Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My North Spokane Corridor Field Trip

It took me a while but I finally drove the North Spokane Corridor for the first time today. You'd think I would have gotten up there sooner but my government tracking bracelet doesn't let me get out of the office as much as I used to.

I get a lot of people asking me about the NSC because they haven't had occasion to drive it yet, so here's my report: I liked it. Yep, it was nice smooth pavement and had
several elements that I like; a roundabout, a trail for bicyclists and pedestrians, big electronic signs, and artwork. What more can you ask for in a transportation project?

One of my co-workers congratulated me on being one of the dozens to have driven the NSC, but I actually thought there was a decent amount of traffic today for a freeway that is just over four miles long at this point.
That could be because of the recent NSC/US 2 interchange opening that makes it easy to transition between the two highways. It still doesn't have the traffic counts of I-90 of course, but it's
expected to pick up when the NSC/Parksmith Road Interchange is completed in fall of 2012.

Until then, you can look at these pictures I took today. And don't worry, my stunt double was driving.

University District-Sprague Corridor Study Public Workshop Dec. 7

The City of Spokane has added another workshop to its slate of activities for next week. On Wednesday, Dec. 7 from 5-7 p.m. at the South Campus Facility (412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.) on the Riverpoint Campus, the City will host a public workshop for the University District-Sprague Corridor study.

The study is part of the larger University District Master Plan and works with other projects such as the Division Gateway Corridor and University District Bike/Ped Bridge to implement the plan goals. More info on it can be found here.

Neighbors Fighting To Keep Spokane Valley Traffic Signal

The city of Spokane Valley is considering removing a traffic signal on East Sprague, but neighbors are fighting to keep it, saying it keeps them safe.

The signal is located at Sprague and Progress and no longer meets national standards suggested when traffic signals are needed but residents of the area say the intersection will be dangerous for pedestrians, children and the elderly without it. KREM News has more.

Survey Says: 2/3 Of WA Residents Willing To Pay More Taxes To Support Transportation System

Nearly 2/3 of Washington residents say they're willing to support an increase in state taxes and fees to support a transportation system, according to results released yesterday from a survey by the state Transportation Commission.

The Commission surveyed 5,500 residents in preparation for a 2012 transportation-related ballot measure that will likely include higher taxes.

The Seattle Times has survey results. And, as a side note, SRTC Board Member Joe Tortorellis is a member of the Washington State Transportation Commission.

Ben Burr Road Vacated For Possible Grocery Store & Trail Project

Spokane County commissioners yesterday agreed Ben Burr Road in south Spokane is unneeded and the public would benefit from a grocery store and trail there that doesn’t require pedestrians and vehicles to share a roadway.

Neighbors in the area are against turning the road over to developer Dave Black for his grocery store project but Commissioner Mark Richard said elected officials needed to “look at the bigger picture” in making their decision.

The Spokesman-Review has the full story.

More Pothole Patches & Crack-Sealing, Less Long-Term Fixes

I receive a monthly update from the Washington State Department of Transportation/Eastern Region, and this item of interest was in the November edition:

Pavement Preservation
There continues to be serious challenges in our pavement preservation program. This is the budget category that encompasses our asphalt resurfacing, chip-seal, and concrete pavement rehabilitation activities.
Eastern Region currently has approximately 600 lane miles of due or past due pavements within the seven county region. This equates to a need of an increase in funding from current program projections of about $150 million over the next six-year period. Statewide, we are looking at $1 billion in preservation needs that are not funded over the next ten years.

More traffic, studded tires, and budget shortfalls are changing the way we administer our paving program. We are now making tough decisions on which roadways are resurfaced and the type of surfacing used. We now let asphalt roadways go longer between resurfacing projects. That means more pothole patches and crack-sealing. Last summer we chip-sealed on highways that had been traditionally surfaced with Hot Mix Asphalt. The less-expensive, but less durable process, will hopefully extend the service life of the highway until our pavement preservation program funding can be restored.

Dognapped Pet Catches Bus Home

So say you're a dog that was stolen from your family and your new owners abandon you. How do you get home? Take the bus, of course.

A London family got their pet back five years after being dognapped when the Staffordshire bull terrier's love for riding in vehicles got the best of him and he snuck onto a city bus.

The Telegraph has T-Bone's story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Come To SRTC Open House Before Heading To Gateway Open House Same Night

I hate to even mention this item because it conflicts with a public meeting we're having here, but the City of Spokane is hosting an open house next Tuesday, Dec. 6 as part of efforts to develop the community’s vision for the Division Street corridor through downtown and the University District.

So here's the deal; this is going to require some planning on your part. SRTC is hosting a public meeting to get feedback on the 2012 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) and the 2012-2015 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) the same night. Our meeting is from 5-7 p.m. here at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310.

So, you come here first, around 5:00, give your input, get educated, etc., then you head over to the WSU Bookie at 410 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. to provide input on the design direction for the Division Street corridor. That meeting is from 5:30-8 p.m. Here's information on the Gateway Project.

Feel free to skim that but you'll really want to read
this document. It's the 2012 MTP, a long-term plan for how transportation facilities will be developed over the next 20 years.

And here is the TIP. It's a short term document of transportation projects to be constructed over the next four years.

Okay, so you've got your directions now: SRTC first, then the Bookie. Don't forget.

Pines/Sprague Lane Closures

The southbound curb lane of Pines at the intersection with Sprague Avenue will be closed through Friday morning, along with the westbound curb lane on Sprague. Crews will be repairing pavement in that area.

WSU Considers Vanpools Between Spokane and Pullman

Washington State University officials are getting creative when it comes to saving money, due to the tough economic situation.

Moving some programs to Spokane from Pullman, and vice versa, to cut costs has created long drives for some students and faculty members who have purchased homes near their jobs. So how to reduce the burden of the long drive and expenses associated with it? Start a vanpool!

The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Blackberry Messaging Outage Credited With Drop In Dubai Traffic Collisions

Wow, here's an interesting story about the effects of texting and driving: a dramatic fall in traffic accidents in Dubai in October has been directly linked to a three-day disruption in BlackBerry services.

Collisions fell 20% from average rates on the days BlackBerry users were unable to use its messaging service. Email, Messenger and internet functions were unavailable to users in the Middle East, Africa and Europe after a crucial link in the BlackBerry network failed.

The National says there is usually a fatal accident every two days in Abu Dhabi, but during the outage there wasn't a single fatality.

USDOT To Provide Transportation Disaster Relief $

A big announcement yesterday from the United States Department of Transportation. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced yesterday the USDOT will provide more than $215 million to states across the nation to cover the costs of repairing roads and bridges damaged by a variety of natural disasters.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will provide $215,198,775 from its emergency relief program to 34 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and federal lands agencies to reimburse them for repairs to roads and bridges caused by storms, flooding, hurricanes and other natural and catastrophic disasters.

Among states that will receive funding, California will receive $43.4 million for flooding and earthquakes, North Dakota will receive $31.5 million for flooding and Vermont will receive $15.4 million for flooding and damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

The money will reimburse states for fixing or replacing highways, bridges and other roadway structures.

Board Meeting Packet Correction

Oops, we made a mistake. We sent out the packet for tomorrow's special Board meeting with an error in it. The memo that talks about the Regional Priority Project List said that funding packages of either $155 or $310 billion could possibly be available for the Spokane County region i the future. Those numbers were supposed to be in the millions. Billions of dollars truly would be an early holiday gift, but unfortunately it's incorrect. Here's the revised meeting packet.

That meeting is tomorrow at 1 p.m. at SRTC, 221 W First Ave., Suite 310. It's a continuation of a discussion from the Nov. 23 special meeting on regional transportation project priorities.

Everyone is welcome so you're welcome and encouraged to attend.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Move Your Car If You Live In Browne's Addition

A reminder that if you live in Browne's Addition, you're going to have to move your car over the next couple days for leaf pickup.

Vehicles must be moved off of north-south streets tomorrow and off of east-west streets on Wednesday. Cars parked on the street when the trucks come in will be subject to towing.

Crews will be in Browne’s Addition starting at 9 a.m. each day.

Second Special SRTC Board Meeting Scheduled To Discuss Transportation Project Priorities

SRTC has scheduled a second special Board Meeting for Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 1 p.m. at SRTC, 221 W First Ave., Suite 310. 

The meeting is a continuation of a discussion from a Nov. 23 special meeting on regional transportation project priorities. Here's the agenda.

You're welcome to observe so mark your calendar.

Five Myths About Gas Taxes

A deadlock in Congress has resulted in eight extensions of the national transportation bill. The Republican majority in Congress won't permit the transfer of federal funds from its general spending account to bolster the Highway Trust Fund. And neither party will lead the charge to raise the gasoline tax. Few taxes provoke more fury than those at the fuel pump and 2012 is an election year.

Two members of the Leadership Initiative for Transportation Solvency in the Energy and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace say it's time to debunk the myths surrounding the maligned gas tax.

Here are what they call "Five myths about your gasoline taxes."

Spokane Not Selected For HUD Grant

Well, the news is out and Spokane was not selected to receive a 2011 HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant that we applied for. The selection process was very competitive; HUD only funded 29 grants from 190 eligible applicants.

It's unclear right now if there will be more grants offered in 2012, but if there are, we've got a jump on the application process anyway.

If you're interested in seeing who did get a grant, this link will take you to a list of succesful applicants.

Francis Ave. Project Open House

City of Spokane staff is doing preliminary work on a project to relocate a water transmission main in Francis Avenue from Freya to Havana streets.

If you would like to learn more about this project, there is an open house on Thursday, Dec. 1, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at Arlington Elementary School, 6363 N. Smith St.

98 'Smart' Parking Meters Installed Downtown

If you haven't encountered them already, your next trip downtown may bring you in contact with 98 new 'smart' parking meters. They were installed last week to evaluate new technologies to make paying for on-street parking more convenient. The smart meters accept credit cards along with coins to pay for parking. They are solar powered, and appear “dead” until pay parking times begin.

The meters are located on the east side of Post St. near Riverfront Park, on Spokane Falls Blvd. between Howard and Wall streets, on Howard St. between Spokane Falls Blvd. and First Ave., on Main Ave. between Stevens and Howard streets, and First Ave. between Howard and Wall streets.

The individual smart meters are in addition to multi-space parking pay stations that were installed in September primarily near River Park Square. Both parking pay options are part of a six-month pilot to assess the technologies and determine the best way to roll out this or similar technology within the City.

Once the pilot is complete, the City will evaluate the various technologies and determine where it makes sense to install smart meters. Areas with greater parking turnover will get the new technology first.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Leaf Pickup In Browne's Addition Next Week

The City of Spokane's leaf pickup is back. It was suspended due to snow last week but will resume in Browne’s Addition on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 29 and 30 at 9 a.m. unless it snows again. The trucks will be on the north-south streets of the neighborhood on Tuesday and the east-west streets on Wednesday.

Cars must be moved because the streets are so narrow in that area the trucks cannot get through if vehicles are on the street. Vehicles parked on the street when the trucks come in will be subject to towing.

Indiana Ave. Speed Limit To Change In Spokane Valley

The Spokane Valley City Council has agreed to raise the speed limit on Indiana, at the request of area business owners.

Here are the details from the Spokane Valley News Herald.

One Big Reason To Slow Down

You've heard it over and over; slow down! Especially in school zones. But why? Because higher speeds translate to higher death rates in the case of collissions.

Did you know that at 20 miles per hour, a pedestrian has a 5% chance of being killed if struck by a vehicle, but at 40 miles per hour, the chance goes up to around 85%?!

Thanks to Bike to Work Barb for sending me this information on how a small increase in speed results in a disproportionately large increase in pedestrian fatalities.

Monday, November 21, 2011

TAC Packet Available For Nov. 28 Meeting

The November Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting is next Monday, Nov. 28. The meeting packet can be viewed here. Everyone is welcome at TAC meetings so feel free to attend.

Short Week For Government Offices

Its officially the start of the holiday season. This week is a weird one because local government agencies, including SRTC, will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. So get any government business you may have done by Wednesday.

Keep in mind if you're shopping on black Friday that you DO have to plug meters downtown, but not on Thanksgiving day in case you go down for a movie or something after eating.

Washington State Department of Transportation construction work will not affect traffic from noon, Wednesday, November 23rd, through Sunday, November 27th, in anticipation of increased holiday traffic. Long-Term lane restrictions are still in place on US 395 near the NSC/Wandermere Interchange but everything else has been suspended for the season.

Traffic Calming Orientation For City Neighborhoods

Speaking of ways to make the roads safer for those walking, riding their bikes or using other nonmotorized transportation (see previous thread), a Traffic Calming Orientation presentation will be given on December 8th, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

This orientation will address the 2011/2012 Traffic Calming Program and how City neighborhoods can apply to receive funding for traffic calming projects.

Participation in the orientation is a mandatory step in the application process. Unfortunately, that's all I know about this workshop at this time, so if you have questions, I've been told to refer you to the Department of Neighborhood Services at 509-625-6730 or email them here.

City Looking For Ways To Make Streets Safer On Foot

SRTC staff works with the City of Spokane and representatives of other jursidictions and groups on several movements to make getting around without a car easier. Two of those movements, Complete Streets and the City's Pedestrian Plan, are addressed in this Spokesman-Review article. Everyone admits that the City is lacking such things as sidewalks that make it easier and safer for pedestrians to get around but the snag seems to be how to fund them and where do you draw the line?

Thanksgiving Travel Expected To Be Up This Year

Despite the early snowy weather, AAA says it expects a 4% increase in travel over the Thanksgiving weekend, as compared to the same time period last year. The Spokesman-Review's Getting There column has the details.

Friday, November 18, 2011

DRAFT Planning Documents Available For Review- Give Us Your Input

SRTC has just completed a draft of both the 2011 Spokane Region Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) and an update to the 2012-2015 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and both are available for public review and comment. An open house is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 5-7 p.m. at SRTC to answer questions and receive input on both documents.

The MTP is a long-term, multimodal “blueprint” for transportation programs and services aimed at meeting the mobility needs of the region through the year 2035. Transportation plans and projects are proposed within the MTP in the form of a list of projects to potentially be constructed by all jurisdictions within Spokane County over the next 25 years. The last update of the MTP took place in 2008. It is federally required to be updated every four years.

The TIP is a short-term programming document that provides information on state or local projects that are planned for construction or implementation within the next four years. The anticipated flow of federal funds and matching state or local contributions is also detailed.. The TIP contains funding information for all modes of transportation including highways and transit. It is required to be updated at least every two years.

Both the MTP and TIP are available for review and comment through Dec. 18. The MTP can be found here. And the TIP is here.

To submit comments on either plan, email them here.

Construction Update For Week Of Nov. 21

Construction has dwindled down to pretty much the I90 project between Sullivan and Barker, and that's even in the process of being buttoned up for the winter, so I'm posting my final update of the season to the website.

New Car? That'll Be Nearly Half Your Annual Family Income Please

A new report says auto affordability slipped in the third quarter of 2011. The purchase and financing of an average-priced new vehicle took 24.2 weeks of median family income in the third quarter of 2011, slightly more than the 24.0 weeks of median family income in the second quarter. Consumers on average spent $650 more (an increase of 2.6%) on new cars in the third quarter.

Why? One reason is because we're making less due to the poor economy. MarketWatch has more.

Seattle Snow Buildups, Bloopers and Letdowns

Snow tends to bring out the extremists in us; kids, skiers and boarders, and my new boss from Arizona, get excited when they hear it's going to snow so they can play in it. I get extremely grouchy and go into hermit mode, and the local media outlets go crazy, providing wall to wall coverage of something we've had around here for years; winter.

If you think we go all out in the face of a snow storm though, imagine the panic that sets in when snow is predicted in Western Washington. Mayors, meter maids, and God. Apparently they all get involved when it snows in Seattle as this Seattle PI article points out, while also poking a little fun at themselves.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

North Spokane Corridor Interchange Ribbon Cutting

We had a lot going on yesterday so no one from SRTC attended the ribbon cutting for the new North Spokane Corridor interchange, but I just saw this picture on Twitter so I stole it from KXLY's North Spokane Blog page.

Special Board Meeting Date Rescheduled

SRTC has rescheduled a special Board Meeting for Wednesday, November 23 at 1:30 p.m. at SRTC, 221 W First Ave., Suite 310. The meeting is a discussion on regional transportation project priorities. Members of the public are welcome to observe.

Wyoming DOT Says No More Highway Expansion, Just Maintenance

Thanks to Bike to Work Barb for this article: Proof that the age of highways in America is coming to an end? Wyoming Department of Transportation officials say the agency is turning its resources toward maintenance of its existing highways and will quit expanding highways. At least until new revenue can be found, anyway.

The WYDOT Director likened the move to entering "survival mode." DC Streets Blog has the whole story.

Spokane Valley Snow Removal Plan

Well, the first major snow storm of the season was a bust in some areas, but the City of Spokane Valley would like to remind you how they would handle the situation if it were really to occur.

Snow plowing and deicing in Spokane Valley are conducted on a prioritized basis to keep traffic moving safely in critical areas. Primary and secondary arterials, as well as potentially slippery hillsides are the top three priorities. Residential roadways are addressed based on conditions and impact on traffic movement.

If only a small amount of snow has accumulated, plowing is limited to problem areas and hillsides. Full plowing activities typically occur when snow exceeds 4 inches. Residential roadways are considered for plowing only when traffic flow is inhibited.

Deicing begins when snow, ice or frost is predicted. Liquid deicer is applied first to bridges, arterial intersections and hillsides. If small amounts of snow stick, granular deicer or sand may be applied at those locations and on arterials if needed. In residential areas, deicer is usually applied only at uncontrolled intersections.

Copies of Spokane Valley's snow plowing and deicing information, as well as a map of roadway priorities, are available here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Special Board Meeting Agenda

The packet for next Tuesday's special Board meeting is now available. The meeting is a work session to develop a list of regional priority transportation projects.

Once developed, that list will be submitted to the Governor’s “Connecting Washington Task Force,” a group formed to develop a 10-year investing and funding plan for the state transportation system. The plan is to have the information available for consideration during the 2012 Legislature.

Everyone is welcome to observe the special meeting to develop this list, so feel free. Here's the meeting packet.

Happy GIS Day!!

I love the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, GIS Day. GIS Day?? Yep, happy Geographic Information Systems Day to you, and to SRTC's two GIS Analysts, Kevin and Sylvia. That's Kevin pictured. As you can see, he was really excited about the Census this past year.

GIS represents computer software, data, and solutions that are used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in government, education, and business. The goal of GIS Day is to help educate children as well as adults on the applications of geography and computer-aided mapping.

Here at SRTC, GIS is a HUGE part of what we do. GIS products (maps, reports, and charts) reveal relationships, patterns, and trends that may not be obvious when viewed as raw data. GIS helps answer questions and solve problems by looking at data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared. For more information on how GIS is used in transportation planning, check out the GIS page on the SRTC website. Despite the importance of GIS here in our office, I failed to get Kevin and Sylvia a cake, so feel free to post
a comment on this thread to make them feel valued. Oh yeah, and don't ever let anyone tell you we don't know how to party here at SRTC. To prove it, we're going to give one of these GIS buttons, and a GIS sticker, to the first person to 'like' SRTC on Facebook. Okay, it's not a cash prize, but it's the only free swag we've got.

And for more information on GIS Day activities Here's the GIS Day website.

House Transportation Bill 70%-80% Complete

For the longest time, the answer I have been giving to pretty much any transportation question is "We won't know until we have a new federal transportation bill." I've been saying that since 2009 now. So when will we have a transportation bill? Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) yesterday said that the House's version of the bill is 70% to 80% percent complete.

That proposed measure would spend anywhere between $230 and $285 billion on roads and bridges over six years. The Senate meanwhile has been working on a two-year, $109 billion package of bills that would spend more per year on road projects. "The Hill" has the latest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Appleway Bridge At Stateline To Open Thursday

Just got big news from Spokane County; the bridge over the Spokane River at Appleway Road and west of Stateline Village, ID will be reopened to traffic this Thursday, November 17th at approximately 9 a.m. And the best part is that it's opening ahead of schedule and under budget!

The new bridge is 42-feet wide and incorporates a separated pedestrian/bike path that was designed to connect with the Centennial Trail.

The estimated total cost of the project is $8,000,000 – which is $9,500,000 below the original project estimate. 80% of the project was paid for by Federal Bridge Replacement funds with 20% coming from the Spokane County Road Fund.

Sprague-Appleway Won't Go Back To Two-Way

If you hadn't heard already, don’t expect two-way traffic on Sprague Avenue anytime soon.

Spokane Valley Proposition 1, which would have converted Sprague and Appleway to two-way arterials between University and Argonne Roads, was voted down in last week's election.

Here's more on election results. References to the Sprague-Appleway couplet are about 3/4 of the way into the article.

Seattle At Top Of List For Traffic Congestion

A new report on the worst traffic spots on our nation's roadways puts Seattle on the list for bad congestion. Our neighbor to the west ranked in the top 40 for worst congestion on highway systems. One particular spot that made the list: southbound I-5 from Shoreline to downtown Seattle. For worst morning commutes in the nation, I-5 northbound from Boeing Field into downtown Seattle came in 35th.

The study and report, done by the Texas Transportation Institute, says drivers wasted 271,000 gallons of fuel on that stretch of I-5 northbound.

Other trouble spots Washington State highways include I-90 westbound from Mercer Way to Bellevue Way, I-90 from Mercer Way to Bellevue Way, westbound 520 and also several stretches of I-405.

Here's more from the Texas Transportation Institute.

Sullivan & Euclid Intersection Lane Reductions

The Sullivan and Euclid intersection in Spokane Valley will be reduced to one lane each direction on Sullivan and on Euclid from 7 p.m. today through 6 a.m. Wednesday for pavement assessment.

Transforming Transportation By Topic

If you couldn't make it across the state to the 'Transforming Transportation' conference at the University of Washington yesterday, you missed out, from what I've been told. The conference was sponsored by Futurewise and Transportation Choices for Washington and featured Laura Barrett of the Transportation Equity Network, Art Guzetti of the American Public Transportation Association, and Washington State House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn.

The conference speakers contend that transportation in our state is at a crucial juncture. Transit ridership and gas prices are reaching all-time highs while transit choices are being slashed across the state. Roads and bridges are in disrepair and almost half of our global warming pollution comes from transportation.

Five white papers on the Transportation for Washington website tackle these subjects and how to address them. The titles include "Create and Serve Jobs," "Fix It First, Save Lives," "More Transit," "Healthy Communities," and "Invest In Clean Water."

Hmmm... those titles sound strangely like the recommendations that came out of the Transportation Vision Project SRTC completed last year. We're in the process of using those recommendations to frame future transportation plans so it's definetely worth your time to take a look at the white papers.

Special SRTC Meeting To Develop Regional Priority Projects List

Mark your calendars because we've called a special Board Meeting for Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The meeting is here at our office (221 W. First Ave., Suite 310) and is a working session to develop a list of regional priority transportation projects.

Once developed, that list will be submitted to the Governor’s “Connecting Washington Task Force,” a group formed to develop a 10-year investing and funding plan for the state transportation system.

Statewide, Regional Transportation Planning Organizations, such as SRTC, are working to develop regional project priorities. Sometime in December they will be available for the public to view through a web based application (also known as a website) provided by the Puget Sound Regional Council.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is also expected to compile a list of state highway priority projects as well as the Washington State Transit Association (WSTA) for transit priorities.

The plan is to have the information available for consideration during the 2012 Legislature.

Everyone is welcome to observe the special meeting to develop this list, so feel free.

Monday, November 14, 2011

City Reminds Residents Of Snow Removal Plan

Pick up this Thursday's edition of the Inlander and Spokesman-Review 'Voice' sections; they will have details of the City's snow removal plan in them, along with a map of residential snow plow routes.

Under the plan, the City defines the snow season as Nov. 15 to March 15. During this time, the City may declare a snow emergency when weather conditions warrant. A Stage 1 Snow Emergency is declared when 2 inches of snow are on the ground and 4 more are anticipated during the current snow event; a Stage 2 Snow Emergency is declared when 6 inches of snow are on the ground and more is anticipated in the current snow event.

A Stage 1 Snow Emergency requires citizens to move parked cars off of all arterials and STA fixed bus routes, and to park on one side of the street residential hill routes, while a Stage 2 Snow Emergency requires citizens to park on one side of the street in residential areas. For the 2011-12 winter, citizens will be asked to park on the odd side of the street (odd number addresses).

Removing snow from sidewalks within 24 hours of a snow storm also is critical. Two years ago, a committee of citizens, local school representatives, Spokane Transit Authority representatives, and City employees looked at an enhanced approach to sidewalk snow removal that would issue tickets for those who failed to comply. The City has asked for voluntary compliance and can send warnings or tickets to property owners.

Lacey, WA Says Red Light Cameras Are Working To Promote Safety

Warm up your typing fingers because this thread is about red light cameras, and that topic always gets a lot of reaction. Law enforcement and others say that the red light cameras we have in the City of Spokane help to promote safety by discouraging people from driving through intersections on red lights.

Opponents of red light cameras say that's just a line though- that the cameras are really to bring in revenue. Well, the City Manager for Lacey, WA says the lights really are promoting safety. Lacey expects to collect $100,000 less from its red-light cameras next year because fewer drivers have been cited for running lights at a particularly busy intersection over the past three years.

In fact, the number of citations has decreased by two-thirds since 2009. City Manager Scott Spence says those numbers, coupled with a decrease in collisions, show the cameras are working.

The Olympian has the story.

Winter Driving Tips And More

Does this blog seem to have a 'winter' theme today or is it just me? Here's some more winter weather-related blog content: If you have an accident this winter, authorities say the best thing you can do is move your vehicles out of the way if there are no injuries.

The “quick clearance law,” winter prep for your vehicle, how to check area roads for winter conditions before you leave home, and WSDOT hits a milestone on Twitter. All that and more in the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Snoqualmie Open Again After Multiple Slide Offs

The City of Spokane isn't the only one saying it (see thread below), the WSDOT agrees; it's definetely winter. This picture from Snoqualmie Pass confirms it.

Snow piling up on the west slopes of the Cascades forced closure this morning of the uphill eastbound lanes on the pass. Apparently there were several slide offs making it too dangerous to travel the pass. Things are moving again, although it looks like slowly. Here are traffic cameras from the Pass if you want to keep an eye on how things are moving there.

US 2/North Spokane Corridor Interchange Opens Wednesday

The new US 2/North Spokane Corridor )NSC) interchange opens this Wednesday, Nov. 16. Washington State Department of Transportation officials expect this interchange to make the transition between these two drivers smoother and safer.

They also expect this will encourage more people to use the NSC if it's easier to access.

As part of the interchange project, crews built five new vehicle bridges and one pedestrian-bicycle bridge along the NSC, and a 30-foot arch culvert at Deadman Creek beneath US 2 to provide a safer crossing spot for wildlife.

A brief ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. so if you want to be the first to use the new interchange, be ready right after that.

Snow Season Kick Off Today

The snow season kicks off today. Yep, the City of Spokane is officially 'launching' the snow season today, according a press release this morning. You're invited to join Mayor Mary Verner at 2:30 p.m. at the City’s Normandie Complex, at W. Sinto Ave. and N. Normandie St. for a press conference to discuss snow removal efforts this year.

With higher-than-normal snowfall predicted for this winter, the Mayor would like to inform citizens how the City has prepared for winter weather and to encourage them to prepare as well.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Construction Update For Week Of Nov. 14

It's Thursday afternoon, and you know what that means: construction update time! Things are wrapping up around here, but there's some new stuff happening, such as leaf pickup in the City of Spokane and the new North Spokane Corridor interchange opening. Here's the construction update for the week of Nov. 14.

Unattended Trains Pose Security Threat

An unattended train left alone near Spokane has the attention of the Transportation Security Administration. It's just one of several trains a Seattle-area TV station found left running and without a crew during a recent investigation throughout the state. With their camera rolling, the KOMO TV crew was able to hop on board and remain in the lead locomotive unchallenged by train security.

The KOMO news team also found a train sitting in the dark thirty miles north of Spokane running with the key left in the cab of the locomotive.

So why the concern?. Anyone could throttle up a locomotive and take a train on a joy ride. A local TV station, KXLY, did this report on the situation.

TTC Meets Wednesday, Nov. 16

SRTC's Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meets next Wednesday, Nov. 16, here at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310. Here's a link to the agenda and packet in case you want to see what will be discussed. Members of the public are always welcome to observe and there's a public comment agenda item, so come down and see what's happening.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spokane City Leaf Pickup Starts Sunday- You'll Be Asked To Move Cars Off Streets

Spokane City Crews start leaf pickup on Sunday, Nov. 13, running into the third week of December. They begin on the North Side gradually moving to the South Hill. You should be aware of the pickup schedule because you'll be asked to move your vehicles from the streets when crews are in your neighborhood:

Sunday, Nov. 13— Woodridge Area: south of north City limits, north of Barnes Rd., west of Wieber Dr., and east of Comanche Dr.

Pacific Park Area: south of Barnes St., north of Sutherlin Dr., west of Farmdale St., and east of Forest Blvd.

Driscoll Blvd. Area: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Belt St., and east of Northwest Blvd.

Audubon Park Area: south of Garland Ave., north of Northwest Blvd., west of Monroe St., and east of Northwest Blvd.

Monday, Nov. 14— Pacific Park Area: south of Barnes St., north of Sutherlin Dr., west of Farmdale St., and east of Forest Blvd.

Driscoll Blvd. Area: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Belt St., and east of Northwest Blvd.

Shadle Park Area: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Wall St., and east of Belt St.

Audubon Park Area: south of Garland Ave., north of Northwest Blvd., west of Monroe St., and east of Northwest Blvd.

Downriver Area: south of Northwest Blvd., north of Riverview Dr., west of Meenach Dr., and east of Columbia Circle.

Tuesday, Nov. 15— Pacific Park Area: south of Barnes St., north of Sutherlin Dr., west of Farmdale St., and east of Forest Blvd.

Indian Trail Rd. Area: south of Johansen Rd., north of Francis Ave., west
of Cedar St., and east of Nine Mile Rd.

Shadle Park Area: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of
Wall St., and east of Belt St.

Downriver Area: south of Northwest Blvd., north of Riverview Dr., west of Meenach Dr., and east of Columbia Circle.

Northwest Blvd. Area: south of Northwest Blvd., north of Maxwell Ave., east of Pettit Dr., and west of Monroe St.

Wednesday, Nov. 16— Indian Trail Rd. Area: south of Johansen Rd., north of Francis Ave., west of Cedar St., and east of Nine Mile Rd.

Clark Park Area: south of Wellesley Ave., north of Garland Ave., west of Division St., and east of Wall St.

Hillyard Area: south of Francis Ave., north of Wellesley Ave., west of Greene St., and east of Perry St.

Northwest Blvd. Area: south of Northwest Blvd., north of Maxwell Ave., east of Pettit Dr., and west of Monroe St.

Thursday, Nov. 17— Indian Trail Rd. Area: south of Johansen Rd., north of Francis Ave., west of Cedar St., and east of Nine Mile Rd.

Hillyard Area: south of Francis Ave., north of Wellesley Ave., west of Greene St., and east of Perry St.

Indian Canyon Area: south of Greenwood Rd., north of Sunset Blvd., west of Government Way, and east of Assembly St.

Northwest Blvd. Area: south of Northwest Blvd., north of Maxwell Ave., east of Pettit Dr., and west of Monroe St.

With Winter Weather Here, Check SRTMC Website Before Driving

Weather forecasts are calling for light snow and icy roads have been reported in outlying areas. That means hazardous driving conditions aren’t far behind. Don't forget, you can navigate area roads and avoid situations such as backups caused by accidents and road closures this winter with the help of the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) website.

The website is a high-tech, regularly updated site with information throughout most of Spokane County. 24-hours a day you can watch almost 70 live traffic cameras, read about incidents and events that are automatically updated as they happen, and be alerted to road closures and delays in order to plan your commute accordingly.

Also, if you use Twitter, you can receive incidents and alerts that are posted on the SRTMC website by following the SRTMC here.

The SRTMC is a collaboration of the Cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley, Spokane Transit Authority, Spokane County, Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.

Senate Committee Passes Transportation Reauthorization Bill

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works just voted 18-0 to pass MAP-21, also known as "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century," or the Transportation Reauthorization Bill.

It's not a done deal though. Three other committees still have to approve funding, transit, rail, and safety sections to be folded into one bill, and it probably won't happen immediately.

Much of today's hearing on the bill focused on amendments to it. Larry Ehl of Transportation Issues Daily has the amendments that were adopted, as well as those that were discussed and withdrawn.

Some Government Offices Closed Friday For Veterans Day

Friday is Veterans Day so here's your heads up that some local government offices will be closed. We'll be open here at SRTC, but Spokane County offices will not be, along with the City of Spokane Valley.

The City of Spokane will be operating, but Friday is a parking meter holiday, so it may be a good day to shop downtown if you don't have other plans after the Veterans Day ceremonies.

Report Says Vehicle Exhaust Causes Brain Damage

Uh... not to cause a panic, but a new report out today says that vehicle exhaust isn't just bad for your respiratory system, but that it can also cause brain cancer and autism! The answer? This Wall Street Journal article suggests reducing traffic congestion.

Oil Prices Jump, Gas Prices Stay Static

Oil prices are up again, but don't panic about gas prices. At least not yet anyway.

The price of crude has jumped 22% since October but gas prices have increased less than 1% over the same period. Why? This Spokesman-Review article has the answer.

I1125 Appears To Be Failing

It's looking like I1125, Tim Eyman's initiative to have elected officials set transportation tolls across the state, will not pass. This Seattle PI article has some interesting things to say about transportation initiatives, mostly in King County, even mentioning a reference to Eyman being compared to herpes. Yikes.

I90 Traffic Revision Slowing Traffic

Crews are switching traffic over to the new concrete lanes on westbound I90 this morning between Sullivan and Barker so traffic is moving very slowly all the way to Liberty Lake.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Your Input Needed On Infill Housing

One of the recommendations that came out of last year's Transportation Vision Project was to further coordinate transportation and land use planning. It was suggested to do this by 'providing affordable and convenient housing where transportation choices exist for a range of incomes, and where the provision of new transportation infrastructure is practicable.'

That's where a series of City of Spokane open houses come in. As the City of Spokane continues to grow, infill development will become more important as large tracts of land become less available. Infill development should be implemented through City standards and policies in order to ensure quality projects and compatibility with existing neighborhoods.

In 2008 a task force was formed to look at existing standards to determine if improvements could be made to encourage additional infill opportunities. The Infill Housing Task Force completed its review of the base zoning code standards, a draft code amendment for Pocket Residential Development, and draft amendments to the Planned Unit Development code.

The Plan Commission has completed its initial review of draft amendment suggestions and is hosting open house meetings next week and in early December to get your feedback.

This is an opportunity to get information and provide input on recommended revisions to the Spokane Municipal Code related to improving options for the development of infill housing. The open house meetings are:

• Tuesday, Nov. 15, 6-8 p.m., presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook St.

• Wednesday, Nov. 16, 6-8 p.m., presentation at 6:30 p.m.
NEW ESD 101 Conference Center, 4202 S. Regal St.

• Thursday, Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m., presentation at 6:30 p.m.
West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt St.

STA Treating Incident As Learning Opportunity

Spokane Transit is issuing an apology for an incident in which three young people were kicked off a bus by a driver for discussing bisexuality.

The good news is that the incident is being used as a learning opportunity; the Odyssey Youth Center of Spokane has been asked to work with STA to include training for drivers on being sensitive to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender issues.

Here's the story.

Woman Apparently Hit And Killed By Vehicle

Spokane Police are releasing more information on a pedestrian struck and killed by a vehicle last night. It happened on Maple just north of Knox just before 9pm. According to Police, the woman had been walking in the north bound lane, wearing dark clothing, when she was struck by a north bound car.

Investigators are continuing the investigation. The woman has been identified as Darleen R. Ridgway (8/6/63).

Roads Are Icy In Outlying Areas

I'm in a bad mood because this is the first time I have to say this for the year: slow it down out there, it's slick on the roads. I was doing some running around in an outlying area this morning and the roads were icy already! I was quite surprised to see that, although its to be expected this time of year.

Apparently there were several accidents caused by the conditions, including a driver who was ejected from a vehicle and seriously injured in a rollover accident on U.S. Highway 395 near Hatch Road. The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Monday, November 7, 2011

SRTC Board Meeting Thursday, Nov. 10

SRTC's Board meets for their monthly meeting this Thursday, Nov. 10. The Board agenda and packet can be viewed here. As always, everyone is welcome to attend Board meetings and there is an agenda item for public comments.

Proposed Transportation Bill Dissected

On Friday evening, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican Senator Jim Inhofe released a summary and text of their proposal for a two-year surface transportation bill.

So that you don't have to read the whole thing to know what's in the bill, Transportation Issues Daily put together a handy guide of 13 Things You Will Want to Know; the Committee summary, and a link to the bill text.

I-90 Project Wrapped Up For Winter

Crews are suspending work for the season on the I-90/Latah Creek Bridge project. Minor items, including striping, will be underway this week as the roadway is prepared for winter. All lanes and ramps will be open for winter. The speed limit will be returned to 60 miles per hour. Work will resume in the spring to grind the pavement to remove studded tire ruts, repair cracked pavement, and resurface bridges.

Friday, November 4, 2011

School Transportation Could Be Victim Of Recession

School buses may be the next victim of the recession in Washington. Governor Chris Gregoire is considering eliminating state dollars for school bus service. She is sending lawmakers a long list of ideas, including many she admits could hurt regular people.

How would that affect our area? We're not sure yet, but Vancouver's newspaper 'The Columbian' takes a closer look at school bus usage in the state.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Road Construction Update For Next Week

Thursday is road construction update day and I'm running out of updates to give you. A couple more projects are wrapping up in the next week. Here's all the new stuff.

Two City Of Spokane Open Houses To Mark On Your Calendar

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., an open house at Grant Elementary School, 1300 E. Ninth Ave is set for the project to relocate a water transmission main in Eighth and Ninth avenues from Division to Hatch streets.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., an open house at Lidgerwood Elementary School, 5510 N. Lidgerwood St. is set for the project to rehabilitate Lidgerwood Street from North to Francis avenues and surrounding streets under the 10-Year Street Bond.

Traffic Counter Could Possibly Be Smarter Than Me

Here's something interesting I found out yesterday from a Washington State Department of Transportation employee: a bike/pedestrian counter has been installed along the Children of the Sun Trail that runs paralell with the North Spokane Corridor to see how many people are using it. Big deal right?

What's cool about this counter though is that it detects metal in spokes and shoe heels. Just to make sure it's picking up the right stuff though, an infrared sensor was included that can sense body heat. This helps to ensure that what it is sensing is indeed human. And no, it won't count animals, unless they're riding a bike or wearing shoes, so the hope is that this will give some pretty accurate counts that can be used in the future for furthering the bicycle/pedestrian cause.

Senate Votes On Two Transportation Jobs Bills Today

Today the Senate will vote on two transportation jobs bills. But don't get too excited, because neither is expected to get the required 60 votes to pass.

Why? Transportation Issues Daily has the answer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Amendment Voted Down That Would Have Given 'Enhancements' Money to Bridge Repair

Republican senators yesterday failed in their third recent effort to eliminate federal money for bike paths, walking trails and other transportation enhancement projects.

An amendment by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was defeated that would have forbidden the government from spending any money on enhancement projects and re-directed funds to bridge repairs.

According to this New York Times article though, this issue is expected to come up again soon.

NSC/US 2 Interchange to Open November 16

The Washington State Department of Transportation says the opening of the next component of the North Spokane Corridor (NSC) is coming soon. The NSC/US 2 interchange will open to traffic on Wednesday, November 16th, which is expected to get more people using the NSC.

The Spokesman-Review has all the details.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Studded Tires Legal In WA Now

Studded tires legal in Washington starting today. That doesn't mean you have to use them though, there are a lot of new alternatives that reportedly perform just as well, if not better, than studs.

Take the City's Pedestrian Plan Survey

The City of Spokane is offering you a key opportunity to be involved in the update of their Pedestrian Plan.
This Pedestrian Survey is designed to gather information on pedestrian wants and needs in the City. It should take less than 10 minutes to complete.

The Pedestrian Plan Update will include ways to promote pedestrian safety and access to help ensure that our community is a safe, convenient, and attractive place to walk.

More information on the Pedestrian Plan is available here.

1 Week Left To Apply For TAC

What are you waiting for? There's only one week left to get your application in to be a member of SRTC's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), so you better get in gear.

The TAC is a citizens’ advisory group responsible for advising the SRTC Board on policy recommendations regarding plans, programs, and activities conducted by SRTC. The purpose of the TAC is to promote transparency and provide an opportunity for the public to be involved in SRTC's programs.

The TAC is composed of 13 members that meet on a monthly basis for three year terms. The deadline to submit applications is Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. Here's a link to the application.

Voters Support A Lot Of Things, But Not So Much Initiative 1125

What's more popular in Washington State than the anti- tolling Initiative 1125? Oh let's see; President Barack Obama, gay marriage, and marijuana legalization. And Mitt Romney has almost as much support as the measure.

That's right, according to the newly released 'Washington Poll,' all those issues have more support among Washington State voters than the ballot measure that would essentially prevent future tolling in the State. Transportation Issues Daily has the story- and the numbers.

Eco-Friendly Gas Station? Really??

‘Eco-friendly’ gas station? Isn't that an oxymoron? You would think so, but that's the designation one Portland area gas station is striving for.

Highland Chevron in Beaverton is trying to balance the selling fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases by addressing other factors that can reduce its carbon footprint, including heating, cooling, lighting and stormwater drainage.

The Down To Earth Northwest blog explains how the station consumes zero net energy and is environmentally friendly.

Spokane Valley Bike & Pedestrian Master Program Approved

This happened last week but I was out sick at the time so didn't blog about it: The Spokane Valley City Council voted unanimously to pass the Bike and Pedestrian Master Program and integrate it as part of the city’s comprehensive plan!

That's good news because having a bike and pedestrian plan will make it easier for the City to recieve grants and funding for future transportation projects. For a while there though, it looked the a couple Council members might not support the plan. Here's the story from the Spokane Valley News Herald.

Spokane Valley To Assess Speed Limits

You could be seeing some revised speed limits in Spokane Valley soon. The City Council has set aside time to reasses current speed limits at it's Nov. 15 meeting, but will be looking at one area in particular, the Indiana and Mission parkways.

The city has received over 100 letters complaining about the current 25 mile per hour speed limit in that area, suggesting the city has essentially created a speed trap for businesses and their customers in the area.

The Spokane Valley News Herald has the story.

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.