Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Follow Us On Twitter/ Like Us On Facebook!

If you're reading this, you're obviously one of the many people who get their news and information online. Well, when it comes to transportation, you now have a couple new sources to get that news.

In an effort to reach members of the public who may not attend public meetings or respond to traditional media such as the newspaper or television news, SRTC now has Facebook and Twitter pages.

To receive transportation updates, please ‘Like’ SRTC on Facebook at this link. Or you can follow us on Twitter by clicking here.

SRTC is continually searching for new ways to involve citizens in the public process. I've found though found that reaching everyday people is becoming increasingly difficult in these busy times and these social media websites are another way to expand our public outreach.

Fish lake Trail Clean Up Day

You're invited to join the Inland Northwest Trails Coalition and REI at the Fish Lake Trail to celebrate National Trails Day this Saturday, June 4! Come pick up your Kids Adventure Journal and clean up Fish Lake Trail for summer users. Bring your family, your bikes, your leashed pets, some work gloves, large push brooms and water bottles and be prepared for fun! Once the trail is free of trash and pine needles, you'll have an opportunity to hike or bike some of the most beautiful and scenic paved trail in Eastern Washington. The 'work' part of the day is from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Meet at the trail head at 800 S. Milton in Spokane.

Officers Assigned To Bike Patrols

The Spokane Police Department has dedicated two patrol officers to work bike patrols for the next few months. Officers Marie Rosenthal and Deanna Schmidt will be riding their police bicycles throughout downtown, Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm. Their primary goal is to provide a visible police presence within the retail zone of the downtown area.

The officers will enforce both criminal and non-criminal violations. During the summer months police see an increased population downtown and would like to ensure that every visitor has a safe and enjoyable experience.

Forefathers Right AND Wrong When Predicting The Future Of Transportation

This is fun and interesting. Click here to read an article from an issue of the Ladies Home Journal in the year 1900. The article is a prediction of what the author thought at that time would happen in the next 100 years, and it includes some predictions on transportation. For instance, the article predicts that there will be no street cars in big cities, trains will be able to go 150 miles, automobiles will be cheaper than horses, and everyone will be able to walk ten miles at a time. Very facinating stuff.

So what are your predictions for the next 100 years, since we're on the topic? I'm still waiting for my personal jet pack, so I'm going to throw that out there. What other changes to transportation do you expect in the next century?

New Airport Director Has Big Plans

The newest member of SRTC's Board is Larry Krauter, the new director of Spokane International Airport and Felts Field. We're still getting to know him, and here's a way you can too; in this interview in today's Spokesman-Review, Krauter talks about his vision for the airport, how he'd like to 'humanize' the airport experience for travellers and how to better utilize Felts Field.

Fish Lake Trail Mural Vandalized

The Spokesman-Review is reporting that someone vandalized a mural in the Fish Lake Trail tunnel less than two weeks after volunteers created it.

Apparently on Friday night, someone wrote graffiti on every panel on both sides of the tunnel near Marshall, said Dan Schaffer, who heads the friends group that stewards the trail.

Eastern Washington University art students had spent weeks designing and outlining the farm and railroad themed mural. Volunteers showed up on May 14 and 15 to add color to the outline.

Friday, May 27, 2011

We can expect a paradigm shift in federal transportation spending habits

A lot of my (jeff, not staci) job at SRTC is tracking legislation -- especially budgetary legislation -- at the local, state and federal levels. Those who know me have probably heard me a say this thousand times over the past couple of years, and now you are going to hear it again:

The way our federal government funds transportation is going to change dramatically over the next few years. Priorities will change, programs will be redesigned to reflect those priorities and ultimately the states will be put in the driver's seat when it comes to spending the ever-dwindling federal dollars we do receive.

Larry Ehl, from the Transportation Issues Daily blog, has EXCELLENT analysis on the subject here.

How this next 6-year transportation authorization bill shakes out is any one's guess at this point, but one thing appears to be certain: the transportation funding system as we know it today is not going to survive much longer. But you can rest assured that we will try and keep you informed of it here at the SRTC Transportation Blog!

Have a great holiday weekend,


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Meeting For Nevada St. Project

I know, you may not even want to think about more construction projects, but in 2012, the City of Spokane is planning a project to rehabilitate Nevada St. from Broad to Francis avenues. In the meantime, the folks there would like to tell you about it so you know what to expect. A public meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 1, at the Garry Middle School Cafeteria, 725 E. Joseph Ave. Come learn about the project and the expected business and traffic impacts.

More Construction Projects Starting

There are new construction projects starting and traffic alerts for the weekend and next week posted at www.SpokaneRoadFix.net. Check it out or get stuck in traffic.

Holiday Closures

If you're travelling for the Memorial Day weekend, you'll be glad to know that most construction work shuts down by noon on Friday in anticipation of incrased holiday traffic.

While no work will be going on, I-90 just west of downtown Spokane will continue to be reduced to two narrow lanes in each direction and I-90 about 10 miles east of downtown Spokane has narrow lanes on temporary pavement. US 395 just north of Spokane will remain reduced to one lane in each direction for about a half mile. Southbound US 2 just north of Spokane in the vicinity of the North Spokane corridor freeway interchange is reduced to one lane.

If you're heading to the west side of the state, I90 east of Snoqualmie Pass will have two lanes open in both directions.

Locally, all government offices and services will be closed on Monday for the holiday. In the City of Spokane, parking meters don't have to be plugged that day either.

Tomorrow is my 'flex' day off, so there will be a long blogging holiday unless it rains all weekend and I get bored and blog from home. Otherwise blogging resumes Tuesday, along with all other government work.

Senators Hash Out Transportation Spending Bill Outline

A bipartisan group of senators have finally agreed to a long-term transportation spending bill.

The bill would spend about $56 billion a year on highway and transit construction, roughly the same amount per year, adjusted for inflation, as the last long-term transportation bill that expired in 2009. A lot of details are still up in the air though. KGW TV out of Portland tells us what has and hasn't been agreed upon.

Safe & Complete Streets Act of 2011 Passed

U.S. Senate members yesterday introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011, designed to create safer streets with every project built. Led by Senator Tom Harkin (IA), the measure would direct states and regions to adopt policies to provide for the needs of all users of the transportation system, including people of all ages and abilities who are walking, bicycling, and taking the bus.

In Spokane, a group including representatives from the City of Spokane, SRTC, Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane Valley, Spokane County, Futurewise, the Lands Council and many more, have been working toward a Complete Streets policy. The Spokane City Council passed a Complete Streets resolution a while back and work is ongoing behind the scenes to move toward adopting a CS policy.

The Down to Earth Blog has more on the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Washington Most Bike Friendly State

Congratulations Washington! For the fourth year running, our has earned the title of “Most Bicycle Friendly State” from the League of American Bicyclists. That's for the efforts of our leaders to improve conditions for bicycling through programs, policies and places to ride.

Here's the announcement from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Spotted Downtown Minutes Ago- The 'Eliptigo'

Eve in our office is SRTC's unofficial bike and pedestrian coordinator/expert. She was really excited when she got here this morning because she saw a guy on a bike like this outside our building and had never seen one before. She looked it up and found out it's an 'Eliptigo.' She said she was too busy watching the rider to think of taking a picture or asking him about it until he was too far away to catch. Because apparently the bike was fast.

Anyone own one of these bikes or know someone who does? Got the scoop- how they compare to a regular bike, how much they cost, the advantages over a regular or recumbent bike, etc.?
I know some of you are train watchers like me, so did anyone see this train go by about 8:00 last night? It was a REALLY long train and was just car after car of these and other military vehicles as far as the eye could see. The picture doesn't do it justice becaus it was almost dark, I was taking it with my phone and I couldn't get a good angle where I was standing. In person though it was really impressive but at the same time kind of somber because its a reminder of our folks overseas that are often out of sight, out of mind.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two City Construction Projects Start Next Week

- Second Ave. from Howard St. to Sunset Blvd. is set to resume on Tuesday, May 31. Work began last year on the project to rehabilitate Second Ave. from Sunset Hwy. to Howard St. and replace a water main and catch basins. Beginning Tuesday, May 31, Second Ave. from Howard St. to Sunset Blvd. will be reduced to one lane of traffic while crews adjust the utilities. This work is expected to last about two weeks. Once utility adjustments are made, the street will be completely closed for two nights while crews pave the street. Paving will take place in the evening/overnight hours to minimize traffic impacts. Once paved, the project will be complete and the street will reopen to traffic.

Additionally, Second Ave. from Arthur to Browne streets is progressing and expected to reopen to traffic by Wednesday, June 1.

- Work on Mission Ave. from Hamilton to Greene streets begins Tuesday, May 31. The project will rehabilitate Mission Ave. from Napa to Greene streets and replace a water transmission main from Hamilton to Greene streets.

Beginning Tuesday, May 31, Mission Ave. from Hamilton to Napa streets will be closed. Drivers north of the Spokane river will be detoured to Indiana Ave. and drivers south of the river will be detoured to Trent Ave. Work on the project is expected to be complete in late September.

Pasadena Park Pathway Project Receives Federal Funding

I blogged yesterday about some local bike and pedestrian safety projects that were just notified that they received state and federal funding. Well, Spokane County has an additional one that I just found out about.

The Pasadena Park Elemtary School Pathway Project received $451,992. It will construct a six foot wide path from the school to the adjacent church for a safe student pickup location, flashing crossing beacons and a six foot wide sidewalk along both sides of Upriver Drive. The sidewalk will stretch from the school crosswalk to west Dick Road on the north side of Upriver Drive and west to Maringo Drive on the south side of Upriver Drive. These improvements wil allow 34 students to walk to school that couldn't before.

Airport Master Plan Open House Tonight

The Spokane International Airport is updating its Master Plan and wants your input.

The airport has completed all the action items from the previous Master Plan and is ready to create a new list. The new plan will help the airport serve the growing population and the expanding regional economy over the next thirty years.

You can get involved by attending an open house from 4-7 p.m. today at the Double Tree Hotel, 322 North Spokane Falls Court. The open house invitation is below, click on it to see it full size.

Meeting info includes forecast information and conceptual project ideas. Airport staff and the project team will be present to answer questions and take comments.

For more information, check out the Spokane International Airport Master Plan website.

Spokane Valley Bike & Pedestrian Master Program Meeting Thursday

Do you want to get the latest updates on the plans for enhancing Spokane Valley’s bike and pedestrian facilities? Then come to a community meeting this Thursday, May 26 from 6-7:30pm for an update on the Bike and Pedestrian Master Program (BPMP). The meeting is at the Central Valley School District Administrative Offices at 19307 E. Cataldo Avenue

Staff from the Spokane Valley Community Development Department will be on hand to share results of an inventory of existing facilities and unmet needs. You’ll have the opportunity to review them and share your input, get information on the next steps in the process, and find out how you can stay involved and informed.

The BPMP will guide planning, development and management of existing and future bicycle, pedestrian and multi-modal connections throughout Spokane Valley.

Group Of Young Folk Support Complete Streets

Want to get involved in Complete Streets for Spokane at a grassroots level? NextUp Spokane is holding a strategic planning session tonight at 6pm in the 2nd floor conference room of the Saranac Building. They're looking for 'artists, thinkers, bikers, drivers, walkers, and people that breathe oxygen' to help advance their campaign.

Not familiar with NextUp Spokane? I wasn't either. According to their website, they're a new grassroots network of civic-minded young people who are coming together to take on generational apathy. The site says the group is made up of teens, twenty-somethings and 'even people in their early thirties' (so that's why I wasn't informed) forming a loose-knit organization to help each other become the most effective community leaders they can be.

They officially approved Complete Streets Spokane as their first issue campaign, but plan to promote it in their own unique way: with I ♥ Complete Streets Spokane t-shirts, a Complete Streets Spokane Ride to highlight the need for safe streets and a 'summer-long guerrilla art escapade through downtown Spokane.' Well this should be fun. I'll keep you updated.

Will 'SPUI' Confuse Some Drivers?

The new I-84 Ten Mile Interchange in Boise is scheduled to open tomorrow, but the Idaho Transportation Department is worried it will be confusing to some drivers to navigate.

The "Single Point Urban Interchange," also known by the not-very-attractive acronym 'SPUI' is controlled by a single, centrally located traffic signal. You be the judge. Watch the video and let me know if you think people will adapt quickly or if there will be some issues while drivers try to figure it out.

Getting Fat Behind The Wheel?

Thanks to Paul for this item: Could how many miles you drive dictate how fat you are? Some people at the University of Illinois think there might be a relationship between your vehicle miles travelled and obesity and they just released a paper showing the statistics.

Click It Or Ticket Emphasis Patrols On Now

The County wants to alert you that 'Click it or Ticket' Emphasis Patrols are underway this week through June 5. Consider yourself warned, so if you get pulled over you don't have any excuse.

Did you know...

• A seat belt reduces your chance of dying or being severely hurt in a collision by about 70%.
• An air bag is designed to work in conjunction with the seat belt and might not even deploy unless you are hit from the front or rear.
• Seat belts are particularly life saving in a roll-over collision where ejection from the vehicle greatly increases your chance of dying.
• Washington State has one of the highest rates of seat belt use in the USA and the world. Let’s keep it up!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Local Bike/Ped Safety Projects Receive Funding

Some really good news regarding local bike and pedestrian projects: The Washington State Department of Transportation sent notice to several local jurisdictions that they received money for bike/ped projects through either the Safe Routes to School program or the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety program. It will take a couple years before most of the projects are actually built, but here are the projects that received funding:

Spokane County- Northwood Middle School and Farwell Elementary School Safety Project $373, 794
A project aimed at transitioning certain students from bussing to walking at Northwood Middle and Farwell Elementary schools. The project includes installing sidewalks and crosswalks where there currently aren't any and installing a traffic signal with a pedestrian assigned right of way at the intersection of Pittsburgh and Farwell.

Spokane City- Browne Street/Division Street Couplet project $410,000
Part of the Division Street Gateway Project. It will construct ADA ramps and pedestrian countdown timers at intersections.

Spokane City- Comprehensive Education Project $116,450
An education campaign to work with and complement the Spokane Regional Health District's Spokane Moves Safely campaign to reduce collissions between vehicles and bicyclists and pedestrians.

Spokane City- Monroe Street $80,600
Installation of pedestrian countdown timers and ADA ramps at intersections.

Spokane City- Nevada Street $100,460
Replace sidewalk that's missing along Nevada near Garry Middle School on busy Nevada Street.

Spokane City- North Division Street (US 2) $214,035
A project in conjuction with WSDOT. Provide facilities to cross Division Street in multiple locations.

Airway Heights- Sunset Elementary Safe Routes Grant 2010 $223,692
The project includes sidewalk, flashing beacons, fence, crosswalk markings, bicycle and pedestrian safety classes, materials and events, speed feedback signs, and additional police patrols around Sunset Elementary.

Transportation Roundup For Week of May 23

The freeway is backed up, there's construction in town as well, and cops are cracking down on those who don't wear seatbelts. Here's the Spokesman's roundup of all things transportation in their 'Getting There' column.

FHA Report Released

Got a little time on your hands? The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has released a report that explores the effectiveness of engineering countermeasures in improving safety and operations for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Here's a link if you want to check it out.

Broken Water Main Closes Perry St.

Perry St. from N. Foothills Dr. to Fairview Ave. will remain closed to drivers this week while City crews repair the street. It was damaged during a water main break that occurred earlier this morning. The water transmission main has been repaired.

According to KXLY.com,
the water main break also created a sinkhole in the pavement about 15 feet wide and five feet deep. It took crews 90 minutes to shut off the water and by that time thousands of gallons had already gone into the streets.

NSC Open House Wednesday

I get asked all the time what's happening with the North Spokane Corridor and when the rest of the properties needed for the project will be acquired by the Washington State Department of Transportation. Well, here's a good way to find out: WSDOT will host an open house from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St. in Spokane, to present information on the next phase of real estate acquisition in regards to the NSC.

No formal presentation is planned, so you can drop by anytime during the meeting. Project details will be on display for viewing with Engineering and Real Estate Services staff on hand to listen, answer questions, and take comments on the project.

WSDOT will soon begin purchasing homes in the area south of I-90 between the Liberty Park and Sprague Avenue Interchanges. Purchases will begin on the east end of the project limits and proceed west. The parcels WSDOT purchases are needed in order to widen I90 and build a new interchange to connect I-90 to the NSC eventually.

More information on the NSC project can be found here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spotted In Downtown Spokane Just Minutes Ago

UI Prof Helps Visually Impaired People Cross Street

Here's something cool that's happening in our neck of the woods that will help impaired people (not THAT kind of impaired) all over the country.

A University of Idaho professor developed the 'Advanced Accessible Pedestrian System.' It provides audible signals that help pedestrians with vision impairments get across the street safely, and it's an improvement on those bird sounds you hear at intersections in places like Portland.

Here's the story from KLEW TV.

AAA Says More People Will Travel Over Holiday Weekend This Year

If you're staying home over the upcoming holiday weekend due to gas prices, AAA says you're in the minority. The travel organization predicts gas prices won't stop an estimated 34.9 million Americans from traveling 50 miles or more away home for the the Memorial Day holiday weekend. That's about .2% or 100,000 travelers more than did so last year.

That is even with gas prices averaging a dollar more than at this time last year — $3.91 a gallon compared to $2.85.

The group's research indicates travellers will try to make up the money by cutting in other areas.

The predictions are based on economic forecasting and research by Boston's IHS Global Insight, which says lower unemployment and higher disposable income still won't be enough to erase much of the uncertainty about gas prices.

Bicyclist Involved In Collision Says He's Eager To Get Back On Bike

Here's an interesting end to Bike to Work Week: I've been talking with the bicyclist who was hit by a vehicle earlier this week. 'Brice' made a comment on the blog yesterday and when I asked him to tell us what happened, he said he wasn't feeling up to getting beat up in a blog forum (I hope you'd all be respectful) so I've been emailing back and forth with him instead.

His post yesterday said he is glad to see a blog where people didn't automatically blame the bicyclist, although Brice was ticketed for failing to yield to a pedestrian. Here's what happened, according to both Brice and the police report diagram: Brice was heading south on Post on his bicycle. A pedestrian was crossing Post at the intersection with Cora. There was a vehicle stopped at the stop sign on Cora headed west. Brice didn't see the pedestrian and continued through the intersection. The vehicle apparently thought Brice was going to yield to the pedestrian and proceeded through the intersection. Brice couldn't stop in time and hit the car.

I wasn't there or anything, but it seems to me the car should've waited at the stop sign until he saw for sure what the bicyclist was going to do.

Brice says he's pretty banged up but thankful he's not dead. Although he goes back and forth at being grateful and upset about what happened and how it played out. He says a witness at the scene said he was thrown about 30 feet, and had someone had a video camera 'he'd of had a million hits on YouTube already.'

As soon as paramedics showed up, Brice was loaded onto an imoblization board and into an ambulance. He never gave a statement but a police officer came into the ambulance and issued him a ticket. I'm not sure what standard procedure is in cases like this. I've been in injury accidents in a vehicle before and both times the police either came to the hospital or to my home to talk to me about it, but didn't do it at the scene.

The good news is that Brice is still eager to ride. He is a 25+ year avid cyclist and his only concern is that he will try to ride before he's healed enough. The bad news (besides the injury and traffic ticket) is that before the accident, Brice was on his way to buy a last minute 25th anniversay gift for his wife. Obviously he never got it. But he's alive, so that's a big gift to his wife. Get better Brice, we're glad another 'ghost bike' didn't show up in this case.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Downtown Parade Street Closures

Several downtown Spokane streets will be closed Saturday night for the Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade. Want to know the routes the City suggests you use to get around them? Check out www.SpokaneRoadFix.net to find out.

WP-SIA Study Article

We've just recently wrapped up the West Plains-Spokane International Airport Transportation Study here at SRTC. Not familiar with it? Here's an article in this week's Journal of Business that 'stars' our own Senior Transportation Planner Eve Nelson. You may have a hard time accessing this one because sometimes the Journal asks for a password. If you really want to read it and can't get to it, let me know and I'll email it to you.

Your Chance To Meet Spokane Valley Mayor- And Get Free Food

Special request time. If you're anywhere near Sprague and Bowdish tomorrow morning, please stop by the City of Spokane Valley's Energizer Station. The station will be right in front of the City Hall offices and manned by Mayor Tom Towey (the cool dude with the dog in his basket) and City Councilmember Bill Gothmann.

This is your chance to show the folks who make the decisions just how many people are out there riding bikes. This will make adoption of their Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan a lot easier down the road, plus maybe light a fire under some people to get working on more bicycling and pedestrian facilities.

If nothing else, just do it for the free Bumble Bar that Spokane Valley planner Mike said he'd give you for stopping by. And maybe Mayor Towey will bring that cute little dog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Another Bike-Vehicle Collision and Why/How Accidents Happen

The Spokane Police Department just sent out a news release about a bike collision that happened yesterday. According to them, it happened at Post and Cora Streets when a bicyclist was southboung on Post approaching Cora. A pedestrian was crossing Post from East to West and was mid-intersection at the time of the collision. A vehicle was stopped at the stop sign west on Cora at Post.

The bicyclist failed to yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk. The stopped vehicle, upon seeing the pedestrian crossing the street, and knowing the bicyclist must yield to the pedestrian, proceeded to cross Cora. The bicyclist struck the crossing vehicle, causing him to be ejected off of his bike.
The speed of the bicyclist appears to be a factor. He was cited for Failure to Yield Right of Way to a Pedestrian, causing a collision, which is a $261.00 penalty. Fortunately, the cyclist suffered only minor injuries.

All this reminds me that there was something I was supposed to blog about last week: the Spokane Regional Health District's 'Spokane Moves Safely' campaign aimed at reducing the number of collisions between vehicles and people on foot or on bikes.

The Health District has been working for several months now, analyzing data, to determine what causes collisions so that they can work to prevent them. Among other things, some interesting items they found out is that the peak of these kinds of accidents is around 5 p.m., kids are more often involved in collisions in the summer and the month of October, more adult pedestrians are involved in collisions in the winter (probably because it gets dark earlier), and the most prevalent reason for bicycle collisions is bicyclists travelling on the wrong side of the road and failure on the part of vehicles to yield.

You will be hearing more about this when the Health District launches the public part of their campaign in mid-June, so stay tuned. In the meantime, @Ryan said he likes New York City's 'Don't Be A Jerk' campaign, which uses humor to spread its message. Watch this until we have something local to show you.

Spokane Valley Lane & Road Closures

Spokane Valley has some lane and road closures coming up you probably want to know about. And I90 going through Spokane Valley has some lane closures you're definetely going to want to know about. Jeff in our office says the bus sat on the freeway for about 20 minutes last night trying to get through the backup caused by the lane closures.

So how can you avoid adding to the gridlock? Check out www.SpokaneRoadFix.net website to know where construction is happening and to find alternate routes.

LaHood Wants Rebate At Dealership For Electric Car Buyers

I've heard a lot of folks say they'd love to own an electric car, but they can't afford the initial cost of one. Well, there could be some helpf for you in the future. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said yesterday he wants consumers to be able to get a tax rebate at dealerships when they buy electric cars.

The federal government currently offers a $7,500 tax credit on the purchase of electric vehicles, but that can't be taken until buyers file their income taxes. The new rebate could be applied when you actually buy the car.

The Las Vegas Sun has the story.

Fast Food?

Maybe we're overthinking the safety thing here in the U.S. We have crossing arms at rail road crossings, signs posted to stay away from trains and off rail road property, and regular emphasis patrols to catch people who try to sneak across the tracks when trains are coming. In Thailand though, the only thing that stops for the train is shopping. Watch it all the way through for the hook.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deadline To Submit I90 Comments Extended

If you haven't gotten around to submitting your ideas on how to improve Interstate 90through Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake, you're in luck. The Washington State Department of Transportation just extended the deadline to do so.

WSDOT is looking for your thoughts on freeway designs that could help commuters and freight haulers get where they're going more conveniently. Some of the suggested possible changes include added lanes and more efficient on- and off-ramp locations between Barker and Harvard roads.

For more information, here's a link to the WSDOT web page on this project. You now have until Wednesday, June 1 to submit your comments, thoughts, ideas, suggestions, etc. Get on it because I'm going to bug you about it.

WA State Transportation Budget Signed, Gregoire To Ask For More Transportation Money

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Washington's 2011-13 transportation budget yesterday. It spends $5.6 billion on road, bridge, rail and ferry projects over the next two years, including $72 million for the North Spokane Corridor, $15.8 million to widen Interstate 90 in the Spokane Valley, and $12 million to replace the Keller Ferry.

But the state will exhaust most of the money for big projects from gas tax increases approved by voters in 2003 and 2005, with some big projects like the North Spokane Corridor unfinished Gregoire said. Which is why she plans to ask voters for more money for transportation next year. The Spokesman-Review has the budget details.

Want To Look Hot (But Not The Sweaty Kind Of Hot) While Bicycling?

Bike to Work Barb has lost her mind. On top of holding down a full-time job, serving on the SRTC Board and as Chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee, as well as co-chairing Bike to Work Week Spokane and being a member of numerous other committees, she's taking on yet another challenge.

Those of you who know Barb know that she often shows up at meetings professionally dressed in a suit, often with a skirt and heels. And she arrives that way by bike. And you often hear her talk about how hard it is to find women's office-appropriate professional clothing that's comfortable for biking. Well, no more.

Barb has taken it upon herself to clothe the female sector for working AND bicycling by launching Bike Style Spokane, a bike blog, community, and associated shopping event business that seeks to help women who share her quest for the intersection of style and comfort.

The blog features articles on the challenges associated with biking in regular work clothing, interviews with Spokane people who ride a bike and make it look easy and "bikespeditions": destination shopping reviews that look at a neighborhood center.

And to kick it off, she's holding a fun ladies' shopping event this Saturday, May 21, 10am-2pm, at Roasthouse Coffee, 423 E. Cleveland. Check out the blog for all the details on what will go on there. I'm hoping she'll have a 'nuu muu' on hand. With a name like that, how could it be bad?

TAC Meeting Agenda Available

The agenda and packet for next Monday's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting are available now. Here's a link if you'd like to see what we'll be talking about. If any of those topics grab your attention, feel free to attend the meeting. It starts at 3 p.m. on May 23 in our conference room, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Another Good Use For Your Driveway

So you own a house but no car. Or maybe you prefer to park on the street. Or possibly you use the garage to store your car. What are you going to do with that big, wide open driveway? How about store vaccuums in it? My sister-in-law told me about this pile o'vaccuums at a house in the Valley, so I had to drive by and see it myself. I'm not sure why all those vaccuums are there, but I call it Mt. Vacmore, mostly because it made my niece laugh.

WA Gets FLA Money For High Speed Rail

High-speed rail improvements in Western Washington got a boost last week when the state announced it will get an additional $15 million for the Amtrak Cascades service. The money had been set aside for Florida but was rejected by political leaders in that state.

The Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column has that story and other local transportation news.

Spokane Valley Lane & Road Closures

If you drive in Spokane Valley, there are some lane and road closures you will want to know about. You can find them on the home page of the www.SpokaneRoadFix.net website.

Bike To Work Week Has Officially Started

Despite the rainy start, it is now officially Bike to Work week. The week kicked off with a breakfast at Riverfront Park this morning, but if you missed that, don't worry, there's lots more happening this week.

• Monday May 16 (7am): Spokane Valley Ride to the Kickoff.
• Monday May 16 – Friday May 18 (6:30-9am): Energizer Station every morning all week at Roasthouse Coffee.
• Tuesday May 17 (6:30-9am): Valley Energizer Station at Spokane Valley Medical Center.
• Wednesday May 18 (7-9am): Morning Energizer Stations
• Wednesday May 18 (6pm): Ride of Silence in downtown Spokane.
• Thursday May 19 (6:30-9am): Valley Energizer Station at Wheel Sport East.
• Friday May 20 (6:30-9am): Valley Energizer Station at Spokane Valley City Hall.
• Friday May 20 (4:30 – 6pm): Bike to Work Week Wrap-Up Party! Hosted by Steam Plant Grill/Coeur d’Alene Brewing.
• Spokane Valley Ride to the Wrap-up (4pm)

If any of those items catch your attention, log onto www.SpokaneBikes.net for more information.

In honor of Bike to Work Week,
the Spokesman-Review today is profiling Bike to Work Barb, aka Barb Chamberlain. In addition to being a bicycling advocate, Barb is also the Chair of SRTC's Transportation Advisory Committee and a member of SRTC's Board. Here's that interview.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Budget Proposes Diverting Red Light Camera Revenue To General Fund

Well, a lot of you called this one; Mayor Mary Verner is suggesting helping to dig ourselves out of the City of Spokane's budget hole in part by diverting money raised by the red light camera fines to the general fund. She's also proposing upping the cost of parking fines. The Spokesman-Review has a preview of Verner's proposed 2012 budget.

The criticism of the red light cameras has always been that they're not really about promoting safety, but are instead intended to bring in revenue. By diverting the money raised from them to neighborhood safety projects, that argument was invalidated. Giving it back to the general fund though could raise some hackles.

So what do you think? In times of extremem financial hardship, such as now, is it okay to divert that money? If not, is it because you're concerned the revenue stream will never be diverted back to neighborhood projects? Just curious what your thoughts are here.

I'm Making Plans For You Again

No plans this afternoon? Come down to SRTC and attend our brown bag lunch session presentation on the Transportation Vision Project. Jay Renkens of MIG, Inc., which led the study of how to develop our region's transportation system over the next 30-50 years, will give an overview of the study. He'll cover the process used, the innovated outreach methods utilized and, the most interesting part, the outcome of the study and how to implement those recommendations. Here's more info on the Vision Project. The session starts at noon at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, and lasts until approximately 1 p.m.

And now, being your personal assistant, I'm also going to recommend that you get outside this weekend, but do something productive while you're at it. How about painting a mural along the Fish Lake Trail on Saturday? That's what a group of volunteers will be doing to make that trail even more pretty. Email Dan Schaffer if you would like to help.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Editorial Says Initiative Is Headed The Wrong Way

An editorial in today's Spokesman-Review condemns the latest Tim Eyman initiative as trying to accomplish too much and says, while aimed at tolling on the west side of Washington, it could hurt our chances of funding projects on this side of the state.

Here is what that initiative is supposed to address, and why the Spokesman says it won't work.

A License To Drive Stoned?

In a follow up to a story that Jeff posted a couple weeks ago while I was on vacation, Colorado legislators recently shot down a bill that would have set a legal limit on how much marijuana drivers could have in their systems.

This editorial from the Denver Post claims those lawmakers were apparently smoking something when they made that decision.

I90 Closure Near Snoqualmie

If you're headed across the Pass in the next few days, be prepared so you can avoid delays. WSDOT starts the first of a series of controlled rock blasts on I-90 near the east snowshed today and tomorrow. I-90 will be closed for up to an hour in both directions from Hyak to the Price Creek Sno-Park at approximately 7 p.m.

After crews blast, they will remove debris from the roadway and shoulders, inspect the slopes for stability and safety, and reopen all lanes of I-90.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TAC Members Wanted

You can't hide from me. I know you're out there, and if you're reading this you're interested in transportation, so just go ahead and fill out an application to be on SRTC's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) already.

The TAC is a citizen group responsible for advising SRTC Board members on recommendations regarding plans, programs, and activities conducted by SRTC. The purpose of the TAC is to promote transparency and provide an opportunity for the public to be involved in our programs and activities.

The TAC is composed of 13 members and it only meets once a month, on the fourth Monday of each month, so it's not going to take up that much of your time.
Come on, what are you waiting for? Here's more info and the application so let's get started on this. We're a fun bunch around here at SRTC. You'll enjoy hanging out with us once a month.

I Love Craigslist

My mother has some health issues that affect her balance so riding a bike is hard for her. I went to a nice gentleman's house to look at an item advertised on Craigslist yesterday and saw this beauty. She wasn't for sale and she needs cleaned up, a chain and a tune up but the guy agreed to sell gave her to me cheap. Hopefully this will get mom back on the bike.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Street Sweeping & Lane Closures at www.SpokaneRoadFix.net

Street sweeping starts this week in the City of Spokane. And there are some lane closures on Maple Street you may want to know about if you drive through downtown Spokane.

You can find more information on both these items at www.SpokaneRoadFix.net.

WSDOT Open House Draws Big Crowd

An open house hosted by the Washington State Department of Transportation last week had a good turnout. The meeting was to collect feedback on proposed changes to Interstate 90 between Barker and Harvard Road in Liberty Lake.

The Spokane Valley News Herald has the story.

Transportation Roundup For Week of May 9

Freeway construction. Yep. And lots of it. But that's a good thing. It means we'll have much smoother-funning freeways when it's all over. Anyway, that's pretty much the entire topic of this week's Getting There column in the Spokesman-Review.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Still Haven't Checked Out www.SpokaneRoadFix.net?

Here at SRTC, we love those guys at the City of Spokane's TV station, Cable 5. They understand how transportation affects everyone, and are always willing to help us spread the message about SRTC's activities via their station. So thank you Eric for putting together this piece about the www.SpokaneRoadFix.net website, where you can find out how to avoid getting delayed in construction zones, alternate routes to get where you're going and some alternate modes of transportation that may get you there quicker and more efficiently than driving alone through construction areas. click the title to watch the piece in a larger format.

Auto Sales Increasing, Car Size Decreasing

It makes complete sense; as gas prices go higher, Americans are opting for smaller cars.

New models that get 35 mpg or better led most major automakers to stronger April sales. In fact, auto sales are up overall and have been the past three months, signalling a recovery for the auto industry and possibly the economy.

The Coeur d'Alene Press has the details, although I suspect one of them is incorrect. The story states that the average gas price last year at this time was $1.06! Holy cow, that's some cheap gas.

LaHood Proposes Bus Safety Actions

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has been busy this week. Yesterday he announced his proposals to make travel by bus safer. His ideas include making it easier to take away bus drivers' commercial licenses if they violate drug and alcohol laws and requiring bus companies to pass a safety audit before receiving federal permission to operate.

Here are the details, straight from the man himself.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Downtown Street Closures For Parade

You folks with kids out there in band at local schools probably already know this, but for the rest of you, Saturday is the 60th Annual Junior Lilac Parade through downtown Spokane, so there WILL be some road closures.

To see where they'll be, go to the www.SpokaneRoadFix.net website.

Time Running Out To Comment On Vision Project

Okay folks, if you have something to say about the Transportation Vision Project report, speak now or forever hold your peace. The deadline to review and comment on the Spokane Unified Regional Transportation Vision and Implementation Strategy is this Sunday, May 8. So check it out here. And make comments on it here. Come on, this is your last chance to get your voice heard.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Be Sure To Visit Businesses In Construction Zones!

No ideas of what to do with or for Mom for Mother's Day this weekend? Take her shopping! In Spokane's SoDo District in particular.

The merchants in that area want you to know that, despite road construction on Second Ave., they're open for business and ready to serve you. Some of those businesses are even offering 'construction specials.'

To check out what they have going on, visit the www.SpokaneRoadFix.net website for a flyer and parking and business maps.

Governor Signs Law To Keep Cattle Trucks On I90

Governor Gregoire signed a law yesterday to keep large trucks carrying cattle off area roads and on I90.

I have been hearing from a local Sheriff's Deputy about allegedly hundreds of commercial cattle trucks, some from Canada, that use Trent Avenue to avoid I90 in order to bypass the port of entry weigh station. Well, if they're caught doing that in the future, they'll face a $1,000 fine.

State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, was the prime sponsor of the bill. He says it's important because the inspections can detect sick animals and large trucks travelling on roads not built to handle heavy loads can break the roads down.

New SRTC Interim Transportation Manager

SRTC has a new interim Transportation Manager. The SRTC Board recently decided to take the agency in a new direction. That new direction eventually led to new leadership as well. At a meeting last week, the Board approved hiring Mark Rohwer as the Interim Transportation Manager to lead SRTC while a search is conducted for a permanent Executive Director.

“There is a lot happening in transportation right now,” says SRTC Board Chair Gary Schimmels. “That means a lot for this agency to keep up with and a lot of opportunity for it to grow. The Board is grateful to Mr. Rohwer for returning to his transportation planning roots to help guide that growth while getting the agency through this transition phase.”

Rohwer had a long history at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) - Eastern Region (32 years!) before retiring in 2009. In his role at WSDOT, he collaborated with Metropolitan Planning Organizations such as SRTC, providing him knowledge of how MPOs function and how to move forward as an agency. He's also a long-time resident of the area, so he has a good idea how things work around here and the political climate.

It's expected to take approximately three months to appoint a permanent Executive Director at SRTC.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You Can't Say They Didn't Warn You

I bought the tire below this weekend to replace the flat, shredded one on my wheelbarrow. Look what the new one says on it. Hmmm... good to know. Guess I won't try my luck on it on the highway after all.

Some City Road Closures

Maple St. from Boone to Second avenues will have one southbound, right lane closed to traffic:

• Tuesday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Wednesday, May 4, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.,
• Thursday, May 5, and Monday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Crews will be installing the Intelligent Transportation Systems for the Third Ave. ITS project. Signs will be in place.

Maple St. from Second to Third avenues will have one southbound, right lane closed to traffic:

• Tuesday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,
• Thursday, May 5, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., and
• Friday, May 6, and Tuesday, May 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Crews will be installing the Intelligent Transportation Systems for the Third Ave. ITS project. Signs will be in place.

Strong Rd. from Indian Trail Rd. to the top of the hill will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday, May 4 and 5. City crews will be grading the street. Signs will be in place.

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.