Monday, November 30, 2015

New "Air Band" Keeps Track of Children Flying Alone

Your days may be over of worrying about your child who is flying unaccompanied by an adult. Australian Aviation says Air New Zealand is introducing the ‘Airband’ wristbands for children  flying alone. The band trigger text messages to be sent to parents and caregivers (up to five people at a time) at key stages of travel.

The wristband is embedded with a chip that sends messages when scanned, such as at check-in at the airport to confirm registration; upon boarding; when the flight has landed and the child/children are handed over to ground staff; and when they are picked up by the designated pick up person.

The Airband is currently free until February 3, after which date a booking fee will apply.

Phones Use May Have Contributed to Increase In U.S. Traffic Deaths

Yikes- traffic deaths were up 8.1% in the first half of 2015 and officials say smartphones could be to
blame.

According to Reuters, statistics released this weekend showed deaths rising to 16,225 between January and June. While the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says there's not enough information yet to determine how big of a role phones play in this data, Mark Rosekind says the increase in phone use is so significant that there's no question there's a connection.

The recent jump in fatalities follows a period in 2014 where traffic deaths were at a record low, the lowest in fact since 1975. The 2014 data included 21,022 passenger vehicle deaths.

The 2015 increase is the biggest six-month jump in traffic deaths since 1977. But the numbers could level out when the data for the rest of the year becomes available.

Besides cell phones, Rosekind says gas prices may have also contributed to the increase in traffic deaths. More affordable gas means "risky drivers" such as teenagers were driving more.

Input Needed on How the Transportation Planning Process Meets the Needs of Our Area

Every four years, SRTC is required to go through what is called a federal transportation planning certification review to ensure the agency is in accordance with state and federal planning regulations.

On Monday and Tuesday, December 1 and 2, 2015, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will be in the SRTC office to review our planning process, including organization and management, planning agreements, plan development, public involvement, congestion management, project selection/monitoring, financial constraint, environmental justice, freight, air quality, and more.

In conjunction with this review, a public meeting will be held to provide the public an opportunity to express thoughts and comments on the transportation planning process and how it meets the needs of the Spokane metropolitan area. The meeting is Tuesday, December 1 from 5:30-7:30 pm, at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA.

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. Those who cannot, but have thoughts to share, can submit comments in writing to either FTA or FHWA via mail or e-mail by December 1, 2015 to:

Sidney Stecker, Federal Highway Administration, 711 S. Capitol Way, Suite 501, Olympia, WA  98501, sidney.stecker@ dot.gov, 360/753-9555.


Ned Conroy,      Federal Transit Administration, 915 Second Street, Room 3142, Seattle, WA 98174-1002, Ned.conroy@dot.gov 206/220-4318.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

European Bike Stealing Championships 2015- Enough Said

Thanksgiving Office Closures

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, all area government offices, including SRTC, will be closed this Thursday and Friday, November 26 and 27. Everybody re-opens at regular time on Monday, November 30.

Thanksgiving Day is also a parking meter holiday with parking at meters being free.  For the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend, normal meter use rules apply.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Zig Zag Road Stripes Slow Virginia Drivers

What do you do if you're driving down the road and all of a sudden the straight white lines stat to zig zag? This actually happens in Virginia and it's not because the paint crew was drunk.

According to Streetsblog USA, the unusual markings are a pilot project from the Virginia Department of Transportation and are meant to alert drivers that the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail intersects with the road and it's likely bicyclists and pedestrians will be crossing the road.

After studying the markings for a year now, the Virginia DOT says they are effective and should become part of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.


VDOT found the zig zag markings slowed vehicle speeds, increased awareness of pedestrians and cyclists, and increased the likelihood that drivers would yield. They also noted that the markings were effective even after drivers got used to them- they continued to slow down a year after they were installed.


The zig zag concept was imported from Europe. It is currently used in only two other locations in North America: Hawaii and Ottawa, Ontario. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Teen Truckers- Coming to a Highway Near You?

Safety groups aren't liking the proposed highway bill that the House and Senate are planning to deliver to President Obama on Dec. 4. They say it will make our roads more dangerous due to budget cuts for auto safety watchdog groups, a loophole that lets car dealers use defective cars as loaners, and a provision that would put teenagers behind the wheel in semi trucks. Wait- what? Yes, you read that right.

One provision in both the House and Senate bills would start pilot programs to allow teenagers, as young as 18, to drive big trucks and buses across state lines. The current minimum age for truckers driving through multiple states is 21.

Officials for the American Trucking Association says not to worry though, no one is setting kids loose in a big rig. He says the program would be the first step toward a graduated licensing program for commercial drivers and a way to get younger people into a field that is facing a major shortage of drivers.

Here's more on this issue from Politico.

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 projects wrap up.

WSDOT
Windstorm Update-  As of 8 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, all eastern Washington state highways are open except Stevens Pass on US 2.  Up to the minute state highway status info is always available at: www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts

EWU Football Congestion- On Saturday, Nov. 21, expect congestion on I-90 between Spokane and Four Lakes plus SR 904 from Four Lakes to Cheney as fans travel to and from the EWU Eagle football game.  Game time is 2:05 p.m. 

WSU Football Congestion- Also on Saturday, Nov. 21, expect congestion on US 195 and SR 27 between Spokane and Pullman, plus SR 26 between Vantage and Colfax, as fans travel to and from the WSU Cougar football game.  Game time is 7:45 p.m. 

Vicinity of Cheney & Four Lakes/Rail Crossing Replacements- On Thursday and Friday, November 19 and 20, White Road west of Craig Road will be closed.  Signed detours will be in place. These closures are 24 hours a day and located just north of Cheney.  All SR 904 lanes are open.

SPOKANE CITY
Addison/Standard Bicycle/Pedestrian Corridor from Buckeye to Holland- Concrete work is complete.  Striping will be complete in the springWork on Lincoln and Standard heading north to Magnesium is for sidewalk and driveway installation. This project will complete a bicycle and pedestrian corridor by adding new bike lanes and sidewalks along the entire corridor and improve existing bike lanes.
Francis Avenue, Division to East City Limits- This project calls for installation of Variable Message Signs, Closed Circuit TV systems, fiber optic cables, and other related miscellaneous items. There will be intermittent lane closures for the duration of the project, which is expected to be completed by the end of November.

Hartson Avenue from Altamont to Fiske- This project to reconstruct the roadway, fill sidewalk gaps, replacing curing and water lines will continue in spring 2016. 

Havana Street from Glenrose to 37th- This project will continue in spring 2016. Improvements include full width pavement replacement, filling sidewalk gaps and installing bicycle lanes.  

High Drive and Hatch Road- 43rd Avenue from Scott to Garfield Street is closed. This project will construct a storage facility for a Combined Sewage Overflow Basin, with connecting piping, interceptor inlet vault, flush systems, regulator and controls at 43rd Avenue and Garfield Street. 

Monroe/Lincoln Couplet, 4th Avenue to 2nd Avenue- Lincoln/Monroe is open to traffic with intermittent lane restrictions for finishing punchlist items. Work on 5th Avenue has been delayed to spring of 2016.

Adams and 2nd Closure- Adams Street will be closed near the intersection of Adams and 2nd from 11/23 to 12/2 for new water taps.

Northwest Boulevard Opening- Paving is complete on Northwest Boulevard and the street will open once the downed tree is removed. The project includes the installation of a Combined Sewage Overflow 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 sidewalk repairs will happen in select areas. Many driveways will be replaced to match the new street grade. 

Ray Street from 29th to 17th- Ray street is open. Improvements include the use of preservation treatments that include crack sealing, grind and overlay and pavement rejuvenation techniques. Pedestrian improvements include upgrades to ADA curb ramps and minor curb and sidewalk repairs.


Riverpark Square Holiday Westbound Lane Closure Schedule- Every Holiday season River Park Square closes one westbound lane and provides flagging to allow vehicles to leave the parking garage just west of Post Street. Here is this weekend's schedule:
  •  Friday, November 20           (6 p.m. – 10 p.m.) – Santa’s Arrival

SPOKANE COUNTY
No current projects that impact traffic.

SPOKANE VALLEY
Sullivan Road Bridge Replacement Project Area- The southbound Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River is closed until Summer 2016 for replacement. Traffic is reduced to one lane northbound and two lanes southbound. 
·         Expect reductions at times to one lane southbound Monday through Friday between 5 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
·         Turns from Indiana onto northbound Sullivan are reduced to one lane.
·         The Centennial Trail below the bridge is closed around the clock for the next several weeks.  Signs redirect trail users onto surface streets.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Take Our Web Survey to Show Us How You Would Spend $50M

If you had a whole bunch of money to spend on local transportation- say $50 million- how would you spend it?

Would your money go to projects that make our roadways safer? Or to fix potholes and other poor roadway conditions. What about bike lanes and sidewalks? 

We want to hear your priorities when it comes to transportation. Please take our web survey to let us know how transportation funding should be divvied up.

New federal and state regulations require SRTC to create and track performance measures and targets to ensure the transportation system is developing as planned. To do this, we must first identify what measures and targets to set.  

The web tool will help you understand how investments and outcomes are related and also allows you to identify priorities of the region that will help develop those targets. The tool allows users to choose an estimated level at which they would fund categories such as roadway preservation, congestion management, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, transit improvements and transportation safety.

As you allocate money to each category, graphics show just how far that amount would go. For roadway preservation, the amount of lane miles repaired changes as you change the funding for that category. For bicycle and pedestrian improvements, the percentage of people commuting by bike or walking increases or decreases as you add or subtract money.

The $50 million available for distribution on the web tool is based on the approximate amount of money projected to be invested in the local transportation system by SRTC over the next five years.  Once you have made your budgeting decisions, you can compare your results to others who have used the web tool and learn about the next steps in the performance measurements development process.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Downed Trees Within City of Spokane Mapped

I've been talking to a lot of people who say they're fine after last night's wind storm, but they're trying to find ways out of their neighborhoods because so many roads are blocked by downed trees. While City of Spokane tree crews have been responding to these downed trees, the GIS department has been mapping them so you can figure out what is the best route to get where you're going safely. Updates to the map are being posted as crews get trees cleaned up too.

To report a downed tree call 625.7733. Please use extreme caution around downed power lines and report them to Avista at 800.227.9187.

City crews are responding to downed tree calls in order of priority. Arterial locations are the first concern, residential streets second and finally side streets.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

WSDOT Wants Your Input on Public Transportation In Washington

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is looking for your input on the draft Washington State Public Transportation Plan.What is the Public Transportation Plan? It's a blueprint to help guide decisions and integrate all modes of public transportation to better meet the needs of all over the next twenty years.

And, for the first time, when this plan refers to "public transportation," it's not just talking about buses. In this instance, public transportation means walking, bicycling, carpooling, car-sharing, ferries, buses; anything that's not a single person in a vehicle driving alone.

After reviewing the plan, WSDOT asks that you take their survey on the Washington State Public Transportation Plan, public transportation in our state, and what you'd like to see improved in your area's transportation system. You can take that survey online here.

Cameras to Catch School Zone Speeders Will Be Activated Today

Cameras aimed at catching speeders in school zones will be activated today near two Spokane elementary schools, according to the Spokesman-Review.

The cameras are on Nevada Street near Longfellow Elementary and on Northwest Boulevard adjacent to Finch Elementary. A third camera, planned to be installed in the spring, will be near Stevens Elementary.

The cameras will only operate during school hours.There will be a grace period for those caught speeding on camera though- violators of the 20 mph speed limit will be mailed warnings until Jan. 4. After that, tickets will start at $214 and go up to $808, depending on the violation. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

No More Early Morning Flashing Traffic Signals on Indian Trail

Starting today (Monday), the City of Spokane will terminate programmed flash – setting traffic signals to flash during early morning hours – at three intersections on Indian Trail Road.

Programmed flash will be eliminated at the following intersections:

·         Barnes Road and Indian Trail
·         Pacific Park Drive and Indian Trail
·         Shawnee Avenue and Indian Trail

Vehicle detection systems were recently installed at each intersection, so programmed flash is no longer needed to keep traffic moving. Vehicle detection allows the signals to respond promptly to vehicle demand. The system will allow for more efficient service during low volumes times when programmed flash was previously used (1 a.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays and 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends). 

Centennial Trail Extension

Sontag Park
The Friends of the Centennial Trail group just announced that they have made a $20,000 matching funds gift to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission for the Centennial Trail extension in Nine Mile Falls, WA. The Northwest Extension will add nearly two miles of Class 1 separated trail from Sontag Park to the Nine Mile Falls Recreation Area. The project launched in October and will be completed in spring, 2016.
The gift was donated from the Trail Builder's Fund of Friends of the Centennial Trail, created to provide community-based funding for trail completion and enhancement projects. Major sources of donations to the Trail Builder's Fund are private, designated gifts and proceeds from the annual Spokane Bike Swap & Expo. 

The Northwest Extension will bring trail users to the Nine Mile Falls Recreation Area on Lake Spokane, owned by Avista and managed by Riverside State Park, approximately 39 miles from the Washington/Idaho state line. And, with the additional 24 miles in Idaho, Centennial Trail users can enjoy over 60 miles of trail "book-ended" by lakes and following the Spokane River, with Lake Coeur d'Alene on the east and Lake Spokane on the northwest.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Local 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 Westbound/Sprague Ave. Interchange to Havana- On Saturday, Nov. 14, from about 8:30 p.m. until as late as noon on Sunday, Nov. 15, westbound Interstate 90 will be reduced to one lane between the Sprague Ave. Interchange and Havana Street for pedestrian overpass repairs. Be alert for slow traffic and congestion. In addition, the westbound Sprague Ave./ Fancher Rd. on-ramp with be closed.  A signed detour for this on-ramp will be available.  All off-ramps will be open.

Vicinity of Cheney & Four Lakes/Rail Crossing Replacements- On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Nov.  17, 18 and 19, Cheney-Spokane Road just east of SR 904 will be closed for railroad crossing replacement. On Tuesday and Wednesday, November 17 &18, Medical Lake-Four Lakes Road just west of SR 904 will be closed. On Thursday and Friday, November 19 & 20, Craig Road at the intersection with Medical Lake-Four Lakes Road will be closed. On Thursday and Friday, November 19 & 20, White Road west of Craig Road will be closed. Signed detours will be in place for each closure. These closures are 24 hours a day.  These are located just north of Cheney.  All SR 904 lanes are open.

SPOKANE CITY
Addison/Standard Bicycle/Pedestrian Corridor from Buckeye to Holland- 
Work is progressing on Lincoln and Standard heading north to Magnesium to build a bicycle and pedestrian corridor. Traffic control is in place with possible lane restrictions. The project will add new bike lanes and sidewalks along the entire corridor and make improvements to existing bike lanes.

Maple Street Bridge Work- Be alert for lane reductions on the Maple Street Bridge as crews work on it.

Community Development SidewalksCrews are working on Southeast Boulevard from Rockwood Boulevard to 27th Avenue to construct curb, sidewalks and ADA ramps. Traffic control is in place during the day.

First Avenue from Helena to AltamontFirst Avenue is now open.

Francis Avenue- Division to East City Limits Communication Project- This project calls for installation of Variable Message Signs, Closed Circuit TV systems, fiber optic cables, and other items. Intermittent lane closures.

Hartson Avenue from Altamont Street to Fiske Street- Paving is complete on Hartson from Fiske to Smith Street and is open to traffic. Work on this project is complete for the 2015 season.  Smith to Altamont will finish spring 2016.

Havana Street from Glenrose Road to 37th Avenue- Havana paving continues but other items, including bike lane installation, will be completed in spring. Improvements include full width pavement replacement, filling sidewalk gaps and installing a water main between 37th Avenue and the Brown Park reservoirs at 57th Avenue.

High Drive and Hatch Road- 43rd Avenue from Scott to Garfield Street is closed to construct a storage facility for a sewer overflow tank at 43rd Avenue and Garfield Street. 

Monroe/Lincoln Street Couplet, 4th Avenue to 2nd AvenueFinal asphalt paving on both Lincoln and Monroe from 2nd to 4th Avenues is complete. Crews and equipment are occupying various portions of the street to complete minor items. Work on the 5th Avenue water main installation has been delayed to spring 2016 due to complications.

Second Avenue Lane Closure- One lane and the sidewalk will be closed on the north side of 2nd Avenue between Spokane Street and Cowley Street.

Bridgeport Closure- Bridgeport will be closed between Thor and Ralph from Nov. 16 to Nov. 23 for new water and sewer connections and a driveway approach.

Cataldo and Division Lane Closures-
The westbound lane on Cataldo and left southbound lane of Division will be closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18 to place fiber.

Northwest Boulevard and Columbia Circle- 
Paving has begun on Northwest Boulevard from H Street to Garland. 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 and connected to the new main along Columbia Circle. Columbia Circle, H Street and Glass Avenue will be repaved and sidewalks repaired in select areas. 


Ray/Thor Street from 29th Avenue to 17th Avenue- Paving of Ray Street is complete. Work on this project is scheduled to complete Friday, November 13. Improvements include preservation treatments and pavement rejuvenation techniques. Pedestrian improvements include upgrades to ADA curb ramps and minor curb and sidewalk repairs.

Rowan Avenue Improvements from Driscoll Boulevard to Alberta Street- Rowan is complete and open to traffic. This project reconstructed Driscoll Blvd. to Monroe Street, filled sidewalk gaps and will include bike lanes. The portion from Driscoll Boulevard to Fotheringham will be completed in spring of 2016.  Rowan will reopen for traffic in early November.

Wall Street ClosuresSpokane Falls Boulevard has lane restrictions between Howard and Wall Street.  Traffic control begins at Washington to move traffic towards the north side lanes. The south left turn lane at Howard Street is open. This work is part of the Wall Street Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project and will include the installation of a manhole, catch basins, and a clean water drainThis work will continue through the end of the month.

Wall Street from Main Street to Spokane Falls Boulevard remains closed. 

SPOKANE COUNTY
No projects currently underway that impact traffic.


SPOKANE VALLEY
Mullan and Valleyway- Lane reductions on Mullan and a portion of Valleyway at Mullan from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. until late November. Pedestrians are redirected to use the existing crosswalk on the north side of the intersection.
Sprague/Bowdish intersection- The westbound curb lane is closed on Sprague just west of Bowdish from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday, Nov 13.

Sullivan Road Bridge Replacement Project Area:
·         The southbound Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River is closed until Summer 2016 for bridge demolition and replacement work. Traffic remains reduced to one lane northbound and two lanes southbound. 
·         Expect reductions at times to one lane southbound Monday through Friday between 5:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
·         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.

How Much Each WA State County Gets For Their Transpo Tax Dollars

An article on KREM.com that originated at KING 5 News in Seattle, says taxpayers in some Washington state counties get more out of their transportation tax dollars than others.

A new WSDOT study outlines the estimated return on transportation projects for every dollar contributed by people within each county. Transportation taxes mostly consist of the 38-cent state and federal gas tax, but also taxes from bonded projects, licensing and ferry fees.

Garfield County residents see the most return for their money at $3.69 on the dollar. Franklin County has the least return with a 52-cent return in transportation projects for every $1 in taxes. In King County, residents see a $1.01 return on their $1 investment. Spokane County only sees $0.78 return.

Elected officials in some counties, like Snohomish, are not happy, saying the return is not fair as the county contributes an above-average amount to the overall state's economy due to Boeing and other aerospace companies being located there.

The 2015 results from this study, done every two years, are at this link. Here's the full list of how much each county gets back for its transportation dollar:

  • Garfield: $3.69
  • Lincoln: $3.13
  • Ferry: $2.85
  • San Juan: $2.63
  • Jefferson: $2.58
  • Adams: $2.25
  • Pacific: $2.18
  • Wahkiakum: $2.15
  • Columbia: $2.08
  • Pend Orielle: $1.66
  • Kittitas: $1.66
  • Skagit: $1.64
  • Grays Harbor: $1.54
  • Klickitat: $1.42
  • Skamania: $1.37
  • Douglas: $1.32
  • Lewis: $1.30
  • Whitman: $1.25
  • Walla Walla: $1.09
  • King: $1.01
  • Okanogan: $1.01
  • Whatcom: 99 cents
  • Island: 96 cents
  • Kitsap: 95 cents
  • Cowlitz: 94 cents
  • Chelan: 94 cents
  • Snohomish: 92 cents
  • Pierce: 92 cents
  • Grant: 89 cents
  • Thurston: 88 cents
  • Clark: 88 cents
  • Stevens: 79 cents
  • Spokane: 78 cents
  • Clallam: 70 cents
  • Yakima: 69 cents
  • Mason: 62 cents
  • Benton: 60 cents
  • Asotin: 56 cents
  • Franklin: 52 cents

Off-Site Location for Nov. 18 Transportation Technical Committee Meeting

The monthly meeting of the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) is next Wednesday, November 18. It's at a different location than normal though. The meeting will be held at Enduris Washington, at 1610 S. Technology Blvd., Suite 100. That's right off Highway 2 near Airway Heights. It's the road before Flint Road.

As always, all SRTC committee meetings are open to everyone. Here's the agenda. If you see something that interests you, feel free to attend.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Ridesharing Company Has Rides Starting at $2

You've got Uber, Lyft and now Split. Split is a new Washington, DC-based ride-sharing iPhone app (the Android version is coming soon) similar to Uber and Lyft, only cheaper. How can they do it for less money and be competitive? When you request your ride, you specify both your location and destination so the company's software can match up riders with similar trajectories. This lets drivers pick up multiple passengers and collect multiple fares at once.

Every Split ride costs $2, plus $1 per mile. The company's CEO says that, because they're taking a carpooling approach, they're providing an average of four or five rides per hour, per driver. That's compared to 1.47 riders per hour provided by Uber drivers.

Split is limited to the DC area now but it is expected to expand. 

Study Says Bike Helmets Don't Make You Safer, More Bicyclists Do

If you want to increase bicycling safety, forget the helmet laws and get more people out there riding. That according to a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia evaluating safety outcomes for cyclists across Canadian provinces and territories.

Study author Kay Teschke and a team of researchers found that areas with helmet laws didn't have less cases of hospitalization for bicycle accidents. But communities where more people bike, whether there is a helmet law or not, DID have less bike accident hospitalizations. The thought process is that these communities have less- or maybe less severe- accidents because they have more bicycling infrastructure.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting One Week Early This Month

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the November Transportation Advisory Committee's (TAC's) November meeting has been moved up one week to November 16. So that means the meeting agenda and packet is already available. You can find the agenda here. The meeting starts at 3 p.m. As always, all SRTC committee meetings are open to the public so feel free to attend if you see something on the agenda that interests you.

Less People Died in Subway Incidents in 2015

Here's some good news. If you live in New York. Apparently subway passengers are more hardy than they used to be because more people are surviving after being hit by trains than in the past. Trains struck 181 people in 2015, killing 41 people.

At the same time last year, 171 riders were hit and 52 died. Here's more from A.M. New York if you're interested.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Veterans Day Closures


This Wednesday, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day and several area government offices will be closed in observance. SRTC and the City of Spokane will be open however.

Spokane Valley and Spokane County offices will be closed.

Parking meters don’t have to be plugged Wednesday so if you're coming downtown, parking will be free on the street.


Transportation Advisory Committee Needs New Members

Tomorrow is the deadline to apply to be on SRTC's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), so get in gear if you haven't submitted an application yet and you plan to.

SRTC is the lead agency for all of Spokane County when it comes to making transportation decisions. Our Board is made up of elected officials and others from all around the area who take on the big transportation issues and set policies.

The TAC advises the Board on the agency's plans, programs and activities, helps develop and review transportation policies, and provides transparency and a community perspective. TAC Members represent the general public and groups including, but not limited to, people with disabilities, senior citizens, youth, the business and freight moving communities, traditional automobile users and advocates for non-motorized transportation or public transit.

We particularly need women to apply.

TAC members serve three year terms and the group meets six times a year, every other month. 

TAC applications and more information on the committee are available at http://www.srtc.org/tac_page.html. The application period ends at 4 p.m. tomorrow, November 10. 

Friday, November 6, 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

US 195 and SR 27 Congestion- On Saturday, November 7, expect congestion on US 195 and SR 27 between Spokane and Pullman, plus SR 26 between Vantage and Colfax, as fans travel to and from the WSU Cougar football game.  Game time is 12:30 p.m.


SR 904 Congestion- On Saturday, November 7, from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., traffic on SR 904/Main Street will be detoured to adjacent streets between “B” Street and Union Street for EWU homecoming activities.  Also, on Saturday, November 7, drivers on I-90 between Spokane and Four Lakes, plus SR 904 from Four Lakes to Cheney should expect congestion as fans travel to and from the EWU Eagle football game.  Game time is 3 p.m.  

Vicinity of Cheney Four Lakes/Rail Crossing Replacements- On Wednesday and Thursday, November 11 and 12, Paradise Road, just west of SR 904, will be closed. A detour will be in place.  On Friday and Saturday, November 13 & 14, Jenson Road just west of SR 904 will be closed, with a detour in place. These closures are 24 hours a day for railroad crossing replacement.  These are located just north of Cheney.  All SR 904 lanes are open.

SPOKANE CITY
Addison/Standard Bicycle/Pedestrian Corridor from Buckeye to Holland- 
Work is underway on Lincoln and Standard heading north to Magnesium for sidewalk and driveway installation. Traffic control is in place with possible lane restrictions. This project will complete a major bicycle and pedestrian corridor.  It will add new bike lanes and sidewalks along the entire corridor and make improvements to existing bike lanes.

Community Development Sidewalks- Crews will be working on Southeast Boulevard from Rockwood Boulevard to 27th Avenue. Traffic control will be in place with flaggers during the day. This project is the removal and construction of concrete curb, sidewalk and ADA curb ramps. 

First Avenue from Helena to AltamontFirst Avenue paving is complete. Lane restrictions are in place for signing and striping. This project also has a grind-and-overlay pavement preservation project that includes minor subgrade repair, crack sealing, ADA ramps, striping and traffic control.

Francis Avenue- Division to East City Limits- This project calls for installation of Variable Message Signs, Closed Circuit TV systems, fiber optic cables, and other related miscellaneous items. Drivers will see intermittent lane closures for the duration of the project, which is expected to be completed by the end of November. Camera installation remains.

Hartson Avenue from Altamont Street to Fiske Street- 
Paving is complete on Hartson from Fiske to Smith Street. Traffic Island installation goes through Tuesday, November 10 at the intersection of Hartson and Fiske.  Crews will be cleaning stormwater and sewer structures along Hartson from Fiske to Smith on Monday, November 9 through Friday, November 13. Hartson will open from Fiske to Smith Street tentatively November 13, weather permitting. This project includes reconstructing the roadway, filling sidewalk gaps, replacing curbing where needed and installing ADA curb ramps. 

Havana Street from Glenrose to 37thHavana paving continuesImprovements include full width pavement replacement, filling sidewalk gaps and bicycle lanes. 

High Drive and Hatch Road-  43rd Avenue from Scott to Garfield Street is closed. This project will construct a storage facility for CSO Basin 20 at 43rd Avenue and Garfield Street. 

Madison Street ClosureMadison Street from 3rd Avenue to Freeway Avenue North is closed.
The redevelopment of the area for the Larry H Miller project will create an “Auto District” with streetscape amenities.  This project is in general bounded by Monroe Street on the east, Adams Street on the west, 2nd to the North, and Freeway Avenue to the South. 

Monroe/Lincoln Couplet- Crews are paving both Lincoln and Monroe from 2nd to 4th Avenues.  Fourth Avenue from Monroe to Lincoln is set to pave Tuesday, November 10, weather permitting.  Paving of all streets on this project will involve paving half of the road sections and switching traffic over to the newly paved half after it has cooled, then paving the remaining half.

Northwest Boulevard and Columbia Circle Sewer Work- 
Columbia Circle and Glass Street are paved and open. H Street remains closed. 
This 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.

Ray/Thor Street from 17th to 29th Avenues- 
Paving of Ray Street is complete. Traffic island installations are underway with the two inside lanes closed. One lane in each direction remains open in the outside lanes next to the curbs.  Ray Street will open tentatively November 10.

Rowan from Driscoll Boulevard to Alberta Street- 
 “A” street from Francis to Wellesley Avenue will be closed for the final time this year, Thursday November 5 through Friday, November 6, for paving completion of Rowan Avenue.  The intersection of north “A” Street and Rowan Avenue will be closed for this paving.

Trent and Regal Street- 
Trent and Regal Street will be paved and opened Friday, November 6. This project will construct stormwater treatment installation and disposal facilities such as swales in various locations throughout the project. 
Lane restrictions will be in place until weather closes the project for winter. Work continues on Springfield from Trent to Napa.

Spokane Falls BoulevardSpokane Falls Boulevard has lane restrictions between Howard and Wall Street. Traffic control begins at Washington to move traffic towards the north side lanes.  The south left turn lane at Howard Street is open. This work is part of the Wall Street Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project and will include the installation of a manhole, catch basins, and a clean water drain.  This work will continue through the end of the month.

SPOKANE COUNTY
No current projects that impact traffic.
SPOKANE VALLEY
32nd & Collins- Narrowed lanes from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. through late November.  A pedestrian detour is posted for students from University High School.

Argonne and Valleyway Intersection- Lane reductions on Argonne and a portion of Valleyway from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. through late November. Pedestrians are redirected to the crosswalk on the north side of the intersection.

Indiana at Spokane Valley Mall Entrance #2 - Reduced to one lane in each direction weekdays from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. through late November. At least one lane will remain open at all times and access to the mall will remain available.

Mullan and Valleyway- Lane reductions on Mullan and a portion of Valleyway at Mullan from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. until late November. Pedestrians will be redirected to use the existing crosswalk on the north side of the intersection.
Sullivan Road Bridge Replacement Project Area:
·         The southbound Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River is closed until Summer 2016 for bridge demolition and replacement work.  Traffic is reduced to one lane northbound and two lanes southbound. 
·         Reductions at times to one lane southbound Monday through Friday between 5 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
·         Turns from Indiana onto northbound Sullivan are reduced to one lane.

Map Shows Every Traffic Fatality in the U.S.


Streets in Atlanta with a high concentration of pedestrian fatalities. Image viaAt SRTC, we keep track of traffic fatalities and serious injury accidents within Spokane County. And we put them on maps so you, and our planning staff, can see what areas need safety improvements. On a much larger scale, a map of every single traffic fatality in the U.S. between 2004 and 2013 has recently been released.

Zoom in to our area and you can see information such if alcohol or speeding were a factor in collisions and information on the victims, such as the sex of the person killed, if they were the driver, a passenger, pedestrian, etc.

If you want to get really close to home, entering your address in the search bar to see fatal collisions in your direct neighborhood.

The developer of the map says that 58% percent of the collisions on the map were caused by either alcohol, speeding, or driver distractions; speeding in particular.

New App Let's You Rate Drivers Around You

You know those bumper stickers truckers have on their semis that say something along the lines of
"How's my driving? Call ____ to tell my company how I'm doing"? Well your car could soon have something similar. A new app called Blinkr bills itself as "like Yelp for drivers" in that you can rate the drivers around you and they can view your messages and ratings in real-time. Sounds like a recipe for road rage to me.

To post on Blinkr, you just enter the driver's license plate info into the app then express yourself. Here's more info and where you can download it if you're really that into giving feedback.

What are your thoughts on this?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Boston Parking Spot on the Market for $650,000

Don't complain about having to pay $5 to park in downtown Spokane again. In some cities, people pay a premium for parking. Like Boston, for instance, where a parking spot in the city's elite Beacon Hill neighborhood has come on the market (yes- as in come on the market like in real estate) for $650,000.

CNBC reports that, if the space sells for the asking price, it will be the most expensive parking spot ever sold in the city. And it would be more expensive than half the condominiums in the Boston real estate market.

"Unit #236" is inside what is described by the real estate listing as the"coveted Brimmer Street Garage." 

Britain Paints a Pedestrian "Fast Lane"

In large cities it happens fairly often. You're in hurry to make an appointment, get to work etc., but you get stuck behind slow walkers or someone barely moving because they're checking their phone. No longer a problem in Britain, where the first pedestrian "fast lane" was striped this week.

The Telegraph reports that retailer Argos has painted new markings on the pavement outside its Liverpool store after research showed that almost half the nation found the slow pace of major shopping areas (known as "high streets") to be their biggest pet peeve.
In total, 28.8 million Britons said they would like a pavement fast lane installed in their local high street to ensure less time is spent dodging the masses.

Copenhagen Rush Hour

When I say "rush hour" you think thousands of cars bumper-to-bumper honking at each other right? Well rush hour looks a little different in Copenhagen. Around 8 a.m. everyday, half a million people jump on their bikes and head into the city's center. The video below is a typical intersection on a typical weekday. For every car, there are dozens of bikes.

What's particularly cool about it though is that Copenhagen doesn't have a so-called "spandex-clad" bike culture"- just people riding because it's the quickest, most effective method of transportation.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Volvo Developing Technology To Help You Avoid Kangaroos

You know those deer whistle things you can put on your car that supposedly warn deer that you're coming and not to jump out in front of you on the road? Well that's child's play compared to what Volvo has recently developed.

NBC News reports that the car maker is working on technology to avoid kangaroos. Yes, kangaroos. Apparently they're a major nuisance to drivers in Australia, with around 20,000 hit by cars each year because they behave erratically when approached by vehicles.

The Volvo technology will include using a camera and radar to detect kangaroos and automatically apply the brakes. I'm thinking you won't be able to purchase the Volvo with kangaroo-avoidance system in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Transportation Advisory Committee Members Needed

SRTC is the lead agency for all of Spokane County when it comes to making transportation decisions. Our Board is made up of elected officials and others from all around the area who take on the big transportation issues and set policies.

They don't do it alone though. The Citizens Advisory Committee (TAC) advises the Board on the agency's plans, programs and activities, helps develop and review transportation policies, and provides transparency and a community perspective. 

TAC Members represent the general public and groups including, but not limited to, people with disabilities, senior citizens, youth, the business and freight moving communities, traditional automobile users and advocates for non-motorized transportation or public transit.

TAC members serve three year terms and the group meets six times a year, every other month. 

TAC applications and more information on the committee are available at http://www.srtc.org/tac_page.html. The application period ends at 4 p.m. November 10. 

STA Seeking Federal Grant to Fund Central City Line

A visualization of the what the Central City Line
could look like.
Spokane is one step closer to seeing a Central City Line, according to KXLY News.  The Federal Transit Administration approved the project, commonly known as the downtown trolley, for development, which means that they recognize the project as a viable candidate for federal grants.

This means that any local and state funds associated with the project can be counted as a local match for federal grants. This increases the project's competitiveness for federal funding.

STA says that if they get a federal grant, almost all of the capital costs of the program will be covered by state and federal money while local funds would cover the operating costs.

A steering committee has been created to shape the project to submit for the grant. 

HOV Lane Crackdowns Catch Some Creative Drivers

If you saw ANY media at all last week, you saw the picture of the guy with the creepy Halloween doll in the front seat of his car, trying to pass it off as an actual person in order to use the carpool lane in Seattle. Well, according to this Seattle Times article, there are no shortage of dummies, both drivers and passengers, in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes.

State Troopers say they've seen everything from mannequins, to sleeping bags propped up with hats, articles of clothing, duffel bags, and Halloween masks on bags. Then there was the lazy, yet creative, person who didn't bother with a body for his pretend passenger but just dressed up his car seat, as seen to the left.

So far in 2015, the State Patrol has issued 3,000 more citations to HOV violators statewide than last year, with 558 issued in Pierce and Thurston counties, 1,446 in Snohomish and more than 9,500 in King County. Drivers can only legally use most HOV lanes when there are two or more people in the car.

Those who don't bother with a fake passenger but simply drive in the carpool lane alone often say they moved into the lane because they’d been cut off, they were passing another car or they forgot their children weren't in the car that morning.

There are some pretty funny pictures of HOV lane violators and their "passengers" at the link above if you need a laugh this morning.

Monday, November 2, 2015

How Would YOU Invest in the Local Transportation System?

Say you had $50 million. That you HAD to spend on local transportation. And that doesn't mean buying a new car. So how would you spend it?

Would you pay for projects that make our roadways safer? Or maybe you'd put the majority of it toward fixing our roadways that are broken down and potholed (is that really a word? Well, we're going with it here). What about bike lanes and sidewalks? Would you spend money for more of them?

We're trying to determine what the priorities of area residents are when it comes to transportation. To do this, we're asking you to take our web survey.

New federal and state regulations require SRTC to create and track performance measures and targets to ensure the transportation system is developing as planned. To do this, we must first identify what measures and targets to set.  

The web tool will help you understand how investments and outcomes are related and also allows you to identify priorities of the region that will help develop those targets. The tool allows users to choose an estimated level at which they would fund categories such as roadway preservation, congestion management, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, transit improvements and transportation safety.

As you allocate money to each category, graphics show just how far that amount would go. For roadway preservation, the amount of lane miles repaired changes as you change the funding for that category. For bicycle and pedestrian improvements, the percentage of people commuting by bike or walking increases or decreases as you add or subtract money.

The $50 million available for distribution on the web tool is based on the approximate amount of money projected to be invested in the local transportation system by SRTC over the next five years.  Once you have made your budgeting decisions, you can compare your results to others who have used the web tool and learn about the next steps in the performance measurements development process.

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.