Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spokane Valley Construction Update

4th Avenue between Sullivan Road and Conklin Road- Closed from 7am to 5pm on Monday, June 4 and Tuesday, June 5 for sewer line connection.

Sprague Avenue/Fancher Road Intersection- Sprague eastbound and Fancher southbound remain reduced through about noon on Sunday, June 3 for utility upgrades. Expect congestion.

Sprague Avenue - Evergreen to Sullivan Reconstruction Project- Traffic impacts and areas of construction will vary during four construction phases through mid-August. See below for details:

• First phase May 21 through early June - North side of Sprague between Sullivan and 14900 block of Sprague Avenue.

o Sprague Avenue will be reduced to one lane in each direction with a center turn lane around the clock.

o North side of Sprague/Progress intersection closed; use Adams or Sullivan Road to Valleyway Avenue for local access.

University Road between 4th Avenue and 16th Avenue- Curb lane closures in both directions at different times from Wednesday, June 6 through Friday, June 8 for resurfacing.
8000 Block of E Riverway Avenue- Delays and minor congestion due to heavy equipment in the area.

MLK Jr. Way Now Officially Open

Hundreds of people, including elected officials, leaders within the African-American community, students, and construction contractors, attended today’s opening ceremony for Martin Luther King Jr. Way through the heart of the University District, according to a news release from the City of Spokane.

During the celebration, Mayor Condon presented keys to the City to both the Rev. Percy “Happy” Watkins and Ivan Bush, long-time organizers of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March and Rally, as well as community leaders in the area of equal rights. Rev. Watkins and Mr. Bush are stepping down from their roles as organizers of the annual march.

The ceremony also included remarks from a dozen speakers, a performance by the Grant Elementary School drummers and dancers, classic cars from the 1950s and 60s, and a song performed by Martin Herford. Herford’s selection also was sung at Dr. King’s funeral and the opening of the monument in his honor in Washington, D.C., last year.

At the ceremony’s end, the crowd released balloons and dignitaries took the first ride down the new street in classic cars provided by the H.A.S.S.I.E. car club. The street opened to regular traffic at about 1 p.m.

The new street features complete streets elements including bike lanes, street trees, wide sidewalks, and an elevated median, it reduces vehicular traffic on Spokane Falls Boulevard and helps slow traffic in the center of the Riverpoint campus, creating an inviting setting in the University District. Phase II of this project, planned for 2013, will run from Sherman St. east along the Spokane River, under the Hamilton Street Bridge to Perry St. and Trent Avenue. 

WSDOT Construction Update

North Spokane Corridor/Parksmith Interchange- Beginning today, Thursday, May 31, through Friday, June 8th, on weekdays, Market Street near Stoneman Road will be reduced to a single-lane with flaggers directing traffic during daytime hours. There is a possibility of longer delays of up to 20 minutes. Drivers should expect delays. In general, Stoneman Road is now closed to through traffic east of Market to the BNSF tunnel. Through traffic is detoured to the north via Parksmith Dr. to Peone Rd. then back to Market.
North Spokane Corridor/Francis to Farwell-Southbound Lanes- High traffic impact! Freya Street is closed to all traffic between the NSC Roundabout and Lincoln Road. The official detour for access to Fairview Road, Lincoln Road, Gerlach Road, plus businesses and residences on Freya in this area is from the north via Freya Street from Market Street. This closure may be in place until early July during construction of the second roundabout. Access to the NSC on Freya from Francis remains open. In other work, Bridge and grading items are still under way.
North Spokane Corridor/US 2 to Wandermere-Lanes and Bridges- Over the next week, drivers should be alert for possible lane restrictions or detours on US 395 in the vicinity of the new Wandermere bridges as the contractor moves traffic over to the final configuration. Work is very dependent on weather.

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road to I-90- Crews are working on the sign bridge over the northbound lanes near Inland Empire Way. Drivers should be alert for intermittent lane restrictions in that area. In general, work continues on this electronic system installation project. Drivers should watch for crews working near the shoulders. Drivers should watch for shoulder and intermittent lane restrictions.

SR 290-Trent Avenue/Bridge Repair- On Saturday, June 2, beginning at 8:30 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. the following morning, Trent Avenue just east of Hamilton Street will be reduced to one lane in each direction with flaggers directing traffic so that crews can repair the bridge deck. Possible short delays.

Next Phase of NSC Opening Soon!

This is big news! You're invited to a brief ceremony on Wednesday, June 13 at 1:30 p.m. to celebrate the opening of the next phase of the North Spokane Corridor (NSC). The event will take place on the northbound lanes of the NSC just north of Farwell Road, which you can access from Farwell Road.

Two bridges were built at the north end of the route (near the Wandermere Golf Course) and a four-lane section of divided concrete freeway linking the NSC with US 395. A fully paved pedestrian and bicycle path parallels the new freeway, connecting to other trails along the route.

You will be able to enter the NSC from US 395 via a direct connection, traveling at freeway speeds. This means we will now have traffic flowing on the northern five miles of the 10-mile NSC.

Funding for this $38 million project came from the transportation package passed by the 2003 Legislature. Graham Construction and Management of Spokane is the prime contractor.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Now For A Lesson In Some Apparently Mistaken Items

I saw this picture on the Where the Sidewalk starts blog, with the caption "Maybe it's time to plant a few more street trees in Woodland Hills?"
And this item was sent to me by a friend travelling across the state who saw it at the Ryegrass rest area. My work here is done- consider yourself educated.

SRTC At Spokane Summer Parkways Sunday

Cancel whatever plans you had for this Sunday, June 3, and come see me at the Summer Parkways event. You know you were just going to be lying on the couch watching Nascar anyway. 

Spokane Summer Parkways is an idea inspired by an event in Bogota, Colombia called Ciclovia (meaning “bike path” in Spanish) and similar events in other parts of the world. The focus is on recreation, fitness, and community. Four miles of roadway will be closed to automobiles and the streets opened to bikes, pedestrians, skaters, and other human-powered transportation.

This Sunday's Summer Parkway takes place in the Garry/Logan neighborhood.

You can find a map of the route and other information about the event here. It's from noon to 3 p.m.
There will also be physical fitness activities along the route like yoga, Zumba, hula hoops, tai chi, fencing, dancing, Pilates, self defense, jump rope, hacky sack, and martial arts. You're also encouraged to bring your own games and hobbies along (e.g. picnics, music, chalk art, hopscotch, bubbles, juggling, jump rope, etc).

Unfortunately, I won't be there sporting my awesome Britney Spears roller skates, but I will be talking to people about Horizon 2040, SRTC's Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). We're required to update our MTP every four years and it's a major undertaking that is best completed with a LOT of public input. The MTP is a long-term plan for the region's transportation system for the next 20+ years. Since a lot of people have a lot of different ideas about they'd like to see our transportation network develop between now and 2040, we like to get out into the community and talk to you about your ideas.

I'm hoping to set up my table somewhere near Mission Park, so come find me and give me your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spokane Valley Council Debate What Roads To Fix First

Spokane Valley engineers are moving forward on a City Council mandate to preserve city streets, but there is some disagreement between Councilmembers as to what streets should be fixed first. .

The Spokane Valley News Herald has the story.

Letter Writer Says Parking Choking Downtown

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Diamond choking downtown

While the Downtown Spokane Partnership laments retailer moves to the Valley (April 28), many city dwellers avoid downtown for a simple reason: Diamond Parking. This operation has cornered most of the private parking space downtown and squeezes hard, especially at evening events.

It might cost $15 to attend an event but Diamond, with no other parking available, will double its rates to $10 for a parking space. With no bus service downtown at night and early closure of a large, and reasonable, major parking garage – what a coincidence! – a monopolistic and predatory parking situation has developed, and it’s choking downtown.

Art McGinn

What's your thoughts on the topic of parking downtown?

Bicyclist Hit By SUV

A man in his 60’s was hit by an SUV while riding a bicycle at North Columbia Circle and North Park Boulevard near the Downriver Golf Course Monday, according to the Spokesman-Review.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. Sources say the bicyclists didn't have a heartbeat when paramedics arrived, but they were able to get a heartbeat and a faint pulse before the man was transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center for treatment. I haven't been able to find any further information on the bicyclists condition. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Help Build The U.S. Bicycle Route System

May is National Bicycle Month and it’s also the third annual Build It. Bike It. Be a Part of It. fundraising campaign for the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). What better way to celebrate Bike Month than by supporting the creation of a national system of cycling routes?

The U.S. Bicycle Route System is a project similar to our national highway system- only for bikes.

Here's more information on it and what has already been accomplished.

Light Rail Accused of Driving Minorities Out of A Puget Sound Neighborhood

A new report says many Rainier Valley residents on Washington's West side are being priced out of their neighborhood- thanks to the addition of light rail in their community.

The community and labor advocacy group Puget Sound Sage says a Sound Transit light-rail line completed in 2009 has dramatically increased property values and raised rents near stations, thereby hastening gentrification and displacement in one of Puget Sound's most racially diverse neighborhoods.

The report is apparently a big surprise to light-rail advocates who lobbied for the line partly to provide working-class folks an affordable transportation option.The Stranger has the full story.

WA Ranked Country's Most Bike-Friendly State

For the fifth year straight, Washington ranked as the country's most bicycle-friendly state, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

The advocacy group's Bicycle Friendly State Program ranks the states each year under a series of criteria, from laws and regulations that govern bicycling to policies for accommodating cyclists and infrastructure funding. And this CNN Living article says our Complete Streets program helped Washington earn the top spot.

Columbia Ave. Project Starts Tuesday

Construction on the City of Spokane's Columbia Avenue project starts Tuesday, May 29. This project will rehabilitate Columbia Ave. from Post to Division streets and surrounding residential streets including Atlantic St. from Joseph to Columbia avenues; Calispel St. from Joseph to Francis avenues; Franklin Ct. from Calispel to Atlantic streets; Howard St. from Rowan to Joseph avenues; Joseph, Nebraska, and Columbia avenues from Post to Division streets; Normandie St. from Nebraska to Dalke avenues; Post St. from Rowan to Dalke avenues; Rowan Ave. from Wall to Whitehouse streets; and Stevens, Washington, and Whitehouse streets from Rowan to Columbia avenues. Columbia, Nebraska, and Joseph avenues will be closed  off of Division St. Drivers will be detoured to Queen and Central avenues.
The $2.6 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Wastewater Department

Thursday, May 24, 2012

WSDOT Construction Alerts

Most WSDOT construction work will be suspended by noon tomorrow through Monday in anticipation of increased holiday traffic. Long term restrictions are still in place on US 395 just north of Spokane where the highway is reduced to one lane in each direction for about ½ mile. Most of the other projects underway on state highways in the Eastern Region will not affect Memorial Day weekend holiday travel.

North Spokane Corridor/Francis to Farwell-Southbound Lanes
HIGH IMPACT!! Freya Street is closed to all traffic between the NSC Roundabout and Lincoln Road. Access to Fairview Road, Lincoln Road, Gerlach Road, plus businesses and residences in the area is via Freya Street from Market Street. This closure may be in place until early July during construction of the second roundabout. Access to the NSC on Freya from Francis remains open. In other work, Bridge and grading items are still under way. Possible intermittent lane restrictions on the NSC.

North Spokane Corridor/Parksmith Interchange
Beginning Thursday, May 31, through Friday, June 8th, on weekdays, Market Street will be reduced to a single-lane with flaggers directed traffic during daytime hours. Drivers should expect short delays. In general, Stoneman Road is now closed to through traffic east of Market to the BNSF tunnel. Through traffic is detoured to the north via Parksmith Dr. to Peone Rd. then back to Market. This is a long-term closure and detour. Also, Parksmith Road remains closed west of Market Street. Hawthorne Road to Market Street is the alternate route for that closure. No traffic impacts are expected on the NSC.

London Accused of Rigging Traffic Lights To Win Olympic Bid

A Vanity Fair article accuses London of rigging it's traffic lights- in order to impress the International Olympic Committee (IOC) assessing the city's bid for the 2012 games.

According to a Vanity Fair article, London's Olympic bid team were concerned that the IOC would be put off the bid if it became stuck in traffic on the way to venues. So, a plan was hatched to track the cars carrying IOC members using GPS, then change the lights as the cars approached intersections.

International Business Times has the story. I've heard only a small amount of outcry on this story, from some people who say this was 'cheating.' What's your take?

Spokane City Councilmember Snyder Talks Photo Red On Local TV Show

Spokane City Councilmember Jon Snyder talks with TV show 'Comcast Newsmakers' about the Photo Red Program and what the money raised for red light running tickets goes to. Some of this video is amazing too! Holy cow, some of these red light runners are blatant!

Western WA Highway Builders Told To Quit Drinking Beer On The Job

A company building the new Highway 520 bridge in Western Washington is under scrutiny, after a TV crew filmed employees drinking beer at a Bellevue office. The good news? These were the office folks behind the scenes of the project, not the construction crews driving the heavy equipment.

Here's the story from the Seattle Times and the comments are worth looking through. From "Are they hiring?" to "Here we go again addressing adults like children by sending them to training with counselors rather than the boss providing clear direction and expectations," people had a lot to say about this issue.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Government Offices Closed Monday For Memorial Day

A reminder that you need to get your government business done this week or have fewer days to do it next week due to the Memorial Day holiday. Government offices will be closed Monday, May 28 for the holiday. That includes Spokane City, County, Spokane Valley, SRTC and all other government offices.

Parking meters in downtown Spokane don't have to be plugged on Monday and the City Council meeting that day has been cancelled.

Everything opens as normal again on Tuesday, May 29, mostly at 8 a.m.

MLK Jr. Way Street Opening Ceremony Thursday, May 31

Martin Luther King Jr. Way through the University District is nearing completion and you're invited to a street opening ceremony on Thursday, May 31, at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Pine St..

The new street will improve vehicular traffic flow and increase safety in the heart of the Riverpoint Campus. The street extends east from the intersection of Division St. and Riverside Ave., curving north near the eastern campus border then connects to Spokane Falls Blvd. just before the Trent Ave. Bridge. Additionally, bike lanes and an elevated median will be installed as part of the project.

The $3.76 million project is being funded by federal and local funds.

Work Resumes On Havana St. Overpass

Here's another item on late on this week but it's worth putting out there late or not: construction resumed Monday on a project to build an overpass over the railroad viaduct on Havana St. north of Broadway Ave. Traffic is detoured to Fancher Rd. Once completed this summer, the bridge will have four traffic lanes; the outside traffic lane will be a shared bike lane. Sidewalks will be added on each side.

The $7.9 million project is funded by the Washington State Freight Mobility Board, State Transportation Improvement Board, federal sources, Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad, and the City of Spokane.

L.A. Launches Demand-Based Pricing System For Parking Spots

A demand-based pricing system has just gone live in Los Angeles, with the intent of relieving traffic congestion, reducing air pollution and improving city transit operations by adjusting the price of a parking spot based on driver demand for spaces and availability.

The pilot program intends to work by increasing rates on high-demand spots (and lowering them in low-demand areas). This will create the potential for more parking spaces to become available on each block, reducing the congestion and pollution generated by drivers hunting for curbside parking.

Here's how the system works.

WSDOT Doesn't Like Idea Of Floating Billboards

Advertisements on buses, planes pulling message banners and bridges and highways named after companies that pay for them. What's next in the world of advertising? Well, the Washington State Department of Transportation is hoping it won't be floating billboards on Lake Washington.

A Western Washington business owner wants to float 14' x192' long inflatable billboards on the lake, saying test runs show the floating signs have indeed caught the attention of drivers along the I-90 and 520 floating bridges. The WSDOT isn't so enthusiastic about the idea though.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spokane Valley Bike Week Events

I've been out of the office so I'm a little late on this, but here are the events happening in Spokane Valley this week for Bike to Work Week:

- Valley Pancake Breakfast: Thursday, May 24th from 7 - 9 am at Centerplace (adjacent to Mirabeau Point on the Centennial Trail). Please RSVP for this event.

- Wrap-Up Party Ride | Thursday, May 24th: The group departs promptly at 4pm from Wheel Sport East (606 N. Sullivan Rd.) with brief stops at The Bike Hub about 4:15pm and City Hall (11707 E. Sprague) about 4:20pm. Riders can join at any of those spots. The final destination is the Steam Plant Grill downtown.

- All-Week Energizer Stations
Mirabeau Point in Spokane Valley - Mile 11 of the Centennial Trail (6:30 - 9:00 am):

Wednesday: Fitness Fanatics

Thursday: Valley Hospital

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Some Very High Impact WSDOT Construction Projects

  • I-90/Sullivan Rd. to Barker Rd.-Additional Lanes (MP 291-294)
On Friday, May 18, beginning at 8 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. Saturday morning, westbound I-90 will be reduced to one through lane. Following that, westbound I-90 will be reduced to two through lanes to as late as 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Also on Friday, May 18, beginning at 8 p.m. until as late as 5 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, May 19, the westbound Sullivan off ramp will be closed to all traffic. Drivers may wish to use the westbound Evergreen or Barker off ramps as an alternative. Crews will be removing temporary asphalt on the off ramp and surfacing with the final permanent asphalt layer. (The temporary surface was placed late last fall to enable all three westbound freeway lanes to be open during the winter months.) In addition, eastbound I-90 may be reduced to two through lanes on an intermittent basis on May 18-19.

  • North Spokane Corridor/Francis to Farwell-Southbound Lanes
 Beginning Monday, May 21, Freya Street will be closed to all traffic between the NSC Roundabout and Lincoln Road. Access to Fairview Road, Lincoln Road, Gerlach Road, plus businesses and residences in the area is via Freya Street from Market Street. This closure may be in place until early July during construction of the second roundabout. Access to the NSC on Freya from Francis remains open.


Click It Or Ticket Campaign Turns 10!

The 'Click it or Ticket' campaign in Spokane County is turning ten! In June 2002, when the primary seat belt law went into effect, approximately 82 percent of Washington drivers wore seat belts. Today we celebrate a seat belt use rate of 97.5 percent, according to a news release sent out today by Spokane County.

During the past ten years, it is estimated that nearly 1,010 lives were saved due to increases in seat belt use. After the adoption of the Click it or Ticket project, with the primary seat belt law enforcement, the number of traffic deaths dropped from 658 in 2002 to 454 in 2011 (preliminary data).

Studies show that seat belt use decreases the chance of dying in a crash by 60 percent and reduces the risk of head injury by 80 percent. This is why between May 21 and June 3, Spokane County drivers can expect to see law enforcement patrolling city and county roadways in search of unbuckled drivers and passengers.

The Cheney, City of Airway Heights, Eastern Washington University, Spokane and Spokane Valley Police Departments, the Spokane and Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol will be participating in these extra patrols, with the support of the Spokane County Target Zero Task Force.

Spokane Valley Construction

A lot going on in Spokane Valley in the way of construction:

- A public meeting on May 30 from 6-7:30 p.m. will provide the opportunity to review a studyon potential traffic impacts for a proposed new Spokane Valley Library and/or expansion of Balfour Park. The meeting is at the Spokane Valley Fire Department Station 1 located at 10319 E. Sprague Avenue.

Impacts could include increased traffic in areas surrounding the library, changes in traffic patterns, impacts to on-street parking and more. The study also examines possible measures to mitigate the impacts, including road, sidewalk or transit modifications, changes to traffic patterns and others.

- Sprague Avenue/Fancher Road Intersection - Sprague eastbound and Fancher southbound will be reduced to one lane around the clock from 7 am on Tuesday, May 22 through about noon Saturday, May 26 for utility upgrades.
- Sprague Avenue - Evergreen to Sullivan Reconstruction Project: Traffic impacts and areas of construction will vary during four construction phases between May 21 and mid-August.
- University Road between 16th and Sprague avenues - Expect curb lane closures in both directions at different times around the clock from the evening of Wednesday, May 23 through Friday, May 25 for resurfacing.
- 8000 Block of E Riverway Avenue - Delays and minor congestion due to heavy equipment in the area.

TTC Meeting Agenda For May 23

The monthly meeting of the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) is next Wednesday, May 23. As always, everyone is welcome to attend. Here's the meeting agenda.

AAA Survey Says More Travelers Will Be on Roads This Holiday Weekend Than Last

Hitting the road for Memorial Day? You'll be in good company. AAA says approximately 30.7 million Americans plan to drive to their destination this year, an increase of more than 500,000 travelers compared to 2011.

However, people won't be traveling as far as they have in previous years, a AAA survey found. High gas prices and tight budgets are forcing travelers to rethink their trips. The average distance of travel this year is expected to be 642 miles, 150 miles less than last year's Memorial Day holiday.

Forty-seven percent of survey respondents said they'll handle the high gas prices by cutting other costs so they can still make their trip. Those who intend to economize plan to reduce entertainment costs, stay at less expensive hotels or stay with friends.

The annual survey considers those traveling 50 miles or more between May 24 and May 28 as holiday travelers.

Sides Split Over Who Should Do Road Work

A decision by Mayor David Condon to hire private sector construction crews for roadwork has some people riled up- especially a citizens advisory board that oversees the Transportation Benefit District (TBD) program. The TBD is a $20 license tab with money going to repairing streets and doing safety projects.
The board says there's too much work to get done to contract out and hiring City workers would be a better way to accomplish the volume of work that needs to be done. But city administration says the boards overestimating the work, and even if it doesn't get done on time, it will at least get done in 2013.
Spokesman-Review columnist Shawn Vestal wrote about this conundrum in yesterday's paper and talked to KHQ News about the situation.

Spokane Transit Service Changes Start Sunday

Some service changes are coming to Spokane Transit Cheney, Medical Lake, North Express and Liberty Lake Express routes starting next Sunday, May 20. Don't panic though, they're not necessarily negative changes. For instance, frequency on  the Liberty Lake route is being increased at certain times, as well as the bus' approach to downtown, which might get some people closer to their final destinations. Click here to view the changes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sprague Ave. Project Starts Monday

This could be an area you want to avoid folks- the project to reconstruct Sprague Avenue between Evergreen and Sullivan roads starts on Monday, May 21. When the project wraps up sometime in mid-August, that section of Sprague Avenue will be smoother and safer for driving with a complete sidewalk system for pedestrians, upgraded signals and improved stormwater drainage.

Construction on the project will occur in four phases, with the first work phase (1a) occurring on the north side of Sprague Avenue westward between Sullivan and the 14900 block of Sprague. That phase starts Monday and is expected to be complete in early June, when the project moves into its second phase (1b) on the south side of that same section of Sprague.

Sprague Avenue west of the 14900 block to Evergreen Road will be the focus of the project's third (2a) and fourth (2b) phases. Work on the third phase is expected to begin along the north side of the section in early July, with the fourth and final phase starting in late July and completing in mid-August.

During each phase, the section of Sprague Avenue under construction will be reduced to one lane each direction with a center turn lane. The work also involves closures to northbound and/or southbound intersections in the area under construction.
You can expect traffic congestion and delays in the project area and probably want to use alternate routes.

New MTP Web Page

Let's go back in time. About 60 years, to a time when transportation was all about your big shiny automobile on a wide open road. Now let's go forward. Approximately 30 years into the future. The roads aren't so wide open now due to population growth, budgets are tight and our infrastructure is deteriorating. How to fix this? By planning ahead. Which means starting now. That's what we're doing here at SRTC with our Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), called Horizon 2040. The Plan is a long-term, multimodal “blueprint” for transportation aimed at meeting the mobility needs of the area through the year 2040. It's based on projections for growth in population, housing and jobs and takes into consideration every mode of transportation, such as private vehicles, public transit, bicycling, walking, freight movement, rail and air travel. The MTP is key to the quality of life and economic health of our region.

We've developed a special page on our website to the development of Horizon 2040. You can find it here.

We also invite you to watch this video produced by City Cable 5 on the MTP process. Now, start thinking of what you want to see for transportation in the future because I'm going to be bugging you about it very soon.

The Big Meeting Is Tonight!

Last reminder- public open house at the STA Plaza tonight, 4-6 p.m., to discuss transportation planning issues for the area. Try to attend if you can.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

House Votes To Kill American Community Survey

Much of what we do here at SRTC is based on information obtained by the U.S. Census and its' American Community Survey (ACS). While the Census only happens every ten years, the ACS is an ongoing statistical survey, with questionairres sent to approximately 250,000 addresses monthly (or 3 million per year).  This information allows us to update our transportation demand model that shows how the local transportation system is being used now, and how it will be used in the future. We use this data when determining what projects should be funded locally and it helps us identify populations (such as low income, minority or women) that may be overlooked otherwise, and where they're living. This in turns helps us to develop strategies to reach out to these people to keep them informed and involved in the transportation planning process.

So what's the big deal about the American Community Survey? Well, an amendment was passed in the House late last week to forbid any more money from being spent on the survey. This would effectively kill it, meaning this information would no longer be available.

This is a huge issue because the ACS gives annual updates of economic, demographic and housing characteristics, is widely considered a vital tool for business decision makers and  a source for economic statistics on growth, inflation and consumer spending. The loss of this survey would reduce understanding about what is happening in the economy and the effectiveness of business and government policy.

The ACS isn't dead quite yet though. The Senate still has to vote on it. While you wait for that, here's more from Bloomberg Businessweek.

GloBars Make You More Visible On Your Bike

Want to be more visible on your bike at night? Try GloBars, the new light up handlebars that requires only a tiny watch battery to operate! is the brain child of Mitchell Silva, an industrial designer from Boston, MA. -

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait to buy these cool accesories. The current prototype is still a work in progress as the entire system is not as rigid as a normal drop bar, although work is underway to make it that way. Here's more GloBar info.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Transportation Advisory Committee One Week Early This Month

The May Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting has been moved a week earlier because the Memorial Day holiday falls on the usual meeting day (fourth Monday of each month).  Here's the meeting agenda and packet. Feel free to come to the meeting. We've got a lot going on!

Planning Open House This Wednesday

In case you have forgotten, you have plans Wednesday night. SRTC will be taking part in Spokane Transit's 'Moving Forward' open house to talk about local planning initiatives. We'll be talking about the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Horizon 2040, we are in the process of developing, and ask for your input on what you would like to see in the plan. So bring your ideas- we want to know how you would like our transportation system to look/operate/etc. by the year 2040. 

Click the picture to view the flyer in full size please.

Thanks To City For Filling Potholes

Spokesman-Review Letters to the Editor
Pothole patrol paves way

Thanks, city of Spokane!

All of us at Rockwood South Hill, and that is over 500 Spokane citizens, counting residents and staff, want to give 25 cheers for the city’s response to our calls about potholes on 25th Avenue, the gateway road to our retirement community.

On May 1, a group of us called in to report the road erosions that were causing dangerous driving conditions and – voila! – potholes were repaired within the next 36 hours.

Driving is smoother and safer. Thank you for your quick response. We really appreciate it.

Becky Moonitz
Rockwood Retirement Communities

Ah, a story with a happy ending. We like those. By the way, the City's pothole hotline is 509-625-7733 if you have some you would like to report.

Friday, May 11, 2012

SRTMC 10 Year Anniversary

I've been meaning to post this for a couple days but have been failing on the follow through for some reason. Tuesday was the tenth anniversary of the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center helping to fight traffic congestion. We held an open house for the media to celebrate and this is the piece KXLY put together on it.

Spokane City Street Obstructions

There are a couple special events this weekend that could impact traffic:
The following streets will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to noon tomorrow (Saturday) for the Junior Lilac Parade, which starts at 10 a.m.:

• Washington St. between Main and Boone avenues
• Dean Ave. between Washington and Howard streets
• Cataldo Ave. between Washington and Howard streets
• Spokane Falls Blvd. between Bernard and Post streets
• Post St. between Spokane Falls Blvd. and Bridge Ave.
• Main Ave. between Bernard and Stevens streets
• Stevens St. between Main Ave. and Spokane Falls Blvd.


The Historic Mother’s Day tour will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13, from noon 4 p.m. in the Rockwood Neighborhood . Please drive with caution along E. 500 to 2100 blocks of Rockwood Blvd. and E. 800 block of Overbluff Rd. during the tour.


The 26th annual St. Aloysius Fund Run will take place next Friday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school, 611 E. Mission Ave. and Heath Park, 613 E. Mission Ave. Motorists are asked to drive with caution in the area.

Transportation For America Helps Decode Elections

Election years can be overwhelming for a lot of people. Who to vote for? Which candidate or initiative will set the tone for progress in the months and years to come? And what will happen to our already- crumbling infrastructure if we make the wrong choices?

Transportation for America wants to help make the issues and candidates easier to understand. The policy group builds grassroots support for federal, state, and local government laws that support progressive transportation and land use policy. They're starting a campaign called 'Transportation Vote 2012' that will help educate voters, advocates and candidates and keep you abreast of transportation-related campaigns as they unfold.

The campaign offers a series of online presentations, interviews with experts and lessons learned that will help individuals and non-profit groups talk about transportation effectively; and engage in educating candidates around transportation reform and infrastructure investment.

You can find more information on Transportation Vote 2012 here.

Bike Thief Gets Taste Of His Own Medicine

A Washington, D.C. man turns the tables on a bike thief- and steals his own bike back! The funny part is that the thief then threatened to call the police on him!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Want A Free iPad? Buy A Cadillac

General Motors is upping the ante by giving every buyer of its Cadillac XTS a free iPad. The company claims the giveaway is to get buyers used to its new in-car technology that uses touch controls, and they can practice on the tablet.

  wants to bring its consumers up to speed with the latest in tech, so it’s giving away free iPads. The automaker, which is introducing a new in-car technology that uses touch controls, is giving every buyer of its Cadillac XTS Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) latest tablet so they can get used to the controls.

Here's the story from the Wall Street Cheat Sheet

Construction Work For Week of May 14

On Friday, May 11, from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., southbound US 395 will be detoured onto Wandermere Road from the Hatch Road Interchange to the Division Street/Wandermere Road Intersection. Northbound traffic is not affected. The detour will be in place to allow a contractor to work on the new NSC Interchange. Drivers on Dartford Road entering Wandermere Road should be alert for possible delays due to heavy traffic.

Spokane Valley
Sprague Avenue at Custer Road - reduced to one lane eastbound and one lane westbound through noon on Saturday, May 19 for utility and signal upgrades. Minor delays expected on Custer at the intersection.

University Road at intersections from 16th Avenue to Sprague Avenue - Curb lane closures continue in both directions at different times between 7am to 5pm from Monday, May 14 through Friday, May 18 for traffic signal upgrades.
University Road between 16th Avenue and Sprague Avenue - Curb lane closures in both directions at different times between 7am to 5pm from Friday, May 18 into the following week for resurfacing.
8000 Block of E Riverway Avenue - Expect delays and minor congestion due to heavy equipment in the area.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gas Prices Not Expected To Set Summer Record- But Close

Here's some good news for you, kind of; Gasoline prices likely won’t set any records this summer- but it will come close.  

The government yesterday slashed its forecast for average gas prices to $3.79 per gallon for the summer driving season. That’s down from an initial estimate of $3.95 and below 2008’s record average of $3.80.

The Spokesman-Review has the story.

State Rail Plan In The Works

Here's something interesting I found in my email this morning; the Washington State Department of Transportation is starting work to develop a long range state rail plan, to outline the future of Washington’s passenger and freight rail networks. The plan will provide a framework for improving the state’s overall freight and passenger rail system to maximize efficiency and accommodate anticipated economic growth (yeah hopefully). The plan will be a blend of participation from rail industries, ports, shippers, tribes, transportation communities, interest groups, and the general public.

The plan is scheduled to be complete in August 2013. It will serve as a strategic blueprint for investment in the state's freight and passenger rail networks and strengthen our ability to compete for future federal rail funding. Here's more information on this plan.

Combined Public Open House Next Week

So yesterday I blogged about a public open house SRTC is partnering with Spokane Transit and the City of Spokane on. Well I just got ahold of a flyer for the meeting and here it is.

Each jurisdiction will be talking about their particular planning efforts their working on right now. For instance, STA will be asking for input on the 'Moving Forward' long term planning effort, the City of Spokane will be showcasing their updated to the transportation chapter of the Comprehensive Plan and SRTC will be asking for your feedback on our Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

The great thing about this meeting is that you can tackle all these subjects in one place and give all your input at one time. Please come and let us know how we can plan to make the region better in the future.

Amendment Proposed For Transportation Improvement Program

SRTC is proposing an amendment to the 2012-2015 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is a programming document that identifies specific projects proposed to be undertaken during the upcoming four years. The proposed amendment includes increasing federal and local funds programmed for the Metropolitan Transportation Plan Update SRTC will be working on throughout 2012 and 2013.
A public comment period for the amendment runs from May 9, 2012 to May 22, 2012.  Here's where you can find more information on the amendment and how to comment on it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Not Your Usual Snowbirds

You might think of penguins or puffins when you think of a snowy landscape but in Washington's North Cascade's Highway, there are some unusual snowbirds; pink flamingos. These are working birds though, not just for looks.
WSDOT crews use the birds to mark spots where crews shouldn't stop, due to avalange danger. And they just cheer people up.
Here's the story from the Bellingham Tribune.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Joint Public Open House Next Week

Mark your calendars- SRTC is partnering with the City of Spokane and Spokane Transit for a public open house next Wednesday, May 16 from 4-6:30 p.m. on the second level of the STA Plaza.  The meeting is a great opportunity to find out about several local transportation planning efforts happening at different jurisdictions, in one place. STA will be talking about their new long-term planning project called 'Moving Forward,' City of Spokane staff will be looking for input on their update of the Pedestrian Plan and we will be looking for direction on our long term Metropolitan Transportation Plan. Use this meeting to your advantage- it's a good time to give your feedback on three separate projects without having to attend separate meetings!

SRTC Board Meeting This Thursday

SRTC's regularly-scheduled Policy Board meeting is this Thursday, May 10.
You can view the agenda here. Everyone is welcome so feel free to attend if you have transportation on your brain.  Or even if you don't.  It might get you started thinking about transportation.

Lidgerwood Rehab Project Starts Today

The project to rehabilitate Lidgerwood Ave. from North to Francis avenues and surrounding residential streets begins today. Lidgerwood St. from just north of Joseph to Francis avenues will be closed to traffic. Drivers will be detoured to Division or Addison streets. Lidgerwood St. at its intersection with Dalke Ave. will remain open to allow access to Holy Family Hospital. The project will rehabilitate Lidgerwood St. from Joseph to Francis avenues; Addison St. from Rowan to Columbia avenues; Columbia Ave. from Lidgerwood St. to the cul-de-sac; Standard St. from North to Columbia avenues; and Joseph and Nebraska avenues from Lidgerwood to Cincinnati streets.

The $1 million project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond.

Snoqualmie Pass Closure

If you're headed to the west side of the state toward the end of the week, be aware that crews will be blasting again on the pass.  I-90 will be closed both directions from Hyak (milepost 54) to the Price Creek Sno-Park (milepost 61) from 7-8 p.m., Thursday, May 10. This work is weather dependent and is subject to change.

Rock blasting is part of the $551 million I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East – Hyak to Keechelus Dam project to widen a five-mile stretch of the highway from four to six lanes and improve reliability and safety. This multi-year project is funded by the 2005 gas tax and is scheduled to be complete in 2017.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Portion of Appleway To Get Different Kind of Bike Lane

A news release just sent out by Spokane Valley says a different kind of bike lane will be painted on eastbound Appleway between Dishman-Mica and University when paving of that section is complete.

Referred to as a "buffered bike lane," the new markings consist of two solid white stripes about two feet apart. The double striping and space in between provide more of a safety buffer between vehicles and bicyclists and the two bright white, reflective stripes are also more conspicuous than a single stripe.

The double striping can be accommodated along that segment of Appleway because some of the lanes there are wider than the standard lane width. The slightly narrower lane width is not expected to be noticeable to motorists.

State Rep Researching Selling Naming Rights For Transportation Facilities

This is what it's come to folks. Money is so tight that, according to the Seattle Times, a Washington State Representative is exploring whether the state should start selling naming rights to raise revenue for transportation projects. Jan Angel, (R) Port Orchard, says she particularly wants to see alternatives that could keep toll fares low on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Angel is researching how much money the naming rights might raise for the state.  So could you be driving across the Starbucks Bridge some day?  Possibly.  Or the Boeing freeway.  Will post updates on this here if it turns into anything.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spokane Valley Traffic Alerts For Next Week

  • Farr Road between Appleway Boulevard and Sprague Avenue - Lane closures both directions at different times from 7 am to 1 pm Tuesday, May 8 for resurfacing.

  • Sprague Avenue at Custer Road - Reduced to one lane eastbound and one lane westbound from 7 am Monday, May 7 through about noon on Saturday, May 19 for utility and signal upgrades. Minor delays may be expected on Custer at the intersection.
  • Sprague Avenue/Fancher Road Intersection - Sprague eastbound and Fancher southbound will be reduced to one lane  from 7 am on Monday, May 21 through about noon on Saturday, May 26th for utility upgrades. Expect congestion.
  • Sprague Avenue at Carnahan Road - Reduced to one lane eastbound and one lane westbound  from 7 am Monday, May 29 through mid-June for utility upgrades. Minor delays may be expected on Carnahan at the intersection with Sprague.
  • University Road at intersections from 16th Avenue to Sprague Avenue - curb lane closures in both directions at different times between 7 am to 5 pm from Monday, May 7 through Friday, May 11 for traffic signal upgrades.
  • 8000 Block of E Riverway Avenue - Expect delays and minor congestion due to heavy equipment in the area.

Top Ten Deadliest States For Pedestrians

So where do you think the most pedestrians are being hurt in collisions with vehicles?  I know Spokane has somewhat of a reputation for being dangerous for walkers and bikers, but Washington didn't rank as one of the ten deadliest states for pedestrians.

So where do the most pedestrian-vehicle collisions occur?  Why? Who is hurt most often?

This cool infographic answers all those questions, and more, mostly with pictures for those of us with small attention spans. Click the link to view it full size.

Work Zone Awareness Video

I mentioned last week that it's Work Zone Safety week right?  Well here's a video produced by the Washington State Department of Transportation on driving safely through construction zones.  And it has a plot twist at the end so don't quit watching after you get through the touchy-feely good stuff with the kids. 

Spokane Bike Swap A Huge Success

The Spokane Bike Swap Team has some big money to hand over to the Friends of the Centennial Trail group today. They're not saying how much yet, they're saving that for a news conference today at 11 a.m. The money comes from the 1st Annaul Spokane Bike Swap held March 24 & 25 at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. While we all expected the event to be a success, it was an even bigger hit than predicted!

Here are the numbers:
- Over 2,000 people attended the two day event
- 26 vendors were there
- Almost 200 consignment bikes sold

All money raised from the Bike Swap goes to Friends of the Centennial Trail. The check presentation is  at Mission Park (East on Mission Avenue to Perry Street, turn into Mission Park parking lot by the Railroad tracks diagonal to Avista). The majority of the money raised will go towards the Trail Builders Fund. Mission Park is one of the gap projects slated to be worked on in the future.

With the success of the event, plans for the 2nd annual Spokane Bike Swap are already underway and include a larger space for the event and additional vendors.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

SRTC April Newsletter- A Day Late But Worth The Wait

I finished it up and sent it out via email over a week ago, so I'm not sure why I didn't get the SRTC April Newsletter posted before now.  Guess I thought I had more days in April. Oh well, it's still relevant even if it is the first of May. Happy reading.

What's Got 8 Arms & Holds Bikes?

There are bike racks, then there are BIKE RACKS. And this squid is in the latter category.  It's in production right now and will be placed at Seattle Center later this year. Here's more about it from Seattle Bike Blog.

SRTMC Turning 10 This Month!

It was ten years ago in May when The Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center started operations to help commuters avoid accidents, construction zones and other issues that cause traffic delays.  Happy anniversary to the SRTMC.  Here's a video on how far they've come.

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.