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Monday, June 30, 2008

Can some one tell me again ... why do we need vehicle emissions testing in Kootenai County?

According to Men's Health magazine the Spokane region's airshed is among the highest quality airsheds in the nation. In the "greenest drivers" section of the magazine's analysis, the Spokane airshed ranked eighth overall and fourth cleanest airshed in terms of ozone occurrences. Check out this map of statistics. You can read how they analyzed the top 100 cities for clean automobiles in this article. In the "towns that breathe easy" section of the magazine (an overall air quality assessment), Spokane ranked 39th in the nation with a grade of B-. You can read that story here.

So why is the state trying to set an expensive and archaic vehicle emissions testing program in Kootenai County?

Reason # 998 to wear your bicycle helmet...

Be sure to read this story to the grizzly end. Be careful out there.

WA Hands-Free Device Law Goes Into Effect Tuesday

If you commute to Washington for work or any other reason, here's your warning: the new law goes into effect tomorrow that requires you to use a hands-free device if you talk on your cell phone. Here's the story.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Interested in Congressional efforts to ease the pain at the pump?

I did a little research into the story below about how oil speculation in the commodities market was hyper-inflating the price of oil. I came across this page of testimony and evidence that was given members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week. If you are a dull policy wonk like myself, you can watch the experts brief congress on the issue, or view their powerpoint presentations and view investigative findings. It's all there...and if your concerned about the cost of oil, it is very interesting.

I90 Trees Harmed By Winter Expected To Survive

We've been asked several times lately what's wrong with the trees along I-90 near Coeur d'Alene. They're brown and look like they're dying.

The Idaho Transportation Department this week said, don't worry, with the exception of some younger small trees, the trees are expected to live. It's just the effects of snow removal and a harsh winter that caused them stress. Here's the official explanation.

Mr. Otter Has Been Busy

Gov. Butch Otter is pushing to require registration of nonmotorized boats such as canoes and kayaks in Idaho.

Otter has a task force studying the issue. A couple other states have programs requiring registration of non-motorized boats, but at least two have eliminated the practice recently, saying it's inconvenient and not popular with boaters.

Read the story and give us your opinion. would this requirement be feasible to implement, would it make any money, and would you be okay with paying the registration fee?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gov. Otter is out selling his transportation funding package

Governor Otter has officially started a series of townhall meetings to be held across the state to sell the merits of the transportation revenue package that he tried to get passed during this past legislative session. Read the story here at: Eye on Boise. The story mentions that the Governor has produced a DVD presentation to help illustrate the issues. We are trying to get a copy that we may be able to post.

BTW, The Governor will hold a townhall on this subject in Coeur d'Alene at Best Western Cd'A Inn on July 16th from 4-6 p.m. The public is invited.

Analysts say Congress can provide some relief at the pump

According to four energy security analysts who testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, gas prices are hyper-inflated purely by speculators on Wall Street and are not supported by market dynamics.

In fact, they say that crude oil prices should be somewhere around $60 a barrel -- not the $140 per barrel that it's current trading for on the futures markets.

One analyst said that it wouldn't even take 30 days to drive prices lower if Congress stepped in to regulate speculation because fund managers would quickly liquidate their positions in futures markets.

"Record oil prices are inflated by speculation and not justified by market fundamentals," according to Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer & Co. "Based on supply and demand fundamentals, crude-oil prices should not be above $60 per barrel."

Read the rest of the story here.

Man, I hope they are right and Congress has the political will to act accordingly. We will continue to monitor this...stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reader Wants More Multimodal Options

Spokesman-Review Letters To The Editor

Thursday, June 19, a headline on the Spokesman's front page proclaimed, "Americans rein in road time." Inside, the editorial exhorted Idaho to spend money on highways. A disconnect? Old thinking?

Idaho's transportation department (ITD) does not invest in meaningful bicycle, pedestrian and transit infrastructure. Unfortunately, its highway/roadway expansion makes other modes more difficult and dangerous. Many Idahoans would drive less but find their efforts hampered by minimal transit, sidewalks, bike lanes and unsafe crossings. These options can be less expensive than adding road lanes, but ITD acts as a "highway department," not a "transportation department."

Several years ago ITD sponsored a visioning workshop where I heard North Idaho leaders advocate for transit, bicycles and walking. All are missing in the final funding report.

With drivers seeking alternatives, let's invest in them. Make it safe for kids to safely walk or bike to nearby schools. Adults should be able to use their bicycles and feet to commute, to enjoy themselves or to run errands. Instead of spending mere pennies on these options, let's give them priority for a few years and enjoy the results. Our transportation system will be more robust; our lives will be better.

Molly O'Reilly

I hear this all the time about Spokane, but not as often about Idaho and Kootenai County. Do you agree with Ms. O'Reilly? What kind of multimodal facilities would you like to see?

Scooter Sales Up In Idaho

More Idahoans are turning to scooters – those motorized, fuel-efficient two-wheelers — to help ease the pinch of soaring gasoline prices, according to the Idaho
Department of Transportation. Sales of motorized scooters increased 24 percent during the first quarter of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007.

Here's the story. And if you read it closely, you'll probably be as surprised as I was to discover that Casey Kasum has left radio to sell scooters in Middleton.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oldest Profession Feeling Strain Of Gas Prices

Think you're feeling the pain of high gas prices? Try running a brothel in Nevada. Normally I wouldn't post a story about prostitution on this blog (especially if my boss were in town) but this story illustrates how every sector of the population is affected by the high gas prices and slow economy.

With fuel prices at an all-time high, employees at Nevada's 28 legal brothels say truckers who frequent the brothels no longer have extra money to spend. The brothels are now even offering incentives to keep their clients, including gas cards.

Read the story and tell us if gas prices are hurting your employer or changing the way you do business. But don't tell us if you work for a brothel. We don't want to know.

Cyclists shut down Portland's roads on Sunday as well

Check this story out. While we dealt with the closure of about 75 miles of roads for Ironman on Sunday, the city of Portland shutdown a 6-mile loop to automobiles for a bicycle and pedestrian day. Apparently they tied the bike and pedestrian holiday into a series of festive events along the auto-free loop. I have read about other cities doing this to encourage motorless travel. I've even heard some talk of trying this on a couple of streets in Spokane. I wonder if there would be enough interest to try this in Coeur d'Alene.

What do you think? Does Coeur d'Alene have enough bicycle riders to make this an event worth pursuing?

I90 Exit Ramp Closed

The Interstate 90 westbound off-ramp at Exit 7 will be closed for construction tonight, Monday June 23, from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. The work is part of a project to improve I-90 from the Idaho-Washington state line through Coeur d'Alene.

Contractors crews will waterproof the bridge deck and then pave the highway surface at the location. Public convenience is a major factor in planning interstate construction projects. Work on the project will be done at night to minimize impacts on travelers.

Traffic on the interstate will be reduced to one lane through the work zone. The speed limit has been reduced to 55 mph. Motorists should plan to use an alternate route. Additional access from the freeway is located at the Seltice Boulevard and Spokane Street exits.

Aimless Wandering Or Epic Adventure?

Got a free day, a car, and no particular place to go? Maybe you should try a “right-left-straight adventure.”

Here's the 4-1-1 on the newest kind of roadtrip

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ironman Route Maps, Detours, Closed Roads

This is your last reminder before this Sunday's 6th Annual Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene that the streets of Coeur d'Alene will be a big maze of detours and closed roads this weekend to accomodate the race. The Ironman starts at 7 a.m. and ends at midnight, but closures and obstructions will be scheduled according to the time and route of each event.

Here's all the info you need to know on road closures, detours, and the Ironman course.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Explore Options Of How To Get Your Kids To School Safely

Want to explore ways to get your kids to school more safely?

There's a "Safe Routes to School" meeting on July 1st, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Gozzer Room at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library. Open to the general public.

Adopt A Post Falls Street

A reminder that Post Falls still has streets available for 'adoption.' It's that time of year where the weather is warm and more people have their car windows rolled down. And more people seem to throw trash out their windows.

Post falls is looking for citizens, civic groups, and businesses willing to adopt sections of streets and pick up the litter along that stretch. If you'd like to adopt a street and keep Post Falls clean, click here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hot Off The Press From ITD

The westbound off-ramp at Exit 7 on Interstate 90 will close for pavement work and repairs tonight (June 18) and Monday (June 23) from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. as part of a project to improve I-90 from the Washington state line through Coeur d'Alene. Crews will waterproof the bridge deck and pave the interstate road surface. Work is being done at night to lessen the potential impacts to the traveling public.

In addition to the new pavement, bridge decks will be repaired. The entire length of the project will be restriped using a highly reflective, long-lasting polymer. It is more durable than the standard, water-based paint normally used for striping pavement surfaces.

Traffic on the interstate will be reduced to one lane through the work zone. The speed limit has been lowered to 55 mph. Motorists should plan on using an alternate route. Additional access to and from the freeway is located at the Seltice Boulevard and Spokane Street exits.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-July.

Uhmm, You might want to hold off on that electric car

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a bug that ate trash and pooped out crude oil. That would sure solve a lot of problems...

Well apparently there is. Check out This story.

It was bound to happen sooner or later

Gas siphoning has most likely been a problem since the internal combustion engine was invented, but with gas prices the way they are, it looks like it's becoming an extreme problem.

My neighbor, who is foreman for a local construction firm, told me that he showed up for work the other day only to find that all the fuel had been siphoned out of their equipment. He said by the time he had refueled all of the equipment it cost him over $1,000, not including the cost of paying six employees to sit around until they could refuel.

Apparently organized crime is now getting into the game. Check out this story out of Florida.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Expensive Gas, Cheap Weapons

Idahoans, be thankful you're not paying Washington gas prices. I took a drive up north today in Spokane and saw gas for $4.26 a gallon on the corner of Maple and Northwest Boulevard! Yikes, I almost rear-ended the car in front of me.

Even scarier though was a sign in someone's yard a couple blocks from there that read, 'Stun guns $20.'

Maybe We Could Get A Haunted Ferry For Lake CDA

In light of the proposed ferry service to take pressure off State Highway 97 on the east side of Lake Coeur d'Alene, I thought this story from the Spokesman might pique your interest. A 'ghost hunter' group wants access to retired ferries on Washington's west side to research what they believe is the existence of at least one ghost on the boats. Here you go. Read the story and tell me if you've ever sensed a 'presence' on an area transportation facility. I have, but it turned out to just be an extremely intoxicated man on the East Sprague bus route in Spokane.

Is Turnabout Fair Play?

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Price turnabout is fair play

OPEC sells oil for $136 a barrel.
OPEC nations buy U.S. grain at $7 a bushel.
Solution: Sell grain for $136 a bushel.
Can't buy it? Tough! Eat oil!

Lloyd Zimmerman

Do you agree with Mr. Zimmerman, that we should we play hardball?

Gov. Otter's Transportation Road Show

As we mentioned here last week, Gov. Butch Otter is launching a statewide road show to seek support. Otter yesterday gathered a group of legislators and others in Boise to seek input on a series of public meetings around the state this summer to highlight Idaho's transportation crisis.

Here's the story.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New Honda Zero-Emission Car

Honda today rolled out a new zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell car, but you and I won't be driving one anytime soon. The 'FCX Clarity,' which runs on hydrogen and electricity, emits only water and none of the noxious fumes believed to induce global warming. It is also two times more energy efficient than a gas-electric hybrid and three times that of a standard gasoline-powered car, the company says. The problem? A lack of hydrogen fuel stations. Here's the story.

Naked Rides Draw Attention To Bicyclists Rights?

In other parts of the world, some people seem to think that riding their bikes naked will draw attention to bicyclists' rights. There were two naked bike rides this weekend, one in Sao Paulo and one in Manchester.

I was going to suggest we (meaning other people besides me) try this in our area to demand more respect for bicyclists, but both rides didn't end so happily (note the picture above of the nude rider being kicked in the groin by police).

Here's the story on the Manchester ride.

Highway Districts Discuss Vehicle Registration Fee

Kootenai County's four highway districts have agreed to pursue assessing an additional $24 on annual vehicle registrations for cars and trucks to help ease the continued shortfall burden that the districts and cities face with road maintenance and improvements. Here's the Coeur d'Alene Press story.

Ironman Detours, Etc.

The Ford Ironman Triathlon is coming up on Sunday, June 22nd, so here's your early notice of road closures and detours for the weekend. Click here for maps and other info.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Be carefull out there...

Is it just me, or does it seem that there is an abnormal amount of drunk driving related tragedies lately? I just came across this incredible picture of a drunk driver who killed one and injured 10 others during a bicycle race on the US/Mexican border yesterday. You can read the full story here.


Flood damage closes part of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

Man, you'd think we would be past all of this flooding by now, but I guess there is no use in complaining. At least this Father's Day weekend looks like it'll be a good one, but if you were planning to get dad out on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's don't expect to get too far. According to the Spokesman Review this morning, last month's floods washed out a 170-foot section of trail and eroded portions of the bank. About 18 miles of the trail remain closed between the Harrison and Bull Run trailheads. You can read veteran reporter Becky Kramer's story here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Aubrey L. White Parkway Closed Today

Aubrey L. White Parkway is closed between the Spokane's Water Reclamation Plant and the Bowl & Pitcher area in Riverside State Park today.

A 12-inch combined stormwater and wastewater sewer main broke above Aubrey L. White Parkway during last night’s thunderstorm, sending dirt and debris onto the roadway. City crews will be repairing the main and cleaning up the debris today.

The street is expected to reopen prior to the evening drive time, City crews estimate. Motorists must use alternate routes.

Underage Drinking & Driving Arrests up In KC

The number of arrests for underage drinking and driving in Kootenai County has skyrocketed in the last month, more than tripling from the same time period last year.

Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thanks To SH 97 Meeting Attendees

Thanks to all the people who attended the SH 97 public meeting last night in Harrison. If you couldn't make it, keep checking back here. We had 70 (yes, 7-0!)display boards for participants to look at and comment on. It will take us several days (maybe a week?), but we are attempting to get all those displays posted on our website. At that point, we'll be asking you to take a look and comment on them if you haven't already.

And for those of you who didn't catch the sunset on the way home, here's a nice view our boss man, Glenn Miles, pulled over to catch last night.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How To Submit Comments If You Can't Attend Meetings

I understand it's the last week of school for many kids and everyone has lots to do, so if you can't make the SH 97 open house tonight to voice your thoughts on how to make the highway around the east side of Lake Coeur d'Alene safer and more efficient, there are still ways to get your opinion heard. Click here to email KMPO your thoughts, or call us at 1-800-698-1927, fax us at (509) 343-6400, or mail your comments to KMPO, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201.

Thanks, we're eager to hear what you have to say!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Roundup For the Week of June 9

Don't plan to drink and boat in Idaho this summer, but do plan to voice your opinion on SH 97 and what can be done to make it safer/more efficient. Here's the roundup on transportation happenings from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Public Meeting To Address Revenue Shortfall

Governor Otter has scheduled a series of meetings throughout Idaho to solicit input from local elected officials, business leaders, and the public about alternatives to address the quarter-billion dollar revenue shortfall confronting Idaho's transportation system.

'Building Roads, Building Bridges, Building Consensus' will address the funding gap for infrastructure improvements throughout the state. Cities, counties, highway districts, and members of the public rely on the user fees to provide public safety, stimulate economic opportunity, ensure access to Idaho's share of federal transportation matching funds and maintain highways and bridges.

The meeting in our region will be July 16 at the Coeur d'Alene Best Western. It will included discussions with legislators, city and county officials, local business and industry representatives and the public. The conference begins at 9 a.m. and concludes with a public open house from 4-7 p.m.

Friday, June 6, 2008

SH 97 Public Open House Reminder #3

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but in case you hadn't heard, KMPO will host a public open house next week to gather input on possible improvements to make SH 97 safer and more efficient.

KMPO has been working with agencies and residents of the SH 97 area on a Corridor Study/Route Development Plan to determine the highway’s ability to address current and future transportation needs on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The study team developed proposed improvements for each mile of SH 97. The open house will be used to present those improvements to the public and receive input on them. Comments will also be collected on the possibility of implementing ferry service on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The open house is Tuesday, June 10, 2008 from 5-7 p.m. at Harrison Elementary School at 13030 East O'Gara Road in Harrison, ID. For more information, go to

Bike Rider Slapped On Buttocks

It's bad enough that bikers have to dodge potholes, watch for aggressive dogs, and avoid drivers who get too close, but now they also have to beware of drivers trying to cop a feel. An area woman says she was slapped on the rear-end by a young man driving past in a truck. Here's her story.

A friend had the contents of a Big Gulp cup thrown at him while riding in Liberty Lake a couple years ago, so what's the worst thing that's happened to you while riding your bike?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

CDA Parking Ticket Appeal Option

Did you know that if you get a parking ticket in Coeur d'Alene, you have the option of appealing it? Neither did I. I was just purusing their website though and found
this appeal form. Be sure to read the items that will not be used as grounds for dismissal. I think I've tried every one of those.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

SH97 Corridor Study/Route Development Plan Open House

The Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization will host an open house on Tuesday, June 10, from 5-7 p.m. at Harrison Elementary School to gather input on possible improvements to State Highway 97 on the eastside of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Here's a link to the KMPO website for more info.

Scooter Sales Skyrocketing

Statistics show that scooter are selling at a brisk pace across the country, even pricey versions costing up to $7,400. Now, The Spokesman-Review's 'Huckleberries' blog is asking, 'Would you consider buying a scooter as secondary transportation around town?

GM Closes Four Plants Due To Gas Prices

General Motors Corp. yesterday closed four pickup truck and sport utility vehicle factories, cutting 10,000 jobs, but announced a new small car that could get 45 miles per gallon.

GM said the truck plant cuts, which will reduce capacity to produce pickups and large SUVs by about 35%, will save the company $1 billion per year.

GM lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter of this year and $3.4 billion in cash from January through March. Its May sales were down 28% compared with last May.

Here's the rest of the story

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Record Breaking Public Transit Use

More people are riding the nation's buses and trains, breaking records for the first quarter of the year. A report released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows the number of trips on public transit from January through March rose 3% to 2.6 billion rides compared with the same period last year. Travel on light rail systems saw the biggest jump: 10% to 110 million trips.

Early figures for April show ridership going even higher with gas at $4 a gallon. Still, only 5% of workers commute by public transit, according to a U.S. Census survey in 2006.

The biggest increases in rail travel occured in Oceanside, Calif., Seattle, and Harrisburg, Pa. Gainesville, Ga., and Pompano Beach, Fla., saw some of the biggest gains in bus ridership.

$4 A Gallon Gas Contributing To Stealing From The DOT?

While gas has hit the $4 a gallon mark at several Spokane gas stations, it remains slightly cheaper in Coeur d’Alene, but still set a new record on Monday with regular costing an average of $3.83.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

I heard on the news that in some states people are pretending to run out of gas in order to get a free gallon of gas from the Department of Transportation Incident Response Vehicles that travel the freeways looking for disabled motorists. I checked with the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center, which dispatches the Incident Response Vehicles in our area, and they said that happens occassionally, but it's still pretty rare around here.

So here's my question, would be worth your time to get one gallon of free gas?

Monday, June 2, 2008

KMPO Weighs In On Auto Emissions Testing

At the KMPO Board meeting this week, Board members will be presented a white paper outlining some of KMPO's concerns with House Bill 586, which will require automobile emission inspection and maintenance program in some Idaho metropolitan areas. Kootenai County may be subject to this new law. Before the bill was signed by the governor, KMPO conveyed a number of concerns to the Governor's office. Read the letter KMPO sent to the governor on March 31. Despite KMPO’s concerns, however, the law was passed on April 1. KMPO Staff have prepared a white paper that outlines some of the major issues. Read it here then give us your opinion, is vehicle emissions testing the answer?

Early Notice: SH97 Public Meeting

KMPO will hold an open house next Tuesday, June 10 from 5-7 p.m. at Harrison Elementary School (13030 East O'Gara Road, Harrison, ID) on the SH97 Corridor Study/Route Development Plan.

The objective of the SH97 Corridor Study/Route Development Plan is to determine the highway’s ability to address current and future transportation needs on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The plan will ultimately provide recommendations for reasonable improvements.

The meeting is for the public to provide input on possible improvements to SH97 developed by the study team, the estimated construction costs of those improvements, possible alternate routes to SH97, and the possibility of implementing ferry service on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

I90 Ramps To Close

Some I90 ramps will be closed starting tonight and Idaho drivers who commute to Spokane need to get a hands-free device. Here's the roundup of area transportation happenings from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column for the week of June 1.