Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recreational Trails Advisors Needed

The state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) is looking for volunteers to serve on its Recreational Trails Program advisory committee. Specifically, there is one position each open for:

 Snowmobilers
 Hikers
 All-terrain vehicle recreationists
 Four-wheel drive vehicle recreationists

The advisory committee evaluates grant applications from federal, local, and state agencies and non-profit organizations for projects that maintain backcountry trails. Funds also are available for educational programs and materials. Members also assist with program policy development as needed.

The ideal person for these positions usually has a statewide perspective, is or has been an active trail enthusiast, and has the resources to participate fully in committee activities.

Appointed members will serve from February 2011 to December 2014 and attend about one weekday meeting a year. In addition, advisors spend 15 to 25 hours each year evaluating grant applications for funding.

When the budget allows, travel expenses are paid for citizen members or government members not otherwise reimbursed.

The application can be found here. It must be returned by Dec. 15, 2010.

Division Gateways Corridor Project Starts Next Year

The city of Spokane and the University District are about to launch a Division Gateways Corridor project to redesign the street to make it not only more pedestrian-friendly, but also a more welcoming gateway to the city.

Growth of the University District a few blocks to the east combined with increasing services and activities in the area have made it necessary to rethink the layout of the area.

In case you missed the public meeting on Tuesday night that addressed this project, and several others, here's what the City has planned.

Some Items From WSDOT

- Next Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. westbound drivers on US 2 between Hayford and Spotted roads should be alert for shoulder closures and possible intermittent right lane closures. A right turn lane into the new Military Entrance Processing Station building will be under construction in that area. US 2/Hawthorne Rd. to Farwell Rd.

- Today, (Thursday) on US 2 between Hawthorne Rd. and Farwell Rd. in the northbound or southbound direction crews will be replacing reflective lane markers. You can expect lane restrictions with possible slow traffic and congestion near the work area.

- On Wednesday and Thursday, November 3 and 4, between 9 a.m. to as late as 3 p.m., drivers on I90 on the Latah Creek Bridge should be alert for alternating, eastbound or westbound, right-lane closures on the bridge. Crews will be doing a routine bridge inspection.

- I-90/US 195 to Sullivan Road (MP 280-291)Today, (Thursday) from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., drivers should be alert for possible inside lane closures either eastbound or westbound on I90 between Sullivan Road and US 195. Crews will be sweeping the freeway's shoulder.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Sky Couch Will Let You Get More Comfy In The Air

I'm not sure if this is cool or creepy. Air New Zealand recently unveiled a design for coach seating that turns three seats into a “sky couch,’’ letting 'couples snuggle, kids jump around or single travelers spread out.' The part about single travelers spreading out is good with me, but couples snuggling and kids jumping around on a flight? That's what I go on vacation to get away from.

The seats have large flip-up cushions that fill the space between the end of the seat and the next row of seats. Arm rests retract for a flat surface. The new design will go into service in December. Travelers will have to buy the three “Sky couch” seats together, even if only two are traveling. Here's a video of what it will look like. Let me know what you think.

Play The Game Already

This is a happy day for me. The transportation planning game, A Thousand Visions, is OFFICIALLY ONLINE now. Click here to play it and for more info on the Spokane Transportation Vision Project.

Keep in mind that by playing this game, you're not just playing a game. You're helping us to determine the transportation priorities of the general public for the future. And remember that your name goes into a drawing to win a TomTom GPS unit when you play. I've already had people try to extort the GPS out of me, but I'm standing strong.

After you've played the game, let me know what you think.

Nora Avenue Closure

Nora Ave. from Hamilton to Cincinnati streets will be closed today, Oct. 27, through Friday, Oct. 30, from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day while crews install new water taps.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Council Member Snyder On Proposed STA Cuts

Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder, who is a member of the Spokane Transit Board of Directors, had the following to say on his blog this morning:

The Council also heard from STA on their proposed 2011 service reductions. This reduction is due to dramatic reduction in STA’s primary funding source: sales tax. You can read about that in detail here. The question on my mind is how many more cuts can we endure to public transit before we go back out to voters to request further funding?

Here's a link to the Councilman's blog if you want to read the rest of his post regarding last night's City Council meeting. Comments?

Seattle TBD Approves Extra $20 Registration Fee

Soon it will cost Seattle residents an extra $20 to register their cars. That's because the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (TBD) approved the $20 increase last night. The money raised would go toward a $500 million backlog of transportation projects and other improvements.

Here's more information from the Seattle PI.

The City of Spokane has already formed a TBD and there's an effort in the works to form a countywide TBD. Some people aren't familiar with them so have been skeptical. Does it give you more faith in a TBD to hear that a large city like Seattle has implemented one?

Studded Tires Oked- A Week Early

The Washington State Department of Transportation says they're giving you a pass this year- it’s OK to start using studded tires now even though they normally aren't allowed until Nov. 1.

That's because the season’s first snow is falling in the Cascade and Olympic mountains. The department says that some of the higher Cascades passes such as Chinook or North Cascades could get up to 2 feet of snow.

However, if you're not driving across passes, the WSDOT asks that you wait another week to put studs on your car.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Step Up Spokane! Launch Location Moved

An update on the launch of a new program to get Spokane moving; Step Up Spokane! Tomorrow's launch of the program has been moved at 11:30 a.m. in the Chase Gallery in the lower level of City Hall, at 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. The change of location was due to the forecasted rain.

So what is Step Up Spokane? A campaign to promote healthier lifestyles by encouraging people in Spokane to engage in daily physical activity and healthier eating.

Spokane—like most places in our nation—is suffering from an epidemic of obesity and being overweight. This epidemic impacts everything from personal health to workplace productivity.

Mayor Verner is joined in encouraging our citizens to move more by Spokane Shock head coach Rob Keefe, Bloomsday founder and director Don Kardong, Hoopfest co-founder Rick Steltenpohl, Gonzaga University women’s basketball player Courtney Vandersloot, Spokane Chiefs and Spokane Indians managing partner Bobby Brett, and longtime television anchor and health reporter Julie Humphreys.

Everyone is encouraged to attend tomorrow so consider this your official invitation.

Central Projects Open House Tomorrow

Have questions about mobility in central Spokane? Then tomorrow is your night to have your questions answered. An open house is aimed at answering questions about several projects slated for downtown Spokane and just outside of the central area, including a pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the BNSF mainline, a new street to connect the existing Riverpoint campus with the East Sprague Avenue district, and The possibility of high-performance streetcars between the University District and downtown.

Meeting organizers have also invited other agencies that deal with transportation to have tables at the open house, so I'll be there talking about
SRTC's Vision Project.

Here's more on the meeting and all the subjects that will be tackled, from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' colummn.

STA's New 'Rolling Pass'

STA has a new 'rolling pass' they'll roll out beginning in January. This pass is a monthly pass that isn't activated until the first time you swipe it at the farebox on the bus. That means that if you buy it on January 10, it doesn't expire at the end of January like the passes have in the past. Instead, it's good for 31 days after the first time you use it.

Prices for passes also go up at the beginning of the year. Here are the new pass prices. The price in the middle column is the 2010 price, the dollar amount in the right hand column is the 2011 price:

Adult Rolling Pass $40.00 $45.00
Youth Rolling Pass $28.00 $30.00
City Ticket $25.00 $30.00
Reduced Fare Rolling Pass $20.00 $22.50
Paratransit Monthly Pass $25.00 $35.00
Adult 2-hour Pass $1.25 $1.50
Reduced Fare 2-hour Passes $0.60 $0.75
Paratransit One-Ride Passes $0.75 $1.25
Day Pass $3.00 $3.50

Friday, October 22, 2010

Inland Pacific Hub Request For Proposals

Phase 2 of the Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) process will start soon. The IPH is a project aimed at transforming the Inland Northwest into a hub for commerce, vital to the global economy.

SRTC will manage that project and is seeking proposals from qualified firms to identify potential transportation and economic investments that will enhance the development of the Inland Pacific Hub. 

The overall objective is to identify and recommend actions, strategies and programs that can be implemented to strengthen the competitive position of the IPH region (both domestically and globally). 

RFP details can be found on the IPH website or you can click here to request a RFP packet. Please provide a contact name, company name, address, telephone, and email. The packet will be emailed back to you. 

Some Odds & Ends On My Mind

Hey folks- just a reminder, this is a blog. Wikipedia has this to say about blogs:

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries... ... The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.

My point is that I consider this blog not only an outreach tool, and an educational tool, but also a resource for starting community conversations. So I'd like to thank those of you who take the time to post comments.

And I appreciate those who have made comments to me in person. But I'd also like you to post your comments on the blog. Occasionally I'm hearing behind the scenes that someone disagrees with something I've said, or even that I've had information incorrect. That's fine, I welcome all the input I can get. I don't claim to know everything, or be an authority on much of anything. But instead of telling me one-to-one, how about just correcting it on the blog? That way everyone learns from your insight.

If you find my sarcasm disturbing, tell me that too. I was raised by sarcastic wolves and learned to communicate that way. It doesn't always translate in writing. But I've also found that if I post things generically, without comment or any personality, no one reads it, which defeats the purpose.

So use this forum to your advantage. Got something to say? Want to set me straight? Great!! I welcome your comments and the discussion that they will hopefully get started.

So go ahead- who wants to start?

Is The Suspense Killing You? I'm Not Joking- The Transportation Planning Game WILL Be Availalbe Soon

For those of you wondering where the heck the Transportation Planning Game that I keep talking up is, well... there's been some delays.

In the effort to make sure that all the information used in the game is as up-to-date and accurate as possible, it has taken us longer to get the game going than planned. The official launch date is next Wednesday, Oct. 27, so check back that day. Well, don't wait that long to check back of course, but make a special point to do so that day. In the meantime, use this time to brush up on your Vision Project knowledge. Here's a link to the website.

I apologize if you've been sitting next to your computer twitching, just waiting for the game to be posted online. Because I know I have. Remember, if you enter your email address when you play the game, you go into a drawing to win a TomTom GPS unit.

Signs Changing To Accomodate Older Drivers

I've been hearing a lot of concern lately about the large number of baby boomers on our roadways, and how there are going to have to be some changes to the national transportation system to accomodate them. Well apparently someone is listening.

In a nod to the fading eyesight of the senior set, the federal government is requiring communities to change street name signs from all capital letters to a combination of capital and lowercase letters. The government says that makes them easier to read.

Not everyone is happy about though, particularly the jurisdictions paying for these changes. Here's the story from USA Today.

October SRTC Newsletter Now Available

Want the synopsis of what SRTC has been working on for the past few months?
Well here's our quarterly newsletter. Take a look and let me know if you have any questions.

Census Participation Rate Numbers Available

Good job America! The U.S. Census Bureau announced this week that 74% of households in the US filled out and mailed back their 2010 Census questionnaire, matching the final mail participation rate achieved in the 2000 Census.

Spokane County had 78% participation rate and Kootenai County 77%, although I can't find on the Census site how that compares to 2000's participation rate. For those of you really interested in the numbers, you can narrow it down even further to cities and towns by clicking here.

Tuesday is Central City Mobility Open House

What do you have planned for next Tuesday night, Oct. 26? How about attending the Central City Mobility Open House to learn about some construction projects that will effect downtown and surrounding areas?

The University District, Spokane Transit Authority, and the City of Spokane have partnered to hold this meeting to get the word out about three inter-related projects, in one venue. You’ll learn about “mobility” focused projects planned for the Central City area; including the Central City Transit Alternatives Analysis, the East Sprague Redevelopment Study and the University District Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge.

In addition, several other agencies have been asked to attend and have information tables on their own projects and activities, including SRTC. I'll have all my information on the Transportation Vision Project there.

The meeting is at the Riverpoint South Campus Facility at 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd., next to the WSU Bookie from 3:30 to 7:00pm. It's an open house format so you can drop by anytime during those hours at your convenience.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Airport Budget Passed For Approval

According to the Spokesman-Review, Spokane International Airport directors yesterday voted unanimously to pass along a proposed $60 million budget to Spokane County and the City of Spokane for approval.

The 2011 budget, including $28  million for operations and $32.3 million for capital expenditures, is 5% higher than the 2010 budget but reportedly does not call for fee increases to the airlines or the public.

Airport parking generates 33% of revenues, airline terminal rents and landing fees 30%, and car rentals 17%.

The U.S. Air Force will lease airport ramp space and other facilities for $201,202 while the Fairchild Air Force Base runway is rebuilt.

Some Items From WSDOT

- The westbound right lane of I90 between Maple and Freya streets will be closed today for sign replacement. Drivers are already experiencing some delays so be careful out there. Tomorrow, Friday, the closure will be in the eastbound right lane.

- Monday through Thursday of next week, on US 2 between Hawthorne Rd. and Farwell Rd., in the northbound or southbound direction crews will be replacing reflective lane markers. Delays are possible so plan accordingly.

- On Wednesday, October 27th, from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., drivers on US 2 westbound, near the airport off ramp, should be alert for lane restrictions on the bridge over Geiger Blvd. Crews will be fixing ruts on the bridge deck.

TAC Meeting Next Monday

The October Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting is Monday, Oct. 25. TAC members are responsible for advising SRTC Board members on recommendations regarding plans, programs, and activities conducted by SRTC. The purpose of creating the TAC was to promote transparency and provide an opportunity for the public to be involved in SRTC's programs.

Here's this month's agenda. If you see anything on there that jumps out at you, feel free to attend. The meeting starts at 3 p.m. in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. First Ave., one the third floor.

Step Up Spokane!

A new program will be launched by Spokane Mayor Mary Verner next week to get our community moving: Step Up Spokane!

The goal of the project is to promote healthier lifestyles by encouraging people to engage in daily physical activity and healthier eating.

Step Up Spokane is a collaborative effort of companies and businesses dedicated to improving the health of our citizens. The board of directors includes representatives from Spokane Cardiology, Premera Blue Cross, YMCA, Spokane Regional Health District, Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), Sacred Heart Medical Center, and KL Crane Associates.

The launch is Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 11:30 a.m. near the runners statue in Riverfront Park at the northeast corner of Spokane Falls Blvd. and Post Street. Everyone is invited so come down and see how Mayor Verner plans to become more active.

TIGER II Grant Recipients Announced

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood yesterday announced that 42 capital construction projects and 33 planning projects in 40 states will share nearly $600 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER II program for major infrastructure projects ranging.

No local projects received funding however. The City of Spokane had submitted an application for funds for a study of the regional trail system. The closest project to receive funding through TIGER II is an Intermodal Transit Center in Moscow that received $1.5 million.

A complete list of capital grant recipients can be seen here.

The list of planning grant recipients is here.

New Bike Racks In International District

Have you been down East Sprague to the 'International District' lately? Well they just got eight new artistic bike racks like this one so you may want to take a ride down there.

Several organizations had a hand in bringing the racks to the neighborhood, including the East Central Neighborhood Council, the East Spokane Business Association, SNAP ,the Spokane Service Team and the City of Spokane.

The racks are custom-designed for safety, durability and aesthetic value. They can be found on either side of Sprague, between the Checkerboard Tavern to the west and Northwest Seed & Pet to the east.

The addition of bike racks is part of an effort at community revitalization, and making the area more bike friendly, in the International District.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

5th District Candidates Debate Area Transportation Issues

Did you watch the debate last night between contenders for Washington State's 5th District Congressional seat? Incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her challenger, former local TV personality Daryl Romeyn, faced off on a variety of topics, including the North Spokane Corridor and other transportation issues. Here's the synopsis from KXLY TV:

Other clips of the debate are available on KXLY's website by clicking here and scrolling down to almost the bottom of the page.

Any thoughts on the candidates' views on transportation in our area?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sprague from Crestline To Lee Closed Wednesday

Sprague Ave. from Crestline to Lee streets will be closed to drivers tomorrow, Oct. 20, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. so City crews can install a new fire hydrant. Signed detours will be in place.

TTC Meets Tomorrow

I had this on my calendar to post last week but it somehow didn't pop up, so sorry about the last minute notice. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is our monthly Transportation Technical Meeting (TTC). The TTC is comprised of technical staff from each of our partner agencies and meets on the third Wednesday of this month to discuss ongoing projects and coordination between the jurisdictions.

Here's the meeting agenda. As always, anyone is welcome to attend, so if you have a free hour stop by to see what goes on. TTC meetings are held in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310.

Sagle Man Says He Can Solve Transportation and Engergy Issues

A Sagle, Idaho man says he has the technology to eliminate the entire nation's reliance on fossil fuels, while also eliminating the need to plow roads, spelling out warning signs in the actual roadway and capturing rainwater to purify it.

Sound crazy? Kind of but it also sounds like it might not be so far-fetched, especially because the man behind the idea is winning awards and drawing the attention of Japanese investors. This could shift the entire makeup of our transportation AND power systems, and it's all happening here in our corner of the country.

Here's the Spokesman-Review story on how Scott Brusaw and his wife want to replace the nation's roadways with solar panels.

Are there any problems you foresee if we were to cover our roadways with solar panels? Of course it would be a slow process and expensive but do you think it would work in the end?

Bus Riders Not Happy About Route Elimination

Spokane Transit is cutting my bus route and from the rumblings I've been hearing lately the riders don't like it. They're starting to mobilize to do something about it though. A man carrying a tiny baby in a front pack was handing out flyers this morning on the bus that showed the proposed service reduction to our route, as well as a link to the STA survey with the words underneath, 'Take the rider survey and tell them what a bad idea this is!'

Get ready STA, you're about to be deluged with comments from some angry office workers. Some of those older ladies scare me too. They're nice and all but I have a feeling they don't take 'no' for an answer often.

Here's the link to the survey if you want to take it yourself.

Monday, October 18, 2010

SIA Has Body Scanners

I hadn't flown in a while, so when I showed up at Spokane International Airport last week and was asked to step into the body scanner I was pretty surprised. I asked the TSA agent how long they've had the scanners and was told only about a month. For those who haven't done it, they ask you to stand with your feet apart and your thumbs up to your temples with your fingers splayed out. So somewhere there is a picture of me looking like Bullwinkle the moose. I asked to see the image but they wouldn't let me.

Transportation Roundup For Week Of Oct. 18

Our Transportation Vision game will be launched this week, Northwest Boulevard is expected to open again this week, and the City of Spokane Valley is getting some new pedestrian pathways and bike lanes. Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Super Drunk; Does Not Include Super Powers

When I hear 'super drunk,' I think of a super hero who's imbibed too much, much like Spidey here. In Michigan though, 'super drunk' is an official term for a kind of drunk driver.

Starting on Oct. 31, there will be two kinds of drunken drivers in the state: standard and “super.”

Standard are those with blood alcohol content of 0.08 to 0.16 percent. The super drunk, a new category under state law, are first-time offenders who test at 0.17 or above. Along with the new designation comes super-high penalties and fines.

Here's the 'super' story, from

Do you think fining and penalizing super drunk drivers more than a regular drunk driver will cut down on drunk driving incidents or is this just a way to bring in more money?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Grandma Can't Drive 55- Or 110

From the AP wires- Oregon State Police gave an 82-year-old woman a ticket for driving 28 miles per hour over her age. A trooper allegedly spotted the woman's car going 110 mph yesterday on Highway 26 west of Gresham. The posted limit is 55 mph.

She said she was on her way to an appointment and wasn’t aware she was going that fast. She was given a ticket for $1,103. Holy cow grandma, how do you not know you're going that fast??

World's Longest Tunnel Nearing Completion

I was joking with a gentleman at a public meeting the other night about drilling a tunnel under Lake Coeur d'Alene. Well it's not such a joke in Switzerland where they're about to chew through the last few inches of rock standing in the way of the creation of the world’s longest tunnel.

The tunnel is part of a larger project to shift the hauling of goods from roads to rails, spurred by concerns that heavy trucks are destroying Switzerland’s Alpine landscape. This sounds familiar, where have I heard this before?

Anyway, it's quite a project and the Swiss people have agreed to some pretty steep taxes to get it. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

WSDOT Restrictions

- Monday evening, October 18th, from 10 p.m. until as late as 5 a.m. the following morning, and Friday evening, October 22nd, from 9:00 p.m. until about 11:00 p.m., the eastbound Monroe Street dedicated on-ramp lane to I90 will be restricted. On ramp drivers need to be alert and prepared to merge into the main freeway traffic. Freeway through traffic needs to be aware that on-ramp vehicles will be merging onto the freeway. The restrictions will be in place so that work can be done to repair support columns for the freeway.

- You can expect lane restrictions on Trent between Sullivan Road and the Idaho State Line next week. Trent will be reduced to one lane so crews can replace the reflective lane markers. You can expect delays up to 15 minutes, so may just want to steer clear of the area next week.

Northwest Boulevard To Open Soon

The City of Spokane project to rehabilitate Northwest Blvd. from Alberta to Maple streets is expected to reopen soon, although the release sent out by the City didn't say exactly when, just 'this week.' The project included installation of a concrete intersection at Northwest Blvd. and Cochran St., and ADA curb ramps as necessary.

Until the street reopens, Northwest Blvd. from Ash to Alberta streets remains reduced to one lane in each direction. Additionally, Alberta St. is closed at Northwest Blvd., and Cochran St./T.J. Meenach Bridge is closed to southbound motorists at its intersection with Northwest Blvd. The detour is Wellesley or Garland avenues to Ash St. then to Maxwell Ave., onto Pettit Dr. and vice-versa.

The $1.9 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Spokane Transit Authority.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Social Media- Are We Doing This Right?

It's been an extremely busy two days, so sorry for the lack of blog posts. I just finished up sitting on a panel for the American Planning Association conference in Boise. The panel was on using social media to get your message out and the challenges faced by government agencies doing so. It was pretty interesting. Most of the other agency representatives on the panel are doing strictly Facebook and/or Twitter. Our challenge at SRTC though is that we're a planning agency, so don't always have something of interest to the general public to put out every day, or even every week. Without fresh content, people tend to quit following you.

That's part of the reason we chose to blog initially. It provides a more varied platform, which means we can post our own news when it's happening, or we can help spread the news of other agencies, such as when the City has a public meeting, or WSDOT is doing construction work on the freeway or Spokane Transit is making service cuts.

Some insights I learned from the other panelists:

- People born between 1981 and 2000 are known as the 'Millenial Generation' and are generally getting the bulk of their current events information from their phones.

- Many agencies have actually hired positions just to do social media or have contracted with public relations firms to manage their social media accounts.

- Some items that we put out to the mainstream media doesn't get publicized, so using Twitter or Facebook or blogs lets you get the message directly to the public.

- Because we do behind-the-scenes planning and don't build roads or plow snow, The 'face' of an agency like SRTC is often our website or blog so we need to put some effort into it.

Okay, I'm getting kicked out of my hotel room now so have to wrap this up. Any comments in regards to social media in relation to transportation or public agencies?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Want To Play Our Transportation Game? We're Giving Away A Prize

So I've been telling you for a while now that we'll be putting our 'A Thousand Visions- Transportation Planning Game' on line soon so that you can have all your friends over on Saturday night and play it. Well get ready because we're getting closer. And you won't just be playing for the personal satisfaction of knowing that you could make your community a better place- but also to win a prize!!

We're rechecking dollar amounts and project details so we have all the most updated numbers involved in the game, and are expecting to 'launch' it probably mid-next week once we get all our t's crossed and i's dotted.

And- drumroll please- when you play the game, you go into a drawing to win a Tom Tom portable GPS!! If you're like me, you probably get lost between your office and the break room. But no longer with your new GPS unit. Just enter where you're trying to go and it will lead you there. First things first though, you have to play the game. So check back and I'll give you notice when it's available. The first person to play gets something off my desk. I haven't decided what yet though, nothing expensive like my computer. I was thinking more along the lines of my Aflac duck key ring that quacks when you squeeze it or maybe the Frankenstein finger puppet I found in the conference room and claimed for my own. He's missing a hand but in mint condition otherwise.

11th & Thor Intersection To Close Tonight

Starting late tonight, the intersection of Thor St. and 11th Ave. will be closed to to continue work on the Hartson and 11th avenues water transmission main project. Work on this $3.5 million project began at the end of July and is expected to be complete in December.

The project will replace a water transmission main with a larger main in Hartson and 11th avenues from Havana to Sherman. It will also repair the following streets: 11th Ave. from Altamont Blvd. to Julia St. and N. Altamont Blvd. from 11th to Ninth avenues; and Ninth Ave. from Perry to Julia streets. The project is being paid for by the City Water Department and 10-Year Street Bond.

Weather dependent, the intersection is expected to reopen for the evening commute on Friday, Oct. 15. Motorists will be detoured to Freya St.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Obama Calls For Republican Support For $50B Transportation Plan

President Obama yesterday lobbied for Republican support for spending on transportation projects, calling his proposal an overdue investment in the country's foundation.

Obama is proposing a $50 billion plan as a step toward a six-year program of transportation programs. Here's what Obama had to say, from the Seattle Times.

Central City Transit Alternatives Analysis Open House- It'll Be More Exciting Than It Sounds. Really.

Mark your calendar, because the next Central City Transit Alternatives Analysis Open House is scheduled for Tuesday, October 26.

The open house is a chance to get information on the Central City Transit Alternatives Analysis (formerly the Downtown Transit Alternatives Analysis), in addition to other “mobility” focused projects planned for the Central City area, including the East Sprague Redevelopment Plan and the University District Pedestrian Bicycle Bridge. You can find more information here.

The open house is from 3:30 pm – 7:00 pm on Oct. 26 at the Riverpoint Campus’ South Campus Facility, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd (Next to the WSU Bookie). The open house format means you can come and go at your convenience, you aren't required to stay the whole time.

Urban Growth Area Regional Land Quantity Analysis

Spokane County, and the cities and towns within it, are collaborating on a 10-year regional review of the Urban Growth Area to determine the ability to accomodate growth and development over the next 20 years. Some results of these recent studies are now available, and will be presented at a public Open House tomorrow, Oct. 13. Click the flyer below to view the details in a larger view, then plan to attend and learn more about the UGA and its' future growth.

City Forms TBD

The City of Spokane last night pulled the trigger on creating a transportation benefit district. City Council members voted 5-2 to create a TBD, meaning the council will have the ability to enact a tax of up to $20 on your vehicle license tabs. They could ask for a higher tax as well but that would require a public vote.

The decision did not enact the tax, just cleared the way to do so. Hearing on enacting a proposed fee could be held as early as November.

While the money raised by the tax would have to be spent on street and transportation projects, the law allows the city to divert other revenue currently spent on streets.

SRTC is part of an effort to get a countywide TBD started. The City says it supports that effort, but doesn't want to wait while the rest of the County decides if they're in or not. They want to start collecting money sooner rather than later, considering the City's financial shortfall. So for now, they're going to move ahead with their own TBD and if a regional district is formed later, the City's will likely be dissolved.

Do you think the City should have waited for the rest of the County to form a Transportation Benefit District or do you think they did the right/responsible thing?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Transportation Roundup For Week Of Oct. 14

Bridge girders were installed last week for the future Wandermere Interchange on the North Spokane Corridor, Idaho State Police are offereing a free winter driving and safety class, and the Kootenai County Metropolitan Transportation Plan is now available for review and comment. Here's what's happening in transportation this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

SRTC Board Meeting This Thursday

It's the second full week in October, which means it's SRTC Board meeting week! That's right, mark your calendars for this Thursday at 1 p.m. in the SRTC conference room, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310. There will be thrills. There will be chills. And probably a little comic relief as well.

Here's the agenda. As always, everyone is welcome at SRTC Board meetings, and there's even a public comment period, so if you've got comments, concerns, observations, etc., bring 'em with you.

Support Complete Streets? Tell Your Senator Or Representative

The 'Complete Streets Spokane' group is starting a campaign to get Cathy McMorris Rodgers to co-sponsor a Complete Streets Act. And they're asking for your help to make it happen. Your emails and phone calls could help show strong community support for the movement. If you're interested, click here and fill in your zip code. 'Transportation for America' will automatically send a letter to your representative, based on your zip code, requesting that they support a Complete Streets Act.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Conversation On The East Sprague Bus

It's my first Friday back after working 4-10s all summer. Not only am I super swamped with work and not all that excited about it, but I'm also low on blog content and don't have time to dig for it. So I'm taking this opportunity to share a story my sister-in-law told me.

Julie was riding the East Sprague bus when a man got on and sat next to her. He wasn't drop dead gorgeous but nothing to call home about either. Pretty normal looking except for a potbelly and a balding head.

He struck up a conversation by asking what she does for a living and she answered. She asked the same and here's how the conversation went:

Bus passenger: I detail cars. And I'm a dancer.

Julie (she's kinda naive. Probably shouldn't even have asked): What kind of dancer?

Bus passenger: I dance for the ladies.

Julie: Ballroom dancing?

Bus passenger: No, I'm an exotic dancer.

Julie: awkward silence

Bus passenger (while running hands over his own chest): I like to take care of myself, keep myself in shape.

Julie: This is my stop!

Get Your Sharrow 411 Here

The folks at the City of Spokane say they've been getting some questions as to how to ride/drive in a sharrow so they want to get the word out on how to use them. So pay attention:

Sharrows are pavement markings installed within travel lanes designed to alert motorists that they are sharing the street with bicyclists and to help bicyclists position themselves in lanes to allow motorists to safely pass them.

These markings have been used successfully in other cities across the country, including Seattle, Bellevue and Portland. In Spokane, the markings were unveiled in 2009 and motorists can expect to see more added in the future.

Recently, sharrows were placed on Spokane Falls Blvd. from Howard to Monroe streets. Last year, sharrows were placed on Southeast Blvd. between 27th and 29th avenues connecting the existing dedicated bike lanes on the street and on 37th Ave. from Perry to Regal streets.

To use a sharrow:

Use the sharrow to guide where you ride within the lane – generally through the center of the sharrow when safe to do so.
Remember not to ride too close to parked cars – watch for opening doors.
Ride in the same direction as traffic.
Be aware of your surroundings, and follow the rules of the road.

Expect to see bicyclists in the travel lane.
Pass to the left of the cyclist, using the adjacent travel lane. Remain behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass.
Yield to on-coming bicyclists when turning and look right/behind you when making a right-hand turn.
Be aware of your surroundings, and follow the rules of the road.

Got it? Any more questions/comments?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Walk To School Day Big Success At Moran Prairie

Moran Prairie Elementary School apparently had an overwhelming success with their participation in International Walk to School Day. It wasn't just kids walking though, parents joined in too. Here's a report, from the Spokesman-Review.

STA Asks For Opinions On Proposed Service Changes

As I blogged about earlier this week, Spokane Transit unveiled their latest round of proposed service cuts recently for 2011. The cuts include modifying some routes such as Northwest Boulevard and Maple/Ash and discontinuing several routes such as Francis, Garland, Latah, and Medical Lake/Geiger and consolidating others such as the 72 Liberty Lake with the 74.

Here's a list of all the proposed changes and the reasoning behind them.

STA wants to know what your thoughts are on these changes. Please weigh in by taking this survey.

A Couple Items From The WSDOT

- On Saturday, October 9th, beginning at 9 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. Sunday morning, eastbound I-90 from US 195 to the Altamont Off Ramp will be reduced to one lane so crews can do repairs to bridge decks. Drivers should be alert for slow traffic and congestion.

- Monday through Thursday, October 11-14, between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., eastbound or westbound I-90 between Barker Road and the Idaho State Line will be reduced to one through lane. You can expect slow traffic and congestion.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Letter Writer Says New Technology Much Better Than Studs

A letter to the editor of the Spokesman-Review last week extolling the virtues of studded snow tires stirred up quite a response. Here are three rebuttal letters that ran in today's paper:

Sold on studless tires
Letter to the editor: The Spokesman Review

After reading Chic Burge’s letter to the editor on studded tires (Sept. 29), I just had to comment.

With our skiing family I have driven tens of thousands of winter miles, mostly on studs. Four years ago I bought a set of studless winter tires for my front wheel drive car. I was completely surprised.

On tough icy days, when studs should be far superior, I find that they are at least as good as studs; on regular winter days of snow, slush, wet and dry pavement, they have much better grip and control than studs.

Now all the cars in our family have four winter studless tires in the winter. It’s not a question of what’s best for the pavement or children vs. money (as Mr. Burge indicates), it’s a question of what’s the best and safest tire for winter driving.
The technology of today’s studless winter tires has surpassed the old technology of studs. I encourage everyone to try a set; even skeptics will be pleasantly surprised.

Bill Brooks

Wiser spending preferred
Letter to the editor: The Spokesman Review

SPOKANE - In response to Chic Burges letter (Studded tires worth it, Sept. 29), the point was made that $15 million was worth saving the lives of inexperienced winter drivers.

However, tax dollars are not infinite. They need to be spent in a manner that provides maximum return.

Far more lives could be saved if even just part of that $15 million went towards hiring additional police officers to monitor and stop speeding, drunk and/or aggressive drivers.

And this would keep all of us safer all year long, not just inexperienced teenage drivers going snowboarding.

Carla J. Benson,

Studs provide false security
Letter to the editor: The Spokesman Review

Chic Burges attempt to justify studded winter tires (Letters, Sept. 29) cries out for a response. The writer asserts that the use of studded tires has saved my 64-year-old behind several times. There is not a shred of evidence to support such an assertion. Not included in Chics deeply-flawed opinion is the fact that drivers of all ages slap studded tires on their four-wheel-drive vehicles and then proceed to drive like maniacs tailgating, speeding and taking chances. This reduces rather than enhances general safety on our winter roads.

If excellent winter snow tires were substituted for studs, along with some serious driver re-education, a notably safer overall driving environment would result.

Studded tires create a false security blanket which many incorrectly believe will provide safety. Not so. For those exceptionally rare circumstances where studded tires actually hold a slight advantage, dont be so lazy. Put on chains, drive safely, then take them off so as to avoid driving 99 percent of the time on bare roads. Even without the compelling financial reasons for doing away with these road busters, all drivers on the road would be safer, whether or not they might acknowledge that fact.

James Schoepflin,

New Fuel Efficiency Goals Announced

Last Friday, the Obama administration presented options for increasing fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks by 2025. The EPA and DOT came up with a plan that includes increasing fuel efficiency requirements by 3% to 6% annually from 2017 to 2025.

Here's how the move is expected to affect oil consumption and pollution numbers. What do you think; is this a feasible plan? What about those of us that can't afford a new more fuel efficient plan?

A Couple Of Words From the WSDOT

A heads up that Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) offices around the state will be closed on Monday, Oct. 11 for a 'furlough' day. The day is part of legislatively-mandated temporary layoffs due to state budget reductions. Maintenance workers will still be working but business offices will be closed, so get your WSDOT business done on Friday or you'll have to wait until Tuesday.

The WSDOT is also asking for your thoughts on its Maintenance program. The WSDOT Maintenance division maintains our state's highway system including:

- 20,498 highway lane miles
- more than 3,000 bridges
- 1,100 traffic signal systems
- 10 major mountain passes open all year
- Close to 50 safety rest areas
- a large fleet of roadway maintenance vehicles

It’s important that WSDOT's maintenance goals match yours. Please take a few minutes to tell them what you think through this quick survey.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Writer Proposes Giving Taxpayers 'Receipt'

How much do you pay in taxes each year? And what does that money go to pay for? Most people don't know. For instance, how much of your money do you think goes toward Federal Highways each year? A couple thousand? A couple hundred? Well, if you make right around $34,000 per year, $68 of what you pay in taxes goes to federal highways.

But how would you know that since you never receive a breakdown of where your money is going? Ezra Klein of the Washington Post says why not give us a 'receipt' for our taxes. Read the article and let me know if you would appreciate getting a receipt or if it's all the same to you?

Doug Clark Weighs In On Second Ave. Bike Lanes

I think it's official. I think pretty much everyone has weighed in on the Second Avenue bike lane debate now. Here's Doug Clark's take on the situation from today's Spokesman-Review.

AAA Says Texting & Driving Study Invalid

I posted a thread recently about a new study that says collissions actually increased in three states, including Washington, where texting while driving laws were passed.

Well AAA of Idaho sin't happy about that report. They say the study is invalid and premature since texting and driving bans have been in place for only a few years.

Here's more on this story from

Monday, October 4, 2010

Local School To Participate In Walk To School Day

Moran Prairie Elementary School located will be joining schools from around the country to celebrate “Walk to School Day” this week, on October 6.

The event marks the 14th International Walk to School Day. Moran Prairie students and parents will join more than 5,000 schools across the country by walking to school on Wednesday, October 6th to promote a healthier lifestyle. The idea is to walk to school together with a purpose – to promote health, safety, physical activity and concern for the environment.

This year, the Moran Prairie schoolchildren will have access to a new pathway for a safer commute. The Spokane County Engineer’s office received grant funding to extend a 10-foot wide pedestrian/bike pathway from the Ben Burr Trail on the north side of 57th Ave. to a point directly across from Moran Prairie Elementary School. This completed a safe walking route for approximately 150 students that currently live in the Moran Prairie Elementary school area.

To learn more about National Walk to School Day, click here.

Bicycle Advisory Board Seeking Members

The City of Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board (BAB) needs two more members. The BAB is responsible for advising the City Council and Mayor on bike-related policy, projects and priorities. We need you! There are currently two vacancies on the BAB, and term limits will create more vacancies in the near future.

The BAB meets the third Tuesday of every month from 6-7:30pm at City Hall. Here's a link for more info and an application.

STA Releases Next Round Of Proposed Cuts

Brace yourself folks. STA has released their next round of proposed cuts for 2011. And my route is on there. I told Joel at STA that I was going to march on the place with torches and pitch forks but I guess the best way to get action would be to submit a public comment. Besides, it looks like it might be so bad. There's another route I can take, it will just take a little longer to get where I'm going.

Here's an article in today's Spokesman-Review on the proposed changes and how you can submit comments regarding them.

Second Ave. Project Running Into Challenges

The Spokesman-Review is all over the Second Avenue reconstruction project. This article in today's paper talks about how the road will be open at the end of this construction season, but the finishing touches on the project may have to wait until next year.

And this article talks about how removing a lane for cars in favor of one for bicycles along that street could cause traffic backups. Anna, one of our Air Quality Planners, was interviewed by the Spokesman for this article, but wasn't quoted. The City has to notify us of what they plan to do on the road and we have to 'model' it to determine what kind of effect adding a bike lane would have on air quality. You would think it would help, but if traffic is backing up, it could cause a lot of carbon monoxide emmissions in one place. So far, the City hasn't officially contacted us so we haven't been involved.

A lot of other people have weighed in with their opinions though. Bob Apple had an interesting point that your average rider probably wouldn't feel safe riding on Second Avenue. And the folks who would feel comfortable are experienced enough to ride with traffic. There was also the suggestion in the article to remove parking along at least one side of the road. That's a really hot-button issue too because business owners tend to get upset when you remove the parking in front of their business.

What do you think- should bike lanes be striped on Second? Should they be striped on a less busy road?

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.