Thursday, February 16, 2017

New SRTC Blog Site

We are updating our website and decided to build our blog right into the new site, so that people or you can view all blog posts at Thanks for reading our blog!
interested in transportation only have to go to one place for all their transportation news. We still have lots of interesting, timely and even fun stuff on the blog, it's just in a different place. You can find the latest post on the home page of the SRTC website at

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

September 2017 STA Service Revisions

During the November 2016 General Election, Spokane area voters approved STA’s Proposition 1 to fund STA Moving Forward, a 10 year plan to maintain, improve and expand public transit throughout the region.  The first round of improvements will take effect this May with:

·         Later Saturday night service system-wide
·         New service on East Indiana and East Broadway in Spokane Valley
·         Improved weekend service on Wellesley Avenue
·         Improved weekend service to Airway Heights

Now STA is asking for your feedback about the next wave of system improvements scheduled for September 2017.  The September Preliminary Service Change Proposal includes:

     ·  Adding midday weekday trips on I-90 between Liberty Lake and downtowna
·         · Adding weekday morning and evening non-stop express service between Liberty
       Lake and downtown Spokane
·         · Add Sunday service to north Nevada Street
·         · Improve schedule reliability on Division Street and Sprague Avenue
·         · Improve passenger amenities on Division Street

STA developed three short surveys to help you weigh in on services impacting these areas.  You can find them here.

Proposed Amendment to Transportation Improvement Program

Here's some fun to kick Wednesday off right. SRTC is looking for your feedback on a proposed amendment to the 2017-2020 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is a document of projects to be undertaken or constructed during the upcoming four years. It is updated throughout the year as SRTC’s member jurisdictions have projects to add, change or remove from the program, often as funding becomes available.

The suggested update would add four new projects to the program, delete one and change three others already included in the TIP. The projects in question are in the images below. Click to view them full size. You can also find the information, and the current TIP if you would like to check it out, online at

After reviewing them, if you have any thoughts, please share them by emailing to, mailing to SRTC at 421 W. Riverside Ave., Suite 500, Spokane, WA, or by calling (509) 343-6370.. All comments must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 2017. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Did you Know You Can Get Married Aboard A WSDOT Ferry?

Happy Valentines Day folks. It's too late for this year, but if you really want to make your V-Day special, and official with your significant other, maybe you should consider getting married on a Washington State Department of Transportation ferry.
Delayna, a local ferry commuter, met her
husband at the Kingston ferry terminal. Photo
courtesy of WSDOT.

WSDOT officials say that, with more than 66,000 people riding ferries everyday, finding love on the boats happens fairly often. And many people want to get married where they first met so weddings actually take place on ferries now and then. In fact, over 955 "special celebrations," including weddings, have taken place aboard Washington State Ferries since 2011.

If you think this might be a good idea for your special day, there are a few things to consider before getting hitched on the water:

Plan to bring your own officiant. While the captain says what goes on the ship, they aren't legally allowed to perform a wedding so you will need someone who can.

Plan to eat the food available at the sSDnack bar. No outside food or alcoholic beverages is allowed on board but there is a good variety of snacks and drinks available in the galley.

Don't expect your ceremony to be private. All ferry rides are open to the public so you could encounter random strangers celebrating with you or photo bombing your ceremony.

And one more thing, prepare to possibly be upstaged. Pods of whales have been known to swim near ferry boats, which could have wedding-goers watching them instead of you.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Storm Water Tank Installation to Close Sprague Avenue Downtown

Construction of a new stormwater collection tank will close Sprague Avenue at Jefferson Street starting today for at least the next five weeks.

The Spokesman-Review reports that workers are redoing utility lines to get ready for the excavation of city-owned property at Sprague and Adams Street just west of KHQ-TV. Westbound traffic on Sprague will be detoured at Madison or Jefferson Street to Riverside Avenue to the north. The intersection of Cedar, Riverside Avenue and Sprague will be kept open as much as possible.

Spokane transit buses will use Riverside Avenue at Jefferson.

The plan will build a 2.3 million gallon tank where there used to be a city fire station. The tank will collect stormwater from the southwest section of the South Hill and the west end of the downtown area.

For years, runoff from storms and snow melt has caused sewage and stormwater to be released directly into the Spokane River, to protect the wastewater treatment plant next to Riverside State Park from being inundated by storms. The tank will store stormwater during heavy runoff, then send it slowly to the treatment plant to be processed into cleaned water.

Numerous such tanks are going into the ground around the city, including a $20 million tank holding 2.2 million gallons just west of City Hall, which will begin construction this year.
The projects are part of a multiyear effort to reduce pollution of the Spokane River under the federal Clean Water Act.

Distracted Driving Bill Under Consideration in Olympia

A State Representative from Seattle is asking for tougher distracted driving laws in Washington.
According to the Seattle Times, Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D- Seattle, has proposed House Bill 1371 which would ban use of any handheld device including phones, tablets and games, as well as watching videos while driving.

Under the bill, the current fine of $124 would double for a second offense, and violations would be reported to insurance companies.

It is currently illegal to use a cellphone held at the ear, or to text while driving. That doesn’t forbid holding a phone below the mouth, using Facebook, watching a video, or taking selfies though.

Representatives of AAA, Harborview Medical Center, the Washington State Patrol, paving company Lakeside Industries, Washington DECA high-school students, and the insurance industry testified in support of the bill last week.

Scientific studies suggest that texting — which requires eyes, fingers and brain attention — impairs reaction time similar to a 0.19 blood alcohol content, said Shelly Baldwin of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. The state’s legal limit is 0.08.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Seattle Adds Thousands of New Jobs but Few Car Commuters

Nice job Seattle! According to Streetsblog, a new report compiled by the nonprofit Commute Seattle says that the share of commuters who drive alone to downtown Seattle dropped from 35 percent in 2010 to 30 percent last year.

What's even more impressive about that though is that Downtown Seattle has added 45,000 jobs in that time, but only 2,255 new drive-alone trips have been added, according to a new Commute Seattle survey. The other 95 percent of commute trips were taken by transit, walking, biking, telecommuting and shared car trips.

The survey shows that public transit is providing very close to 50 percent of downtown commute trips and absorbed about 31,000 of those 45,000 new commute trips.

Many people are giving credit for this to transit agencies for improving and adding service, companies for buying transit passes for employees, and the city for installing bike amenities and implementing transit-friendly policies.

The Plastic Road Concept

Everywhere I go, people are complaining about potholes. And it's no wonder. After all the freeze/thaw/rain/ice/death/destruction, it's not surprising our roads are looking a little worse for wear this winter. But what if, instead of having to rebuild an entire stretch of roadway that has lots of potholes, you could just remove the section and drop in a new piece, like those toy car tracks you used to play with as a kid? Could the modular system shown in this video, called The Plastic Road Concept, speed up road construction and make our roads last a lot longer?

If nothing else, this video has a happenin' soundtrack.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Americans Are Driving Less. So What Are They Doing Instead?

Apparently more Americans are doing
this than going out. Although at my
house family game night is never
this happy.
Due to an improved economy and low gas prices, the number of miles driven has gone up recently. For a while there though, driving rates had dropped, due to a variety of reasons including a poor economy that had many people out of work, high gas prices and other factors. Was one of those factors that people were finding other, more active, ways to commute. Part of it could be, but Citylab says the real reason there has been less driving is that people just aren't leaving the house.

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says Americans (Millennials, in particular) drove an average of 600 miles less each year from 2004 to 2014. That same period saw a noticeable drop in road-related fatalities, which could be attributed to safer vehicles and better driving, or to less time spent behind the wheel. Data suggests the latter.

A report on the study says that Americans are going fewer places because technology has made it easier to work, shop and see entertainment at home; increasing debt has people staying home to save money; and people getting married and having kids later in life cut down on certain kinds of trips, such as to schools and doctors.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

More Medics Turning to Bikes to Reach Patients More Quickly

The medics who were first on scene to try to help actress Carrie Fisher when she collapsed following a heart attack recently didn't show up in the usual ambulance. They arrived on two wheels- bikes.

More and more big cities- including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and even Cody, Wyoming- have fire departments that are going to medical teams on bikes. These medics on wheels can deliver quick emergency care by darting in and out of heavy traffic, maneuvering through large crowds or cutting across parks easier than a crew in an ambulance.

When the Los Angeles bike unit made its debut patrolling a triathlon in 2004, it had 20 cyclists. Now it is one of the largest in the country, with 120 cyclists and 60 bikes. It is active on weekends and at special events such as marathons, the Rose Parade, Los Angeles Rams tailgating parties and on the Venice Beach boardwalk on summer weekends.

In other cities across the country, bike medics patrol airports, sporting events, entertainment areas and special events such as festivals, concerts and marathons. They are especially useful when roads are closed or congested as medics on bikes can navigate crowded streets and sidewalks swiftly.

Today, at least 500 agencies have EMS bike teams. Fire departments, EMS agencies, hospitals and private ambulance services run teams. In New York, the all-volunteer Central Park Medical Unit’s 10-member bicycle team patrols the 843-acre Central Park many weekends during the warmer months, as well as concerts and other big events.

Most use mountain bikes, which can carry a heavy load and maneuver through traffic and crowds and around obstacles. Bike medics carry first aid and trauma supplies, oxygen, IVs, cardiac monitors and defibrillators. The bike and equipment combined can weigh up to 50 pounds, so cyclists need to be in good shape.

The bike medics can also save money. In Cody, for example, it cost less than $3,000 to set up West Park Hospital’s unit with three bikes, uniforms and saddlebags, versus buying and equipping an ambulance, which can run as much as $280,000.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Proposed Law Would Require a Permit to Use Minnesota Bike Lanes

A new bill would require a
permit to use Minnesota bike lanes.
Minnesota bicyclists aren't happy with a proposed bill to require bicyclists to have special permits to use bike lanes in urban areas.

According to the Star Tribune, under a bill introduced last week by Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron, riders would be required to attend an educational program and pass a test to receive a permit to use bike lanes. Bicyclists under 15 would not be allowed to use bike lanes.

Quam said he intended the proposal to prompt conversations about bike safety and said he’s concerned about a lack of consistent bike education across the state. Others think it will make biking less safe though, forcing kids and others without permits to ride with traffic, and could decrease the number of people riding in general. In particular, the bill could deter minority and low-income groups from bicycling.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Browne's Addition to be Plowed Wednesday and Thursday

A car is towed during a recent plowing of Browne's Addition.
Photo courtesy of the Spokesman-Review.
Browne’s Addition is scheduled to be plowed Wednesday, February 8 and Thursday, February 9.
North and south streets will be plowed Wednesday and east west streets Thursday.
Signs will be placed at the entrances of Browne’s Addition announcing the plowing schedule.  No parking is in place for Browne’s Addition during the plow schedule to allow room for the plows.  Cars not moved off the street will be towed.

Additionally, downtown berm removal begins tonight, Monday, February 6, at 7 p.m. Additionally, downtown berm removal begins tonight, Monday, February 6, at 7 p.m.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

SRTC Board Meeting Thursday, Feb. 9

The next meeting of SRTC's Board is next Thursday, February 9. The meeting agenda is here. Everyone is welcome at all SRTC committee meetings so feel free to attend if anything catches your interest.

The meeting starts at 1 p.m. at 421 W. Riverside, Suite 500 in the Paulsen Center. 

US 395 Could Get New Name

U.S. 395 could be renamed the Thomas S. “Tom” Foley Memorial Highway under a proposal being considered by the Washington State Senate.

According to the Spokesman-Review, the House Transportation Committee yesterday was asked to support the change by State Transportation Commission. Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, said it would be a fitting honor for the 30-year congressman and former House speaker who “believed strongly in maintaining and improving infrastructure.”

During his tenure, Foley has a legacy of setting partisan differences aside and secured some $289 million for improvements on the highway, Riccelli said.

Bikes: The Self-Driving Car's Biggest Problem

A lot of people are really looking forward to when they can buy a self-driving car. And the echnology involved in them is amazing. They not only drive themselves, but no when to stop to avoid hitting other cars, pedestrians, birds and even squirrels. Bicycles though, are another issue.

According to Spectrum, autonomous vehicle researchers say bikes are the most difficult to detect because they are relatively small, fast and heterogenous, meaning they don't have a lot of mass and can vary in appearance as people attach strollers or hang things off of them. They are also much less predictable because they can make sudden turns or jump out of nowhere.

Data shows that autonomous vehicle technology identifies approximately 89 percent of cars. Yet it could only spot 74 percent of bikes in testing. Technology is improving though and visual processing of roadways is being augmented with laser-scanning imagery and radar sensing, which helps cars to "see" that there is an object in the roadway, even they can't identify what it is.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Home Much Value Does a Parking Space Add to a Home?

There is a lot of
competition for parking
spots in large cities.
How much value does a parking space add to a home in a big city? For instance, in Boston? That's what the website Curbed Boston wanted to know and the answer is flabbergasting. At least to me.

Constantine Valhouli, co-founder of real estate research site NeighborhoodX, says the average parking space is between 170 and 200 square feet and the value depends on what neighborhood it is in. There are also different kinds of parking spots- off-street in a driveway or alley, garages, etc.

But going through data, one of the most expensive sales of a parking space Valhouli quoted was a space at the Brimmer Street Garage, known as a car condo, for $390,000. At 200 square feet, that's $1,950 a square foot. And a lot more than I've paid for any of the three homes I have purchased over the years.

Another spot sold for $305,000 in the affluent neighborhood of Back Bay and in the South End, prices recently have ranged from $50,000 to $88,000. Ouch. Just ouch.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

WSDOT Upcoming Construction in 2017

The Washington State Department of Transportation- Eastern Region, has their list of construction
projects for 2017 available now, although not all details have been worked out yet.

High-profile jobs in the Spokane metro area include a couple projects on the North Spokane Corridor.
The biggest job is the construction of two bridges over Freya Street at the roundabouts north of Francis. There will also be some sidewalk and street work in the Hillyard Neighborhood.

On Interstate 90 in downtown Spokane, there is bridge joint and concrete panel repair work planned.  
Smaller projects in the area include ADA ramp improvements at a few locations on Division Street, Browne Street, and Ruby Street.  There will be paving work on north Division between Francis and the “Y,” and on Trent from Mission to Sullivan.  Paving will also be underway on the Newport Highway in Mead from Deer Road to Colbert Road.

There is ADA sidewalk work on tap for Cheney and Medical Lake. A project list with a locator map is available on the WSDOT website.

Bill Would Make Motorcycle Helmets Optional

Some motorcyclists are asking Washington lawmakers to let them decide for themselves whether they should wear a helmet and be able to maneuver around cars in traffic jams.

According to the Spokesman-Review, a motorcycle riders’ rights group that goes by ABATE (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments) argued yesterday that wearing a helmet should be up to them, not state law.

Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, is sponsoring a bill to make helmets optional for anyone 18 or older. Under her proposal, motorcyclists riding without helmets would have to have liability insurance, a certificate of deposit or a liability bond.

ABATE member Micki Robinson testified that she has a neck injury from wearing a motorcycle helmet, which are usually designed for men.

A separate bill also discussed yesterday at the Senate Transportation Committee would start a pilot program to allow motorcyclists to pass a car in the same lane in traffic jams, moving no more than 10 mph than the car. After two years, the Legislature would decide whether to make the law permanent.
The Senate Transportation Committee could vote on the bills in the coming weeks.

Bills that would make helmets optional have been introduced every session since 2011 but have never gotten enough support to pass both chambers. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Google Maps Now Includes Parking Info

A new feature in Google Maps will help you find parking in big cities– or be prepared for a difficult time finding a place to park at your destination.

According to, Google is now using “historical parking data” to calculate a parking difficulty score. It will show in Google Maps’ directions card as “Limited,” “Medium,” or “Easy,” depending on the parking situation in that area.

To view the parking info, you first have to get directions to your destination. Then, the new parking difficulty icon will appear on the directions card at the bottom of the screen.

Google is launching the feature first in 25 U.S. metros, including: San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington, DC, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Portland and Sacramento.

The option is also only available on Google Maps for Android for the time being, but like other Maps additions, it should roll out to iOS at a later date.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Not Sure If You're Drunk? Tostitos Will Tell You

Who better to take on drunk driving than Tostitos? Yep, the Chip company is fighting impaired driving with a breathalyzer bag. Just eat the chips, blow into the bag and repeat.

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.