Friday, September 28, 2012

It's Friday so we need a laugh. In the spirit of the new shift toward 'infographics' to explain statistics or data, The Onion released this one a couple months ago about what car buyers are looking for in their next vehicle. Good luck on the less judgemental navigation lady. In my experience, they're all disaproving.

How To Spend Extra Money?

Here's a problem I wish we all had- too much money. Okay, they don't actually have too much money, but the City of Spokane Valley has a big chunk of money in their reserve fund and have decided it may be time to put some of it to use, while still saving for a rainy day of course.

The past two weeks' Council meetings have had a big part of them devoted to debating what projects should benefit from spending almost eight million dollars in reserve money, and it looks like the Sullivan Road Bridge could benefit from the expenditure. The Spokane Valley News Herald has the story.

Countywide Construction Projects Starting, Finishing Up or With New Road Closures Next Week

Spokane Valley
Fancher Rd. between Sprague and Broadway - Construction continues into early October, weather permitting. Expect reductions to one lane in each direction and narrowed lanes during curb and sidewalk work. Closed for paving from 7:00pm on Saturday, Sept 29 through 6:00am on Sunday, Sept 30 for paving.  Use Havana as an alternative route.

Mission Ave. between Union and Pines - Construction is anticipated to begin on or about Tuesday, Oct 2 and is expected to take about one week to finish, weather permitting. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction around the clock.Vehicles must be removed from the roadway. Vehicles not removed will be towed.

Pines Rd. Sidewalk Infill between 16th and 24th Avenue - Project is expected to begin Oct. 1 and take about six weeks to complete. Expect minor delays between 7:00am and 6:00pm

WSDOT US 2-Division Street/Francis to the “Y”- Lane restrictions with possible slow traffic Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 3-4, during evening and overnight hours to as late as 8 a.m. for pavement crack sealing. Division will be reduced to one through lane near the work.
US 2/Farwell Road Intersection Permanent Striping (MP 295)- On Wednesday and Thursday, October 3-5, from about 7 p.m. to as late as 6 a.m. the following morning, flaggers will direct traffic through this intersection. Expect lane restrictions and possible delays. Crews will be installing permanent inlaid plastic lane markings.

I-90/Geiger Blvd. to Downtown Spokane (Just west of downtown Spokane MP 275-280)-
Pavement grinding is under way from about 7 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. The legal speed limit is reduced to 50 mph. I-90 may be reduced to one travel lane in each direction depending on the location of the work.

North Spokane Corridor/Parksmith Interchange - The Parksmith Road Interchange is scheduled to open for traffic on Tuesday, October 2nd late in the day. However, some lane or ramp restrictions or temporary ramp closures may be possible over the next few weeks as the contractor completes minor finishing items. A brief ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2. No traffic impacts are expected on the NSC.

SR 290-Hamilton Street Bridge (MP 1) - Bridge joint repairs from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., with the bridge reduced to one southbound lane On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday (Oct. 1, 3, 4). Be alert for slow traffic and congestion.

US 395-Division Street/Hawthorne & Hastings Road Intersections Permanent Striping (MP 165 & 166)- On Sunday, September 30 at Hawthorne and on Monday, Oct. 1 at Hastings , from about 7 p.m. to as late as 6 a.m. the following morning, flaggers will direct traffic through this intersection. Expect lane restrictions and possible delays as crews install permanent inlaid plastic lane markings.

Spokane City

29th Ave. from High Dr. to Grand Blvd.- The first phase of the project to rehabilitate 29th Ave. from Bernard St. to Grand Blvd. is expected to be complete and reopen to traffic by Friday, Oct. 5. The overall project includes a full depth curb-to-curb rehabilitation of 29th Ave. from High Dr. to Grand Blvd., replacing a 1water main, restriping existing bike lanes, repairing sidewalks on 29th Ave. from Madison to Howard streets, and installing new sidewalks on the north side of 29th Ave. from High Dr. to Lincoln St. The second phase of the project from Bernard St. to High Dr. will begin in 2013.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spokane Is Getting A Car-Sharing Program!

Holy cow, this is great! Gonzaga University is partnering with Zipcar, Inc. to offer a campus car-sharing program! And while it's baby steps (The only two cars are located near Sharp and Standard right now but more are expected later), this is an achievement because it means anyone (pending a drivers background check) can use this transportation option.

To mark the occasion, there was an on-campus launch event today and there will be another tomorrow from 10:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. in front of the Crosby Student Center. It will allow Gonzaga students, faculty and staff to learn more about Zipcar and apply for membership. I'll try to swing by one of the days to get some pictures so you can see what your options are.

So here's how it works; you sign up to be a member, then reserve the cars  (A Ford Focus and Nissan Sentra) as you need them online, over the phone or through an app on your wireless device. You can reserve them by the hour or day and reservations can be for as little as an hour or for multiple days.
This transportation option will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is said to be quite cost effective, with the membership being a $25 annual fee for GU students and staff and $60 for non-students, with a $25 application fee. Reservation rates start at $7.50 per hour and $69 per day. Rates include gas, insurance, reserved parking spots, up to 180 miles of driving per day and roadside assistance.

That's pretty good when you compare it to the cost of buying your own vehicle, putting gas in it, paying for oil changes and insurance. Especially for those people who don't drive very often but need a car every now and then.

Studies have shown that each Zipcar takes approximately 15 personally owned cars from the road and that the number of miles driven per member is reduced by 40 percent, helping reduce congestion and carbon dioxide emissions. Zipcar members also report an increase of trips made by public transportation, bicycling and walking.
If you're interested, you can join Zipcar, or just find out more information about it, at

Doug Clark Takes On The North Spokane Corridor

Because it's transportation-related, I feel that I can't ignore Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark's article today on the North Spokane Corridor, although it's not exactly positive and the facts are skewed to fit the tone of the article. He's got some good points; the freeway at this time isn't heavily travelled (although traffic counts have picked up since the most recent stretch was opened) and it is an expensive project, and Division Street does have a lot of traffic lights and slow spots. What he didn't mention though is the potential that's sitting there.

When complete, the North Spokane Corridor (NSC) will take a lot of the truck traffic off Division and Market, which will mean they won't be so slow anymore. He also mentions that the NSC is somewhere north of Hillyard, and so is Canada. Well that's where a lot of those trucks are going. It's called economic development. The thought is that if you put a north south route in that provides easy access to points north, we'll have more businesses move in to utilize it.

There are also points to be made about how north-south streets like Division and Market will be more bike and pedestrian friendly after the freeway opens, as the cars wanting to get quickly through the area will be using it instead of arterials going through the city.

Anyway, here's the article. It's obviously more about being funny than educational so enjoy it for what it is.

Fed Transpo Bill Provision Could Come With Price For Pedestrians

One provision of the new federal transportation bill, MAP-21, that many people are just learning is that it will require all major arterial roads to be included in the national highway system. That will nearly double the number of roads that will be part of the highway system.

Big deal or not? Could be, as it could mean pressure on local jurisdictions to comply with national highway standards, like wide lanes and shoulders.

While added cost is definitely a factor, some people are more worried this move will encourage car capacity at the expense of pedestrian safety. StreetsBlog has both sides to this story.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Public Meeting To Discuss Closing Centennial Trail Gap

Well this is cool. And needed. When talking about local trails with the public, I often hear about gaps in the Centennial Trail. The City of Spokane is hosting an open house to present improvement options for a gap in the Centennial Trail.

The trail runs along the Spokane River beginning at Nine Mile Falls, crossing over the Washington/Idaho state line, and ending at Higgins Point on Lake Coeur d’Alene. There are a number of gaps along the trail. This meeting will address completion of a trail segment from Bridge to Boone avenues adjacent to Summit Blvd. in the West Central area.
The open house will discuss plans for:

• A non-motorized, 12-ft. wide trail.
• Retaining walls.
• Fencing.
• Benches.
• A pavilion.

The open house is Thursday, Oct. 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt St.

Vigilantes Paint Their Own Crosswalk In PA Neighborhood

During a recent round of "Roundtable Discussions" we hosted asking people what they think of our current transportation system, a theme that kept coming up was crosswalks. People are upset that many aren't painted around here, despite some studies that say many pedestrians are struck by vehicles in them because of a false sense of security. They think a crosswalk is an obvious sign that cars need to stop for them, so they step out in it and get hit.

Well apparently we're not the only community struggling with the crosswalk conundrum (did I really just write that?). Vigilantes took street markings into their own hands in a busy Pittsburgh, PA neighborhood intersection and painted four amateur crosswalks. Granted, the crosswalks are all of varying width, but the painter(s) did manage to measure up with the ADA ramps.

Residents of the neighborhood have complained to the city for years that the intersection is dangerous, but are told they can't paint every four way intersection and traffic through the area isn't high enough to warrant a crosswalk. Here's the rest of the story.

Bridge For Sale. You Haul

For sale: one historic bridge, as-is, no refunds.
Hmmmm.... I see a money making opportunity we can learn from here. The Alaska Department of Transportation is putting Juneau's Brotherhood Bridge up for sale. The sale comes with some strings though; the buyer must agree to remove and preserve the historic structure.

So here are my thoughts, scattered and off-the-wall as they are:

1.) We buy the bridge and put it up in place of one of our deteriorating structures. It couldn't be in a whole lot worse shape then one or two of ours right? We're always talking about the state of our bridges and it's common knowledge that we need updates and replacements across the state.

- Or -

2.) My favorite- Let's take a cue from the ADOT and sell some of our older bridges. Who's got room for the Latah Creek Bridge in their backyard? The Greene Street Bridge is slated for improvements but will most likely need to be replaced to increase the weight load it can handle within the next ten years- who wants it as a nice peice of garden art?

Okay, neither are really feasible but here's the Anchorage Daily News article if you want to read it.

Are You Too Drugged To Drive?

The title of this article, Are You Too Drugged To Drive?, grabbed my attention this morning. I don't think so. Am I? I would know if I was, right? Not necessarily, I found out.

Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65. 80% of drivers 65 and older regularly take medication— two-thirds take five or more daily! Yet only half have talked with a medical professional about the possible safety issues related to driving.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is studying the risks of drug interaction and side effects affecting driving ability and say it's a growing problem not only for older drivers but for anyone who takes medication and needs to drive.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sponsors Needed For 2013 Spokane Bike Swap

The first annual Spokane Bike Swap was such a huge success that the folks behind the event are already planning for next year's- because they're going to make it even bigger and better.

This year's event was attended by over 2000 adults and a multitude of children. There were 200 bikes in the "bike corrall", most of which sold on the first day, and 27 vendors that took part.

The 2013 Bike Swap is April 13 and 14 at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center and sponsors are needed now to get things rolling. So talk to your boss and see if it's something you can do. There are of course advertising and other advantages in it for you. If you or your company are interested, click here to email the promoters for more information.

Column Says Spokane Doesn't Have the Most Impressive Parallel Parkers

"The Slice" column in today's Spokesman-Review addresses the issue of parallel parkers. According to columnist Paul Turner, we have a lack of drivers who can actually do a decent job of parallel parking. In my experience, it's not actually paralell parking that's hard, it's getting out later when someone parks three inches from your back bumper. Happened to me this morning downtown and then I look like a new driver doing an 18-point turn to get out of the spot. What's your experience with parallel parking?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Iron Bridge Open To Bike/Ped Traffic

The Iron Bridge bike and pedestrian river crossing near Gonzaga University is now open to traffic. Picture stolen from the Shallow Cogitations blog, to give credit where credit is due.

Go check it out. Looks pretty cool.

Some Stuff I Learned Today

Here's a few things I didn't know before that I picked up in a transportation project cost estimation workshop this morning. And yes, it has a tedious name, but no, the workshop wasn't boring. I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting it was.
  • Many communities have put their 'mega' projects on hold due to the economy, and the ones that are doing large projects are mostly doing big transit projects such as light rail and bus rapid transit.
  • There is speculation that labor costs are going down in many areas.
  • Spokane Transit buses aren't 'retired' until they've either had two transmission rebuilds or 750,000 miles put on them.
  • Fuel makes up over 50% of Spokane Transit's yearly budget.

Grant Helps With Work Toward Complete Streets

Our Senior Transportation Planner Eve Nelson has made the big time. She was quoted in
this Spokesman-Review article today about a grant that she helped our agency get two years in a row. The grant was an Active Community Environments grant and helped fund the work toward the Complete Streets Policy that our Board just approved. Nice work Eve!

Kettle Falls Bridge To Close Two Nights

If you use the 395 bridge over the Columbia River at Kettle Falls, you should be aware that the bridge will be closed to all traffic overnight twice this week. On September 27 and 28, the bridge will be closed from 7 PM until no later than 5 AM the following morning. All traffic will be required to use a detour route using Northport-Flat Creek Road and SR 25. It's substantially longer, so plan for it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Road Construction For Next Week

Spokane County

Wall Street- One lane open each direction and narrow lanes from College Road to Waikiki Road.

Pasadena Elementary Pathway- Upriver Drive from Marguerite Road to Dick Road limited to one lane. One way traffic at a time.

City of Spokane

37th Avenue and Grand Boulevard Traffic Signal- A project to install a traffic signal at 37th Ave. and Grand Blvd. will begin on Monday, Sept. 24. Drivers can expect obstructions and are asked to drive with caution in the area.

Jefferson Street from Wellesley to Rowan Avenues- The project to rehabilitate Jefferson St. from Wellesley to Rowan avenues and surrounding residential streets is complete and open to traffic. The project rehabilitated Jefferson St. from Wellesley to Rowan avenues and surrounding streets including Adams St. from Wellesley to Rowan avenues; and Madison St. from Wellesley to Rowan avenues; and Wabash Ave. from Maple to Madison streets. Also, the stormwater system was upgraded to improve performance and maintenance, and ADA curb ramps were installed at intersections where needed.

Limited City Hall Parking- Beginning Monday, Sept. 24, the sidewalk will be closed and on-street parking limited adjacent to City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. The City will be re-sealing the sidewalks on Post St. and Spokane Falls Blvd. The closure is expected to last until Friday, Oct. 19.   

Spokane Valley

Valley Fest Parade- Sprague Avenue from University to Pines Road and north/south intersections in between will be closed to all traffic for the ValleyFest Parade on Friday, September 21 as follows:

• Sprague between University to Bowdish, and intersections of Gillis, Moffit and Skipworth at Sprague closed from 5:45pm until parade completion

• Sprague between Pines and Bowdish, and intersections of Fox, Union, Perrine and Robie at Sprague closed from 7:00pm until parade completion.

• Use Broadway Avenue and 4th Avenue as alternative east/west routes.

• Use Pines Road and University Road as alternative north/south routes.

Washington State Department of Transportation

I-90 Geiger Blvd. to Downtown Spokane- Pavement grinding is scheduled to resume on Monday, September 24th on Interstate 90 between Geiger Blvd and the downtown area. Work will be underway from about 7 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. The speed limit will be reduced to 50 mph. I90 may be reduced to one travel lane in each direction depending on the location of the work.

SR 290-Northbound Hamilton Street Bridge- Monday through Thursday, Sept. 24-27, from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., the northbound Hamilton Street Bridge will be reduced to one lane to repair bridge joints. Northbound drivers should be alert for slow traffic and congestion on the bridge. In addition, on Wednesday, Sept. 26, during the same hours, the on ramp from Second Avenue to northbound Hamilton Street will be closed. All I-90 ramps will be open.

Spokane City Traffic Calming Projects Announced

The City of Spokane yesterday announced a list of traffic-calming projects that will be paid for from proceeds from red light camera infractions. Twenty-one projects have been selected for construction, out of 74 applications, totaling around $485,000. The projects are scheduled to be built in 2013.
This past spring, neighborhoods were asked to identify and submit applications for projects intended to encourage drivers to adhere to speed limits to improve safety for pedestrian and bicyclists and improve the walking environment.
A traffic-calming subcommittee, made up of a Council member from each Council District, selected the final projects. City Council will approve the final list and budget.
The traffic-calming project list for 2013, broken down by District, includes:

District 1: Purchase of two small mobile speed feedback signs that will be placed in various areas throughout District 1.

• Chief Garry Park Neighborhood: Installation of a crosswalk at Regal St. and Mission Ave.; and Cook St. and Mission Ave. crossing to Chief Garry Park.

• East Central Neighborhood: Implementation of University District/Sprague Corridor Study traffic calming elements on E. Sprague Ave.

• Bemiss Neighborhood: Permanent speed sign on Cook St. near Shaw Middle School and Northeast Community Center.

• Nevada-Lidgerwood Neighborhood: Install a traffic circle at Lyons Ave. and Cincinnati St.

• Logan Neighborhood: Conduct traffic study on E. Sinto Ave. in conjunction with Gonzaga University.

District 2:

• East Central Neighborhood: Permanent speed feedback sign on Perry St. near its intersection with 12th Ave.

• Cliff/Cannon Neighborhood: Curb bump-outs on Maple St. at Eighth and Ninth avenues.

• Manito/Cannon Hill Neighborhood: Crosswalk striping and signage at 25th Ave. and Bernard St.

• Rockwood Neighborhood: Install solar pedestrian beacons at 18th Ave. and Grand Blvd.

• Comstock Neighborhood: Install sidewalks from 210 to 226 W. 37th Ave.

• Lincoln Heights: Install sidewalks on both sides of Freya St. from 36th to 37th avenues.

• Joint Manito/Cannon Hill and Comstock Neighborhoods: Install pedestrian crossing at Manito Blvd. and 29th Ave., type to be determined from neighborhood input.
District 3:

• Five Mile Neighborhood: Connect separated sidewalks on Horizon Ave. from west of F St. to E St. Install crosswalk and signage at Cascade Way/Lincoln Rd. and Five Mile Rd.

• Emerson Garfield Neighborhood: Traffic circles on Montgomery Ave. at Cedar, Jefferson, and Madison streets; and two bump-outs on Montgomery Ave. with its intersection with Adams St. Additionally, sidewalks will be installed on Adams St. from Mansfield to Montgomery avenues.

• North Hill Neighborhood: Install crosswalk at Garland Ave. and Normandie St.

• West Central Neighborhood: Install crosswalk with flashing beacon at Elm St. and Maxwell Ave.

New SRTC Mission & Vision Statements

With new management and a new outlook on how we do things, we thought it was time for new Mission and Vision statements as well. Our old Mission Statement made it sound like we build actual construction projects. That not being the case though, it was time for an update to our image. So, we all sat down at a staff meeting and came up with a couple options. And then our Policy Board took a crack at some wordsmithing and here's what they ended up approving at last Thursday's Board meeting:

Our Mission:

To coordinate transportation planning in the Spokane Region by providing leadership, expertise, and a forum for collaboration.

Our Vision:

SRTC is recognized for excellence in transportation planning and regional cooperation.

So, what do you think?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New North Spokane Corridor Interchange To Open Oct. 2

Another milestone on the path to having a new freeway. The new Parksmith Road interchange will open to traffic on Tuesday, Oct. 2, marking the completion of the first half of the North Spokane Corridor (NSC) just north of Spokane. In late August, the Francis to Farwell/Southbound Lanes project also wrapped up, meaning more than five miles of the planned 10-mile corridor are open to traffic.

Completing the northern half of the NSC will help speed up north/south freight traffic in the Spokane metro area. Truckers on the US 395 corridor can cut up to 20 minutes off their travel time by using the NSC, then connecting to the Market, Greene and Freya route. Drivers will only encounter 11 traffic signals instead of 29 on Division.

Transportation Improvement Program Meeting Tomorrow

This is your last reminder- this Thursday is the public meeting for the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Why should you be intersted? Because when I'm out in the public talking to people, I hear TONS of comments on what streets need fixing or what new transportation facilities we should have. I of course come back and report those to the transportation planners I work with here and at other agencies, but it carries a lot more weight when coming from you.

So you should attend this meeting and look through our TIP. It's includes all the projects and programs within Spokane County (SRTC's planning area) that area jurisdictions plan to complete or implement in the next four years.

That means this is an opportunity for you to look through the list and make sure we're planning for the projects that you think are most important because, after all, we ARE spending your tax dollars (and mine for that matter so let's get this right).
The meeting is tomorrow, Sept. 20 from 4-6 p.m. It's an open house format so you can come anytime between those hours. We're located at 221 W. First ave., Suite 310. You have to take the elevator to the third floor because the escalator doesn't go that high.

The TIP is located here if you want to do a little looking through it before coming to the meeting.

Ten Most "Miserable" States For Driving

What are the ten most "miserable" states to drive in? According to data compiled by, Mississippi tops the list and Arkansas rounds out the top ten, based on costs for gas, car insurance, and miles driven. People in the most miserable states rack up a lot of miles and pay much higher-than-average insurance rates.

Where does Washington rank on the miserable scale? Check here to find out.

SRTC Board Approves Complete Streets Policy & Checklist

Good news for Complete Streets supporters. At their meeting late last week, the SRTC Policy Board approved the Safe and Complete Streets Policy and Checklist. The Policy and Checklist will be posted to the SRTC website soon so check back and I'll post a link when it's on there.

Complete streets are roads designed and operated with all users in mind- including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

A Safe and Complete Streets Policy and Checklist at the Metropolitan Planning Organization (that's what SRTC is) level will have a region-wide impact in changing the decision-making process so that all users are routinely considered during the planning, designing, building and operating of roadways.

It will also ensure that elements of the Safe and Complete Streets policy are incorporated into the 2013 MTP update, Horizon 2040, that we are working on now.

The checklist that goes along with the policy will mean that any project seeking to be included in the annual Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) will have to be evaluated to see if it meets the Policy guidelines or is exempt. The TIP is the funding program document that lists what projects will be funded for construction or implementation in the next four years.

Also, we do occasional "calls for projects" when there is transportation funding available. Local jurisdictions are invited to submit projects they would like to see funded. The projects are ranked and prioritized and the ones determined to be top priorities are given money. From now on, any project submitted during a call for projects will have to be accompanied by the checklist to show that the needs of all users have been considered when designing the project.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Larry Ehl In Town To Speak On Map-21

Wow, this is like a celebrity sighting for me- the man behind the Transportation Issues Daily website, which I link to extensively on this blog, will be in Spokane tomorrow.

Larry Ehl, an expert on federal transportation policy, will speak tomorrow at the Washington State Good Roads Association annual conference. Ehl will be speaking about the recently enacted federal transportation bill, MAP-21, and looming funding cuts to transportation programs.

Larry has some local insight too, which makes him a valuable commodity. He played a role in helping acquire both TIGER grants received by the NSC project. He helped secure a $35 million grant in 2010 as a WSDOT government relations staffer, and to secure a $10 million grant in 2012 as a member of the Keep Spokane Moving coalition.

Here's info on the conference, in case you're interested, although there is a fee to attend.

Technology Makes Home Just A Heel Click Away

Okay, there's nothing like a good pair of new shoes and there's no place like home, so why not combine the two concepts ala The Wizard of Oz? Thta's what one British designer did, when he created his "No Place Like Home GPS Shoes" that guide you back to your house no matter where you are in the world" (at least that's what the literature that comes with them claims).

And the shoes actually do work by clicking your heels together. That activates a GPS receiver embedded in the heel which in turn sets off a series of lighted arrows that show you which way to go and how many miles to your home.
Sounds cool but I'm guessing they come with a hefty price tag. The video has more about them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting Agenda

The agenda and packet for the September 24 Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting is now available here. Take a look and feel free to attend if you have transportation concerns or comments. Every one is welcome and every meeting has a public comment item on the agenda so this is your chance to voice your thoughts.

A Monday Treat For You

How cool is taking the bus? VERY cool, especially in Denmark, as evidenced by this awesome TV spot.  Click the CC button at the bottom to read the subtitles. Do it, it just enhances the spot.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tell Us What Projects Should Be In The Transportation Improvement Program

Mark your calendar as having plans next Thursday evening. We're hosting a public meeting for the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and you're not going to want to miss it. That's because the TIP is a document that lists all the projects and programs within Spokane County (SRTC's planning area) that area jurisdictions plan to complete or implement in the next four years.

So why should you care? Because if you have a pet project, or an area you think needs improvement, you should look through and see if it's on the list. And if you don't, you should look through it anyway to see what projects are in there and to make sure you agree with where we're spending your tax dollars.

Here's a link where you can view the TIP in case you want to be prepared when you come into the meeting. It also tells how you can submit comments if you can't make the meeting. No need to do homework though if you don't want to- just show up next Thursday, Sept. 20 anytime between 4-6 p.m. at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310 (the SRTC office) and we'll walk you through the document, answer any questions you may have and take your feedback.

Okay, see you all there.

Man Barters Bacon To Pay For Cross-Country Trip

A New York man is making his way across the country- via bacon. That's right, the man is traveling from New York to Los Angeles with no cash or credit cards. That's because he's paying for his trip with- wait for it- bacon!

Josh Sankey is using a refrigerated trailer full of 3,000 pounds of bacon provided by Oscar Meyer to barter for everything he'll need to make the trip. Sankey is using the bacon to trade for gas, lodging and entertainment while on the trip. I'm assuming he doesn't need to trade for food as he's pulling a load of bacon. has the story of his journey.

Cameras Installed to Watch Speed Cameras. What?

I know there are a lot of people out there who hate red light and speed cameras, but this is taking it to the extreme. Police in Palmer Park, MD are installing cameras to watch other cameras. Yes, you read that right. After several speed monitoring cameras were either destroyed or vandalized in the area, cameras are now being installed to try to catch the culprits, by training them on the speed cameras. Yikes, where will it end?
Here's the story from WTOP Radio.

Local Construction Projects Starting and Wrapping Up

Spokane Valley

Argonne Rd. between Indiana and Trent - Construction is expected to begin in mid-September (not sure exactly when that is) and last about a week, weather permitting. Lanes will be narrowed to one lane each way between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. for asphalt patching.

Fancher Rd. between Sprague and Broadway - Construction is expected to begin in mid-September (again- when is that?) and finish in early October, weather permitting. Lanes will be narrowed to one lane each way during asphalt patching, curb and sidewalk work.
Sprague Avenue Swale Project - Construction is expected to start on the south side of Sprague between Park Rd. and Thierman Rd. in mid-September, and will take about 3 weeks to complete, before crews continue work on other sections. Roadwork is expected to finish in late October, weather permitting. At least two lanes of traffic will remain open around the clock.
Carnahan Rd., Kahuna Dr. and 16th Ave. - Expect traffic to be reduced to one lane for up to five hours sometime between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday at the following locations:

• Carnahan from the 1700 block to just east of the Carnahan intersection.

• Carnahan intersection at the east loop of Kahuna.

• Carnahan between 16th to east Kahuna.

University Road between Union Rd. and Main Rd. - Road construction is expected to finish by Monday, Oct. 1, weather permitting.

Spokane City

14th and 15th Avenues from Chestnut Street to Inland Empire Way- This project starts Monday, Sept. 17 and will pave 14th and 15th avenues between Chestnut St. and Inland Empire Way and install curbs and sidewalks. All streets are closed to traffic. Local access will be maintained. The $200,000 project is funded by the 10-Year Street Bond Program and Local Improvement District (LID).

Oak Street from Inland Empire Way to 28th Avenue- This project is set to begin Monday, Sept. 17.  It will pave Oak St. from Inland Empire Way to 28th Ave. and install curbs and sidewalks. All streets are closed to traffic. The $185,000 project is funded by the 10-Year Street Bond Program and LID funds.

Jefferson Street from Wellesley to Rowan Avenues- This project is expected to be complete by Friday, Sept. 21. The project rehabilitated Jefferson St. from Wellesley to Rowan avenues and surrounding residential streets. All streets will remain closed to traffic until next Friday. The $908,000 project was funded by the 10-Year Street Bond and Wastewater Department.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pollution Prevention Week

I'm letting you know early this year that next week, Sept. 17-23, is Pollution Prevention Week, so you can get your t-shirts made and everything.
Pollution Prevention Week is a time to help preserve our environment while saving money and improving the health of your family. When it comes to transportation, the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency recommends these ways to get started:

• Implement a No Idle Zone program and policy at work or school. For more information call 477-4727.
• Choose an alternative to driving to work alone. Whether it's once a week or once a month, it helps prevent pollution. Bike, bus, walk or share a ride a ride to work throughout the month of September.

• Practice healthy driving habits to save money on gas, reduce wear and tear on your car and reduce the amount of pollution coming from your tailpipe.

o Drive at steady speeds.

o Avoid jackrabbit starts and sudden stops.

o Combine errands into efficient trips.

• A well-maintained vehicle runs more efficiently, resulting in better gas mileage and reduced tailpipe emissions. Follow these tips:

     o Schedule regular oil changes and tune-ups.

     o Check tire pressure monthly to increase miles per gallon and decrease wear.

     o Replace dirty air filters.

     o Check engine fluid levels twice a month.

     o Inspect fan belts and hoses monthly for wear and replace as needed.

• In the market for a new or used vehicle? Consider clean car options that are available. Look for a vehicle that gets great gas mileage and has very low or ultra-low emissions. Check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Vehicle Guide for more information.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Snoqualmie Pass Closure Saturday Morning

Interstate 90 will be closed over Snoqualmie Pass early Saturday morning to remove loose rock from the slopes above the highway. The Washington State Department of Transportation are closing the pass from 7 to 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, from Hyak (milepost 54) to the Price Creek Sno-Park (milepost 61).

Ask Your Transportation Questions At Candidate Mixer

Have questions for political candidates regarding transportation (or other topics- I guess we'd be okay with you asking about other things)? Greater Spokane Incorporated and the University District have teamed up to bring you a candidate mixer that will include all candidates running for state office and county commissioner so you can ask the questions that will determine how you vote.

There's a small fee for the event and pre-registration is required, so see the invitation below. Click on it to view it full size.

Bicycle-Friendly Business Districts Flourishing

Have you heard of bicycle-friendly business districts (BFBDs)? I've heard reference to how bicycling and walking spur local economies but didn't realize there was an actual name for it.

When we hop on a bike instead of in a car, we tend to stay closer to home and support small businesses. We also notice more businesses since we’re traveling slower and closer to businesses. Realizing this, many merchants are now encouraging people to bike to their businesses, and actively marketing themselves as bicycle-friendly. Some even offer specials and savings to people who arrive in other ways than in a vehicle.

That's what Spokane Bike Week did when they first released their 'Bicycle Benefits' stickers a few years ago. Anyone with one of the stickers on their bike helmet would get special deals at participating businesses.

Well now a lot more businesses are realizing the potential and jumping on the BFBD band wagon. Transportation Issues Daily has the story.

Mission Ave. Resurfacing Project Delayed

Construction originally expected to begin Sept. 10 to resurface Mission Ave between Union Road and Pines Road in Spokane Valley has been rescheduled to begin in late September or early October. The Mission Ave project is one of four street projects scheduled in the second phase of the 2012 Street Preservation Project that are to be finished this year.

The delay is to allow work on the other street segments to be finished.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Speed Enforcement Camera To Be Placed On I90 At Snoqualmie Pass

You better slow down going over Snoqualmie Pass. As part of WSDOT’s Give ‘em A Brake program, which encourages drivers to slow down in work zones, an automated speed-enforcement camera will be placed in the construction zone on I90 over Snoqualmie Pass starting next Monday.

Travelers passing through the five-mile-long work zone of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East will see signs warning “Speed limit photo enforced.” A vehicle parked near the highway will monitor speeds both eastbound and westbound and a camera will capture the rear license plates of speeding vehicles. Drivers caught speeding by automated enforcement in the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass work zone could face a $137 citation.
If a car’s license plate is photographed speeding through the work zone, the vehicle's registered owner receives the citation within 14 days. A citation is similar to a parking ticket in that it does not go on the permanent driving record.

Transportation Improvement Program Ready For Review & Comment

Wow, has it been a year already? Every year at this time we put out a draft Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for public review and comment. Well, this year's TIP is now available. A public meeting is also scheduled to gather input on it.

The TIP is a four-year funding program that lists federally and/or regionally significant transportation improvements proposed by jurisdictions within Spokane County. It identifies specific programs or projects that jurisdictions or agencies propose to construct or complete during the upcoming four years.

You can view Transportation Improvement Program 2013-2016 here. The public comment period for it is Sept. 11, 2012 through 4 p.m. on Oct. 10, 2012. The comment period provides an opportunity for the community to review the proposed projects and use of funds prior to approving the program. Comments can be emailed to or mailed to SRTC at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201.

To provide members of the public an additional forum to review the TIP, ask questions and provide feedback, a public meeting will be held Thursday, Sept. 20 from 4-6 p.m. at SRTC. It's open to everyone, so hope to see you there.

My Presentation To Youth Leadership Spokane- There IS Hope!

I had a really cool experience last night. I spoke with a group of teenagers from Youth Leadership Spokane about Horizon 2040, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), we're in the process of developing. The MTP is a long-term "blueprint" for how our transportation system will develop over the next twenty years.

People who know me know that I have a healthy fear of children, particularly the sarcastic teenage variety. They're great about the time they hit 25 though. So I was nervous about talking to this group. And boy was I wrong. To start with, the kids, ranging in age from about 14 to 17 I'd guess, were respectful and didn't use their cell phones or other gadgets during our discussion, unlike many meetings I attend with adults.

They were also receptive to the discussion and amazingly well-informed. When I was that age, I didn't know what route to take to the mall, but they were so well-spoken and knowledgeable about different kinds of transportation facilities, public transit and problem areas in our community that I was blown away.

I was giddy with joy when one young man pointed out that there are projections saying Spokane will grow by 100,000 people in the next 20 years and asked how we are going to get those people to their jobs and schools everyday and the services they need. He asked about the economy being able to support them and how transportation would contribute to that. Holy cow- someone actually put together the connection between transportation and the economy!

Another young man asked about the possibility of ever having a beltway or bypasses and several of the kids pointed out areas that are either unsafe, such as the Hatch Hill and Highway 2 near the Rusty Moose. There was much mention of public transit and what would get kids to ride it more often, such as extending service hours later in the evening and not discontinuing it during the day.

All in all, I was incredibly impressed by how well spoken these kids were, how well informed and how willing to participate in civic events. At the same time though, they were fun kids who talked about how busy they are just going to school, having a social life and just being kids. It was great to see that they're trying to squeeze in civic responsibilities too though.

September Proclaimed Back To School Month

Spokane City Mayor David Condon has proclaimed September Back to School month and is partnering with the Spokane Regional Health District on education and student safety issues this month.

The City, along with the "Stickman Knows" education campaign, is asking for your help to keep our children safe. Slow down around schools and look out for children crossing the street. Don’t compete. Share the street.

Most vehicle-pedestrian collisions occur in crosswalks, marked or unmarked. By following the rules of the road, we can prevent these by driving 20 miles per hour in school zones and stopping for children at crosswalks. Pedestrians can be safer by only crossing the street on a “Walk” signal, and if there isn’t a signal look left, right, and left again before crossing at marked crosswalks or intersections.

Local law enforcement officers will be keeping an eye out for people not following the rules of the road and may issue tickets. Tickets can run from $56 for not crossing the street at a crosswalk up to $210 for a motorist failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

For more information, visit

Monday, September 10, 2012

SpokeFest Continued To Grow This Year

The fifth annual SpokeFest was held in downtown Spokane yestereday and it sounds like it was another big success. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

And here is an essay in pictures from the event. Let me know if you participated.

September Board Meeting Agenda

Our monthly Policy Board meeting is this Thursday, Sept. 13 at 1. Here's the agenda. Everyone is welcome so feel free to attend. And there's always an item for public comment on the agenda so let us know what's on your mind as far as transportation.

This Week's Construction Roundup

Spokane City
  • The project to construct n bridge over the railroad viaduct on Havana St. north of Broadway Ave. is complete and the bridge is open to traffic! The new bridge has four traffic lanes; the outside traffic lane is a shared bike lane, and there are sidewalks on each side. Crews are completing final detail work over the next two weeks and during that time drivers can expect single lane closures. 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.
  • 18th Ave. from Thor to Ray Streets will be closed through Friday, Sept. 14 for a grind and overlay project. The $105,000 project is being funded by the Transportation Benefit District.
Spokane Valley
  • Construction starts today on University Road between Union Rd. and Main Rd. It is expected to be complete by Oct. 1, weather permitting. There will only be one open lane in each direction from 7am to 10pm. The southbound left turn at Sprague will be closed on Monday, Sept. 10 through the middle of the week.

  • Nevada Street is closed to through traffic between Hawthorne and the Newport Highway (US 2) to upgrade sidewalks to ADA standards at the intersection and revise the traffic signal system and traffic island. Traffic is detoured via Hawthorne Road. Drivers on the Newport Highway (US 2) should be alert for shoulder closures.
  • Construction on the very high impact Beck Road Interchange project started yesterday just east of the Washingotn State line. From 7 pm tonight until 5 tomorrow morning, I90 will be closed in that area. Eastbound and westbound traffic will be detoured onto Seltice Way between the Stateline Interchange (WA MP 299) to the Pleasantview Road Interchange (ID MP 2). You can expect slow traffic, stopped traffic, congestion, and delays.

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.