Thursday, July 31, 2014

How Spokane Valley's "Cycle Celebration" Got It's Start

ValleyFest is coming up in Spokane Valley in September, and with it comes "Cycle Celebration," a pretty
new bicycle event. The organizer Cycle Celebration says it was never his intent to organize a community event, it just kind of happened.

Here's how Bill Gothmann got into riding again after 40 years, and how Cycle Celebration was born.

Pedestrian Bridges In Park Inspected By Diver

If you saw a boat in the river at Riverfront Park where you usually don't see boats, no worries, it was all on the up-and-up. A diver was inspecting the park's pedestrian bridges.

                       

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Online Bike and Construction Maps Help You Get Around Easier

The Bike Map in all it's glory
A reminder about two things; 1.) being summer, there is lots of road construction happening and 2.) being summer, it's a great time to ride your bike instead of driving your car. This also helps you to get around construction projects easier. Or you can check the 2014 Spokane Regional Road Construction map. But if you choose to ride instead, there's the 2014 Spokane Regional Bike Map to help navigate all of Spokane County via bike, no matter your skill level on two wheels.

So the whole point of this post was to remind you that we have two new "interactive" maps online for your use; the Bike Map and Construction Map, both which can be found at https://srtc.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html. On both maps, you can pan and zoom to different areas, such as your neighborhood or route to work, to see what your bicycling options are in that area or what construction projects are scheduled.
You can zoom in to see more detail on the construction map

Each local jurisdiction provided updated information on bicycling facilities and road construction in their area to increase public awareness about what’s happening with our transportation system. On both maps, you can click on a bicycle facility or construction project to learn more about it. On the Construction Map, clicking on a project location will give you the details of the project, including the exact location, approximate dates of construction and a direct link to that project’s web page or the agency’s  construction page.

On the Bike Map, you can click on points such as trailheads, park and ride lots and bike shops. This will tell you what amenities each offers, such as restrooms, parking and bike lockers. You can also visit websites for area bike shops by clicking the shop location.

Firefox, Safari, Chrome and the latest versions of Internet Explorer and mobile browsers on all types of devices work best with ArcGIS Online.

"HitchBot" Travelling Across Canada By Thumb

I've seen some sketchy characters hitchhiking, but this robot that is relying on Canadians to get it all the way across the country takes the cake. This video is pretty funny and you can even follow "HitchBot's" adventures and see his pictures on Twitter.

Article Calls Delay Request A Ploy To Run STA Plaza Out Of Downtown Spokane

The Spokane Transit Authority (STA) was all ready to move forward with a remodel of the downtown STA Plaza when the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) and Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) last week asked to delay the renovation so they can have more time to come up with opinions and suggestions. Surprisingly (to me anyway), the STA Board agreed to wait.

An article in today's Spokesman-Review claims the delay is the business community's most recent ploy to drive the Plaza out of downtown Spokane because they don't like the clientele it brings into the central business district. Here's the article by Shawn Vestal. Do you agree? Disagree?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

City's Street Levy To Go To Voters In November


The decision on a proposed street levy in the City of Spokane will go to voters this fall. The Spokane City Council last night voted unanimously to send the financing package to voters on November 4.

If approved, the measure would maintain current tax rates at 91 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. But instead of simply paying off old street maintenance debts, the city would get $25 million annually to fix and improve streets.

The Spokesman-Review has more on how the plan would work to fix more streets while not costing you any more.

This Is A Big Deal For Us Transportation Folks

This is a really cool opportunity for anyone interested in transportation. Futurewise, ALSC Architects, Coffman Engineers, the Neighborhood Alliance, Spokane Transit and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) are teaming up to bring you the "Complete Streets Transit Zine Launch Party" on August 8. The party will feature not only a beer and wine garden (isn't that enough to get you there?) but also free appetizers, the latest 'zine on transit usage in Spokane, a display of Spokane's historic transit system and- the main event- a presentation by Jarrett Walker, author of “Human Transit: How clearer thinking about public transit can enrich our communities and our lives.” Walker is extremely knowledgeable on the subject and a renowned transportation planner.

The fun starts at 6 p.m. in the MAC's outdoor plaza. Click the picture below for more info.


US 2 Speed Limit To Be Reduced

The speed limit on a section of U.S. Route 2 (Sunset Highway) will be reduced from 55 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour starting next Monday, July 28 so be aware.

The reduction will take effect as soon as the new speed limit signs are installed, from the west city limits to approximately 1,370 feet east of Flint Rd. The installation is expected to be completed Monday.

The City Council unanimously passed a resolution to lower the speed limit on that stretch of U.S. 2 on July 14. The resolution called for a more consistent speed due to increasing urban development in the area between Spokane and Airway Heights, and safety concerns on the highway. 

Would You Consider Having Your Commute Sponsored?

A lot of people drive everyday anway, so why not get paid to do it to help with your gas bill?Ozy.com says
Not exactly sure what they're selling
here but there's a lot of it!
some companies are considering paying drivers to advertise for them- with bumper stickers.
 Crazy or could it work? Well, when you consider that people in large metropolitan areas spend an average of two-and-a-half days a year stuck in traffic, that's a lot of time for the person behind you to stare at your bumper and that ad for Jiffy Lube. Check the link for more on this idea and how it's already being used in various ways around the country.

Big Reduction In DUIs This July

DUI emphasis patrols held across Spokane County from July 1 to July 13 this year turned up a LOT fewer suspected drunk drivers than in past years. The patrols, aimed at making the roads safer for everyone, took 34 DUI suspects off the streets. That's way down from the previous year when 121 suspects were pulled over. 

The patrols are a joint effort of several area law enforcement agencies.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Little of This, A Little of That

The Spokane Transit Authority Board of Directors last week voted to extend the proposed electric trolley bus line through downtown Spokane to Spokane Community College. Some folks in the Logan Neighborhood don't like some new signs that recently went up that prohibit pedestrians from crossing Mission Avenue at some intersections east of Hamilton. Construction begins on High Drive in south Spokane today. And there's a bunch of other projects underway throughout the county. The Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" column has a roundup of all things transportation-related locally.

Private Companies Urged To Invest In Infrastructure

We have a lot of these that need fixed.
So you're a private company sitting on a pile of cash. Why not invest it? In the nation's infrastructure. That
was President Obama's suggestion at the Rural Opportunity Investment Conference last week where representatives of large investment firms from all over the world get together with high-ranking administration officials.

Now Douglas Peterson, Chief Executive Officer of McGraw Hill Financial, says his firm is working on a system to create a platform for investors to see what projects need financing and what the financial benefits are. It's a lot like when they look at stocks. Peterson shares his commentary on this major and historical undertaking on the 25 CNBC website.

Missouri Highway Signs Get A New Attitude

You see those electronic signs on the freeway and highways so often that you just ignore them sometimes right? Well the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) doesn't want travelers ignoring its digital messaging signs so they're using some unusual messages to grab attention.


Dynamic Messaging Signs (DMS) are used to provide needed information such as weather-related alerts and road closures. The rest of the time, they display safety reminders, which is why a lot of people just ignore them. With a sassy new attitude though, and signs that say things like the one above and "Changing lanes? Show me your blinker," that's quickly changing. LakeExpo.com has more on these signs.

My Bus Pass Isn't This Fashionable; But Then Maybe That's Because It Has My Picture On It

In Boston, you can now wear your bus or subway pass- as a piece of jewelry. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has recently started selling rings of 3D printed wearable technology that have a chip in them that acts as their bus pass. So not only do the people who own them look like they have some pretty unique jewelry, they also look pretty cool when they 'fist bump' to pay for their ride on public transit.

Another cool thing about this jewelry? It came about because of a Kickstarter campaign. Boston Magazine has more details.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Local Road Construction Update

WSDOT
US 2/Espanola Road to Interstate 90 Resurfacing- Intermittent lane closures between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, in the vicinity of Flint Rd. Flint is closed from US 2 to the south. A detour is available. Flint Road is closed to the north between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday. Grinding and paving will continue between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. from FAFB through Airway Heights.  

I-90/Liberty Park to Havana Street- During evening and overnight hours, from about 9 p.m. until the following morning at 5 a.m., be alert for on and off ramp closures. Also watch for outside lane closures from 7 p.m. to the following morning at 6 a.m. for replacement of existing illumination lighting, poles, and wiring.

I-90/Barker Road to Idaho Border resurfacing- Work on this project is underway evenings and overnight hours, from about 7 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. the following morning.  Work may be underway on weekends. Be alert for lane restrictions, possible slow traffic, and rough pavement. The legal speed limit is reduced to 60 mph in some areas of the project when grooved pavement is present.  

SPOKANE CITYHigh Drive, Phase One- Construction begins on a pavement reconstruction job on High Drive from 29th Ave. to Bernard St. on Monday, July 28. This project also includes Combined Sewer Overflow storage facilities, storm, sewer, swales, and water main replacement from 29th Avenue to Bernard Street. Phase Two of this project, Bernard Street to Hatch Road will begin spring of 2015.

Grand Boulevard Construction- The Grind and Overlay on Grand Boulevard from 14th to 22nd Avenues begins Monday, July 28.  One lane will be open in each direction. McClellan Street between 8th and 9th Avenue has one lane southbound.  Northbound is detoured onto 9th Avenue over to Cowley.  9th Avenue/Rockwood Boulevard between Grand Boulevard and the hospital tower is closed with driveway access.  There is local access only at Cowley and 9th to the hospital.  Southbound on Stevens has access to the medical building on 9th Avenue. Traffic will be impacted both north and south bound mainly between 8th and McClellan, 9th and Rockwood, to Cliff and Grand. This work will take approximately 3 to 4 weeks. Work south of 14th is being done by the Wastewater Department. This project will apply preservation treatments that consist of crack sealing, grind and overlay and some pavement rejuvenation techniques.  Upgrades to ADA ramps and minor curb and sidewalk repairs will also be done.

Cedar Road/Country Homes Boulevard Intersection Signalization- Installation of signal pole bases, curb, sidewalk and asphalt pavement are underway on the west half of the intersection. This project is for installation of a traffic signal at the Cedar Road/Country Homes Boulevard intersection. The west half of the intersection and Cedar Rd. to the west, have been paved. Restoration of the traffic islands begins Friday, July 25.

Ray Street will open, Friday, July 25- Construction continues on a 1 million gallon tank on the west side of Ray Street at 21st Avenue to reduce overflows from the City’s combined sanitary and stormwater sewer system.  Occasionally, southbound Ray Street may be reduced to one lane.  When lane restrictions are required, they will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

North Division Sidewalk Project- This project will construct missing sidewalk in gaps adjacent to Division between Empire and Lyons. Work has begun on North Division from Lyons to Houston.  The right lane will be closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

South Perry Street Parade- 
The area from Arthur to Helena from 13th to 8th will be closed for the parade this Saturday, July 26. This closure includes main arterials Perry and 9th, from 9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Traffic will be re-routed for the duration of the event.

Maple Street Bridge Lane RestrictionsBeginning Tuesday, July 29, there will be southbound lane restrictions on the Maple Bridge from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for repairs.
West Trent Bridge Lane Restrictions-  
The West Trent bridge crossing over the Spokane River will be inspected, Tuesday, July 29, 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. One west bound curb lane will be closed moving to the east bound curb lane.

Sprague/Riverside from Helena to Lee- Geo Engineers will be boring for a city project with possible lane closures on the outermost eastbound lane of Sprague and Riverside from Wednesday, July 30 through Friday, August 1.

Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline- 
Water and storm/sewer work on the south side of Francis is complete.  Roadway excavation and grading continues from Nevada east to Crestline.  Colton St. and Dalke Ave. are open to traffic.  Francis Avenue continues to have one lane in each direction open from Division to Crestline. This project will rehabilitate Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline Streets.  The work is curb to curb and includes installation of ADA curb ramps, where needed. 

Francis and Freya Signalization- A signal removal and replacement is underway at the Francis/Freya intersection. Flagging at the intersection will occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The dedicated right turn lane is closed for southbound traffic on Freya Street in order to construct the new roadway at the northwest corner.  All traffic movements are still allowed. The right turn onto westbound Francis Avenue will be routed from the through lane.  This traffic configuration will remain in place for approximately one month or until HMA paving is complete. 

Division/Ruby and Cleveland Intersection Work- Avista will be working at the intersection of Division, Ruby and Cleveland. Two southbound lanes of Division will be closed. The work is scheduled Wednesday, July 23 and continues through the end of August.

Arthur Street from I-90 to 2nd- The Arthur Street intersection is now open. This project is to repave Arthur from I-90 to 2nd Avenue, add sidewalks along the west side of Arthur, and adds curb ramps and pedestrian lighting to various intersections. 

Division Sidewalk Closure- There will be a continuing sidewalk closure Wednesday, July 23 - Sunday, August 31 for demolition work at 1120 N. Division.

Westview Elementary Sidewalks- This project will remove existing curb/gutter, relocate drainage structures, and cut and remove asphalt needed to install new curb/gutter on the north-northwest side of Bismark and create a 35’ road width from Assembly to Driscoll and 32’ from Driscoll to Moore. In addition, the project will install 5’ sidewalk with 5’ planter strip on Fotheringham from the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark and on Bismark from Fotheringham to the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark.  ADA ramps will be installed on all new sidewalk corners, and on connecting corners where needed.

SPOKANE VALLEY
Progress Road from Wellesley to Forker- Closed through through Thursday, August 1 for reconstruction.  Use Evergreen as an alternative.

SPOKANE COUNTY
Country Homes Restoration Project - Country Homes Blvd. from Cedar Rd to Wall St., southbound lane is closed to thru traffic.  Northbound lane is open with occasional restrictions.

Bruce Rd Bridge Replacement/Road Work - Bridge replacement work and road closure.  

Farwell Rd. (Market St. to North Spokane Corridor - Under construction, watch for lane restrictions. 

I Have A Feeling I Won't Be Getting Much Work Done Today

Before
After
So, for the first time in the eight years that I've been at SRTC, I've been allowed to pick up some swag to give away at events. And I'm excited about it.

Because I'm like a crow or pack rat that's attracted to shiny objects, I picked these light up pens. Our Transportation Planner Eve and I were having a rave with them in my office this morning when we started discussing how multi-useful (that's a word I just made up) they really are. Besides the boring act of writing with them, here are some of the other things you can do with them:

  • Dance with them at a rave as if they were glow sticks
  • Clip them on your clothes while riding your bike at night for added visibility
  • Direct traffic when there is an accident
  • Land planes like an air traffic controller
  • Use them to write when the power is out (we learned about this use during the storm yesterday)
  • Hypnotize people (now relax and follow the light with your eyes...)
  • Come up with your own use
So here's the deal; look for us at community events this summer, talk a little about transportation with us (or even the weather) and ask us for a pen!

Feds Propose Rules for Oil Train Tank Cars

There have been MANY concerns voiced recently about the increased number of trainloads of crude oil
being shipped across the country, especially after several of the trains crashed and caught fire. In response, the government proposed rules yesterday that would phase out tens of thousands of older tank cars.

There are still a lot of details to be worked out though, as this article in today's Spokesman-Review tells us.


Fundraising Effort Underway For Transit Advertising

Times are tight, the economy still hasn't fully recovered and the ads you see on public transit sometimes aren't exactly entertaining or uplifting after a rough day at the office. The answer to this "issue?" A Kickstarter campaign to warn Chicago transit riders of squirrel attacks. Yep, one young man is using Kickstarter to raise money for advertising on trains, but not just any kind of boring old advertising.

Here's the story from Redeye. Perhaps I should utilize Kickstarter to fund my outreach efforts...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Look At All The Things Our 2014 Bike Map Can Do!

Have I mentioned how much we at SRTC love those guys at the City's television station, Cable 5? To help get the word out about our new interactive 2014 Bike Map, they put together this cool video about it. Watch the video to find out about all the things the Bike Map can do, then check out the map at the link. There are other maps on that site too, just hit the "Home" button in the upper left of the screen to check out all the interactive options.

Council Considers Suspending Cab Fees

Spokane cab drivers could soon face fewer regulations. Spokane's City Council is considering temporarily eliminating fees on cab drivers and loosening some cab rules in response to some new ride-sharing companies that have entered the Spokane market.

The council is mulling a six-month suspension of taxi fees before the end of summer. Cab drivers and representatives have been complaining that rules that pertain to them don't pertain to companies like Lyft and Uber, which makes it hard to compete with the ride-sharing companies.

The Spokesman-Review has the background on this story.

Ford Driving Course Takes On Selfies

So now everyone knows you're
a distracted driver...
You see them everywhere these days- people taking pictures of themselves everywhere they go. Selfies at the beach, at cultural events, at concerts, while driving. Wait, while driving? Yep, driving selfies are a new trend. A new dangerous trend, because they contribute to distracted driving.

The Ford Motor Company is trying to get the word out about why driving selfies are a bad idea and their "Ford Driving Skills for Life" program for young drivers is taking on the pictures. The Denver Post has the story.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SRTC's July Newsletter Available Now

Holy cow, seems like things never slow down around here anymore! Despite being the "lazy days of summer," we've been pretty busy with some major projects here at SRTC. And things are picking up even more. So what is it we've been working so diligently at? Read our July newsletter to find out.

How Will A Smart Car Fare In A Head-On Collision?

There are a lot of jokes about how driving a Smart Car could be a death sentence if you are to get into a collision because the tiny cars just don't have the bulk to stand up to a larger car, but how true is that? Bloomberg TV takes a look as a Smart Car literally goes head-to-head with a larger vehicle.

How Bad ARE Our Bridges? New Info For Each State Just Released

So how bad are our bridges, really? Well, Washington State is considered the 46th most deficient state when it comes to it's bridges, so that's not too bad really, according to a new report "The Fix We're In For: The State of Our Bridges" by Transportation for America (T4A).

Idaho ranked a little worse and Oregon is close to Washington. But guess who has the worst bridges? And the best? You can read the report at the link above to find out or T4A has provided a really cool map where you just click on the states and the info pops up. Check it out here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Parking Meters Going In Downtown, Lower South Hill

New parking meters are being installed downtown, starting today and going through the next two weeks. Meters will be put up in the following neighborhoods:

•           From Wall to Stevens streets on Sixth Avenue
•           Howard from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue
•           Fifth Avenue from Howard to Stevens streets
•           Pacific, Second, and Third avenues from Bernard to Brown streets

A map of where the meters are going in can be viewed at Spokanecity.org The new meters will help create more available parking spaces for people living in the area and help create turnover for local businesses. 

City workers distributed flyers to notify residents and businesses of the new parking meters. Parking passes will be distributed to apartment residents to allow them to park for free for this first year.

Mark Your Calendars For This One

The Spokane City Council is expected to vote at its regular meeting on Monday, July 28, on resolutions to place a proposed street levy on the ballot in November. Tonight and next Monday, the Council will accept public testimony on the issue at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

The streets refinancing proposal provides for significant new work for the community at the same rate that citizens pay today for streets and parks. Currently, Spokane’s citizens pay 91 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value toward the repayment of three street and park bonds. With strategic refinancing, the dollars generated from that same level of funding could be used to provide:

·         $25 million annually for street funding.  That level of spending, which includes matching funding, would maintain the level of street work completed annually on under the 2004 Street Bond.  Work could be focused on the City’s arterials.

If you have thoughts on this proposal, now would be the time to voice them. A lot of people are asking if the bond would provide for sidewalks, bike lanes and other amenities that the original street bond didn't. This would be a great time to go to City Council and ask, or state that those are priority items to you, if they are.

Local Road Construction Update

SPOKANE VALLEY
Argonne Road between Broadway and Sprague - Reduced to one lane at times for resurfacing.

Sprague Avenue between Thierman and Fancher  - Reduced to two lanes westbound and one lane eastbound at times for resurfacing. 

Sprague Avenue between Havana and Fancher  - Reduced to one lane each way at times for resurfacing.

Sprague Avenue between University and Herald - Reduced to two lanes at times for resurfacing.

Progress Road from Wellesley to Forker - Closed to through traffic around the clock from Monday, July 21 through Thursday, August 1 for reconstruction.  Evergreen is suggested as an alternative.

CITY OF SPOKANE
Washington/Stevens Street Bridge Repairs- Southbound lane restrictions for asphalt work from Tuesday, July 22 to  Friday, July 25.

Northwest Boulevard and Alberta- Sidewalks and the westbound traffic lane on Northwest Boulevard and the right southbound lane on Alberta will be closed due to work in a manhole on Thursday, July 23.

Cedar and Country Homes Boulevard- The southbound lane of Cedar will be closed until Tuesday, July 22 for work on utilities. 

Ray Street Closure- Ray Street will be closed beginning July 14, for 14 days for construction.  A detour is provided. Construction continues on a 1 million gallon tank on the west side of Ray Street at 21st Avenue to reduce overflows from the City’s combined sanitary and stormwater sewer system. 

North Division Sidewalks- This project will construct missing sidewalk in gaps adjacent to Division between Empire and Lyons. Work is currently underway from Lyons to Houston. The right lane is closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Westview Elementary Sidewalks- This project will remove existing curb/gutter, relocate drainage structures, and cut and remove asphalt needed to install new curb/gutter on the north-northwest side of Bismark and create a 35’ road width from Assembly to Driscoll and 32’ from Driscoll to Moore.  In addition, the project will install 5’ sidewalk with 5’ planter strip on Fotheringham from the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark and on Bismark from Fotheringham to the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark.  ADA ramps will be installed on all new sidewalk corners, and on connecting corners where needed.

Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline- Water line and storm sewer work along the south side of Francis is nearing completion. Paving, curb, sidewalk and driveway installations continues on the south side of Francis. Roadway excavation and grading continues from Nevada east to Crestline. Colton Street from Francis to Dalke Avenue is closed for approximately 1 week to continue ITS installation. Dalke Avenue from Division Street to Colton Street will have an area along the north curb closed for approximately 1 week to continue ITS installation. 

Francis and Freya Signal Installation- A signal removal and replacement is underway at the Francis/Freya intersection. The dedicated right turn lane is closed for southbound traffic on Freya Street in order to construct the new roadway at the northwest corner. The right turn onto westbound Francis Avenue will be routed from the through lane. This traffic configuration will remain in place until paving is complete. 

Arthur Street from I-90 to 2nd- Arthur Street is closed from 5th Avenue to 2nd Avenue. Third Avenue is reduced to one lane at the intersection of Arthur.  This project is to repave Arthur from I-90 to 2nd Avenue, add sidewalks along the west side of Arthur, and adds curb ramps and pedestrian lighting to various intersections. 

WSDOT
US 2/Espanola Road to Interstate 90- Between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, there will be intermittent lane closures in the vicinity of Flint Rd. Flint Road is closed from US 2 to the south. A detour is available. Flint Road is closed to the north between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday.  Grinding and paving will continue between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Fairchild Air Force Base through Airway Heights.  

I-90/Liberty Park to Havana Street- During evening and overnight hours, from about 9 p.m. until the following morning at 5 a.m., there will be on and off ramp closures and outside lane closures. Crews will be replacing lighting, poles, and wiring, plus replacement of existing irrigation system.

I-90/Barker Road to Idaho Border- Work on resurfacing the asphalt is underway evenings and overnight hours, from about 7 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. the following morning. Work may be underway on weekends. Be alert for lane restrictions, possible slow traffic, and rough pavement with equipment operating in the adjacent lane. The legal speed limit is reduced to 60 mph in some areas of the project when grooved pavement is present.  

SR 902/ Craig Road to Hayford Road- Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, July 21-23 from around 8 a.m. until as late as 3:30 p.m., be alert for single-lane, alternating traffic near the work zones as crews repair culverts.


SPOKANE COUNTY
Bruce Road Bridge- Road closed with detour in place.

Jackson Road- Road closed so that crews can replace a culvert.

Jon Stewart Takes On "Shabby Roads"

Comedian Jon Stewart recently weighed in on the fight over federal transportation funding in Congress, criticizing lawmakers for opting for a temporary spending patch instead of a long-term extension and for failing to raise the federal gas tax. Stewart even includes a reference to Washington State and not travelling there due to the state of our bridges. This is good stuff.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer Blog Hiatus

There will be an approximately week-long blogging hiatus while I take some time off to recalibrate my brain with a vacation. Posts will resume July 14 so check back. One of these times I going to surprise you and get a guest blogger but I haven't been able to convince any of the co-workers to take on an extra task in my absence yet. Can't figure out why.

SRTC Board Awards $20M To Local Projects/Programs

Good news for a bunch of local transportation projects and programs. The SRTC Policy Board just voted to award approximately $20 million dollars in federal fiscal year 2017-2019 Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds to those projects.
STP provides flexible funding that may be used by States and localities for projects to preserve and improve the conditions and performance on any Federal-aid highway, bridge projects, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and transit capital projects. Generally, projects must be located on a road functionally classified as higher than local or rural minor collectors (bicycle and pedestrian projects can be located on any public roadway or off-road trail).

For more information on the Surface Transportation Program, click the link. If you'd like to just cut to the chase though and see which projects will get money, click this link instead.

Oregon Pay-By-The-Mile Program Appears to be Working

Well, here we sit, waiting for Congress to do something about the dwindling Highway Trust Fund. Starting in August, the money in the fund starts being rationed and after it runs out- who knows? What we do know is that our transportation infrastructure isn't fixing itself, so some new method of funding maintenance and preservation projects is imperative.

The problem is that the Highway Trust Fund is funded by the gas tax. With people driving less, cars being more efficient on fuel these days and the infrastructure aging and crumbling faster than we can fix it, the tax doesn't supply as much money for repairs and maintenance as is needed.

Every state has been struggling with this for a while now and many are trying experimental funding methods to try to solve the problem at the state-level. While many are looking at raising the gas tax, Oregon has been trying out a mileage-based funding system. And it seems to be working. A new report on the pilot program says revenue from it exceeded expected gas tax earnings by 28 percent.

This CityLab article looks at why the program appears to be working so far, and why it will help change our behavior if it goes country-wide.

Get A Grip Las Vegas Drivers!

While road rage is an issue all over the country, and around the world, Las Vegas seems to have more than it's fair share of it. Three road rage incidents since the beginning of the year have left people dead on Vegas roadways and police say they get road rage calls every single day.

KLAS-TV out of Las Vegas has more details.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Car-Sharing Programs Appear to Decrease DUIs in Philly

A private car being used for the Lyft car-sharing program
We've been hearing a lot about ride-sharing companies recently, with the arrival of Uber and Lyft in
Spokane. Companies like these that have civilians renting out the empty seats in their car have been in other communities for a while now, long enough to gauge their impact in some places and one of the conclusions drawn is that there appears to be a reduction in DUI arrests in cities where ride-sharing is an option. In fact, in Philadelphia, the average number of DUIs per month dropped by 11%, mostly in the under-30 age range.

Philly.com has the story. There's a lot of backstory near the top of the article you can skip to get to the meat about the DUI rates, closer to the bottom.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The U.S. City Where Motorized Vehicles Are Banned

Hey did you know there's a U.S. city where cars are not allowed? I didn't. It's in Michigan and it's an island; Mackinac Island, located just offshore in Lake Huron.

Downtoearthnw.com tells us why motorized vehicles have been banned there pretty much since they were invented.

BNSF Releases Information On Oil Trains Moving Through WA State

BNSF Railway says it's moving less oil trains through Washington state than in past months. BNSF previously reported as many as 19 trains of Bakken crude oil trains came through the area in a week. That number dropped to 13 for June.

The railroad had tried to keep information about oil train shipments from the public, but the state declined to sign a confidentiality agreement and BNSF provided it under public records law.

The Spokesman-Review has more.

Monday, July 7, 2014

City Collects Almost $90,000 In Overdue Parking Tickets

More than 400 people paid off more than 2,000 overdue parking citations during the 60-day Parking Amnesty Program, according to a news release just sent out by the City of Spokane.

During May and June, 443 people paid 2,046 past due parking citations at a value of $89,445. Many waited until the last week when 948 of those tickets were paid. Paying those tickets during the Parking Amnesty Program saved those drivers more than $74,298 in collection fees and $22,000 in interest, plus the possibility that their cars could be impounded.

Letters will be sent this week to people who still have four or more overdue parking tickets informing them that they are now eligible for the Boot-and-Tow Program, which begins this month. That group accounts for approximately 18,000 outstanding citations and $900,000 in citation fines, collection fees and interest.

Outstanding active parking citations going back 10 years totaled 76,000 past due citations and $3.9 million in fines, fees and interest. Fees and fines account for approximately half of both values.


I90 Repaving Project In Limbo Due To Federal Funding Issues

Well this is bad news! A Washington State Department of Transportation project to repave Interstate 90 east of Barker Road in Spokane Valley is one of 43 projects that may not happen due to the dwindling amount of money in the federal Highway Trust Fund.

The Spokesman-Review has the story here.

Train Derailment Dumps Plane Fuselages In MT River

Did you see this video or these pictures over the weekend? They're pretty incredible. Three Boeing airplane fuselages slid down a steep embankment into the Clark Fork River following a train derailment in western Montana, about ten miles west of Alberton.

The fuselages were traveling from a Spirit AeroSystems plant in Wichita, Kansas, to a Boeing facility in Renton, Washington, to be assembled into airliners. With our office in the Intermodal Center, we see these fuselages travel through the area on trains all the time.


                       

SRTC Board Meets This Thursday

No hot weather break for our Policy Board! The Board meets this Thursday, July 10 at 1 p.m. for their regularly-scheduled monthly meeting. The agenda can be found here. This meeting will be interesting because the Board will be asked to approve a list of projects to receive funds from the Surface Transportation Program (STP) so you can get a sneak peek at the projects that will be underway over the next few years. Also, budget talks will start so if you're a number cruncher, feel free to attend.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Road Construction Update

SPOKANE CITY
Fireworks Road Closures for Friday, July 4- Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. Roads will re-open after  Road Closures Starting at 4 p.m.:
pedestrian traffic has cleared.
o   Glass between Calispel and Jefferson
o   Courtland between Cedar and Cora
o   Gordon between Washington and Howard
o   Cliff Drive  between Grove and Sumner

Road Closures at 9:45 p.m.:
o   Washington from Spokane Falls to North River Drive northbound
o   Washington from Boone to Spokane Falls/Stevens southbound

Maple Street Bridge Lane Inspection- Tuesday, July 8, the southbound lane will have restrictions on the Maple Street Bridge from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for repairs.

Grand Boulevard Construction- McClellan Street between 8th and 9th Avenue has one lane southbound.  Northbound is detoured onto 9th Avenue over to Cowley. 9th Avenue/Rockwood Boulevard between Grand Boulevard and the hospital tower is closed with driveway access. Southbound on Stevens has access to the medical building on 9th Avenue.


Traffic will be impacted both north and south bound mainly between 8th and McClellan, 9th and Rockwood, to Cliff and Grand. This work will take approximately 3 to 4 weeks. The movement of traffic will vary as each part of construction in this immediate area also varies. Drivers are asked to follow the detour route. Work south of 14th is being done by the Wastewater Department.  This project will apply preservation treatments that consist of crack sealing, grind and overlay and some pavement rejuvenation techniques.  Upgrades to ADA ramps and minor curb and sidewalk repairs will also be done.

Cedar Road/Country Homes Boulevard Signal Installation- Work on removals of existing asphalt pavement, curb and sidewalk has begun.  This project is for installation of a traffic signal at the Cedar Road/Country Homes Boulevard intersection. Traffic will be routed along the west 1/2 of Country Homes Blvd. through the Cedar Rd. intersection with one lane access each way (north and south).  Removal of existing asphalt, concrete curb and sidewalk and water line work will begin on the east 1/2 of the intersection.

Cedar Road between Francis Ave. and Country Homes Boulevard is closed to through traffic with local access only. Spokane County’s project is just north of Cedar to Wall Street on Country Homes Boulevard with northbound traffic only.

Mission Avenue Eastbound from Hamilton to Perry- Construction continues with the two eastbound lanes of Mission from Hamilton to Perry Street closed. This project will reconstruct the street by replacing the asphalt surfacing, including ADA ramps, as needed.  

Westview Elementary Sidewalk Project- This project will remove existing curb/gutter, relocate drainage structures, and remove asphalt to install new curb/gutter on the north-northwest side of Bismark and create a 35’ road width from Assembly to Driscoll and 32’ from Driscoll to Moore. In addition, the project will install 5’ sidewalk with 5’ planter strip on Fotheringham from the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark and on Bismark from Fotheringham to the alley one half block south of Bismark to Bismark. ADA ramps will be installed on all new sidewalk corners, and on connecting corners where needed.

Rowan Avenue Sidewalks- The project will install 8 foot sidewalks on both sides of Rowan Avenue from Belt Street to Monroe Street with ADA compliant curb ramps.

Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline- Traffic has switched over to the north half of Francis Ave. allowing the removal of existing curb, sidewalk and asphalt pavement on the south half.  ITS installation along Colton St. and Dalke Ave. is proceeding.  Colton Street from Francis to Dalke Avenue is closed for approximately two weeks.  Dalke Avenue from Division Street to Colton Street has an area along the north curb closed for approximately 2 weeks to perform ITS installation. This project will rehabilitate Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline Streets.  The work is curb to curb and includes installation of ADA curb ramps, where needed. 

Arthur Street from I-90 to 2nd Avenue- Arthur Street is closed from 5th Avenue to 2nd Avenue.  Third Avenue is reduced to one lane at the intersection of Arthur.  This project is to repave Arthur from I-90 to 2nd Avenue, add sidewalks along the west side of Arthur, and adds curb ramps and pedestrian lighting to various intersections.

WSDOT
I-90/Barker Road to Idaho Border- Work gets underway the week of July 7 on resurfacing the freeway.  In general, work will take place evenings and overnight hours, from about 7 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. the following morning.  Drivers should be alert for lane restrictions, possible slow traffic, and rough pavement with equipment operating in the adjacent lane.  

US 2/Espanola Road to Interstate 90- Between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, expect intermittent lane closures in the vicinity of Flint Rd. to resurface the highway and install a traffic signal at the Flint Rd. intersection. Flint is closed from US 2 to the south, with a detour available.  Flint is closed to the north between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., Monday through Friday.  Beginning Tuesday, July 8, from about 7 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. grinding and paving will be underway between Espanola Rd. and Airway Heights. Expect single-lane, alternating traffic, directed by flaggers and pilot cars with delays between Espanola and Fairchild. 

I-90/Liberty Park to Havana Street- During evening and overnight hours, from about 9 p.m. until the following morning at 5 a.m.,  be alert for on and off ramp closures and outside lane closures. Crews are replacing existing illumination lighting, poles, and wiring, plus replacement of existing irrigation system.

I-90/Eastbound Sullivan Road Interchange Off Ramp- On Monday, July 7 from about 4 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m., the Sullivan Road eastbound off ramp will be reduced to one lane for traffic signal system and lane configuration revisions.

US 195 Southbound/Qualchan Drive to Mullen Hill Road- On Tuesday, July 8, from about 8 a.m. until as late as 3:30 p.m. southbound drivers should be alert for lane restrictions due to pavement core drilling.

SR 290-Trent Avenue/Hamilton Street to Sullivan Road- Work resumes Monday, July 14 to patch the roadway surface in damaged areas. Be alert for lane restrictions.

SPOKANE VALLEY
Argonne Road from Broadway to Sprague - Reduced to one lane through early July for resurfacing.  Closed overnight on Tuesday, July 8 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Signs will redirect traffic via Broadway, Vista, and Appleway.

Barker Road Between Riverway and Trent - Reduced to one lane from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8 and Wednesday, July 9 for street repairs.  

Sprague Westbound I-90 On-Ramp - Closed overnight on Wednesday, July 9 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for Sprague resurfacing.  Use I-90 westbound on-ramp at Broadway.

I-90 Westbound On-Ramp at Fancher - Closed overnight Thursday, July 10 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for Sprague resurfacing.  Use Sprague westbound I-90 on-ramp.

I-90 Westbound Exit 285 Off-Ramp at Fancher - Closed overnight Thursday, July 10 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for Sprague resurfacing.  Use Freya exit 283B.

Sprague Ave. Between Thierman Rd and Havana  - Lane reductions through early July for resurfacing, with overnight closures as noted below. Access to businesses will remain available.
  • Wednesday, July 9 overnight from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. - Sprague closed to through-traffic between Thierman and Fancher.  Westbound traffic will be rerouted via Thierman, 8th and Havana.  Eastbound traffic will be rerouted via Fancher, Broadway and Thierman.  Access to businesses will remain available.
  • Thursday, July 10 overnight from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. - Sprague closed to through-traffic between Havana and Fancher, including the Fancher intersection.  Traffic will be rerouted via Thierman, Broadway and Havana. Access to Sprague Avenue businesses will remain available via Sprague at Havana.
Sprague Avenue between University and Herald - remains reduced to two lanes westbound around the clock through mid-July for resurfacing.   

SPOKANE COUNTY
Farwell Road from Market to the North Spokane Corridor- Watch for lane restrictions.

Bruce Road Bridge- Bridge closed to be replaced. A detour is in place.

Masonic Temple Overhaul Will Include Robotic Parking Technology

The Masonic Temple in downtown Spokane is getting a facelift to go with it's new ownership. There are some big things planned for the historic building, including new restaurants, bars and parking. Parking? Who cares about  parking when you're talking about something as cool as revamping a historic building? Well, a large reason the new owner bought the building is because he's looking for a place to build, test and showcase his plan and technology for robotic parking. That's some pretty exciting stuff for Spokane!

Hundreds of Thousands of Subarus Recalled

Subaru is recalling more than 660,000 cars and SUVs because the brake lines can rust and leak fluid.

According to Northwest Cable News, 2005 through 2009 Legacy and Outback, the 2008 through 2014 Impreza and the 2009 through 2013 Forester are affected.

 In documents filed with the U.S. government, Subaru said that salty water used to de-ice roads in cold-weather states can splash onto the brake lines through a gap in the fuel tank protector, causing rust. If they leak fluid, it could take longer to stop the car and increase the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the lines if needed and apply anti-corrosion wax.

The Parking Meters Have Eyes

The new parking meters in Madrid, Spain are very judgmental. They determine parking rates by what kind of car you drive! How do they know when you're driving? When paying for parking, drivers have to enter their license plate number into a key pad on the meter. Information on your car is pulled up from that, then a parking rate is determined, based on the car's age and model. Hybrids and fuel-efficient models are given a discount.

But will this unfairly penalize people who are driving older cars because they can't afford a new one?
Here's the story from Bloomberg Businessweek.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Gas Prices At Six Year High

Heading out of town for the holiday weekend? That's gonna cost you. AAA says U.S. gas prices are the highest they've been since 2008. $3.70 is expected to be the national average per gallon by July 4, but many places around here are already at $3.69 or above and I've seen as high as $3.80.

 According to this article by The Hill, the price hike is due to uncertainties in Iraq.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some Old School Stuff From Our Files

Digging through some old files today I found some pretty cool stuff. This photo was in with a bunch of other random photos. It's where the current Martin Luther King Jr. Way will be extended soon, where Brown Building Supply used to be and the railroad tracks run. The caption on the back says "I90 ramp construction in background." Yep, that's the Hamilton Street ramp. Anyone know when that was built?

I also found a letter from the State of Washington Office of Financial Management from 1984 with population numbers attached. According to this, unincorporated Spokane County had 349,000 residents that year, with 171,500 within the City of Spokane.

And my favorite item? A flyer from 2003 that advertised a happy hour event offering citizens a chance to hear about SRTC's Southside Transportation Plan while having alcoholic beverages. Here's the agenda that was included on the flyer:

5-6 p.m.             Social Hour
6-6:30 p.m.        Presentation
6:30-6:45 p.m.   Citizen Input
6:45- 9 p.m.       Party on!!!

I'm not joking, it really said that. I miss the old days.

Holiday Closures

It's a holiday week so don't forget to do your government business early if you have any. Independence Day is this Friday so all government offices will be closed. 

There will be lots happening though, so if you come downtown for fireworks and other celebrations in the park, parking meters are free on Friday.

Also, road construction activities will be suspended by Thursday afternoon on most projects. The Washington State Department of Transportation isn't doing any work on Snoqualmie Pass from Thursday through Monday, July 7. They are expecting heavy traffic on I-90 though so allow extra time if you're travelling anywhere.

Paris Launches For Bike-Share Program for Kids

In the U.S., bike-share programs are popping up all over, which is a good thing. But what do you do if you have children you need to transport or would like to take with you? Then bike-share programs, and often transit systems or other alternative-transportation methods, usually won't work for you.

The French are getting creative though, in finding a way around the problem. In Paris, they've launched what is believed to be the first bike-share program for children. The program offers several size bikes to fit kids of all ages, and even has bikes with training wheels. They also come with helmets, unlike with adult bike-share programs.

StreetsBlogUSA has more on this fledgling program.

Plan In Place For When Highway Trust Fund Runs Out

I've been telling you for a while now that the Highway Trust Fund is dangerously low on funds and on track to run out of money in August. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today sent a letter to the head of each state Department of Transportation and transit agencies in the U.S. with the plan for what will happen with transportation funding starting Aug. 1.

Normally, each state is assigned a percentage of federal funds based on an annual federal formula. The states spend that money as they see fit, and send the bill to the feds for reimbursement. That's going to change soon though. Under the new plan, we’ll use the same percentage each state is assigned annually to determine how much they’ll receive of whatever is left in the fund.

Graph depicting the Highway Account end-of-month balances actual and projected for 2014

So how much less money will that be than what we're currently spending on transportation? And what will be the impact to our transportation infrastructure? Secretary Foxx has some answers on his blog.

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.