Thursday, March 31, 2011

Animals Showing Up On Area Roadways

It's spring again, which means there are more animals out on and around area roads. This is part of a herd of elk that's been out every morning recently near Stateline.

They, like deer, turkeys and a lot of other wildlife, are coming down to lower areas, and crossing roads to get there, to eat in the fields. So be alert while driving in outlying areas, those guys critters can be quick and sneaky.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Is A Car Essential For Your Commute?

Is a car essential to your commute? A new study concludes that 4/5ths of research participants felt car ownership was not essential to their everyday commute. Of course, the study was done in Boston and San Francisco so that weighs into the results.

The study found that autonomy was more important for commuters than the status or comfort associated with car ownership. Especially in the presence of ride-sharing services, study participants agreed that car ownership was not essential to their lifestyle. The City Fix blog has more of the study results.

Rumor Has It We Can Be Bribed With Coffee

Okay, not necessarily transportation-related, but this cracked me up. We just got out of a staff meeting where the subject of the 'SRTC coffee fund' came up. Not everyone around here drinks coffee so only the six people who do pay into the fund. The fund pays for bags of coffee, usually purchased at Costco (where's it's less expensive), to be made in the office coffee maker.

Apparently the coffee drinkers went over budget last year. In 2010, they spent $208 on coffee! For six people! That explains why Ryan always gets me things the second I ask for them. And Jeff's nervous tic turns out to be coffee jitters. Who would've known...

Plan Calls For Banning Cars In European City Centers

When I'm out talking to folks at public meetings and other events, I hear a lot of skepticism regarding Governor Gregoire's executive order to reduce vehicle miles travelled statewide by 18% by 2020, 30% by 2035, and 50% by 2050. And that's just the grumblings of the folks at other transportation agencies. Well, it could be worse I suppose.

The European Union recently released a plan aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions- and it involves banning all vehicles from city centers in the future. Not all areas though, just the major cities. Still, a lot of folks are calling the plan 'crazy' and 'extreme.' Here's more from London's newspaper The Telegraph.

WSDOT Looking For US 195 Input

The Washington State Department of Transportation asks you to help them make US 195 safer. They're conducting a US 195 Corridor Collision Analysis study, as part of the TARGET ZERO program, implemented by Governor Gregoire. The goal of Target Zero is to have zero deaths and zero serious injuries on Washington State roads by 2030. It identifies traffic safety needs and provides low-cost solutions and strategies based on specific findings.

The US 195 study starts at the Idaho State Line and ends at Spangle, Wa. Public Involvement is an important part of understanding actual conditions and behaviors that could be addressed as part of the study. Local “Listening Posts” will be set up this spring in Rosalia, Colfax, Pullman, and WSU to give comments and insights on US 195 that will include a survey of driver perceptions.

But in the meantime, WSDOT is trying to get an idea of your concerns and observations. They're doing so with this online survey.. It just takes a minute, so if you drive 195, please take it. Connects You To The Outdoors

I received an email from the folks at introducing me to their website and I wanted to share it with you.

It's supposed to be 60 degrees and (somewhat) sunny on Friday. I have the day off due to overtime this week so how should I spend it? I'd like to take the dog and do some hiking, or maybe visit a local park. But where to go? I only know of a couple places and I've been to them lots of times. Here's an idea;check out for outdoor ideas. The site says it's "dedicated to connecting people to Spokane’s outdoors" and it does that by offering selections of local parks, trails, conservation lands etc.

For instance, I've never heard of Campion Park, so I clicked on it to see what it has to offer. The site says its a conservation area, gives the location (including nearest cross street), park hours (if there are any) and a brief description of the facility. Pretty cool.

You can also share your favorite parks and trails with others by adding them, if they're not on there already. Check it out and let me know what new places you discover!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ninth Ave. Closure

If you drive this route, you've already noticed, but Ninth Ave. from Monroe to Madison streets is closed to traffic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Thursday, March 31. Crews are upgrading a water service. Signs are in place.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Report Says Minneapolis Is Right Behind Portland For Bicycling

Thanks to Bike to Work Barb for sending me this piece on a new report called "Analysis of Bicycling Trends and Policies in Large North American Cities." The author of this blog talks about some of the things in the report that caught his eye, particularly that Minneapolis is catching up to Portland as a bicycling mecca. And he uses charts and graphs, for those of us who like to get to the meat of our reports. Check it out here.

Materials Available To Help Businesses In Construction Zones

About 50 business owners and managers attended a City of Spokane- sponsored workshop last week titled “Open for Business: Making the Best of Rough Road Construction.” The workshop was aimed at helping businesses located along the sites of street and utility construction projects cope with the effects to their business.

For those who were unable to attend, the workshop and related “Surviving Construction” printed materials are now available here.

The program covered:
• How to get information on local projects and provide feedback to construction engineers.
• What to expect when construction begins.
• Developing business planning strategies to ready your company for street construction.
• Survival tips for making it through the construction project.
• Developing communication, staying on message, staying positive and using creative promotion and business strategies.
• Post-construction ideas to get your business back on track.

For more information on road construction in the Spokane Region, check out the website.

Friday, March 25, 2011

WP-SIA Transportation Study Report Ready For Review

I know you've all been waiting for this and it's finally here! That's right, after over a year of study, the draft report for the West Plains-Spokane International Airport (WP-SIA) Transportation Study is now available for review and comment!

The study was conducted in response to continued development of the airport business park, land use changes at the airport, and the effect those changes will have on the Geiger interchange and surrounding roadway network.

The report includes recommendations for public transit, bike and pedestrian safety and roadway improvements within the study area. You can view it, and find out how to submit comments, by clicking here.

You can also mail comments to SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201 if you prefer. All comments must be submitted by April 27.

I90 Rock Slide Pictures

Snoqualmie Pass over I90 was closed earlier this week due to a rockslide. It was reported that one of the rocks was the size of a pickup truck, and here's the picture to prove it was big. Holy cow, can you imagine driving along and looking up and seeing that thing coming down the hillside?! Luckily, a 'rockfall fence' caught it before it could get onto the roadway. Here's the whole story of what happened, and how WSDOT and other crews got the road open again quickly.

Joint Board Meeting Agenda Available

I posted last week about a joint Board meeting we're holding next week between the SRTC Board and our 'sister' agency in Kootenai County, Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization. The meeting is to discuss results from the 2010 Census that have come back recently showing population growth in both Spokane and Kootenai counties. Growth such as that has the potential to affect how metropolitan planning organizations work with federal programs. The agenda for that meeting is now available here.

The meeting is next Thursday, March 31 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Garden Plaza in Post Falls. The address is on the agenda. The meeting is open to the public so feel free to attend.

Japanese Fix Earthquake-Damaged Roads At Amazing Rate

This is truly amazing. Even in times of catastrophe, the Japanese are extremely industrious. The picture to the left is a road in Japan that was severly damaged by the earthquake.

And,according to,this picture is just six days later after crews worked at a feverish pace to repair it.

If this is true, kind of makes us look pathetic. But maybe their quick job doesn't translate to a quality one. Who knows. You can read more about this amazing repair job here.

City of Spokane Construction Update

Construction season is underway in the City of Spokane, so here's the latest:

- If you hadn't noticed, Spokane Falls Blvd. from Hamilton to Division streets and the intersection of Main Ave. and Pine St. are closed to traffic as part of the construction on the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. That closure is in place until Sunday, May 15.

Drivers are detoured to Mission Ave. at Hamilton and Division/Ruby streets, and trucks carrying large loads will be detoured to N. Foothills Dr. at Hamilton and Division/Ruby streets. Local access is being maintained.

This project will build a new street through the University District, improve traffic flow for motorists, and increase safety in the heart of the Riverpoint Campus. The street will extend east from the intersection of Division St. and Riverside Ave., curving north near the eastern campus border then connecting to Spokane Falls Blvd. just before the Trent Ave. Bridge. Once the project is complete at the end of July, the new boulevard will have bike lanes, streets, and an elevated median. The $3.76 million project is funded by federal and local funds.

- Work continues downtown on Second Avenue from Howard to Arthur streets. The rehabilitation project includes replacing a sewer main from Sheridan to Hatch streets and a water main from Howard to Stevens streets. Traffic signals will be upgraded, too. Second Ave. from Arthur to Division streets is reduced to one lane. This phase of the project is expected to continue until early May. The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of July.

The $2.1 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond, Wastewater Department, Water Department, and safety funds.

Keep in mind that you can find all construction projects for all of Spokaneon the website.

Eastbound I90 Backed Up In Valley

A big mess on westbound I90 in the Valley this morning. A wrong-way driver caused a fatal accident on the freeway very early this morning near the Barker Road exit. I just drove by and traffic is STILL backed up all the way to the Sullivan exit. Heading westbound, things are a little slow between Liberty Lake and Barker but it clears up after that.

KXLY News has the story on what happened.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Free Bike Tune-Up!

The folks at Pedals2People are offering a free tune-up for your bike on April 3! They'll not only fix your bike for free, but everyone who comes also gets a free vegan meal.

Contact Ryan if you have questions.

WSDOT Projects Getting Underway

- Depending on weather, on March 29, 30 and 31 from about 8:30 a.m. until as late as 3:30 p.m., the bridge on the eastbound US 2 on ramp to I-90 will be reduced to one lane. Crews will be repairing bridge expansion joints. This could cause slow downs for drivers.

- On Monday, March 28, beginning at 9 a.m. until as late as 2:30 p.m., eastbound I-90 will be reduced to 2 lanes to fix light poles in the area. In addition, the eastbound Altamont on-ramp will be closed. Be prepared for possible slow traffic. Drivers on eastbound Third Avenue will need to use the Freya Street on-ramp to access I-90. All other on/off ramps will remain open.

- Also beginning Monday, March 28, crews will begin work to widen I90 between Sullivan and Barker roads. The speed limit will be reduced to 60 mph. During evening and overnight hours, I-90 may be reduced to one through lane in each direction.

Editorial Says Gas Tax Not The Answer

An editorial in the Spokesman-Review today points out that a gas tax isn't the answer to our transportation budget problems. Jeez, I feel like I've posted this ten times before. I think everyone gets it now that less gas is being purchased due to high gas prices, more fuel efficient vehicles, alternative modes of transportation, etc. so adding more gas tax isn't going to help a whole lot. Now the question is, what to do to make up the revenue that's not going to come from the gas tax? So far all that's been done is debating potential other forms of income. While I drown myself in pesimism today, you can go ahead and read the editorial and give me any great ideas you may have.

Division Repaving Starts Next Week

Work starts again on Monday, April 4 to finsih repaving Spokane’s busiest north-south arterial — Division Street.

Crews will repave Division Street between Euclid Avenue and Francis Avenue. The majority of work will be scheduled for evening and overnight hours to avoid peak commute times. The work should take about 10 weeks to complete.

Crews paved the intersection of Division Street and Wellesley with concrete last season and then put the project on hold for the winter.

More than 43,000 vehicles travel on this portion of Division Street. It’s the main north-south route through Spokane and serves as US 2 and US 395.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SpokaneRoadFix.Net Now Online!

You've probably already noticed construction projects popping up, and it's only March. So imagine how many there are going to be by the time May rolls around. The good news is that local transportation agencies are taking advantage of low contractor and material prices to do more projects than ever. The bad news is that this could seriously slow you down in your daily commute. Some of the major projects on main thoroughfares this year include:

- Bridge deck replacement at Havana, Altamont and Latah Creek Bridge on I90
- Installation of a concrete intersection at Indiana and Sullivan
- Rehabilitation of Mission Ave. from Hamilton to Greene
- Rehabilitation of Second from Howard to Arthur
- Construction of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, which impacts Spokane Falls Dr.

So how to avoid getting stuck in backups caused by construction? Two suggestions:

1.) Pick up the 2011 Spokane Regional Road Construction Map to see where projects will be happening.
2.) Go to to find out where to get the map, to view suggested alternate routes to get around construction projects, and to find other ways to get around besides driving alone and getting stuck in traffic.

We'll be updating the site as more projects start, so check back. The goal is to keep congestion to a minimum this summer and keep people getting where they need to go. You may want to send friends and family members from out of town to the website too if they're planning to visit. And tell your co-workers. And if the kids are driving these days, make sure they have a construction map in their cars. And...

County Workers Get Layoff Notices

Six Spokane County right-of-way workers will be laid off at the end of April due to what a state review says are 'violations of federal regulations' on the Bigelow Gulch construction project. The Spokesman-Review has the story.

I90 Lane Closure Through Snoqualmie Pass

If you're headed to the west side today, plan some extra time to get through the pass. I90 is reduced to one lane six miles east of the summit due to falling rocks. The rocks were contained by the netting on the hillside and the ditch at the roadside but could have done serious damage had they made it onto the roadway, considering one rock measured 12 feet tall and six feet wide!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where To Put The Train? Down The Middle Perhaps?

Next week is the Central City Mobility Open House. It's a meeting featuring several local agencies that deal with transportation to provide a chance for the public to learn about, and comment on, projects in the downtown area. One of the projects being highlighted is Spokane Transit's Central City Transit Alternatives. That project studied high performance transit service options that will connect major activity centers within the central city area, such as streetcar, bus rapid transit, light rail, personal rapid transit, and others.

Here's to hoping STA puts together a video like this to help the everyday people like me who don't speak in jargon understand their plans. Plus it's just fun to watch animated Lego people.

I90 Width Restrictions

The Washington State Department of Transportation is putting some restrictions on Interstate 90 this morning. No loads over 18' wide will be allowed on the freeway from mileposts 291.4 to 293.61, both directions, in the area of Sullivan Road, between March and October. This restriction is 24 hours a day, 7 days week.

No loads over 10' wide will be allowed on I-90 from mileposts 275.4 to 280.16 in both directions (in the area of Geiger Road) between April and October. This restriction is also 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Freeway Rut Repair Starts Soon

The Washington State Department of Transportation wants you to know that work starts on April 4 to smooth five miles of deeply-rutted Interstate 90 west of downtown Spokane. Get ready for slow traffic, congestion and delays between Geiger Boulevard and the downtown Spokane freeway viaduct.

The lanes will be ground down 1 ½ inches to remove the ruts, several hundred concrete sections that are cracked and broken will be repaired, and the Latah Creek Bridge repaved.

The damage to be repaired is blamed on a high volume of traffic and studded tires over the years.

Traffic will be reduced to two lanes in each direction during daytime hours for most of the project. During evening and overnight hours, there may be times when I-90 is limited to one lane. In addition, eastbound I-90 will be reduced to one lane when work is under way on the Abbott Road Bridge near the top of the Sunset Hill.

The legal speed limit will be reduced for the duration of the project to help ease congestion and improve safety.

Construction should take about 36 weeks to complete, with the project probably suspended over the winter and completed in 2012.

Fire Commissioners Ask For Additional Money For Bridge Reconstruction

Spokane Valley Fire’s Board of Commissioners has drafted a letter to the Washington State Department of Transportation in support of reconstruction of the Sullivan Road Bridge over the Spokane River. That's because the bridge has recently been determined to be structurally deficient. Many of the trucks the fire department uses exceed safe weight limits for the bridge, meaning they would have to go miles out of their way to get across the Spokane River at Sullivan. This could mean delayed response times for fires and other emergencies.

The Spokane Valley News Herald has the story.

Proposed State Transportation Budget Wouldn't Include Gas Tax Increase

Washington voters will not be asked to raise gas taxes or any other tax related to roads this fall. The House Transportation Committee agreed yesterday that there’d be no ballot measure sent to voters asking for a tax increase to pay for more road projects this year.

The proposed House Transportation budget includes $72 million over the next two years for the North Spokane Corridor, $12 million to replace the Keller Ferry, plus money for a variety of projects such as Havana Street, Bigelow Gulch Road, the Geiger Spur rail project and for six bicycle and pedestrian safety projects around Spokane.

The Spokesman-Review has more on the proposed budget.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pedestrian Killed on I90

A woman died Saturday night after being struck by a car on eastbound Interstate 90 just west of the Washington-Idaho state line.

The woman, whose name has not been released, was standing in the right lane of the freeway when she was hit by an eastbound car driven by a Post Falls woman.

The Washington State Patrol is investigating the incident, trying to determine why the woman was standing in the freeway lane.

TAC Meeting Next Monday

The monthly Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting is next Monday, March 28. Here is the agenda if you want to look it over. Members of the public are always welcome at TAC meetings so feel free to attend.

City Construction Projects Getting Underway

- Work on a project to replace a 36-inch water transmission main with a larger main in Hartson and 11th avenues from Havana to Sherman streets restarts today. Some work on this project was done last fall. The project also includes repairs to 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. Hartson Ave. between Havana and Myrtle streets will be closed to traffic. Signs will be in place. Local access will be maintained.

The $3.5 million project is funded by the City of Spokane Water Department and the 10-Year Street Bond.

- If you hadn't noticed, work started last week on a project to rehabilitate Second Avenue from Howard to Arthur streets. Second Ave. from Arthur to Division streets is reduced to one lane and is slow going so you may want to avoid the area. The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of July.

The $2.1 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond, Wastewater Department, Water Department, and safety funds.

Central City Mobility Meeting Mar. 29

The public will get a look at several downtown-related transportation projects all in one place next week, at the Central City Mobility meeting scheduled for Mar. 29. There will be information on a variety of projects there, including the possibility of an electric streetcar or trolley line through downtown Spokane, the University District Bike and Pedestrian Bridge, SRTC's Transportation Vision Project and a little campaign we're launching this week with our partners called Spokane Road Fix.

The open house is planned for March 29 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Chase Gallery in the lower level of City Hall. The Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column has more details.

Train Derails Spilling Grain

If you're taking a train anywhere tonight or tomorrow, you could be rerouted due to a derailment near Bonners Ferry. 25 cars came off the track, spilling a large amount of grain that was being hauled. The Coeur d'Alene Press has the details.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hawaii Gas Hits $4 Per Gallon

Here it comes, those high gas prices we keep hearing about. Hawaii just became the first state to have unleaded gas reach $4 per gallon. The Idaho Press Tribune rounds up some of the gas prices around the nation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Downriver Drive Closure

City of Spokane Urban Forestry staff are doing an emergency removal of a dead tree on Downriver Drive right now. That means Downriver is closed between Columbia and Aubrey L. White Parkway until about 1 p.m.

So take that into consideration when driving.

I90 Work Starts March 28

The project to widen I-90 in the Spokane Valley starts on March 28, so you may want to leave a little earlier to get where you're going.

The Interstate 90/Sullivan Road to Barker Road widening project will add a third lane in each direction through this 2.8-mile section of I-90. Crews will remove the existing asphalt pavement then rebuild the highway with a more durable Portland Cement Concrete Pavement (PCCP) surface.

This section of the freeway was built in the 1950's, when traffic volumes were significantly lower. The plan is to continue widening the freeway, in stages, to Liberty Lake and eventually the state line, as funding becomes available.

Besides moving more vehicles, this widening helps to move freight more efficiently. Traffic will flow freely through the project with two lanes in each direction during most of the construction. Crews will build temporary pavement and lanes, so all the freeway traffic can use one side of the existing highway.

Drivers will need to be alert as they travel through this section. The lane width will be reduced from 12 feet to 11 feet and shoulder width will be only two feet. The speed limit will be reduced for the duration of the project.

Construction on the $15 million project should be complete by late fall.

Keep watching here, because all of the agencies that deal with transportation in the area are coordinating on a campaign to keep congestion to a minimum this construction season. I'm hoping to be able to tell you more next week.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Campaign Aims To Keep Elderly Drivers, And Others, Safe

SRTC contracts with the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization to do the transportation planning for Kootenai County, as well as Spokane County. So I have a blog on that side of the state line as well.

On that blog, I posted a thread earlier today in response to the Idaho Senate passing House Bill 160, which protects doctors from lawsuits if they recommend that a patient's driver's license be revoked due to age or health issues. It was a link to a Coeur d'Alene Press story about how you know when it's time for an elderly driver to give up driving, and who is responsible for enforcing such a move; the driver's family or the government.

A gentleman who started 'Keeping Us Safe,' a campaign to keep older drivers safe, posted information on some of the resources his movement offers. Matt Gurwell is a former Ohio State Trooper and what grabbed my attention about his campaign is why he started it. He says it was the result of 20-plus years of holding dying people in his arms at accidents scenes and delivering death notifications to families.

Among other things, Keeping Us Safe offers a self-assessment program for older drivers, a course in identifying signs of decline in the elderly and a workbook called "Beyond Driving with Dignity" that was developed to offer families a roadmap on how to address the issue of driving safety with an older adult in your family.

So if you have an older driver in your family, you may want to check out the Keeping Us Safe website.

Joint SRTC/KMPO Board Meeting

For those of you who can't get enough of our SRTC Board meetings, you get a bonus this month. SRTC and Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO), the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Kootenai County, ID, have called a special joint Board Meeting for Thursday, March 31 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Garden Plaza, 545 N. Garden Plaza in Post Falls.

The KMPO Board contracts with SRTC for day-to-day administrative and planning duties.

We're getting the two boards together because 2010 Census results show population increases in both Spokane and Kootenai counties. That could mean some implications for each area, although we're not sure what kind of implications yet.

Representatives from the Federal Highways Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and the U.S. Census Bureau will make presentations and answer questions from the Boards at the meeting, related to affects the 2010 Census may have on the two counties. Members of the public are welcome to attend, as always, so take a nice drive out to lovely Post Falls at the end of this month. A meeting agenda will be posted here soon.

What's Your Car's/Bike's Name?

I've had a lot of people mention to me lately that their vehicles have names. My friend Becca's Durango is 'Dusty,' Angela's Jeep is the 'Valdez' (because of how much oil it leaks) and SRTC's office bike, given to us by the Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program is named CooTeR. I also happen to know that @Vanillajane who posts on here has a name for each of her many bikes. So I was wondering, have you named your car, bike or other mode of transportation?

Monday, March 14, 2011

TTC Meeting This Wednesday

SRTC's Transportation Technical Committee meets for their monthly meeting this Wednesday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m. You can view the agenda here. As always, the TTC meetings are open to the public so feel free to attend if you have the time.

Pedestrian Killed On 904

A 62-year-old Cheney man was killed last night in an accident State Troopers say was related to bad weather.

The Spokesman-Review reports that Petrick P. Rogers was crossing state Highway 904 at Four Lakes when he was struck by a Ford Explorer driven by a Spokane teenager.

Rogers died at the scene of the accident, troopers said. It had been raining fairly hard at the time of the accident.

Second Ave. Project Starts Today

Okay, don't say we didn't warn you. The Second Avenue project starts today, with the stretch between Arthur and Division streets being reduced to one lane. The project will rehabilitate the road. The Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column has the details. Plus it's got a little mention of SRTC. So if new posts quit appearing here, you'll know I got 'reorganized.'

Friday, March 11, 2011

Who Is The Father Of The U.S. Interstate System?

Here's a fun fact that BiketoWork Barb sent me: do you know why Dwight D. Eisenhower is called the 'Father of the Interestate System?' After taking office in 1953, President Eisenhower made revitalizing the Nation's highways one of the goals of his first term.

In the army in 1919, Eisenhower had travelled across the U.S. and saw the poor condition of our roads. During his World War II stint as Commander of the Allied Forces, his admiration for Germany's Autobahn highway network reinforced his belief that we needed a better road system.

When elected president, Eisenhower formed committees to study the idea and met with Members of Congress to promote the proposal. When legislation failed in 1955, observers predicted that in the presidential election year of 1956, the Democratic Congress would not approve such a significant plan sought by a Republican President. Eisenhower continued to urge approval though and worked with Congress to reach compromises that made approval possible, signing the Federal-Aid Highway Act on June 29, 1956.

Here are some more fun interestate facts from the Federal Highway Administration website.

County Won't Consider Impact Fees

In his 'State of the County' address today, County Commissioner and Board Chair Al French said the Board of County Commissioners will not consider any traffic impact fees or other costs that will negatively impact business or the housing industry until their is satisfactory economic recovery and employment is back to 'acceptable levels.'

Focusing on a “new norm” for local government, French emphasized that in today’s economy, local government can no longer afford to operate the way it has in the past. He added that as demands from the public, and state and federal mandates stretch resources, local government must seek partnerships to hold the line on taxes while preserving services.

French identified several administrative programs that have been identified as good candidates for consolidating services, including Road Maintenance and Snow Removal, but didn't say exactly how or if they would for sure be consolidated.

Legal Disclaimer: For Laughs Only- Do Not Try At Home

I stole this graphic from the Coeur d'Alene Pedestrian and Bicycle Blog so call them if you have complaints ;) It's Friday and we all need a break, and a laugh, so read this and enjoy it but don't actually do it. Especially the flashing part. Cause I can't endorse or encourage you to do anything that might get you beat up by an angry driver. I do like the 'call me' sign and the 'slow clap' though and may try it myself. Will report back if I get the nerve to do it. As for the cat, I don't get that but it seems like any graphic is enhanced by a cartoon cat.

Just click the graphic to see it full size.

Writer Criticizes How Tab Tax $ To Be Spent

Bumpy road ahead
Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor

And they wonder why citizens don’t trust government. The “tab tax” was to improve streets, and now we see how. Ten percent to sidewalks and 90 percent to streets — but how much of that 90 percent is going to “bicycle lanes,” on which no cars can travel.

Also, the funds will probably be used to hire or rehire city workers instead of trained professionals that are employed by paving contractors and are subject to work standards instead of the city standards that consistently have used sub-standard materials and poor workmanship for years with the results of needing to be redone over and over, resulting in job security with benefits and pension that go on forever.

Stop government bloating and hire it out. By using several contractors, multiple projects can be done at the same time and without buying millions of dollars worth of equipment which you don’t know how to operate.

David Darlow

Mr. Darlow- the City does contract out all of their rehabilitation and new construction projects. The only road work the City does itself is patching of things like potholes and cuts in the cement for utility installation or repairs. Every other project gets contracted out. Here's a list to the City's project bid web page where you can see what's already been bid on and what's coming up.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And It Begins...

Work starts Monday, March 14, on a project to rehabilitate Second Avenue from Howard to Arthur streets. The project also includes replacing a sewer main from Sheridan to Hatch streets and a water main from Howard to Stevens streets. Traffic signals will be upgraded, too.

Beginning Monday, Second Ave. from Arthur to Division streets will be reduced to one lane. The signalized intersections will be controlled by stop signs and all other intersections will be closed to traffic. This phase of the project is expected to continue until early May, and you can expect delays.

The $2.1 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond, Wastewater Department, Water Department, and safety funds.

And speaking of construction starting up, we sent the annual Construction Map to the printer today so you will be able to pick up your free copy sometime the week of Mar. 21 to help you avoid all those areas that could slow you down.

Roads Closed For Parade Saturday

The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is this Saturday, March 12 at noon, so there will be some closed roads downtown. Here's the route:

- Floats starts at the Spokane Arena, heading south along Washington St. to the parade’s start at Spokane Falls Blvd.
- From there, the parade moves east on Spokane Falls Blvd. to Bernard St.,
- South on Bernard St. to Main Ave.,
- East on Main Ave. to Stevens St.,
- North on Stevens St. to Spokane Falls Blvd.,
- Down Spokane Falls Blvd. to Post St.,
- Across the Post St. Bridge, and back to the Arena.

Washington St., from the Arena to Spokane Falls Blvd., will close at 10 a.m., with the rest of the route closing at 11 a.m. Streets should be reopened by 2 p.m.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Councilmember Encourages City Pedestrian Plan

In his monthly newsletter, Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder writes about how walking isn't just good for your physical health, but also for your mental health. Studies apparently show that walking could be prevention for Alzheimer's disease. And that, Mr. Snyder says, is just one more reason the City of Spokane need a Pedestrian Master Plan.

Here's his news letter entry if you want to take a walk.

Snoqualmie Closing For Avalanche Control Work

These are pictures of avalanche control work at Snoqualmie Pass. The Pass is currently closed down so crews could bring down a buildup of snow that could otherwise result into a slide onto the roadway.

Eastbound traffic is stopped at milepost 47 near Denny Creek and milepost 56 near Gold Creek. Westbound traffic is stopped at milepost 61 near Price Creek.

Due to the nature of this type of work a reopening time can't be estimated. We'll keep you updated. While you're waiting though, here's a very interesting entry from the Washington State Department of Transportation blog on how avalanche prevention work is done. I want to get paid to 'play' with explosives.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brown Bag Session Cancelled

Remember that brown bag lunch session I mentioned earlier this week that will precede Thursday's Board meeting? It's been cancelled so scratch it off your calendar. Something about scheduling conflicts.

Hot Coffee Spill Blamed For Accident

Here's your cautionary tale for the day: texting and driving isn't the only thing that will leave your car in this condition. Anything that distracts you from paying attention to the road is potentially deadly.

The driver of this car was reportedly drinking coffee while driving, when he spilled some on his lap. When he bent over to clean it up he swerved and hit a power pole. has the story.

Moral of the story: stop drinking coffee, playing with the radio, punching addresses into your GPS, flirting with other drivers, reaching into the backseat, putting on lipstick, talking on the phone, digging for change under your seat, looking for a map in the glove box, cleaning steam off the inside of the window, petting your dog, eating cereal, painting your nails, and anything else that takes your eyes, or your mind, off the road.

County Loses Authority To Acquire Land For Federal Road Projects

State officials are stripping Spokane County of independent authority to acquire land for federally supported road projects, as a result of alleged mismanagement of the County's Bigelow Gulch construction project.

The Spokesman-Review today reports that two phases of the $66 million project don’t qualify for federal right-of-way reimbursement and three more phases could be at risk. Here's the story.

Gas Price Finder

With gas prices inching up, you may be looking for the cheapest gas around. This gas price finder from MSN Autos can help. You just put in your city and state and it comes back with a list of the cheapest local stations all the way through the most expensive. Legal disclaimer: I'm not sure how often the site is updated. I typed in 'Spokane, WA' and the site says the Fred Meyer station on Thor street is the least expensive with gas at $3.18 per gallon for unleaded. Well, I got gas there Sunday evening, and even with my Fred Meyer club card discount, it was $3.25 per gallon for unleaded. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing prices haven't gone down since then, since the national trend seems to be for prices to rise, not fall, right now. It's fun to play with anyway though, gives you an idea who has less expensive prices on a regular basis.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Trains Kill Large Number Of Animals

I thought I had been noticing a lot of roadkill in the area lately, but nothing compared to the carnage in Montana this winter. Fish and Wildlife officers say hundreds of pronghorn antelope and deer were killed by trains this winter after herds gathered on tracks to escape deep snows. Approximately 800 in fact.

The Missoulian has the story.

Liberty Lake Council Approves Road Projects

The Liberty Lake City Council agreed to refurbishing work on the City's roads that rate the lowest on the city’s inventory of roads based on a five-year pavement management program. They also discussed the idea of a 'local improvement district' to pay for road repairs.

The Spokane Valley News Herald has the details on the planned repairs.

Incident Response Vehicle Drivers Have Busy Job

You know those guys who drive the Washington State Department of Transportation Incident Response vehicles? Well you wouldn't believe some of the stuff they've seen on the freeway. The Spokesman's 'Getting There' column has the details.

SRTC Board Meeting This Thursday

This Thursday is the monthly SRTC Board meeting. Here's a look at the agenda.

As always, members of the public are welcome to attend.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I've worked in several fields in my life including construction, the media and now transportation planning. I have found that the folks in the transportation planning field tend to be a little more passionate about what they do. To the point where we forget to take care of the basics sometimes. To illustrate, the picture below is what greeted me on our in/out board when I got into the office this morning. Know what it says? It's a reminder to fill out our timecards or we don't get paid. Makes perfect sense.

L.A. Approves Incredible Bike Plan

Well, one thing you can say about Los Angeles is that they don't do anything half way. Someone made a comment on this blog a while back about maybe by the year 2015 we'll have four more miles of bike facilities within the City of Spokane. Okay, we're nowhere near the size of L.A. but get this: L.A.'s City Council just approved a new bike master plan that calls for 1,680 miles of interconnected bike paths!

The City of Spokane only has about 971 miles of roadway, so L.A. will have more miles of bike facilities than we have miles of streets! Crazy. But awesome.

Here's how they plan to implement this plan.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bill Would Charge 'Utility Fee' For Street Maintenance

A State House Bill is being considered that would create a pilot project allowing some cities and towns to charge residents, businesses and government entities for maintenance of urban streets. Spokane is one of the cities that would be eligible to use this funding source.

So why call the charge a utility fee as opposed to a tax? Because it would reflect the correlation between a property and the estimated number of vehicle trips from that property.

While some cities are supporting the bill, the main opponents are from the private sector. The Seattle Times has the story.


Gas Prices Rising

Have you noticed the increase in gas prices? It seems kind of hit-and-miss. My left side went numb yesterday when I pulled into a Liberty Lake gas station and saw the price for regular was $3.29 per gallon. I passed on that station and went across the freeway, about two blocks away, to a station that was selling regular for $3.13. Much better.

This Spokesman-Review article talks about the jump in gas prices in the just the past couple days and how that's affecting area drivers and businesses, in Spokane and Kootenai counties.

Centennial Trail Fund Raiser

The Friends of the Centennial Trail group invites you to attend their third annual Adventure Auction to help support the trail.

The Centennial Trail is free resource that belongs to the community that the group would like to continue to make available to the public. But that requires maintenance and upkeep, which relies on grants and donations. There are also gaps in the trail that need to be filled in, which also requires money.

By attending the auction on March 25, you can help to complete the trail and keep it maintained. You can get tickets by calling 509-624-7188.

Some Info On Changing Signal Timing

In response to a blog thread I posted earlier this week regarding red light cameras,@Hank suggested changing signal timing in an effort to reduce incidents of red light running. His idea was to make the yellow lights last longer, then have overlapping reds, or all the signals red for a small period of time before the signals in one direction turn green. This is referred to in the engineering world as an 'all red' phase apparently.

I spoke to someone in the City's Street Department who said that increasing amber lights doesn’t necessarily parallel increased safety. As they retime signals and implement photo red, they calculate the amber interval based on ITE Traffic Engineering Handbook Methodologies and that re-evaluations of clearance intervals resulted in decreased, not increased, yellow times.

An engineer for WSDOT Eastern Region that I talked to this morning said that the City of Spokane, and a couple other area jurisdictions, have taken a somewhat official stance on not using the 'all red' approach for a number of reasons. Apparently studies show that in communities with overlapping red lights, people adapt to this timing and either speed up to get through yellow lights or even go through red lights more often, as they subconsciously know they have a few extra seconds to get through the intersection before the signal from the other direction turns green. The all-red phase also impedes efficient traffic flow slightly by adding lag time between each light sequence. It's only a second or three, but it's repeated every time the light changes, hundreds of times daily.

The engineer I spoke with today said there are studies to that effect, but when I was digging around on the internet, all I could find were studies that say lengthening the yellow light and implementing an all red phase help cut down on red light runners to a small degree, but red light cameras were much more effective. I'll continue to dig to see if I can find something more conclusive.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Op Ed Piece Suggests Taxing Crude Oil To Pay For Transportation

Here's one I haven't heard before: an opinion piece in the Detroit Free Press suggests levying a percentage tax on crude oil in order to fund hundreds of billions of dollars of transportation improvements and shore up the depleted Highway Trust Fund.

Gas taxes currently support the Trust Fund, but are dwindling because new technology has improved gas mileage, translating to less taxes paid for gas. The tax is bringing in less that what the government is paying out for transportation, so the Free Press writer says collect the tax at refineries and adjust the rate quarterly to account for changes in the price of oil.

What are your thoughts on this?

Mission Ave. Closure

Mission Ave. from Hamilton to Perry streets will be closed to traffic on Wednesday, March 2, and Thursday, March 3. The closure is needed for water repair. Drivers will be detoured to Indiana Ave. Signs will be in place.

Snoqualmie Open Again

Avalanche control work is complete and Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90 is open to all traffic again.

Workshop To Help Business Owners

Are you a business owner or manager within the City of Spokane whose company is located on the route of a planned construction project in 2011? If so, the City is hosting a workshop designed to help you cope with these projects on Thursday, March 24, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. in the City Council Chambers in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

The free workshop, titled “Open For Business: Making the Best of Rough Road Construction,” is intended to help businesses plan for and manage the disruptive impacts of local street construction. The workshop is a partnership between the City and the Greater Spokane Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). PRSA members are volunteering their time and expertise to help interested businesses.

The program will cover:
• How to get information on local projects and provide feedback to construction engineers.
• What to expect when construction begins.
• Developing business planning strategies to ready your company for street construction.
• Survival tips for making it through the construction project.
• Developing communication, staying on message, staying positive and using creative promotion and business strategies.
• Post-construction ideas to get your business back on track.

The workshop also will be videotaped by CityCable 5, the City’s government-access cable station, for replay at a later date.

In addition to the presentations at the workshop, participants will receive a “Surviving Construction Toolkit” that will provide specific, detailed and relevant information to surviving construction.

For more information on the workshop, visit the Business and Development Services Department website here.

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.