Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Studies Show Interesting Conclusions About Cell Phone Use

Two new studies regarding cell phones and texting have come out this week, with some very interesting conclusions.

The first says that laws banning texting have actually caused collissions to increase because people are hiding their phones while texting, causing them to look down, instead of at the road. Here's more on that study.

The second study says that more young people are waiting to get their drivers license- because of their phones. Teens apparently spend so much time talking, texting, twittering and Facebooking each other anymore that they don't need to drive to each other's homes or the mall to hang out. You can read more here.

Photo Red Program Extended Three Years

On Monday night, Spokane's City Council voted to extend the current Photo Red program to 2013 to correspond with the end of the current vendor's contract. That doesn’t mean the city will actually use the program until then. It's slated to be evaluated next year to see if it’s attaining it's goal of increasing safety.

Councilman Jon Snyder blogged on the subject yesterday. I've already gotten one email against Photo Red this morning, so lay it on me. What've you got to say about Photo Red?

Letter Writer Says Studs Are Worth The Damage They Cause

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Studded tires worth it

After reading The Spokesman-Review editorial (Sept. 15) on studded tire damage, I just had to comment. The article states that it costs Washington taxpayers $15 million per year to repair the state roads. Now think of your younger sons and daughters driving to Schweitzer Mountain, 49 Degrees North, Mount Spokane, Lookout Pass or Silver Mountain to ski or snowboard.

Are any of your children worth the cost of repairing the roads at $15 million, or is the cost of a set of studded snow tires too much? I think not! I believe that it is a small price to pay for the security of knowing your children may be safer, given their inexperience in winter driving conditions.

I drive to Silver Mountain 40-plus times a ski season on studded tires and will not change my opinion. Studded snow tires have saved my 64-year-old behind several times. What is the worth of your children or loved ones?

Chic Burge

Coeur d’Alene

Hey Chic Burge, I've been in the parking lot at Silver Mountain and there are thousands of other people who drive there too- without studs. Many of them in small cars without four wheel drive. Just saying.

Downtown Delays To Get Worse & There's More Construction Due To Bad Economy

Update: I was contacted by the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) about the first article reference below. Understandably, they have some concerns about the statement attributed to Ann Deasy of the City of Spokane regarding avoiding downtown altogether during this time of construction. Turns out, Ann didn't specify avoiding downtown in her interview, but said to avoid the construction area in general on the days cited for intersection closures.

The DSP wants to encourage you to patronize downtown businesses, especially during times like this when business may be slow due to construction. And Ann herself has an idea for how to help out: “If you have a favorite restaurant downtown in the work area, try to get there and support the business during the work."
You heard her. Get out there and eat some food. I keep hearing good things about Wild Sage so I'm going to head down ASAP. Will report back.

Here's the original post:
For those of you that have been complaining about construction on Second Avenue in downtown Spokane, looks like conditions are going to get worse before they get better. Some major intersections will be closed today, tomorrow and Thursday for paving. City of Spokane Public Information Coordinator Ann Deasy actually said, “I would suggest avoiding the downtown area entirely.” Hmmm.. my office is downtown. Wonder if the boss would take this into consideration and let me stay home the rest of the week.

Here are details from the Spokesman-Review on which interesections will be closed and when.

And speaking of construction, the economic downturn hasn't necessarily been a bad thing for projects in the City of Spokane. Several projects are being moved forward in order to take advantage of low construction prices stemming from the poor economy. Here's more information on that story.

Bike To Work Barb: How Bikes Can Save The World

Bike to Work Barb has been selected to be one of the speakers for Ignite Spokane tomorrow night (Thursday).

The fast-paced presentation formation takes as its theme “Enlighten us—but make it quick!”. Each speaker talks for 5 minutes, with 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds.

Barb's talk is titled “How Bikes Can Save the World." Check it out and let me know if you are convinced that bicycling will avert nuclear disaster (okay, that's probably not Barb's angle, but they can help with the obesity epidemic, reduce pollution, etc. etc.)

Tickets are $10 at the door or you can purchase them online for $5 at the Ignite Spokane link above.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Latest Way Of Pushing The Vision Project

Those of you who watch City Cable 5 may have seen this awesome video that's airing right now. Those of you who haven't can watch it now. Check out that awesome script. And the videography is amazing. Okay, you're on to me. I wrote the piece and my buddy Eric from Cable 5 produced and editted it. Can't sneak anything past you. Here's a link in case you want more info on the Vision Project.

Bike & Pedestrian Master Program Workshop

You're invited to attend a City of Spokane Valley Bike and Pedestian Master Program workshop this WEdnesday, SEpt. 29 from 5:30 to 7 pm.

The meeting is in the Spokane Valley Council Chambers at 11707 E. Sprague Avenue.

The goal of this workshop is to confirm a preliminary map identifying potential bike and pedestrian facilities based on the community’s input at a workshop earlier this year. In addition, staff would like the community to help prioritize the potential bike and pedestrian facilities to ensure improvements are in line with the community’s vision.

Bike and Ped Counting Volunteers Needed

Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Counts will be taking place next week (Oct. 5,6 & 7) and volunteers are needed to count bicyclists and pedestrians in our area.

The Cascade Bicycle Club is in charge of these counts. If you're interested in volunteering or looking at count locations, here's a link to the club's website to do so.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bike Facilities and Winter Driving- It's What's Happening

Downtown Spokane is getting a bunch of new bike lanes and 'sharrows' and the Idaho State Patrol is teaching people to drive in winter weather. Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Potholes For Poverty Program

So there's a giant pothole on your route but the jurisdiction in charge of it hasn't gotten around to filling it. What do you do to save your car's allignment and your bike's front tire? If you live in Tigard, OR, you call the 'Potholes for Poverty' program and a private company will come out and fill it, as long as you make a donation to charity.

Read more about this program and tell me if you would make a donation to charity in order to get your favorite pothole filled.

A Shameless Plug For The Transportation Vision Project

I haven't mentioned our Transportation Vision Project in a couple days, so to keep it top of mind, here's an article the 'Down to Earth Spokane' magazine ran in their fall issue. It won't let me link directly to the page, so it's page 16 in the magazine.

And for those of you waiting for our 'Thousand Visions' transportation planning game to come out on the interet, it's been pushed back a little and won't be launched until Oct. 15. I know, you're excited and we're making you wait. Someone actually told me last week that they're going to invite their friends over and make a drinking game of it. While I can't encourage drinking, I can encourage you to invite your friends over to play it with you.

TIP Meeting This Wednesday. I'll Be Hanging Out So Come Visit and Make Comments

Have you all read the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) 2011-2014 yet, as assigned? Well you better get on that because we have a public meeting this Wednesday, Sept. 29 to gather feedback from you. The meeting is from 4-6 p.m. here at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310. We'll have copies of the TIP for you to review if you don't get it done in advance and you can let us know if you have any input on the projects included in the document. Here's a link to look at now. Hint, hint.

Airport Board Needs Member

The joint City/County Airport Board has a vacancy it's looking to fill. The Board is charged with providing airport administration, facilities and services while staying within budget. Members of the Airport Board must possess proven leadership qualities, experience in business, finance, construction, administration and civic affairs, knowledge in the field of aviation and a willingness to devote a substantial amount of time and personal expense.

If you're interested, here's more information. Applications are being accepted until Friday, October 20, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Editorial Supports TBD For City Of Spokane

Here's an editorial in today's Spokesman-Review supporting the proposed Transportation Benefit District.

I've blogged extensively on this in the past couple weeks so am not going to ask if you support a TBD or not. Feel free to comment though.

Reatreat Done, It's Back To Business

I'm happy to report that we're all back from our staff retreat and there was only one injury. Sylvia suffered some road rash on her elbow during the 'Office Olympics' but is expected to recover just fine.

Apparently being outside on a sunny day turned us all into kids, as the chase to catch this uninvited guest ensued. Unfortunately for Hoppy here, it ended up with him minus one leg. If you're worried about us squandering your tax payer dollars though, don't worry. That was just during break time. We did discuss our work plan for next years, as well as goals and priorities.

Our reward for our hard work? Not only a free lunch, but also these 'medals' (to tie in to the office olympics of course) that Jenny, Steve and I made with Jenny's shrinky dink kit. That thing on the right is the first medal I attempted. Turns out the toaster oven was turned up too hot.

Downtown Getting Bike Loop

I've been meaning to post this for a couple days now, so most of you have probably already heard about it. The streets of downtown Spokane are getting a 'bike loop' as several streets are being painted with bike lanes and 'sharrows.'

The new lanes loop around the downtown core from 4th Avenue to the south, Spokane Falls Boulevard to the north, Howard Street to the east, and Jefferson Street to the west. Here's the story from KXLY News.

'Council Connection' Will Discuss STA Service Reductions

Tonight's edition of “Council Connection” will cover expected service reductions at the Spokane Transit Authority (STA). Council Connection is a cable television program featuring Spokane City Council members as hosts. Tonight's show will be shown live at 7 p.m. on CityCable 5 and hosted by Council Member Jon Snyder.

Spokane Transit's Director of Operations and an STA rider will join Mr. Snyder for the conversation. You can join in too. If you have a comment regarding the reductions, call the live call-in line at 625-6337.

For more info on Council Connection, click here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reminder: WTP Meeting Tomorrow

A reminder that tomorrow is the public 'listening post' meeting for the Washington Transportation Plan. The WTP is now available for review and comment, and as it's a statewide document, you may want to take a look at it to make sure it represents our needs on this side of the state.

The WTP is a comprehensive plan that establishes a 20-year vision for the development of the statewide transportation system, from state highways and ferries to sidewalks and bike paths, county roads, city streets, public transit, air and rail. The WTP identifies the total unfunded statewide need over 20 years, significant statewide transportation issues, and recommends transportation policies and strategies to the legislature and Governor.

You can view it here. Then attend tomorrow's public meeting to learn more about the plan and make comments. The meeting is from 1-3:30 p.m. on the first floor of the downtown Spokane Library, 906 W. Main Ave. Here's a link to a flyer for the meeting.

Parking Tax Workshop Tomorrow

The City of Spokane City Council members will get together for a study session tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 to discuss the proposed downtown commercial parking tax.

The tax would be on all for-pay commercial parking in greater Downtown. It would apply only to parking paid for by the user and would not apply to businesses which appear to provide "free" parking as in suburban retail or business districts. No other neighborhood in the city or region would face a similar tax.

The tax rate could range anywhere from $10 to $100+ per year, per space. Funds would be allocated for use in the operation and preservation of city streets, implementation of the Complete Streets concept, and other transportation improvements.

The meeting will be on the first floor of the downtown Spokane Library. It will be open to the public but no public testimony will be taken.

What do you think of this proposed tax? Some proponents for downtown are against it becuase they say downtown is already at a disadvantage due to the pay parking situation. Some people aren't willing to pay and will go to outlying malls and shopping centers instead.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Writer Doesn't Support TBD

Spokesman-Review Letters to the Editor
Car tab hike? No way

Here we go again. The big brains running Spokane County have come up with another creative new fee (up to $100) proposed to be added to our car tabs. Just watch, next up, higher taxes (sales and property). Now that’s a sure-fire answer to Spokane County’s financial woes. Not!

Yes, Spokane County is in a pickle. But, commissioners, how about putting some gray matter to work and come up with a smart, long-term plan we can all live with? One that might even cut some costs (there must be some government waste you can uncover?) and encourage new businesses with good jobs to move to Spokane (not Post Falls). But first, read my lips, no new taxes or fees.

And while you’re at it, add my name to the list calling for that bottomless pit, better known as Spokane Raceway Park, to be put on the auction block so it can be back where it belongs, in the hands of private enterprise. Just what were you thinking?

When the best and the brightest should be leading Spokane County, why do we settle for dwindle de and twiddle dumb? Take care voters, or we could be back to having the Three Stooges running this place. Three guesses as to what’s wrong with this picture, but the first two don’t count.

Peter Ice

I could be mistaken, but I believe Mr. Ice is saying he doesn't support the proposed Transportation Benefit District (TBD). Not surprising, considering the state of the economy. Here's an earlier post I did on the proposed TBD. Read it then let me know how you'll vote if it goes to a public vote. Keep in mind that if you want better roads, we have to pay for them somehow.

Neighborhoods Discuss Transportation Needs

Last night's City Council meeting was actually a 'Town Hall Meeting.' The Council gets out to different areas of the City now and then for these town hall meetings. Last night's was held at the Northeast Community Center and centered heavily upon transportation needs of all the neighborhoods in Northeast Spokane.

Here's a link to City Councilman Jon Snyder's blog where he talks about the transportation facilities that each neighborhood would like to see.

Transportation Impact Fee Hearing Tomorrow

The City of Spokane Plan Commission will hold a public hearing on Transportation Impact Fees tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers in of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Transportation Impact Fees are authorized under the state’s Growth Management Act and are intended to require new growth and development to pay a proportionate share of the cost of new public facilities needed to serve those new developments.

The Spokane City Council adopted Transportation Impact Fees in late 2008, but the fees haven’t been implemented because certain requirements included by the Council in that 2008 vote have not been met. The Council required final adjustments to the fees’ rate schedule and the adoption of an additional source of permanent funding to pay for transportation funding before the fees would be implemented.

In its Sept. 22 hearing, the Plan Commission will consider an amended version of the Transportation Impact Fee ordinance. The Commission is expected to consider a new project list and fee schedule as well as the fee exemptions that were established.

Eventually, the Transportation Impact Fee issue is expected to be reconsidered by the City Council.

We're Retreating Tomorrow- Office Will Be Closed

Just a heads up that the SRTC office will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday, for our second annual staff retreat. No, we won't be going anywhere exotic such as a tropical island or any place rejuvenating, such as a spa. Budgets are tight these days you know. We will be retreating to a nice 'neutral' setting where we can hash out our differences- I mean discuss our goals for the future and learn about team building.

We'll be back in the office Thursday morning, more eager than ever to help you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

SRTC Bike Map Wins Awards At Conference

Congratulations to SRTC's Geographic Information Services (GIS) department! At last weeks Northwest GIS Conference, their 2009 Bike Map won awards in two of four categories. They brought home the win in the 'Best Data Integration/Analysis' and 'People’s Choice' categories. We knew our Bike Map is pretty cool, so we're glad other people are getting the word too. Here's a link to it if you want to check it out online. And if you want a hardcopy version of it, stop by any local bike shop to pick one up.

New Bus Service & Suspected Drinking Drivers Arrested

The Washington State Department of Transportation launches their 'Gold Line' bus service and a recent drinking and driving enforcement campaign nabs 119 people suspected of driving under the influence. Here's whats happening in transportation this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Transportation Choices Coalition Asks You To Sign Transit Petition

The Transportation Choices Coalition
is asking you to help urge Congress to pass a long-term public transportation bill that increases investment in transportation by signing the National Public Transportation Petition. Here is the text from an email sent out last week:

Across the state, it's the same story for transit agencies -- falling revenues, fare hikes and service cuts. Transit is being hit particularly hard because most of their taxing authority comes from local sales taxes, which have seen big drops as a result of the economic downturn.

Signing the Petition has taken an even greater sense of urgency since President Obama's call to enact a new, six-year transit and highway authorization bill. The transportation funds in this bill will allow for a continuation and expansion of vital programs to upgrade or replace infrastructure, facilities and systems, as well as provide improvements for the riding environment of public transit users.

Act now. The National Public Transportation Petition will be presented by industry leaders on September 22 at an event in Washington, D.C. to highlight to Congress the importance of public transportation across the country. We cannot delay any longer -- urge Congress for swift action and keep public transit investment on the national stage. Sign the National Public Transportation Petition today.

>Here is a link to that petition in case you want to sign it or learn more about it.

Nevada Street Project Wraps Up This Week

The City of Spokane's project to rehabilitate Nevada Street from North Foothills Drive to Broad Avenue is nearing completion and expected to reopen by mid-week. Until then, Nevada St. from Empire to Wellesley avenues is closed. Wellesley Ave. is reduced to one lane in each direction. The project was a full depth curb-to-curb rehabilitation and included upgrading sewer services and installing ADA curb ramps where necessary.

The $2.1 million project was funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and City of Spokane Wastewater Department.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who Makes These Laws??

On a whim, I was looking at the Dumb Laws In Washington website this morning and found a couple relating to cars and bikes. I didn't confirm these because its just for fun and everything on the internet is true, isn't it?

For instance, the site says that it is illegal to spit on a bus in Seattle and state law says no person may walk about in public if he or she has the common cold. I see a lot of people being cited for that one.

The Bizarre Driving Laws website also had some interesting content such as it being illegal to drive while blindfolded in Alabama (thank goodness!) and it's unlawful to transport dead poultry along Kansas Avenue in Topeka, Kansas. Who would have known.

With the grey day outside, I just thought you might need a grin.

Washington Transportation Plan Needs Your Review

Us government agencies are outdoing ourselves lately in developing plans that are very important to the future of transportation. The Washington Transportation Plan (WTP) is now available for review and comment, and as it's a statewide document, you may want to take a look at it to make sure it represents our needs on this side of the state.

The WTP is a comprehensive plan that establishes a 20-year vision for the development of the statewide transportation system, from state highways and ferries to sidewalks and bike paths, county roads, city streets, public transit, air and rail. The WTP identifies the total unfunded statewide need over 20 years, significant statewide transportation issues, and recommends transportation policies and strategies to the legislature and Governor.

You can view it here. There will also be a 'Listening Session' on the WTP to provide a chance to learn more about the plan and make comments. That meeting is Thursday, Sept. 23 from 1-4 p.m. on the first floor of the downtown Spokane Library, 906 W. Main Ave. Here's a link to a flyer for the meeting.

Editorial Asks For Drivers To Re-Evaluate Tire Use

An editorial in yesterday's Spokesman-Review praises Washington State for its use of transportation dollars and asks drivers to take a look at new technology in tires, and replace their studded tires with new tires that work just as well in winter conditions.

Here's that editorial. Word on the street is that it's going to be a heavy snow winter again. Will you put studded tires on your car if it is? Have you ever had your tires siped instead? Did you notice a difference?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pines Road Closure

Pines Road just north of Indiana and Montgomery avenues will be closed starting at 7 a.m. tomorrow and continuing through midafternoon Friday.

The closure will affect both northbound and southbound traffic. The closure is to allow for work at the Union Pacific Railroad crossing there.

Forget About Texting, How About Some Theater To Distract You?

Did anyone see these folks near the Division Street exit this morning? They were doing what they call 'Exit Ramp Theater' and today's selection was Hamlet. When I saw them, they were just holding the signs, there wasn't any acting going on. I stopped to talk to them but wasn't able to get much info before the light turned green. Here's what I know:

- They're a loose knit group of four local actors (not affiliated with any theater).
- They're doing a different act of Hamlet every day this week.
- They're not trying to make any money, just have fun.

Anyone have any more info?

They Came For The Cookies & Stayed For The Game

As I've been talking about for weeks, last night was the community workshop for SRTC's Transportation Vision Project.

We had a good turnout, with people divided up into groups to play '1000 Visions- A Transportation Vision Game.' And while it sounds kind of cheesy, it was actually fun and kind of eye-opening. The goal was to determine what kind of taxes to approve, which dictates what your budget is for transportation. Then you move around a gameboard, stopping on each square with a project name on it.

For instance, if you land on the North Spokane Corridor, you have to decide if you want to spend $315,990,000 to complete the project. If you decide to fund it, that money comes out of your budget and you have less money for other projects down the line.

I work with people in the tranportation field every day, so it was interesting to hear a group of 'civilians' discuss why or why not they would fund certain projects. For instance, on the NSC, my group (who were VERY fiscally conservative) decided to fund it to spur economic growth, not because they want a way to get north and south quicker.

The group decided against 'north-south' and 'east-west' connectivity projects because they said the freeway and north Spokane Corridor will take care of those issues. And they went with most of the trails and pedestrian options because they are inexpensive.

The game will be put online within the next few weeks so those who couldn't make the workshop can give it a shot. I'll post it then. Until then, do any of you that attended the workshop have anything to add? Did you find this exercise useful?

Trail Marking Volunteers Needed

If you're interested in helping to decide the route of the new Dwight Merkel Trail, your help is needed this Sunday.

Spokane Parks and Recreation is seeking volunteers to help mark the route with flags. The trail connects northwest Spokane, Joe Albi Stadium and the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex to Riverside State Park's trail system and the Spokane River. This unpaved trail is approximately 1-mile long.

Volunteers are asked to meet at 10 a.m. Sunday in front of Stadium Pizza (just south of Albi Stadium). You're also asked to RSVP if you plan to attend. You can do so by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Are You Willing To Pay For Better Roads?

There's been a huge focus on transportation lately, with a large number of articles in local media. With a serious lack of funds for transportation improvements, the proposed Transportation Benefit District (TBD) has been of particular interest.

The TBD would be a vehicle registration fee of between $20 and $40 every time you register your car. City councils could implement up to a $20 fee without voter approval, but if they want to charge more, it would be up to voters to approve.

Under state law, at least nine of the 14 governments within Spokane County must support a TBD, and they must represent at least 75% of the county population to get the TBD passed. The money raised would go to maintain our current streets and build new transportation facilities. Each jurisdiction would get back 70% of the money collected within their boundaries to use however they wish, as long as it's on transportation projects. The other 30% would be pooled and used for larger projects of 'regional significance', such as the North Spokane Corridor.

So all this casting around for new sources of funding got me thinking; what are some new ways to raise money for transportation-related projects? Any ideas?

I was sitting in traffic in Coeur d'Alene a couple weeks ago when the fire department was doing their 'fill the boot' campaign for Jerry's Kids. I only had a handful of change to contribute, but I noticed a large number of drivers sticking tens and twenties out their windows. What if we had attractive transportation planners and engineers stand in traffic and try to collect money? My suspicion is that we would have at least one injury and several engineers wander off. So do you have a better idea?

If not, would you support the TBD and be willing to pay a little more to have better roads? How much would you be willing to pay?

Monroe Street Lane Closure

Monroe St. from Frederick to Indiana avenues will have one southbound lane closed to traffic for the next three weeks as City crews complete street repairs. Signs will be in place and drivers can expect delays.

Final Reminder: Community Workshop Tonight

This is your last reminder that the Transportation Vision Project community workshop is tonight, from 6-9 p.m. at Adams Elementary School, 2909 E. 37th Ave. There is a parking lot off of 36th Ave. so you don't have to find street parking.

As we keep telling you, we'll be playing '1000 Visions'- a transportation planning game. Besides that though, we'll also be taking public input and giving an overview of the project so far and what we've heard from people like yourself. Here's the project website if you're not familiar with it already.

Okay, I'll see you there tonight.

A Participant's Perspective Of Spokefest

Yesterday I linked to the official Spokesman-Review version of how Spokefest went. Well I wanted to hear from someone who actually took part in the event too. Here is 'Rachel's' perspective on the bicycling celebration, as posted on the Cycling Spokane blog.

I90 To Get Third Lane From Sullivan To Barker

The Washington State Department of Transportation announced yesterday that work will begin next spring on a third lane in each direction on I90 from Sullivan Road to Barker Road.

The money to pay for the project comes from savings on construction contracts in recent years. Here are the details from the Spokesman-Review.

I ride the bus to the Liberty Lake park and ride almost every day at 5 p.m., and pretty much every day there is a bottleneck just after Sullivan Road where the freeway is reduced from three lanes to two lanes. There are often fender benders there as well. While I support this project because of the safety aspect, there are many people who believe an extra lane encourages more people to drive cars instead of finding alternative ways to commute. What are your thoughts on this particular project?

Council Votes To Spend Photo Red Money On Neighborhood Projects

Spokane's City Council last night made good on it’s promise to move Photo Red money into a traffic calming fund to pay for neighborhood safety projects. Councilman Jon Snyder posted this thread about the process and last night's meeting on his blog.

Photo Red cameras are pretty controversial, not just in Spokane but across the state. As long as the money is going to neighborhood safety projects, are you okay with the Photo Red program? If not, why?

Transportation Enhancement Projects Submitted

SRTC recently issued a Call for Projects for Surface Transportation Program (STP) Transportation Enhancement projects seeking federal funding for the years 2010-2012. Transportation Enhancements (TE) are transportation-related activities designed to
strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of the nation's
transportation system.

A public comment period is now open to provide you a chance to review the projects and comment on them. Here's a link to the project list and how you can submit comments. All comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. October 13, 2010.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Driver Who Hit Bicyclist Kills Self

Here's a story that's really tragic for two families.

A driver who hit and killed a bicyclist was so distraught that he shot and killed himself at the scene. The crazy part? The bicyclist he hit was a friend he had been celebrating a birthday with earlier in the evening.


Okay folks, I'm not doing this just to inconvenience you. Really, I'm not. We've gotten a lot more media coverage and interest than expected for tomorrow night's Transportation Vision Project Community Workshop, so we decided the smart thing to do, in order to accomodate everyone who wants to attend, is to change the meeting location to a larger venue.

So, the Transportation Vision Project Community Workshop, from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14, will now be held at Adams Elentary School, 2909 E. 37th Ave., Spokane, WA. Here's an updated flyer for the event.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Can I bribe you to attend with some free government coffee?

Spokefest Draws 2,000+ Riders

You couldn't have picked a better day for Spokefest. It was beautiful and sunny, but not to warm in the morning for a bike ride.

The event drew over 2,000 riders and a lot of enthusiasm. Here's the Spokesman-Review's write-up of it.

I90 Detour

Eastbound traffic on I90 is being detoured around a semi-truck accident at Salnave Road about 13 miles southwest of Spokane, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The truck rolled over just before 6 this morning, trapping the driver inside.

One of two trailers was carrying sodium hydroxide, which is a corrosive material, but it doesn't appears that the container leaked. Traffic is being diverted through Cheney on state Highway 904.

TTC Meeting This Wednesday

The Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meeting is this Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. Here's a look at the agenda. If anything jumps out at you, feel free to attend. The TTC meetings are in our conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310. There is a public comment period at every TTC meeting, so come with your issue ready to be discussed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

WSDOT High Impact Closures

The WSDOT wants to remind you of two very high impact closures they have coming up:

- Beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 10th, westbound Interstate 90 will be reduced to ONE lane at the Washington/Idaho border. Westbound drivers can expect slow traffic and delays. This is a long-term lane closure and will be in effect until September 23rd to provide for the installation of the in-lane “Weigh-in-Motion” equipment, that goes with the relocation of the weigh station.
Project Website:

- Beginning at 12 a.m. on Tuesday, September 14, Division Street will be reduced to two through lanes at Wellesley Avenue in north Spokane. Left turns will not be allowed from Division Street between Longfellow Ave. and Queen Ave. Wellesley Avenue will be closed to all cross traffic at Division Street. This is a long-term closure for up to 22 days. Drivers can expect slow traffic, congestion, and delays.

Here's the WSDOT web page for this project.

Apparently Many Drivers Have Forgotten That The Left Lane Is For Passing

My former pet peeve about local drivers is that so many of them won't get over and let you merge when you try to enter the freeway. I'm moving on from that though. My new pet peeve is people who drive in the left lane- sometimes barely going the speed limit.

I had noticed it in the past, but hadn't really thought that much about it until some friends in town from Western Washington recently pointed it out to me. Since then, I can't count the times I've been stuck in a stream of traffic in the left lane while some clown in the lead does 58 miles per hour and won't change to the middle lane. So this is my campaign to get the word out- CHANGE LANES. Tell your friends please.

Ray LaHood Blogs About His Spokane Visit

I mentioned yesterday that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in town on Tuesday for the groundbreaking of the latest phase of the North Spokane Corridor. Here is his account of his visit to Spokane from his 'Fast Lane' blog. And the good news is he didn't air our pothole or bicyclists-versus-citycouncilman dirty laundry to the rest of the country. You the man Ray.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

LaHood Kicks Off New Phase Of North Spokane Corridor

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was right here in my backyard yesterday and I didn't even get to see him. The boss apparently 'forgot' to remind me about it, even though he knows about my creepy LaHood facination.

LaHood was in town to celebrate the start of a phase of North Spokane Corridor construction paid for by the 2009 federal stimulus package.

Here's the story, plus how state officials say they'll be ready if President Obama's plan for $50 billion in transportation projects wins support. I'll be sulking at my desk while you read it.

In the meantime, removal of buildings in the way of the new freeway will start again this fall. Here's when work starts in the East Central neighborhood and how many homes and buildings will be removed.

Would You Pay To Drive 90 MPH?

Would you pay for the privilege of driving 90 miles per hour? I think I would if I thought my old junker wouldn't rattle apart at that speed. A candidate for governor in Nevada is proposing a plan to sell 90 mph freeway passes to bring a new source of revenue to the state. He has also suggested that Washington do the same.

So will you be getting your wallet out to driver faster anytime soon? I'm going to make you read to find out.

Would you pay to use a sort of 'autobahn?' If yes, why? Just for the fun of it or to get places faster, or for other reasons? If not, why wouldn't you?

Still Time To Register For Spokefest

I hope the weather holds out, because SpokeFest is this Sunday. Spokefest is a non-competitive ride that is open to everyone. There are four routes to choose from, all of which were carefully chosen to be interesting, beautiful and challenging, but not so challenging that first-timers can’t make it. The routes include a 21-mile option, a one mile loop that doesn't cross or enter any streets, a nine mile ride, and a 47 mile ride for the hardcore folks.

It's too late to register for Spokefest by mail, but you can still register online, in person at Mountain Gear, or downtown the morning of the event. Here are answers to all your Spokefest questions.

Do You Agree With Plan To Spend Transportation Dollars?

Okay folks, it's your money so you should be watching where it's spent. The draft 2011-2014 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for Spokane County is now available for public review and comment.

The TIP is a funding program document that lists federally and non-federally funded transportation improvements proposed by jurisdictions in Spokane County for the next four years. It lists specific projects, project descriptions and how much each project is expected to cost.

It's interesting reading. I'd advise you to take a look, if not to see what projects are happening in your area then at least to make sure you agree with how millions of dollars are being spent. Here's a link to the draft TIP.

There will be a public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 29 from 4-6 p.m. here at the SRTC office to provide members of the public to come in and look at the TIP and submit comments. Or you can submit comments by clicking here. If you like the good old fashioned U.S. Mail though, you can mail it to SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 8.

Obama Proposes $50 Billion Infrastructure Investment

I meant to post this yesterday and just ran out of time. Could someone talk to the boss about getting my other job duties reduced? Anyway, President Obama just announced a budget proposal that includes a $50 billion investment in roads, transit, rail and airport runways. The move is part of a larger proposal to stimulate the economy and create jobs in the short term.

So what would the $50 billion fund? Here are the details. After reading the article, let me know your thoughts. Do you think this will stimulate the economy? Create more jobs? Make people angry?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Bus Service From SIA To Kettle Falls

The Washington Department of Transportation, in partnership with Greyhound, will launch a new public bus service tomorrow between Spokane International Airport and Kettle Falls.

The twice-daily round trips will also serve the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza and the bus and train depot at Sprague Avenue and Bernard Street. From there the bus will take passengers to Deer Park, Loon Lake, Chewelah, Addy, Arden, Colville and Kettle Falls.

The van-type buses will be handicap-accessible and have bike racks. Here's a link to more information.

Spokane City Wrapping Up Construction Projects

The City of Spokane has a couple projects they're wrapping up:

- The project to rehabilitate Nelson St. from Marshall to Mission avenues and the surrounding residential streets is complete and the streets have reopened to traffic. The project also installed ADA curb ramps where necessary. The $1.2 million project was funded by the 10-Year Street Bond.

- The project to rehabilitate Thurston Ave. from Arthur to Crestline streets is complete and the streets have reopened to traffic. The project rehabilitated Thurston Ave. from Arthur to Crestline streets and surrounding residential streets. Additionally, sewer upgrades and ADA curb ramps were installed where necessary.

The $1.5 million project was funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Wastewater Department.

- The project to rehabilitate Wellesley Ave. from Maple to Division streets is set to be complete and will reopen to traffic on Friday, Sept. 3. Until then, Wellesley Ave. from Wall to Maple streets remains closed, and Monroe St. at its intersection with Wellesley Ave. is reduced to one lane in each direction. The project included installing a new signal at Monroe St. and Wellesley Ave. and ADA curb ramps at the intersections.

The $1.9 million project was funded by the 10-Year Street Bond.

State Highway System Report Available Now

The 19th Annual Report of the Performance of State Highway Systems (1984-2008/9) is now available. The report tracks the performance of state-owned roads of the United States from 1984 to 2008, with some recent information (fatalities, bridge condition and travel) for 2009. Eleven indicators make up each state's overall rating and cover highway expenditures, pavement and bridge condition, urban congestion, fatality rates and narrow lanes.

The study is based on spending and performance data submitted to the federal government by state highway agencies. Here's a link if you want to read the report.

US 395 Closure Coming Up In Late September

Here's your early warning: US 395, from milepost 171 to 175(approximately 50 feet south of the Wandermere Estates and Golf Course entrance), will be closed from Monday, September 20th through Wednesday September 22nd from 6 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next morning each day.

Wandermere Road will still serve as the wide load detour for US 395, except that trucks should expect lengthy delays possibly lasting up to 2 hours. The notice I received didn't say why it would be closed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bicyclists Take On City Councilman

I delivered Bike Maps to a local bicycle shop last week and was kind of surprised when the person working there began to complain about City Councilman Bob Apple. Then a few days later, at a community event, someone talking to me about bike lanes got into a rant about Bob Apple. I was kind of mystified as to why everyone is mad at Bob. Then yesterday, an email exchange between Mr. Apple and biking advocates in the community was forwarded to me. Ah- now it makes sense. And when I got home and turned on the TV last night, KXLY had picked up on the controversy too. Here's Mr. Apple's own description of what's going on. Sorry if you have to sit through a commercial to watch it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

High Impact WSDOT Projects

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has a couple of very high impact items they want you to know about:

- Beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 10th, westbound I90 will be reduced to ONE lane at the Washington/Idaho border. Westbound drivers should expect slow traffic and congestion and delays. This is a long-term lane closure and will be in effect until September 23rd to provide for the installation of the in-lane “Weigh-in-Motion” equipment that is part of the new weigh station going in there, including excavation, electronic scale system installation, and concrete pavement placing & curing.

- Beginning late evening on Sunday, September 12, Division Street will be reduced to two through lanes at Wellesley Avenue in north Spokane. Left turns will not be allowed from Division Street between Longfellow Ave. and Queen Ave. Wellesley Avenue will be closed to all cross traffic at Division Street. Through traffic on Wellesley will be detoured via Garland Ave. and Queen Ave. All businesses will be open but may have alternate accesses. This is a long-term closure for up to 22 days.

The closure is in place to repave the intersection with concrete instead of asphalt to make it more durable.

'Brown Bag Session' To Precede Board Meeting

No plans for lunch next Thursday? Then come down to the 'brown bag lunch session' that will precede the SRTC Board meeting that day. The topic of the session is SRTC's draft Strategic Plan for 2011. The plan is to ensure SRTC focuses time and attention on key transportation planning and programming activities, instead of surfing the internet all day. I just added that last part. It's not an official description of the plan.

The brown bag session starts at 12 p.m., with the regularly-scheduled Board meeting beginning at 1 p.m., at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310. Here's a link to the Board meeting agenda.

The public is welcome to attend but you have to bring your own lunch because we're a poor government agency. We will provide a translator if you need one though. You have to give us 72 hours to get one set up. Call us at 343-6370 if you need any kind of special accomodations like that.

Who's Up For XBox?

So check this out. This is a picture of the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center, (or SRTMC for short) which is located within the SRTC suite of offices. I was trying to get a good picture of the new video wall that was just installed.

The SRTMC is a control center of monitors and high tech traffic control equipment where Center operators monitor traffic for potential problems and alert incident response crews to problems, control message signs that warn drivers of accidents and delays, and post warning messages to area highway advisory radio stations.

Before this new wall was installed, center operators would squint at a series of small old TV monitors resting on shelves and racks. It was pretty low tech. This new video wall is amazing though. I used to work for a couple area TV stations and they never had anything nearly as cool as this. The wall can either be split up into 18 separate views, made into one big screen, or divided any way the operators want. I suggested a giant Rock Band competition or a Super Bowl party but no one around here listens to me.

The video wall was funded through a program called 'Congestion Mangament/Air Quality' that provides money to projects that help reduce congestion and improve air quality. The SRTMC qualifies for this money because of their efforts to help keep traffic moving smoothly. Just thought you might want to know where some of your tax dollars are going.

If you haven't used it already, get on the SRTMC website and see how it can help you get from point A to point B more easily. You can check the route you drive for backups and other problems. Here's a link.

By the way, the SRTMC is a collaboration of the Cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley, Spokane Transit Authority, Spokane County, Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC). Each of those jurisdictions share control and funding of the center.

The Inlander Tackles Construction

I've been out in public a lot lately for a series of community events, and have been hearing from MANY people that they're irritated by all the construction projects that slow them down.

The Inlander must have been hearing this too because they published
this article in this week's edition about the state of construction in the region.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Holiday Closures Coming

You've got today, tomorrow and Friday to get your government business done before the holiday weekend. After that you have to wait until Tuesday.

ALL government offices, including SRTC, will be closed in observance of the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept. 6.

Parking meters also don’t have to be plugged on Labor Day.

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.