Friday, March 29, 2013

Major Golf Tournament Hoping Attendees Will Arrive On Bikes

Organizers of the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina hope more people will ride their bikes to the tournament this year. They're setting aside parking for at least 1,000 (!) bikes on the tennis courts in an effort to ease parking congestion getting into and out of the course. Last year about 300 cyclists used the parking. Organizers hope that number will increase to 500 this year."

I can't imagine that you plan to attend, but if you do, or are just really interested in the setup, here's more info.

How Should We Spend Federal Funds?

The Washington State Department of Transportation each year gives metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) like SRTC "targets" each year of how much in federal funds we need to provide to our member jurisdictions to pay for their transportation programs or projects.

We just found out that our target went up, so now we have to find some additional projects to fund than what we thought we would be giving money to. As a result, we're considering providing funds to three projects that aren't in our Transportation Improvement Project, in order to successfully meet our target.
But in order to legally give the money to those projects, the projects have to be included in our Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is a four-year listing of transportation improvements within the county that are on the regional transportation network. The TIP is incorporated into the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Placement on the STIP is required for any transportation project that receives federal funding.

So that brings me to today. In order to get the projects into the TIP, an amendment must be made to it. And any amendment requires a public review and comment period. So go to the TIP page on our website, at, and review the proposed projects, then let us know if you think this is a good way to use the additional funds. Information is included on that page on how to submit comments.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Northbound US 195 Reduced To One Lane Starting Next Week

Beginning Monday, April 1, northbound US 195 will be reduced to one lane in the vicinity of Cheney-Spokane Road for work to construct a full interchange. Northbound drivers should be alert for possible congestion and slowing traffic. This is a long-term configuration. In general, the southbound off ramp to Cheney-Spokane Road is now closed so drivers will need to be alert for southbound highway traffic slowing to make right turns into Cheney-Spokane Road.

The US 195/Inland Empire Way intersection is now closed. Inland Empire Way traffic is directed to the Thorpe Road intersection. This is a permanent closure to accommodate the new northbound Cheney-Spokane Road on ramp.

Area residents need to be aware of night work on this project starting on April 8, 2013 that may be in place for several weeks. Residents can call 324-6250 for noise-related information.

Construction Project Causes Some Problems For Neighbors

KHQ News is reporting that a south hill couple was literally trapped on their property due to a construction project at 8th and Hatch. Neighbors say their properties are being used to store water pipes and other construction materials as well. The City of Spokane has reportedly taken steps to fix the problem though. I've been on both sides of the construction issue; I've had construction on my road and I've been the person who takes complaints about construction projects, so I feel the pain of everyone involved. I can tell you also that 99% of the time the crews work as hard as they can to keep neighbors happy and coming and going from their homes. My brother worked on a crew for years and has even told me stories of helping people to back out of their driveways when they were nervous about doing it themselves.

KHQ Right Now - News and Weather for Spokane and North Idaho

Motorcyclists/Bicyclists May Get To Run Some Red Lights

According to, a bill in the Washington state Legislature would allow some motorcycles to run a red light at some intersections. And bicycles too.
Some traffic lights are controlled by sensors, but motorcycles and bicycles are sometimes too small or light to trigger the sensors.

Under SB 5141, motorcyclists would still have to come to a full stop, but if the light doesn’t change for them after a full cycle of the signal, the driver or rider would be allowed to proceed cautiously through the intersection or make a left turn.

The bill passed in the Senate 47-1 and is now being heard in the House.

WSDOT Lane Striping Begins

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) wants you to know that paint striping will start in our area very soon. Every year, plowing, studded tires, sand and weather take their toll on the lines painted on our roadways. Once the weather gets to be a consistent 50 degrees or more (I think we're there!), crews will start to repain 4,000 lane miles of state routes. Work starts around Spokane then moves north and south as far as the Canadian Border on the north to the Snake River on the South to Idaho on the east and the Ferry/Lincoln/Adams county lines on the west.

The WSDOT Eastern Region (our region) has a single striping truck/crew and it takes the full summer and fall to visit all the lanes miles in the region. As a result some northern areas may not see the striping activity until late summer and or even fall.

The crew applies an average of 85,000 gallons of paint a year. In addition, separate crews work to re-establish intersection markings.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Freight Trends That Could Impact All of Washington

As part of development of Horizon 2040, our Metropolitan Transportation Plan, there has been a LOT of talk in transportation circles in recent months about economic development, ports, the movement of freight and how all of the above impact our area transportation system.

So I found this article from Transportation Issues Daily interesting on three trends that will impact Puget Sound Ports. Why do we care on this side of the state? Because the two Ports combine to import and exports goods that Washington businesses produce or depend on. One hundred thirteen thousand jobs across Washington state are connected to Port activities.

So what are the trends? And how will they impact you? Does the term mega-ships mean anything to you? Read the article at the link above.

Yikes! Spokane Called Out For Downtown "Parking Crater"

Oh my, Spokane gets called on the carpet by Streetsblog for what they call a "parking atrocity." The Blog is having a spinoff of March Madness, called "Parking Madness," where they pit two communities against each other to find the worst parking crater in an American downtown.

Today, the competition is between Cleveland, OH and the "parking crater" surrounding our Convention Center downtown. You can read the charges against each city and vote here. If you do, please let us know your thoughts on Spokane being involved in this cage match of parking and if you think it is deserved. If it is, and the land around the convention center should be used for something else, what do you think should go in there?

Who DOESN'T Love To Watch Traffic Cameras?

This story off the Washington State Department of Transportation Blog is really cool. It's about an autistic Western Washington boy fascinated with traffic cameras and how the staff of a transportation management center (TMC) on that side of the state gave him a couple very special days working alongside them in the center.

Incidentally, we have our own TMC here in Spokane. If you haven't checked out our traffic cameras before, you can at These are the same cameras you see on local television news shows and on City Cable 5 between other programming. We also have someone who spends a lot of time watching them and calls in if there is a malfunction. She usually swears a lot but we appreciate her letting us know something isn't functioning right anyway.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Research Says Smoking Pot Could Affect Driving For Weeks

With marijuana use legal in Washington now, there's been a lot of discussion about how safe it is to drive under the influence of pot. And how long its effects could impact drivers.

According to new research, cannabis can be detected in the blood, at a level that might affect driving, for weeks after the last 'intake.'

This underlines a point, that while marijuana legalization has been moving rapidly, there’s been very little research done about the effects of daily smoking on driving safety--or on ways that law enforcement might expedite testing.

"The Car Connection" has the details on this latest study.

More And More Jurisdictions Enacting Transportation Benefit Districts

The City of Spokane has one. Spokane County has been talking about developing a regional one and Bainbridge Island just got one. What am I talking about? A transportation benefit district to increase taxes or fees to repair a backlog of deteriorating roads.
More and more local jurisdictions and states are figuring out how to fund some transportation improvements on their own, in the wake of a lack of federal transportation funding. According to Transportation Issues Daily, at least twenty-five states were considering transportation funding proposals this year. In Washington State, 22 local jurisdictions have enacted transportation benefit districts, including the City of Spokane.
The Bainbridge Island Transportation Benefit District is the most recent, approving a $20 vehicle licensing fee in January. The fee is anticipated to raise more than $300,000 annually to be used for road improvements. While that won’t buy a lot of repairs, it will help reduce the growing backlog of projects and can be used for the purpose of bonding, in order to bring in more money.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Flight Towers at Five Washington Airports to be Closed, Including Felts Field

USDOT will close air traffic control towers at five Washington State airports in April to meet sequestration budget cuts, it was announced on Friday. One of those airports is Felts Field, here in Spokane. So what does this mean for the airports? Well, it could mean less air traffic using them, increased expenses to pay for alternative air traffic control services or possibly even closing some of the airports. Transportation Issues Daily looks at the impact of this move.

City of Spokane Construction Projects

Francis Avenue from Division Street to Haven Street- A project to rehabilitate Francis Avenue from Division Street to Haven Street begins today, March 25. Francis from Crestline to Haven is closed to traffic. That will continue into June, and then work will move to the Division to Crestline section. This project will also include installation of curb ramps as needed.
Eight and Ninth Avenues Water Transmission Main- This project is continuing. Sherman St. at Eighth Ave. is now open with a temporary patch. Eighth Ave. from Chandler to Hatch streets and Hatch St. from Eighth to Ninth avenues are closed. The overall project includes replacing existing water transmission mains and line and installing new lines 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 between Division and Cowley was completed in 2012; all 2013 work is east of Cowley.

New Signs Will Measure Floodwaters

I've seen electronic signs that tell you how fast you're going or how long travel time is for a section of roadway, but this is a new one.

A road in the UK floods frequently, so officials are spending money for signs that alert drivers to the depth of the water; allowing them to make decisions on whether to drive through the flooding.

BBC News England has the story.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Transportation Technical Committee Meeting Next Wednesday

Next Wednesday is the monthly meeting of the Transportation Technical Committee, a group made up of 22 staff members from local jurisdictions, including cities, the county, Spokane Regional Health District, Native American Tribes, etc. They have some pretty interesting discussions, so check out the agenda here and then come check out the meeting if you can.

WSDOT Construction For Next Week

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements

EXTREMELY HIGH IMPACT!!!  On Monday, March 25th, the City of Spokane will close Francis between Market and Crestline for resurfacing and other work. When that is in place, the left turn for westbound Francis to southbound Market will be restored. As a result of these changes, drivers should expect congestion and long delays on Francis Avenue and Market Street near the bridge project, especially during the morning and afternoon commute hours. Delays are also possible at the Francis and Freya intersection.
I-90/Sullivan Road BridgeOn Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, March 26-28 from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., drivers should be alert for lane restriction on the Sullivan Road bridge that crosses I-90. No mainline I-90 impacts. Crews will be making repairs to the bridge.
I-90/Greenacres OverpassMonday, March 25, from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., drivers should be alert for westbound lane restrictions at the Greenacres/Country Vista/Appleway exit overpass for bridge repairs.

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange
HIGH IMPACT!! The southbound off ramp to Cheney-Spokane road is now closed so drivers will need to be alert for southbound highway traffic slowing to make right turns into Cheney-Spokane Road. Drivers should also be alert for lane restrictions on Cheney-Spokane Road at the US 195 intersection with flaggers directing traffic at times. The US 195/Inland Empire Way intersection is now closed. Inland Empire Way traffic is directed to the Thorpe Road intersection. This is a permanent closure to accommodate the new northbound Cheney-Spokane Road on ramp. Bicycle riders need to use extreme caution on this section of US 195 and be alert for equipment adjacent to the roadway, turning truck traffic, and other construction-related activities and may wish to seek alternate routes to avoid delays.

Will Global Warming Have To Be Considered Before Approving Major Projects?

Since 1970, the National Environmental Protection Act has required federal agencies to consider the impacts of their projects on air, water, and soil pollution — but not on climate change.

One of the services we do here at SRTC is air quality monitoring, analysis and modeling. Projects under consideration for funding are analyzed to ensure they won't add to air quality issues, such as by forcing more cars to idle in one spot.

Until recently, carbon dioxide, which causes global warning, wasn’t classified as a pollutant and so couldn’t be regulated under environmental laws. Well, it sounds like President Obama is about to change all that, with an impending announcement that all federal agencies will have to consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.”

While SRTC isn't a federal agency, some of the funding we distribute to local jurisdictions to construct transportation projects comes from federal sources, meaning major projects like the North Spokane Corridor could be impacted.
So does this mean no more highways? DC Streetsblog takes a look at the implications.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Transportation Planners Goal of "Abundant Access"

One of our Transportation Planners, Ryan, sent me a link to a really interesting post on Jarrett Walker's Human Transit blog. It's about how there is no black or white when it comes to transit; the underlying geometry of transit requires communities to make a series of choices, or tradeoffs, between two desires. And what makes these decisions so difficult is that there is no technical ground for making one choice or the other. Examples of these choices include choosing between high ridership numbers or expanded coverage; requiring riders to transfer or creating an incredibly complex system; and making people walk further to bus stops or have them closer together, slowing down service with more stops.

Many of these topics will be discussed in the scenario planning portion of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan we're working on right now, Horizon 2040. Until we get there though, you may want to look at how Walker diagrams each of these options, noticing that for each choices, one option seems to trigger a positive-feedback loop, while the other option does not.

And at the center of the "positive" choices? What Walker calls a single, consistent goal: the greatest possible number of jobs and other destinations located within 30 minutes one way travel time of the greatest possible number of residents.

To see how that would look locally, go to the Mapnificent website and play with the map a little. Then read the rest of Walker's blog post and weigh in on his idea of "abundant access."

US Infrastructure Given Poor Marks On Report Card

Who's going to sign off on this one? The latest infrastructure “report card” from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) shows small improvements in the overall condition of America’s infrastructure. But, it still got only an overall grade of D+, up from a D four years ago.

So I can't think of a lot that's improved in that time, but ASCE says drinking water, wastewater, solid waste, roads, bridges and rail all improved slightly. I'm surprised at the inclusion of bridges, as it seems like we're not fixing/replacing them fast enough to keep up with them aging.

The highest score for a category of infrastructure was B- and the lowest D-. Engineering News-Record breaks down the report card.

Pedestrians Asked To Carry Flags For Visibility

The city of Coeur d’Alene is going to try a low-tech, low-cost way to make pedestrians more visible, and therefore safer. They will be asked to carry brightly colored flags to cross the intersections of Ironwood Drive and Ironwood Place and 6th and Sherman.

The flags have helped to reduce collisions between cars and pedestrians in other cities but will it work in our area? KREM 2 News has the story.

Mixup Leads To Major Travel Delays At Sea-Tac

A security breach at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last night caused some major disruptions for travelers. The Associated Press reports that a passenger entered a secure area through an exit lane Tuesday night, prompting authorities to clear several concourses until the man was located.

Airport spokesman Perry Cooper says 1,000 to 1,500 passengers in the C and D concourses and central terminal had to be rescreened later through security checkpoints.

Port of Seattle police and Transportation Security Administration officials found the passenger at about 9 p.m. He was questioned and released. Cooper says the issue was a misunderstanding, "not anything of a security concern to passengers."

After the man was cleared, passengers began the rescreening process. Cooper says the checkpoint backup was cleared by about 10:30 p.m. He says airlines typically try to accommodate passengers caught in such a delay.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Does the Federal Tax Code Favor Driving Over Other Modes?

With taxes due in just a month, Tri-State, an east coast transportation blog, took a look at available and recently-expired tax credits and deductions related to automobile and transit use in the federal tax code to see if the tax breaks being offered incentivized or had a bias towards automobile use.
So what did they find? The results are right here.

By the way, if you decide to use some of these deductions, keep in mind the people who keep these blogs aren't lawyers or accountants so you'll need to do the appropriate research.

Trailhead Parking Lot Breakins

If you park at a trailhead parking lot to use the Centennial Trail, hide your valuables! A series of car prowlings has been happening at these lots. The Spokesman-Review has the details.

30 Days of Biking Coming Up In April

What are you doing in April? How about riding your bike? Every day. The Bicycle Alliance of Washington wants you to ride every day in April this year as part of their event 30 Days of Biking event.

In its fourth year, 30 Days of Biking asks just one thing: Pledge to ride your bike every single day for 30 days. Whether you take your bike out of the garage and wheel it around the block for a breath of fresh air or take off on a long expedition, ride every day.

More info? Right here on the Bicycle Alliance website.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting Next Month

The monthly meeting of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) is next Monday, March 25. Here's the agenda. Look it over and if anything jumps out at you feel free to attend. We're a fairly informal group so if you have something transportation related you'd like to share, the group would be glad to hear it.

A Little of This, A Little of That

A workshop to discuss transportation improvements to the West Plains area, restrictions on Maple Street and funding for air traffic control towers at smaller airports like Felts Field could be cut do to sequestration. That's what's happening in regional transportation this week from the Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" column.

Bike Swap Volunteers Needed

Got a little extra time on your hands? The Spokane Bike Swap is less than a month away and in need of volunteers.
If you can help, please go to the and fill out the form. You will be able to pick the date(s), time(s) and area you prefer to work in and you will receive a follow up email to confirm.

Friday, April 12 will be building set up and bike registration, Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14 will be event shopping days with Sunday concluding with cleanup and bike/payment distributions.
New this year, David’s Pizza will be hosting a Volunteer Night for all volunteers on Tuesday, April 9 at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center from 6-7pm and FREE PIZZA will be served.

Friday, March 15, 2013

New WSDOT Secretary Orders Review Of 'Megaprojects'

So amidst all the hoopla of coming to Spokane yesterday and only being on the job for two days, new WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson announced that Washington State’s three largest, most expensive and controversial megaprojects underway will be reviewed “to ensure the best accountability and project-delivery practices.”
An assessment will be conducted of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement, the S.R. 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program, and the I-5 Columbia River Crossing projects.
So what, exactly, does this mean? Transportation Issues Daily breaks it down for us.

Plan Ahead For Parade Parking

You won't need the luck of the Irish driving downtown this weekend, but you may want to plan ahead to avoid road and parking closures that accompany the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade is Saturday, March 16, at noon.

Parking restrictions begin on Friday, March 15. Any vehicles parked in restricted parking areas by 7a.m. on Saturday are subject to tow. Parking will be restricted on:

• Spokane Falls Blvd. from Bernard St. to Post St.
• Bernard St. from Spokane Falls Blvd. to Main Ave.
• Main Ave. from Bernard St. to Stevens St.
• Washington St. from Spokane Falls Blvd. to Main Ave.
• Stevens St. from Spokane Falls Blvd. to Main Ave.
• Post St. from Spokane Falls Blvd. to the River.
• On Dean and Cataldo avenues from Howard St. to Washington St.

Streets will be closed to traffic for the parade itself on Saturday. The parade staging area on Washington St. from Boone Ave. to Spokane Falls Blvd. and on Howard from Boone to Mallon will close down at 9:45am. The entire parade route will close at 11 a.m. and reopen at about 2:30 p.m. Parade starts at Spokane Falls Blvd. and Washington, runs east on Spokane Falls to Browne, south on Browne to Main, west on Main to Stevens, north on Stevens to Spokane Falls, west on Spokane Falls to Post, over the Post St. Bridge and back to the Spokane Arena lots. More information at

Wide Load: Slow Drive Across Two States

At our monthly Board meeting yesterday, a staff member from WSDOT talked about the journey of part of the new Keller Ferry boat from Oregon to it's new home on the Columbia River near Grand Coulee earlier this week.

The moving of the hull by semi was called a "super load" (versus the controversial mega loads of last year) due to its size. The trip was an arduous one at a top speed of 14 miles per hour across two states (reminds me of a trip through three states I took on a tiny spare tire last summer). The piece was so big that it had to go through Portland at night last Friday so as not to disrupt traffic.

The new boat is called the "Sanpoil." Sanpoil is the Anglicized form of the name given to the Columbia River, as well as to the ancestral and current native residents of the area it will serve. Parts for the boat were made in Rainier, Oregon and the whole thing will be assembled onsite near the river. The boat is expected to be launched in July 2013 and will replace the current vessel, the 65-year-old Martha S.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

WSDOT's New Secretary Spends Second Day On The Job In Spokane

That's Peterson third from the left in the red coat.
New Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson was just at the SRTC Board meeting, and it's only her second day on the job! She came to Spokane for the groundbreaking ceremony of the 195 Interchange, stayed for our meeting, then took an STA bus to the airport to catch her flight back to Olympia. Wow, I'm impressed already. Yesterday it was a Pope that uses public transportation and today we get a new Transportation Secretary that does.

Ms. Peterson got to know Board members a little before the meeting started, then spoke for a few minutes about her impressions so far. It was gratifying to hear her say that Washington transportation agencies have done a lot in the way of coordination and leveraging each other's work.

Spokane City Councilmember Nancy McLaughlin asked her what Governor Inslee's transportation priorities are. Ms. Peterson said finishing 'mega projects' and maintaining the existing infrastructure while building safe and health communities. She also mentioned getting more electric and hybrid cars on the road and more people on public transit.

Spokane County Commissioner Al French asked Ms. Peterson if she had any ideas for funding transportation in the future. She said that she'd like to see a state-level version of the TIGER program that helped fund construction of the North Spokane Corridor (NSC) and is interested in further studies of programs where you pay per mile versus a gas tax. 

County Commissioner Todd Mielke pointed out that the NSC was one of three mega projects a couple years ago statewide and the other two have been funded and construction completed. When asked if she'd been versed on the NSC, Peteron pulled a "Complete the North Spokane Corridor" sign out of her bag and waved it around, and also pointed to the neon orange "Jobs" pin on her lapel, both courtesy of Wayne Brokaw, Executive Director at Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors.

E. Susan Meyer, CEO at Spokane Transit, asked what Peterson's 30 day plan is. Peterson said she will start with reviewing the executive management team at WSDOT, start strategic planning processes and start forming partnerships. She said not to call her yet though because, at just day two two on the job, she doesn't know her cell phone number yet.

Liberty Lake Mayor Steve Peterson, Chair of the SRTC Board, concluded the session with Peterson and said he has invited her back for a bike ride on the Centennial Trail. Peterson, who previously worked for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), said she's already challenged the ODOT director to a bike race between ODOT and WSDOT employees. This should be interesting.

Study: Drivers Can't Concentrate on Turning Left While Talking on the Phone

The bottom is your brain on the phone.
Using a bluetooth or other hands-free device may make the physical act of turning left at an intersection easier to pull off when you're on the phone, but it doesn't make it any safer. That's because attempting to make a left turn at a busy intersection taxes the brain more than turning right or driving straight through. And having a conversation at the same time further impairs the brain's ability to focus on the road, according to new data published in "Frontiers of Human Neuroscience." Or, as researchers sum it up, "'Hands free' not does mean 'brains free.'" The Atlantic takes a closer look at this study.

WSDOT Work For This/Next Week

I-90/Flora and Greenacres Overpasses- Today and Friday, March 14-15 and Monday through Thursday, March 18-21, from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., drivers should be alert for eastbound lane restrictions at the Flora Road overpass and/or at the Country Vista/Appleway exit overpass. Crews will be doing bridge repairs in these areas.

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements- On Tuesday, March 19, drivers should be alert for changes at the Francis/Market intersection. Left turn movements in all directions will not be allowed for up to two weeks at his location. Southbound drivers on the NSC may want to use the Parksmith off-ramp to access southbound Market Street. Francis is now one lane in each direction at the Market Street Intersection. Beginning on March 19th, Market Street will be one lane in each direction. As a result, drivers should expect congestion and long delays on Francis Avenue and Market Street near the bridge project, especially during the morning and afternoon commute hours. Delays are also possible at the Francis and Freya intersection. In addition, westbound motorists on Francis should be alert for flaggers directing traffic near the BNSF railway crossing. The flaggers may be in place during busy travel times to make sure westbound vehicles waiting for the traffic signal don’t block the nearby rail tracks. Motorists may wish to seek alternate routes for time-sensitive travels, especially during peak traffic hours. Drivers should be alert for trucks entering the roadway and occasional train traffic that may cause delays. The south shoulder is designated for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- The southbound off ramp to Cheney-Spokane road is now closed for construction of an interchange so drivers will need to be alert for southbound highway traffic slowing to make right turns into Cheney-Spokane Road. Drivers should also be alert for lane restrictions on Cheney-Spokane Road at the US 195 intersection with flaggers directing traffic at times.

1930s Video On How To Use Traffic Signals

This 1937 video on traffic lights is pretty cool. It's interesting how it talks about all the different kinds of traffic signals that were used before they were standardized. Some cities had just red and green lights while others used yello and some evey had four colors! The video doesn't say though what the fourth color was. Anyone know?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

This Pope Rides the Bus

They're calling the new Pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the "Pope of the People." Why? He's known for his humility. And the media reports that he uses public transportation.

Does The Economy Impact How Safe Your Teen Drives?

A new report by the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA) says the number of 16 and 17 year old driver deaths increased by 19% from 2011 to 2012.

So why the increase? Some say it's probably related to the economy. How does the economy affect kid's driving? GHSA explains with some cool graphics and data. And there's a link to teen driver fatalities by state in case you'd like to know how we're doing in Washington.

Existing Roads Added To National Highway System In Our Area

If you are a follower of transportation happenings, you know that a new federal transportation funding plan was approved last year, called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). One provision of  MAP-21 added many existing roads to the federal system to incorporate principal arterials not previously included. Previously 160,000 lane miles, the NHS will expand to about 220,000 lane miles.

So, good thing or bad thing you ask? Well, this move will impact the design, operations and maintenance of those roads. It could result in raising speed limits, and precluding compete street enhancements like traffic calming features and pedestrian safety improvements. Federal funds can be used to maintain the roads once they're in the NHS however.

Transportation Issues Daily has more on adding to the NHS, and more pros and cons. Plus there's a link to a map to see what roads in our area have been added.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Adams & Wellesley Sidewalk Improvement Project Meeting

Mark your calendar for a community meeting to learn more about a Spokane Valley project to improve sidewalks for Adams Road and Wellesley Avenue. The meeting is Thursday, Mar. 21 from 5:30-7:00pm at Trentwood Elementary School library room, 14701 E. Wellesley Ave.
Public Works staff members will discuss the details of the projects, planned for this summer, which call for:

• Adding sidewalk and curb ramps to the west side of Adams between Trent and Wellesley and the north side of Wellesley between Sullivan and just past Isenhart;

• Curb ramp improvements on the southeast corner of Adams and Wellesley; and

• Improvements at the crosswalks on the south side of Wellesley at Moore and Isenhart.

The work is tentatively scheduled to begin in June and is estimated to take about 4 weeks to complete. The project is fully funded by Safe Routes to School State Funding (83.3%) and the Spokane Valley Stormwater Management Fund (16.7%).

There will also be an opportunity at the meeting to review the expected traffic impacts involving some street and intersection closures, narrowed lanes, detours, and restrictions to pedestrian and driveway access. Those affected will be notified in advance and access to businesses will remain available.

Market & Francis Traffic Configuration Change Delayed

The left-turning traffic configuration changes at the Market & Francis intersection planned for today, March 12, have been postponed until later in the week, depending on weather.

Originally, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said left turn movements in all directions would not be allowed for up to two weeks at his location starting today. In general, Francis is now one lane in each direction at the Market Street Intersection, causing some delays on Francis Avenue and Market Street near the BNSF railroad tracks. Crews in that area are removing and replacing the existing Francis Avenue Bridge over the BNSF Railway with a longer structure to accommodate the North Spokane Corridor.

New WSDOT Secretary of Transportation To Attend SRTC Board Meeting

Last week I posted a link to the agenda for this Thursday's SRTC Policy Board meeting. Well, there's been a change to that agenda because late yesterday we confirmed that WSDOT’s new Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson will be attending the meeting, on only her fourth day of work in the new positions!

Peterson will briefly meet with the Board and to provide a few comments on her new role, although she won't be taking questions or public comment. Please plan on joining us to welcome Lynn to Eastern Washington.

Monday, March 11, 2013

All The Area's Transportation Happenings For The Week

You can tell it's allegedly spring in the region, the transportation projects and public meetings are firing up like crazy. The Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" column looks at work on Francis Avenue and US 195, as well as public transit meetings being kicked off and the hull of the new Keller Ferry making it's way across the state.

Spokane City Projects Starting This Week

The City of Spokane is firing up two construction projects this week:
  • Work to rehabilitate 29th Ave. from High Dr. to Bernard St. begins today, Monday, March 11. 29th Ave from High Drive to Bernard St. will be closed to vehciles. This is part of a larger project that began last year to rehabilitate 29th Ave. from High Drive to Grand Blvd. The Grand Blvd. to Bernard stretch has already been completed. The project includes a full depth curb-to-curb rehabilitation of 29th Ave., replacement of a 12-inch water main, restriping existing bike lanes, and repairing and installing sidewalks. The Bernard St. and the High Drive intersections with 29th will remain open.

  • Work on Eight and Ninth Avenue water transmission mains resumes today after a winter break in construction. Eighth Ave. will be closed from Chandler St. to Hatch St. and Hatch St. will be closed from Eighth Ave. to Ninth Ave. The intersection of Sherman St. at Eighth Ave. will be closed for about a week. The project will install a water transmission main in Eighth and Ninth avenues from Division to Cowley streets, Eighth Ave. from Chandler to Hatch streets, and 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.

What Are The Transportation Needs of the West Plains Area?

Live, drive or commute in the West Plains area? Then you'll want to voice your opinion at a workshop to
define future transportation needs for the West Plains. The City of Spokane will host the workshop Thursday, March 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the gym at Sunset Elementary School, 12824 12th Ave. in Airway Heights.

The meeting will explore bike, pedestrian, and vehicular transportation needs. It will begin with a presentation on the scope of the project and existing conditions in the area, followed by interactive activities intended to solicit input on transportation needs and desires on the West Plains.
The workshop is part of a larger effort to identify and plan for the infrastructure needed to support growth and development on the West Plains. The City of Spokane is leading a multi-agency effort to explore these issues, and information will be used by the City and the many partners in the project to include in their Comprehensive Plans and other planning documents.

Besides the City, the project’s partners include Spokane County, the Spokane International Airport, the City of Airway Heights, WSDOT, Fairchild Air Force Base, the Spokane Tribe, the Kalispel Tribe, Spokane Transit Authority, the City of Cheney, the City of Medical Lake, Cheney School District and others.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

GSI Asks Legislators To Pass A Transportation Funding Package

Greater Spokane Incorporated,  the area’s Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, is asking for your help. They are writing to encourage people to write to their legislators and encourage them to develop and pass a comprehensive statewide transportation investment and funding package during this 2013 legislative session.

If writing letters isn't your strong point but you believe in the cause, GSI has made it easy for you.  Click here for the online letter-writing feature that lets you fill in a couple spaces a nd it writes the letter for you.

WSDOT Ramping Up Construction Projects

Wow, you can tell it's (pseudo) spring, cause the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is really ramping up it's construction work. Here's what's on tap for next week:

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements- EXTREMELY HIGH IMPACT!!! Around mid-week, drivers should be alert for changes at the Francis/Market intersection. Left turn movements in all directions will not be allowed for up to two weeks at this location. Southbound drivers on the NSC may want to use the Parksmith off-ramp to access southbound Market Street. Francis is now one lane in each direction at the Market Street Intersection. As a result, drivers should expect congestion and long delays on Francis Avenue and Market Street near the bridge project, especially during morning and afternoon commute hours. Delays are also possible at the Francis and Freya intersection. In addition, westbound motorists on Francis should be alert for flaggers directing traffic near the BNSF railway crossing. The flaggers may be in place during busy travel times to make sure westbound vehicles waiting for the traffic signal don’t block the nearby rail tracks.
I-90/Flora and Greenacres Overpasses- On Wednesday and Thursday, March 13 & 14, from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., drivers should be alert for eastbound lane restrictions at the Flora Road overpass for bridge repairs. On Friday, March 15, from about 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., eastbound drivers should be alert for lane restrictions at the Country Vista/Appleway exit overpass.
I-90/Spokane River Bridges- On Wednesday, March 13, from about 9am to as late as 3 pm, drivers should be alert for possible lane restrictions on eastbound and/or westbound I-90 at the Washington/Idaho State line so crews can inspect the new freeway bridges.

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- HIGH IMPACT!! Possibly around mid-week, the southbound off ramp to Cheney-Spokane road will be removed and drivers will need to be alert for southbound highway traffic slowing to make right turns. Drivers should also be alert for lane restrictions on Cheney-Spokane Road at the US 195 intersection with flaggers directing traffic at times. Also, later in the week, depending on weather, the US 195/Inland Empire Way intersection will be closed. Inland Empire Way traffic will be directed to the Thorpe Road intersection. This is a permanent closure to accommodate the new northbound Cheney-Spokane Road on ramp. Special note for bikes: Bicycle riders need to use extreme caution on this section of US 195 and be alert for equipment adjacent to the roadway, turning truck traffic, and other construction-related activities and may wish to seek alternate routes to avoid delays.

Crews in that area are constructing a new full interchange.

Board Agenda For March Meeting

The March SRTC Policy Board meeting is one week from today, Thursday, Mar. 14. Here's the agenda. Look it over and feel free to attend if anything grabs your attention. As always, there's a public comment item included on the agenda in case you have something to say.

Sequestration Means Less Trucks Moving Goods; Higher Prices

Budget-cuts from the government sequester could affect what you pay for produce.

Customs and Border Protection officers regulate trade at the country's 329 ports of entry, in harbors, airports and on land. More winter produce enters the U.S. at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, AZ than anywhere else.
Cargo from the port also makes its way to Canada and Asia. Up to 1,600 trucks a day come through the port.

With sequestration cuts in effect, though, port officials have to reduce costs. Local officials wouldn't confirm how that's supposed to happen, but it could involve operating the port fewer hours or employing fewer officers to check the trucks waiting to cross the border. Either way, it means less produce getting into the country, more food spoiling and higher prices for the food that does make it across.
NPR has more on the impacts to the economy. And you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Argonne Road Projects Open House

Holy cow, Spokane County has some big plans for the area around Argonne Road and they wants to hear from you on some of the planned projects at a public open house next week. The projects to be discussed include:
  • Pasadena Park Elementary School Sidewalk- existing and future sidewalk projects
  • Argonne Rd. Grade Separation Project for the Centennial Trail
  • Argonne Rd./Upriver Drive Intersection Congestion Mitigation
  • Argonne Rd. Reconstruction- Wellesley to Bigelow Gulch
  • Bruce Rd. Preservation Project- Stoneman Rd. to Peone Rd.
  • Bruce Rd. Reconstruction Project- Peone Rd. to Day Mt. Spokane Rd.
The open house is Thursday, March 14 from 4-7 p.m. at Pasadena Park Elementary School, 8508 E. Upriver Drive. Because it's an open house format, you can come anytime during the meeting hours and stay as long or as short a time as you would like.

City Asks For Input On Comp Plan Update

The City of Spokane’s Plan Commission will host an open house to gather input from citizens on the 2012-2014 Comprehensive Plan Review and Update. The open house will begin with a presentation on the background of the Comprehensive Plan and the update process at 5:45 p.m.

The City has been working on this update for a number of months. The Comprehensive Plan is a long-range 20-year plan that sets the framework for the physical, social, and economic development of the City. It includes a chapter on transportation, which is specifically what we here at SRTC would like you to take a look at.

The open house is set for:

Wednesday, March 13
5:30 ‐ 7:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers and Chase Gallery
Lower Level, Spokane City Hall
808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
The March 13 open house follows similar meetings held by the City’s Planning & Development Services Department in February.

TSA To Allow Small Knives, Golf Clubs, Etc. On Flights

In one of the most significant rollbacks of airline rules since 9/11, Transportation Safety Administration officials said they will now allow passengers to carry small knives, golf clubs, hockey sticks and pool cues onto commercial jets.

The policy change, which will take effect April 25, is expected to help align the list of prohibited items on U.S. flights with those of international carriers and cut the time passengers spend going through security screening.

But not everyone is happy with the loosening of restrictions.The L.A. Times says the decision is being criticized by flight attendants and passengers rights groups.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

WA Rep Says Bicyclists Cause Pollution By Breathing

Washington state Rep. Ed Orcutt (R–Kalama), a ranking member of the State Transportation Committee, is apologizing this week- for saying that bicyclists cause pollution just by breathing.

Orcutt is in favor of a proposed 5 percent tax on bicycles that cost over $500. When a bike shop owner emailed him to say the tax discourages shoppers from buying local, Orcutt responded that bike riders have an "increased heart rate and respiration," the act of riding a bike "results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider."
The Huffington Post reached out to Orcutt's office and has the story.

Most Fuel Efficient Vehicles of 2013

Looking to buy a new car? I wish! But if you are, fuel efficiency is one of the main things prospective buyers look at these days. With federally mandated fuel-economy standards rising to 35.5 mpg by 2016, automakers are developing more efficient vehicles. For the 2013 model year, buyers have a choice of 18 cars that get an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 35 mpg combined, compared with only four such vehicles in 2008. And that's not even including hybrid or electric cars. So what are the most fuel efficient vehicles this year?
MSN Autos lists the top 18.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Community Workshop On Proposed Spokane Valley Trail

Spokane Valley could be getting a new shared use trail! A community workshop is scheduled for next Monday, March 11 from 4-7 pm at Spokane Valley City Hall (11707 E. Sprague, Suite 101).

The proposed trail would run down the old Milwaukee Right-of-Way, between University Road and Evergreen Road and between Sprague and 4th Avenue. City of Spokane Valley staff members and design planning consultants will be on hand to introduce the project, review maps, and help gather input from the community on:
• The alignment and location of the 12 ft. wide pathway;
• The types of landscaping desired in the surrounding Right-of-Way area;
• The location of convenient access points;
• Amenities to include such as benches, lighting, bike racks or others; and
• Making it a safe place for everyone to enjoy; and other considerations.

The Milwaukee Right-of-Way was set aside to accommodate future transportation needs. An interlocal agreement between Spokane County, which owns the Right-of-Way, and the City of Spokane Valley allows the property to be developed for enjoyment by the community as a trail until it is needed for other transportation purposes.

Tacoma Elementary Students Create Guide To Complete Streets

If you were to ask your child what 'safer streets' mean to them, how do you think they would answer? Two planning interns with the City of Tacoma did that with a class of school children and the project has turned into a partnership between the City, school and other local community organizations and firms.

The project included visioning exercises and charrettes that focused on neighborhood safety and what community meant to elementary school children. As part of these activities, children were asked to illustrate their ideas and these drawings were the inspiration for a complete streets primer specifically for the neighborhood where the school is located, called “35 Ways to Safer Neighborhood Streets”.

For more information, more of the kid's pictures and a look at the primer, check out 'Congress for the New Urbanism's website.

Help WSDOT Find & Patch Potholes On State Highways

The State is getting into the act of patching potholes as well and wants you to know you can report a pothole on state highways by emailing the Washington State Department of Transportationm (WSDOT).

With hundreds of miles of roadway to cover, it's difficult for DOT crews to catch every pothole, so they ask that if you see a pothole on a state highway, send them an e-mail at Please be very specific about the location and send a photo if you like.

Our region handles all state highways in Spokane, Adams (east of US 395), Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, and Whitman Counties. In Spokane County, that includes north Division Street, west Francis, most of Pines Road in Spokane Valley, and east Trent.

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.