Thursday, September 29, 2011

Freeway Ramp Reconfigurations Posted

Some MAJOR reconfigurations to local freeway on/off ramps and another project wrapping up! You can tell the seasons are changing from construction to fall. All the updates for next week's road constructions are on the home page at

WSDOT Not Endorsing Red Light Cameras For Safety (But They're Also Not NOT Endorsing Them)

On my favorite subject (just because it always seems to spur conversation), the Washington State Department of Transportation says there simply isn't enough data at this point to say red light cameras increase safety.

The state has primary responsibility for traffic signals on state highways that run through cities with fewer than 25,000 people. Cities of that size need state approval to install enforcement cameras along highways. The Bellingham Herald has more.

Couple Construction Items From The City of Spokane

The Nevada St. project will wrap up next week and reopen to motorists by Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Division St. near its intersection with Riverside Ave. will be reduced by two lanes Monday, Oct. 3, through Wednesday, Oct. 5, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day.

Deer/Vehicle Collisions Down- Except In Idaho

For the third consecutive year, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. has dropped- except in Idaho.

State Farm® Insurance estimates 1.09 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. That’s 9 percent less than three years ago and 7 percent fewer than one year ago. Here are more details from the Idaho State Journal.

Certification Planning Review Prelim Results

Just got out of our 'Exit Interview' with the Federal folks for our Certification Planning Review. Every four years, Metropolitan Planning Organizations such as SRTC are required to go through a certification review with the Federal Highways Administration and Federal Transit Administration. We've been doing that this week and just got some preliminary results. A report will be typed up and submitted to us in approximately 30 days that includes some recommendations and possibly corrective actions, but in the meantime, here's a little of what we heard today:

- SRTC needs to document our process for coordinating and consulting with area Native American Tribes.

- The process used to develop our Transportation Improvement Program needs some streamlining and cleaning up.

- The process of choosing members for the Transportation Advisory Committee needs some rethinking as TAC members currently choose additional TAC members.

- SRTC's Memorandum of Understanding with other agencies needs to be updated.

- Need to develop a Memorandum or Understanding with our neighbors to the east, Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization and Idaho Transportation Department.

There were also some commendations:

- The SRTC Board was commended for initiating change in management of the agency.

- The Board was recongnized for its insight on commissioning the Transportation Vision Project.

- The Inland Pacific Hub was recognized as a project that involves the entire region and encourages discussion and input on transportation and freight movement.

- SRTC was commended for pursuing the HUD Sustainable Communities Planning Grant (which we're working feverishly on this week)

- We're doing a good job coordinating with Spokane Transit.

So there you go. When I get the official report, I'll post it on our website and provide a link. In the meantime, any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Number Of Seattle Bicyclists Makes Big Jump

Holy cow Seattle, you've outdone yourself! The number of Seattle residents who bike to work increased 22 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to an analysis of census data by the League of American Bicyclists!

That puts Seattle as number two on the list of large cities in terms of how many people bike to work, behind Portland. Here's more from the Seattle PI.

Spokane Counld Non-Stop Daily Flight To L.A.

Nonstop daily flights between Spokane and Los Angeles could start again with the help of federal funds. Spokane International Airport has been approved for a federal grant to lure and market such flights. The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Here's What We Heard From The Public Last Night

We held our public meeting for our Certification Planning Review last night to ask the public how they feel the transportation planning process is going. Here's some of the feedback we heard:

- Put money into finishing the North Spokane Corridor before spending it on projects like Bridging the valley.

- Roads dominate the transportation planning process. Other modes of transportation deserve increased attention.

- The planning process needs to be more responsive to public comment.

- Find ways to get the the elderly and those with disabilities to jobs and services in the face of STA service cuts.

- Take a closer look at land use when planning for transportation.

Is there anything you have to add?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Certification Planning Review Update

Taking a break from the first session of our Certification Planning Review with the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit and Washington State Department of Transportation. So far we've talked about concerns and issues the agency has (funding and reauthorization of a Federal Transportation Bill) and highlighted some of the major projects SRTC and STA have worked on in the past year, such as the Transportation Vision Project, the Inland Pacific Hub, and STA's High Performance Transit Network. So far, so good.

Train Catches Fire, SRTC Employees Inconvenienced By Forced Break Time

Here's the reason our office was evacuated yesterday and we spent almost an hour outside complaining about the cold and how this was putting us behind on our work. Us government workers, we REALLY like to work. Or maybe we just don't like fire alarms on the first chilly day of the season; hard to say. Things sure have changed since school when you HOPED someone would pull the fire alarm to buy you some time to goof off.

Park Road Reconstruction Project Open House

Spokane Valley staff next week will host an open house to give citizens and businesses an opportunity to discuss the design and potential impacts of the proposed Park Road Reconstruction Project.

The project will take place between Indiana and Broadway Avenue on Park Road. The entire street from Indiana to Broadway will be restriped to a single lane in each direction with bike lanes and a center turn lane.

The intersection at Park and Broadway will be repaved with concrete, and a right turn lane from westbound Broadway onto Park northbound may be added. Concrete will also be installed at the Park and Mission intersection.

Storm water drainage improvements will be made and sidewalks repaired or upgraded to Americans with Disabilities Act standards throughout the entire project area.

Currently, City engineers do not have a set timeline for this project. Dates for construction will be determined as property right-of-way and funding is acquired.

Your participation and comments at the Open House will help lessen the impact of future construction on residents and businesses. Staff and City Officials will be on hand to answer any of your questions and explain project details. More information can be found here.

The meeting is Monday, October 3 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm in the Commons Area at Seth Woodard Elementary.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Transportation Roundup For Week Of Sept. 26

Construction wraps up on Second Ave. and a party follows, a decline in gas consumption could affect gattempts to finance highway construction projects and business owners and residents along the lower portions of North Monroe Street are invited to an open house to talk about improving the streetscape. Find out all that's happening in local transportation this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Subtle Hint?

I stole this picture off a friend's Facebook page from his trip to New York. Apparently this sign is in Times Square. I love it that they have a 'Metropolitan Etiquette Authority.'

Proposed Bill Would Maintain Highway & Transit Funding

2012 highway and transit funding would be maintained at current levels under a bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee late last week. The committee proposes $41.1 billion for highways and $8.34 for transit, compared to the House’s proposal of $27 billion and $5.2 billion respectively.

You can find more details on the Transportation Issues Daily blog.

SRTC Certification Review Public Meeting Tomorrow

Don't forget that tomorrow is the public meeting for SRTC's Planning Certification Review. Federal law requires that all Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs, of which SRTC is one) have a Planning Certification Review every four years, and ours starts tomorrow and goes through Thursday.

The process involves staff from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration reviewing documents and programs we have worked on in the past four years, to make sure we're meeting all of our goals and federal guidelines. There is also two days of interviews with our Director and various staff members to cover all the areas of the review, including the Unified Planning Work Program, the transportation planning process, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Program, financial planning, project selection, air quality, public outreach, Title VI, transportation safety and security, land use and livability and MUCH more.

While a large part of the Certification Review is us sitting in a room answering questions, you also play a part. A public meeting is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) night to provide you opportunity to express thoughts and comments on the transportation planning process and how it meets the needs of the area. The meeting is from 5:30-7 p.m. at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA.

Check Out Our New Website

If you haven't checked it out yet, click here to see SRTC's new website at The new site is much more user-friendly and formatted to make a large amount of information accessible, while still being easy to navigate.

There are a couple new features on the site that our old one didn't have: a page specifically for maps so you don't have to dig through other content to find them; direct links to major projects and documents SRTC has developed or contributed to in the past or is currently working on; a page devoted to transportation modeling for those not familiar with it; and information on the many forms of local, state and federal funding available for transportation locally.

Friday, September 23, 2011

City Names New Planning Director

The City of Spokane has a new planning director. Scott Chesney has a strong background in urban planning and is excited about the opportunity to work in Spokane, according to Mayor Verner.

Chesney was a top pick of the selection committee for the position, an advisory committee of Planning Department staff, and a neighborhood committee that helped with the selection process.

Chesney has worked in redevelopment planning and implementation for 20 years. Most recently, he served as Director of Planning and Development in El Mirage, Ariz. He also worked as the Director of Community Development in Surprise, Ariz., and served as principal for his own urban planning consulting firm, Chesney & Associates. Our new Director, Kevin Wallace, worked with him while in Arizona, so we've already got that coordination going for us.

Trent Ave. Lane Restrictions & A Big Project Wrapping Up

It's Friday and you know what that means. No, not general debauchery over the weekend. That means it's time for you to take a look at the lane closures/construction projects starting or wrapping up in the coming week. They're all posted on the home page of

New Parking Pay Stations Debut Today

Multi-space parking pay stations are debuting in part of downtown Spokane today. The stations allow you to pay for on-street parking with credit cards or coins.

A total of nine stations have been installed on Main Avenue between Lincoln and Wall streets, on Post Street between Main and Sprague avenues, and in the parking lot to the north of Spokane City Hall. A tenth station will be added soon.

A six-month demonstration of the technology will assess its success and determine the best way to roll out this or similar technology within the City. The Downtown Spokane Partnership is the City’s partner on the program.

The pay stations use a “pay by space” format that doesn’t require the customer to display a receipt in their vehicle window.

Parking rates, parking hours, and length of parking time for individual on-street parking spaces all remain the same. The parking stations only allow customers to pay for time when paid parking is enforced.

Within the next couple weeks, drivers also will be able to test a pay-by-phone service that requires people to set up an account on-line in advance of parking. Additionally, the City may test other smart parking technology in the future, including individual parking meters that take credit cards.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Couple of City Items

Bad news: due to some unforeseen circumstances, Mission Ave. will reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 27, not tomorrow. What's a couple more days in the scheme of things though?

Good news (at least for the guys doing it): Crews will be inspecting the Latah Bridge using the Under Bridge Inspection Truck (UBIT) and will be rappelling off the bridge for some of this work. How do I get THAT job??

Happy Car Free Day

Happy Car Free Day! Should have given you some warning about this one so you could be sure to leave your car at home, but every September 22, people from around the world leave their cars behind to draw attention to the need for more non-motorized transportation. Here's more information on this world-wide movement if you want to check it out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ped Plan Update Questionnaire

If you haven't filled out the City of Spokane's Pedestrian Questionnaire yet, it's not too late. Click here to take a quick survey that will help City planners with the development of their Pedestrian Plan update.

And don't forget- next Wednesday, Sept. 28, is an open house to gather input from citizens on Phase I of its Pedestrian Plan Update. The open house is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the NEWESD 101, 4202 S. Regal St., Spokane. More information on the Pedestrian Plan update can be found heres.

Using Road Conditions To Sell Cars

Our country's roads are deteriorating and there are limited funds to fix them. So why not capitalize on that? That's what Audi is trying for- basing a new ad campaign on how their cars are so intelligent you might not even notice how bad the roads are when driving them (click the picture to see it full size). It's not all about profit though, they're also encouraging safety through safe driving and non-texting pledges and other methods.

Transportation Issues Daily has the story, and the commercial.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Needed: Ideas To Revitalize Monroe Street

Got ideas on how to improve the streetscape of North Monroe Street, revitalize the area and improve transportation? Then attend a public meeting next week hosted by the City of Spokane. The City’s North Monroe Street Revitalization project is being done in collaboration with the North Monroe Business Association, the Downtown Spokane Partnership, Spokane Transit Authority, University of Idaho College of Art and Architecture faculty and students, Kendall Yards and the West Central, Emerson\Garfield, and Riverside Neighborhoods.

The open house will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 28, from 3-5 p.m. at Empire Office Machines, 1411 N. Monroe Street. Mayor Verner is scheduled to make comments at 4 p.m.

The comments and information shared at the open house will be used to help identify improvements that can be made to the streetscape, transportation, transit, and infrastructure that will help revitalize the corridor. The suggested improvements will be used to pursue funding, project design, and construction. A portion of the funds will be generated from West Quadrant Tax Increment Financing (WQTIF) which was formed in 2007 to facilitate community revitalization in the West Central, Emerson\Garfield, and Riverside neighborhoods.

Public Involvement Policy Comments Due Next Week

Time is running out to submit any comments/suggestions you may have on SRTC's updated Public Involvement Policy. Here's a link to it if you want to take a look. You can send me your thoughts/comments/other on it here.

Pedestrian Sign Hits Pedestrian

It's the ultimate irony- a Brooklyn woman is injured when a walk/don't walk sign fell on her. Oh the horror. Even the street signs are fighting back now. Here's the story from the Gothamist website.

How Do Street Crews Know Where To Paint Lines?

Question of the day: after a street is repaved, how do crews know where to repaint the center and other lines, and how do they keep them so straight? The Washington State Department of Transportation blog has the answer and it's not as high-tech as I would have expected.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Construction Wrapup Celebration This Saturday

It may be only Monday, but it's never too early to start planning what you're doing next weekend. So, with that said, consider yourself busy next Saturday so you can attend a party to celebrate the completion of construction on Second Avenue in downtown Spokane.

Join Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and area businesses Saturday, Sept. 24 starting at 10 a.m. at Sun People Dry Goods, 32 W. Second Ave. After the ribbon cutting, participants are encouraged to peruse the businesses and check out festivities and specials that will continue until 7 p.m.

TAC Meeting Agenda/Packet Available

After taking a two month hiatus for the summer, SRTC's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) gets together again next Monday, Sept. 26 for their regularly-scheduled monthly meeting.

Here's the meeting agenda and packet. Its at 3 p.m. in the SRTC conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310. As always, everyone is welcome to attend and there is a public comment item on the agenda in case you have something to say.

TIP Meeting This Thursday

Don't forget- the public meeting for the draft 2012-2015 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is this Wednesday, Sept. 21 at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA.

The TIP is a funding program document that lists transportation improvements proposed by jurisdictions within Spokane County. It identifies specific programs or projects that jurisdictions or agencies propose to undertake during the upcoming four years. It can be viewed here.

Truck Drivers Take To Bikes For Safety

You've heard the saying, "Don't judge until you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes" (I'm paraphrasing but you get the gist)? Well in London truckers aren't walking, but biking, a mile in someone else's shoes.

Truck drivers are leaving the truck cab and getting on bicycles in an effort to improve safety on the streets. By spending time on a bike, the drivers will experience what it's like to ride with traffic, especially large trucks. has the story.

Obama Signs Transportation Bill Extention

President Obama late last week signed legislation to extend the federal transportation spending bill, SAFETEA-LU, through March 31 and aviation programs through January 31. The agreement authorizes SAFETEA-LU funding at fiscal 2011 levels, but the final funding level will be subject to fiscal 2012 appropriations agreements. Transportation Issues Daily has the details.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More Construction Projects Wrapping Up

There are a couple of road closures scheduled for next week but I think even more construction projects wrapping up! Construction updates for the week of Sept. 19 are posted on the home page of the website.

Car Seat Emphasis Patrol Starts Today

An area child car seat enforcement patrol starts today to make sure children are buckled in accordance with Washington law.

The Spokane County Target Zero Task Force received a grant from Washington Traffic Safety Commission to promote the correct use of child car seats with an educational and enforcement program. According to area law enforcement sources, parents frequently place children in seat belts too soon. Seat belts are designed for adults and don't properly protect children until they are 4’9” tall.

Under Washington law, people who transport children are required to adhere to the following basic rules to protect children in the event of a crash:

- The car seat must be installed in accordance with the vehicle and the car seat manufactures' instructions.

-Child ages: 0 to at least 12 months and at least 20 pounds --use a rear-facing infant seat. Keep your child rear-facing as long as your car seat allows. New American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines advise toddlers should remain rear facing until at least two years of age.

- Age: 13 months to age four -- use a child car seat with a five-point harness.

- Age: four to 4’9” tall -- use a booster seat. Boosters should only be placed with a lap and shoulder belt.

- Age: up to age 13 -- children should ride in the rear seat of the vehicle.
Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children up to age 14.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ped Plan Public Meeting

The City of Spokane will host an open house on Wednesday, Sept. 28, to gather input on Phase I of its Pedestrian Plan Update. The open house is 5-7 p.m. at NEWESD 101, 4202 S. Regal St., Spokane, WA 99223.

It is a key opportunity to provide input on how the City should increase pedestrian safety and mobility, support a multimodal transportation system, and how to best use resources to implement pedestrian initiatives.

Phase I of the Pedestrian Plan Update will focus on public education and sidewalk infrastructure installation. There are more than 650 miles of missing sidewalks in the City of Spokane and a limited funding source for sidewalk infrastructure. This is the first phase in completing a citywide pedestrian network and will identify priorities based on generators, such as schools, parks, commercial areas, and STA bus stops.

More information is posted here.

County Helmet Ordinance Passes- With Some Revisions

County Commissioners last night unanimously approved a new helmet ordinance for the unincorporated areas of Spokane County. The ordinance requires those between three and sixteen-years of age to wear an approved helmet when riding/using bicycles, electric-assisted bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices (excludes wheelchairs), in-line skates, roller skates, skate shoes, scooters and skateboards in public areas (i.e. roadways, sidewalks, etc.).

The helmet ordinance does not include an enforcement component; those violating the ordinance will not be charged with a civil infraction. Instead, law enforcement and the Spokane County Regional Health District will develop a public education campaign that will include the distribution of informational materials to violators that explain traumatic brain injury and the possible risk to those who do not wear helmets. The new helmet ordinance will go into effect immediately.

County Commissioner Mark Richard initially proposed an ordinance that would apply to everyone, regardless of age, and included an enforcement component. However, his motion died for lack of a second and following further discussion, he supported the adopted ordinance.

Indiana/Sullivan Intersection Open

Did you notice something different today? Yes, I am having a good hair day but that's not what I'm talking about. The Indiana/Sullivan intersection in Spokane Valley is open again!

It was scheduled to reopen after a rehabilitation project later this month, but after learning a ten-day curing period for the concrete would delay reopening of the Indiana/Sullivan intersection, City of Spokane Valley engineers decided not to install a reinforced concrete slab approach to the northbound Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River. That means the intersection reopened today.

With the opening of the intersection, weight restrictions will no longer apply to northbound traffic on the Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River, which had been temporarily rerouted onto the weight restricted southbound bridge. Weight restrictions remain in effect on the southbound bridge.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

US 2 Closures Delayed

Some evening and night closures of US 2 between Farwell Road and SR 206 planned for this week have been postponed until next week due to equipment issues.

SRTC Federal Certification Review Public Meeting

At SRTC our role is to manage the transportation planning process and facilitate coordination between all the area jurisdictions when it comes to transportation. That includes channeling federal money for projects and programs through the planning process and to local projects. While we have many 'partner' agencies, a lot of people ask me who oversees that process and makes sure we're doing our job? Well, besides yearly audits and working closely with federal transportation agencies, federal law requires that all Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs, of which SRTC is one) have a Planning Certification Review every four years. Well guess what- it's our year.

The Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration will jointly conduct a review of SRTC from Sept. 27- 29, 2011. It's a very in-depth process covering all the areas we work in- the Unified Planning Work Program, the transportation planning process, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Program, financial planning, project selection, air quality, public outreach, Title VI, transportation safety and security, land use and livability and MUCH more. The process literally involves three days of interviews requiring us to show how we are meeting federal guidelines for all areas of the planning process as well as meeting or exceeding our own goals.

While a large part of the Certification Review is us sitting in a room answering questions, you also play a part. A public meeting will be held as part of the process to provide the public opportunity to express thoughts and comments on the transportation planning process and how it meets the needs of the area. The meeting is Tues., Sept. 27 from 5:30-7 p.m. at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA. This is your chance to 'grade' SRTC and help us improve our process, so take advantage of it. Any questions?

Traffic Calming Project List Passed

Spokane's City Council last night passed a resolution that finalized the list of traffic calming projects for the 2011 construction season. These are projects to be funded through money raised from the Photo Red cameras.

I know a lot of people don't like the red light cameras because of the potential to use them as a fundraiser, but a couple of pluses in our case; the money raised currently goes for traffic calming AND some people say the traffic calming process is increasing public participation in government affairs. Here's what happened last night from City Councilman Jon Snyder's blog.

KEA To Take Part In PARK (ing) Day

Found someone taking part in PARK(ing) Day this Friday- the Kootenai Environmental Alliance (KEA). And they've got some interesting thoughts on parking in general. I know, it's not something you think about everyday, but when you encounter a parking issue, it gets you pretty fired up doesn't it?

Here's a link to the KEA blog and their opinion on area parking.

Columnist Rides STA Route And Writes About It

Well, you had to see it coming. In homage to the discontinued Altamont bus route, Spokesman-Review humor writer Doug Clark rode the fated route to work one last time and wrote about his trip. Legal disclaimer: we don't condone the use of the term 'STA-holes' or referring to the STA Plaza as a 'money pit.' And I was wondering; Clark states he was headed to work but he didn't head out to catch the bus until 11:43 a.m. Wow, I want those working hours.

Here's the article.

Who Produces More Greenhouse Gas Emissions- Cities or Suburbs?

Thanks to Paul for sending me this one: Is there a correlation between urban density and carbon consumption? Earlier studies suggested that cities produce lower amounts of greenhouse gas emissions than suburbs do, but a brand new study says this may not be the case after all. Here's why, from The Infrastructurist.

Monday, September 12, 2011

SAFETEA-LU Extended Six Months

SAFETEA-LU, the federal transportation spending bill, will be renewed for six months under a Senate-House agreement reached late Friday. Congress will likely vote on the deal within the week. There are some major concerns that come along with the extention though.

Transportation Issues Daily has a rundown of three possible issues that could be exacerbated by the deal.

STA Stuff

A reminder that Spokane Transit Authority's service changes go into effect this upcoming Sunday, Sept. 18. The Spokesman-Review had this article today on the changes taking place.

In the meantime, STA is being recognized by Human Transit, a public transit planning blog, for their new network map. Human Transit calls the map "one of the clearest I've ever seen" and "The legend, too, is both clear and wonkish at the same time." Hmmm... not sure how to take the wonkish part but it was meant it in a positive way so great. You can read the whole post and view the map (also below) here.

Intermittent Blogging This Week

I'm doing my civic duty and serving on jury duty this week and next so blogging and other social media posts could be intermittent for a while.

STA Rider Appreciation Day This Wednesday

SRTC is joining with Spokane Transit and the Spokane County Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Office for 2011 Rider Appreciation Day this Wednesday, Sept. 14! The purpose of this event is to thank STA customers for their continued support, particularly with the service changes scheduled to begin on September 18.

STA employees will be at The STA Plaza providing free mugs and City Perk coffee to customers and thanking them for their support. There will also be STA Staff on hand to answer any questions about the service changes, new schedules and system maps.

CTR Office Staff and volunteers (such as myself) will be at park & ride lots around the area handing out reusable shopping bags with STA information inside (schedules for route serving each specific park and ride lot, service change notice, new schedule) and CTR information and goodies.

I'll be at the Liberty Lake Park and Ride between 6-9 a.m. so stop by and see me and get your bag full of freebies.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fairchild Railroad Tracks Coming Out

Spokane County’s long-running Geiger Spur railroad realignment project is coming to fruition. Crews are removing a little over two miles of abandoned tracks from Fairchild Air Force Base. The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Stateline Port of Entry Open

The new port of entry is open near Stateline. KXLY News has the story.

Couple Construction Projects Wrapping Up

It's Friday, which means it's time for an update of construction projects going on next week. There are a couple projects wrapping up and a couple new lane closures you'll want to know about for your commute. They're all posted on the homepage at

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Indiana/Sullivan Intersection To Open Sept. 21

Start the countdown- re-opening of the Indiana/Sullivan intersection is scheduled for September 21 when the project to resurface the intersection wraps up. Crews had hoped the completion would occur earlier in the projected timeline so normal traffic patterns could be restored.

The additional time allows a ten-day "wet cure" period for the concrete slab that forms the approach to the Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River. The longer cure time will help ensure the long term durability of the slab.

In the meantime, current traffic restrictions will remain in place, with Indiana Avenue at the Sullivan Road intersection closed to east-west through-traffic. Sullivan Road remains reduced to one lane each direction, with both northbound and southbound traffic routed across the Sullivan Road Bridge on the west side.
Okay, so we knew that Hummers aren't the best vehicle for the environment, but who knew that some of them apparently don't like pedestrians either? I saw this on the Complete Streets Spokane Facebook page and thought it was kind of funny.

City Test Driving New Parking Payment System

The City of Spokane and the Downtown Spokane Partnership are teaming up to 'test drive' (pardon the pun) new multi-space parking meters on the portion of Post and Main streets depicted in the map below. Click on the map to view it full size.

The new system means you won't have to carry change with you to park downtown. Instead, you will be able to use a credit card, although coins will still be an option if you have them. And rather than taking a receipt back to the car to display for parking enforcement officers to see, you will note the space number of your parking spot and enter that number when you pay for parking.

The most important part to a lot of people: the City is not planning a rate increase for parking in this area. The meters will be installed on the Post and Main corridor starting in mid-September and will be there for six months through March. Assuming the machines operate within the required parameters, a full-scale system will be installed across the Downtown core in 2012.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Meeting Could Have Board Quorum Present

SRTC's annual audit has been completed for the 2010 fiscal year and the SRTC Board has been invited to an exit conference to receive preliminary results of the audit. There is a chance a quorum of Board members could be present for the meeting. Open Public Meeting Laws require that we notify the public anytime a quorum of the Board is gathered.

The conference is 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011 at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201. While the exit conference is open to the public to attend, there will be no public testimony taken at the meeting.

Second Ave. Paving Closures

A reminder from the City of Spokane that Division and Browne streets at Second Ave. will be reduced to one lane tonight, Sept. 7, beginning at 7 p.m. until tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. while crews grind and adjust the utilities.

Then, Second Avenue from Division to Howard streets will be completely closed to traffic Thursday and Friday, Sept. 8 and 9, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day while crews pave the street.

Additionally, Division and Browne streets will be reduced to one lane while crews are paving.

This project is expected to be completely wrapped up in mid-September.

Transportation Improvement Program Public Meeting

Mark your calendars because you're coming to one of my public meetings. We've just released our draft 2012-2015 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for public review and comment, and to answer your questions on it, we're holding a meeting. Yay meetings! That wasn't sarcastic either. I actually like doing public meetings because it puts me in touch with the folks out there who are interested in transportation issues for our area.

Anyway, back to the TIP; it's a four-year funding program document that lists transportation improvements proposed by jurisdictions within Spokane County. Each year we publish an updated TIP to let members of the public know what projects are tentatively planned for the next four years, how much each will cost, if any have funds dedicated to them yet and the approximate construction date (although that's a moving target).

You can review the TIP here. To submit comments on it, either attend the public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 4-6 p.m. at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave. or email them to The last day to submit comments is Friday, Oct. 7 at 4 p.m.

Spokane Animals Using 'Critter Crossing'

Ever see those 'Deer Crossing' signs and wonder who taught the deer to read so they know where to cross? Well apparently they're smart critters after all, because they've quickly figured out how to use the animal underpass below the North Spokane Corridor at Deadman Creek.

Letter Writer Says Helmet Law Is To Make Money

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Helmets About Money

We don’t need government to tell us we must wear a helmet to ride a bike, skateboard or anything with wheels. We can decide for ourselves.

It’s just another way for them to write tickets for more revenue. If they want more revenue, they can make a law for pedestrians, people in walkers and wheelchairs to wear helmets.

If you get a traffic ticket, you now can go to court and pay more money to have the ticket go from a moving violation to a non-moving violation. It’s not about safety; it’s about money.

Gust Abariotes
Spokane Valley

Agree or disagree? Keep in mind the countywide bike helmet initiative is proposed by the Spokane Regional Health District, not County Commissioners.

Spokane Transit Service Changes Go Into Effect Sept. 18

It's September and you know what that means. Yeah, yeah back to school and all that stuff but the important thing is Spokane Transit's service changes that go into effect this month. The changes are the result of extensive interaction between the STA Board of Directors, STA Staff and the riders and members of the community who use the STA system. Sunday, Sept. 18 is when the changes actually take place, so if you take the bus to work on Monday morning, be prepared.

Here's where you can find all the changes in one place.

PARK(ing) Day Is Sept. 16

Anyone locally taking part in PARK(ing) Day this year? It's Friday, Sept. 16. PARK(ing) Day is a annual global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places or mini-parks.

The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat. Until the meter runs out, anyway.

Here's more info on PARK(ing)day. Let me know if you're taking part and I'll get someone to come take some pictures of your PARK(ing) spot for use in SRTC's everyday activities. If you're okay with that, of course.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Joe Tortorelli Appointed To WA State Transportation Commission

Congratulations to Joe Tortorelli of the Spokane Area Good Roads Association and SRTC's Transportation Advisory Committee. Governor Christine Gregoire appointed Joe to the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) to fill a seat vacated by Latisha Hill, also of Spokane.

Tortorelli has a strong economic development background with 30+ years experience working with local government and private sector groups interested in growing the local economy and generating private sector capital investment. He says he became active in a variety of transportation organizations when he realized the connection between transportation and economic development.

As a member of the WSTC, Tortorelli will be a voting member of the SRTC’s Board of Directors. Here's more information on the Transportation Commission if you'd like to know more about it.

You're Invited To Pedestrian Sign Unveiling

You're invited to the unveling of new flashing pedestrians signs this Thursday, Sept. 8 at 12:15 p.m. at the corner of Hamilton Street and Desmet Avenue. Join Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and Dr. Thayne McCulloh, President of Gonzaga University, Gonzaga students, and others at the unveiling ceremony. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.

The signs are a joint project to increase driver awareness and pedestrian safety near the Gonzaga campus. A pedestrian enhancement island was recently installed in the crosswalk at Hamilton Street and Desmet Avenue and the lights go in tomorrow. Pedestrians will push a button to activate flashing rectangular lights that notify drivers on Hamilton Street of their intentions to cross the street. The project was funded by Gonzaga University and the City of Spokane.

Funding Challenges Loom For NSC

How to fund the rest of the North Spokane Corridor is up in the air. Nearly $600 million has been allocated to the new freeway so far, but an additional $1.3 billion is needed to complete it, and the economic outlook isn't so rosy considering the economy at this time.

Here's an article from yesterday's Spokesmab-Review detailing where the NSC stands now.

WSU Starts Campus Car-Sharing Program

A big shout out to Washington State University this morning. The University has contracted with Zipcar, Inc. to offer a car-sharing program on its main Pullman campus. The transportation option is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all university students, faculty and staff members who are licensed drivers aged 18 and older.

Interested? Here are more details.

Busy Week/Month In The Federal Transportation World

September is gearing up to be one of the busiest months ever for federal transportation issues. What's going on, you ask? Well, according to Larry Ehl's Federal Transportation Issues Daily website, the FAA authorization expires mid-month, and the highway/transit authorization and federal transportation taxing authority must be renewed by the end of the month. And the 2012 fiscal year transportation appropriations bill (or a short term continuation) must be enacted before October 1.

Let's start small though. This week, the short-term extension of SAFETEA-LU will be the primary topic of a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Thursday. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over public transportation programs, is expected to produce a four-month extension that will be added to the EPW bill.

Also, we're expecting to hear soon about the House Transportation Committee's plans to act on an extension. Abd President Obama addresses Congress and the nation Thursday evening and is expected to include transportation/infrastructure proposals in his jobs initiative.

So, plan your week/month accordingly. I know I will be.

New SRTC Executive Director & This Week's Board Meeting

We'd like to welcome our new Executive Director Kevin Wallace to SRTC. He started today and is already at work, figuring out what it is we each do and how he can help us get where we want, and need, to be. If you're interested in meeting Kevin, this Thursday's SRTC Board meeting would be a good time as he'll be officially introduced to meeting attendees, and getting a feel for how things flow around here. Here's the Board packet for a little more enticement to get you to the meeting. As always, keep in mind that there is a public comment session at the meeting, where we'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Snoqualmie Blasting Times Changing

If you're headed to the west side of the state this week at all, be aware that as summer fades, so does daylight, which means the start-time for rock blasting on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass is now 7 p.m. For the safety of Washington State Department of Transportation crews, the work must be performed during daylight hours.

I-90 will be closed both directions from Gold Creek (milepost 56) to the Price Creek Sno Park (milepost 61) today, tomorrow and Thursday, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

You'll also need to plan for the these impacts on I-90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass:

• Rolling slowdowns today through Friday, Sept. 9.

• Traffic restricted to one lane each direction tonight through Friday morning, Sept. 9, from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m., and Friday night, Sept. 9, at 10 p.m. to Saturday morning, Sept. 10, at 7 a.m.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Road Closures & Projects Wrapping Up For Next Week

There are a couple new road closures happening next week, and a couple road construction projects wrapping up! All the latest information is posted at the top of the website. for

Thanks For The Great Customer Service!

The trials and tribulations (and expenses) of owning a vehicle never seem to end. I had an incident recently where a local car wash damaged my car. The car wash owner is now refusing to fix it correctly, as he originally agreed to do, saying that I used the carwash incorrectly. Hmmm, that's a new one by me.

So I contacted the dealership that had given me a coupon to get my car washed there in the first place. I wasn't asking for anything, just wanted the manager to know that a business he is doing business with isn't providing good customer service. To my surprise, the manager at Larry H. Miller Honda downtown said that, because they had given me the coupon, they would foot the bill to get the car fixed! Holy cow that's some good customer service! Wasn't expecting that at all but am mighty impressed.

Seems like customer service is dead these days, so I like to spread the word when I get good customer service. Especially because it is SO expensive to own and maintain a car and with the way the economy is these days many people are barely making ends meet without having to worry about paying for things like getting dents repaired.

New Policy Could Make Reaching Public Transit Easier

Thanks to Bike to Work Barb for this article on how a new Federal Transit Administration policy will make it easier to walk or bike to public transit facilities.

Holiday Closures

Guess what folks? It's another holiday weekend. That means government offices will be closed Monday for Labor Day, including SRTC. I'll be back to blogging Tuesday though, so check back then.

Spokane City Council members will also get a holiday- from their weekly council meeting. They're cancelling it due to the holiday. Their next meeting is the following Monday, Sept. 12.

Good news though, if you plan to come downtown for Pig Out in the Park or last minute school shopping, parking meters don't have to be plugged on Monday. And most Washington State Department of Transportation construction work will be suspended by noon tomorrow to accommodate increased holiday traffic on area roadways.

I, for one, will be sticking close to home this holiday weekend. Anyone travelling anywhere exciting?

Megaloads In Real Life

Our staff manages to get out of the office every now and then, but even then they're willing to take some time to help me out. One of our GIS Analysts, Sylvia, took these pictures of a megaload over the weekend on US 95 near Moscow, ID, despite a security guard giving her the hairy eye ball.

This is a 'reduced size' megaload, but even so, it's not as big as I would have thought. Of course, pictures can be deceiving. The Moscow- Pullman Daily News says many of the 60 loads planned to be shipped through the area will be around 24 feet wide, 14 feet tall, 208 feet long and weighing 413,600 pounds, like this one.

Meanwhile, while looking up the latest info on the megaloads, I came across this picture, which the Lewiston Tribune has dubbed 'Early Megaload.'

Next NSC Project Expected To Get Underway This Fall

A newsletter put out yesterday by the Washington State Department of Transportation- Eastern Region North says that the agency has been fortunate in obtaining very competitive bids on the North Spokane Corridor construction projects over the last few years. That means they saved enough on those bids to put the final component in the north half of the corridor, the Parksmith Road Interchange, out for construction bids.

Although the contract hasn't been awarded yet, the low bidder was the Max J. Kuney Company of Spokane at $6,917,161.

The Parksmith Road Interchange provides access to the Mead community and the adjacent industrial commercial property. Most of the earthwork for the interchange ramps was done as part of a previous project. The work should get underway this fall and be completed in mid-2012.

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.