Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Tour of Seattle's Sweet New Cycle Track

I've got infrastructure envy. Check out Seattle's new cycle track. Pretty cool.

WSDOT and Spokane Valley Construction for Next Week

WSDOT
HOLIDAY TRAVEL ALERT- Most WSDOT construction work will be suspended at noon on Wednesday, July 3rd, through midnight Sunday, July 7th in anticipation of increased holiday traffic.  However, it is a possibility that some work may take place on Friday, July 5th.  Drivers should be alert in work zones for possible construction activity.

SR 27/32nd Ave. to Trent Ave.- Be alert for lane restrictions between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. for pavement grinding and resurfacing. All four corners of Pines Road and Mission Avenue, plus the southeast corner of Pines and Nora, will be closed for ADA ramp reconstruction, Monday evening through Tuesday.  An ADA equipped shuttle will be provided to transport pedestrians around the work areas.

SR 291/Division Street to the Stevens County Line- Be alert for lane restrictions between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.  Pedestrians should be alert for sidewalk restrictions near intersections when ADA ramps are under construction or curing.  Grinding and/or paving work may be underway between Maple/Ash to Lyons.  All major roadwork on this project will be underway during evening and overnight hours.  Utility cover work is also underway.  No major daytime restrictions planned.

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Ave. Bridge & Intersection Improvements- Left turn movements at the Market/Francis intersection are not allowed.  Right turns are OK.  Expect congestion and delays near the Francis Avenue and Market Street intersection, especially during the morning and afternoon commute hours.  In addition, westbound motorists on Francis should be alert for flaggers directing traffic near the BNSF railway crossing.  The flaggers may be in place to make sure westbound vehicles waiting for the traffic signal don’t block the nearby rail tracks. 
 
I-90/Sunset Hill Pavement Rehab- Between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. be alert for eastbound and/or westbound lane restrictions for lane stripe installation, shoulder work and pavement repair.  Work requires dry weather.  When work is underway, the legal speed limit will be reduced to 60 mph. 

I-90/Division Street to Liberty Park-Possible  intermittent lanes closed on I-90 and the Hamilton ramp during nighttime hours to replace conduit, poles, wiring and light fixtures.

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- Northbound US 195 is reduced to one lane in the vicinity of Cheney-Spokane Road.  Northbound drivers need to use Qualchan Road to access Cheney-Spokane Road.  The southbound off ramp to Cheney-Spokane Road is closed. This is a long-term construction configuration.  The US 195/Inland Empire Way intersection is now closed too.  Inland Empire Way traffic is directed to the Thorpe Road intersection.  This is a permanent closure to accommodate the new northbound Cheney-Spokane Road northbound on ramp

I-90 @ Geiger Blvd.,Division, Custer Variable Message Signs- The evening of Monday, July 1 and into the morning of Tuesday July 2, eastbound and westbound I-90 will be reduced to one lane each direction between the Argonne Road Interchange and the Pines Road Interchange, about 7 miles east of downtown Spokane.   Interstate 90 will be stopped for approximately one hour between 1:00 am and 2:00 am at Milepost 288 between Argonne and Pines.  Also, dual lane closures can be expected for westbound I-90 during evening and overnight hours on July 3 and July 5 also at Milepost 288. 
 
SR 206/Holman Rd. to Mt. Carlton Rd.- Possible intermittent delays up to 10 minutes with flaggers directing single lane traffic at work location. Utility company work adjacent to highway.

US 395/Spokane area to Kettle Falls- Slow traffic behind moving operation with up to 15 minute delays.  The work requires dry weather. Installation of recessed, reflective traffic markers.
 
Spokane Valley
 
Citywide - Brief lane closures as crews conduct crack sealing throughout the city until early July.
Pines between Trent Ave and Marietta Ave.- Reduced to one lane in each direction and southbound sidewalk will be closed from 6:30 am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, for signal conduit work. 

Anthony Foxx Sworn In As U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Charlotte, N.C. Mayor Anthony Foxx has just been confirmed by the Senate as the 17th U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Not a single senator voted against.

Foxx has shown support for light rail, streetcars, bike and pedestrican infrastructure and transit-oriented development. And he has the blessing of former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
 
DC Streetsblog has the story.

Amsterdam Swamped By Sea of Bikes


Bikes are great, but can you hit the point of too many bikes? While Amsterdam loves its bicyclists, city officials there say they may have reached the saturation point. The morning and evening commutes have traffic jams of bikes, people are getting into accidents and there is nowhere to park all the bikes. In a city with more water than pavement, that leads to locking bikes to any open light post, bench or drinking fountain that can be found. A ferry that is no longer used was even anchored near the harbor to park bikes on.

Amsterdam has a population of 800,000, and an estimated 880,000 bicycles, four times the number of cars! To put that in perspective though, can you imagine if the city had the same amount of cars? It would be an even bigger mess.
 

Holiday Government Closures and Brief Blogging Hiatus


Here's your early warning that all local government agencies will be closed next Thursday, July 4 for the Independence Day holiday. Plus, I have taken some time off to get some projects done so there will also be a blogging hiatus of about a week.

So here's what you need to know:
  • All agencies such as the City of Spokane, Spokane County, WSDOT, etc. etc. will be closed next Thursday. They all open again at regular business hours on July 5.
  • The Board of County Commissioners will not meet as scheduled on Tuesday, July 2.
  • Road construction projects will also get the day off, but construction starts again Friday.
  • Thursday is a parking meter holiday so come downtown to play in the park or watch fireworks and park for free on the street.
  • And most important, (in my opinion anyway) after today, posting on this site will resume on Monday, July 8.
Have a great holiday in the meantime and don't play with fireworks, kids. 

 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Who Doesn't Love A Good Controlled Explosion??

A neighbor sent me this video, which is allegedly of blasting on Snoqualmie Pass over I90. However, I can't find this same video anywhere else on the web or anything in the video that conclusively confirms it is Snoqualmie. Either way though, it's pretty cool. It's got roads and explosives, which is right up my alley so why wouldn't I use it on here? That was my legal disclaimer though in case I inadvertently passed on false information. Carry on with watching this over and over now.
 
video

Transportation Funding Package Unveiled In Olympia

As part of the the budget wrangling going on in Olympia, Governor Inslee has been pushing for the passage of a transportation revenue package. While we already have a transportation budget in place, there has been talk for a long time of creating a package aimed at creating new funding for much needed maintenance, as well as new projects.

Yesterday House Democrats unveiled a $10 billion package that includes a 10.5-cent increase in the gas tax, with 6 cents of the increase taking effect on August 1. The proposal also includes $3.2 billion for several state road projects, including State Road 167, Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass and a replacement bridge that would extend Interstate 5 over the Columbia River. It also includes more than $1 billion for maintenance of highways and bridges.

So what happens next? The Oregonian has the latest on both budget and transportation package negotiations.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Company Says Coal Trains Will Cross WA Even If Terminals Aren't Built

The company that wants to build three proposed coal terminals in Washington and Oregon says coal trains will pass through our state on their way to Canada even if the terminals are not built.

Opponents of the terminals say they would bring traffic congestion from the number of trains, and generate coal dust and greenhouse gases. Supporters say they will create jobs. The state Department of Ecology is doing an environmental review of the project. But will it matter in the end if the trains roll anyway?

The Argus Observer has the story.

What Happens To Local Road Construction Projects If The Government Shuts Down?


I work with a lot of government employees at other agencies, plus have friends at other agencies around the state, and all anyone can talk about lately is if they'll be working next week. With the legislature still struggling to pass a budget, the word is that if it doesn't happen by July 1, State government will shut down for at least a week or two until something is hammered out.

The question I've been getting from the public is, what will happen to the construction projects that are either scheduled to start soon or are currently underway, if there is a government shut down? Well don't worry, we won't be left with gaping holes in our streets (beyond the potholes we have now, anyway) or half-paved roads while workers sit at home watching soap operas, waiting to get called back to work.

A state transportation budget was approved in late May so that is what we will continue to operate under. Leaders at the local WSDOT office say that there will be no disruption in construction or funding that they anticipate. There are a couple agencies local jurisdictions partner with on projects, such as fish and game or then Department of Ecology, to make sure transportation projects won't harm wildlife or cause air pollution. WSDOT is working to identify those agencies and evaluate what the impact will be if they are shut down.

Citizen's Transportation Advisory Board Looking For New Member

Looking for a volunteer position that could help to maintain the City's streets and sidewalks? Not the physical end of the maintenance, of course. If you are, the City of Spokane’s Transportation Benefit District (TBD) Board is seeking applicants to fill a vacancy on the citizen advisory board that helps determine priorities for TBD funding.

Spokane’s Transportation Benefit District is an independent taxing district created to help the City better maintain its street system and pedestrian infrastructure. 

The Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB) includes one member from each of the City’s three City Council Districts, one at-large member, and one member each from the Citizens Street Advisory Committee (CSAC), the Pedestrian, Traffic & Transportation (PETT) Committee of the Community Assembly and the Bicycle Advisory Board (BAB).
 
More information on this opportunity and an application can be found on the City's website here.

Local Company Gets Permanent Skagit Bridge Repair Contract

Temporary repairs were completed last week adn the Skagit Bridge opened to traffic, after it collapsed just about a month ago, but a Spokane's company has won the contract to make the permanent repairs to the bridge.
 
Max J. Kuney Construction was one of four contractors that bid on the job and was awarded the $6.87 million contract.
 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Construction Updates For Next Week


WSDOT

I-90 Westbound/Near Barker Road (MP 293-294)- On Thursday and Friday, June 20 & 21, from about 7:30 p.m. to as late as 6 a.m. the following morning, westbound Interstate 90 will be reduced to one lane in the vicinity of the Greenacres (Business Route) and Barker Road Interchanges to repair center cable barrieres.  Drivers should be alert for possible slow traffic and congestion.

SR 27/32nd Ave. to Trent Ave. (MP 83-87)- Be alert for lane restrictions between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.  Pedestrians also should be alert for sidewalk restrictions when ADA ramp work is under construction or curing.  Grinding and paving operations will take place during evening and overnight hours.

SR 291/Division Street to the Stevens County Line (MP 0-11)- Lane restrictions between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.  Pedestrians should be alert for sidewalk restrictions near intersections when ADA ramps are under construction or curing.  Grinding and/or paving work may be underway between Maple/Ash to Nine Mile Falls.  All major roadwork on this project will be underway during evening and overnight hours.  Sidewalk, roadway crack-sealing, and utility cover work is also underway. 

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements- Left turn movements at the Market/Francis intersection are not allowed. At times, Market Street may be reduced to single lane alternating traffic.  Expect congestion and delays near the Francis Avenue and Market Street intersection.  In addition, westbound motorists on Francis should be alert for flaggers directing traffic near the BNSF railway crossing. 

North Spokane Corridor/Market Street- On Monday and Tuesday, June 24 & 25, Drivers on Market Street (near Hawthorne where the NSC crosses overhead) should be alert for flaggers and lane restrictions as crews pave the shoulder.  No mainline NSC freeway impacts.  (Postponed from the previous week.)

I-90/Railroad Bridge Deck Repair (just west of the Four Lakes/SR 904 Interchange)-Eastbound and westbound freeway traffic is reduced to one lane.  Loads over 10 feet 6 inches must use the oversize detours until further notice.  Drivers should expect slowing traffic and possible congestion.  The legal speed limit is reduced to 60 mph.

I-90/Sunset Hill Pavement Rehab- Between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. be alert for eastbound and/or westbound lane restrictions for lane stripe installation, shoulder work and pavement repair.  Work requires dry weather. 

I-90/Division Street to Liberty Park- Intermittent lane between Division and Hamilton including the Hamilton eastbound off ramp which will be reduced to one lane intermittently during evening and overnight hours with intermittent shoulder closures during daytime hours. Crews will be replacing conduit, poles, wiring, and light fixtures on I-90 from Latah Creek to the Hamilton Interchange.

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- Be alert for trucks crossing the highway during evening and overnight hours.  Northbound US 195 is reduced to one lane in the vicinity of Cheney-Spokane Road.  Northbound drivers need to use Qualchan Road to access Cheney-Spokane Road. 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. This is a long-term construction configuration.  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 northbound on ramp

I-90 @ Geiger Blvd. (MP 275), Division, Custer/Variable Message Signs- On Thursday and Friday, June 20 & 21 plus Monday and Tuesday, June 24 & 25, there will be eastbound I-90 left lane closures during evening and overnight hours near the Geiger Interchange. Crews will be replacing 5 existing electronic signs and constructing a sign bridge across the freeway near University Rd.

SPOKANE VALLEY

Citywide - Expect brief lane closures as crews conduct crack sealing throughout the city until the end of June. 

8th Ave from Long to Barker  - closed around the clock through Friday, June 28 for utility installation. Signs will redirect traffic via 4th Ave.

Pines between Trent and Marietta - reduced to one lane in each direction and southbound sidewalk will be closed from 6:30 am to 5:00pm, though midweek, for signal conduit work.

Sprague between Park and Thierman - remains reduced to two lanes from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through midweek for resurfacing, weather permitting.   

For all projects, access to businesses will be maintained. Signs and/or flaggers will direct traffic through the work areas.  Expect brief delays and congestion in work areas.

Those whose destinations are outside the project areas may wish to use alternative routes.

Recorded Traffic Alert information is also available by telephone at 720-5311.

SPOKANE CITY

Wall St. from Sprague to Riverside- Wall St. will be closed from Sprague to Riverside avenues from noon to 4 p.m. on Friday, June 21, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 22 for an event at the Bank of America building.

Garland from Monroe to Wall- On Saturday, June 22, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Garland will be closed from Monroe to Wall streets for the Cruzin for Kids Car and Motorcycle show.

Wabash, Olympic and Queen Closure- On Saturday, June 22, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wabash, Olympic and Queen Avenues will be closed from Market to Greene streets.  Greene will be closed from Wabash to Queen for Hillyard Customer Appreciation Day.

Third Ave. from Division to Arthur- Sherman at Third Avenue will be closed Thursday and Friday, June 20 and 21, as part of this project.  A detour route is scheduled for Arthur Street.  Work to rehabilitate Third Avenue from Division east to Arthur is continuing.  The project also includes replacing a 12-inch water main.  One lane of traffic remains open, and local access to businesses is maintained.  Work will continue into October.

14th Ave. from Lincoln St. to Grand Blvd.- This project will rehabilitate 14th Avenue from Lincoln to Grand Boulevard.

Brown Street Lane Closure- Installation of a communication line continues on North Browne Street from Riverside to Main avenues.  Work is scheduled through June 21 during the hours between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Division St., Maple/Ash and 3rd Ave.- 
This project involves the construction of digital information signs over the roadway at 9 locations.  There will be intermittent lane closures at these locations during installation now through mid-September:
o   Division and Cozza
o   Waverly Place and Division
o   Gordon and Division
o   Joseph and Division
o   Broadway and Maple
o   Dean and Maple
o   Country Holmes Boulevard and Cedar
o   3rd and Adams
o   3rd and Bernard
 
I-90 Sunset Hill Pavement Rehabilitation- Between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., drivers should anticipate eastbound and/or westbound lane restrictions for lane stripe installation, shoulder work and pavement repair.

Rockwood Blvd. Rehabilitation- A project to rehabilitate Rockwood Boulevard from Cowley to Southeast Boulevard and Upper Terrace Road from Rockwood Boulevard to 17th Avenue continues.  Work currently is being done on Rockwood from Southeast Blvd to Garfield and on Upper Terrace Road.  Those sections are closed to through traffic; local access will be maintained.

11th, 12th & Spruce from Latah Bridge to Inland Empire Way- This residential street project is nearly done.  The streets have reopened to traffic.  Landscaping, sprinkler repair and minor work will continue.


 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Number Of People Using Phones While Driving Isn't Dropping


Spokane drivers continue to ignore cellphone laws, citation numbers show.
 
State troopers and other officers issued 1,448 of the $101 tickets in Washington between May 20 and June 2 of this year. During the same period last year, 1,059 tickets were handed out for the same offense.
 
Locally, the numbers are almost double from a year ago. The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Transportation Technical Committee Meeting Next Wednesday, June 26

The monthly meeting of the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) is next Wednesday, June 26. The agenda is here. Of particular interest will probably be the CMAQ/TAP Call for Projects Recommendation item because the TTC will be asked to develop a list of projects to award Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality and Transportation Alternative Program funds to.

As always, everyone is welcome at the meetings so feel free to attend if you can.
 

Good Time Had By All At Spokane Winter- I Mean Summer- Parkways

Transportation Planners are a hardy bunch. This is Eve, one of our Senior Transportation Planners here at SRTC. I drug Eve out with me for the Spokane Summer Parkways event last night (although we unofficially dubbed it Spokane Winter Parkways) in the Manito/Comstock neighborhood and she was up to the challenge of talking to people in the rain. And she dressed for the occasion, as you can see.


Despite the weather, there were lots of people who showed up to ride their bikes and scooters or just to walk or walk their dogs. One of our other Planners, Mallory, showed up with her new baby Arlo for his first Parways event. There were lots of cool bikes, several of them decorated for the bike decorating contest, warm coffee and ice cream, which a surprising number of people were eating.

And we got to talk people's ears off about transportation, which is what we love to do. It was funny because the road in front of our booth, Manitor Boulevard, was full of ruts and potholes so it was a perfect illustration of what we're trying to get across with our Horizon 2040 plan, that's there's a HUGE need for maintenance all over the area, even in the affluent areas. And conversely, there's not much money to accomplish it. So what's the solution? I don't know, so feel free to weigh in.

There are more pics from last night's event on SRTC's Facebook page, so check them out. And if you're not following us on FB already, please do so. I'm not above groveling and with my annual evaluation coming up, if I don't get some more followers, well, I just don't know what could happen.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How A Company That Employs The Blind Is Adding To Our Economy & Improving Our Transportation System

These are rolls of the paper file
folders are made from
I chewed my way out of my tracking bracelet yesterday and hightailed it to the north side of town to tour the Inland Northwest Lighthouse (INL) for the Blind facility. A member of our Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) works there and was eager to show it off, especially as the company is expanding and that will have an impact on area transportation.

The mission of INL is to create and enhance opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency of people who are blind, Deaf-Blind and blind with other disabilities. 70% of people who are blind in the U.S. are unemployed. The result is that nearly 1/3 of blind people live below the poverty line.

INL is a manufacturing organization that makes jobs accesible to blind individuals. they produce paper trimmers, wall boards, file folders and even airplane parts for Triumph Composite. As my guide at yesterday's tour said, "Does it make you nervous that blind people are building your plane parts?" But actually it didn't because I got the idea the employees there pay more attention to detail than the average production worker.

In addition to providing jobs to blind people, INL teaches them other skills, such as orientation and mobility training, computer skills and braille training. As I was told, they are helping the economy in several ways; a.) they're employing people who would be collecting disability checks otherwise b.) there is not another producer of this caliber in town so they are not in competition with another manufacturing organization or taking jobs from someone else c.) after training blind people computer and other skills, they can move on to other jobs not specifically for blind people, which opens up another job at INL for someone who can't see.
This is the file folder paper on the machine that cuts it,
folds it, inserts hangers, and boxes them for distribution.

So why do we care at SRTC? Besides the fact that an INL employee is on our TAC, because we work with social service organizations that provide transportation to people with disabilities, and we try to encourage projects that make transportation accesible for those with disabilities. INL is expected to double their workforce to 100 blind or otherwise disabled people in the next year. All those people would be at work each day around 7:30 a.m. and leave about 3 p.m. These are not folks who are driving themselves to work, so how are they going to get there? Many use paratransit and a lot ride the bus. The worry is that the bus may not be able to handle that many blind people on top of their regular clientele. And there are times when INL employees work overtime, which severely limits how they can get home as the bus runs less during later evening hours.

While those are problems that still need to be dealt with, INL is already making a positive impact on the area transportation system. The administration there is working with the City of Spokane and has gotten the traffic department to agree to put up two new Audio Pedestrian Signals around the City per year. Those signals make noises that tell blind people when it is safe to cross a road. While it would be ideal to put them all over, they are more expensive than the usual walk signals so will be installed a few at a time. Even so, that's a step in the right direction.


 

Skagit Bridge Reopens Less Than 1 Month After Collapsing

The big news today is that the Skagit Bridge has reopened this morning, less than a month after it collapsed.  Both directions of Interstate 5 are now open across the Skagit River. Oversized or overweight loads will not be allowed across the temporary span however.

Crews worked around the clock to get the bridge reopened in record time. Here's a time-lapse video of the debris removal and the construction of the temporary bridge.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Council approves funds to design WSU Spokane pedestrian bridge

Spokane's City Council last night voted to spend $1.4 million on a contract to design a bridge linking Washington State University Spokane and East Sprague Avenue.

Supporters say the 120 foot tall suspension bridge that will span railroad tracks will create a corridor  between the growing campus and an "underperforming" commercial area along East Sprague, Second and Third avenues.

Real estate agents that testified at last night's meeting said they know of businesses waiting for the bridge to invest in the neighborhood.

However there were some detractors. One regular council attendee even said the bridge would be a waste of money going “from nowhere to Hookerville.”

Here's why not everyone feels the bridge is a solid project.

TAC Meeting To Offer Public Chance to Comment On Public Involvement Policy

The agenda and packet for the June meeting of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) has been posted online here. This meeting will be a little different from most though. We will go through our usual monthly business and updates, then open the meeting up to public comment on SRTC's Public Involvement Policy (PIP), which is available for public review and comment right now.

The PIP guides how SRTC reaches out to the public to inform people of our activities and solicit input, and the “tools” and resources used in this process. The primary goals of the PIP include:

   Articulating how the agency approaches public engagement.
    Ensuring early and continuous public involvement in major activities and decisions by SRTC.
   Receiving meaningful public input to guide the decision-making process.

Specifically, the PIP addresses how the public is notified of SRTC meetings, projects and activities; when and where public meetings are held; how public comments are handled; how access is provided to people with disabilities and those who speak limited English; and what materials, such as maps, brochures, videos, newsletters, etc., are used to promote and explain SRTC’s activities.

 The draft Public Involvement Policy is available for public review and comment through Saturday, July 20, 2013.  In the past, we've held separate public meetings to solicit feedback on it. Those meetings traditionally have low turnout though, with everyone having a million other things to do, so this year we decided to combine the public meeting with our TAC meeting, which is our committee that works with and represents the public.
 
So if you have something about the PIP you would like to ask or share, come to the meeting. It starts at 3 p.m. on Monday, June 24 but the part of the meeting specific to the PIP probably won't start until around 4 p.m.
 
If you can't make it, the draft PIP can be viewed at www.srtc.org or by contacting SRTC at (509) 343-6370.  Comments can be submitted by emailing contact.srtc@srtc.org or mailing to SRTC at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201. 

 

3-D Sign Could Improve Safety Conditions For Pedestrians

Japanese engineers may be onto a new way to make drivers more aware of pedestrians. They're using a virthual 3-D sign that appears to float above the road to alert traffic that a crosswalk is there. And it's significantly cheaper than some other traffic control measures that were considered. Here's the story.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Spokane City Construction/Road Closures For This Week

Wall Street Closure- This Friday and Saturday, June 21 and 22, Wall Street will be closed from Sprague to Riverside from 12-4 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday for fundraising event

14th Ave. from Lincoln Street to Grand Boulevard- Work on this residential rehabilitation project  begins today. The project will rehabilitate 14th Avenue from Lincoln to Grand Boulevard.

Euclid Water Main Work Starts Today- Dalton Ave. from Napa to Crestline closes today for most of the week for Water Main Work.

Browne and Division Streets Lane Closure- Work continues at 200 North Browne Street on installation of a Communication Line between Riverside Avenue and Main Avenue. The overnight work is expected to be finished by June 21.

Division Street Sewer Project- Work on Division Street is set to begin for a private side sewer connection for Burgan’s Block Development between Boone Avenue and Desmet Avenue.  Work is scheduled for June 19, 2013, during the hours of 5 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Maple, Ash and 3rd Ave. Sign Work- This project involves the construction of digital information signs over the roadway at 9 locations.  There will be intermittent lane closures at these locations during installation now through mid-September.

·         Division and Cozza
·         Waverly Place and Division
·         Gordon and Division
·         Joseph and Division
·         Broadway and Maple
·         Dean and Maple
·         Country Homes Boulevard and Cedar
·         3rd and Adams
·         3rd and Bernard

Rockwood Blvd. Rehabilitation- A project to rehabilitate Rockwood Boulevard from Cowley to Southeast Boulevard and Upper Terrace Road from Rockwood Boulevard to 17th Avenue continues.  Work currently is being done on Rockwood from Southeast Blvd. to Garfield and on Upper Terrace Rd.  Those sections are closed to traffic.

Third Ave. from Division to Arthur- Work to rehabilitate Third Avenue from Division east to Arthur continues.  The project also includes replacing a 12-inch water main.  One lane of traffic will remain open during construction, and local access to businesses will be maintained.  Work will continue into October.

Queen Residential Rehabilitation Project-  This project will rehabilitate Queen, Crown, and Olympic avenues from A to Nettleton streets, and Milton and Nettleton streets from Olympic to Rowan Avenues.  The project will continue until early July.

Centennial Trail Info Now On Your Smart Phone


The group Friends of the Centennial Trail has finished a mapping project that will make it easier for you to navigate the trail. The project included:
 Redesigning the Centennial Trail printed map, available for purchase on the Friends of the Centennial Trail website (www.spokanecentennialtrail.org) or at REI, N. 1125 Monroe Street.
 Launching a new, free Centennial Trail Google map that can be found on the Friend’s website. 
 Updating the Friends of the Centennial Trail website to host the Google map, memberships and ways for the public to support the completion and maintenance of the Centennial Trail.
 Replacing information on the 20 Centennial Trail bulletin boards found along the 37.5 mile span with consistent posters showing the updated map, rules/etiquette/safety, supporting entities, contact information and the website URL to find the Google map.  Posters will be installed by June 30.
 The project was done as a “green” way to help the public use the trail. Because people can use their smart phone or the maps on trail bulletin boards, there is no need for them to print a map. The project was sponsored by Greenstone Homes, Potlatch, REI and Starbucks.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Monroe Street Bridge To Open Tomorrow Morning!

Big news! Stormwater and other utility work on the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge has been completed ahead of schedule, and the bridge will reopen on Friday, June 14 at 5 a.m. in time for the morning commute.


The closure accommodated utility work needed for a project that will manage stormwater from some City streets and streets and other hard surfaces within the Kendall Yards development. The project required significant excavation work at the north end of the bridge.

In an effort to minimize future traffic disruptions on Monroe, City and private utility crews took advantage of the bridge closure to take care of needed repairs and maintenance such as signal and lighting work, installation of a sewer monitoring cellular antenna, and patching.

The $1.6 million joint City of Spokane-Kendall Yards project will catch stormwater that is currently flowing, untreated, into the Spokane River. It will direct runoff to a retention tank, and then pump it to a treatment area in a new park being built to the west on the Kendall Yards site, called Olmsted Green.

The park will include grass-lined swales that store and filter the stormwater, then percolate it into the ground. This green solution shares stormwater treatment and disposal with a recreational site use. Only the biggest events get much of the park wet for a brief time.

Three Projects Proposed To Be Added To The Transportation Improvement Program

It's that time again- time for our monthly amendment to the 2013-2016 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is a programming document that identifies projects proposed to be undertaken or constructed during the upcoming four years. It includes project names and descriptions, the jurisdiction sponsoring them, funding attached to each project, and where the funding came from (local, state or federal funds).

The amendments aren't actually monthly, but we do have them often. That's because the status of projects is constantly changing. Some get additional funding through local, state or federal calls for projects; others lose funding because they didn't move through the process soon enough; and the scope of some projects change as engineering is done and reveals the original design may need a little altering.

The amendment proposed this time around includes adding three Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) projects to the TIP that recently received Surface Transportation Program (STP) and National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) funds:

SR 290/Sullivan Rd to Idaho State Line - Paving
I-90/Lincoln Co Line to Salnave Rd - Paving
SR 904/Betz Rd to I-90 - Paving

More details on these projects, the TIP in general, and the amendment to it, are on the home page of the SRTC website at http://www.srtc.org/.

So why do you care? Because we want to hear from you whether these projects are the best use of funds.
A public comment period for the proposed amendment starts June 14, 2013 and we encourage you to submit your thoughts. All comments must be received by June 29, 2013. Comments can be submitted by emailing to contact.srtc@srtc.org, mailed to SRTC at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA, or by calling (509) 343-6370.



WSDOT, Spokane Valley Constuction Update For Next Week

SPOKANE VALLEY
Citywide- Expect brief lane closures as crews conduct crack sealing throughout the city until the end of June.
Arterials- expect brief delays as crews sweep for stormwater drainage maintenance

Pines between Trent and Marietta- Reduced to one lane each direction and southbound sidewalk will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, for signal conduit work

Sprague between Park and Thierman- Remains reduced to two lanes from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. through Saturday, June 22 for resurfacing, weather permitting.

WSDOTI-90/Westbound US 2 off-ramp- On Sunday, June 16, from about 6 a.m. to as late as noon, the westbound Interstate 90 off-ramp to westbound US 2 & Garden Springs will be reduced to one lane for overhead sign work. Expect slow traffic and congestion on this ramp.

I-90 Westbound/Near Barker Road- On Thursday and Friday, June 20 & 21, from about 7:30 p.m. to as late as 6 a.m. the following morning, westbound Interstate 90 will be reduced to one lane in the vicinity of the Greenacres (Business Route) and Barker Road Interchanges for overhead sign work. Be alert for possible slow traffic and congestion.

SR 27/32nd Ave. to Trent Ave.- Beginning Monday June 17, be alert for lane restrictions between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Pedestrians also should be alert for sidewalk restrictions when ADA ramp work is under construction or curing. Grinding and paving operations will take place during evening and overnight hours.

SR 291/Division Street to the Stevens County Line- Sidewalk, roadway crack-sealing, and utility cover work is on the schedule over the next couple weeks. Be alert for lane restrictions between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Pedestrians should be alert for sidewalk restrictions near intersections when ADA ramps are under construction or curing. Grinding and paving work may be underway between Royal Drive and Nine Mile Falls. All major roadwork on this project will be underway during evening and overnight hours. No major daytime restrictions planned.

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements- Left turn movements at the Market/Francis intersection are not allowed. At times, Market Street may be reduced to single lane alternating traffic. Watch for right-turn restrictions. Expect congestion and long delays near the Francis Avenue and Market Street intersection, especially during the morning and afternoon commute hours. In addition, westbound drivers on Francis should be alert for flaggers directing traffic near the BNSF railway crossing. The flaggers may be in place to make sure westbound vehicles waiting for the traffic signal don’t block the nearby rail tracks.

North Spokane Corridor/Market Street- On Wednesday and Thursday, June 19 & 20, Drivers on Market Street (near Hawthorne where the NSC crosses overhead) should be alert for flaggers and lane restrictions. Crews will be paving the shoulder of Market Street.

I-90/Railroad Bridge Deck Repair- Beginning Saturday, June 15, westbound lane will reduced to 12 feet in width until further notice. Beginning on Monday, June 17, the eastbound lane will be reduced to 12 feet until further notice. Drivers should expect slowing traffic and possible congestion. The legal speed limit will be reduced to 60 mph.

I-90/Sunset Hill Pavement Rehab- Between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. be alert for eastbound and/or westbound lane restrictions for lane stripe installation, shoulder work and pavement repair. When work is underway, the legal speed limit will be reduced to 60 mph.
I-90/Division Street to Liberty Park- Through Saturday, June 15 the inside lanes on eastbound and westbound I-90, between Sherman and Hamilton, will be closed for barrier illumination support base and pole installation. During this work, I-90 will be reduced to two through lanes. Be alert for slow traffic and possible congestion, especially during commute hours.

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- Be alert for trucks crossing the highway during evening and overnight hours. Northbound US 195 is reduced to one lane in the vicinity of Cheney-Spokane Road. Northbound drivers need to use Qualchan Road to access Cheney-Spokane Road. The southbound off ramp to Cheney-Spokane Road is now closed so drivers need to be alert for southbound highway traffic slowing to make right turns into Cheney-Spokane Road. This is a long-term construction configuration. The US 195/Inland Empire Way intersection is 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 northbound on ramp.

Workshop Seeks Your Ideas For Division Street Gateway Project

What's your vision for Division Street through downtown and the University District? That's what City Staff hopes to find out at a community workshop on Tuesday, June 25 to discuss corridor design concepts. The workshop is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the WSU Phase 1 Classroom Building Room 122 (Auditorium), 668 N. Riverpoint Blvd.
The Division Street Gateway project identifies streetscape and transportation improvements throughout the Division Street corridor intended to improve aesthetics, functionality and safety of multi-modal transportation, and support private investment.
The project covers the Division/Browne Street and Division/Ruby Street couplets between I-90 and Sharp Avenue as well as east-west cross streets from I-90 to Sharp Avenue. Particular focus is being placed on the segment of Division between I-90 and 2nd Ave and on West Main Avenue between Browne and Pine.
Community feedback received at the workshop will contribute to the conceptual design of the corridor. More info on the project website here: http://www.divisionstgateway.com/.






Keller Ferry To Be Out Of Operation For 5+ Weeks

If you use the Keller Ferry across the Columbia River, you better start planning now for a five week disruption in service that starts July 8. service to be disrupted for terminal construction


To get the new ship online that will be taking over for the old Keller Ferry, the Martha S., ferry service will be suspended for close to six weeks beginning July 8. Ferry service will resume with the new vessel August 14, coinciding with the maiden voyage of the new vessel.

Since the new vessel is wider and sits higher in the water than its predecessor, parts of the terminals and ramps must be rebuilt. This work requires the terminals and existing ferry to be taken out of service. During the disruption, drivers will need to use alternate routes such as State Route 25 to reach their destinations.

Assembly work continues on the new ship, the Sanpoil. The pilot house is in place and electrical, hydraulic and drive systems are being installed. The vessel will be put in the water mid-July for testing and crew training.

A special christening ceremony and tribal blessing for the new vessel are scheduled for Aug. 14. Following the ceremony, the Sanpoil’s inaugural sailing will mark its entry into regular service.

The current vessel, M/V Martha S., has performed beyond expectations for over six decades, said Frucci. The final run for the Martha S. will be Sunday, July 7, after serving on the route for nearly 65 years.

Cars Damaged By Superstorm Sandy Showing Up Here For Sale

According to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Washington state's attorney general and the Better Business Bureau say cars damaged in last fall's Superstorm Sandy on the East Coast are showing up for sale here.


AG Bob Ferguson cautioned consumers to do their research to make sure the vehicle they buy doesn't have flood damage.

While such cars may look normal, Ferguson says they almost always have serious problems including chronic mildew and corroded wires that can lead to electrical failure.

The AG's office and the BBB say buyers should research the title and vehicle identification number and carefully inspect any vehicle.



Peacocks Gone Wild In Small Eastern WA Town

You'll see a new kind of traffic sign if you get off the highway in the town of Union Gap, WA this summer.


The signs recently went up to alert drivers about a group of wild peacocks that has been darting into the roadway, backing up traffic and occasionally damaging cars with their claws.

Apparently Union Gap has a history of wild peacocks but the birds have gotten a little unruly lately. KBOI has the story.




Wednesday, June 12, 2013

500+ Applications For TIGER Grant Funding Pour In To USDOT

Applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation for TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2013 grants totaled more than $9 billion, far exceeding the $474 million set aside for the program, a press release from the USDOT says. The Department received 568 applications from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa.
None of those applications came from the jurisdictions within Spokane County, as far as I know. We have gotten two TIGER grants for the North Spokane Corridor in the past though.
TIGER 2013 grants are for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and will be awarded on a competitive basis. This is the fifth round of TIGER funding. The previous four rounds of the TIGER program provided $3.1 billion to 218 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. During the previous four rounds, the Department of Transportation received more than 4,050 applications requesting more than $105.2 billion for transportation projects across the country.



Drivers Accidentally Fuel Their Cars With Diesel, Not Gas

A mixup at Spoko Fuel Gas Station on Highway 2 yesterday in Airway Heights resulted in drivers putting diesel in their cars instead of the gas they thought they were pumping.

A distributor is blamed for accidentally filling Spoko’s underground gasoline tanks with diesel. Several customers in turn filled their tanks with it, meaning to get gas. The Spokesman-Review has the story, and how the company that distributes the gas plans to handle the situation.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Many Designated Drivers Aren't Exactly Abstaining

So what exactly is it about being a designated driver that you don't understand? Apparently it's the not drinking part, according to a new study that says about one-third of DDs have at least one drink while serving as driver and many have several more.

The Washington Post's "Wonk Blog" has some scary numbers on who's drinking when they aren't supposed to be.

Pierce County Transit Board Approves Major Cuts To Bus Routes

We've been hearing of cuts to major transit systems across the country and now it's happening in our state. Pierce County Transit Board members last night approved major reductions to bus routes, affecting every line and cutting service by 28 percent.

The agency said cuts were necessary after voters rejected a proposition last year that would have increased the sales tax to maintain current levels of service and more than 80 staff members were laid off to try to save money.

Locally, Spokane Transit is also tossing around the idea of asking for a sales tax increase, so if it comes to that, keep this in mind when voting that if we don't support it, some transit service will go away.

Here's more on the Pierce County cuts.

Top 11 Excuses Used By People Pulled Over By Police

If you're a woman, crying works sometimes to get you out of a traffic ticket. And people are apparently willing to try a lot of other ploys and excuses as well. A recent survey by Insurance.com reveals the most frequent excuses drivers give to traffic cops:

1. "I couldn't see the sign telling me not to do it."
2. "I'm lost and unfamiliar with the roads."
3. "I didn't know it was broken."
4. "Everyone else was doing it."
5. 'I'm having an emergency situation in my car." (A spilled a hot drink, for example.)
6. "I missed my turn/exit."
7. "I had to go to the bathroom."
8. "I didn't do anything dangerous."
9. "I was on my way to an emergency." (To help someone who is ill or injured, for instance."
10. "My GPS said it was the right thing to do."
11. "I'm just helping out; I wasn't even supposed to be driving." (Such as for an intoxicated friend.)
The survey also found that men and women explain their mistakes in different ways, with women being a lot less embarrassed to share personal information apparently.

Here's how men's and women's excuses varied widely.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Small Town, Some Big Transportation Ideas

I had the pleasure of hanging out in the small town of Fairfield this past Saturday for their annual Flag Day celebration. I had a table in the vendor area at the event, to talk to people about our Metropolitan Transportation  Plan, Horizon 2040.

My secret weapon was this child-sized transportation system rug. It sucked the kids in and while they were playing, it left the parents with little to do besides talk to me. Diabolical, I know. But effective.

I got a good variety of input and thoughts too. It was a nice cross section of folks who live in Fairfield and provided perspective on small town transportation issues, people who travelled there for the day from Spokane and even a gentleman from the west side who said even he believes Eastern Washington gets overlooked when it comes to transportation funding.

Here's a sampling of what I heard:
  • Toll the North Spokane Corridor to help pay to complete it.
  • Many of the smaller towns 'fix' their own transportation issues. For instance, if a large pothole develops, someone will generally use their own equipment to fill it and tamp it down.
  • Most people in Fairfield and the surrounding small towns commute to Spokane for jobs.
  • Teach kids in Drivers Ed about how to share the road with semis. I talked to a couple truck drivers who said their main problem is other drivers speeding up to pass them, then cutting in front of them and throwing on their brakes. It's not easy for a semi to stop under those conditions.
  • Get rid of the split speed limit that says semis need to go five miles per hour slower than other traffic. This causes a bottleneck which can create dangerous situations.
  • Start a shuttle from Spokane through all the small towns as a kind of public transit.
  • The intersection on Highway 27 where you turn to go to Rockford needs a dedicated turn lane. People come around the corner and sometimes there is a big backup because someone is waiting to turn to go to Rockford. This is an accident waiting to happen.
  • Where 195 merges onto I90 put a dedicated through lane from south to east to reduce safety issues caused by cars trying to merge with freeway traffic.
  • Don't put any more money towards studying lightrail. Instead use it to study how to create a transporter like on Star Trek.
Yes, I actually did get that last comment. It came from two gentlemen whom I suspect had been in the beer garden before talking to me. And apparently there is fun rivalry between Fairfield and Rockford. I pointed out that in the movie Space Balls, a spoof on Star Wars and Star Trek, a haywire transporter put one character's head on backwords. One of those guys suggested we practice on Rockford residents in that case and the other said, "That would put their heads on right."

Now I guess I have to go to Rockford to get their side of the story. 

Brown Bag Lunch Session Before SRTC Board Meeting

SRTC's Policy Board meets for its regularly scheduled monthly meeting this Thursday, June 13 at 1 p.m. This month's meeting will be immediately preceded, starting at 11:30 a.m., by a brown bag lunch session to discuss development of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Horizon 2040.
Specifically, the brown bag session will give staff an opportunity to discuss with the Board the financial aspect of Horizon 2040. This includes assumptions as to how much transportation revenue will be available between the present day and 2040 and estimated expenditures for the same time frame.

The public is welcome to attend both sessions and, as always, there will be opportunity at the Board meeting for public comment on transportation-related topics. The meeting agenda is here.

Spokane Student Wins WSDOT Scholarship Contest

A Spokane high school student wins a college scholarship in a contest focused on Interstate 90 wildlife crossings, east of Snoqualmie Pass.

Brydon Eakins, a senior at University High School tied for the top prize with a Seattle student, with both receiving a $1,000 scholarship from the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition.

Juniors and seniors from across the state submitted creative scholarship entries. Students were asked to provide concepts that tackle the same problem Washington State Department of Transportation engineers are solving: Building a wildlife crossing over I-90. The crossing had to be similar to the structure scheduled to be built in 2015 near the Price Noble Creek Sno-Park and temporary rest area. The wildlife crossing is part of the second phase of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project.

Entries were whittled down to the top five and given to a panel of transportation and I-90 project experts to judge.
Eakins submitted a computer design that focused on an environmentally-friendly crossing while Thomas’ 3-D model focused on safety for wildlife and drivers.

 

Police Say To Be Vigilant When Using Local Trails

A Coeur d'Alene man is recovering from being knocked unconscious and robbed while walking the Centennial Trail last Friday night. Police say this is an isolated incident but still recommend you use caution when on area trails. KXLY News has the story and some things you should be doing to keep safe when on a trail.

Spokane City Construction For This Week

City Section of Francis Ave. Complete- The City of Spokane has completed their portion of the work on Francis Ave. and opened traffic back up. WSDOT will continue work on the Francis/Market intersection with no north/south turns onto Market being allowed.

Wall Street Construction Complete- Wall Street will be opening all lanes to traffic again today.

Work Begins on Springfield Lift Station-Springfield Lift Station construction starts on Friday, June, 14. There will be impact to the traffic on Springfield between North Columbus Street and North Superior Street. A lift station is a tank to pump up water or sewer to a higher elevation.

City of Spokane/Kendall Yards Joint Stormwater Facility and Monroe Street Bridge- Excavation for Monroe Street continues. The project is a combined effort between City of Spokane and Greenstone Communities Development. The project consists of re-routing the storm water infrastructure within Monroe Street. Water will be plumbed to the new underground facility. The construction of the facility is a buried concrete structure that is 56’ long and 31’ wide and 23.5’ deep. Within the facility are four submersible pumps that will pump the effluences through a force main to a filtration/evaporation pond on the Kendall Yards property. Monroe Street Bridge is closed from June 3 to June 17, during the construction.

Division St. DMS, Maple/Ash ITS and 3rd Ave. ITS work begins June 10- This project involves the construction of digital information signs over the roadway at 9 locations. There will be intermittent lane closures at these locations during installation now through mid-September in these locations:

• Waverly Place and Division
• Gordon and Division
• Joseph and Division
• Broadway and Maple
• Dean and Maple
• Country Holmes Boulevard and Cedar
• 3rd and Adams
• 3rd and Bernard

Rockwood Blvd. Rehabilitation- A project to rehabilitate Rockwood Boulevard from Cowley to Southeast Boulevard and Upper Terrace Road from Rockwood Boulevard to 17th Avenue continues. Work currently is being done on Rockwood from Southeast Blvd to Garfield and on Upper Terrace Road. Those sections are closed to traffic.
Queen Residential Rehabilitation- The Queen residential rehabilitation project continues. The project will rehabilitate Queen, Crow, and Olympic avenues from A to Nettleton streets, and Milton and Nettleton streets from Olympic to Rowan Avenues. The project will continue until early July.

Third Ave. from Division to Arthur- Work to rehabilitate Third Avenue from Division east to Arthur continues. The project also includes replacing a 12-inch water main. One lane of traffic will remain open during construction, and local access to businesses will be maintained. Work will continue into October.

Francis Ave. from Division to Crestline-Work on the Division to Crestline section is expected later in the summer. This project will include installation of curb ramps as needed.

Spruce from Latah Bridge to Inland Empire Way- This residential street project is nearly done. The streets have reopened to traffic. Landscaping, sprinkler repair and minor work will continue.

Crack Sealing- The residential crack seal crew is continuing in the Wind River Area - Excell Avenue to Old Fort Drive and from 9 Mile to Tucannon.

The arterial crack seal crew is working on 3rd Avenue and Magnolia to Regal. There will be lane restriction from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


About SRTC

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

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