Thursday, May 27, 2010

Here's the Thursday Afternoon Update From the City of Spokane

- The project to pave and install curbs and sidewalks of Decatur Ave. from Freya to Julia streets; and Julia St. from Dalke to Francis avenues is expected to reopen to traffic tomorrow, May 28.

The $540,000 project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Local Improvement District (LID).

- Parking meters don’t have to plugged on Monday for Memorial Day.

- City crews will be repairing Nevada St. from Magnesium to Rosewood roads; and Francis Ave. from Pittsburg to Helena streets next week. One lane will be closed to traffic while crews are working.

Visioning Process Team Meeting

I'm getting around to blogging very late today because we had a Vision Process Team meeting this morning to discuss the progression of the
Visioning Process that SRTC is undertaking. The meeting was pretty interesting though. I learned a lot of random new stuff, including:

- The trend is going toward smaller houses, averaging 2.2 people
- The households that do have more people are often because adult children are moving back home
- The three sectors that actually gained employees during the recession were health care, education, and government
- There are 76,000 graduate and undergraduate students within 1 1/2 hours of Spokane. That's a lot!
- The transportation budget for the small town of Waverly, WA is $4,600 per year

Seriously though, the meeting had a lot of good discussion about where to take this process and how to get there. We talked about the assets, challenges and opportunities available in/to Spokane County, the documents that already exist that shape the way we develop transportation, and discussed local 'trends' regarding economic and policy context, best practices, and performance indicators.

Now, the consultant team will take back what they heard from the Visioning Process Team today and boil it down. The next step is a series of community workshops in late June. I'll keep you in the loop about those. In the meantime, if you'd like to get on my email distribution list to receive Visioning Process updates, click here and send me your contact info. I haven't sent out any updates yet, but we're hoping to kick off our new website, Facebook page and Twitter account next week or the week after, so you'll be hearing from me soon.

Lawyer Subpoenas Cameras, Not Humans Who Monitor Them

A Georgia lawyer took on red light cameras- by subpoenaing the actual cameras! She won her case, although the judge says it wasn't because of her strategy. When criticized for the unorthodox move, lawyer Regina Quick said it is 'Orwellian' at best that you can be ticketed by a machine.

Here's the whole story from 'OnlineAthens.'

Holiday Reminder

A reminder that this is a long holiday weekend, so not only will you not have access to government offices on Monday, but there will probably be a four day blogging hiatus for me. I'll be back Tuesday though to dig myself out.

Some other points of interest:

- Work will be suspended on all Washington State Department of Transportation construction projects statewide by early Friday afternoon so as not to stem the flow of traffic trying to get out of town ahead of the crowds.

- All government offices and services will be closed on Monday, including SRTC.

From Our 'Stop Sign' Files

Thanks to Chris Bosley of the Coeur d'Alene Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee for sending this gem to me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I90 Lanes Opening UP

Starting tomorrow night, drivers will be able to use both lanes in each direction on I-90 through Post Falls. This stretch of freeway has been reduced to one lane in each direction due to bridge rehabilitation work. The eastbound on-ramp at the Appleway Interchange will also be re-opened. The speed limit in this area will be raised to 55 mph.

The project includes both east- and westbound bridges from the Washington State Line to Spokane Street in Post Falls. The bridge decks had a 1.5-inch layer of concrete removed off the surface, damaged areas repaired and the bridge decks overlaid with a new concrete surface. The bridge approaches will receive a new asphalt surface and bridge joints also will be repaired.

Nighttime paving work will begin Tuesday (June 1), from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Lanes will be reduced during paving operations.

They're Not Joking When They Say 'Hands-Free'

Okay folks, here's the reality of the situation. June 10 is coming up real quick and I'm not ready. That's the day it becomes a primary offense to use your cell phone without a hands-free device while driving. That means a police officer can pull you over if they see you doing that, they don't have to get you on another offense.

No, I don't talk on the phone while driving, or text. But occasionally I do check a text while at a stoplight or listen to a voicemail while stuck in traffic (very occasionally since we don't generally get stuck in traffic around here). Sounds acceptable, right? No, it's not.

ANY use of a non-hands free wireless device while behind the wheel with the motor running is ILLEGAL. And another thing, don't assume you can just pull the car over to the shoulder of the highway to answer the phone when it rings. That's illegal too.

So here's what I'm going to do; put my purse in the trunk of the car for a while until I get used to not checking texts, etc. at lights. Got any other great ideas for me?

Another Electronic Road Sign Hacked

Hackers in Florida used an electronic road sign to fuel the immigration debate yesterday.

A highway sign flashing "NO LATINOS NO TACOS" greeted drivers on the Palmetto Expressway in Northwest Miami-Dade. NBC Miami has the story.

This Is NOT The Work Of A Local Crew (Thank Goodness)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Freya Street Bridge Opens Tonight

The Freya St. Bridge is complete and set to reopen this evening at 7 p.m.!

Construction on the $7 million project to build a single structure over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad lines just north of Broadway Avenue, replacing two side-by-side bridges, began in August of 2009. The work was completed ahead of schedule and on budget.

The project was funded by federal Bridge Replacement money, the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, and City of Spokane.

Lincoln & Nevada Intersection Closed Wednesday

The intersection of Lincoln Rd. and Nevada St. will be closed tomorrow, May 26, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for paving. You may want to take an alternate route at Magnesium Rd. or Francis Ave. onto Crestline or Addison streets.

Area Trail Named To National Trails System

The Centennial Trail in Spokane County has just been designated as part of the National Trails System. The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Walk Downtown Spokane's Bridges

It's time for the 2nd Annual Spokane Bridge Walk! This 4.5 mile loop-walk will have you crossing 17 bridges over the Spokane River in the heart of downtown.

This year the organizers added a great new feature, 'Guide by Cell,' in which you receive historical information about each bridge along the way, directly through your own cell phone.

This non-competitive walk is Saturday, June 5, starting at the Monroe Street Bridge and finishing at the Fountain in Riverfront Park. Sign up online by clicking here.

TAC Meeting Recap & Commuting In A Skirt Suit

The second official Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting was yesterday. Here's what we got done:

- Installed our new Chair Person(Barb Chamberlain) and drew member terms of either 1,2 or 3 years.

- Had an update on the West Plains- Spokane International Airport Transportation Study (we meet today for that study to start developing solutions to issues identified in the course of the study).

- Had an update on the Visioning Process that SRTC is currently working on. We reviewed a couple memos submitted by the consultant conducting that process and played with a new website being made to publicize the process. Stay tuned, we should be unveiling that website next week.

- Discussed updating the list of SmartRoutes projects as some have been constructed and some don't have the public support they need and the Regional Priority Project List.

Speaking of Bike to Work Barb (as I did above), she showed up for the meeting in a pretty chic suit- on her bike. That's right, Barb showed the guys how's it's done in a skirt and heels, and got some interesting comments about it. She blogged about her bicycle ride in a dress here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

NSC Public Meeting Tomorrow

Wondering what's new with the North Spokane Corridor, or when work will pick up on it on the lower reaches of the north side? The Washington State Department of Transportation will hoste an open house tomorrow night to provide an update on real estate acquisitions as well as construction and design updates. The meeting is from 5-8 p.m. at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone.

The spring 2010 NSC newsletter is also available now. Click here to read an online version of it.

Car Of The Future Not For Clark

Not everyone is excited about the future of automobiles. In his article today, local Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark compares GM's latest concept car to a 'spit bubble.'

Spokane City Projects Wrapping Up

The City of Spokane has a couple construction projects wrapping up this week. The dedication ceremony was last Friday and now the Freya St. Bridge is expected to be open to traffic this Friday. This project replaced the two side-by-side bridges with a single structure going over the railroad lines just north of Broadway Ave.

The $7 million project is being funded by Bridge Replacement Money, the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, and the City of Spokane.

The project to pave and install curbs and sidewalks on Decatur Avenue from Freya to Julia Streets, and Julia St. from Dalke to Francis avenues, is also expected to be complete by Friday.

The $540,000 project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Local Improvement District (LID).

Start The Countdown To Appleway Bridge Closure

You've only got a week left to use the Appleway Bridge over the Spokane River at Appleway Road and west of Stateline Village. The bridge was built in 1939 and is in poor condition. It will be closed on June 1 to be demolished and rebuilt. This two-year project will take until Spring/Summer 2012 to complete.

There's lots more information on this project on the Spokane County website, including a pretty handy detour map and information on a public meeting coming up in June. I'll post those details as we get closer to the meeting date.

Get Your Free Bike Map

I just got an email from a gentleman in Buffalo, New York who will be bicycling across the country this summer. Wow, that's hardcore. He has family in Spokane he is stopping to see, so requested one of our bicycle maps.

If you're just interested in riding around town, not necessarily across the country, and would like one of our bike maps to do it, email me your name and address and I'll stick one in the mail to you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Driver Fights Back Against Photo Red Camera- Accidentally

This one is for blogger Steve, who isn't a big fan of the photo red cameras. A driver crashed into one of the cameras at Division Street and Sprague this morning after falling asleep at the wheel. If you have to crash into something, I guess a photo red cameras is as good as anything, huh Steve?

The crash blocked two lanes of northbound Division for over two hours.

The camera, which photographs red-light runners, should be replaced next week, said Spokane police.

The driver was cited for negligent driving.

Washington Named Most Bicycle Friendly State!

Big news for Washington State! It was named America’s most Bicycle Friendly State for the third year in a row!

The award is based on a state’s legislation; policies and programs; infrastructure; education and encouragement; evaluation and planning; and enforcement. Here's a link to the numbers if you wanted to see how Washington's scores stacked up.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ride Of Silence Attracts Dozens Of Riders

More than 100 bicyclists rode through downtown last night for Spokane's first 'Ride of Silence' as part of Bike to Work Week.

The international event was meant to draw attention to the need for increased awareness among those who share the roadways, and it was a poignant message considering it began at the street corner where a Spokane man was killed in a hit-and-run bicycle accident in March.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review. And here is a guest post to the Cycling Spokane blog by Jeanna Hofmeister who participated in the Ride of Silence. Thanks to Bike to Work Barb for bringing it to my attention.

More People Expected To Drive Over Holiday Weekend

What are your big plans for the Memorial Day weekend? If AAA is right, you'll probably be on the road somewhere. AAA says more Americans will hit the highways and airports over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but they’ll probably spend much less than last year.

The travel group released a forecast today that projects about 32 million people will go on trips during the final weekend in May. That’s an increase of 5.4% from last year. Most will travel by car, even though gas costs about 50 cents more per gallon than it did a year ago.

AAA says travelers will spend much less than last year. Median spending on travel is expected to be $809 this Memorial Day. Last year, Americans reported spending about $1052 for the same weekend.

Are you one of the people who will be travelling over the holiday weekend? If not, why not? Is it because of gas prices or other expenses or do you just not have anywhere pressing to go?

Bad Idea #768- But With Good Results

I rode about 10 miles to my boot camp exercise class last night. Yes, I want to get in shape but no, I shouldn't have tried to do it all in one day. That picture is pretty accurate, only I'm not a man. Can someone come hold my head up while I type?

The good news is that the Bike Commuter Calculator Says I burned 430 calories on my bike ride alone, saved $6.66 by not driving, and saved the earth 12.1 lbs of toxic emissions! Woo hoo, I'm a winner!

Run your own numbers and let me know how great of a person you are.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Watch Out For Mr. Whiskers!

Ever wonder how many road kill deaths there are per year? I don't either but I'm going to tell you anyway. There are approximately 5.4 million cats killed per year in the U.S. by vehicles and about 1.2 million dogs. Then there are millions of other animals such as rabbits, birds, turtles and something that a friend swore was a monkey in the middle of Perry Street a couple years ago.

Did you know that the reason there are so many opposums killed is because they feast on other road kill, making themselves a target in the process? If you're not thoroughly grossed out yet and want to know more stats and 'fun facts' regarding road kill, here's a link to Animal People Online.

Freya Street Bridge Ceremony Tomorrow

You're invited to join Mayor Mary Verner, representatives from the Freight Mobility Board, artist Roger Ralston, and other officials for the Freya St. Bridge completion ceremony tomorrow (Thursday) at 4 p.m. I've got training tomorrow so can't attend but if anyone wants to go in my place, you're welcome to take pictures for me.

The Freya St. Bridge project built a single structure over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad lines just north of Broadway Avenue, replacing two side-by-side bridges. The $7 million project began August 1, 2009, and is set to be complete by Friday, May 28, 2010. The project was funded by federal Bridge Replacement money, the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, and City of Spokane.

For the ceremony, motorists can park in the dirt lot on Springfield Ave. to the west of the bridge.

Bike To Work Week Update

The energizer station in the Walgreens parking lot in Liberty Lake was pretty busy this morning when I went by. There were about four bicyclists there at a few minutes after 7 a.m. The station at the Bank of America building in downtown Spokane didn't have a lot of riders when I went past it this morning, but had lots of staff from Coffman Engineers ready to greet people who did show up. Thanks for getting the large amount of participation Coffman Engineers. Those were the only stations I saw today, but I'll report on others as I see them. In the meantime, here are some updates for Bike to Work Week.

Energizer Stations
- Bethlehem Lutheran Church @ 29th and Southeast Blvd.
- INDABA Coffee @ 1425 W. Broadway Ave.
- Cancer Patient Care @ 1507 E. Sprague Ave.
- Huckleberry’s Natural Market @ 926 S. Monroe
- Coffman Engineers and Eowen S. Rosentrater, PLLC @ 601 W. Riverside Ave.
- Allstate @ Sprague and University
- David’s Pizza under the Greene Street Bridge on Upriver Drive
- Spokane Public Schools @ Mission Park, across from Avista
- Pedals2People @ 25th and High Drive
- Cycle Sports @ SE corner of E Appleway and N Liberty Lake Rd

Ride of Silence
Spokane and Spokane Valley will join the International Ride of Silence to Draw Attention to Bicycle Safety. Hundreds of cities around the world will hold a Ride of Silence™ tonight to mourn those who have been killed and to raise awareness of cyclists on the road.

If you would like to take part in the downtown Spokane ride, meet at Sprague and Division at 6:45 p.m. where a white “ghost bike” memorializes David Squires, killed in March when he was hit by a driver. All riders are welcome. Ride organizers will hand out armbands and signs.

In Spokane Valley, Paul Warner and his family have organized a Ride of Silence in honor of his sister Gloria, killed two years ago in a bike/car crash in Gig Harbor. That Ride of Silence begins at 7 p.m. at the Mirabeau Park parking lot next to the waterfall and runs 12 miles on the Centennial Trail.

Bike to Work Week Stats
As of Tuesday morning, 1,288 people and 64 Commute Challenge teams have registered for Bike to Work Week. That adds up to 52,554 miles bicyclists plan to ride this week alone! The goal for this year's Bike to Work Week is 1,700, so 412 more people need to register. Please do so if you haven't yet, by clicking here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spokane Named Bicycle Friendly Community

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner announced today that the League of American Bicyclists has named the City of Spokane a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community.

This award program is designed to revolutionize the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability, and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress and work toward improving their bicycle-friendliness.

Only 140 of the 359 total applicants for the award have received designation. There are four levels of the award: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.

There are several accomplishments that helped the City accomplish this designation, including:

- Completion of a Master Bike Plan.
- Organized bike and pedestrian counts.
- Supporting events like SpokeFest and Bike to Work Week.
- Adding “sharrows” on 37th Avenue and Southeast Boulevard.
- Completing the second phase of the Fish Lake Trail.
- Adding a Bike-Ped Coordinator postion to look for grant and other opportunities to expand our bike and pedestrian network.
- Work on a “complete streets” concepts for our community.

Who Needs The Force When You've Got Tom Tom?

Blogger Holly challenged me to write this thread all in Yoda-speak but I'm going to save you the pain of having to read that and do it in my usual style.

I'm fairly un-trendy (I know- not a word) when it comes to purchasing gadgets. Because of this, I have resisted buying a GPS unit. That may change though because Star Wars voices are now available for Tom Tom devices. That's right- Han Solo can direct you to the Quickie Mart to get a slurpy or C-3PO can give you directions to the nearest gun shop. And the coupe de gras is that Lord Vader himself can walk you through how to get to your new gym. Speaking of Darth, here's a behind-the-scenes look at his recording session for Tom Tom. I'm not sure the sound man is still with us.

So where do you get your Star Wars Tom Tom voice? You can listen to voice samples and purchase voices here for $12.95.

I'll Take Panhandler Signs For 300 Alex

The panhandler at the corner of the westbound off-ramp of I90 and Sullivan yesterday was holding a sign that said '.75.' Am I missing something? Anyone know what that means?

It's Finally Bike To Work Week

It's finally Bike to Work Week, and if you haven't registered, it's not too late to do so. Our team at SRTC is known as the 'Cranky Bureaucrats' and we have big plans to rack up miles. So bring it on other transportation teams, challenge us. Not the 'Hauling Asphalt' team from WSDOT though; you guys are hardcore. In a good way, of course.

Here's an article from today's Spokesman-Review about the different kind of riders that Bike To Work Week brings out of the wood work and here's an interview with John Speare,a well-known local bicycling advocate.

And here's what's coming up this week for Bike to Work Week:

- May 19 – Walk & Roll to School Day: participating Spokane Public Schools (we encourage kids/parents at all Spokane County schools to choose active transportation, though!)

- May 19, 6:30-8:30 a.m. – Energizer Stations: locations countywide listed and mapped on the Web site (some sites still being added). Businesses and organizations sponsor a site and offer beverages and small snacks to fuel you on your ride.

- May 19, 7 p.m. – Ride of Silence: Spokane participates in this international silent procession to mourn those who have been killed and to raise awareness of cyclists on the road. Riders will meet by the “ghost bike” at Sprague and Division and ride in silence through downtown at 12mph wearing black arm bands (supplied).

- May 21 – Wrap-up Party at Steam Plant Grill, 4:30-6:30pm. Registered participants only--must RSVP.

- June 12 – Four-week Commute Challenge ends. Make sure you've logged your biking!

For more information on any of these activities, or to register for Bike To Work Week go to the BTW website.

A Couple Items From The City Of Spokane

- A project to rehabilitate A Street from Francis Avenue to Beacon Avenue and surrounding streets starts today. Those surrounding residential streets include: Audubon Street from Holyoke to Indian Trail Rd.; Beacon Ave. from Audubon to Alberta streets; Holyoke from Indian Trail Rd. to Lindeke St.; Houston Ave. from Holyoke to Lindeke streets; and Lindeke St. from Francis to Beacon avenues. The streets will be closed to thru traffic with local access only.

The $754,000 project is being Funded by the 10-Year Street Bond.

- A completion ceremony is set for 4 p.m. this Thursday, May 20, for the Freya Street Bridge project. Parking will be available in the dirt parking lot on Springfield Ave. just west of the bridge.

The Freya St. Bridge project is expected to be complete by Friday, May 28. This project will replace the two side-by-side bridges with a single structure going over the railroad lines just north of Broadway Ave.

The $7 million project is being funded by Bridge Replacement Money, the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, and the City of Spokane.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Coming Up Next Week...

I don't have time to do this story justice today, so I thought I'd post a 'teaser' or 'preview,' as we used to call them in the news business. If all goes as planned, you have Darth Vader giving driving directions to look forward to on Monday on this blog. Check back, it WILL be worth your time.

Please Take The West Plains- Spokane International Airport Transportation Study Survey

If you haven't already taken our West Plains- Spokane International Airport (WP-SIA) Transportation Study survey yet, please do so. The last day to take it is May 20.

The WP-SIA study is a comprehensive look at the transportation system in the West Plains area. It looks at all modes of transportation (bus, bike, pedestrian and auto) to create a balanced plan for making connections and transportation improvements in an effort to increase overall mobility and safety.

We hosted a public meeting last week to gather input from the public on their thoughts and suggestions for the study area. Materials used at the meeting are posted on the SRTC website WP-SIA project page.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Division Work Could Slow Traffic

This is your early warning that a paving project on Division Street in north Spokane starts next Monday, and could cause you some delays.

The job consists of resurfacing work on a 19-mile section of US 395 from the Spokane City Limits at the “Y” to the Stevens County line north of Deer Park.

The current road surface is deteriorating as a result of routine wear and tear. In addition, there will be some guardrail, sidewalk, and signage upgrades.

All work requiring lane restrictions, including all pavement grinding and paving, will be done between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. to reduce the traffic impacts.

The project should be fully completed by mid to late August.

Aubrey L. White Parkway Closed Today

Aubrey L. White Parkway will be closed to traffic from Downriver Golf Course today. Access to the Bowl and Pitcher, campground, Rifle Club Rd. from Nine Mile Rd., and the treatment plant will remain open.

The closure is needed to complete the final hookup from the Northwest Terrace line to the treatment plant. Signs are in place.

The Website Claims There's Zero 'Dork Factor' When You Wear One Of These Helmets

I have to admit it- I'm not big on bike helmets. I still wear one of course but they're not the most stylish item. If I had one like this though, I would wear my bike helmet all the time. Even at work.

Or there's this stylish option for the men- and lots more. YAKKAY is a brand of bike helmets that can be fitted with any of a range of stylish covers in different colors and fabrics. They're not cheap though- they go for about $145 American, plus $22 for shipping and you can buy an extra 'cover' for $57. Maybe I'll just try making my own at home with a $20 Walmart helmet and a Goodwill hat.

For those of you who aren't government workers and can afford this however, here's a link to the YAKKAY website so you can look at all the cool options available.

Is That A Dead Possum Or Is There A Small Dog Around Your Neck?

Looks like I can call off my campaign to get my dog on the bus. When I got on the bus this morning, I noticed a woman was wearing what appeared to be a coat with a large fake fur collar. Since it's so warm I was wondering why, until the collar moved. That's right, it was a small dog draped around her neck that looked much like the one in the picture. I tried to take a picture of it but with the bus moving I couldn't get a decent photo.

I have no problem with it, but was curious if this is acceptable, so emailed the fine folks at STA when I got into the office. I didn't mention it in my email, but the woman DID have a carrier with her that she put the dog in when she got off the bus, so I'm assuming it was also in the carrier when she got on the bus. The reply I received was this:

Technically only service animals are allowed on the bus and not in a cage. So, it depends on the driver if they ask if it is a service animal. Check it out though on our website. What's posted there is that you cant "allow an animal to run at large or sit on a seat" and "Animals (except service animals) must be in a carrier that fits under the seat or on your lap."

In my reply I suggested that they craft some language forbidding small, very hairy dogs to be worn as accessories.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Update On Photo Red Revenue

Here's an update on funds generated by the Photo Red cameras. I attended a Pedestrian, Transportation, and Traffic Committee meeting last night (a subcommittee of the City's Community Assembly group) and got this information:

- The City's Director of Neighborhood Services sent out an email Monday announcing the 2010 Traffic Calming Program. This program is an opportunity for neighborhoods to apply for funding for traffic calming projects. Money to fund these projects is generated by the Photo Red Program.

- Neighborhoods have until June 11 to submit applications. Types of roads eligible for funding include all non-residential, non state highway/roadways. Types of traffic calming projects eligible are speeed indicator signs (permanent and mobile), curb bump outs, crosswalk striping, crossing signage, bike lanes, sharrows, trees, sequence lights, and sidewalks.

- Only $50,000 per city council district is available, so not all projects will receive funding. City engineers will evaluate all proposed projects based on their costs and expected impact on traffic speeds and safety.

- Three representatives from City Council (one from each district) will make the final determination of which projects are funded.

- The funds are expected to be available again in 2011 so those neighborhoods who don't receive them this year can reapply then.

Every time I mention red light cameras on here, I get a LOT of comments. Well warm up your typing fingers because I'm about to do it again.

On their morning show this morning, KXLY did a couple promo pieces for a big sweeps piece they're airing tonight called 'Red Light Roulette.' The piece talks about local red light cameras, how many tickets have been issued because of them, how much money has been collected on tickets, etc. and shows some pretty amazing video of the worst offenders caught running red lights.

Lots of collision video too. The video really grabbed me, I couldn't stop watching. There is some really amazing stuff that drivers are doing out there. Apparently some people think that red lights are more a suggestion to stop than a command.

Even if you hate red light cameras, I think you'll be amazed at some of the stuff going on in our intersections and agree that enforcement is needed. The KXLY piece airs at 5:00 tonight on channel 4.

This Isn't Going To Go Away So You May As Well Join Us

When I used to work in the media, we would pay millions of dollars to consultants every year to analyze our work and tell us what gets the attention of the public. One thing that came out of those studies is that it takes the average person FIVE TIMES of hearing something before they really absorb it and can speak it back to you accurately.

So listen up: Visioning Process Visioning Process Visioning Process Visioning Process Visioning Process
Got it? I'm going to be blogging about our Visioning Process a LOT in the next few months so that's why I'm harping on it now; we want to let the maximum amount of people know about this project so that they can be involved.

The Visioning Process, in partnership with local jurisdictions and various community partners, has a goal of developing a Unified Regional Transportation Vision and an implementation plan for Spokane County for the next 30 to 50 years.

The Visioning Process is looking at all modes of transportation-transit, bicycling, walking, personal vehicles, freight, etc.- within Spokane County, as well as how they contribute and interact with each other and economic development.

This is a HUGE process. And this is your chance to voice your thoughts on the subject of transportation. I know a lot of people around here have a lot of ideas about how things should be. But a lot of the time we only hear those thoughts second hand or after the fact. Well let's get them on the record folks. Send me your email address and I'll put you on my list of people to send updates, meeting announcements, report drafts, etc. to.

In the meantime, check out this page of the SRTC website for more Visioning information. There's an information sheet posted there that I just linked. If you really wanted to help me out, you'd print it out and hand it to someone that you know. Or just tell them about the visioning process.

So, I'm done ranting now. What's your idea of an ideal transportation system in say 40 years?

New Ride Maps, West Plains Maps, and Visioning Info

It's only 10 a.m. and it's already been a busy day. I did a lot of updating of the SRTC website this morning, so you may want to take a look.

First and foremost, with the weather being so beautiful, I posted some new recreational bicycle ride maps. The maps include routes in the Williams Lake and Hangman Valley areas. Here's a link to those maps.

I also posted some maps regarding the West Plains- Spokane International Airport Transportatin Study. A couple items we looked at in the early stages of the study were the current amount of traffic on the roads in the study area, and amount of traffic projected to be on those same roads by the year 2030. Some of those projections are kind of discouraging, I have to admit. A lot of red on that map, which means those roads are going to be over capacity if we don't come up with a plan to prevent that.Here's a link to those maps.

And I updated the Visioning Process web page. My additions to that page include the list of Vision Process Team members and an information sheet that you can print out and hand out to your friends and acquaintances in an effort to help me do my job.
Here's the link to that page.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SRTC Board Meeting This Week

The SRTC Board meeting is this week. It's Thursday at 1 p.m. Nothing to do that day? Come on down. Here's our agenda. Pick out something on it and fill us in on how you feel about it. There's a public comment period so you might as well make good use of it.

We're in the Intermodal Station (Greyhound/Amtrak Station) at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310 so I hope to see at least a few of you here.

I'm Putting Out An APB For Ideas

So anyone know what those items in the picture are? Okay, done waiting for you to guess. Those are lights that were taken out of the traffic signals in Olympia when they moved to LED signals. I threw my flip flop in to give you an idea how big those bad boys are. And I wear a size 10 if that helps.

So why do I have these? A friend picked them up at the State Surplus Store (which is a wonderful place by the way)- for $1 each!! Now we have ten of them in our possession. Problem is, we're not sure what to do with them. So maybe you can help. Got any ideas for them? Maybe some modern art installation or making them into a chandelier or sculpture. I'm open to any suggestions you may have. They need to be rewired to make them light up but I don't think that will be too hard.

The winning idea gets a shout out here. And some SRTC letterhead, since that's the only item we have with our logo on it. Hey, we're a government agency, we can't afford all those fun promotional items that everyone else gives away.

By the way, no, we weren't going for a Christmas theme with these lights, they just didn't have any yellows available to purchase for some reason.

Second Avenue Project Getting Second Look

The City of Spokane agreed last month to make streets more amenable to pedestrians and bicyclists with a vote to support a look into the complete streets movement.

With movement toward a complete streets policy underway, a big construction project is getting some new attention, and could be delayed as a result.

Here's why at least two Spokane City Coucil members want the Second Avenue project redesigned.

Toyota Being Investigated Again

Toyota is being investigated again. This time for delaying notifying government authorities of a dangerous defect affecting the steering systems of nearly 1 million sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks

Here is the latest from the Washington Post.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fish Lake Trail Dedication This Friday

There has been some confusion as to the time of the Fish Lake Trail Ribbon Cutting celebration this Friday, May 14. So here's the officials word: It will take place at 3 p.m. at the Fish Lake Trail Head (located at Government Way and Milton Street). Everyone is welcome, but you're asked to RSVP if you plan to attend so organizers will have enough goodies and materials on hand. The number to RSVP to is 625-6200.

A Couple Areas You May Want To Avoid This Week

City of Spokane Street Department crews will be:

§ Repairing Nevada St. from Rosewood Rd. to Hawthorne Rd. One lane will be closed to traffic while crews are working.

§ Crack sealing is set for First Ave. from Monroe to Walnut streets.

§ Joint repair on the Washington St. and Stevens St. couplet Tuesday to Thursday, May 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. One lane will be closed to traffic where crews are working.

Havana Street Overpass Work Starts Tuesday

Construction work on the Havana Street Overpass is set to begin tomorrow, May 11. The project will construct an overpass over the railroad viaduct on Havana St. north of Broadway Ave. The bridge will have 4 traffic lanes; the outside lane will be a shared bike lane. Sidewalks will be added on each side. Traffic will be detoured to Fancher Rd.

The $7.9 million project is funded by the Washington State Freight Mobility Board, State Transportation Improvement Board, federal sources, Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad, STA, and the City of Spokane.

The Havana Street Overpass is part of the Bridging the Valley (BTV) series of projects. Here's more information on BTV, although I have to warn you that the information on this website is somewhat dated. I'm hoping to find time this week to start overhauling the site.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Smooth Sailing Through Snoqualmie

I made the trek to the west side of the state this weekend and am happy to report that, despite warnings from the Washington State Department of Transportation, there were no traffic stoppages on the pass. There were two portions of I90 on Snoqualmie that were reduced to one lane of traffic and the speed limit dropped to 50 miles per hour, but traffic moved smoothly through them. Of course, it was about 9 a.m. when I went through, so not a lot of traffic. The situation might be different at a different time of the day. My brother and his family got trapped on the pass for about three hours one day last summer. My sister-in-law has vowed never to use Snoqualmie again as a result, so we'll see how that works for her.

Once I actually got to the west side, I was happy to see that those crazy Olympians are still using their stop signs not just for driving direction but for social commentary as well.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WP-SIA Meeting Provided Good Feedback

The West Plains- Spokane International Airport (WP-SIA) Transportation Study open house was last night and we got lots of good input from members of the public.

The WP-SIA study is a comprehensive look at the transportation system in the West Plains area. It looks at all modes of transportation (bus, bike, pedestrian and auto) to create a balanced plan for making connections and transportation improvements in an effort to increase overall mobility and safety.

Some of the input we heard last night includes:

- It's scary trying to cross Highway 2 on foot, even in crosswalks
- Crossing Highway 2 in a vehicle, or turning right or left onto the highway from Flint or Spotted roads, is dangerous.
- A handful of people aren't happy about the closing of McFarlane Road.
- More people would like to ride their bikes to the airport if there were better facilities to store them (for the record, one airport employee did tell me that they recently got a new bike rack)

One station at the open house meeting was an electronic survey on transit, walking, and bicycling conditions on the West Plains. We'd like to hear from more people on these subjects. Please take the survey by clicking here. The last day to take it is May 20.

Input from the meeting will now be assessed and SRTC staff will incorporate possible solutions into the long-term look at conditions in the study area. Here's more information on the WP-SIA Study. Updates and new information will be posted there as it becomes available.

NSC First TIGER Project In Nation To Open Bids

Good news for the Washington State Department of Transportation and the North Spokane Corridor. Not only is the NSC/Francis to Farwell-Southbound Lanes project the first TIGER (Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery) project in the nation to open bids, but all bids submitted were under the engineer’s estimate of $27,417,410.

The bids are under review for full compliance with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) requirements but a contractor should be chosen in a few days.

$1.5 billion was made available under the TIGER program with over 1,400 projects totaling over $50 billion submitted from all 50 states. The NSC work was submitted along with two other Washington state projects in a competitive process for funding.

Construction is expected to start in summer 2010 with completion in late 2011. The project will add three lanes between Francis Avenue and Farwell Road. If you'd like to know more on the NSC, here's a link to the WSDOT's NSC web page.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fighting Potholes- With Flowers

I heard about this on the radio this morning and looked it up when I got to work. One man is taking on the pothole war- with flowers. I didn't have time to read his entire blog so I'm not sure where this guy is located, but Steve Wheen is planting flowers in potholes, to draw attention to them.

He says it spruces up the landscape and lets cars know to avoid them. No word on how the city or county where he lives feels about this.

Here's a link to 'The Pothole Gardener's' blog.

Bicycle Events You Can Take Part In

There's a lot going on with bicycling lately. Here are just a couple opportunities you can take advantage of in May:

- Library Bike Commuter Nights

Free info sessions with great how-to’s for new or experienced commuters.

May 4, 7-8:30 pm Moran Prairie Library, 6004 S Regal Street, Spokane
May 5, 7-8:30 pm Spokane Valley Library, 12004 E Main Avenue, Spokane Valley
May 6, 7-8:30 pm North Spokane Library, 44 E Hawthorne Rd, Spokane

- Smart Cycling - Traffic Skills 101 May 12/May 15

SPACE LIMITED so sign up now. League of American Bicyclists "Smart Cycling, Traffic Skills 101" classes are on the first evening listed, and all day Saturday to total 9 hours for the course. You’ll have in-class learning and some on-the-road bike practice. Cost is $30 for a course and includes text. Pre-registration is required.

May 12, 5 - 8 pm & Saturday May 15, 9 am - 3 pm: At Spokane Regional Health District. Email for questions or to register.

- Fish Lake Trail Dedication May 14

The Fish Lake Trail segment from Spokane to Scribner Road will be dedicated Friday, May 14 at 3 p.m. at the trailhead just off Sunset Highway.

- Bike the Lilac Parade May 15

Ride in the Spokane Lilac Parade the evening of Saturday, May 15 with the SpokeFest entry. Sign up here.

- Bike to Work Week: Get registered!

Bike to Work Week is May 16- 23. Hurry and get registered by clicking here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Downed Power Lines Close Streets

Southeast Boulevard is closed from Perry to Rockwood and Bernard is closed from 34th to 36th avenues. Both streets have been closed because of downed power lines caused by falling trees. Washington Street in downtown Spokane is also closed.

Toll Experiment Not Catching On

Halfway through a pilot project to let drivers buy their way into car-pool lanes on state Route 167, the experiment isn’t catching on as fast as state officials hoped.

More than 2,000 solo drivers are paying the tolls each day, less than half the projected ultimate use.Here's the story from the News Tribune.

Hamilton Street Ramp Lane Closures

Portions of the Hamilton Street on and off ramps will be reduced to one lane beginning at 10pm tomorrow (Tuesday) night until 6am the following morning, then again beginning at 10pm Wednesday evening until 6am on Thursday morning. The lane reductions are so that crews can inspect the Hamilton Street overpass bridge decks.

Power Outage Reminder

The City of Spokane is warning drivers that with the high winds in effect, chances are good there could be a power outage, which means there could be intersections without functioning traffic signals.

If that happens, a reminder to treat it like a four way stop. Everyone stops, then takes turns going through the intersection.

City Street crews are monitoring the weather and are prepared to deploy generators to busy intersections, if needed, but don't have generators for every intersection.

Public Open House Tomorrow Night- And It's At The Casino!

What have you got planned tomorrow evening? Nothing? Want to go to the casino? Not for gambling, but to give us some input on transportation in the West Plains area.

SRTC is working with local jurisdictions and other stakeholders on a West Plains-Spokane International Airport (WP-SIA) transportation study in response to continued development of the airport business park, land use changes at the airport, and the effect those changes will have on the Geiger interchange and surrounding roadway network.

Tomorrow, May 4, we're hosting a public open house to provide an overview of the study to the public and gather feedback. The open house is from 4-7 p.m. in the Pend Orielle Pavilion at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino at 100 N. Hayford Road in Airway Heights.

Click here for more information on the study, including a map of the study area.

And click here for a flyer for the open house. Hope to see you there.

Accidents Keep Law Enforcement Busy

A busy day for local law enforcement- and it's not even 11 yet. There have already been three accidents in the Spokane area, including one that was fatal.

A motorcyclist had an accident near Rosalia, killing him. No word yet on what caused that accident. All State Patrol troopers will say at this point is that traffic on Highway 195 in both directions is blocked, but an altenate route is being used to get traffic around the scene.

In an earlier accident, a child was reported taken to a hospital after being hit along Sullivan Road at Fourth Avenue about 6:45 a.m. No word on the child's condition.

Another accident a few minutes later occurred on Trent Avenue east of Barker Road when two vehicles collided head on, causing injuries to occupants.

Snoqualmie Pass Delays

Driving to the west side this weekend? Then be prepared to spend some extra time on the pass. The Washington State Department of Transportation is warning drivers they should plan for 30 minutes added travel time on weekend commutes across Snoqualmie Pass

Crews in that area are continuing to work on the I-90 Lake Easton to Bullfrog project and the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East – Hyak to Keechelus Dam project.

If making the trek, you'll encounter the following traffic impacts on I-90 between Easton (milepost 70) and Nelson Siding Road (milepost 74):

· From Monday, May 3, to Thursday, May 6, crews will restrict I-90 to one lane in each direction.

· To accommodate weekend traffic volumes, crews will open two lanes in the eastbound direction of I-90, with one lane open in the westbound direction from 9 a.m. Friday, May 7, to 9 a.m. Sunday, May 9.

· On Sunday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., crews will open two lanes in the westbound direction of I-90, with one lane open in the eastbound direction.

· Westbound on- and off-ramps of Exit 71 (Easton) are closed until June 15. The eastbound on-ramp at Exit 70 (Sparks Road) is temporarily open to traffic.

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.