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Thursday, August 28, 2008

I90 Painting Next Week

Starting next Tuesday, crews will begin repainting the pavement markings on Interstate 90 east of Coeur d'Alene. Work on east- and westbound lanes will take place Sept. 2 - 9, from milepost 14 (Sherman Avenue exit) to Lookout Pass at the Idaho/Montana state line.

The solid white and yellow lines will be painted first, then the centerline skip marks. An epoxy-based paint will be used that is more durable and longer-lasting than water-based paint.

Motorists are asked to drive with caution through the work areas.

What the.... ???

I found this picture on Flickr and have been trying to figure out what the heck the sign means. The picture title is listed as 'No U-Turn While Walking Your Moose.' What do you think?

Sandpoint Bypass Gets Go Ahead

The Court of Appeals yesterday issued an order giving the Idaho Transportation Department the go ahead to start building a highway to divert traffic away from downtown Sandpoint.

Here's the latest on the project, after five decades of planning, appeals and court fights.

Southwest Cutting Two Spokane Flights

Southwest Airlines is eliminating nearly 200 flights early next year, including two in and out of Spokane. Here's the story.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

From The Spokesman-Review Website

Official: Idaho roads face funding challenges
Associated Press
August 27, 2008

BOISE — A state transportation official says one out of every five miles of highway in Idaho is “deficient” because of more drivers, an aging road system, and shortfalls in federal funding.

Darrell Manning chairs the Idaho Transportation Board and met with state officials on Tuesday to discuss a troubled outlook for Idaho roads.

Officials say they need an extra $240 million a year to make up for past deficits in federal funding to pay for transportation costs, such as highway repairs.

Manning says the state also gets transportation funding through taxes on gas and vehicle registration fees, but neither of those revenues has increased since the 1990s.

Take The Road Less Travelled... Try An Idaho Scenic Byway

If you're like a lot of other people I've talked to lately, you may be sticking close to home this holiday weekend. If you're looking for something to do, try slowing down and checking out the scenery on one of Idaho's scenic byways.

Here's a link to a government website devoted specifically to Idaho byways. The site has maps, descriptions, lists special attractions, camping and service information, and even offers scenic email 'postcards' available from each byway that you can send to friends or family so they can see what you saw while on your drive.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More Money Approved For US 95 Study

More money is being recommended to evaluate traffic patterns at US 95 intersections inside the Coeur d'Alene city limits. The city's Public Works Committee yesterday forwarded approval to City Council for additional funding.

Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press. By the way, KMPO is hosting a public meeting on this topic on Sept. 9 from 4-7 p.m. at Centennial Distributing, 701 W. Buckles in Hayden. I'll post more info as we get a little closer to the date.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Naked cyclist busted for riding with 3-year-old son

Moral of this story: Go ahead and bike naked, if you must, but you better get a sitter for the kids.

This made me chuckle...

I lifted this from Dave Olivera's Huckleberries Online Blog. He has a regular thread that he updates throughout the day with bits and pieces he picks up from the police scanner. This post put me right at the scene:

9:25 a.m. Officer wants city street department to remove a freshly killed skunk at the site of a two-car, rear-end collision on Northwest Boulevard, 400-500 feet north of Lakewood. The accident happened before 8 a.m. (according to Berry Picker Pepe LePew) when one driver swerved to miss the skunk. You can read the whole scanner report here.

Are high gas prices saving lives?

The Seattle Times has an interesting article on a recent study of what appears to be a dramatic decrease in traffic fatalities and how that decrease relates to the price of fuel. According to this article , fatal accidents are expected to fall below 37,000 for the first time since 1961. Fatal accidents peaked at over 55,600 in 1972, and they have been declining ever since. Still, that decline has been at just over 4% a year. Starting in March of this year, however, the fatalities have been dropping rapidly at a rate that is nearly 20% lower than the previous year.

Certainly automobile safety measures have contributed to some of the overall decline, and certainly the cost of fuel is causing some to alter their driving habits. But, do you believe that the rising cost of fuel is saving a significant number of lives?

See A Car Pulled Over, Change Lanes

Spokane and Idaho police would like to remind you to change lanes to give them space when they're making traffic stops on busy freeways or other arterials. Here's the Story. The spendy ticket could be an incentive as well.

Comment On KMPO's Public Involvement Policy

KMPO's Public Involvement Policy has recently been updated for its strategies for outreach to members of the public, including minorities and low income populations. The revision is available for public comment through Oct. 13, 2008.

The Public Involvement Policy supports the creation of public involvement plans for KMPO projects and provides methods for community engagement, communications, and the solicitation of public comment. The update is needed to meet federal and state public participation requirements in carrying out statewide transportation planning processes.

You can view the Policy by clicking here and comment by clicking here.

ITD Projects For This Week

Paving and sealcoating projects begin on state highways this week, as part of Idaho Transportation Department's ongoing maintenance of the state highway system. Here's the schedule:

- Aug. 26: Idaho 3, junction Idaho 3/Idaho 97 to Interstate 90.
- Aug. 27: Interstate 90, from milepost 30.9 (Fourth of July Creek) to milepost 40.11 (Exit 40 at Cataldo).
- Aug. 28 - 29: Fog sealing on above road sections. The speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph through the work zone area.

Seal coating is a process designed to prolong the life of the roadway surface. A thin layer of asphalt is laid down, followed by a layer of rock chips. Once the liquid asphalt has set up, excess rock chips that have not adhered are removed. Fog sealing is a thin layer of asphalt that will be sprayed over the completed, which will seal in the rock chips.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Anyone want to help buy a stoplight?

It appears the state of Idaho wasn't interested in chipping in for a traffic signal system at the intersection of Ramsey and Golf Course roads, so the Salvation Army is going to pony up the $350K to install it. They will fund the project out of the KROC Center contingency fund.

But, they are asking their neighbors if they wouldn't mind chipping in and sharing the cost. I'm sure they wouldn't turn down contributions from other as well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rathdrum residents take note...

You will need to find an alternative route home today and tomorrow.

Official Release: Idaho 41 to close for railroad track repairs, beginning Aug. 20

COEUR d'ALENE - Idaho 41 at Hayden Avenue will be closed beginning Wednesday (Aug. 20), the Idaho Transportation Department announced. The closure is necessary while repairs are made to the Union Pacific Railroad track at milepost 4, north of Hayden Avenue.

The highway will be closed from Aug. 20 at 6 a.m. until Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. Motorists should plan on an alternate using Idaho 53 and U.S. 95, during the closure. Variable message signs are in place along Idaho 41 warning motorists of the upcoming closure.

Union Pacific work crews will remove track at the crossing just north of the intersection at Hayden Avenue and replace it with a new rock base and track.

ITD and the Idaho State Police warn motorists to slow down and pay attention when driving in work zones, where increased speeding fines and other penalties apply. Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead and dial 5-1-1 or visit for information on the state highway or interstate system.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Road maintenance issues plague the region

Over the past several years a number of cities, highway districts, and the state for that matter, have focused their resources and energy on building and expanding new roads to accommodate record-setting growth.

But now that we have all this new infrastructure, the cost of maintaining it is getting away from us. This Cd'A Press editorial taps into the frustration that is mounting over this issue.

Talk to any agency that deals with roads in North Idaho or eastern Washington and the story is pretty much the same: maintenance and preservation budgets for roads are simply tapped out, and there is no new revenue to address the issue. In many cases, these agencies are millions of dollars short of what they need to adequately maintain the public's infrastructure investment.

Some rural counties in Washington state have even considered going back to gravel roads in some areas because they are cheaper to maintain. I'm not kidding here, they are seriously contemplating tearing up the asphalt from paved roads to reduce the cost of maintenance.

As the Cd'a Press stated in its editorial, at some point "the public" will need to invest more in the preservation and maintenance of the infrastructure they have already spent millions to build.

Compound that with a need for even more expansion, and the problem gets exponentially worse. As you probably already know, the governors of Idaho and Washington have vowed to propose new revenue options in the next legislative sessions, but those state-level solutions rarely address the local needs.

That is the main reason the local highway districts are proposing a modest $24 increase in vehicle registration fees. While that won't raise enough money to address the entire need, it will go a long way toward protecting the investments we have already made.

OK, you are king for a day again: Where do you find the money to adequately fund the preservation and maintenance of our transportation infrastructure? Also, do you support or oppose the car tab proposal?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Time Running Out To Comment On TIP

Better get busy, you've only got this week to comment on Kootenai County's Five-Year Transportation Improvement Program(TIP) 2009-2013. The TIP is available for public review and comment through Friday, Aug.22.

The TIP is a funding program document that lists federally and non-federally funded transportation improvements proposed by jurisdictions. Here's a link to it.

And if you'd like to comment on it, you can click here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

C'mon People, Use Your Seat Belts!

Idaho's seat belt use has fallen more than 3% since 2006, according to a survey by the Idaho Transportation Department.

The state's rate of nearly 80% of people using seat belts in 2006 fell to 76.9 this year, the second year in a row seat belt use declined in all types of vehicles.

Here's the story.

Have you slacked off on wearing your seat belt?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Free Weekend Carriage Rides Through Downtown CDA

If you would like to see downtown Coeur d'Alene in a more leisurely way than flying by your car window, try a free horse-drawn carriage ride this weekend.

STCU and the Coeur d'Alene Downtown Association are sponsoring the rides through the downtown area.

Here's a link to the details.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Big Decline In Driving Reported For June

Americans drove 12.2 billion fewer miles in June than the same month last year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The 4.7% decline was the biggest monthly driving drop in a downward trend that began in November.

Here's the breakdown:

- Overall, Americans drove 53.2 billion fewer miles November through June than they did over the same eight-month period a year earlier.

- That's a larger decline than the 49.3 billion fewer miles driven by Americans over the entire decade of the 1970s, a period marked by oil embargoes and gas lines.

- Four out of ten people said they have used public transportation, walked or ridden a bicycle more frequently since gas prices have risen.

- Gas consumption was down, too. 400 million fewer gallons of gasoline and 318 million fewer gallons of diesel were consumed in the first quarter of 2008 than in the same period in 2007.

Otter Calls For User Fees To Fix Roads

Governor Butch Otter yesterday said one of Idaho's most daunting, but most urgent, challenges, is going to be upgrading the state's 67,000-mile transportation infrastructure.

Otter told attendees at the Concerned Businesses of North Idaho annual meeting Tuesday at The Coeur d'Alene Resort that he wants user fees to pay the cost of highway construction and maintenance.

Here's the story. What's your opinion on implementing user fees to pay for road projects?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Turn Left At The Guy Passed Out On His Lawn

Because we're all about maps around here, here's a warning: DON'T GET DRUNK AND PASS OUT IN YOUR FRONT YARD. You could become a local landmark.

A man who fell asleep in a drunken stupor outside his home was horrified to find his picture posted on the internet, after he was photographed by a car-mounted video camera taking pictures for Google's 'StreetView' website.

Here's a link so you can share in his shame.

Stay-At-Home Moms Staying Home Even More

The term 'stay-at-home mom' is becoming more and more literal, according to this Spokesman-Review article. Apparently, gas prices are keeping moms from a lot of the activities they used to take the kids to do, or used to do while the kids were in school.

So moms, would you say this is accurate, or are you doing just as much running around as ever?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Stay, Play and Bus to the Beach

OK, this Spokesman Review article is Spokane-centric, but it still works for us in North Idaho. Don't forget that City Link can get you to the beach -- FOR FREE -- on a hot summer day. I also posted the story because it contains a link to a the S-R's series on other "staycation" spots and ideas in our region.

I rather enjoyed reading the series of stories because I was unaware of a couple of spots they highlighted. For instance, I grew up in North Idaho and had never heard of Liberty Lake County Park until it was featured as part of this series. We spent last weekend camping 10 minutes from home in some of the best hiking terrain I've enjoyed in years.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Get Your 'Student Driver' Signs While They're Hot!

Okay, I found what you're all getting for Christmas this year. Ever have one of those days when you find it hard to concentrate on driving; you can't find anything good on the radio, the phone keeps ringing, and you didn't think the curb was that close when you were paralell parking? Well, no one will give you the finger when you have this 'Student Driver' magnetic sign stuck to your car. And the best part, it's only $19.95 for three of them! And the website where they're sold says they 'reduce stress.' Hmmm... I'm thinking of sticking one on my desk at work if that's true.

Here's where you can buy them.

CDA Couple Utilizes 'Rascal' Scooters To Get Around

I found this story from the Coeur d'Alene Press to be not only funny, but also encouraging. It's nice to know that two people advancing in age can still get around. In this day and age, when public transportation is much needed but so hard to pay for, and hard for older people to negotiate, it's good to hear that Dick and Maggie are finding a way to get where they need (or want) to go, and they're not burning fossil fuels.

Here's the story.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gas Cards Are The New Bonus Check

What has your boss done for you lately? This New York Times article talks about all the ways companies and corporations are giving 'perks' to their employees to help take the sting out of high gas prices.

We're on flex schedules here, but so far no free gas cards have turned up. Hint hint, Glenn. So has anything changed at your job as a result of fuel costs?

'Car Free' Days Idea Not Welcomed By Many

We've talked about 'car free' days on this blog before and whether they'd be feasible in our area. Well, Seattle's Mayor thought they would work there, but some west-siders disagree.

Read the story then let us know if you think the business owners' concerns are reasonable, or if you think the 'car free' days could actually be a boon for business? And if we were to do one around here, what areas would you like to see be part of the experiment?

CDA Parking System Criticized

Coeur d'Alene's parking situation is rubbing some people the wrong way, leading them to claim that it's a 'predatory' system.

Here's the Coeur d'Alene Press article. What's your opinion? Is parking in Coeur d'Alene just a ploy to get your cash?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Don't Drive Drunk in Traffic Circles!

This is why alcohol and traffic circles don't mix. I have taken the liberty of removing the "victim's" name from this police report:

DATE: 08/04/08
TIME: 10:27 pm
ASSISTING OFFICERS/AGENCIES: Kootenai Co, Timberlake Fire.

AGE: 43
LOCATION TAKEN: Kootenai Medical Center
YEAR: 1979 MAKE: GMC MODEL: Pick up
WRECKER: Rohr Towing

AGE: 45
LOCATION TAKEN: Kootenai Medical Center

INCIDENT INFORMATION: Driver was west bound on SH 54@12 near Good Hope Road in Bayview. He entered the traffic circle, lost control of the vehicle and went off the road and struck a tree. Alcohol was a factor.

Check Out 'MapMyRide'

I've been hearing about the 'MapMyRide' website for a while now, but only just got around to checking it out. Say you're looking for someplace new to ride your bike to. You can log onto the site and check out rides other people have taken and mapped. They tell you about the scenery, the distance, the difficulty of the ride, etc. and provide a map.

Or maybe you want to be a little more original. MapMyRide also lets you plot your own bike rides over mountains (view elevation), through the woods (topo maps), and through the city (street level views). And once your cycling map is complete you can view it in 3D, satellite form, or share it with friends.

There are lots of other options on the site as well. Here's a link to MayMyRide. Now I just have to get the Huffy out of the garage and tuned up.

Monday, August 4, 2008

12th Ave. & Syringa Intersection Closed

Starting today, the intersection of 12th Ave. and Syringa Street will be closed for improvement work. The closure lasts through Friday. Detours are marked.