Thursday, August 30, 2012

Road Construction Updates For Week of Sept. 3

Washington State Department of Transportation

Most construction work will be suspended by noon on Friday, August 31 in anticipation of increased holiday traffic. Work will resume on Tuesday, September 4th.
US 2/Airport Ramps to I-90-Bridge repairs- Tuesday through Thursday, September 4-6, from about 8:30 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., US 2 drivers should be alert for lane closures on eastbound or westbound US 2 with possible slow traffic and congestion. Crews will be repairing the bridge deck and approach.

Spokane Valley

Dishman-Mica Road and 16th Avenue - Expect narrowed lanes in early September on the south side of the intersection for installation of an island.

Mission Ave between Union Road and Pines Road- A project to improve this stretch of roadway is tentatively scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 10 and take about one week to complete. Traffic on Mission between Union Road and Pines Road will be reduced to one lane each direction.Vehicles must be removed from the roadway during the project to allow work to be completed. Vehicles not removed will be towed.

Sprague Avenue Reconstruction between Evergreen & Sullivan - Traffic is expected to move to the north side of Sprague by the end of the week. It remains reduced to one lane each direction with a center turn lane.The following intersections will be closed. The south side of:

o Sprague/Best

o Sprague/Adams

o Sprague/Progress

o Use Evergreen to 4th Avenue or Sullivan to 4th Avenue for local access.

Spokane City

Havana Street Overpass- The project to construct an overpass over the railroad viaduct on Havana St. north of Broadway Ave. will be complete Wednesday, Sept. 5. A bridge opening ceremony is planned for 11 a.m. on Wednesday on the south end of the bridge. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

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

Gubernatorial Debate Only Included One Transportation Question

Another Washington State gubernatorial debate last night and another night basically devoid of discussion on transportation issues. True, the first question given to candidates Jay Inslee (D) and Rob McKenna (R)  in Vancouver last night was about the I-5 Columbia River Crossing project. But as Transportation Issues Daily reports, it would be the only transportation-related question of the debate.

Here's the Columbia Crossing question and answer.

Southwest Cancelling Direct Service To Portland

Southwest Airlines is planning to drop its Spokane service to Portland starting Jan 6. Southwest flies twice a day between Spokane and Portland. Earlier this year, it dropped direct service to Seattle too. So why is the flight being cancelled? The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Government Offices Closed Monday

It's holiday time, so you know what that means- all area government offices, including SRTC, will be closed Monday, Sept. 3 for the Labor Day Holiday.   Also, Spokane's City Council meeting for next week has been cancelled, as it falls on the holiday.

Parking is free Monday at meters in downtown Spokane if you would like to come down and check out Pig Out In The Park.

Everything opens up again Tuesday morning, but there will be no blogging for a couple days after as I am taking my final days off for the season to bid farewell to summer. I'm sure I'll make up for the absence with some fabulous posts later though.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Roundabouts Aren't Just For Vehicles Anymore

Wow, not THIS is dedication to the bicycling way of life. What is this? It's a "floating" bicycle roundabout that opened recently in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Suspended above the roadway, the roundabout gives bikers a completely separated route over the highway.
The Atlantic Cities has more information on it. And here's a video from the opening of this roundabout in the sky:

New Fuel Efficiency Standards Announced

The Obama administration announced yesterday strict new vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, requiring that American made vehicles average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The new rules are expected to significantly cut U.S. oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. And while that's great news for the wallets of those of us buying gas, auto dealers say you will pay more initially for a car in the future because of it. The Washington Post tells us how much more.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Designated Texters Are (Allegedly) Next Big Thing

I've been the DD (Designated Driver) plenty of times before, but never the DT (Designated Texter). And I'm not sure they get free soda. But that's the new thing for young drivers apparently- a passenger in the car who's responsibility it is to read incoming texts to the driver then text back the driver's response. What do you thing? Too cheesey to catch on or an obvious solution to a simple problem?

Mark Your Calendars, You're Invited

Vote On Your Favorite Transportation Photos For Contest

A couple of us in our office this year talked about participating in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) annual "Faces of Transportation" photography contest this year. We had a lot on our plate this past spring and summer though and didn't find the time to do so unfortunately.

All photos have now been entered and you're being asked to vote on your favorite. So I'd like to ask you to show a little state pride and support the Washington State Department of Transportation in their submissions, including the picture to the left. Here's where you can check out all the pictures and vote. Who says transportation is boring? There are some pretty cool entries so take a look and support your favorites.

WA State Transportation Commission Wants To Hear From You

I've blogged before about the Washington State Traffic Commission's initiative to get you to share yourtransportation ideas and opinions with the State Legislature and Governor. Well, they're starting another push and want to remind you, if you're not already participating, there are two ways you can provide your input, which will be used by the Governor and State Legislature to help inform their decision-making processes- you can take part through online forums or join a survey panel. Or both if you like. Here's where to find out more and let lawmakers know what you're thinking.

Portland Celebrates 20 MPH Neighborhood Streets; WA Tries For Same

I think I blogged about this a while back, but my memory is short these days so I apologize if you've already read it. Portland will hold an event this Friday to celebrate approval of a 70-mile network of new 20 mph neighborhood streets.

The "neighborhood greenways" are expected to increase safety as even a small adjustment in speed reduces the chance of a pedestrian being killed in a collision with an automobile. At 20 miles per hour, your chances of being killed are only 5%.
So here is the story on that network of 20 mile per hour streets. And here's the local connection: The Bicycle Alliance of Washington and partners championed a 20 mph neighborhood streets bill for our state in the 2011 session and it made it through the house on a unanimous vote. Unfortunately, the bill ran out of time on the Senate floor, so it's back to work on it in the 2012 session. Here's more info on the Safer Neighborhood Streets bill, because we think you'll be hearing a lot about it in the coming months.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Snoqualmie Pass Closures

One-hour closures are planned for rock blasting four nights this week on Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass and drivers should plan for added travel time.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is closing the pass 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, through Thursday, Aug. 30, from Hyak (milepost 54) to the Price Creek Sno-Park (milepost 61).

You should also plan for added travel time Monday through Thursday due to increased construction activity and rolling slowdowns. Due to heavy traffic volumes over Labor Day weekend, there will not be construction-related lane closures on Monday, Sept. 3.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Futurewise Recognized Nationally For Spokane's Complete Streets Policy

Congratulations to our friends at Futurewise! The Complete Streets policy the public interest group
helped develop for Spokane was recently recognized as one of the nation’s leading examples of safe, smart transportation policy.

The National Complete Streets Coalition’s 2011 Policy Analysis analyzes over 350 Complete Streets policies that have been approved by communities across the country. The annual report, which rates every Complete Streets policy across the country on a numerical basis according to best practices criteria, highlights Spokane’s policy as the strongest in Washington State and one of the best in the nation.

You can find more on complete streets, and Spokane's Complete Streets policy, here.

NSC Traffic Being Reconfigured

Southbound traffic on the North Spokane Corridor/Francis to Farwell is expected to move onto the new configuration sometime during the week of August 27. Southbound traffic will also begin using the new Freya roundabout at that time. Work will then concentrate on the northbound lanes to restripe the surface for multi-lane traffic. Northbound drivers should be alert for equipment and workers in the adjacent lanes.

Unspent Earmark Money To Be Released To Fund Projects

I'm a little late on this one as it apparently got lost in my inbox somehow, but the Obama administration late last week it is making hundreds of million of dollars in unspent earmarks immediately available to states for projects that will create jobs and help improve transportation across the country.

$473 million in highway earmarks from FY2003-2006 appropriations acts remain unspent today. Effective last week, state departments of transportation will have the ability to use their unspent earmarked highway funds, on any eligible highway, transit, passenger rail, or port project. A news release with more details is here.

A huge list of available funds by state is here. The only Spokane project on the list is the Riverside Avenue Extention, which is currently under construction now.

Portland Building Apartment Buildings Minus The Parking Lots

As I keep mentioning, we're in the process of updating the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Horizon 2040. Horizon 2040 is a long-term plan for the entire transportation system of Spokane County. Every kind and aspect of transportation is considered in it, including land use. One thing we've been talking about a lot lately is transit-oriented development and other kinds of development that are planned around amenities such as transit lines, parks, nearby shopping, etc. instead of plunking a neighborhood down in the middle of what used to be a farm field in a rural area a 30 minute drive from anything.

Infill is also a big topic lately, when it comes to land use. Developers are being encouraged to build houses and housing developments on empty parcels in already-existing neighborhoods, instead of heading to the outskirts of town to build a sprawling complex.

That's not just the case in Spokane of course. In Portland, they're taking the concept of infill to the extreme, by building apartment buildings that don't have parking for cars. This saves on the cost of building a complex, which in turn brings the price of rent down for the tenants. This also allows apartment buildings on smaller lots where they wouldn't fit if a large parking lot had to be included in the project.

So how's that working out? StreetsBlog has the story.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Popular Magazine Recognizes Centennial Trail

This is REALLY cool- Sunset Magazine named the Centennial Trail as one of their favorite bicycle trails, ranking it number eight out of twenty! Here's the link. The Centennial Trail mention is on the second page.

Signs Of The Future Could "Talk" To Your Smartphone

No one is arguing that the current highways signs are so 1960s, but is a makover of them in the works? While it's not officially on the Department of Transportation's 'to do' list (at least not that I've heard of),  Icon Magazine asked a San Francisco design studio to come up with some alternate sign looks just for fun.

The team came up with muted gray signs, using simple geometric markers in place of the existing shield symbols. But the most radical components of the redesign is that the signs would 'talk' to your smartphone! That's right, the group’s proposal calls for every exit sign to be fitted with a wireless transmitter, connecting it to a smartphone app, that would update with information on restaurants, gas stations, and local points of interest found at the exits ahead. Pretty cool huh? No more need for those signs that say 'McDonald's' or 'Hooters' on them. Co.DESIGN has more on these signs of the future.

Giant Head-Eating Clam or New Technology In Bike Helmets? You Be The Judge

This video about a new 'invisible' bike helmet is too funny not to share. While I'm sure the product has it's merits, it looks like one of those inflatable bath pillows to me so I have a hard time taking the product serious. Plus there are these (paraphrased) lines in the video, "People wonder how girls could come up with something so technical" and "Some people said get a rooster..." (What??) that make me giggle out loud. This is my Wednesday gift to you. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Panhandling Ordinance Modified, Approved By City Council

The Spokane City Council voted 6-1 last night to outlaw aggressive panhandling, but they did scale back the original proposal to only make it effective in the downtown area and at freeway in order to keep a couple non-profit fundraisers legal.

Council members said that panhandlers who go into the street to collect cash pose a public safety hazard. A lot of people pointed out that there are no statistics showing  many panhandlers have been hurt stepping into the street, but I can say that I have seen drivers get distracted trying to read panhandler's signs and almost rear end the car in front of them.

Here's the whole story from the Spokesman-Review.

Definition Of "Congestion" Could Change Our Whole System

When I say "congestion," what do you think? If you were my mother, who always goes immediately to the worst case scenario, you'd say I'm talking about a chest cold and a nasty case of head congestion. If you were in the transportation business though, you'd think of a traffic jam. But how bad of a traffic jam? Or is it maybe just a little traffic backed up, like when you go around the Hamilton curve on I90 every night?

Well, as part of the new Federal transportation bill, MAP-21, the U.S. Department of Transportation is being charged with defining "congestion," and that could be a big job. That's because there is apparently a lot riding on how DOT decides to measure congestion. It's currently measured by how much your commute is slowed down by traffic. So if it's free flowing, guess what? No congestion. And while that's a good thing for air quality, communities with overbuilt road capacity are being rewarded for not having congestion while they should probably be considering transit and alternative transportation options instead of building more roads.
Some folks now say the question is not "What is congestion" but if congestion is even the right thing to be measuring? Streetblog tackles that question here.

It's All Bikes, All The Time At Spoke-Ed Day

Do you think about riding your bike a lot but don't actually do it? Do you have good intentions but fall short when it comes to bicycling? Well, REI's third annual Spoke-Ed Day is coming and it's a great opportunity to be inspired, educated and initiated into cycling organizations and opportunities for riders of all interests and skill levels.

The weekend of Sept. 8 and 9 is a celebration of all things cycling at Spokane's REI store. There are lots of great groups signed up to tune up your bike, help you choose a bike that fits you, recommend good places to ride based on your skill level, and find new ways to involve your family in Spokane's cycling community.
This is a free event so bring your bike and your questions.
Organizations participating include Riverside State Park, Evergreen East cycling club, Women on Wheels, Spokane Parks & Rec, SpokeFest, Cycle for Life, Centennial Trail (Spokane and Northern Idaho), Belles & Baskets, Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Spokane Bike Club, Hiawatha Trail, Yakima, Camelbak, Spokane Bike Swap, Purple Ride Spoke-d’Alene, and the Beacon Hill Trail folks.

You can find more info on Spoke-Ed Fair here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Traffic Moving To South Side Of Sprague Construction Project

Construction on Sprague Avenue between Evergreen Road and the 14900 block continues:

Weather permitting, traffic between the 14900 block and Sullivan Road will be moved to the south side of Sprague sometime between Thursday, Aug. 23 and Monday, Aug. 27 through the following week.

• Traffic reduced to one lane in each direction with a center turn lane.

• Access to businesses remains available; signs route drivers to access points.

• The following intersections will be closed. The north side of:

o Sprague/Boliver

o Sprague/Bannen

o Sprague/Adams

o Sprague/Progress

o Use Sullivan to Valley Way for local access.

Transportation News Roundup

The smoking area at the Spokane Transit Plaza downtown is shut down due to road construction; a plan is dropped to build a coal terminal on the coast, relieving folks worried about an increase in coal trains through the area; and a lot of other transportation topics. The Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" Column has your local transportation news.

Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting Agenda Available

The next meeting of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) is next Monday, Aug. 27. The agenda and meeting packet is here. As always, everyone is welcome at TAC meetings so please attend if you are interested.

A Couple Reminders For Areas You'll Want To Watch Out For This Week

  • Bigelow Gulch Road between Argonne and Forker will be closed on Tuesday August 21 and remain closed until Thursday August 23 (afternoon). Traffic will be detoured to Morgan Roan And Pleasant Prairie Road. The Road will be closed to complete extensive pavement repair.
  • The overpass bridge at the SR 902 Medical Lake Interchange (Exit 272) will be closed tomorrow, August 21 from about 4 a.m. until as late as 8 p.m. The closure is for bridge deck repair and asphalt paving. All ramps will remain open. Later Tuesday evening, or early Wednesday, paying work on I-90 will require the east and westbound on and off ramps to be closed for several hours.

Study Says Singing In The Car Makes You A Bad Driver

Oh no, say it isn't so! A new study says, not only is your singing in the car annoying to other drivers, but you become a worse driver when you sing in the car.

What? No more Def Leppard or Elton John singalongs? What about "Call Me Maybe" then? Nope, and no other songs either. Researchers at an Australian university say that when you sing while driving, your subjective mental workload increases, your detection of peripheral activities drops and even your speed falls. Here's more on this study.

Spokane Valley Asking For Input On The Comp Plan

Now is the time if you have thoughts on changes to zoning, how land can be used and other ways that development occurs in Spokane Valley. The City of Spokane Valley is accepting applications for amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, which provides guidance for zoning, authorized uses within zones, building requirements, and other related development regulations.

The Comprehensive Plan is the City's long-range blueprint for growth and development. The annual amendment cycle provides an opportunity to propose amendments that address changing land use conditions or emerging issues.

Those interested in amending the Comprehensive Plan must schedule a pre-application meeting prior to filing a request for amendment. Applications for amendment will be accepted through November 1, 2012 for consideration in the 2013 amendment cycle. Here's more info and how you can submit suggested changes.

Snoqualmie Pass To Close For Blasting Tonight

The Washington State Department of Transportation has another long blast closure scheduled this week over Snoqualmie Pass. Crews are blasting tonight in an area near the snowshed that could bring down a substantial amount of debris onto Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass.
As a result, the pass will be closed at 7:30 p.m. tonight from Hyak to the Price Creek Sno-Park. A reopening time depends on the amount of time it takes to remove debris and assess possible damage to the roadway.

Closurses are also scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, but the time for those are from 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

City Of Spokane Projects That Are Starting Or Wrapping Up

  • The project to rehabilitate Columbia Ave. from Post to Division streets and surrounding residential streets is complete, and the streets have reopened to traffic. Crews will complete final detail work next week, which may cause minor traffic obstructions.

    Work on the project included rehabilitating 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.

    The $2.6 million project was funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Wastewater Department.
  • A project to turn Wall St. from Third to Riverside avenues into a two-way street from a one-way is set to begin on Monday. Traffic signals will be added. Wall St. from Riverside to Sprague avenues will be closed, and Wall from Sprague to Third avenues will have lane restrictions.

    This $484,000 project is being funded by Spokane Transit Authority (STA).
  • A project to replace water transmission mains begins Monday, Aug. 20. New mains will go in Eighth and Ninth avenues from Division to Cowley streets; Eighth Ave. from Chandler to Hatch streets; Chandler St. from Eighth to Ninth avenues. Work also includes some landscaping and installation of a concrete stairway and hand railings at Chandler St. from Eighth to Ninth avenues as well as tying in to the water line that was completed last year. Ninth Ave. from Division to Cowley streets; and Cowley St. from Ninth to Eighth avenues will be closed. Drivers will be detoured to Rockwood Blvd. onto McClellan St. and then onto Seventh Ave.

    The $2 million project is being funded by the Water Department.

Driver Swerves To Miss Moose And Hits Bear Instead

Ever have a feeling that things have just gone from bad to worse? Pretty sure that's what a Norwegian driver was thinking earlier today when he swerved to avoid hitting a moose on a rural road and hit a bear instead.

Apparently it was dark out so the driver didn't see that a bear was also nearby. The driver was not hurt but his car suffered some damage and wildlife officials are looking for the injured bear still.
According to Reuters, this isn't such a crazy coincidence as Norway has lots of wildlife compared to its only five million people. Which isn't much for a country the size of Germany.

Bigelow Gulch Closure Next Week

Bigelow Gulch Road between Argonne and Forker will be closed on Tuesday  August 21 and remain closed until Thursday August 23 (afternoon).  Traffic will be detoured to Morgan Roan And Pleasant Prairie Road.  The Road will be closed to complete extensive pavement repair.

Medical Lake Interchange Bridge To Be Closed Aug. 21

Next Tuesday, August 21 from about 4 a.m. until as late as 8 p.m., the overpass bridge at the SR/902 Medical Lake Interchange (Exit 272) will be fully closed to traffic for bridge deck repair and asphalt paving. All ramps will remain open.

Westbound traffic will not be able to access truck services or industrial facilities to the south of the freeway from this interchange. Westbound traffic must use the Geiger Blvd. Exit (exit 276) and follow the detour signage on local roads adjacent to the freeway.
In addition, eastbound traffic cannot access destinations to the north of the freeway using this interchange. Detours for eastbound traffic are also on adjacent road accessed from the Geiger Blvd. Exit (exit 276).
Also, traffic on SR 902 from the City of Medical Lake inbound to Spokane will be directed to detour routes. Later Tuesday evening, or early Wednesday, paying work on I-90 will require the east and westbound on and off ramps to be closed for several hours.

SRTC Director Goes To The Pokey; Help Him Get Out

Well, there he goes. Have you ever seen a guy so happy to be arrested? That's our boss, SRTC Executive Director Kevin Wallace. And he's being hauled away to 'jail.'

Before you call out the holes in the plot, as I call them, Kevin is obviously not going to a real jail, but a pokey at the Davenport Hotel and he was picked up by a firefighter, not a real police officer.  I'd be smiling too if someone locked me up in the Davenport. Or if a guy like that came to 'arrest' me.

This stunt is part of the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association's fund raiser that puts folks behind bars to raise money to fight muscle diseases.

So here's the deal; if you want transportation planning to continue uninterrupted, you better put up some money for 'bail.' So please give whatever you can. It's for the children. And the state of our transportation system. Here's where to donate.

After you do that, be sure to take a good look at Mr. Wallace's face so if you see him in public you can alert the authorities. Or just shake his hand and thank him for donating his time to a good cause.

TTC Meeting Agenda Available

The agenda for next Wednesday's Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meeting is now available here. The meeting is at 1:30 on Aug. 22 in our conference room at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310. All TTC meetings are open to the public so feel free to attend if you see something that interests you on the agenda.

Baby Boom Population May Not Mean More Drivers After All

There's been a lot of talk lately about the baby boomers getting older, and how this is going to put a big strain on our social services and transportation services. There's concern that this huge population group is going to need special amenities to get around, such as larger, easier-to-read traffic signs, more public transportation and possibly even wider driving lanes and parking spots.

Sightline Daily says this may not be the case though because surveys say that driving peaks during middle age. At age 54, you drive about as much as you ever have, or ever will in the future. So while the baby boomers will indeed be a large part of our population, it's not transportation facilities we most likely will need to modify to meet their needs, but public transportation services and pedestrian facilities they will be utilizing most.

The full story, and the number of vehicle miles travelled by age, can be found at the link above.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cool Find In Our Old Files Has History Of Spokane Bridges

I've been digging through 30+ years of old files here at SRTC for the past several months, in an effort to condense the huge amount files we are storing and to better organize our system and familiarize ourselves with what we even have in the files.

In the process, I've come across a few surprises, some really old documents and a lot of junk I can't believe we even saved in the first place. I made what I consider to be a pretty cool find yesterday though: this publication called Arches & Spans: Bridge Building in Spokane, 1881 to 1917.

As near as I can tell, it was printed in the early 1990s when SRTC was known as the Spokane Regional Council and had the Historic Preservation Office under our purview (hence no 'T' for transportation in our agency name at the time as we apparently dealt with other topics than just transportation). Our office was located in Spokane City Hall at the time also.

I find this item particularly interesting because we (staff here at SRTC and at other agencies and our Board members) have been talking a lot about our infrastructure, especially our bridges, being almost 100 years old lately. And while I thought that was just a generalization or an exageration, this publication drives the point home that many really ARE a century old. Some of the bridges mentioned in here, like the Monroe Street Bridge, have been reconstructed in recent years. But other, like the Latah Creek Bridge, are still the original structures. A study was just wrapped up in fact, to determine what to do with the bridge to bring it up to today's standards and make it safe.

The pictures are what I found to be really cool though. It's amazing how much wood went into building those old bridges and how engineers working without the convenience of today's technology could create something as magnificent and forward-thinking for the times as the Monroe Street Bridge.

Construction Starts Tomorrow On Red Light Camera-Funded Project

The intersection of 17th Ave. and Mt. Vernon St. will be closed for one week beginning tomorrow, Aug. 16, through Thursday, Aug. 23. Crews will be completing sidewalk improvements including, signage, striping, ADA curb ramps, and catch basin work. Drivers will be detoured to Regal and Cook streets.

The $101,467 project is being funded by the Red Light Camera Program.

Complete Streets Institute Starts Tomorrow In Spokane Valley

Okay folks, sorry about the short notice on this one but somehow I missed it until now. I know a lot of you who read this blog are interested in Complete Streets, streets that are designed and operated to enable safe, attractive, and comfortable access and travel for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transit users of all ages and abilities. So, you may be interested in the Safe Routes to School Institute being held tomorrow and Friday in Spokane Valley.

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is sponsoring the Institute, which is an opportunity for anyone intersted to attend sessions on bike and pedestrian safety education, encouragement and engineering best practices, and many other topics.
Here is more information and how to register, from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

Article Claims Walkers Themselves Could Be To Blame For Increase In Pedestrian Deaths

 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that pedestrian deaths have increased in the past several years. In fact, they claim a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes.

So what's to blame for the increase in deaths? Is it due to more people walking? An increase in older people with slower reflexes and poorer eye sight driving? More people driving distracted- aka talking or texting on their phones?
TheNHTSA doesn't pretend to know what's causing more pedestrians to be victims in collisions with vehicles, but the Washington Post says it could be due to distracted walking- wearing headphones or using mobile devices while walking or using public transportation. Here's the Washington Post story.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Transportation Apps Make Travelling A Lot Easier

Smartphone users- if you're if you're taking a family vacation this summer, or even a quick weekend trip to the west side of the state, some new apps can make your trip a lot more convenient than in the days of a fold-up paper map.

Mashable shares their ten favorite transportation apps here .

New Traffic School Will Mean A Ticket May Not Go On Your Record

Got a traffic ticket but can't afford to have it on your driving record? Good news! Spokane's City Council last night voted to form a new traffic school option that will allow drivers involved in certain traffic infractions the option of taking a traffic school course rather than have a ticket go on their record. Councilman Jon Snyder talks about it on his blog this morning.

San Francisco Residents Sell Parking Spaces In Their Driveways Online

Never having been to the Kentucky Derby, I didn't know that people in the neighborhoods around Churchill Downs sell parking spots in their driveways and yards to Derby goers. I guess it's quite a zoo, with people posting signs with their desired parking price, some yelling price quotes and a lot of negotiating going on.

Well the idea has now spread to San Francisco, where ParkPlease debuts this weekend to coincide with the Outside Lands music festival. ParkPlease allows residents to post their yards, lots, spots, alleys, driveways and garages to a map so potential parkers can line up a parking spot in advance.

And it's working apparently- business has been brisk so far. The Atlantic Cities blog has the details.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Panhandling Ordinance Could Hurt Non-Profit's Fundraising Efforts

An ordinance aimed at improving public safety by banning panhandlers from reaching into the street to take money from drivers could shut down some well known non-profit fund raising events such as the Fire Fighter's "Fill the Boot" campaign and the Spokane Guilds’ School & Neuromuscular Center “Kids for Kids” Penny Drive. Here's the story.

Pedestrian Hit & Killed By Driver On South Hill

Another pedestrian has been hit and killed by a car while walking in Spokane. This time it happened Saturday night on the South Hill and investigators are still trying to find out who the victim is.
The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Not Too Rich To Use Public Transit Apparently

This is kind of cool; during the Olympics in London last week, basketball stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James used public transit to get around.

Grist has the story.

New Spokane City Construction Project Starts Today

A heads up that a project starts today to rehabilitate Adams Street from 21st Avenue to 15th Avenue and surrounding residential streets including: Jefferson St. from 21st Avenue to 15th Avenue; Madison Street from 21st Avenue to 17th Avenue; 17th, 18th, and 19th Avenues from Cedar Street to Madison Street; and 20th Avenue from Adams Street to Madison Street. The project also includes installing ADA curb ramps where necessary, and repairing storm drains. During construction Adams St. from 21st to 15th avenues and surrounding streets will be closed with local access being maintained.
The $934,000 project is being funded by the 10-Year Street Bond.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

WSDOT Construction Update For Next Week

US 2-Division Street/Francis Ave. to the “Y”
On Monday and Tuesday, August 13 and 14, during daytime hours, expect inside or curb lane closures and slow traffic and congestion with Division Street reduced to 2 lanes for asphalt grinding and resurfacing.

On Wednesday and Thursday, August 15 and 16, during evening and overnight hours, expect center-lane closures and slow traffic and congestion with Division Street reduced to 2 lanes.
I-90/BNSF Bridges (just west of Four Lakes) to Geiger Blvd. Interchange Pavement grinding work starts Monday, August 13 with paving planned to start on August 16th. I-90 may be reduced to one lane in each direction depending on work location during daytime, evening, and/or overnight hours.

I-90 Westbound/Freya Street to Maple Street
On Saturday, August 11, beginning at about 10:30 p.m., until as late as 8 a.m. the following morning, westbound I-90 will be reduced to one through lane to repair an overhead pedestrian bridge and bridge joints in the freeway lanes. Westbound drivers should expect slow traffic and congestion.

US 2-Newport Highway (MP 294-Between Hawthorne Rd. Nevada St.)
US 395-Division St. (MP 165-Between Hawthorne Rd. and Falcon Dr.
On Sunday morning, August 12th, from about 6 a.m. to around 8 a.m., be alert for possible intermittent delays of up to 10 minutes for maintenance of overhead high voltage power transmission lines.

Portland Gets Bike Counter For Hawthorne Bridge

Start the countdown. Or the count up, in this case. A new bike counter (a.k.a. the bicycle barometer) — the first of its kind in the United States — went live at midnight last night and at this morning's press conference to unveil it, the number of bikes that had crossed it was already well over 2,000.

The counter works via four sets of air hoses strung across the Hawthorne Bridge path. When someone on a bicycle rolls over the hoses, their weight depresses the hose, which creates a pulse that is converted into a radio signal that beams wirelessly to the counter. We've got something similar to this on the new Children of the Sun Trail that is part of the North Spokane Corridor, but nothing on a regular roadway.

Bike Portland has the full story on what they plan to do with information gathered by the counter.

STA Looking To Fill Corridor Advisory Panels

For those of you I've heard complain on occasion about public transportation in Spokane- here's your chance to make your opinion count: Spokane Transit is forming Corridor Advisory Panels (CAP’s) for the following projects:

- Cheney to Downtown Spokane

- Five Mile to Moran Prairie

- North Division to Downtown Spokane

- Downtown to Liberty Lake via Spokane Valley

If you’re interested in serving on a Corridor Advisory Panel (CAP) for one of these corridors, please fill out an application. There's more info on those projects and more at that link too.

Gen Y Members Would Rather Go To Dentist Than Negotiate Vehicle Purchase

We've been hearing a lot lately that young people across the country are getting drivers licenses and buying cars at significantly lower rates than in the past. We're in the process of working on our Metropolitan Tranpsortation Plan (MTP), Horizon 2040, that is a long term 'blue print' for transportation for our area. Taking into account that young people will be making many of our transportation decisions in the future, we planned a 'roundtable discussion' around the topic of young people and transportation, to help develop the MTP.

Based on that background information, I wasn't surprised when I saw a study this morning that says Generation Y members, people born between 1980 and 1998, consider negotiations with a car salesman to be more painful than a trip to the dentist. Really?? And that is going to mean some changes in how we buy cars as 'millenials,' as they are called, currently represent two of five car buyers and could be purchasing 75 percent of vehicles by 2025.
Auto News has the story.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Someone Please Post Bail For the Boss

Okay folks, here's the deal- this picture on the left? Yeah, that could be me next Thursday if you don't help out. That's because, with the boss not here, I may not be able to figure out just what to do with myself. And I get really sleepy in the afternoons sometimes when the office is warm.

So where is the boss going that is so important as to leave me unattended? To jail! That's right, Kevin Wallace has been bad. Alright, he hasn't really but it's fun to give him trouble about it. Kevin has graciously agreed to take part in the Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual fund raiser that puts folks behind bars to raise money to fight muscular diseases.

If Kevin doesn't raise $2500 by next Thursday, guess what? It's the pokey for him and nap/play time for me. I'm impressed though- Kevin has already raised $980. Not bad for a guy that's fairly new to town. If you want to help out and keep me from having an easy day, go to his MDA website and give whatever you can. Consider it a contribution to the state of our local transportation system.

Almost $80M In Funding Requests Submitted For Available $22.5M

We just wrapped up a 'call for projects' for the Surface Transportation Program (STP) for 2013-2016. A call for projects means we have a certain amount of money to disperse to local transportation projects, so we put out a call asking area jurisdictions to submit projects that they would like to have funded.

STP is a  funding program for surface transportation projects. It provides for a wide range of transportation-related activities including: roadway and bridge construction, reconstruction, and maintenance; transit capital projects; carpool projects; bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs; safety projects; traffic monitoring and management; and transportation enhancement activities. We have $22.5 million in STP funds to give out in four categories:

Roadway Preservation  projects are intended to improve/preserve the structural integrity of existing roadways with no significant geometric improvements. This includes projects such as grind and overlays.  Alternative mode improvements* can be part of the project but are limited to 10% of the total project cost.

Roadway Reconstruction projects are intended to rebuild existing roadways full depth. A reconstruction project may include alternative mode improvements*, but it should be limited to 10% of the total cost. A reconstruction project includes replacing asphalt intersections with concrete or improving sight distances.
Roadway Improvement projects construct a new roadway or widen an existing roadway to place additional lanes or turn lanes. A project that does not require additional right-of-way but significantly changes travel patterns (i.e. road diet) may also qualify as a roadway improvement. An improvement project may include alternative mode improvements*, limited to 10% of the total project cost.
Other Non-Roadway projects are those that do not include roadway improvements, or the roadway improvements are limited to 10% of the total project cost. This includes projects such as bicycle and/or pedestrian facilities, transit capital projects, traffic management and transportation enhancements.
*Alternative mode improvements are projects that include the addition of or improvement to pedestrian facilities, bike facilities, transit facilities and ITS and communications improvements.

We've put together the table below (click on it to view it larger) of the applications submitted to give you an idea of the need in our community to maintain our transportation facilities. Here's how it shook out:

With only $22.5 million in STP funds, we obviously can't fund ALL these projects. So here's what comes next:
  • August 6-10- A team of experts from local jurisdictions will review pavement conditions of Roadway Preservation and Roadway Reconstruction applications.
  • August 13-17- SRTC staff and members of the Transportation Technical and Transportation Advisory committees will score the projects.
  • September TTC/TAC Meetings- review scoring results and rcommend prioritized list(s)
  • November 8- The SRTC Board will approve a prioritized list.

The Four Biggest Myths About Truckers Dispelled

We have been talking about the movement of freight on our roads a lot lately, both because we just wrapped up Phase 2 of the Inland Pacific Hub Project and because we're starting work on our long term Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Horizon 2040.

So I found this infographic (click on it to view full size) interesting. By the way, I 'stole' it, as I often do, from Transportation Issues Daily. It dispels some of the biggest myths about truckers, such as that they cause traffic accidents and use lots of drugs.

When I first started at SRTC six years ago, you never heard the movement of freight discussed when talking about transportation. Now, it's common to hear people talk about trucks on our roads and convenient freight routes when you ask people what their transportation concerns or interests are. So, thought it would be good to set the record straight since we're probably going to see more trucks, rather than less, in the future. Especially with the North Spokane Corridor coming on line.

Local Red Light Camera Catches Crazy Hit & Run Collision

Holy cow, you should see this video! Spokane Police posted the video below to YouTube in an effort to find a “good samaritan” who attempted to stop a hit and run driver after a July 1, 2012 collision at 3rd Avenue and Freya.

Just before 5am that morning, red light cameras picked up the footage below.  The two occupants in the car that was hit were seriously injured. After seeing the video, I feel they're lucky to be alive! This is like a movie scene crash.

Apparently, after the video ends, the suspect car leaves the scene and the man you see running into the area tries to chase it. Police are looking for that man to interview and have not been able to locate him. Anyone with any information is asked to call Crime Check at 456-2233.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Study Says Women Experience More Road Rage

What a joke! Are they for real?? This is a crock of ... uh sorry, got a little out of control there. I got fired up when reading that a new study of commuters claims women are more prone to road rage than men.
Of the 3,000+ drivers surveyed, 61% of women said that they had experienced road rage, compared to 56% of men. And roughly 9% of commuters have actually gotten into a fight with another commuter. Wow, that's a higher number than I would have thought. I'm too lazy to even go through a drive through to get food, I can't imagine the effort it would take to get out of my car and engage someone in a fight.
CBS Baltimore has more of the study's findings.

$17B In Fed Funds Made Available For Transportation Project Loans

I'm hearing the sounds of road construction in my head. That's because Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced late last week that the Obama administration will make $17 billion available for loans to construct transportation projects.

The money is part of an expansion of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program in the recently approved $105 billion transportation bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

What's that mean for us locally? We're not sure yet so I'll keep an eye on the topic and report back as discussions develop. In the meantime, here's more on TIFIA from The Hill.

Monday, August 6, 2012

August SRTC Board Meeting Cancelled

The SRTC Policy Board meeting scheduled for this Thursday, August 9 has been cancelled to give our Board members a summer break. The next regular meeting is scheduled for September 13, 2012.

Two City of Spokane Construction Projects Start Today

  • A project to reduce Spokane Falls Blvd. from Division to Sherman streets to one lane of travel in each direction, add bike lanes, and landscaped median starts today. Additionally, water main and stormwater pipes will be replaced. During construction, Spokane Falls Blvd. from Division to Sherman streets will be closed. The detour is Sherman St. onto Martin Luther King Jr. Way. This work is being done as part of the larger plan to make the Riverpoint Campus in the University District more pedestrian friendly by adding traffic calming features and moving through traffic onto Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The $1.16 million project is funded by federal funds.
  • A project to repair Cook St. from Empire to Rich avenues using a grind and overlay treatment and associated stormwater repairs also starts today. Cook St. from Empire to Rich avenues will be closed.The $160,240 project is being funded by the Transportation Benefit District and the City Wastewater Department.

Snoqualmie Closing Earlier For Rock Blasting

Washington State Department of Transportation  (WSDOT) crews will be closing Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass 30 minutes earlier from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. for rock blasting this week. The pass will be closed from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 6, through Thursday, Aug. 9, from Hyak (milepost 54) to the Price Creek Sno-Park (milepost 61).

You also need to plan for added travel time due to increased construction activity and rolling slowdowns Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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.