Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unveiled Federal Transportation Bill Gets Lots Of Criticism

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee officially unveiled the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act,” today and it's not going over so well so far.

According to the DC Streets Blog, there's something for everyone to dislike in the proposed Federal transportation bill.

Among what some are calling it's low points: no more dedicated bike/ped funding; no more TIGER or other discretionary transit programs; more money for highways, less accountability for state DOTs and increased drilling for oil and exploration as a way to make up the gap between what is needed for transportation funding and how much the gas tax actually brings in.

Don't worry though, the bill isn't going through as-is. It will be marked up on Thursday and even Chairman Mica says it will take some time, telling reporters to “get some hemorrhoid cream ointment and hang on” during long negotiations.

Pedestrian Emphasis Patrols Today In Cheney

As I mentioned yesterday, the weekend wasn't a good one for pedestrians in the area, with one man dying from injuries received when he was hit by a car and another pedestrian suffering serious injuries in a separate incident.

Emphasis patrols today and next month in Cheney are part of an ongoing effort in Spokane County to reduce the number of pedestrians injured or killed by drivers like happened over the weekend.

A Cheney police officer in regular clothes will walk within crosswalks several times near First and D streets between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and three other patrols are scheduled for different areas of the city next month. These efforts are paid for through a grant from the Spokane Regional Health District, but even SRTC chips in for some pedestrian emphasis patrols. To see how we're involved, and for updates on charges filed in the weekend pedestrian collision incidents, here's the latest from the Spokesman-Review.

Monday, January 30, 2012

One Pedestrian Killed, One Injured In Weekend Collisions

It was a tough weekend for pedestrians in Spokane.

A Spokane man hit by a car at Market Street and Providence Avenue early Saturday morning died of his injuries, Spokane police said. 47-year-old Dennis Burgess was found after someone called police to report finding a person lying in the road. Shortly afterward, a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy stopped a speeding car that appeared to have been involved in an accident. The driver, Hannah K. Hahn, 21, was booked into the Spokane County Jail on suspicion of vehicular assault. Police have not said if Hahn will face additional charges related to Burgess’ death.

In another serious pedestrian incident, Spokane police found an unconscious and seriously injured man lying in the road around 9:30 p.m. Saturday after getting a report of a car hitting a pedestrian at the intersection of Buckeye Avenue and Wall Street.

Witnesses said the driver was heading east and hit the man as he was crossing the intersection. Police arrested Spokane resident Candace L. Wilson, 30, on a vehicular assault charge. Police did not release the victim’s name or his condition today.

Keep in mind folks that if you're going to be walking at night, it's a good idea to wear bright colors. And be extra observant.

SRTC January 2012 Newsletter Available

It's newsletter time again. SRTC's quarterly newsletter for January 2012 is now available. Click here to see what we've been up to recently.

County Tests GPS System To Track Snowplows

Spokane County tests a new GPS tracking system that let's you know where snowplows are working and there's a parade this week. Here's what's happening in local transportation this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Federal Transportation Bill Language To Be Released Tomorrow

I posted last week that House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica was expected to release a draft of a proposed federal transportation bill last Friday, and he did.

According to Transportation Issues Daily, House Transportation Committee members received a copy of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act late last week and, interestingly, they were individually marked. The speculation is that was done to track leaks, as some text from the bill had already been leaked to the public previous to it's official release.

The House Transportation committee is expected to release bill text to the public tomorrow, and debate and pass it out of Committee on Thursday. The House Ways and Means Committee, charged with writing the funding provisions of the bill, is tentatively scheduled to act on Friday.

Those activities put the full House on track to debate and vote on the bill during the week of February 13. Don't get too excited that we're finally going to have a federal transportation bill though (hey, this is exciting stuff to folks like me), it's a huge battle for the House and Senate to negotiate a final bill before the March 31 expiration of SAFETEA-LU. And USDOT Secretary LaHood last week reminded transportation stakeholders that Congress is very unlikely to pass a multi-year transportation bill in 2012.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Airline To Quit Giving Passengers Prayer Cards

Alaska Airlines is ending decades of giving passengers prayer cards with their meals, saying the airline heard from customers who preferred not to mix religion with transportation.

The News Tribune tells why the airline is ending the practice after decades. I've never gotten one of these cards. Have you?

Safe Routes To School Program Looking For Applicable Projects

I know a lot of folks who read this blog are 'agency' people, so I'm posting this item in case you hadn't heard about it yet; the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)just issued a call for projects for the Safe Routes to School (SRS) program.

That means that cities, counties, transit companies and tribes can apply for funding for projects that increase the number of children walking and biking to school where it is safe, and if it’s not safe, work to make it safer. The program supports pedestrian and bicycle safety projects such as walking to school buses, sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrian safety education, bicycle safety skills classes, crossing guards, speed feedback signs and traffic safety cameras.

Eligible Safe Routes projects are those within two-miles of primary and middle schools (grades K-8), and that address engineering solutions, educational and encouragement programs, and law enforcement efforts.

If you're not with a local agency but have an idea for a SRS project that would improve safety for children in your area, contact your local jurisdiction to see if they're willing to look into it. More information on the program and the applications process can be found here.

Letter Writer Says Drivers Need To Take Their Free Left Turn

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Ignorance Increases Traffic

As a driver who relies on steady movement on our downtown streets to provide expeditious travel in the city, I believe I have discovered the main causes for our never-improving congestion. It is not the people driving below the speed limit. You can in most cases pass them.

The drivers who fail to take advantage of free right turns against red lights hold up long strings of motorists that have to sit and wait until the light turns green. I have observed this so many times that it makes me wonder how they were able to secure a driver’s license without some basic knowledge of what their responsibility is to help avoid the congestion.

Most of these people are unaware that a left turn from a two-way street onto a one-way street against a red light is perfectly legal. I refrain from honking and gesturing as an attempt to educate these drivers to make good choices to help us keep the traffic moving, but some days my patience becomes very strained on what the best approach might be. Maybe some public service messages on television or radio would be a good beginning.

Ray Moss

Well, that's a complaint I haven't heard before. Anyone else encountering this issue?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Bicycle Super Highway & A Village With No Roads

Want to slow things down; maybe find a slower pace in life and a small town isn't low key enough for you? Maybe try Holland or Sweden.

The south of Sweden is quickly becoming known as a place where bicycling is a way of life and more people ride bikes than drive cars. And to promote that image, they're even building a four lane 'super cycling highway' with exits (but no intersections), wind protection and periodic bicycle service stations. Treehugger has the story of this highway for bikes.

If even biking is too fast for your lifestyle, Holland has a village where you will not find a single road in the entire town. Rather, it is connected by waterways and paths and a few biking trails. Here are some more cool pictures of that town.

State Of The Union Includes Proposal For Transportation Infrastructure Plan

President Obama's State of the Union speech last night didn't focus as heavily on transportation as it did last year, but he did propose a $200 billion plan to build transportation infrastructure with money saved from bringing troops home. Her's the Spokesman-Review's summary of the speech.

Federal Transportation Bill Proposal Will Reportedly Be Released Friday

Apparently there's been some work behind the scenes on a federal transportation bill recently. Word began leaking earlier this week that House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica might release the draft text of such a bill this Friday. That was followed by a couple summaries of the proposal that made their way out to the public.

The bill would reportedly provide about $58 billion per year. Transportation Issues Daily has an entire package of stories about the "American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act," as it will be called, including five big proposed changes in the bill, hurdles to enacting a Fderal Transportation Bill, and how it would reform transit programs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Interesting History Of The Modern Traffic Signal

Do you know why the inventor of the original traffic light doesn't get credit for his invention? Well then, you'll have to read this article from Gizmodo. It really is an interesting story involving collisions between horses and cars, the huge influx of cars on our roads between 1910 and 1920, and discrimination in the early years of the 20th century. There, did I sell that well enough?

Virginia Gov Proposes Selling Naming Rights To Transportation Infrastructure

The Big Mac Bridge. AT&T Highway. Ford Bypass. Just a couple of the possibilities if Virginia's Governor's proposal of selling the naming rights for the state’s bridges and highways goes through.

Gov. Robert McDonnell thinks the move could generate funds for road maintenance. Opponents say the proposal would turn the state into a marketer working on behalf of corporate interests.

Read the L.A. Times story and give your thoughts- a good way to raise funds for repairs that won't get done otherwise or the selling out of America? Or any opinion in between, of course.

Spokane Valley Council Debates Gateway Idea

We've been talking about 'gateways' a lot lately around here- the entrances to cities or metropolitan areas that a lot of communities are trying to spruce up in order to send a positive message about their area to the people who use those areas.

Spokane Valley is no different- they have an idea in mind for a gateway. The only problem is now they're debating what it should include. A piece of property near Appleway and Thierman was slated to get an entrayway welcome sign, but the plan then grew to include art, trees, and apparently a sidewalk is required. Now some City Council members say it's too much- and too expensive- while others say that 'curb appeal' is necessary to entice businesses and shoppers.

The Spokane Valley News Herald looks at both sides of the issue.

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Traffic Alignment Near Whitworth & Technology To Get Buses Through Green Lights More Efficiently

Spokane County officials are working with residents near Whitworth University to devise a new traffic alignment for the arterial serving that area and Spokane Transit is working on technology that would allow buses to extend green-lights so they can run up and down busy corridors more efficiently. Those are just a few of the items in today's Getting There column from the Spokesman-Review.

Browne's Addition Plowing Tuesday & Wednesday

If you live in Browne's Addition, the City will be plowing your streets on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, starting at 9 a.m. each day. Plowing of north-south streets is planned for Tuesday and east-west streets on Wednesday. Because streets in Browne’s Addition are narrow, all vehicles must be moved to accommodate the plows. Vehicles that aren’t moved will be towed, so be warned.

Will 2012 State Of The Union Be Transportation-Heavy?

President Obama gives his State of the Union speech tomorrow (Tuesday) night, and there's a lot of speculation on whether it will focus heavily on transportation again. Last year's speech had more references to transportation than the previous twenty State of the Union speeches.

Despite the talk though, there still hasn't been a federal transportation bill authorized in the year since that speech and many other transportation issues have remained status quo. Transportation Issues Daily tells us what we can expect and how you can weigh in on what the President said after the speech.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bacteria Eats De-Icer So It Doesn't End Up In Rivers & Lakes

What happens to the thousands of gallons of used de-icer after it's put on streets? In most cases its washed into storm drains with melting snow, where it ends up in either water treatment facilities or rivers and other bodies of water. In Portland though, airport officials are feeding it to bacteria to dispose of it.

What?? Yep, you heard me right. Last year, the airport sprayed more than 60,000 gallons of glycol-based de-icing fluids on their planes and runways, too much to dispose of in a way compliant with the limits of its wastewater discharge permit.

So they had to find another way to get rid of it, which is detailed in this article from Boise State Public Radio.

Local Snow Removal Roundup

So here's a roundup of snow removal efforts from all the agencies I get news releases from:

City of Spokane
- Upgraded to a Stage 2 Snow Declaration around 6:00 last night, meaning they'll do a full-City plow of all residential and arterial streets. That takes about four days.
- Overnight, crews replowed many arterials and plowed the downtown area into berms in the middle of the roads.

Spokane Valley
- A full city plowing of all residential areas began around 6 a.m. today.
- Crews worked overnight to plow primary and secondary arterials, hillsides and known problem areas.
- Please move your vehicles off the streets if possible to make it easier for plow drivers, and less risky for your car.

Spokane County
- Crews re-plowed primary arterials and emergency routes last night.
- Crews continue to work 10-hour shifts around the clock to clear more than 2,500 miles of roadway.
- Warmer weather is forecast for tomorrow and next week, with rain expected. Please clear snow from down spouts and storm drains to prevent flooding. Overnight lows could result in patches of black ice and frozen intersections.

Washington State Department of Transportation
- Snoqualmie Pass is open but there are areas of ice and compact snow so take it slow if you go over the Pass.
- Traction tires are required.
- It's snowing there as of 8:20 a.m.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

City Declares Stage 1 Snow Condition

The City of Spokane just declared a Stage 1 Snow Condition, meaning cars are required to be moved from all arterials and STA bus routes within six hours, or by 6:30 p.m.

It also means City snow removal crews will work 24 hours a day to plow all arterials, bus routes, and all streets in the City’s residential hill routes.

Who Roller Skates On A Ferry Boat?

Um, I guess its been a while since I've been on a ferry, because I didn't remember them as being places of vice and bad behavior. But the Washington State Patrol says stuff going on is so inappropraite on boats that they're asking for a bill to control behavior on ferries.

Here's a sample: spitting, littering, urinating or defecating in places other than approved plumbing fixtures (ew- really??), carrying flammable liquids, roller-skating (on a boat?? Must be better roller-skaters than me), gambling (gotta pay for your fare somehow), and trying to pass oneself off as a ferry worker. Okay, the last one I have really no clue about.

Surprised? I sure was. Here's the rest of the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Most Spokane To Seattle Flights Cancelled This Morning

In case you hadn't heard, most flights from Spokane to Seattle are cancelled this morning. One runway at Sea-Tac Airport is open for flights to arrive and depart, but it can't accomodate many flights.

Freezing rain has followed heavy snow in Western Washington, causing icy roads and power outages. The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning until noon today for the Seattle area and southwest Washington.

@Vanillajane sent this pic of what happened when she rolled down her car window in Olympia this morning, and as just a few minutes ago she said her power was out.

So if you're heading that way, or trying to, check for flight status here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Transportation Technical Committee Meeting Agenda For Jan. 25

Our monthly Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meeting is next Wednesday, Jan. 25. The agenda just came out today. You can view it here. The meetings are open to the public, so if it suits your fancy, come check it out.

Two Public Meetings Next Week On Upcoming Projects

A couple public meetings are coming up on January 25 that you may be interested in, depending on where you live and drive:

- A Sullivan Bridge Preliminary Design meeting is scheduled for Jan. 25 from 6-7:30 p.m. at CenterPlace Regional Event Center, 2426 N. Discovery Place in Spokane Valley.

Engineers and design consultants for the bridge replacement project will be on hand to go over preliminary plans and get public opinion on bridge appearance, options for routing traffic and maintaining business access, and ideas for minimizing impacts during construction.

Construction of a new southbound bridge is necessary due to cracking in the girders and the concrete driving surface. The bridge is closed for temporary repairs now that are expected to be complete around the end of February.

- Also on Jan. 25, Spokane County is hosting a public meeting on the Harvard Road widening project. The project has been revised to widen Harvard Road from Euclid to 2,000 feet north of Wellesley to a two lane section with shoulders and a separated shared use path on one side. Left turn lanes would be constructed at the Euclid and Wellesley avenues and a traffic signal installed at the Wellesley Ave. intersection.

The meeting is at the Otis Orchards Elementary School located at 22000 E. Wellesley Ave. between 5:30-8 p.m.

Council Approves Sidewalk Construction Projects

Spokane's City Council Tuesday confirmed that funds set aside for sidewalk maintenance won't be diverted for street repairs.

There was some question that the new members of the Council might repeal the $20 vehicle tab tax passed last year, or at the very least, redirect the sidewalk money to street projects.

The Council last night set the record straight though, and approved three sidewalk construction projects using that money. Here's which projects were approved.

Proposed Bill Would Add Fee To Studded Tire Purchases

Just ask my friends and neighbors- I harrangue them for using studded snow tires every year when they put them on their cars. They won't be happy to hear that the Legislature is being asked to tax studs.

A proposal by a group of Western Washington senators would place a $5 fee on each new studded snow tire sold in the state to help pay for the damage they do to our streets and highways.

The Spokesman-Review has the details.

I Dig That Tribal Look

Congratulations, you made it halfway through the week already. And still no serious amount of snow in the 'metropolitan' area. To help you get through the rest of the week, here's a hilarious clip from the show Portlandia to remind you that warmer bicycle weather is on the way. But if you ride, don't ride like this guy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

South Spokane Neighborhood Councils Team Up To Make Money Go Farther

Four neighborhood councils on Spokane’s South Hill are teaming up to improve business centers used by thousands of residents, but lacking pedestrian and bicycle access.

By pooling together about $80,000, the newly-founded South Hill Coalition hopes to connect neighborhoods so more residents can stay local to do their shopping. KXLY.com has the story on how they plan to do that.

Letter Writer Disagrees With Complete Streets Editorial

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Complete streets safer, saner

Our mayor and City Council finally approved an overdue Complete Streets Ordinance to help Spokane catch up with other cities making streets safer for walkers and cyclists. Then what does The Spokesman-Review do? You immediately call to diminish the program!

What? Spokane’s unregulated sprawl drives away skilled young people looking for lively neighborhoods; it costs too much to maintain; and it will cost area residents even more as we begin to tackle carbon pollution. Cutting funds for sidewalks and bike lanes in order to build more streets for more shoddy, far-flung subdivisions is like eating Twinkies to lose weight.

We kill a lot of walkers and cyclists in this city – far more per capita than in busier Seattle or Portland. Each Spokane taxpayer also spends much more on street upkeep than do residents of those cities, because each taxpayer here has twice as many miles of streets to maintain. Our addiction to cars and sprawl is literally killing us.

The recent city decision to adopt Complete Streets was a breath of fresh air to those of us who would like to see Spokane mature and thrive. I only wish The Spokesman-Review’s owners would support this rare step rather than undermine it.

David Camp

Here's the original editorial that Mr. Camp is reacting to. Any comments?

Monday, January 16, 2012

City Of Spokane Ready For Snow

The City of Spokane wants you to know they're ready for the snow, according to a news release just sent out. With significant amounts of snow forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, Street Department crews are preparing and plan to stay late and come in early to provide 24-hour snow removal work.

Before the snow arrives, crews will spread de-icer on hills and at intersections, then switch to plowing as soon as there is enough snow on the streets.

Keep in mind, removing snow from sidewalks within 24 hours of a snow storm is critical. The City takes an 'enhanced' approach to sidewalk snow removal and can issue tickets for those who don't shovel, although to date they have asked for voluntary compliance.

Web App Shows All Transportation Priority Projects For Entire State

Want to see something cool? Click here. It's a website where you can find all the priority transportation projects for the entire state.

Curious how the Spokane region's needs differ from other counties in the state or what kind of transit projects each county is investing in? You can find all that on this website.

SRTC, along with the state’s other Regional Transportation Planning Organizations, was recently tasked by the legislature with recommending investments for all types of transportation. To accomplish this, our Policy Board compiled a list of regional project priorities to work toward funding in the next ten years.

That information was presented to the legislature to demonstrate the need for transportation improvements and help make statewide transportation decisions. It was also posted to ‘Forward Washington,’ the website linked above.

The site features a map of all statewide projects, project descriptions, visualizations and project pictures for each jurisdiction. You can look up projects by region, legislative district or type.

Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting Agenda

The monthly meeting of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) is next Monday, January 23 and I've just sent out the agenda and packet. If you're interested, you can check it out here.

Everyone is welcome so if anything catches your eye, feel free to attend.

Who Are Better Drivers; Men Or Women?

Here's a conversation starter for around the dinner table tonight: women are better drivers than men. Yep, I said it. And I have statistics to back it up; national numbers show women are less likely to cause a serious accident or be arrested for drunk driving and receive less traffic infractions.

Why is that? This blog post from blog post by 4AutoInsuranceQuote.org explains.

Letter Writer Calls For Moratorium On Street Construction

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Rethink street construction

We need to have a moratorium on street construction until we can study what works, how people really use streets, and do it with an open mind rather than a set of preconceived ideas. Streets too hazardous will have to be modified. Some of the newer streets are frightening to drive down, much less to ride a bike, walk or run. There are streets in nearby communities that function better than those we have in Spokane now.

A street should fit the neighborhood instead of forcing neighborhoods to accept a street that’s incompatible. One size fits all doesn’t work. As in medicine, what may cure one patient will kill another.

Each neighborhood needs to have a design review committee. We would use the Neighborhood Councils and Steering Committees that already exist, and give the neighborhood coordinators expanded duties.

You never know where a good idea is going to come from. To say something can to be done only one way is closed-minded thinking. To not do something for fear of setting a precedent stifles progress. We need room to experiment, to try new ideas and question the old ones. This is how we can move forward in a positive manner.

Charlie Greenwood

While I agree with Mr. Greenwood that one kind of streets doesn't always meet the needs of all users, I disagree with the idea of a moratorium. We can't put off fixing our streets; many are already in such disrepair that they can't wait for maintenance. Other thoughts on Mr. Greenwood's letter?

Transportation Roundup For Week Of January 16

Zoning changes are made on the west plains, the Associated General Contractors steps up to try to get more funding for the North Spokane Corridor, and if you get a traffic ticket in Spokane Valley, it won't necessarily go on your record. The Spokesman-Review's Getting There column has all these stories and more.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rate A Rat; Get A Free Subway Pass

I have tomorrow off so I'm giving you a little Friday present a day early. Thank you, thank you, thank you to my sister-in-law for sending me this item. I'm telling you, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

New York City has always had somewhat of a rat problem, but apparently it's growing to the level of an infestation in the City's subways. Riders overwhelmingly agree it's getting worse and they want something done about it. Aggressive rats are bolder about coming onto the platforms, and have even been known to bite riders.

Now subway riders are fighting back, demanding rat free subways! While they say the solution is simple -- more trash pickups from each station, patching up rat holes in walls and floors, using tight-fitting lids for trash bins, and more extermination efforts -- they're also trying an unusual tactic to get the attention of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. They have worked with the subway worker's union to develop a website where you can log on and rate pictures of rats that have been submitted to determine the nastiest of the vermin.

I voted for the rat with the grapes. While he's actually pretty cute, I think it's a ploy to lull you into a false sense of security, which really IS nasty when you think about it.

If that's not enough to get you to the site, there are all kinds of other offerings there too, such as the video below of a rat dragging a piece of pizza, 'rat tales' and a place to upload your own rat picture. So where else are you ever going to get to rate a rat? Get to it!. This makes me thankful for our local rat free commute.

Report Gives Washington High Marks For Roadway Safety

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety released its annual report yesterday on the progress state governments have made in keeping our roadways safe. Collisions killed nearly 33,000 people last year in the U.S. and injured more than 2 million.

The report gave a rating to each state based on 15 laws and how many they were able to implement from seat belts to all driver texting bans. Washington was put in the highest category, Idaho was in the middle and Montana was one of the worst.

Here's the report if you'd like to read it.

Some Local Government Offices Closed Monday For Holiday

If you plan to do government business next Monday, Jan. 16, you may want to call the office you're headed to in advance to make sure it's open, as that's the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

While all government agencies recognize the holiday, many don't take the day off. For instance, City of Spokane offices will be closed that day, but the SRTC offices will not.

The good news for those of you coming downtown for the parade that day; parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Monday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

SRTC Office Closed Part Of Day Feb. 3

Mark your calendars because the SRTC office will be closed part of the day on Friday, Feb. 3. We have a staff retreat that day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. So, it's a little complicated but we'll be open from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. that day and again from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Maybe you should call first and see if we answer if you plan to come to the office that day and you can't remember.

Board/Commission Appointments Made At Spokane City

Some people don't know this, but County Commissioners and City Councilmembers jobs don't just consist of attending council meetings once a week and doing a little work in the background. Each Commissioner or Councilmember sits on multiple local boards and committees, in addition to their regular jobs (in the case of Councilmembers. Being a Commissioner is considered a full-time job) and their responsibilities as elected officials.

In his wrapup of this week's City Council meeting, City of Spokane Councilmember Jon Snyder writes on his blog about board and commission appointments that were made differently this year than in past years, including at SRTC and Spokane International Airport.

How To Drive To Improve Traffic For Others

Driving can seem like a contact sport sometimes. Or more like a sport where the point is to avoid contact, only you have a lot of factors going against you. And while it's a dog-eat-dog driving world out there, Lifehacker released this recent article on how to drive to improve traffic for others.

Others? Yes. The way you drive can determine how other drivers react and impact their habits. For instance, picking a steady speed on the freeway, letting people merge and just showing overall driving courtesy can cut down on tailgating and road rage. And be sure to use your signals to avoid accidents. Some of it is common sense stuff but others stuff you might not have thought about.

Mayor's Transition Team Makes Recommendations On Car Tabs & Gateways

The five transition teams assembled by Mayor David Condon reported to him yesterday on their ideas to move the City forward. In regards to transportation, the infrastructure team recommended the city maintain the vehicle tab tax that was instituted last year, despite Condon criticizing it during his campaign for Mayor.

This Spokesman-Review article summarizes the presentations made to Mr. Condon or you can view the video of the presentation on the City Cable 5 website.

One of the reporters from the Inlander was 'live tweeting' the presentation and sent out this message: Econ development director suggests we clean up Spokane's gateways as opposed to presenting a 'tired, beaten up community.

This idea has come up at SRTC Board meetings in the past several months as well. So we've been thinking about it around here. If you were to spruce up a 'gateway' to the City, such as the westbound I-90 exit at Division or a similar area, what would you include? Welcome signs? Wayfinding signage? Statues? Water features? Vegetation? Other?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Transportation History Displays At The MAC. Who Wants To Go?

I saw this ad in The Inlander and thought it might be cool for transportation buffs like @Charles Hansen who have a lot of insight into local transportation history.

Click the ad to view it full size and you'll see that the Carriage House at the Campbell House, which is part of the Museum of Arts and Culture for those who didn't know, now has a transportation theme. I think it would be interesting to check out the 'carriage to autombile' and 'worldwide travel at the turn of the 20th century' displays.

Now, just have to get the boss to let me do it on work time. Or there's always the weekend right?

Governor's State Of The State Focused Heavily On Transportation

Governor Chris Gregoire gav her State of the State speech today, in which transportation was a major focus. She emphasized road construction as a job creation strategy, and highway, ferry, and bridge maintenance projects in particular. The Seattle Times sums up her speech.

SRTC Board Agenda For Thursday, 1 p.m. Meeting

This Thursday is SRTC's monthly Policy Board meeting. It's at 1 p.m. at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310. Everyone is welcome to attend and there's an item on the agenda for public comment, so if you have any transportation concerns, or are just interested, feel free to attend. The agenda is here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Student Creates 'Infographics' For Bicycle Commuting Information

Curious about bicycle commuting trends in the U.S.? A University of Oregon student created 'infographics' to answer your questions- and won a national transportation policy competition for his work.

The project was aimed at helping people make informed decisions about transportation safety and economic development. The graphics provide information such as the number of bike commuter per state, bicycle fatalities, government spending, and features comparison charts, all by hovering over the state you're interested in on a map.

To check it out yourself, click here.

Next NSC Project To Start Soon

The next phase of the North Spokane Corridor, an overpass for Francis Avenue, gets underway soon and there were almost 200 DUI arrests in Spokane and Pend Orielle counties over the holidays. Here's the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column, a roundup of local transportation news for the week.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Walmart To Foot Bill For Sidewalk Installation

Extending a section of sidewalk in Moscow, ID had been a city goal for a while, and now Walmart is footing the bill to make it happen, according to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

True, the sidewalk does improve access to their store but it's still nice of them to pony up the $19,000 for it as it benefits many in the community.

150 Mile Test Drive??

Ever wanted to just get away? To jump in your car and drive? Well that's one one Wisconsin man did- only it wasn't his car.

The man took a 2000 Nissan Altima from a car dealership and drove 150 miles to Milwaukee! MSNBC.com says the man claims he didn't steal the vehicle.

Spokane Valley Mayor To Be Selected Jan. 10

City of Spokane Valley Councilmembers will elect their 2012-2013 Mayor and Deputy Mayor during the January 10 council meeting.

In Spokane Valley, the mayor and deputy mayor are selected by a majority vote of councilmembers from among their colleagues on the City Council. In addition to serving as the chair of the Council, the mayor retains his/her role as a regular Councilmember, including voting rights. The mayor is also recognized as the head of the city for ceremonial purposes and by the governor for purposes of military law.

Everyone is welcome to attend the 6 pm ceremony in Council Chambers at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Avenue, Suite 101.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Crestline & Francis Repairs

Crestline Street from Central to Francis avenues will be reduced to one lane in each direction Monday through Wednesday, Jan. 9 to 11, while crews line two sewer pipes. Additionally, Francis Ave. from Napa to Crestline streets will be reduced by one lane.

Driver Scared His Passenger To Death. Oh Wait, He Was Already Dead.

Why didn't the skeleton get out of the car driven by the aggressive driver? Because he didn't have the guts! Boo- I know, poor joke. A Western Washington driver apparently didn't have anywhere to store his plastic skeleton after Halloween, because he was caught recently not only driving extremely aggresively, but also using the skeleton as a 'passenger' to use the carpool lane.

KiroTV.com has the story.

Sullivan Road Bridge Work Starts Monday

Temporary repairs to the southbound Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River are expected to begin Monday, January 9 at 6 a.m. and continue through the end of February.

Monday morning traffic will be reduced to one lane on the northbound bridge and one lane on the southbound bridge.

Around noon that day, both northbound and southbound traffic will be shifted onto the northbound bridge with one lane in each direction. Traffic will remain on the northbound bridge through the end of the project.

Want more information on this project? Here's a link to Spokane Valley's webpage on it.

Who's Safer On The Road- Teens Or Seniors?

What do you think? Who's safer on the road; teens or seniors? On one hand, seniors tend to drive slower than other traffic, causing a risk of rearending accidents. But studies show teenagers text and talk on the phone more while driving. So who's riskier behind the wheel? Lewiston's KLEWTV.com has the answer.

City Saves Money On Snow Removal This Winter

The warm dry winter we've been having in the Inland Northwest is translating into savings for the City of Spokane.

So far, the lack of snowfall at the end of 2011 saved the city about $100,000 in snow removal costs. So where will that money go? And what are City plow drivers doing to keep busy? KREM 2 News has the answers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Smartphones Could Soon Help The Visually Impaired Safely Cross The Street

So what can't smartphones do these days? Besides all the fun and informative apps they already offer, researchers are now working to put a suite of assistive technologies at the fingertips of visually impaired pedestrians via smartphones.

The prototype Mobile Accessible Pedestrian Signals (MAPS) system uses technologies built into the latest smartphones—including Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, digital compasses, and wireless networking— to help people with limited or no eyesight cross intersections safely.

While standing at an intersection, the user can point a smartphone in the direction he or she wants to cross and call up information about the intersection and the signal phase by tapping the unit’s touchscreen once. A double tap sends a request for a crossing signal to the traffic signal controller. Feedback is then given to the user as to whether it is safe to cross.

Cool huh? And pretty amazing. Here's the entire article from the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.

Are Gondolas The New Subway Of Public Transportation?

When I say transit, what comes to mind? Riding the bus, a trolley or a light rail system? Well a new mode of transit is gaining popularity nationally, and many say it's cheaper, cleaner and quicker to build than subways and light rail.

What is it? It's not a bird or a plane, but a gondola up there in the sky. A gondola?? Yeah, essentially heavy-duty ski lifts. A number of jurisdictions around the world have started using them for public transit or are looking to do so, including in Germany, Quebec, Saudi Arabia, London, Venezuela, Colombia, Nigeria, and Algeria.

Here's an article from 'The Star' in Toronto about a professor there, a transportation engineer, who says trams are worth another look.

Here's his video "Aerial Ropeway Transit: Exploring its Potential for Makkah."

U of T Research Contributing to Makkah's Transportation Development from Colin Anderson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Council Connection" TV Show To Discuss Current Transportation Issues

The next edition of “Council Connection,” airs tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 6 p.m., and the topics will be current transportation issues. Council Connection is a TV show featuring Spokane City Council members as hosts. It airs on channel 5 on the Comcast cable system.

Council Member Jon Snyder will host tomorrow's show. For the first half hour, he will discuss the work of the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB), which is assisting with the work of the Transportation Benefit District.

For the second half hour, the topic is the Complete Streets Ordinance that was adopted by the City Council in December. Here's the fun part; Council Member Snyder will accept calls from viewers during the program so call 625-6337 if you have a question.

If you can't catch the show live, you can watch it on the Cable 5 website here.

Does Driving Your Car Cause Tornadoes?

Whoa!! Can driving your car cause tornadoes? National Geographic says yes, and that's why tornadoes take the weekends off in summer- not as many people driving. Here's the story.

Top 10 Transportation Issues Of 2012

What lies ahead in the new year for the transportation industry? What top 10 issues will be talked, written, or tweeted about and legislated in 2012? The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials have a top 10 list of their predictions. You can view it here.

WSDOT Releases List of 2012 Local Construction Projects

The Washington State Department of Transportation- Eastern Region newsletter came out late last week and it contained a list of 2012 construction projects.

There are 15 projects on the list, including three North Spokane Corridor projects, the I-90/Sullivan Road to Barker Road widening, and the I-90/Geiger to Downtown Viaduct-Pavement rehabilitation job.

New projects include the NSC/Francis Avenue Improvements job and the Keller Ferry Replacement. You can view the full list of WSDOT 2012 projects here.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.