Thursday, July 30, 2015

Boehner Uses Expletive to Characterize Senate Highway Bill

A piece of WHAT Speaker Boehner??
There are lots of ways to express yourself but Speaker John Boehner didn't waste any words earlier According to Politico, he called it "a piece of %$*!"
this week when describing the six-year highway bill crafted by the U.S. Senate.

He's not the only one being with negative feelings aobut the plan, Senate Republicans have called it lame procrastination that needs to be addressed immediately. They're only hurting themselves though, also according to Politico, because lawmakers will have to deal with issues like this one and several others that have deadlines looming this fall. Authors of the article at the link above, Jake Sherman and Burgess Everett, predict this is going to be the "fall from hell" for Congress as they try to crank out a bunch of high-stakes legislation.Hopefully that makes you feel a little better.

Highway funding expires in November after multiple extensions and the prediction is that it will just be extended again, rather than a new bill approved. We'll monitor the situation and keep reporting on it. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Congress Ready to Pass Yet Another Short-Term Transportation Bill Extention

Surprise, surprise! Oh wait, no it's not. Streetsblog USA is reporting that  Congress is getting ready to pass the 35th extension to the current federal transportation funding bill. Yes, 35th. The House passed a five month extension initially but the Senate moved forward with a six-year bill. Then the House decided on a three month extension instead for some reason and the Senate caved and agreed to it.

One condition of this agreement is that House leaders swore that they will work on a long-term bill as soon as they return from an August break. In the meantime, seven states have stopped construction projects worth almost $2 billion because of uncertainties at the federal level.

The three month extension expires Oct. 29, so around Oct. 1 we'll start the countdown to another extension.

Cops Go "Undercover" As Panhandlers to Catch Distracted Drivers

Talk about hiding in plain sight... San Bernardino, CA police officers went "undercover" last week as panhandlers to catch distracted drivers. Only their signs clearly identified themselves as law enforcement officers.

Autoblog reports that four plainclothes police officers stood on highway off-ramps and street corners holding cardboard signs. The signs didn't ask for donations though, they read "I am NOT homeless. SB Police looking for seatbelt/cellphone violations."

They then walked up to the windows of many vehicles unnoticed by drivers that were either talking or texting on their cellphones. One detective said he made 14 stops and only one woman said she read the sign, but by that point it was too late.

In all, the officers pulled over 53 cars and handed out 50 citations, 33 of which were for cellphone use while driving, in just three hours.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Brown is the New Green; At Least Along WA State Highways

If you've traveled around Washington at all this summer, you may have noticed that some of the vegetation surrounding state highways and freeways isn't looking so- um- fresh. In fact, some of it is mostly dead.

The Washington State Department of Transportation blog says that vegetation plays an important role in keeping the soil in place along sloped areas, filtering stormwater runoff, and absorbing pollution, among other things. Native plants that require little maintenance are generally used in transportation projects to reduce staff and equipment costs. Many of the plants naturally go dormant in the summer, although it's usually later in the season.

Despite being known as the Evergreen State, the hot weather this year and the drought have sped up this process, leaving behind swaths of brown near major roadways. Even so, crews still mow the areas that appear to be growing, to keep fuel for potential wildfires limited.

So while the brown vegetation throughout the state might not look the best, allowing them to ‘go brown’ follows the natural life cycle of native plants and conserves limited financial and water resources. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Report Finds ‘Complete Streets’ Reduce Accidents, Improve Health

A new report on traffic safety confirms the safety value of building more sidewalks, safer crosswalks, expanded trails and traffic-slowing designs, according to the Spokesman-Review's "Getting There" column.

The World Resources Institute, in its “Safer Cities by Design” report, said traffic deaths could be reduced by adding multimodal facilities in urban areas, also known as creating “complete streets.”

“Where public streets have been designed to serve primarily or even exclusively private motor vehicle traffic, they can be made immensely safer for all users if they are designed to effectively serve pedestrians, public transport users, bicyclists and other public activity,” according to the report by the Washington, D.C. based firm.

According to The World Resources Institute, 1.24 million people die in traffic every year around the world. More than 90 percent of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

As populations grow and economies improve, the report said cities will become more crowded and urban expansion will be inevitable. Responding with more roads and motorized transportation, the problem worsen.

Instead, the report recommends dealing with population growth through compact development and infill, which shortens trips and reduces exposure to traffic risks; slowing traffic using structures including traffic circles, pedestrian islands and curb extensions; creating pedestrian-scaled retail development that separates higher-speed routes from throughways used by pedestrians and cyclists; and developing transportation systems that work for walkers, transit riders and bicyclists.

In the City of Spokane, the city has been doing some of this, converting four-lane arterials to three-lane routes with two lanes, a center turn lane, bike lanes and sidewalks. The City Council has adopted a crosswalk ordinance requiring marked crossings near schools, parks, hospitals, churches, trails and other spots under a pedestrian master plan.

Other local efforts involve building more sidewalks, handicap ramps, safer routes to bus stops and additional trails.

100 Year Old Technology Still Running New York Subways

New York's subway system is about 100 years old. Which is evident when you consider the historic look of subway stops. One issue that has some people worried is that the infrastructure that supports the subway is also a century old- as well as the technology that moves the trains. The equipment is old and hard to get parts for anymore. Humans are doing jobs such as switching tracks, etc. that is automated everywhere else. This video shows some of the technology created 100 years ago that's still in use today. Kind of crazy.

Local Road Construction Update

For more information on all the projects below, and to see them in relation to each 
other on a map, check out SRTC's 2015 Spokane Regional Construction Map here. The map is updated as new projects start and existing ones wrap up.

You may notice that projects underway now are more prominent while ones that will start later this construction season are more in the background.

WSDOT
US 2/Deer Road to Westwood Road- WSDOT crews will patch wheel ruts July 27 and 28 with intermittent lane closures. Expect delays between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.

SR 206/Bruce Road to Mt. Spokane State Park Gate- Be alert for long delays with flaggers and/or pilot cars directing single-lane, alternating traffic. Crews will be repairing pavement, doing shoulder work, pre-level paving and chip seal.  NOTE:  When loose gravel is present on the roadway, the legal speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph.  Be alert for speed limit signage.

US 195-Southbound/I-90 to Excelsior Road- Be alert for southbound US 195 reduced to one lane in multiple work areas with possible slow traffic.  Crews are replacing pavement panels in the southbound lanes. 

NSC/BNSF Railway Structures/Realignment & Ped/Bike Trail ExtensionShort, intermittent delays with flaggers directing traffic at pedestrian bridge. Crews are constructing two freeway mainline bridges over the BNSF tracks and two pedestrian bridges.  

SR 290-Trent Ave./Sullivan Road to Idaho State Line- Be alert for daytime lane restrictions between Sullivan Road and Wellesley Ave. In addition, drivers should watch for lane restrictions on Sullivan Road between Trent and Wellesley. No paving work is currently scheduled between Wellesley and the Idaho state line. Crews are repaving Trent Avenue/SR 290 plus paving and utility work at Sullivan Road and Wellesley Avenue.

SR 27-Pines Road/BNSF Crossing Repair- On Wednesday and Thursday, July 29 and 30, 24 hours a day, SR 27/Pines road at the BNSF mainline crossing at Trent WILL BE CLOSED for repairs to the railroad crossing.  Signed detours will be available. 

US 2/395-Division Street/Francis Ave to Farwell Road- Sunday August 2 through Wednesday August 5, WSDOT crews will be night paving to repair wheel ruts on Division from Francis Ave. to the “Y” and US 2/ the “Y” to  Farwell Rd. Work will begin at 7 p.m. each night and end at 5:30 a.m . the following day. Traffic will be reduced to one lane with occasional side road closures.

SPOKANE CITYFreya Street Closure for Combined Sewer Overflow Tank- Freya Street will be closed from Hartson Street to 29th Avenue through the end of August. Utility work and road reconstruction on Freya Street from 8th Ave. to 9th Ave. is underway. This project is constructing a combined sewer overflow facility under the parking lot at Underhill Park.
Columbia and H Street Closures for Combined Sewer Overflow Tank- Columbia from Downriver Drive to H Street and H Street from Columbia to Northwest Blvd is closed to thru traffic.

The project includes the installation of a 900,000 gallon tank. New water mains will be added at H Street, Glass Avenue and Columbia Circle Columbia Circle, H Street and Glass Avenue will be repaved and sidewalks repaired in select areas. Many driveways will be replaced to match the new street grade. 

43rd Closure for Combined Sewer Overflow Tank- Monday, July 27, 43rd Street from Grand to Scott will be closed. 43rd Ave. from Grand to Garfield St. will be closed to thru traffic until late September. Thru traffic is advised to use the Perry Street detour.

This project will construct a storage facility for CSO Basin 20, with connecting piping, interceptor inlet vault, flush systems, regulator and controls at 43rd Avenue and Garfield Street.

Residential Chip Sealing- The project will be in three different district locations. District one, Regal Street from Rowan Avenue to Francis Avenue; District two, 33rd Avenue to 36th Avenue from Grand Boulevard to Perry Street; and, District three, Elm Street from Broadway Avenue to Boone Avenue. 
           
Chip sealing will consist of one-fourth chip repairs and a fog seal. This project also includes minor pavement repair and crack sealing. 

14th Avenue Closure- New water and sewer taps are being installed, closing 14th Avenue between Conklin and Garfield until Tuesday, July 28.

8th Avenue Closure-
sewer line relay and repair will close 8th Ave between Oak and Elm until Tuesday, July 28.

Cook Street Closure- The installation of new utilities, swales and street improvements has Cook between Springfield and Broadway until Wednesday, July 29.

Division Street Closure- The northern lane of Spokane Falls Blvd west of northbound Division is closed until Sunday, September 20 for work on the right-of-way triangle (no, I don't know what that is either).

Grind and Overlay WorkPaving will be finished Tuesday, July 28 on Northwest Boulevard from C Street to Lindeke. There will be lane closures keeping one lane open in each direction. Tuesday, July 28 work will start on Mission between Washington and Division, use Indiana or Boone as your detour route.

Indiana Avenue Closure- Monday, July 27, Indiana will be closed  from Division to Dakota. This project will include full depth roadway replacement and change lane configuration to one lane each direction with bike lanes.

SPOKANE COUNTY
Christensen Road Bridge- Closed for demolition and rebuilding of this bridge over Deep Creek in West Spokane County. A marked detour is in place.

Wellesley Avenue Sidewalk Project- Rebuilding and adding sidewalks from Harvard Road to Arden Road. Driving lanes are reduced in width to accommodate work. 

Palouse Highway from Jamieson to Freya and Windmill to Jamieson- Reconstructing the roadway and adding north and southbound turn lanes at the intersection with 57th Avenue. The road is now open to traffic but expect occasional restrictions as crews pave and stripe.

Old Trails/Inland Road- Widen and pave Old Trails Road and Inland Road. Road closed to traffic. Riverside State Park can be accessed from the north at the Seven Mile Road/Inland Road intersection.

SPOKANE VALLEY
Argonne between Trent and Montgomery- Lane restrictions overnight Monday, July 27 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for pavement striping. The sidewalk on the west side of Argonne is closed with a detour posted.

Houk from Mission to Maxwell -  Closed through Wed., Jul 29 at 6 a.m.  Closed again from 6 a.m. Thursday through 6 a.m. Friday.  Use Maxwell/Houk to access Valley Medical Center on Houk.

Maxwell from Pines through the Houk intersection - Closed Wed., July 29 from 6 a.m. through Thursday July 30 at 6 a.m for paving. Use Mission and Houk or Vercler to access Valley Hospital.  Use Sinto to access Valley Medical Center on Houk.

Sinto from Pines through the Houk intersection- Road closed through Wednesday July 29 at 6 a.m. Use Pines/Maxwell or Mission/Vercler to access Valley Hospital. Use Maxwell/Houk to access Valley Medical Center on Houk.

Sullivan from Trent to Wellesley - Reduced to one lane in each direction through late August. 

Sullivan Road Bridge Replacement Project Area:
·       The southbound Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River is closed until spring 2016 for bridge demolition and replacement work. Traffic is reduced to one lane northbound and two lanes southbound. 
·         Expect periodic 2-3 hour reductions to one lane southbound at varying times throughout the week.
·       Northbound traffic is restricted to vehicles ten feet wide or less.  Oversized vehicles should use Barker or Pines as alternatives.
·         Turns from Indiana onto northbound Sullivan are reduced to one lane.
·         Expect construction vehicles in the project area.

Virginia & 16th intersection- Closed from 7 a.m. Tuesday, July 28 through 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29 for water main installation. Detour via Saltese will be posted.

The following locations will be closed to traffic until September 2015 for water main work:
·         25th Avenue (between Bowdish and University)
·         22nd Avenue (between University and Sunrise)
·         Chinook (between Sunrise and Oberlin)
·         Oberlin (between Chinook and 16th Avenue)
·         Sunrise (between University and Chinook)









Thursday, July 23, 2015

Giving Up Driving Equals Increased Health Risks For Seniors

It's always hard to tell a loved one that they shouldn't drive anymore because of their advanced age, but it's even harder after hearing this. A new study by the AAA automobile club Foundation for Traffic Safety and Columbia University says older adults who stop driving are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility than those who remain behind the wheel.

The Driving Cessation and Health Outcomes for Older Adults study looked at senior adults who have permanently given up driving and the impact to their health and mental well-being. The number of drivers aged 65 and older continues to increase in the United States with nearly 81 percent of the 39.5 million seniors in this age group still behind the wheel.

Some key findings from the study include:

  • Former drivers had markedly low participation in outside activities and diminished productivity in daily life activities compared to current drivers.
  • The association between driving cessation and reduced physical functioning was strong in longitudinal studies even after adjusting for socio-demographic factors and baseline health.
  • Overall, driving cessation almost doubled the risk of increased depressive symptoms in older adults. 
  • Driving cessation was associated with a 51% reduction in the size of social networks of friends and relatives.
  • In general, former drivers had accelerated cognitive decline over a ten year period compared with active drivers even after controlling for baseline cognitive function and general health.
  • Former drivers were nearly five times as likely as current drivers to be admitted to long term care facilities.
  • Driving cessation was a strong predictor of three year mortality risk, as non-drivers were four to six times as likely to die as drivers.
For the implications of this study, and to view the study report itself, click the link above.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

SRTC July 2015 Newsletter Available

A lot of businesses and agencies seem to slow down in the summer, with things assuming a slower
pace as people take time off for vacations and to spend time at area lakes. Not so at SRTC! We still take time off but that doesn't mean things slow down. We just have more to do when we get back.

It's been a busy summer and looks like it's going to continue to be busy the next couple months. We've just wrapped up a call for projects that will distribute over $14 million to local projects and programs; continue to work to develop "performance measures" to determine when we've reached the goals of our long term transportation plan, Horizon 2040; and hosted Geographic Information Systems professionals from around the country for a "peer review" recently.

Click here to view SRTC's July 2015 newsletter for all of what we've been up to and what we have coming up. 

Indian Retiree Wages His Own War on Potholes

Katnam and one of his selfies
The number one transportation complaint I hear when out talking to members of the public? Potholes of course. We don't have to let them get us down though. Retired people unite to fight this scourge! Okay, that may be extreme but fighting potholes is how one man in India is spending his retirement years.

NPR says 67-year-old Gandgadhara Katnam has filled about 1,100 potholes on the streets of Hyderabad in the past five years. He carries bags of gravel, tar, a spade, brooms, wire brushes and a crowbar in the trunk of his Fiat in case he sees a pothole or is alerted to one via Facebook.

Once a pothole has been identified, Katnam clears it of debris and standing water, pours in the gravel and tar, levels it off and waits about 30 minutes for it to set. He puts cones around it to keep people from driving on it until it's solid, then he's back on his way again, usually in less than an hour. And each time he patches a pothole, Katnam takes a selfie with it.

Katnam's obsession with potholes is fairly new. Five years ago, while driving to work, he hit a massive pothole and splashed muddy rainwater onto a woman and a child. Their clothes were ruined and he felt ashamed. He apologized but didn't feel that was enough, so he took action.

He started with the potholes on a stretch of road just outside his house. At first he did it all himself, but has since started a group of laborers to help him. He won't, however, take cash donations to pay for supplies. Especially from those outside of India as he says the government should be responsible for patching the holes and they have the money to fix the roads.

And the government has apparently gotten the message. Or at least part of it. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporate now provides some of the raw materials for patching. Currently, the city has allocated about 30 trucks in the city to pothole repairs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Seattle's SR 99 Project Given Completion Date of 2018

Washington State Department of Transportation officials recently announced that work on the State Route 99 tunnel will resume on Nov. 23, according to the Roads & Bridges website. The giant drill known as “Big Bertha” that is being used to bore under the Seattle waterfront is expected to surface at the north end of the city’s downtown area approximately one year later.

The officials word is that the S.R. 99 tunnel is now scheduled to open by spring 2018. This is about three years behind the original date of late 2015, due to several issues.

Crews stopped tunneling in Dec. 2013 after Bertha overheated, after which an investigation discovered damage to the seal system that needed to be replaced along with the main bearing. Then crews spent most of 2014 digging a pit to access the front of the machine so the cutter head could be repaired.

I90 Still Closed at Vantage Due to Brush Fire

The Seattle Times is reporting this morning that Interstate 90 remains closed in both directions near George, WA due to a 700-acre brush fire.

Kyle Foreman, an information officer for the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, said firefighters are working on I-90 to contain the fire and conditions are extremely dusty with little visibility, making the freeway unsafe for drivers.

It’s unknown when I90 will re-open. It's closed from the east end of the Vantage bridge, milepost 138. to milepost to 155. Drivers are being detoured around the closed area on Adams Road.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Inslee Considering Fuel Standard that Could Jeopardize Biking, Transit and Walking Funding

Governor Inslee signs the transportation
funding bill last week
There are a lot of people unhappy with Governor Jay Inslee tonight. On Friday, Inslee told the folks at Washington Bikes, a group that works for better laws and more funding to grow bicycling statewide, that he is considering implementing a low carbon fuel standard. 

As you may remember, the recently-passed Washington State transportation revenue package includes what's referred to as a "poison pill" that says if the Governor signs an executive order to implement a low carbon fuel standard, all funds generated for the multimodal account will revert to the "Connecting Washington" account. The Connecting Washington account is basically the funding bucket for roads.

Put into perspective, this means that over $400 million in the transportation package to go to transit, walking and bicycling projects and programs would be gone.

Ford's New "Smart" Headlights

Ford is debuting new prototype headlights that can detect and warn drivers of people, animals, or other hazards on or near the road at night. The "Spot Lighting" system, as it's called, uses infra-red cameras to identify objects, then adjusts the direction of the lights so they are easier to see. When something is detected up ahead, the system highlights the people/animals on the navigation display, framing them in yellow or red, depending on how much of a danger they might be.  Then, LED lamps next to the regular lights will swing to the right or left, making the hazards easier to see.

The lights will also widen their beams automatically when the system detects intersections or turns, improving visibility for the driver.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Local Road Construction Update

For more information on all the projects below, and to see them in relation to each other on a map, check out SRTC's 2015 Spokane Regional Construction Map here. The map is updated as new projects start and existing ones wrap up.

You may notice that projects underway now are more prominent while ones that will start later this construction season are more in the background.

WSDOT
SR 206/Bruce Road to Mt. Spokane State Park Gate- Be alert for long delays with flaggers and/or pilot cars directing single-lane, alternating traffic as crews repair pavement and do shoulder work. NOTE:  When loose gravel is present on the roadway, the legal speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph.  Drivers should be alert for speed limit signage.

US 2/Lawson Street Intersection in Airway Heights- Tonight, Thursday, July 16, from about midnight to as late as 5 a.m. on Friday morning, be alert for a dark traffic signal at Lawson Street as Inland Power and Light conducts a scheduled power outage. Treat this intersection as a 4-way stop.

US 195-Southbound/I-90 to Excelsior Road- Be alert for southbound US 195 reduced to one  lane in multiple work areas with possible slower traffic as crews repair pavement.  

SR 290-Trent Ave./Sullivan Road to Idaho State Line- Be alert for daytime lane restrictions between Sullivan Road and Wellesley Ave. for paving on Trent Ave. and utility work on Sullivan. In addition, watch for lane restrictions on Sullivan Road between Trent and Wellesley. No paving work is currently scheduled between Wellesley and the Idaho state line.

SR 27-Pines Road/BNSF Crossing Repair- On Wednesday and Thursday, July 29 and 30, be alert for a full closure of SR 27/Pines road at the BNSF mainline crossing at Trent in order to make repairs.  Exact hours are not yet set.

SPOKANE VALLEY
Argonne Southbound between Trent and Montgomery - Reduced to two lanes around the clock. Sidewalk on the west side is closed with a posted detour.

Houk from Mission to Maxwell - Closed through late July for roadwork. Local access remains available via Maxwell, Mission, and Vercler.

Montgomery Westbound just west of Argonne - Reduced to one lane through the end of the week.

Mansfield at Houk intersection - Narrowed lanes for utility work through late July.

Maxwell from Pines through the Houk intersection - Open to traffic to the Valley Hospital.

Sinto from Pines through the Houk intersection - Closed to traffic through late July. Local access remains available via Maxwell or Mission and Vercler.

Sullivan from Sprague to Mission - Reduced to two lanes in each direction from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. through late July with occasional reductions to one lane between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Sullivan from Trent to Wellesley - Reduced to one lane in each direction through late July, except for the following closure: Sullivan from Trent to Wellesley, and Wellesley from St. Charles through the Sullivan intersection - Closed to all traffic overnight on Monday, July 20 from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for paving.  Detours via Progress or Flora will be posted. 

Sullivan Road Bridge Replacement Project Area- The southbound Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River is closed until spring 2016 for bridge demolition and replacement work.  Traffic remains reduced to one lane northbound and two lanes southbound. Expect periodic 2-3 hour reductions to one lane southbound at varying times throughout the week. Turns from Indiana onto northbound Sullivan are reduced to one lane.

The following locations will be closed to traffic  until September 2015 for water main work:
·         25th Avenue (between Bowdish and University)
·         22nd Avenue (between University and Sunrise)
·         Chinook (between Sunrise and Oberlin)
·         Oberlin (between Chinook and 16th Avenue)
·         Sunrise (between University and Chinook)

SPOKANE CITY
North by Northwest filming in Spokane- 

Sunday, July 19

- 4 a.m. to 2 p.m., Normandie Street will be closed between Providence Avenue and Gordon Avenue.

Monday, July 20

4 a.m. to 2 p.m., Main Avenue will be closed between Division Street and Pine Street.
- 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Washington Street between Riverside Avenue and Sprague Avenue will be closed. There will be sidewalk closures on Sprague Avenue as well.

Tuesday, July 21

4 a.m. to 10 p.m., Main Avenue between Post Street and Stevens Street will be closed. Howard Street from Spokane Falls Boulevard and Riverside Avenue will also be closed during this time.

Wednesday, July 22

4 a.m. to 10 p.m., 1st Avenue between Adams Street and Monroe Street will be closed. Adams Street between Sprague Avenue and 2nd Avenue, Jefferson Street between Sprague Avenue and 2nd Avenue and Madison Street between Sprague Avenue and 2nd Avenue also closed during this time.
- 4 a.m. to 11 a.m., there will be sidewalk closures and no parking along the west side of Lincoln Street between Railroad Alley and Steam Plant Alley. Also, sidewalk and no parking along the east side of Monroe Street between The Old Spaghetti Factory and the Brooklyn Deli.

Friday, July 24

- 4 a.m. to 2 p.m., Cedar Street from 2nd Avenue to 1st Avenue and 1st Avenue and Sprague Avenue. The intersection of 1st Avenue and Cedar Street will have closures during filming and flaggers used.
- 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Main Avenue between Bernard Street and Division Street will be closed.

Saturday, July 25

4 a.m. to 10 p.m., Erie Street between Front Avenue and 1st Avenue. North Sprague Way and North Sprague Access will be closed. However, East Sprague will not be closed. 

Spokenya Run Stoppages- Saturday, July 18 from 9-11 a.m., there will be runners in the area around Spokane Falls Community College and Life Center Church and temporary traffic stoppages to allow runners to cross at Ft. George Wright and Government Way.


Underhill Combined Sewer Overflow Tank Construction- Thor Street will be closed from Hartson Street to 29th Avenue starting Friday, July 17 6 p.m. to Sunday, July 19, opening in the evening for the Monday morning commute.
Freya Street will be closed from Hartson Street to 29th Avenue starting Tuesday, July 21, 6 a.m. through the end of August.



This project will construct a combined sewer overflow facility under the parking lot at Underhill Park.

High Drive and Hatch Road Major Work Getting Underway in 43rd Monday, July 20- This project will construct three Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) storage facilities with an in-line storage configuration. 43rd Ave. from Grand to Garfield St. will be closed to thru traffic for 40 working days starting Monday, July 20. 

Residential Chip Seal Program Starts Monday, July 20- This project will be in three different district locations. District one, Regal Street from Rowan Avenue to Francis Avenue; District two, 33rd Avenue to 36th Avenue from Grand Boulevard to Perry Street; and, District three, Elm Street from Broadway Avenue to Boone Avenue. Chip sealing will consist of one-fourth chip repairs and a fog seal. This project also includes minor pavement repair and crack sealing.

Washington Street Closure- Full closure Sunday, July 19, from Sprague to Riverside for Avista utility work.  Washington will re-open Monday, July 20, at 6 a.m.  The detour route will be 1st Ave. to Bernard and Bernard to Riverside Ave.  One lane will be left open at Sprague Avenue for westbound traffic.


Taft Closure- Taft Street between Elmhurst and Holyoke is closed until Monday, July 20 for sewer relay and repair.

Lidgerwood Lane Closure- The western lane of Lidgerwood, north of Francis, is closed until Friday, June 24 to place conduit and fiber.


Spokane Falls Boulevard Lane Closure- The northern lane of Spokane Falls Blvd. west of northbound Division will be closed from Monday, July 20 until Sunday, September 20 for work on the right-of-way triangle.


Heroy Avenue Closure- The 2300 block of Heroy Avenue is closed until Tuesday, July 21st for the installation of new water and sewer taps.



High Drive Project Continues- High Drive is closed from Bernard Street to Grand Boulevard with storm and sewer work underway. This project includes pavement reconstruction, storm, sewer, swales, and water main replacement from Bernard Street to Grand Boulevard. 

Havana Street from Glenrose to 37th- Glenrose Road from 57th Avenue to Havana Street is closed. Work has begun at the intersection of Freya and 44th with traffic and pedestrian improvements. Traffic will be impacted on both streets and controlled by flaggers and signs. Improvements include full width pavement replacement, filling sidewalk gaps and installing bicycle lanes.  


Arterial Curb Ramp Projects- Installation of ADA-compliant curb ramps at each intersection corner ahead of the City of Spokane scheduled street maintenance grind and overlay projects. This project is funded with local funds.
o   Construction on Grand Blvd at intersections from 23rd Avenue to 28th Avenue is completing.
o   Mission Ave. from Division St. to Maxwell begins Monday, July 20.


SPOKANE COUNTY

Christensen Road Bridge- Bridge closed to demolish and replace it. A marked detour is in place.

Wellesley Ave. Sidewalks (Harvard to Arden)- Rebuilding & adding sidewalks, watch for flaggers.

Palouse Highway (Jamieson to Freya & Windmill to Jamieson)- Pavement Removal and Replacement. Speed and lane restrictions are in place.

Old Trails/ Inland Road- Widen and pave both Old Trails Road and Inland Road. Road Open, No Restrictions for the Dirty Dash Mud Run event this Saturday. Starting Monday, July 20, the road will be closed. Riverside State Park will remain open. Visitors can access the park from the north at the Seven Mile Road/Inland Road intersection.

Report Suggests 400% Gas Tax Increase for Hawaii

I've heard a few people complaining about the 11.5 cent gas tax increase recently signed into law in Washington. People are always going to complain when things cost them more. But this might make you feel a little better. Maybe. A new report suggests that Hawaii raise it's gas tax- by 400%. Yes, you read that right.

Hawaii drivers already pay the fourth highest gasoline taxes in the country. According to Hawaii News, a consulting firm hired to look at ways to reduce the amount of fuel used by 385,000 gallons a year, came up with one suggest to raise the gas tax 85 cents per gallon!

It's just one of 11 proposals the firm came up with to reach the miles driven reduction goals and they say it would definitely discourage driving.

The state has sent the report to dozens of energy executives, state officials, regulators and other stakeholders. If there's a lot of support for a gas tax plan, it could become a part of the state's energy policy. But officials said that's still a long way off and state lawmakers have indicated that they don't seem to think it's realistic.

Construction Starting on New Office and Retail Space

People have been complaining for years about the empty lot at Third Avenue and Division. It's what greets people when they exit I90 for downtown, including many tourists and business travelers.

Well, it's about to get a makeover, according to the Spokesman-Review. The lot, sitting empty since a church was demolished in 2008, had a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for a two-story office and retail space called the Peppertree Plaza. The 16,000-square-foot building will have space for four or five restaurants and retail shops on the ground floor, according to the property owner, and half of the top floor will house business offices for the couple’s four motels, a chain of Best Western Peppertree Inns. The other half will be offered to tenants.

Einstein Bros. Bagels restaurant has already said they plan to open a a restaurant at the location and another business is reportedly preparing to sign a lease although it hasn't been released who it is.

Most of the building is expected to be completed by the end of the year. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Road Construction Won't Close Thor and Freya at Same Time

Don't panic! The folks at the City of Spokane want you to know that road closures will occur over the next week as construction along Thor and Freya Streets continues, but it will never be Thor and Freya both at the same time. Here are the planned closures:

·         Friday, July 17, 6 p.m. - Thor Street will be closed from Harston Street to 29th Avenue. Thor will reopen Sunday, July 19 in the evening. Monday, July 20, Thor will be open for the morning commute.

·         Tuesday, July 21, 6 a.m. - Freya Street from Harston Street to 29th Avenue will be closed through the end of August.

This work is part of the Underhill Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) 34-2 Tank for sewer main installation work at 8th Avenue and Ralph Street proceeding east across Thor and Freya Streets. 

SRTC Releases New, More Visual Maps

Ever wonder about the condition of the local bridges you drive over or which areas of the county have the most vehicle collisions? SRTC is rolling out some new maps that can answer those questions and others related to local transportation.

In 2014, we started using ArcGIS Online technology to create interactive maps to better illustrate information and data such as where construction projects are happening, the location of bicycling infrastructure throughout the county, population and employment centers in the area, and more. This was done in an effort to more fully involve you, the public, in transportation planning and activities.

Now we're expanding how we use online maps and creating new kinds of maps that are less traditional and more visual. For instance, the Transportation Improvement Projects- Before & After map uses photos to demonstrate how area roadways look before and after construction. It also includes the location of each project, a description of it, when it was completed and the project cost.

The Collisions 2009-2013 map is five maps in one. You can choose which “layer” to view (or all five at once) including collisions involving vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians, serious and fatal collisions, or all collisions between 2009 and 2013, the five most recent years of available data.

The Bridge Condition map shows bridges throughout Spokane County that are either structurally deficient (require repair or replacement of components such as cracked or broken concrete, or potentially the entire bridge) or functionally obsolete (the design of the bridge is not suitable for its current use and not able to handle traffic volumes, speeds, size or weight of today’s vehicles).

Other new maps include an overview of the Congestion Management Process (CMP) and the corridors studied in the CMP document, a review of “urban corridors” included in the Horizon 2040 long range transportation plan, and a map of SRTC’s Planning Boundaries and  partner agency’s areas of operation.


To check out all the new maps, and existing ones, go to the SRTC ArcGIS Online home page at https://srtc.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html

Transportation Package Officially Signed Into Law

Washington governor Jay Inslee signed a package of transportation bills into law yesterday that includes an 11.9 cent gasoline tax increase and about $16 billion worth of projects around the state.

The package took nearly three years of negotiations, compromises, false starts and debates in the Legislature.

The first 7 cents of the new gas tax starts Aug. 1.

The list of projects to be paid for with the gas tax increase includes about $1 billion for the Spokane area. Eight hundred seventy nine million of that will go to finish the North Spokane Corridor over approximately the next 14 years. The package also includes money for interchanges on Interstate 90 for Medical Lake and Liberty Lake, a passing lane on U.S. Highway 195 between Spangle and Colfax, the Spokane Transit Authority’s proposed Central City Line, the University District Gateway Bridge for bikes and pedestrians, and the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad rehabilitation. Construction on the projects is scheduled as far out as 2031.

Self-Parking Cars?

Say goodbye to valet parking, Volkswagen says this is the future of parking:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SRTC Committee Meetings Cancelled for July

SRTC committee meetings have been cancelled for July in order to give members a summer break. That means the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) will not have regularly scheduled meetings until August. 

However, a workshop on SRTC's Plan Review and Certification Process has been scheduled for the same date/time as the TTC meeting, July 22 from 1:30-3 p.m. at SRTC, for those TTC members that can attend. The workshop will cover questions/concerns regarding the process and include a presentation on SRTC's Level of Service (LOS) methodology and process.

Members of the public are welcome to observe.

Surplussed Honolulu Buses to House Homeless

What do transit services do with buses when they reach the end of their lifespan? In Honolulu, they're making them into transitional homes for homeless people.

Nonprofit Quarterly reports that the project to do so is the result of a partnership with the city and a local architecture firm, which will be renovating the buses into living and recreational areas while other buses will be outfitted solely with bathrooms and showers.

The effort relies heavily on volunteers to help convert the buses and materials being donated by local and national organizations.

It's not clear yet where the buses will be parked for this.

Here We Go Again

I received the following email from the Federal Transit Administration yesterday. At this point it doesn't look like SRTC would be impacted immediately but some other area agencies could be if we reach the "cash management" levels referenced.

As you know, the most recent Congressional extension of the current surface transportation authorization, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, is set to expire in less than 3 weeks on July 31.

As you may recall from the 2-day surface authorization lapse that occurred in March 2010, while revenue will still be deposited in the Highway Trust Fund, if Congress does not act prior to July 31, no new contract authority will be available for capital projects, essential maintenance, or operational support.

As a result, it is likely that some agencies would be forced to reduce vital transit services or cut routes. However, the Federal Transit Administration would continue to have the ability to reimburse grantees for costs obligated prior to the authorization lapsing subject to the availability of funds in the Mass Transit Account. If Congress doesn't take appropriate action the highway account would reach critical levels requiring cash management in this coming August and the Mass Transit account would reach similar critical levels this fall.

As you may know, the Administration's GROW AMERICA proposal and FY 2016 budget would request a call on Congress to enact a 6-year, $478 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal in an effort to provide long-term stability. Not only does this proposal provide States and local transit agencies with extended funding certainty, it also increases overall transportation investment by 45 percent, providing funding growth and smart policy reforms to strengthen the American economy.


Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information or assistance on this matter.

Ferry Gets A Second Use- As A Fish Taxi

The Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife used the Keller Ferry to release Kokanee Salmon in order to improve fish survival rates.

Due to the early warm weather, water temperatures at all the usual release locations in streams and along the shore were too warm, which can kill the fish.

About 300,000 juvenile Kokanee were released in the center of the river channel in early July where the water temperatures were cooler.  And it all happened without disrupting ferry service and providing a show for passengers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Help Determine What Features Will Be on the SRTMC Website With This Survey

You know those traffic cameras you see on the news? They all come into the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC), located within the SRTC offices. 

Twenty-four hours a day, people watch them in the SRTMC in order to alert the State Patrol or other authorities in case of an accident or debris on the road. 


The SRTMC helps the public by sending all the camera feeds to their website at www.srtmc.org. Many people check them in the morning before leaving for work or in the evening before leaving work. If there is a collision or the freeway is backed up, they know to use a different route, which helps to cut down on congestion, prevents further accidents and reduces air pollution.

 
The SRTMC is now is updating their website at
srtmc.org and are trying to determine what features are needed for the new site. They're asking your help to do this. Please take 3-5 minutes to complete this survey to help guide the development of the new SRTMC website.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Funding Sought For Traffic Signal Near Trent Elementary

Children who live close to Trent Elementary School have been bused for years because there is no safe way for them to cross busy Pines Road. The Spokane Valley Herald reports though that that may change if a new traffic signal is installed at the intersection of Pines and Mirabeau Parkway.

The city has matching funds – provided by the developer of the nearby apartments that house many of those kids – and now just needs to secure state funding.

That project, and others, could be funded through state Transportation Improvement Board funds that have been made available for this region. The traffic signal is a strong contender because the project is shovel-ready and due to the high traffic counts in the area.

It would also help Mirabeau Ranch residents living farther south have better access to their neighborhood. Traffic stopped at the light will give cars a chance to get on and off Pines from Grace and Buckeye avenues. A left-turn lane for drivers headed northbound on Pines at Grace is also being eyed.

Other Spokane Valley  projects that could receive state funding include:
  • Road-preservation work on McDonald Road between Eighth and Mission avenues.
  • Reconstruction at the intersection of Sullivan Road and Euclid Avenue.
  • Reconstruction at the intersections of Mullan and Argonne roads on Broadway Avenue.
  • Sidewalks on Bowdish Road between Eighth and 12th avenues near Opportunity Elementary School. Additional sidewalks on 11th Avenue on the south side of the street between Bowdish and Wilbur roads are also being considered.

Now That Money Has Been Dedicated to It, When Will The NSC be Completed?

The State Legislature recently passed a transportation package that increases the gas tax and dedicates money from it to a couple local projects. One of those projects is completion of the North Spokane Corridor (NSC). Now the question is, when will that happen?

An article in today's Spokesman-Review looks at the history of the NSC as well as when it is expected to be completed, now that money is available. 

Local Road Construction Update


For more information on all the projects below, and to see them in relation to each other on a map, check out SRTC's 2015 Spokane Regional Construction Map here. The map is updated as new projects start and existing ones wrap up.

You may notice that projects underway now are more prominent while ones that will start later this construction season are more in the background.

WSDOT
I-90 Eastbound/Division Street Vicinity- Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, July 13, 14, and 15, from about 9 a.m. to as late as 3 p.m., eastbound I-90 will be reduced to two lanes in downtown Spokane so crews can repair concrete barrierse. Eastbound drivers should expect congestion and slow traffic.  The eastbound Division off ramp will be open.

SR 206/Bruce Road to Mt. Spokane State Park Gate- Crews will be repairing pavement. Be alert for delays with flaggers and/or pilot cars directing single-lane, alternating traffic.

US 195-Southbound/I-90 to Excelsior Road- Be alert for southbound US 195 reduced to one lane in multiple work areas with possible slower traffic.  Crews will be replacing and fixing concrete panels.

SR 290-Trent Ave./Sullivan Road to Idaho State Line- Through Friday, July 10, be alert for daytime lane restrictions between Sullivan Road and Wellesley Ave. for paving and utility work. In addition, watch for lane restrictions on Sullivan Road between Trent and Wellesley.  

SPOKANE CITY

Let's Climb a Mountain Run- The 34.2 mile event is from Riverfront Park to the top of Mount Spokane. From 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. there will be temporary traffic stoppage for runners to cross at Mission at Upriver Drive and Francis at Freya Street.

Z Nation Filming- The SyFy Network show, Z Nation, is shooting their second season. During filming on Tuesday, July 14th Cedar Street from 1st Ave. to Riverside will be closed between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wilson Street between Maple and Main and Cedar Street from Main to Wilson will be closed between 12:00 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Ben Garnett Way Closure- Tuesday, July 14th till Friday, July 17th from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. crews will close the southbound lane of Ben Garnett Way to clean up the area below Cliff Drive.


Thor Lane Closure- Thor is reduced to one lane in each direction for installation of a combined sewer overflow tank. Work is at 8th Ave. and Ralph St. and proceeds east across Thor St. to Freya St. 

Urban Outfitters Construction- Construction fencing has been set up around 702 W Main. The fencing is scheduled to be up until demolition and construction of Urban Outfitters is complete in late June of 2016.

Heroy Closure- The 2300 block of Heroy Avenue will be closed from Tuesday, July 14th to Tuesday, July 21st for the installation of new water and sewer taps.

Monroe and Third Lane Closures- Garco Construction will be repairing the sidewalk at 1030 W 3rd from Monday, July 6th to Monday, July 13th. The western traffic lane of Monroe St. and northern traffic lane of 3rd will be closed along with the sidewalk.

Barnes Road Closure- Eller Corp. will have a 100% closure of Barnes Rd. from Farmdale St. to Indian Trail Rd. until Thursday, July 16th.
Havana Street from Glenrose to 37th- Glenrose Road from 57th Avenue to Havana Street is closed. Work has begun at the intersection of Freya and 44th on traffic and pedestrian improvements. Flaggers are controlling traffic. Improvements include full width pavement replacement, filling in sidewalk gaps and pilot project porous asphalt bicycle lanes.This project will also include installation of a water transmission main between 37th Avenue and the Brown Park reservoirs at 57th Avenue.

Arterial Curb Ramp Projects- This project calls for Installation of ADA-compliant curb ramps at each intersection corner ahead of the City of Spokane scheduled street maintenance grind and overlay projects. Construction on Grand Blvd at intersections from 23rd Avenue to 28th Avenue has begun.

Stormwater Facility Construction Road Closures- Columbia from Downriver Drive to H Street and H Street from Columbia to Northwest Blvd are closed to traffic to install a 900,000 gallon stormwater storage tank.  

Hatch Road Combined Sewer Overflow facilities- This project will construct three Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) storage facilities at 43rd Avenue and Garfield Street.
43rd from Scott Street to Garfield St. is closed.
Perry Street Closures- Grind and overlay work is finishing up on Perry from Mission to Indiana with full closures. Use Hamilton as a detour.

Northwest Boulevard Grind and Overlay Lane Closures- Crews will be working on Northwest Blvd. from Lindeke St. to C St. starting Tuesday, July 14th until Thursday, July 23rd.  Traffic will be maintained with one lane in each direction.

SPOKANE COUNTY

Christensen Road Bridge- Removal and replacement of this bridge over Deep Creek in west Spokane County. A marked detour is in place.   

Wellesley Ave. Sidewalks (Harvard to Arden)- Rebuilding and adding sidewalks. Watch for flaggers.

Palouse Highway (Jamieson to Freya & Windmill to Jamieson)- Pavement Removal and replacement. 57th to Freya is now open. 57th south to Windmill has speed and lane restrictions in place.

Old Trails/ Inland Road from Marchand Road to Seven Mile Road- Project to widen and pave Old Trail and Inland Roads starts Monday, July 13. 

Five Mile Road between Vel View Drive and Gail Jean Lane- Avista will close this stretch of road to do gas line work through the end of August.

Grove Road (200’ south of Thorpe Rd intersection)- Schimmels Construction will close this section of road for sewer/utility line work through July 20.

SPOKANE VALLEY

Argonne from Knox to Trent - Expect lane reductions and congestion for road work.  On Wednesday, July 15, there will be no left turns from Argonne onto Knox in either direction.  The sidewalk on the east side of Argonne remains closed; follow the posted detour.  

Mansfield at Houk intersection - Narrowed lanes for utility work through late July.

Maxwell from Pines through the Houk intersection - Closed to traffic through late July for roadwork.  Access Valley Hospital via Mission and Houk or Vercler.

Sinto from Pines through the Houk intersection - Narrowed lanes for utility work through late July.

Sullivan from Sprague to Mission - Reduced to two lanes in each direction around the clock through late July.

Sullivan Road Bridge Replacement Project- The southbound Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River is closed until spring 2016 for bridge demolition and replacement work. All traffic is shifted onto the northbound bridge with one lane northbound and two lanes southbound between Indiana and the Sullivan Park traffic signal. Turns from Indiana onto northbound Sullivan are reduced to one lane.

Trent at Argonne - Intermittent closures of the right turn lane from Trent onto southbound Argonne all week.

The following locations will be closed to through traffic until September 2015 for water main work:
·         25th Avenue (between Bowdish and University)
·         22nd Avenue (between University and Sunrise)
·         Chinook (between Sunrise and Oberlin)
·         Oberlin (between Chinook and 16th Avenue)
·         Sunrise (between University and Chinook)

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.