Monday, October 31, 2011

Can't Stay Awake Behind The Wheel? There's An App For That

Can't stay awake behind the wheel? There's an app for that. The new 'Drivia' app for iPhone keeps drowsy drivers from falling asleep using a voice controlled app that doesn’t require them to look away from the road. Drivia asks trivia questions you must respond to. If you’re unresponsive for a period of time, the app pesters you with questions and beeps with the aim of keeping you awake.

Here's more information from 'A

New Transportation Bill May Not Require 'Enhancements'

The argument continues behind the scenes as to whether federal funds should continue to be spent on transportation 'enhancements,' such as pedestrian safety, bicycle trails, landscaping and historic preservation.

Currently states and metropolitan planning organizations are required to fund enhancements. House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica
says though that they won’t be included in the long-term (transportation) funding bill he expects to produce this fall. 'Planetizen' has the whole story.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Construction Update For Week Of Oct. 31

North Spokane Corridor/Francis to Farwell-Southbound Lanes
The new signal at the Farwell/Shady Slope intersection will be activated Nov. 1. Until then the on-ramp to the southbound NSC at Farwell Road is temporarily co-located with the northbound off ramp. That ramp is restriped into a two-way road. Drivers need to be alert for striping, signage, and signal changes.

Balfour Rd. between 13th and 14th Aveunes
Closed to all traffic until Friday, Nov. 4 for utility work.

Broadway Ave. at Vista, University and Bowdish Intersections
Intermittent curb lane closures in both directions from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday, Oct. 31 through Friday, Nov. 4 for traffic signal work. Signs and flaggers will direct traffic through the work area.

Mission Ave.and Flora Rd. Roundabout
Lane narrowing between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Monday, Oct.31 through at least, Friday, Nov. 4 for landscaping. Signs will direct traffic through the work area.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sprinklers Cause Slick Spots

Hey folks, it's late October. It's safe to turn off your sprinklers now. There have been several reports of icy patches since temperatures dropped below freezing on area roadways due to sprinkler systems left on. One spot yesterday was so bad that a deicer truck was sent to melt it.

The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Flashing Speed Signs Slow Traffic Near Valley Schools

Crossing the street at Chester Elementary and Orchard Center Elementary schools was made safer for students recently when the Spokane Valley Public Works Department installed new school zone speed limit signs. The new signs use flashing beacons to alert drivers whenever the 20mph speed zone around schools is in effect.

The signs were installed as part of an effort to increase pedestrian safety and driver awareness in school zones. In Spokane Valley, many schools are located on busy arterials where regular speed limits are 35 mph. The new signs, with their attention grabbing flashing lights, visibly warn drivers when to slow down.

A speed study conducted by Public Works showed that flashing speed limit signs installed at Progress and University Elementary Schools have reduced the fastest speed at which traffic travels by as much as 31.9%.

The beacons usually flash for 30 to 45 minutes. While specific schedules of operation vary from school to school, the lights generally operate during student arrival and departure times.

A grant through the Washington Traffic Safety Commission helped to pay for the signs.

Best Cities For Trick Or Treating, Based On Walkability, Etc.

Real estate site Zillow has once again released its annual list of the best US cities for trick-or-treating. Using data on walkability, population density, crime, and home value, Zillow ranks the top 20 cities for candy gathering, along with the best neighborhoods for little ghouls in each city. Spokane didn't make the list but Seattle did. Here it is, from the 'Where the Sidewalk Starts' blog.

Valley Bike/Ped Program Goes To Vote Tonight

A reminder that if you support Spokane Valley's Bike and Pedestrian Master Program, you'd better get out and support it tonight. The Valley City Council votes at their meeting tonight whether to approve it for inclusion in the Comprehensive Plan, and there are at least two Council Members who have indicated they will vote against it. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at 11707 E. Sprague Avenue and public testimony will be taken.

How Does I-1125 Affect Our Side Of The State?

I got my ballot in the mail last week and have been going through my voters guide. Being in transportation, my biggest concern has been with I-1125, Tim Eyman's bill to give the state legislature the job of setting transportation tolls, and setting restrictions on them.

It's been years since we've had a toll around here though, so should we even care how this vote goes? Both supporters and opponents of the initiative say a resounding "YES." Eyman says it comes down to democracy for those of us on the east side of the state, while former state Transportation Secretary and spokesman against the measure, Doug MacDonald, says we should care for financial reasons.

The Spokesman-Review has more on how I-1125 it could affect us on this side of the state.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is Texting Behind the Wheel Still Illegal On Hands-Free Devices?

The hype surrounding the recent release of the new iPhone 4S earlier this month included excitement over the phone’s voice-activated personal assistant, nicknamed “Siri.” A much-touted feature was how Siri can be used to dictate text messages without typing — or read incoming texts aloud.

Sounds like that solves the issue of texting behind the wheel right? Wrong. Texting while driving is illegal in dozens of states and while some have written their laws to allow for hands-free use of emerging voice-activated texting technologies, many others haven’t. That means it's still illegal in some states to use Siri, typing or no typing.

'Stateline' breaks down the legal issues and some individual states' laws.

Transportation Advisory Committee Members Needed

Don't forget that SRTC is looking for community members who want to have a voice in the local transportation decision making process. Members are needed for our Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). Here's more information and the application.

Being a TAC member doesn't require a huge time commitment, but at the same time you're making an impact on how transportation decisions are made for our region. The TAC meets on the fourth Monday of each month (in fact we meet today) for a meeting that is about 1 1/2 hours long. We're looking for a variety of opinions, interests, abilities, etc. so don't worry if you're not a transportation afficionado; we need 'everyday people' to give input to guide the process.

The deadline to submit your application is Nov. 8, so you've got plenty of time to fill it out.

Central City Mobility Open House Tomorrow

A reminder that tomorrow is the Central City Mobility Open House, sponsored by the City of Spokane, Spokane Transit and the University District, and SRTC will be there showcasing theInland Pacific Hub project.

The Central City meetings are a convenient way for you to get information on a variety of local transportation projects at one venue, including:

• University District-Sprague Corridor study
• Division Street Gateway project
• North Monroe Corridor Revitalization project
• Central City Transit Analysis, High Performance Transit Network plan, and service revisions

The Open House is 5 to 7 p.m. at The Bookie, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. on the Riverpoint Campus.

'Superloads' To Travel Through Spokane

A series of 'superloads' coming through Spokane will travel down a portion of Third Avenue during the next several months because they don’t fit under a bridge over Interstate 90.

The loads will exit I-90 at Altamont Street and travel down Third for several blocks because they are too big to fit under the nearby pedestrian bridge. They will re-enter the interstate at Rebecca Street.

So what is contained in the loads and are they related to the infamous 'megaloads?' No one seems to know. The Spokesman-Review has more.

Transportation Roundup For Week Of Oct. 24

Results of a new survey on speeding show that people who have more money do it more often, a transportation open house, and more work on the new freeway. The Spokesman-Review's Getting There column has the transportation wrap up for this week.

Senate To Consider Three Transportation Bills Next Week

Save your strength this week because next week is going to be big on the national transportation front. A Senate Committee will publish and hold a hearing on a detailed proposal for the next highway/transit bill this week and the full Senate will debate and vote on an infrastructure jobs bill and the 2012 USDOT funding bill.

The Transportation Issues Daily Blog has details on each of those bills.

Friday, October 21, 2011

STA 31 Day Passes Available At Some Area Grocery Stores

Starting Nov. 1, you will be able to buy STA's 31 Day Passes at a handful of area retailers. This will save you a trip to The Plaza or the Bus Shop. The passes will be sold at the customer service counters (not at each register)at:

1808 W. 3rd Ave.
10618 E. Sprague Ave.
1724 W. Francis Ave.
907 W. 14th Ave.
2610 E. 29th Ave.
9414 N. Division St.

Super One Foods:
830 E. 29th Ave.

926 S. Monroe

SRTC October Newsletter

Let's be honest- it's Friday afternoon and you're at work, but because it's Friday afternoon, you're not highly motivated. However, being the good worker that you are, you want to do something that is interesting and informative and you can claim is work-related. Well, say no more, here is SRTC's October newsletter to alleviate your sluggishness.

If the boss asks, you're just finding out how you can comment on possible Urban Growth Area changes that could affect your place of employment or finding out about the latest proposed road project that has the potential to make your colleagues late for work. No need to thank me.

Snoqualmie Construction Wrapping Up For Season

The delays on Snoqualmie Pass are over for this year. The new eastbound lanes opened to traffic just after 7 a.m. today.

The Washington State Department of Transportation and contractor crews worked around the clock this week to pave transitions between old and new eastbound lanes. Today thousands of drivers who travel over the pass will find a new, wider eastbound highway and bridges between Hyak (milepost 54) and Rocky Run Creek (milepost 57).

Crews also wrapped up rock blasting for winter and plan to be off the road by early November.

Studded Tires Legal In ID Now

It's now legal to put your studded tires on your vehicle in Idaho. If you do though, keep in mind that it's still not legal to drive with them in Washington for a couple more weeks.

Coal Export Public Forum

A local group formed to inform the public of coal export proposals in Washington is hosting a public forum to educate people about the impacts of coal export trains on our community.

The 'Power Past Coal Coalition,' is a group of more than 50 organizations, including the Sierra Club, Climate Solutions, Spokane Riverkeeper and The Lands Council.

The Staet of Washington has set a date to move our last coal-fired power plant— TransAlta —off of coal. In what is being called a giant step backward, coal companies are now threatening to export tens of millions of tons of coal through the Pacific Northwest to foreign markets.

The coal export terminals proposed are in Cherry Point, Gray’s Harbor, and Longview, WA and would draw 50 or more coal trains through communities in Spokane County each day that could be more than 1.5 miles long. Some residents are concerned about the health, safety, and economic impacts of these projects.

A public forum on Thursday, Oct. 27 5:30-8:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St., will address this issue. City Council members Amber Waldref and Bob Apple will be on hand to speak, as will a Department of Environmental Quality Hydrogeologist and others.

Urban Growth Area Update Review

A reminder that there is a series of open houses next week to gather your input on the Urban Grown Area. Spokane County and its cities, towns, and SRTC are collaborating on a regional review of the Urban Growth Area (UGA) and want your input. The Urban Growth Area is the area designated to accommodate projected urban growth and development for twenty years.

The regional review will determine the Urban Growth Area’s ability to accommodate growth and development for the next twenty years. Analysis of potentially expanding or retracting the existing UGA is also a part of the review.

You're invited to learn more at a series of open houses in late October. Below that is a flyer for the open houses. Click on it to view it full size.

Monday, October 24, 2011
5-7 p.m.
City of Spokane Valley City Hall (Council Chambers)
11707 E. Sprague Ave.

Tuesday, October 25,2011
5-7 p.m.
Waste‐to‐Energy Facility, Administration Building
2900 South Geiger Blvd.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
5-7 p.m.
Northwood Middle School Library
13120 N. Pittsburg St.

If you can't make the meetings, you can comment on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) for the Urban Growth Area Update. The DSEIS is an integrated SEPA/GMA document here.

Bad Parking Or Poor Depth Perception?

Thanks to @Vanillajane for sending me this example of extremely bad parking from a parking lot in Olympia. Anyone have other examples they want to share?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Road Construction Update For Next Week

A sure sign that winter is on it's way; the construction report that I compile each week is getting shorter and shorter. There are still a handful of areas to watch out for next week though. Here's where to find them.

VA Transportation Secretary Says They Can't Fix The Roads So People Should Work From Home

I'm going to ask Virginia's Transportation Secretary to put in a call to my boss. That's because he says the physical and financial limits of building and maintaining roads provide a good argument for working from home.

Sean Connaughton says the state doesn't have the money or the physical ability to expand the system anymore and that’s why telework is such an important part of the future.

Since we're hearing this all over the country, I think it could apply in our state as well. And particularly to my job. Here's the article in case you want to run it by your boss.

McCain Anti-Squirrel & Highway Coffee Pot Measure Defeated

The U.S. Senate yesterday defeated a bid by Sen. John McCain to stop funneling federal funds to transportation museums, highway beautification and preservation of historic bridges.

McCain claimed that money needed to repair rundown roads was being diverted to projects like squirrel sanctuaries and car museums, but Senators said his measure would block Amtrak's use of many historic rail stations and the preservation of icons like New York's Brooklyn Bridge and New England's covered bridges.

McCain said recipients of money under the current program have included things as odd as a giant coffee pot. My favorite quote: "I'm a coffee drinker, and so I think a coffee pot is pretty nice," McCain said. But he added, "The fact is we have deficient bridges. We have highways that need repairs." Hmmm... he's got a point there.

For the full story, read this Seattle Times story.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thorpe Road Closure

Thorpe Rd. between Dishman-Mica and Madison will be closed Thursday, Oct. 20 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for stormwater improvements. Alternative access is available via 32nd to Madison or south Mohawk Drive.

Zine Launch Party Tonight

Don't forget- tonight is the launch party for the new pedestrian 'zine,' if you don't have plans after work. The zine is a mini-magazine featuring stories of local folks, from all walks of life, who walk for transportation, exercise and recreation.

From 5-7 p.m. tonight you can pick up your copy of the zine, get some great food and beverages and win door prizes at Pacific Avenue Pizza, 2001 W. Pacific Ave.

SRTC At Central City Mobility Open House Next Week

Mark your calendar for next Tuesday, Oct. 25 because you've got plans. That's the night of the third Central City Mobility Open House, sponsored by the City of Spokane, Spokane Transit and the University District.

The Central City meetings are a convenient way for you to get information on a variety of local transportation projects at one venue. As at past meetings, SRTC will be taking part, presenting information on the Inland Pacific Hub project.

Other projects that will be represented are:

• University District-Sprague Corridor study
• Division Street Gateway project
• North Monroe Corridor Revitalization project
• Central City Transit Analysis, High Performance Transit Network plan, and service revisions

In addition to these major transportation-related projects, representatives from the City’s Pedestrian Plan, Spokane UCommute, and other mobility projects will be available to provide information and answer questions.

The Open House is 5 to 7 p.m. at the South Campus Facility (412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.) on the Riverpoint Campus.

Elected Officials Want To Hear From Small Business Owners

Hey local small business owners- our representatives want to hear from you before the next legislative session begins. Your voice matters and you're invited to join a conversation with Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), Senator Lisa Brown from the 3rd Legislative District, and State Representative Andy Billig to discuss issues important for our business community, including transportation issues (hint, hint).

That meeting takes place Thursday, Oct. 27, 8-9 a.m. at GSI, 801 W. Riverside.

Here's a link to the GSI website. If you'd like to attend, click here then hit the 'attend' button.

Valley Bike/Ped Master Program Goes To Council Vote Next Week

Spokane Valley City Council will make their final decision on approving the Bike and Pedestrian Master Program (BPMP) at their meeting next week.

At the first reading of the BPMP, Council members went through the plan section by section and removed words such as "ensure" and replaced them with "encourage." Even so, the council is divided on the topic, with three voting to move the BPMP to the second reading (next week's action), two voting against it and one council member absent.

Valley staff says it's important to get the Program approved and into the Comprehensive Plan in order to receive future grant money toward projects that include bike lanes and facilities. More information on the Bike and Pedestrian Master Program can be found here.

If you would like to attend next week's Council Meeting, it's Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. The Council will be taking public comment on the BPMP.

Police Warn Of Traffic Infraction Email Scam

Email scammers have found a new ruse- they're telling people they received a traffic infraction to get them to download a virus. Spokane Police say people have been receiving emails saying they had been issued a traffic ticket and directing them to a an internet link of what appears to be a video of the traffic incident. Upon clicking the link for the video, victims were asked to download the correct player in order to watch it. The complainant then downloaded the "player" but it turned out to be a virus that crashed their computer. Once the virus was downloaded the complainant was unable to turn their computer back on or retrieve any of their saved documents.

Officials say photo enforcement tickets issued by the Spokane Police Department are mailed to violators via the US Postal Service, not email.

Seattle Gets Big Grant For Streetcar Study

Thanks to Pat for sending me this article: Seattle has been awarded a federal transit grant that is expected to put the city in a better position to compete for transit dollars in the future. The $900,000 grant from the federal Transit Administration will fund a study of the feasibility of putting a streetcar line through the heart of downtown Seattle.

The line would link the South Lake Union Streetcar with the voter-approved First Hill line, which should be finished in 2013. The Seattle PI has all the details.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Upriver Drive To Open Wednesday

Upriver Dr. from Rebecca St. to Frederick Ave. is expected to reopen to traffic tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 19. The sewer project, completed ahead of schedule, installed a sewer line in Upriver Dr. from Rebecca St. to Frederick Ave./Upriver Park.

The $1.1 million project was funded by the Wastewater Department.

Broadway Avenue Closure

Broadway Avenue between Pines and Wilbur roads is closed through 6 p.m. today for utility work.

Bicyclist Run Off Road After Riding Through Wet Cement

I think there are two lessons here- be alert to your surroundings and maybe trying to run someone down with your truck isn't the best way to respond to problems.

KBOI TV out of Idaho Falls says a man who accidentally rode his bicycle through wet cement was later run off the road by the man finishing the cement work.

Police say the cement worker was upset when the cyclist damaged his cement work and got in his truck and chased after the bicyclist, yelling profanities. He then chased the man off the road.

The driver was arrested and faces charges including aggravated assault, reckless driving and resisting arrest.

Montreal Signs & Signals Puzzle Pedestrians

Quick! What are all these signs saying?? Well, you've got a red light which means vehicles must stop. You've also got A red hand which means pedestrians shouldn't walk. And there's some sort of black octagon with a red line through it. Just say no to stop signs? Black octagons should be outlawed?

If you drive, walk or bicycle in Montreal, Canada, you're faced with all these signs daily, plus more. and many people say the signs are inconsistent from intersection to intersection. Which gives them, pardon the pun, mixed signals.

Now police are launching a pedestrian safety campaign to, as the Montreal Gazette says "keep the dead and wounded on city roads to a minimum." That's apparently going to take some work though, considering the issue of the signage. Here's the story.

Fatal Collission In Snoqualmie Construction Zone

I blogged yesterday about the construction and delays on I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass. Well today unfortunately I'm blogging about a double fatal collission that happened in that construction zone. An Idaho couple died when their car was crushed between two semi-trucks as traffic slowed going through the construction area yesterday.

The Washington State Patrol says two cars and three trucks were involved in the chain-reaction crash in the early afternoon that killed the Boise couple and injured five other people.

The patrol says inattention on the part of one truck driver caused the crash. It backed up traffic for seven miles.

Monday, October 17, 2011

October TAC Meeting Agenda/Packet Available

The next SRTC Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting is next Monday, Oct. 24. The meeting agenda and packet just came out. Here's a look.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend TAC meetings so feel free to check it out. Also, we need new TAC members, so if you're interested but uncertain, this would be a good time to attend a meeting to see what it's like. There's also information on becoming a TAC member at the link above.

Sullivan/Indiana Intersection Delays Tomorrow

The City of Spokane Valley wants to remind you that the intersection of Sullivan Road and Indiana Avenue will have lane reductions and narrowing in all directions tomorrow, Tuesday, October 18 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. for pavement marking and crack sealing.

Want To Receive The SRTC Newsletter?

It's almost time for SRTC's quarterly newsletter to go out again, and I'm trying to clean up/update my email distribution list of folks I send the letter to. If you're interested in receiving it, send me your email address by clicking here.

Transportation Roundup For Week Of Oct. 17

Lots going on locally in transportation this week: the Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program (in which SRTC participates of course) turns 20 and is still going strong, Spokane County wants to hear your ideas to improve safety on the traffic corridor that runs down Wall Street to Waikiki and Mill roads, and a popular free driving class will be offered again this weekend. Here's the roundup from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

WSDOT Workers Return Lost Bear

Here's a cool story I saw on ABC National News over the weekend about two Washington State Department of Transportation workers who went out of their way, and spent their own time, returning a very special item to a little girl who's dad is serving our country. These two guys were named ABC's 'Persons of the Week.' Wow, that's a big deal.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Slow Going Over Snoqualmie This Week

Oops, meant to post this last week and ran out of time. If you're driving over Snoqualmie Pass this week, you could be looking at delays of up to two hours as crews close one lane of eastbound I-90. The lane will be closed for six days in preparation for opening a brand new section of highwa!

The lane closed yesterday and won't open until this Friday.

Washington State Department of Transportation officials say the easiest time to get over the Pass during the closures is before noon or after 9 p.m.

A number of traveler information tools are available to help drivers plan ahead:

• The Snoqualmie Mountain Pass Web page has a traffic-flow map for real-time travel information.

• Tune into the Highway Advisory Radio at 1610 AM and 530 AM.

• Follow WSDOT on Twitter @SnoqualmiePass

• Call the I-90 construction hotline at 888-535-0738 or 511.

Say It Isn't So Ray!

I'm going to need to find another public figure to devote myself to apparently. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood last week announced he will be leaving the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2013. Being in transportation, I had pinned all my hopes and dreams on him. Well it's obvious transportation needs a new hero, although Mr. Ray, as I like to call him, did say he still has some big plans before he splits in another couple years.

LaHood didn't say exactly why he's calling it quits, but did hint that a lack of cooperation between parties has become frustrating. Transportation Issues Daily has more.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Road Construction Update For Next Week

All the area construction updates for next week are in, and have been posted to so check it out for areas to avoid next week.

WSDOT Has A Snow Sighting

I thought I had more time, but apparently not. There's snow in them dar hills, as Bugs Bunny would say. All the young kids out there are saying, "Bugs who??"

This picture was posted on the WSDOT Facebook page so we know this snow is in Washington, although they don't specify where. As long as it's not in my neighborhood, we're good for now.

TTC Meeting Next Wednesday, Oct. 19

Boy, the months sure fly, don't they? It's time again for the monthly Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meeting here at SRTC. It's next Wednesday, Oct. 19 and we've just put out the agenda for the meeting.

All TTC meetings are open to the public, so feel free to attend. The address is on the agenda.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

GM Offends With 'Reality Sucks' (And So Does Bicycling) Ad

Wow, General Motors, way to offend the bicycling population. The automaker is being criticized for this ad campaign that implies it sucks to be a college student riding a bike and encourages college kids to 'stop pedaling.. Start driving.' And now they're apologizing for the gaff. In the meantime, the word about this, and the subsequent backlash, spread through Twitter and other social media such as this local bike shop blog post.

City Council Candidate Forum Tomorrow

If you haven't noticed, it's election season again. Greater Spokane Incorporated is joining the Downtown Spokane Partnership tomorrow for a forum to hear from City of Spokane Council Candidates for Districts 1,2, and 3.

This Candidate Forum will focus on business climate issues and economic development. It's free and open to the public so come ask the questions that affect you. Here's the info:

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, 3:30-5:00 p.m.
2316 W. 1st Ave
Spokane WA 99201

I know it's for a separate race, but right here is where my vote is going. Saw this sign in a South Hill neighborhood and my mind was made up.

Are Deer Oganizing To Avoid Collissions With Vehicles?

I have long said that animals are plotting to rise up and take back the earth from humans. Crazy theory? Oh yeah, then why did a Spokesman from State Farm Insurance say he thinks deer are starting a newsletter and getting on Twitter?

Farfetched maybe, but Doug Griffith of State Farm attributes the declining rate of vehicle versus deer collissions on the deer getting smarter. Scary Boise State Public Radio has his theory. I say as long as the deer don't grow opposable thumbs we're probably safe.

Division Street Gateway Project Info

There was a group using our conference room last week for a 'Division Street Gateway' project sponsored by the City of Spokane, so I thought I'd check it out in case anyone asks me about it.

The Gateway Project will identify streetscape improvements to make the Division corridor more attractive, as well as motorized transportation improvements to provide east-west access between the Downtown and the University District.

In doing my research, I found that the project has it's own website.Check it out here for more information on this project.

Bison Crossing- Or Just Milling Around

Here we dodge deer on area roads, but in Montana, it's bison slowing traffic in Yellowstone National Park. A correnspondent for Transportation Nation took this picture over the weekend.

SARP Issue On November Ballot

The future of the Sprague Appleway Couplet is getting close to being decided- by voters. The issues goes on the Nov. 8 ballot for the public to decide. There is still some dissention among elected officials and others though as to whether it should be up to voters to decide, how changing back to two-way traffic would affect area businesses, and what way the vote will go. The Spokane Valley News Herald has the story.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Francis & Addison Intersection To Open Tonight

The City of Spokane just sent out a news release saying the Francis Ave. and Addison St. intersection is expected to reopen to drivers just in time for their evening commute tonight, Oct. 11! The project, completed ahead of schedule, installed a concrete intersection and upgraded the traffic signals.

HUD Grant Application Posted

I just posted on the SRTC website part of the application SRTC, the City of Spokane and a multitude of other local jurisdictions and agencies submitted to HUD in hopes of receiving Sustainabile Communities Regional Planning Grant funding. We asked for $2 million to develop a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD) for the area covered by Spokane County.

Click here to read more.

Stateline Bridge Expected To Open Nov. 1

Good news for folks in the Valley and close to Idaho; the Appleway Bridge at Stateline is expected to open Nov. 1, according to the Coeur d'Alene Press.

It's a few months ahead of schedule too. The two-lane bridge with a 10-foot-wide pathway, which replaces a structure built in 1939, wasn't expected to open until early 2012.

New Pedestrian 'Zine' To Be Launched Next Week

Remember a while back when the folks at Futurwise brought us the 'Bike Zine,' a mini-magazine featuring stories of local folks, from all walks of life, who ride their bikes to work and for other transportation? Well Futurewise is at it again and about ready to launch their new Pedestrian Zine at a party next week.

Mark Oct. 19 on your calendar. Join the party at Pacific Avenue Pizza, 2001 W. Pacific Ave., and you can not only pick up your copy of the zine for $2, but also win some great door prizes. Here's more info from the Complete Streets Spokane Facebook page.

Don't Wait. Find That Rest Stop NOW

Okay, the question of the day is; can 'holding it' be as bad as drinking and driving? Yes, I'm talking about having to urinate but waiting because you're driving. What did you think I was talking about?

A new study says that waiting too long to pee isn't only bad for your health, but bad for your driving as well. A research team found that when you’re faced with a strong urge to urinate, your cognitive functions are impaired similarly to what you would experience after drinking alcohol or being sleep deprived.

So while the implications of this are obvious (drinking and driving or driving sleep deprived are bad- therefore driving with a full bladder is bad), there are also serious implications for seniors, who are more prone to overactive bladders. Here's more from AARP.

Urban Growth Area Review Open Houses

Spokane County and its cities, towns, and SRTC are collaborating on a regional review of the Urban Growth Area (UGA) and want your input. The Urban Growth Area is the area designated to accommodate projected urban growth and development for twenty years.

The regional review will determine the Urban Growth Area’s ability to accommodate growth and development for the next twenty years. Analysis of potentially expanding or retracting the existing UGA is also a part of the review.

You're invited to learn more at a series of open houses in late October. Below that is a flyer for the open houses. Click on it to view it full size.

Monday, October 24, 2011
5-7 p.m.
City of Spokane Valley City Hall (Council Chambers)
11707 E. Sprague Ave.

Tuesday, October 25,2011
5-7 p.m.
Waste‐to‐Energy Facility, Administration Building
2900 South Geiger Blvd.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
5-7 p.m.
Northwood Middle School Library
13120 N. Pittsburg St.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Two Spokane County Public Meetings Scheduled

Spokane County's Engineering and Roads Department is holding one Public Meeting and one Open House this month.

On Wednesday, October 19, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the proposed Wall, Waikiki, and Mill Corridor improvements during a public meeting about this important arterial route. The meeting is at Brentwood Elementary (406 W. Regina Road) at 6:30 p.m. A formal presentation about the improvements will be followed by a question and answer period.

On Tuesday, October 25th, the topic of an Open House will be the Little Spokane Drive Bridge Replacement Project at Christian Life Church (14011 N. Little Spokane Drive) from 4-7 p.m.

The Little Spokane Drive Bridge needs to be replaced due to its deteriorating condition. The new bridge will provide a roadway section that carries two 12-foot lanes, with 4-foot shoulders and a barrier-protected 10-foot wide “shared use path” that will connect to the Little Spokane River pathway system. The project is scheduled to begin in spring of 2012 with the bridge replacement completed sometime in fall of 2012. The reconstruction of the intersection and approach roadway will be complete in summer of 2013.

32nd & Bowdish Intersection Operating As Four Way Stop

The intersection of 32nd and Bowdish Intersection is operating as a four-way stop today Monday through 6 p.m. Wednesday, October 12 for upgrades to the stormwater drainage system.

Take Statewide Transportation Survey Please

The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) is conducting a major statewide transportation survey to find out what citizens think about our state’s transportation system and how future needs should be paid for. The findings of the survey will be delivered to the Governor and Legislature in the coming weeks, as officials work to identify ways to fund growing transportation needs across the state.

Survey results will be scientifically valid at both the statewide level and the regional level. This will give the state data about the unique opinions and preferences in each region, thus allowing for targeted transportation investments that best meet varying needs statewide.

You can take the survey here.

SRTC Board Meeting This Thursday

The monthly meeting for SRTC's Policy Board is this Thursday, Oct. 13. Here's the agenda for the meeting and other information. As always, everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Community Members Needed To Have Voice In Transportation Process

SRTC is looking for community members who want to have a voice in the local transportation decision making process. Members are needed for our Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). Here's more information and the application.

Being a TAC member doesn't require a huge time commitment, but at the same time you're making an impact on how transportation decisions are made for our region. The TAC meets on the fourth Monday of each month for a meeting that is about 1 1/2 hours long. We're looking for a variety of opinions, interests, abilities, etc. so don't worry if you're not a transportation afficionado, we're looking for 'everyday people' to give input guide the process.

The deadline to submit your application is Nov. 8, so you've got plenty of time to fill it out.

Two Millwood Construction Projects Approved

Millwood's City Council last week moved forward with two of three pending road construction projects.

The projects awarded include widening Grace Avenue and Laura Road, along with the alternate project of constructing a raised intersection at Empire Avenue and Fowler Road. Here's more.

Mimes Directing Traffic: A Nightmare I Had or An Experiment In Venezuela?

One of my favorite and one of my least favorite things are coming together in Caracas, Venezuela, and I think my head is going to blow up as a result: transportation and mimes. Yes, mimes. A sure sign of the apocolypse, in my book.

Thanks to my sister-in-law Julie, who saw this article in the newspaper yesterday and called to alert me to it. Apparently The Mayor of Sucre, in the eastern part of Caracas, turned to mimes to encourage civility among reckless drivers and careless pedestrians.

About 120 mimes (where do you find THAT many mimes??) hit the streets last week, wagging their fingers at traffic violators and pedestrians who streaked across busy avenues rather than waiting at crosswalks.

Despite the creepiness factor, they're having some success. Good thing too, because the norm there is for motorcycle riders to drive on sidewalks, buses drop passengers in the middle of busy streets and drivers treat red lights and speed limits as suggestions.

I can't even write about this anymore. Here's the article if you want to know more.

It's My Favorite Kind of Holiday- A Parking Meter Holiday

Parking meters in the City of Spokane don’t have to be plugged today because its Columbus Day. Most government offices are open however, including SRTC.

Indiana/Sullivan Intersection Work

There is some work happening in the Indiana Avenue/Sullivan Road Intersection in Spokane Valley this week you will want to be aware of. You can expect lane reductions and delays along Sullivan from Mission Avenue north to the Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River for concrete pouring and striping as outlined below. Signs and/or flaggers will direct traffic through the work area.

• Sullivan traffic reduced to one lane each direction from 7 p.m. Monday, October 10 through 7 a.m. Thursday, October 13.

• Lanes in both directions on Sullivan will be reduced at times during overnight hours from 8 p.m. Thursday, October 13 through 8 a.m. Sunday, Oct 16.

• Where there are two designated turn lanes, one of the two may be closed at times.

• You're encouraged to continue supporting your favorite businesses in the construction area during this project.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Road Construction Update For Next Week

It's Thursday afternoon, which means it's time for your construction update for next week. A lot of projects are wrapping up and the weekly update is getting shorter and shorter. There are a handful of things to be aware of though. They're all posted on the home page of

Legislation Keeps USDOT Open Through Nov. 18

Here's something I missed yesterday: on Tuesday the House passed legislation to fund federal government operations through November 18. The Senate had passed the bill earlier. One of the agencies we were personally worried about having to shut down was the U.S. Department of Transportation. Here's more info from the Transportation Issues Daily Blog.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Grant Application Submitted

Big sigh of relief- with the help of the City of Spokane, the Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane County, and multiple other jurisdictional and community partners, we have just got our application for the HUD Sustainable Communities Planning Grant submitted!

The application was enormous and took much time on our part, plus a lot of time was donated to preparation by the Health District and the City. If you think that was the hard part though, you're wrong. Now we have to wait until January to see if we get the $2 million in grant money we asked for to develop a Spokane Regional Plan for Sustainable Development.

We'll be posting some of the materials required for our application on our website probably next week or whenever I can get organized enough to do so. I'll post a link here then.

Travel Demand Modeling & Transparency- Do the Two Go Together?

Many of the transportation planning activities we do here at SRTC require Travel Demand Modeling. "Travel huh??" is the response I get much of the time when I mention it. Modeling is a method of forecasting how society will use the transportation system now and in the future, and it depends on many assumptions. Modeling uses computer software to represent how travel choices are made. Travel demand occurs as a result of thousands of individual travelers making individual decisions on how, where, and when to travel.

It's a complicated process that most people aren't familiar with. Even working here, I struggle sometimes to explain it. That's why we devoted a page on our new website to Modeling and we have a 'Model Users Group' consisting of staff at area jurisdictions and consulting firms that get together to see how we do our modeling and discuss the process.

Apparently every planning organization may not be so open with their modeling process though. California's Attorney General says the San Diego Association of Governments' (SANDAG) planning and modeling processes have been 'shrouded in secrecy.' SANDAG, on the other hand, says it hasn't released it's models because they're proprietary — property it can't release because of agreements with contractors who developed it- and the information is too complex for the average person to understand without a planner analyzing it.

This article from illustrates the fine line government agencies walk everyday, trying to use complex programs to do their jobs and justify spending, while still being transparent and open with their activities.

Spokane Valley Proposed Budget Review

A Public Hearing is coming up for the proposed City of Spokane Valley 2012 Budget. According to a press release from the City, its citizens seem to be most interested in a handful of key areas, including public safety, roads, parks and recreation, and property taxes. As a result, they're providing a review that I thought you might be interested in.

Total proopsed 2012 budget: $57 million Included in it:

- $22 million for public safety services. Those services have contributed to Spokane Valley's ranking of 109th safest of cities of across the nation with populations of 75,000 or more according to CQPress Crime Rankings.

- $11.3 million for capital improvement projects such as resurfacing Sprague Avenue from Evergreen to Sullivan; planning, design and environmental work toward replacement of the Sullivan Road Bridge southbound; and others.

- Additional $500,000 for street preservation.

With revenues remaining flat or at levels only slightly higher than in the past year, no new programs or staff positions have been proposed in 2012.

Spokane Valley's property tax of about $1.52 per thousand dollars of valuation will not increase in 2012. The expected total of $10.8 million in property tax revenue is slightly higher than this year due to new construction coming onto the tax rolls.

Those property taxes combined with sales taxes make up about 77 percent of the City's annual General Fund revenues. Reflecting the general economy, sales tax revenues for 2012 are anticipated to remain flat at about $16.2 million.

More detailed information on anticipated revenues and expenditures are included in the Preliminary 2012 Budget, which you can view here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Map Helps Judge Traffic Congestion Over Pass

Heading to the west side of the state this weekend? There's a new tool to help you get there with less stopping and more driving. You can now view a WSDOT traffic flow map that shows real-time traffic conditions on Interstate 90 between North Bend and Ellensburg and decide whether to take another route, delay your trip or continue on.

You can access the new maps from your mobile device at home or on the road by checking out the What’s Happening on I-90 WSDOT web page or the Snoqualmie Mountain Pass page.

Officials Say Eyman Initiative Would Undermine Gas Tax Alternative Efforts

State officials say Tim Eyman's latest initiative, to require the Legislature to approve tolls instead of the state Transportation Commission, would undermine long-term efforts to find an alternative to gas taxes to help finance highway construction.

Eyman, on the other hand, says Initiative 1125 would make lawmakers more accountable for raising and spending billions of dollars in tolls, and would make tolling fairer.

The Seattle Times has more details. Tolling hasn't been an issue around here in recent years because they didn't really work in the past (folks around here went out of their way to go around the Maple Street Bridge for instance, rather than pay 25 cents to use it)but do you have any thoughts?

October Is National Walk To School Month

October is National Walk to School month. Across Washington, an estimated 15,000 students, parents, teachers and community leaders are expected to participate in efforts to increase physical activity, clean air, pedestrian safety, and connections between families, school and the broader community, all while reducing traffic congestion around schools.

Locally, Sunset Elementary and Otis Elementary are having Walk to School Month events this week. Deputy Craig Chamberlin, of TV traffic report fame, will be at both those schools, today and tomorrow.

If your child isn't at either of those schools though, take it upon yourself to celebrate your own way and walk your child to school. Take an umbrella though, looks like it's going to be a wet week.

Monday, October 3, 2011

House To Vote On Bill To Fund USDOT

This is kind of a big deal: tomorrow (Tuesday) the House is scheduled to vote on a Senate-passed bill to fund USDOT and all other federal agencies from Tuesday through mid-November. Last week the Senate and House agreed on funding the government from last Saturday through Tuesday, just to prevent a shut down of those agencies. The Transportation Issues Daily blog is tracking these events so check it out.

Howard Street Bridge 1963

I love the old pictures you see occasionally of Spokane. And since this one is of the old Howard Street Bridge, it was fitting for the blog. This picture was posted on the Spokesman-Review's website today, with some interesting information about the only handful of bridges that used to be available to get people from north Spokane downtown.

A Little Of Everything Transportation Related

Spokane Valley is asking for the public’s help in redesigning Park Road from Indiana to Broadway, the Washington State Transportation Commission wants your opinion on how future transportation projects should be financed, and a couple of road and lane closures thrown in for good measure. That's what's in the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column this week.

Free Car Care Fair Saturday

Winter is coming fast, and your car isn't going to like it if you don't prepare. You can get your vehicle ready for cold temperatures at a free Car Care Fair this weekend sponsored by Spokane County's Commute Trip Reduction Program, the Spokane Clean Air Agency and several other sponsors. It's Saturday, Oct. 8, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Automotive Building Parking Lot at Spokane Community College. It's free, so don't miss it. Click the flyer below to see it full size.

Spokane Valley Road Closure

22nd Avenue between Vera Crest Road Drive and Conklin Road will be closed to all except local traffic until 5 p.m. today for paving.

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.