Monday, September 30, 2013

Work on Liberty Lake Roundabout Wrapping Up

If you use the Liberty Lake I90 exit or entrance, chances are good that you've gotten tied up at some point in the wait caused by construction on a new roundabout at Mission and Harvard Roads.

Well, the Washington State Department of Transportation says hang on, because the wait is almost over and construction almost done.
 
Work is supposed to be complete within another week or so. And when it is, the roundabout is expected to smooth out traffic flow in the area.

With development on the rise in the area, that intersection has been a busy one and due to traffic volumes on Harvard, have traditionally had trouble turning either direction onto Harvard from Mission or the freeway exit. The roundabout will cut the wait time by eliminating the long lines by keeping traffic moving at the intersection.

Roundabouts offer advantages that signals and stop signs can’t:
  • Low travel speeds – Drivers must slow down and yield to traffic before entering a roundabout. Travel speeds in a roundabout are typically between 15 and 20 miles per hour.
  • No light to beat – Roundabouts are designed to promote a continuous, circular flow of traffic. Drivers need only yield to traffic before entering a roundabout; if there is no traffic in the roundabout, drivers are not required to stop. Because traffic is constantly flowing through the intersection, drivers don't have the incentive to speed up to try and "beat the light," like they might at a traditional intersection.
  • One-way travel – Roads entering a roundabout are gently curved to direct drivers into the intersection and help them travel counterclockwise around the roundabout.
  • Conserved fuel, reduced emissions – According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, intersections converted to roundabouts can reduce delays up to 62-74 percent, cut fuel consumption up to 235,000 gallons per year and cause fewer emissions and pollutants to be released into the atmosphere.
Drivers who are unfamiliar with roundabouts can learn more about them on the WSDOT YouTube channel.

What Happens To Transportation If The Government Shuts Down?

Last time we were approaching a government shutdown, I got a lot of questions about what happens with transportation if the government does shut down.

Well this time it looks like it actually could happen, so I assume people are wondering once again.

To start- not ALL government workers will be put on unpaid leave. "Essential" personnel will still report to work and so will employees whose paychecks come from mandatory, not discretionary, spending — like those whose positions are funded from the Highway Trust Fund.

According to this U.S. DOT document that was issued Friday outlining furlough procedures in case of a shutdown all 2,914 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) employees will report to work tomorrow, since those positions are all funded with contract authority. That means all operations continue as normal.

There will be a lot of Federal Transit Administrtation (FTA) employees on leave however.
Here's a who's who of transportation agencies that will have staff on leave from DC Streetsblog.

Locally, you will not see any changes immediately. The Washington State Department of Transportation works under a separate transportation budget for the most part so will continue to operate as normal under that. Local jurisdictions such as the City of Spokane and Spokane County will also carry on with the transportation projects they're working on as those are also already funded.

Lots Happening In Transportation This Week

Two state senators will bring a statewide transportation listening tour to Spokane Valley on Wednesday to hear what improvements residents want, Spokane County commissioners voted to prohibit freight truck traffic on Harvard Road north of I-90, a major traffic revision is taking place on East Sprague Avenue from Grant to Cook streets, and a few other transportation odds and ends. That's what's in this week's Getting There column in the Spokesman-Review.

New Report Looks At Ramifications of U.S. Transportation Policy

A new report out from US PIRG and Frontier Group reinforces several points we've been hearing throughout the development of our Horizon 2040 Plan; namely that there's been a large (23%) decrease in the number of young people driving, traffic congestion has fallen, America is less dependent on oil than in the past and that it's time to revisit existing plan for new or expanded highways.

US PIRG (U.S. Public Interest Research Group) is a consumer group that consideres itself an independent voice for consumers. Frontier Group is a think tank, producing ideas and research to- quote- "promote a cleaner environment and a fairer and more democratic society."

The two groups collaborated on the report "A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America's Future." The report explores different possible futures and their high-stakes ramifications for transportation policy in the United States. You can read it here.

 

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Section of Centennial Trail Opens Today

The new stretch of the Centennial Trail through Kendall Yards opened today to great fanfare. I can't believe I missed free pizza.

Here's a photo tour from KREM 2 News of the event.

Public Open House to Update City Transportation Plan

The City of Spokane is updating its 20-year transportation plan and they're looking for your help. Of course, as we keep telling you, they're doing this against a backdrop of reduced federal transportation funding, limited state resources and transportation maintenance expenses that exceed current local revenues. Given these challenges, it is critical that we plan to get the most out of every dollar.

The update will review  multimodal (pedestrian, bike, transit, freight) transportation best practices, infrastructure needs above and below ground within the right-of-ways, the City’s land use plan and economic development goals, all to ensure our transportation system is ready for where we are going. Working closely with Spokane Transit Authority, the State Department of Transportation and other regional players, the City will develop an integrated multimodal transportation network in a thoughtful, methodical, and creative manner that benefits all users (I'm quoting from prepared text here by the way, in case you hadn't figured that out).

The City is hosting an open house to review the existing transportation conditions and gather input on the community’s transportation visions and goals:

Tuesday, Oct. 8,
6-8 p.m.Student Union Building 17, Room 107
Spokane Falls Community College
W. 3410 Ft. George Wright Drive
Parking available in Lot P9 or take STA Route 20 or 33

Local Road Construction Update for Next Week

SPOKANE VALLEY
14th Ave from Custer to Carnahan - Lane restrictions from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. until October 14 for a storm water upgrade project.

Adams from Trent to Wellesley - Closed to traffic until the end of October for sidewalk improvements.  Drivers are redirected via Evergreen or Progress.

Appleway between Park and Vista -  The north side (left) curb lane closed through Tuesday, October 1 for work in the right of way. 

Carnahan Rd. between 8th Ave. to 16th Ave. - Closed from Monday, September 30 through Thursday, October 3 for street resurfacing.  Signs will redirect vehicles via 16th Ave and Bettman Rd.

Indiana between Pines Rd and Mirabeau Pkwy - Reduced to one lane each direction around until mid-October for street resurfacing.

Sprague between Park and Vista - The south side (left) curb lane closed through Tuesday, October 1 for work in the right of way

Wellesley between St. Charles Rd. and Larch Rd. - Narrowed lanes, delays, and parking restrictions until the end of October for sidewalk updates and improvements.

SPOKANE CITY
Greene St. Bridge Work- A project to increase the life of the Greene Street Bridge over the Spokane River is under way.  Through mid-October, motorists should anticipate lane restrictions on the bridge and on Greene Street between South Riverton Avenue and Upriver Drive. The work on the bridge will improve its load rating, allowing larger trucks and loads to use the bridge. The project includes installing fiber-reinforced polymer to the bridge deck and floor beams.

Washington St. Bridge Work Begins Tuesday, Oct. 1- Due to rain, bridge work continues on the Washington Street Bridge.  Joint repair work between Spokane Falls Boulevard and the northbound tunnel begins Tuesday, October 1 and continues through Friday, October 4. 

Sprague Ave. Restriping Work Begins Wednesday, Oct. 2- East Sprague from Grant to Cook Street restriping work begins.  The work entails a conversion from 2 lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction and the addition of a center left hand turn lane.  Parking will remain the same

City Gateway Painting on I90 Exit and Entrance Ramps- Work continues to make the downtown entrances to the City more inviting. Work is scheduled Monday through Thursday, Sept. 23 through 26, and Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.  Drivers should anticipate lane closures and possible delays as a result of this work.

Traffic Calming Work- Work on a variety of improvements to promote traffic calming throughout the City has begun and will continue through the end of October. The following streets will be affected:


o   Illinois – Signs and striping
o   Mission, Cook and Regal – Ramps and striping
o   Manito Boulevard and 29th – Ramps and striping
o   37th from Bernard to Browne - Sidewalks
o   Maple from 8th to 9th  - Bumpouts
o   Adams Street from Montgomery to Mansfield – Sidewalks and ADA ramps
o   Horizon Avenue and F Street – Sidewalks and ADA ramps
o   Maple Street from Chelan to Fairview – Sidewalks and ADA ramps
o   Ash Street from Fairview to Cleveland – Sidewalks and ADA ramps
Liberty St. Construction-Construction to rehabilitate Liberty from Oak Street to Ash Place and Ash Place from Liberty to Dalton is beginning.  The road is closed with local access only.

Downtown Bike Network Completion Project- Signing and striping revisions continue for the Downtown Bike Network lanes.  Trail construction will occur on Fourth Street from Division to McClellan.  Drivers should expect shoulder and partial lane closures as needed.

Post St. Closure- Post Street near City Hall will close for Avista work on City Hall Plaza and new crossing work between City Hall Plaza and Riverfront Park.  Crews will use this closure to work on sidewalks at the southwest corner of the Post Street bridge, a new Centennial Trail connection into Riverfront Park, additional sidewalk work on the west side of Post Street and for the re-striping of Post street.


Fiske St. Construction- This project will pave Fiske Street from 19th to 17th avenues, install curbs, sidewalks and ADA curb ramps, where   needed, and replace current or install new stormwater drainage, where needed.  The project will place pavement between the existing curbs on Fiske from 17th to 18th and install new curbs and sidewalks, and pave on Fiske from 18th to 19th.  

Bridge Ave. Eastbound Lane Restriction- Bridge Ave. from Monroe to Post streets has lane restrictions through September 30 for work on a new portion of the Centennial Trail that will pass through Veterans Park.  All businesses in the area remain open and accessible during construction. The parking lot immediately north of Bridge should be accessed via Lincoln Street during the closure.

Crestline Rehabilitation Project- This project will replace the water main in Crestline from 37th to 57th avenues; provide curb-to-curb rehabilitation of the street from 44th to 53rd avenues; and add bike lanes, sidewalks and stormwater swales along the 44th to 53rd avenue stretch.  Grading work for surfacing will begin from 44th to 37th Street.  Paving will begin near September 30.

Third Ave. from Division to Arthur- Work to rehabilitate Third Avenue from Division east to Arthur is continuing.  Arthur and Sherman continue to be the detour route with periodic closures on one or the other street as needed.  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.

Euclid Ave. Water Main Replacement- The project will replace the current 28-inch water main with a 30-inch water main in Euclid Avenue.  The new main will begin at Euclid & Mayfair and continue to Crestline, with a jog to the north around Gonzaga Prep High School.

Rockwood Blvd. Rehabilitation- A project to rehabilitate Rockwood Blvd. from Cowley to Southeast Blvd. and Upper Terrace Road from Rockwood Boulevard to 17th Avenue continues. Upper Terrace Road is complete.  The top lift of pavement has been applied.   Phase 2, from Cowley to Garfield, is closed to through traffic and is under full construction.  Phase 1work continues on Rockwood from Southeast Blvd. to Garfield and is open to local traffic.

WSDOT
SR 27/32nd Ave. to Trent Ave.- Grind out top layer of roadway and resurface with Hot Mix Asphalt.  Construct ADA sidewalk ramps.

SR 291/Division Street to the Stevens County Line- Grind out top layer of roadway and resurface with Hot Mix Asphalt.  Construct ADA sidewalk ramps.

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements- Expect congestion and delays near the Francis Avenue/Market Street intersection and the Francis Ave./Freya Street intersection, especially during morning and afternoon commute hours.  Westbound drivers on Francis should be alert for flaggers directing traffic near the BNSF railway crossing. 

I-90/Latah Creek Bridge & Downtown Spokane Viaduct- Monday through Thursday, September 30-October 3, from 9 a.m. to as late as 3 p.m., drivers on eastbound and/or westbound I-90 in downtown Spokane should be alert for lane closures on the Latah Creek bridge and downtown overhead freeway viaduct with possible congestion and slower traffic.

I-90/Division Street to Liberty Park- Replace conduit, poles, wiring, and light fixtures including installing luminaires on I-90 from Latah Creek to the Hamilton Interchange.

I-90 Westbound/Liberty Lake-Harvard Road Interchange Roundabout- I-90 westbound drivers exiting at Liberty Lake should be alert for congestion, traffic backups, and delays on the westbound off ramp.  Drivers on Harvard Road should be alert for lane restrictions, rough roadway, slow traffic, and congestion with possible delays. Southbound Harvard Rd. is reduced to one lane.  Mission Ave. is open. 

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- Northbound and/or southbound lane restrictions during evening and overnight hours. Northbound US 195 is reduced to one through lane in the vicinity of Cheney-Spokane Road.  Northbound drivers need to use Qualchan Road to access Cheney-Spokane Road.  Northbound drivers should be alert for possible congestion and slowing traffic.  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.







Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Questions and Answers About Oregon's New Vehicle Miles Traveled Fee

This summer, Oregon’s legislature passed a bill creating a vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) fee. This is a big step, as a fee like this has been discussed on and off for years as an alternative to gas taxes, which are bringing in less revenue as people drive less.
 
The creator of the program, Jim Whitty from the Oregon Department of Transportation, was in Washington, D.C. recently to talk to Congress and others about the program. While there, a reporter from D.C. Streets Blog interviewed him on the privacy concerns associated with tracking how many miles someone drives, who is taking part in the program and if everyone will eventually be required to track their mileage, if a VMT fee better match the needs of the system than gas taxes and why anyone would voluntarily participate in the program. Here are the (very interesting) answers to those questions, and more.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Do Toll Lanes Benefit Wealthier Drivers?

Do toll lanes provide an unequal advantage to wealthier drivers? That's what some drivers are saying. High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes allow people to bypass traffic congestion by using a less-travelled lane. Only you have to pay for it.

Some people say they refuse to pay because they are already paying enough taxes to go to interstates and shouldn't have to pay more. Others say they just can't afford it. And a recent study by the Southern Environmental Law Center shows a correlation between users of those HOT lanes and incomes. In other words, the drivers using the lanes tend to make more money.

Marketplace has the story.

Public Meeting Tomorrow To Review Transportation Improvement Program


Here's your last reminder that tomorrow is your chance to come talk to us in person about our 2014-2017 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is a document that contains a list of local projects that are planned for construction in the next four years. We're asking for input on it to make sure that we're allocating money to the projects that you, members of the public, consider to be priorities.

SRTC is hosting a public meeting from 4-6 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 25 here in our office at 221 S. First Ave., Suite 310. This is a chance to sit down with a staff member and review the projects, ask questions, make comments, etc. And it's all done in an open house format so you can come and go at anytime during those two hours, depending on what is convenient for you.

If you'd like to check out the TIP in advance of the meeting, here is where you can find it. You'll also find directions there on submitting comments if you can't make it to the meeting.
 

Letter Suggests Adding a Warning Phase to Green and Yellow Lights

Spokesman-Review Letter to the Editor
Reprogram Traffic Signals

This week there was an Internet blog item about intersection accidents caused by yellow light decisions. The article seemed to paint the decision whether to stomp on the throttle or jam on the brakes when faced with a yellow light as some kind of insurmountable problem. I don’t think so.
I may be wrong but there is no doubt in my mind that virtually all modern traffic lights are processor controlled and operate under a specific program. That being said, I think that there is a simple solution. Reprogram the lights such that the green light blinks for three seconds at half-second intervals before turning yellow and the same for the yellow light before turning red.
This will give oncoming drivers time to make a rational decision as how to proceed when approaching a traffic light. There is no doubt in my mind that drivers would adapt to this quickly and many accidents, deaths and injuries would be avoided.

It would be nice if Spokane could lead the nation in addressing this problem. However, please don’t count on the traffic ticket revenuers to support this. I’d like to see some feedback on this concept.

Frank Tokarz

Spokane Valley

What bothers me about this letter is that the yellow is supposed to be the warning that the light is about to turn red, meaning stop. Do you really need to add a blinking warning light to the existing warning. If people just stopped on yellow instead of trying to make it through it wouldn't be a problem.

 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Article Predicts Coal Trains Will Cause Major Blockages For Traffic

With debate heating up over coal exports and oil shipments, the Sightline Daily blog is analyzing public at-grade rail crossings from Sandpoint, Idaho to Cherry Point, Washington. An article posted late last week takes a look specifically at the impact an increase in coal trains would have in Spokane County and predicts the trains would close rail crossings an average of between one hour and 47 minutes a day to four hours a day!

Here's the article, which looks closely at many of the railroad crossings in Spokane County and comes with handy maps you can zoom in on.

You're Invited To Celebrate Opening of New Centennial Trail Section


Greenstone, the City of Spokane and the group Friends of the Centennial Trail, invite you to celebrate the opening of the Spokane River Gorge Section of the Centennial Trail from the Monroe Street Bridge through Kendall Yards. A ribbon cutting ceremony takes place this Friday, Sept. 27 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Nest Plaza (1335 W. Summit Parkway) in Kendall Yards.
The opening will feature guest speakers, a community open house, and light refreshments. Attendees will be encouraged to explore the new trail on foot or on a bicycle— Greenstone will even offer complementary bike rentals for visitors to take a short spin on the trail during the event.



Local Road Construction Update

SPOKANE VALLEY
14th Ave. from Custer to Carnahan- Lane restrictions from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, September 23 until October 14 for a storm water upgrade project. 

Adams from Trent to Wellesley- Closed to traffic until the end of October for sidewalk updates and improvements.  Drivers are redirected via Evergreen or Progress.

Carnahan Rd. between 16th Ave and 18th Ave- Closed from Tuesday, September 24 through Friday, September 27 for resurfacing.  Signs will redirect vehicles via 16th Ave. and Bettman Rd.

Indiana between Pines Rd. and Mirabeau Pkwy.- Reduced to one lane each direction starting Monday, September 23 until mid-October for street resurfacing.

Wellesley between St. Charles Rd. and Larch Rd.- Narrowed lanes, delays, and parking restrictions until the end of October for sidewalk updates and improvements.

WSDOT
US 195 and SR 27 Congestion- Expect congestion Saturday, Sept. 21 between Spokane and Pullman as fans travel to and from the WSU Cougar/Idaho Vandal football game.

SR 27/32nd Ave. to Trent Ave.- Paint striping and signal detection loop work underway. Lane restrictions between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

SR 291/Division Street to the Stevens County Line- Paint striping and signal detection loop work underway.  Possible lane restrictions.

North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements- On Friday September 20th, a section at the intersection of Francis and Freya will be paved between 2 a.m.  Friday morning until as late as 7 a.m.  The intersection will be controlled by flaggers with the signal turned off. This will create longer backups and delays, so drivers are advised to find alternate routes. 

I-90/Maple Street Interchange; Monroe Street Interchange- Monday through Thursday, September 23-26, be alert for workers adjacent to the eastbound Maple off-ramp and along eastbound Freeway Avenue washing and painting freeway walls.  Also, work on Monday, September 30 in the vicinity of the mini park near the eastbound Monroe Street on-ramp.  No mainline freeway impacts.

I-90/US 2-Airport Interchange to Argonne Road Interchange- Monday through Thursdays, intermittent eastbound and/or westbound lane restrictions or shoulder restrictions from around 9 a.m. as late as 3 p.m. for drain cleaning.
 
I-90/Division Street to Liberty Park- Intermittent shoulder closures on I-90 between Maple and Hamilton during daytime hours to replace conduit, polies, wiring and light fixtures.

I-90 Westbound/Liberty Lake-Harvard Road Interchange Roundabout- Congestion, traffic backups, and delays on the westbound off ramp.  Drivers on Harvard Road should be alert for lane restrictions, rough roadway, slow traffic, and congestion with possible delays. Southbound Harvard Rd. is reduced to one lane.  Mission Ave. is open. 

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- Northbound and/or southbound lane restrictions 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 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. 

SPOKANE CITY
Greene Street Bridge Work- A project to increase the life of the Greene Street Bridge over the Spokane River is under way.  Through mid-October, anticipate lane restrictions on the bridge and on Greene Street between South Riverton Avenue and Upriver Drive. The work on the bridge will improve its load rating, allowing larger trucks and loads to use the bridge.  The project includes installing fiber-reinforced polymer to the deck and floor beams. 

Washington Street Bridge Work- Joint repair work between Spokane Falls Blvd. and the northbound tunnel begins Tuesday, Sept. 24 and goes through Friday, Sept. 30. Work will be completed during the hours of 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Lane restrictions will be in place.
City Gateway Painting- Throughout the summer, crews have worked to improve landscaping, remove graffiti, and spruce up areas under the railroad viaduct and leading to and from Interstate-90. Work is scheduled Monday through Thursday, Sept. 23 through 26, and Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.  Motorists should anticipate lane closures and possible delays as a result of this work.
 
Traffic Calming Work-Work on a variety of improvements to promote traffic calming throughout the City will begin Monday, Sept. 23 and continue through the end of October. The following streets will be affected.
 
o   Illinois – Signs and striping
o   Mission, Cook and Regal – Ramps and striping
o   Manito Boulevard and 29th – Ramps and striping
o   37th from Bernard to Browne - Sidewalks
o   Maple from 8th to 9th  - Bumpouts
o   Adams Street from Montgomery to Mansfield – Sidewalks and ADA ramps
o   Horizon Avenue and F Street – Sidewalks and ADA ramps
o   Maple Street from Chelan to Fairview – Sidewalks and ADA ramps
o   Ash Street from Fairview to Cleveland – Sidewalks and ADA ramps

Combined Sewer Tank Installation- Preparation for construction on a 1 million gallon tank to reduce overflows from combined sanitary and stormwater sewers on the west side of Ray Street at 21st Avenue begins Monday, Sept. 23.  Ray Street will be reduced by one southbound lane from 19th Avenue to 22nd Avenue.  Parkwood Drive will be closed from Green Street to Ray Street. 
 
14th Ave. from Lincoln to Grand- The project will rehabilitate 14th Avenue from Lincoln to Grand Boulevard. Paving of 14th from Grand to just west of Division has begun.  The street is closed to through traffic; local access is maintained.
 
Liberty Street Construction Begins- Construction to rehabilitate Liberty from Oak Street to Ash Place and Ash Place from Liberty to Dalton is beginning.  The road is closed with local access only.

Downtown Bike Network Completion Project- Signing and striping revisions continue for the Downtown Bike Network lanes.  Trail construction will occur on Fourth Street from Division to McClellan.  Drivers should expect shoulder and partial lane closures as needed.
 
Post St. Closure- Post Street near City Hall is closed for Avista work on City Hall Plaza and new crossing work between City Hall Plaza and Riverfront Park.  Crews will use this closure to work on sidewalks at the southwest corner of the Post Street bridge, a new Centennial Trail connection into Riverfront Park, additional sidewalk work on the west side of Post Street and for the re-striping of Post street.

Fiske Street Construction- This project will pave Fiske Street from 19th to 17th avenues, install curbs, sidewalks and ADA curb ramps, where   needed, and replace current or install new stormwater drainage, where needed.  The project will place pavement between the existing curbs on Fiske from 17th to 18th and install new curbs and sidewalks, and pave on Fiske from 18th to 19th.   Full road closure will occur on Fiske between 17th Street and 19th Street.

Bridge Ave. Lane Restriction- Bridge Avenue from Monroe to Post streets has lane restrictions through September 30 for work on a new portion of the Centennial Trail that will pass through Veterans Park. 

Crestline Rehabilitation Project- This project will replace the water main in Crestline from 37th to 57th avenues; provide curb-to-curb rehabilitation of the street from 44th to 53rd avenues; and add bike lanes, sidewalks and stormwater swales along the 44th to 53rd avenue stretch.  Grading work for surfacing will begin from 44th to 37th Street.  Paving will begin near September 30.

Third Ave. from Division to Arthur- Work to rehabilitate Third Avenue from Division east to Arthur is continuing.  Arthur and Sherman continue to be the detour route with periodic closures on one or the other street as needed.  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.

Euclid Ave. Water Main Replacement Work- This project will replace a water main with a larger one in Euclid Ave.

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. Upper Terrace Road is complete.  The top lift of pavement has been applied.   Phase 2, from Cowley to Garfield, is closed to traffic and is under full construction.  Phase 1work continues on Rockwood from Southeast Blvd. to Garfield and is open to local traffic.




 

Trail Section To Close For Asphalt Patching

Wild Turkey Trail CrossingMiles 26.5 through 28 of the Centennial Trail, from the south side of T.J. Meenach Bridge to the Equestrian Area in Riverside State Park, will be closed September 25 and 26. Crews will be removing worn sections of asphalt from the trail and replacing them.

This work is weather depenedent so could be delayed if it rains.

Lane Closures For Beautification Project

You may see some lane closures and possible delays today through Thursday around the on and off ramps to I-90 at Maple Street and along Freeway Avenue, which leads to westbound I-90 from Monroe Street.

Crews are cleaning and painting under the railroad viaduct in an effort to make the downtown entrances to the City more inviting. Throughout the summer, crews have worked to improve landscaping, remove graffiti, and spruce up areas under the railroad viaduct and leading to and from Interstate-90.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

School Design Getting Second Look In Effort To Make Kids More Active

Even with lack of exercise being a major contributing factor to the childhood obesity epidemic in America, few children walk to school today. Only 13% in 2009 compared to 50% about 20 to 30 years ago.

This can be attributed to a lot of reasons but it doesn't help that schools are sometimes built on cheap land outside of walking range for most students.

As planning for three new schools is in the works, a Seattle city traffic safety committee has been working on ways to improve school design to encourage more active children and less driving.

http://streetsblog.net/2013/09/19/seattle-reconsiders-school-design-to-get-kids-walking-again/

Transportation Technical Committee Meeting Next Week

The September meeting of the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) is next Wednesday, Sept. 25. The agenda is here. And it has some interesting stuff on it. Including a "guest speaker" from the Eastern Region of the Washington State Department of Transportation explaining the "Main Street Highways Identification Project." Are you in a town that has a highway going through the middle of town? You may be interested in this.

As always, everyone is welcome and your opinion is respected so attend if you can.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You've Got A Meeting To Attend Next Wednesday

So, I took the liberty of committing you to something next week. We're hosting a public meeting to introduce people to our 2014-2017 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) so I went ahead and put the event on your calendar.

Why should you care about yet another government document? Because the TIP is a list of the local projects that have received funding lately and are planned for construction or to be implemented within the next four years. It's your chance to see what's on the books for the future and express your opinion on whether these are good projects to spend tax money on or if you think there are projects that are more of a priority.

Here's where you can find the draft TIP to review it. Or you can just come to the public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 4-6 p.m. at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201. It's more of an open house, so you can come and go whenever you feel like, no need to stay the whole two hours.

 

Cell Phones; The New Threat To Pedestrians

Is your cell phone trying to kill you? If you use it while walking, that could be the consequence. New research shows that pedestrian injuries related to cell phone use are on the rise.

An Ohio State University study shows that pedestrian cell phone-related injuries have more than doubled since 2005. Injuries ranged from falling off walkways or bridges to walking in front of moving traffic.

So what age group is most likely to suffer a cell-phone related injury while walking?USA Today has details from the study.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting Next Monday

Where do the months go? I just don't understand how it can already be mid-September. And the only reason I even noticed is because next week is the monthly Transportation Advisory Committee meeting, which is held the fourth Monday of every month.

So here you go, here's the agenda. It's pretty short this month but could be intense as we have discussions of our two most important documents on the same agenda. The Transportation Improvement Program says what projects will be constructed or completed in the next four years, while Horizon 2040 will guide development of our transportation system in the long term.

As always, the meetings are open to anyone, so feel free to attend if you can.

A Good Excuse To Visit the Coffee Stand Each Morning


Coffee may not just fuel you in the future, it could fuel your car as well. Environmental engineers at the University of Cincinnati are working on a new way to fuel vehicles with used coffee grounds.

Better roads has the story.

Now if only we could find a way for your car to crank out a latte while you're driving, all would be perfect in the world.
 

Designing Cities, and Transportation Systems, For Women


Did you know men and women use the transportation system differently? For instance, men typically either drive or ride the bus to work and home each day. That's it. But women drop the kids at school or daycare, go to the gym, go to work, pick the kids up on the way home, stop by the grocery store, go home and make dinner and then sometimes leave again later to attend meetings or see friends.

I feel tired just writing that out. Realizing the differences in the genders, many planners are working now to design cities and transportation systems with the needs of women in mind.
The Atlantic Cities talks about how Vienna, Austria is doing this.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy 110th Anniversary to the Good Roads Association

Maryhill Loops RoadI just attended a lunch to celebrate the 110 year anniversary of the Spokane Area Good Roads Association. It was kind of a who's who of transportation elite for our area, plus lots of elected officials such as Spokane City Mayor David Condon, Senator Andy Billig, State Representative Kevin Parker and several others.

The Good Roads Association is a group of  industry advocates and experts that believe in promoting and fostering construction, maintenance, and improvement of good roads and transportation infrastructure throughout the State of Washington.  The association:
  • Provides information to members concerning legislation, regulation, and taxation affecting transportation.
  • Lends their influence to the development of better transportation in the state.
  • Serves as a forum for discussion of policies and programs concerning transportation in this State.
  • Coordinates with members in energizing and accomplishing programs that are in the best public interest for improved transportation.
  • Seeks to achieve long-term, predictable revenue for all modes of transportation.
  • Educates the public on what transportation means to economic vitality and quality of life for all communities in the State.
State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson was supposed to be the keynote speaker at the lunch but due to an issue with a project, she was called back to the west side of the state by the governor. So Deputy Administrator Keith Metcalf stepped in and did the honors. In his speech, he mentioned talked about how things are changing in transportation; fewer young people are driving, self-driving vehicles are the way of the future, more people are using public transit, etc. But he also emphasized that all these changes still have one thing in common- roads. self-driving cars and buses still operate on roads. And bicycles and pedestrians also still use the roads. So roads will never go out of style.

He also talked extensively about the North Spokane Corridor and the need to finish it sooner rather than later.

Mayor Condon also spoke. He emphasized the amount of capital improvements the City needs done ($750 million!) and how we're doing better through partnerships between jurisdictions and with groups like the Good Roads Association. And he mentioned that many people don't know where they live, city or county, so the condition of our roads shouldn't change at an invisible line that divides the jurisdictions.

Coal Trains, Biofuel and Ride Sharing

The coal terminal debate returns to Spokane on Sept. 25, when three government agencies will host a scoping meeting for an environmental impact statement on a proposed coal port at Longview on the Columbia River. Washington State University Tri-Cities has been selected to be the headquarters for a national biofuel research center. And need a different way to get to work other than driving alone? A new website can help with that.

The Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" column has everything happening in transportation locally this week.

Woman's Name Too Long For Drivers License

Despite being fairly straight forward (I think), my last name gets mangled all the time. So I feel the pain of the Hawaiin woman who's last name is 36 charactersa and 19 syllables long. It's so long that she couldn't get a driver's license with her correct name.

Janice "Lokelani" Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele is in the midst of a fight with state and local officials to ensure that her full name gets listed on a license or ID card. The documents only have room for 35 characters. Her name has 35 letters plus a mark used in the Hawaiian alphabet, called an okina.

Here's her story from KTVN News.







 

Study Says Distracted Driving More Common Than Previously Thought

A study released just today by the University of Washington says more than 8 percent (only 8%?) of drivers in Washington are distracted by electronic devices, including many who are actively texting on the roadway.

Researchers compiled their numbers after observing 7,800 motorists at intersections in six counties. The study found that nearly half of drivers using electronic devices were observed texting.

KOZE-AM Radio has more details from the study.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Road Construction Update for Next Week


WSDOT
WSU Football Games- On Saturday, September 14 expect congestion on US 195 and SR 27 between Spokane and Pullman, plus SR 26 between Vantage and Colfax, as fans travel to and from the WSU Cougar football games.
SR 27/32nd Ave. to Trent Ave.- Paint striping and bump grinding underway, plus constructing ADA sidewalk ramps. Lane restrictions between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
North Spokane Corridor/Francis Avenue Bridge and Intersection Improvements- On Friday September 20th the contractor will be paving a section at the intersection of Francis and Freya.  This work will occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.  The intersection will be controlled by flaggers with the signal turned off. This will create longer backups and delays, so drivers are advised to find alternate routes. Left turn movements at the Market/Francis intersection are not allowed.  Right turns are OK. 
I-90/SR 290 Hamilton Street Interchange- On Monday, September 16 and Wednesday, September 18, from about 9 a.m. to as late as 3 p.m., be alert for lane restrictions on the Hamilton Street Bridge over the Spokane River as crews do a routine inspection. 

I-90/US 2-Airport Interchange to Havana- Monday through Thursday, September 16-19, be alert for intermittent eastbound and/or westbound lane restrictions or shoulder restrictions from about 9 a.m. to as late as 3 p.m. as crews clean drains.

I-90/Division Street to Liberty Park- Intermittent shoulder closures on I-90 between Maple and Hamilton during daytime hours to replace conduit, poles, wiring, and light fixtures, including installing luminaires on I-90 from Latah Creek to the Hamilton Interchange.

I-90 Westbound/Liberty Lake-Harvard Road Interchange Roundabout- I90 westbound drivers exiting at Liberty Lake and drivers on Harvard Road should be alert for congestion, traffic backups, and delays on the westbound off ramp as crews construct a roundabout at Mission and Harvard roads. Southbound Harvard Rd. is reduced to one lane.  Mission Ave. is open. 

US 195/Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange- Northbound and/or southbound lane restrictions 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 closed so drivers need to be alert for southbound highway traffic slowing to make right turns into Cheney-Spokane Road. 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

SPOKANE VALLEY
Adams from Trent to Wellesley - Closed to traffic 7 a.m. Monday, September 16 until the end of October for sidewalk updates and improvements.  Drivers will be redirected via Evergreen or Progress.

Wellesley between St. Charles Rd and Larch Rd - Narrowed lanes, delays, and parking restrictions from 7 a.m. Monday, September 16 until the end of October for sidewalk updates and improvements.

SPOKANE CITY
Greene Street Bridge Construction- A project to increase the life of the Greene Street Bridge over the Spokane River starts tomorrow.  Through mid-October, anticipate lane restrictions on the bridge and on Greene Street between South Riverton Avenue and Upriver Drive.

Work on the bridge will improve its load rating, allowing larger trucks and loads to use the bridge.  Ultimately, the project will extend the life of the bridge and upgrade its service capacity. The project includes installing fiber-reinforced polymer to the bridge deck and floor beams.  Additionally, utility conduit will be installed along the underside of the bridge and other related work will be completed. 

Washington Bridge Lane Restrictions- The bridge crew is repairing joints on the south channel bridge with a left side lane closed until tomorrow from Spokane Falls Boulevard to the Washington Street tunnel.  

Maple Street Bridge South Bound Lane Restriction- Work to repair the Maple Street Bridge guardrail will occur Tuesday, September 17 through Wednesday, September 18, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There will be a south bound lane closure to accommodate the work.
Post Street Closure- Post Street near City Hall will close for Avista work on City Hall Plaza and new crossing work between City Hall Plaza and Riverfront Park.  Crews will use this closure to work on sidewalks at the southwest corner of the Post Street bridge, a new Centennial Trail connection into Riverfront Park, additional sidewalk work on the west side of Post Street and for the re-striping of Post street.

Fiske Street Construction- This project will pave Fiske Street from 19th to 17th avenues, install curbs, sidewalks and ADA curb ramps, where needed, and replace current or install new stormwater drainage, where needed.  The project will place pavement between the existing curbs on Fiske from 17th to 18th and install new curbs and sidewalks, and pave Fiske from 18th to 19th. 

Bridge Ave. Lane Restriction- Bridge Avenue from Monroe to Post streets has lane restrictions through September 30 for work on a new portion of the Centennial Trail that will pass through Veterans Park.  All businesses in the area remain open and accessible during construction. The parking lot immediately north of Bridge should be accessed via Lincoln Street during the closure.

14th Ave. from Lincoln to Grand- The project will rehabilitate 14th Avenue from Lincoln to Grand Boulevard. Unanticipated additional work, including a needed water main repair and a gas line repair, has delayed this project. Paving of 14th from Bernard to just west of Division is complete.  The crosswalk striping and permanent sign installation has been completed as well.  This does not include the Division intersection. 

Crestline Rehabilitation Project-
This project will replace the water main in Crestline from 37th to 57th avenues; provide curb-to-curb rehabilitation of the street from 44th to 53rd avenues; and add bike lanes, sidewalks and stormwater swales along the 44th to 53rd avenue stretch.

Third Ave. from Division to Arthur- Work to rehabilitate Third Avenue from Division east to Arthur is continuing.  Arthur and Sherman continue to be the detour route with periodic closures on one or the other street as needed.  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.

25th Ave. Construction- Work on 25th Avenue from Freya Street to Rebecca Street continues for paving and curb repair, and sidewalk and swale installation.

Euclid Ave. Water Main Replacement- The project will replace the current 28-inch water main with a 30-inch water main in Euclid Avenue.  The new main will begin at Euclid & Mayfair and continue to Crestline, with a jog to the north around Gonzaga Prep High School.

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. The first lift of asphalt is down on Upper Terrace Road.   Phase 2, from Cowley to Garfield, is closed to through traffic and is under full construction.  Phase 1work continues on Rockwood from Southeast Blvd to Garfield and is open to local traffic.  Traffic restrictions apply in all areas with local access provided.

 

 

We've Got A Pile Of Cash Here. How Should We Spend It?


So, speaking from personal experience, I understand that government documents can be confusing and sometime mystical (what is it trying to say? What's an MTP? What does "regionally significant" mean? What day is it? Where am I?). So that's why we want you to come to a public meeting we're hosting in a couple weeks; to get to know us and our 2014-2017 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Why should you care about yet another government document? Especially one with that long of a title? Because the TIP is essentially a list of the local projects that have received funding lately and are planned for construction or to be implemented within the next four years.
The beauty of a document like this is that it lets you look into the future to see what's on deck. Got a project you think needs done? Check the TIP! It could be coming up. While looking through it you see a project that you think ins't a priority, while yours should be done first? Let us know! We're spending our tax dollars on these projects so if they're not what the public wants, we need to know that.
 
Here's where you can find the draft TIP to review it. Or you can just come to the public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 4-6 p.m. at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201. It's more of an open house, so you can come and go whenever you feel like, no need to stay the whole two hours.
 
If you can't make the meeting, you can still comment. Send your thoughts to contact.srtc@srtc.org or mail them to the address above.

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.