budget plan is about $1 billion more than last year's biennial budget. The increase is mostly from federal money that will pay for large projects, including $590 million to increase the speed of trains on the rail corridor between Oregon and British Columbia. The budget also includes an additional $30 million for fuel costs, primarily for ferries, and $3 million for storm water treatment.

Cuts in the transportation budget include fewer Department of Transportation management positions, and the closure of up to 25 licensing offices.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Take It Back- You've Got Extra Time To Get Your Studs Off

Studded tire users got a reprieve today. Due to the threat of more severe winter weather forecast for the Cascade mountain range, Washington State Department of Transportation officials extended the deadline to remove studded tires through April 10.

Drivers must remove their studded tires by 12:01 a.m., Sunday April 11.

Washington State Patrol troopers enforce a $124 fine for those who use studded tires after the deadline. No one can guarantee ice and snow-free roadways, so WSDOT encourages drivers, especially those heading into the higher elevations, to plan ahead and drive for conditions.

Someone asked if people actually did put studs on their cars this year, and I've heard from at least one other person who did. So that makes two that I personally know of.

Do you guys know anyone who put studs on their vehicle this year?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lincoln Street Construction Starts Today

Construction starts on Lincoln Street this morning, the deadline to take your studs off is this week, and the City of Spokane is hosting meetings to tell you what construction projects they're doing this year. Here's a roundup of what's happening in transportation this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.
Thanks to Holly for sending me this little tribute to MC Hammer. This is on a stop sign near downtown Olympia.

And after seeing that picture above, Chris at J-U-B Engineers sent me this companion sign. Thanks Chris! Who'd of thought there were that many people who remember the lyrics from a song that came out in the 1990's?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Some Upcoming Spokane City Projects

- Work to rehabilitate Lincoln Street from 29th to 17th avenues starts on Monday, Mar. 29. The project includes installing curb extensions with storm gardens that will drain the treated water into Cannon Hill Park pond.

Lincoln Street will be closed to drivers. The detour will be 14th Ave. to Cedar St./High Dr. or Bernard St. onto 29th Ave. The $1.7 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Wastewater Department.

- A project to install fiber optic cable in conduits in the area of Ray and Freya streets to Sprague and Hartson avenues is set to begin, also on Monday. Drivers can expect lane closures in the area crews are working.

The $72,000 project is being funded by the City of Spokane.

TAC Orientation Meetings Held

We hosted an orientation for members of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) yesterday here at SRTC, and have another session today. The TAC is a new advisory group responsible for advising SRTC Board members on recommendations regarding plans, programs, and activities conducted by SRTC.

The orientation included an overview of what exactly SRTC does, what laws and policies we're governed by, the makeup of our Board and staff, and what projects TAC members will be working on initially. Those projects include the Unified Planning Work Program, the Regional Transportation Project List for advocacy, and the Prioritization and Selection process for transportation projects. I'll expand on those topics after the next meeting.

In the meantime, you can view the power point presentation that was presentated at the TAC orientation and find out more about the TAC in general by clicking here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Study Says Transportation Costs Threaten Housing Affordability

One issue we've been working on over the past several years is getting lower income folks to jobs and services they require. STA has been a huge help in this effort but their service area can only extend so far and there are still a lot of people living in outlying areas that don't have any form of transportation.

Often they live in these areas because housing is cheaper there. A new study says this move outward to find affordable homes not only contributes to sprawl, traffic and pollution; it actually costs more.

Here's the information from KPLU Radio out of Tacoma.

Definetely Not A Safe Way To Get A Ride

Can you tell what this is? It's really tiny so it's hard to tell, but that guy I circled there is a hitch hiker! That's right- he was moving in and out of traffic at I90 and Jefferson at the top of the on ramp around 2:15 today.

Staff in the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center saw him on their monitors and alerted Washington State Patrol. Last I looked at the cameras, at 2:23 a trooper was talking to the hitch hiking suspect and hopefully removing him from the freeway. Bad idea dude.

City Hosts Road Construction Meetings

It's going to be another busy year of construction for the City of Spokane; with 40 projects worth $60 million planned for this year.

A series of meetings is scheduled to let you know about this year's upcoming Street Bond projects. The meetings will be held from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. on:

· Tuesday, April 6, at the West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt St., focusing on projects in Council District 3.

· Wednesday, April 7, at the Northeast Youth Center, 3004 E. Queen, focusing on projects in Council District 1.

· Thursday, April 8, at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St., focusing on projects in Council District 2.

City engineers working on the projects will present information on design and construction schedules. Question and answer time will be part of each meeting.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

T-Minus 7 Days To Get Your Studs Off

A reminder that your days are numbered to get studded tires taken off your car.

In Washington, studded tires are legal Nov. 1 - Mar. 31. Washington State Patrol troopers enforce a $124 fine for those who use studded tires after the deadline.

Learn More About Complete Streets On Cable 5

The next edition of “Council Connection,” the cable television program featuring Spokane City Council members as hosts, will feature the complete streets concept.

Council Member Jon Snyder will host the program, and cover the topics of the City’s EMS Levy and the concept of “Complete Streets.” Snyder will accept calls from viewers during the program; the phone number to reach the show is 625-6337.

You can watch it live at this link tomorrow at 7 p.m. on Channel 5 on the Comcast cable system in Spokane, or catch it being replayed throughout the next month.

Filled Out Your Census Form Yet?

We were talking in the office the other day about the reaction some employees' spouses had to receiving their census forms. While some people think it's 'the man's' attempt at keeping them down, or none of the government's business who lives in their home, we at SRTC support the census and would like to point out that it's been happening in the U.S. since 1790. One thing to keep in mind is that actual records aren't released for 72 years after a census is taken, for privacy reasons. Now, the most recent year available is 1930.

So, again, we ask that you fill out your census form because it helps us to determine transportation needs; if there are more roads needed in certain areas, a need for non-motorized transportation improvments, or even transit needs to be addressed.

Our GIS department deals in-depth with census information everyday. Our GIS guy Kevin even attended the 'Census Roadshow' at the STA Plaza earlier this week. He got a headband there he's promised to wear to work one day, so I'll provide pictures when I can. In the meantime, he provided me this link in case you want to buy a VW van and follow the roadshow.

Kevin also suggested this map that shows the rate of return on census forms, broken up by state and city. So far, Montana is in the lead, of all states. So come on Washingtonians, start filling out those forms. We can do better than that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bridge Popular With Wildlife

I blogged about a month ago about how 'animal underpasses' in the northwest appear to be working. Someone emailed me this picture of a wildlife bridge so I thought I'd throw it up here too as further testimonial as to how well these underpasses and bridges are working.

This is the turn-off from Banff, Alberta, Canada. The area has a lot of deer, elk and moose and apparently a lot of collisions with wildlife before the animal bridge was built. The animals appear to have figured out the bridge is for them though and reports say a lot of them are using it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Annual Construction Map Now Available

One official sign of spring is when the annual Spokane Regional Road Construction Map comes out. Well, it's available now.

SRTC collaborated with area government jurisdictions, including Spokane County, the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley, and the Washington State Department of Transportation on the map, in an effort to keep the public better informed as to where transportation construction projects are happening.

The map provides information such as the type of projects, project locations, and start and completion dates.

You can view the map here. You'll have to zoom in to see map detail. You can click on the project title to see the project's location on the map, or click on the project location on the map to be taken directly to the project description.

For a free copy of the map, send me an email with your address and I'll send one to you. Or you can call (509) 343-6370 or stop by 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310 to pick one up.

Some Local Transportation Happenings

195 work is underway, Spokane Valley has some new, easier to read turn signals, and there are a handful of other transportation projects under way.

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

Wellesley Lane Closures

Drivers, be aware that there will be lane closures on Wellesley Avenue from Driscoll Boulevard to Assembly Street for the next month. Traffic will be reduced by two lanes, leaving one lane open in each direction. The City of Spokane Water Department is working on water services. The work is expected to be complete mid-April.

Carjacker- 0 Pitbull- 1

So say you're in need of some transportation really bad and you're of the criminal element. Which car are you going to carjack? The one with the pitbull sitting inside or the one with no angry dog waiting to rip your throat out? Well, one western Washington carjacker made the wrong choice.

Here's the story from the Seatlle PI. And thanks to Holly for sending it to me.

Ladies, This Survey Is For You

Hey ladies- the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) wants to hear from you. APBP is interested in gathering input on transportation cycling issues through a survey targeting women and girls.

Why? Because according to this article in 'Scientific American,' women are considered an “indicator species” for how bike-friendly a city really is. This is the case for several reasons, including:

- Studies show that women are less willing to take risks than men, meaning they require a fairly safe bike infrastructure before they'll consider riding.

- Women also do most of the child care and household shopping, which means bike routes need to be organized around practical urban destinations to make a difference.

So if you're a woman, please take this survey. It doesn't matter if you ride or not. It should only take about ten minutes. And when you're done, please pass it on to other women you know. Again, it doesn't matter if they are bicyclists or not.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hacker Disables Cars

Here's a scary story; Some Texas car dealerships installed 'black boxes' on cars they sold that would allow commands to be sent to the cars after they're purchased. The system is used to disable a car's ignitition system or trigger the horn to begin honking if the owner happens to forget to make a payment.

That's bad enough in my opinion, but it gets worse. A man laid off from the company that controls those boxes got revenge by hacking into the system and disabled or made the horns honk on dozens of cars. Here's what happened.

Paving & Curb Project Starts Next Week

A City of Spokane project to pave and install curbs and sidewalks on Bennett Avenue from Clarke Avenue to Spruce Street; and Spruce Street from Bennett to Clarke avenues begins next Tuesday, March 23. North Street will be closed with local access only, and Clarke Street will have one lane closed to traffic.

The $242,000 project is funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Local Improvement District.

Some Reminders From The WSDOT

- Northbound US 195 will be reduced to one through lane from Hatch Road to I90 for the next few weeks, at least. Lane restriction may be in place 24 hours per day for concrete curing. Crews are placing reinforcing “dowel bars” at concrete panel joints and replacing broken concrete panels.

- On Monday, March 22 through Thursday, March 25 from 8:00 a.m. until as late as 3:30p.m. each day, traffic on eastbound SR 290 (Trent Ave.) will be reduced to one lane. Crews will be repairing bridge joints in the area.

WSDOT Releases Numbers On Communication

What were your concerns in 2009 regarding transportation?
The Washington State Department of Transportation has just released its' end of year Communications Report, which shows how many people responded to blog posts, tweets, and other methods of communications on certain subjects.

For instance, in 2009:

- WSDOT headquarters received 4,570 emails from constituents and responded directly to 2,136

- 5.2.% of constituents rated WSDOT's performance in general as 'good'

- The majority of posts on the WSDOT blog were devoted to federal transportation issues.

To see more of what was on people's minds and how they think the WSDOT is doing as far as communication, click here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jobs Bill Goes To President For Approval

The Senate has voted to accept an $18 billion version of the jobs bill, and sent it on to President Obama to approve.

The bill is aimed at relieving high unemployment rates and includes a one-year extension of the law governing federal transportation funding, and would transfer $20 billion into the highway trust fund.

Here are the details from the Washington Post.

Lack Of Snow Gives Government Budget Breaks

The lack of snow this year has local government accountants tallying how much money they saved on snow removal- and it's a big number. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Learn How To Conduct A Walkability Audit In Your Own Neighborhood

The City of Spokane Office of Neighborhood Services will be partnering with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the Pedestrian Transportation and Traffic Committee (PeTT) to host a walkability audit workshop on March 20th from 9:00a.m. to approximately 12:00p.m.

The workshop will teach participants how to host walkability audits in their own neighborhoods and how to use audits in federal grant applications for the improvement of neighborhood streets & sidewalks. More information on this event is available on the Facebook 'Complete Streets' page.

Magazine Calls Out Of Control Prius A Hoax

Toyota Motor Corporation dismissed the story of a man who claimed his Prius sped out of control on the California freeway, saying Monday that tests found the car’s gas pedal and backup safety system were working just fine.

The automaker says James Sikes' account of what happened with the car did not square with a series of tests it conducted on the gas-electric hybrid. Here's an article from the Spokesman-Review. This article says that Toyota didn't go so far as to call Sikes' incident a 'hoax,' but Forbes Magazine isn't being so diplomatic. This article from the magazine alleges that Sikes may not have done everything in his power to stop the car and that he may be less than a reputable person.

Read it and let me know what you think. On the one hand, I've thought all along that a lot of this might be media hysteria, but on the other hand I didn't care because I've been looking for a Toyota for a long time that I can afford and couldn't find one. This may change that.

Mullet Sign Is Wisconsin's Most Stolen

Amazingly enough, I couldn't find a picture of it anywhere on the internet, but according to the Associated Press, The most frequently stolen street sign in Green Bay, Wisconsin isn't Lombardi Avenue, Reggie White Way or Brett Favre Pass. The distinction goes to a street by the name of 'Mullet Place.' That's right, the long and short of this street is that it's business up front and fun in the back.

The Mullet Place sign has disappeared so many times that city crews have moved it higher on the street pole so it's not so easy to reach.

So, for lack of a picture of the sign, here is a picture of an actual mullet.

Monday, March 15, 2010

TTC Meeting This Wednesday

SRTC's Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meets this week. Here's a look at the agenda.

Anyone is welcome to attend the meeting. It is at 1:30 on Wednesday, March 17. All TTC meetings are held in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310.

Potential JOBS Bill Projects Chosen

Recently, SRTC issued a Call for Projects for the potential Federal JOBS Bill funding being considered by Congress. All projects must be able to move forward within 90 days.

The following projects were submitted by area jurisdictions:

City of Spokane
- Addison & Standard, Francis to Colton $2,400,000 Federal funds requested
- Hatch Road, 43rd to Perry $580,000 Federal funds requested
- Addison/Francis Concrete Intersection $900,000 Federal funds requested

- Main & Ticknor Pedestrian Safety Project $135,000 Federal funds requested

Spokane County
- Argonne Rd, Bigelow to Welleseley $2,416,851 Federal funds requested

If you have any comments on these projects, a 30-day public comment period opens March 16 and goes to April 15.

You can submit comments by clicking here.

What To Do If Your Accelerator Gets Stuck

After that guy in California had his Toyota go haywire on him, it seems like a lot of people are freaking out over the possibility that their Toyota could go all Hal (you know, from Space Odyssey) on them. Seems to me that a lot of it is hysteria, but here's my public service of the day: this YouTube video from ABC News shows you just how to stop your car if your accelerator gets stuck. Legal disclaimer: do not try this at home unless your accelerator actually gets stuck. And in the case that you are injured while performing one of these measures, SRTC is not responsible for any insurance bills or litigation expenses.

You Don't Have To Feed It & It'll Never Borrow Your Car Without Asking

You've already got kids and you can't commit to any more pets, so what can you adopt that won't cut into your budget or mental well-being? How about a highway? Only 35% of Washington State highways have sponsors, and the Washington State Department of Transportation is looking for people to adopt the other 'orphan' stretches of highway. Here's more info. Hey, if fans of the Grateful Dead can get organized enough to do this, so can you.

Friday, March 12, 2010

TAC Members Approved

The SRTC Board yesterday approved the suggested list of members for SRTC's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). Here's a link to that list and more information on the TAC.

A Couple Items From The WSDOT

- The eastbound I-90 Hamilton Street off ramp will be reduced to one lane starting Monday, Mar. 15 through Thursday, Mar. 18 from about 8:30 a.m. until as late as 3:30 p.m. Crews will be working in that area repairing pavement on the bridge.

- Also starting Monday, northbound US 195 will be reduced to one through lane between Hatch Road and I-90. The lane restriction could be in place for up to 24 hours. Crews will be placing reinforcing “dowel bars” at concrete panel joints, replacing broken concrete panels, and smoothing the pavement by grinding it.

Parade Route & St. Patrick's Day Emphasis Patrols

If you're not into parades, traffic detours, and pub crawling, you may want to steer clear of downtown Spokane tomorrow afternoon. Yes, it's the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and it starts at noon tomorrow.

If you're driving, you'll want to avoid the parade route, which is Washington Street to Spokane Falls Boulevard, east on Spokane Falls, then south on Bernard Street, west on Main Ave., north on Stevens St., down Spokane Falls Blvd. to Post St., across the Post St. Bridge, and back to the Arena.

The route will be closed to traffic starting at 10 a.m. and expected to be reopened around 3 p.m.

If you're one of the green beer-partakers though, avoid the hassle of closed streets and drunken driving and just take the bus. Area law enforcement agencies will be participating in emphasis patrols this weekend focusing on impaired drivers.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Police Department, Spokane Valley Police Department, Cheney Police Department, EWU Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Liberty Lake Police Department and the City of Airway Heights Police Department will be participating in the extra emphasis patrols.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

'Ghost Bike' Placed At Location Where Bicyclist Was Killed

A celebration of life and benefit for the family of David Squires will take place tomorrow. Squires is the Spokane man killed when hit by a car on his bike last week in downtown Spokane. Here's more information on the event from the Spokesman-Review.

In the meantime, a 'ghost bike' has been placed at the site where Squires died. And a lot of people are questioning what it will take to keep something like this from happening again. Many people are using this incident to point out the advantages of local jurisdictions adopting 'complete ctreets' policies. SRTC is in the process of educating our Board, and working with other local groups to educate local elected officials, on the complete streets movement. Here's more information on complete streets. And here is an article in the Inlander that came out today about Squires' death and the state of bicycling and walking in Spokane today.

Snow Delaying Travel On Snoqualmie Pass

Well here's something we haven't seen in a while- snow causing travel delays. This is a picture of Snoqualmie Pass taken around 9 this morning. Snow falling there has caused some slick roads and the temporary closure of the eastbound lanes.

Chains are required on all vehicles eastbound, escept all-wheel drive vehicles, and on westbound trucks. Traction tires are being required for passenger vehicles westbound.

Forecasters are calling for accumulations of 6 to 8 inches of snow in the area today.
If you're headed that way, here's a link to the Washington State Department of Transportation live traffic cameras so you can monitor conditions on the pass.

Google Now Provides Bicycling Directions

Google is adding bicycling directions to it's mapping service. It previously only provided directions for drivers and pedestrians. Starting yesterday though, Google will help you get where you're going on your bike by recommending routes, steering you away from big hills and heavily congested streets and pinpointing bike lanes, trails and paths.

Ryan, the designated SRTC mountain biking enthusiast, played around with it a little yesterrday. He says it works for Spokane, but in his words, it's 'a little clunky, still in beta.' He checked one of his favorite ride routes and found that the Google directions led him right off a cliff! Oh well, it's early yet, I'm sure they'll work out that little kink.

While digging around trying to find a legend, Ryan says he found a helpful video tutorial that you may want to check out and some info on the line colors/styles:

- Dark green indicates a biking-only trail
- Light green is a dedicated bike lane along a road
- A dotted green line means it's not an official bike lane or trail, but is probably suitable for biking based on terrain, traffic, and intersections.

Now that Ryan's done the dirty work for us, try it out yourself and let me know what you think.

Lots Of Items On SRTC Board Agenda

I forgot earlier this week to post the agenda for today's SRTC Board meeting. If you don't have anything going on at noon, come on down. Today's meeting should be a good one.

We're starting with an informational brown bag luncheon to fill the Board in on the Complete Streets movement. That's at 12. We can't provide lunch, so bring your own if you'd like to observe.

At 1:00, the actual meeting starts and it has some pretty interesting items on the agenda, including the approval of applicants selected for the Transportation Advisory Committee, the status of the Unified Regional Transportation Visioning Process, and a strategy discussion to help prepare local jurisdictions for the possible passing of the JOBS bill.

The meeting will be held in our conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spokane City Recognized For Snow Removal Website

We haven't seen many snow plows in these parts this winter. But snow was on a lot of people's minds. Based on last year's snow fiasco, the City of Spokane revealed a new 'Snow Plan' for the winter of 2009-10 that included an interactive web map that shows which streets have been plowed and which will be plowed soon. Not that any will be plowed soon because we don't have any snow, but you get the idea.

Well, that proactive website earned the City the #1 position for the '10 Best Cities for Tracking Snow Removal Online,' as ranked by the 'OhMyGov' website. So here's the list. Read it and weep, and good job City of Spokane. Now people can go back to mocking us for our love of marmots instead of our snow issues.

State Transportation Plan Passed

The state Legislature last night passed an updated state transportation budget that will reportedly pay for thousands of construction jobs. The $8.5 billion plan passed the Senate on a 37-11 vote and now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for final approval.

The supplemental budget plan is about $1 billion more than last year’s budget. The additional money comes mostly from federal money the state will use to pay for large projects.

Just Do It, It Only Takes 10 Minutes

You've heard it on TV and the radio, and now you're going to hear it from me; when you get that form from the U.S. Census, PLEASE fill it out. SRTC uses the information that you provide to help us determine transportation needs for the future.

In particular, we use the housing unit count to determine how many people are living in each area, so we can look at the roads going in and out of those areas to see if they're adequate for the amount of people using them. We also use a lot of other information that the census provides. And, census data helps determine how tax money will be spent. More than $400 billion is distributed to state, local and tribal areas every year, based on census numbers. So, make sure our community gets its fair share by being counted in this year's Census.

If you're really into the census, here's the official website for more information. And just an FYI, April 1 is 'National 2010 Census Day,' the day you're supposed to have your census forms mailed back in order to avoid a visit by an actual census taker. We haven't determined yet what kind of activities we'll be doing here at SRTC to celebrate National 2010 Census Day, but our GIS guy Kevin has already stated for the record that he'll wear some sort of headband to show his support. I'll try to post pictures.

195 Project to Start Monday

Another ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) project gets underway in our area next week.

On March 15, Acme Concrete Paving, Inc. of Spokane will begin work on a five-mile stretch of northbound US 195, installing steel "dowel bars" between the existing concrete panels in the northbound lanes. Following that, the concrete surface will be smoothed out and broken concrete panels will be replaced. The $2.4 million job will be paid for with ARRA funds that were left over from other local projects in 2009.

The work will take about three months to complete. Northbound traffic will be reduced to one lane in some areas while the work is underway.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Future Where Cars Talk To Traffic Signals??

So here is the U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood website pick of the day:

Imagine a world where car crashes are reduced, vehicles talk to traffic signals, and travelers get accurate travel time and route options... as well as data about the
potential environmental impacts of their choices.

If you can imagine that, you've just imagined 'IntelliDrive,' a multimodal initiative that aims to enable safe, interoperable networked wireless communications among vehicles, the infrastructure, and passengers' personal communications devices.

IntelliDriveSM research is being sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and others to leverage the potential capabilities of wireless technology to make surface transportation safer, smarter and greener.

Check out 'IntelliDrive' and let me know what you think. Is it really cool or too 'Big Brother-ish?'

Accident Closes I90

A Coeur d’Alene woman is in critical condition this morning after rolling her car on Interstate 90 near Liberty Lake last night.

Jessica M. Derosie, 20, was headed east on I-90 when her car headed left off the freeway, going through a cable barrier into the median and then rolling. Derosie was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected.

I-90 was closed so that Derosie could be transported by helicopter to the hospital.
Troopers said the accident was caused by excessive speed, not drugs or alcohol. So slow the heck down out there.

Transportation Benefit District Formation Explored

If you follow transportation happenings, you've probably heard talk recently of forming a local 'TBD', or Transportation Benefit District.' The TBD would be a way to raise money for much-needed transportation projects, and would add at least an extra $20 to your bill every time you license your vehicle. Local lawmakers can implement a TBD without voter approval for an amount as small as $20. If they decide to get more ambitious and ask for more money though, you- the voter- will be consulted.

A meeting was held last week to discuss the possibility of forming a TBD. Here's a synopsis of that meeting from the Spokane Valley Herald.

Public Meeting On Liberty Lake Parking

There's a public hearing tonight to discuss parking on Liberty Lake streets. Not streets within the City of Liberty Lake, but the streets around the lake. Those roads are extremely narrow and people parking along them often clog up traffic and make it hard for emergency vehicles to get through.

Spokane County Commissioners have had a request from the Spokane Valley Fire Department to restrict parking on several streets near the lake.The Fire Department even has a really nice slide show on their website showing which streets would be affected and demonstrating just how tight conditions are in those areas.

Take a look, and if you'd like to voice your opinion on the issue, the meeting is at 5:30 p.m. at the Spokane County Public Works Building at 1026 W. Broadway Ave. in the lower level hearing room.

They're A Tire. They're A Wheel. They're A 'Tweel'

Someone sent me an email showing this new tire that Michelin allegedly developed called the 'Tweel Airless Tire.' I thought it was kind of interesting so looked it up to see what else I could find out about it.

Here are a couple interesting points about Tweel:

- It doesn't require a wheel, because it's a combination of a tire and a wheel (hence the name).

- The 'spokes' absorb road impacts the same way air pressure does in pneumatic tires.

- Michelin says they won't be releasing the Tweel to the general public anytime soon, so you can put away your money.

If you're still curious about it though, here's an article on the Tweel, from the 'How Things Work' website.

Monday, March 8, 2010


If you're like most people, you're aware that the U.S.'s transportation spending bill, SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) expired a while back and we've had a couple extentions of it. And you're most likely aware that there was a scare last week when lawmakers couldn't reach a concensus on extending it and some U.S. Department of Transportation employees were laid off for a couple days while details were hashed out.

There's been a lot happening since then though that you probably don't know about, especially behind the scenes. WSDOT's Larry Ehl provides this synopsis of the situation, including its impact on Washington State.

Complete Streets Subject Of SRTC Lunch Meeting

Thanks to the Coeur d'Alene Pedestrian & Bicycle Blog that I stole the video below from. It seemed applicable to what we're doing on this side of the state line, as SRTC staff is working with local jurisdictions to educate local elected officials, engineers, and planners about complete streets. In fact, we're hosting a brown bag lunch session with our the SRTC Board this Thursday at noon to give them more information. Anyone is welcome to attend, but we won't be providing lunch, so bring your own. In the meantime, here's more info on complete streets.

STA Proposes Cuts

Spokane Transit is talking about cutting a couple routes to save money, streets will be closed this Saturday for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, and completion of a project at 44th and Regal has been delayed.

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

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Truck Gets Stuck Under Bridge

The Sprague and Division intersection is having a rough week. I'd avoid it right now if I were you. A semi truck tried to go under the underpass there but was apparently too tall. In those situations, the truck usually gets stuck. In this case though, the force of the impact tipped the truck over, and it lodged between the rail bridge girders. I happened to be walking back from an appointment and caught all the action. What a mess. There are police and city officials running all over directing traffic and trying to figure out how to get the truck out of there.

Florida Deadly For Bicyclists/Pedestrians

I hear a lot of grumbling about how our area has to be one of the least safe places for walking or bicycling. But you'd be wrong if you thought that. Federal statistics now show that Florida is the deadliest state for pedestrians and bicyclists.

In 2008, 11.1% of pedestrians and 17.4% of bicyclists killed in the U.S. died in Florida, which has 6% of the nation's population.

Here are more statistics from USA Today, plus a really cool interactive map that shows you stats for each state when you put your cursor over it.

Safest Year On WA Roads Since 1955

Washington State's 'Target Zero' plan appears to be having some effect. The 490 traffic deaths on Washington roads last year were the lowest number of fatalities since 1955. That's 30 fewer traffic deaths in 2009 than in 2008.

While that's a start, the goal of state officials is zero traffic deaths by the year 2030. They're trying to achieve that through a plan called 'Target Zero' that focuses on public education, safety improvements, emergency medical services and enforcement of traffic laws.

The three largest causes of death on the road are impaired driving, speed, and the failure to wear a seat belt.

If you want to know more about this Target Zero plan, here's a link.

Wandermere Road Closed For One More Month

Here's an update for you from the WSDOT on the current work on the North Spokane Corridor:

Wandermere Road will remain closed from US 395/Division Street to approximately 50 feet south of the Wandermere Estates and Golf Course entrance until as late as April 2, in order to accomodate bridge footing work.

US 395 is open with no restrictions.

Bill Introduced That Would Fund Bike/Ped Projects

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon introduced H.R. 4722, the Active Community Transportation Act of 2010 (or ACT Act) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill would establish a competitive active transportation investment fund to invest in walking and bicycling improvements in communities around the country.

If the $2 billion act is passed, the U.S. Department of Transportation will administer a competitive fund, which will invest in communities that best make the case for resources to shift large numbers of trips from driving to walking and bicycling.

Want to know more? Here's a fact sheet the national Rails to Trails Conservancy put together on the ACT Act.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bicyclists Killed In Collision Identified

The name of a bicyclist struck and killed by a driver on Monday evening has been released. 56-year-old David Squires died of skull fractures caused when he collided with a truck driven by Scott Reckford at Division and Sprague.

Squires was riding in the crosswalk and not wearing a helmet.

Scott C. Reckord has been charged with vehicular homicide and felony hit and run after leaving the scene, then returning, and failing a field sobriety test.

Trust Fund Extended 30 Days

Nearly 2,000 furloughed Department of Transportation employees return to work today, after the U.S. Senate late last night voted to extend the Highway Trust Fund for another 30 days.

The transportation bill had expired Sunday at midnight without Senators able to reach a vote to extend it. That meant there was no money for transportation programs, forcing the temporary layoffs.

So the big question now is; what will happen over the next 30 days? Will this happen again? We'll be monitoring the situation and will keep you updated.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hammond Asks Congress To Move On Transportation Bill

It's day two of USDOT furlough and Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond is urging Congress to move quickly to extend the current Highway Trust Fund authorization to avoid layoffs and project shutdowns.

The federal transportation funding act expired at midnight on Sunday. That has shut down construction projects, causing thousands of Department of Transportation employees to be put on temporary unpaid leave.

Here's the latest from the WSDOT, as well as Hammond's take on the situation.

Gas Prices Expected To Hit At Least $3/Gallon

Start saving your change again, analysts say gas prices are going to continue to rise in coming months. They're expecting to see prices hit at least $3 a gallon this spring.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Driver Hits & Kills Bicyclist In Downtown Spokane

There's been another vehicle-bicycle accident- only this one was fatal to the bicyclist. Scott Reckord was driving a pickup headed north on Division last night around 6:30 p.m. and turned left to go west on Sprague apparently. He collided with a bicyclist in the crosswalk there.

The bicyclist was taken to a hospital where he died. He has not been identified at this point.

Reckord left the scene, but later returned and was booked into jail on vehicular homicide and felony hit and run charges after failing a field sobriety test.

Creative Advertising Doesn't Help In Construction Zone

I saw this story and thought it was pretty funny, and applicable, as many of our local businesses have gone through similar ordeals.

A Twin Falls coffee shop was trying to drum up business that had been decimated by a road construction project they were basically sitting right in the middle of. So, they got creative and posted a big orange sign outside the building that said 'Detour' with smaller letters underneath that said 'to coffee and bagels.' Creative huh?

Unfortunately for them though, the Idaho Transportation Department made the business take the sign down, saying it was confusing enough trying to navigate the official detour signs without having an extra thrown in.

Your Input Wanted On WA Transportation Plan

Here at SRTC, we're about to embark on a 'visioning process' to develop a long-term plan for the next 30 to 50 years. We're in the very early stages of that, so there's not much to tell you now, except that I'll keep you updated.

We're not the only ones looking a long way down the road though (sorry for the double entendre). The Washington State Transportation Commission is in the process of developing the 2011-2030 Washington Transportation Plan (WTP 2030).

It's a big job though, so they want to hear from you on what you would like to see in the next 20+ years. Light rail? A bullet train from Spokane to Seattle? Jet packs? Flying cars? Okay, try to keep it realistic, but be sure to weigh in if you have something you'd like to see transportation-wise in the future.

The Commission has established a blog where you can do this. The blog is inteded to act as a bridge between the public and the Transportation Commission and its staff.
Here's a link so you can voice your concerns and learn more about the Washington State Transportation Commission.

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Cameras Monitor North-South Corridors

It's a big week for cameras that watch traffic around Spokane. Not only did four new photo red cameras go online this morning, but the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) put 16 new cameras into place last week that watch north-south corridors within the City limits.

KXLY visited the SRTMC, which is located within the SRTC offices, to see how those cameras are used to make your commute safer and more convenient.

Transportation Bill Not Extended- Thousands Furloughed

A planned extention of the 'Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users' (SAFETEA-LU) was blocked by the Senate on Friday, particularly one senator; Senator Bunning. So, now we have no dedicated transportation funding source. Here's what we know at this time:

- The Senate returns to business today, but no votes will be held until Tuesday at the earliest. At that point, there are 3 options:

1 - Senator Bunning will yield, allowing a unanimous consent measure to pass, bringing HR 4691 to the Senate floor on Tuesday.
2 - The Senate moves to invoke cloture on HR 4691 on Tuesday, votes on the cloture measure Thursday and final vote on Friday.
3 - The House moves on the HIRE Act, votes and sends it back to the Senate for the cloture & vote process.

As a result of the extention not passing, the US Department of Transportation will furlough nearly 2,000 employees without pay today. This means a lot of transportation programs will be shut down- at least temporarily. Which could lead to more layoffs around the country. I'm not even sure I'm getting paid to work today. I'll take one for the team and stick around though.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation wrote about his disappointment with the political games being played on his 'Fast Lane' blog today.

Children Of The Sun Trail Video Tour

Over on the Cycling Spokane blog, 'Hank' posted a pretty cool video he shot while riding the Children of the Sun Trail that paralells the North Spokane Corridor. So if you haven't ridden it yet, but have been wondering about the trail, check it out.

Can Power Grid Support Popularity Increase Of Electric Cars?

Here's something I hadn't thought of: how are electric cars going to affect area power providers in the future? As prices drop, many more people are expected to purchase electric cars in our area. But if everyone plugs them in to recharge when they get home from work at 5:00, is that going to cause a draw on the available electricity? The Spokesman-Review talked to Avista about that in this article.

New Red Light Cameras Go Into Effect Today

Better brush up on your letter-to-the-editor writing skills, because four new photo red cameras are coming on line today to catch you in the act of running red lights. But don't worry, you get a free pass if caught during the first month. Here's where they'll be.

Smart Cycling Classes Coming Up

May 16-23 is Spokane Bike to Work Week! In preparation, the League of American Bicyclists 'Smart Cycling - Traffic Skills 101' course is again being offered. There are a couple classes scheduled, but each one is limited to ten people, so you'd better get signed up early.

The $30 class give you the power to understand how the bicycle fits into the transportation system, and how to predict, prevent and avoid the mistakes of drivers. The course covers traffic laws & principles, communication, handling skills, fitness riding, group riding, and the enjoyment of cycling for life.

For more information, class dates, or to sign up, email

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.