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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Don't Mix Drunk Driving With Bad Road Conditions

Area law enforcement are gearing up for a crazy night. As if poor driving visibility and snowy and icy roads aren't bad enough, they suspect mixing in drinking and driving will make things even worse. Here's the Coeur d'Alene Press story.

I'm walking to a party around the corner from me for New Year's eve. What do the rest of you have in mind?

Holiday Closures

- Coeur d'Alene City Hall and other city offices and facilities will be closed for the New Year’s holiday.

- Post Falls City Hall will be closed New Year’s Day.

- KMPO will be closed starting and noon today through Thursday. We'll be back and ready to roll again on Friday.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some CDA Streets Closed To Traffic

Coeur d'Alene police are closing some specific streets in the city to parking until snow piles can be cleared.

Areas where parking is not allowed until the snow can be cleared include:

• Second Street between Sherman Avenue and Lakeside Avenue
• Fifth Street from Front Avenue to Sherman Avenue
• Sixth Street north between Sherman Avenue and Lakeside Avenue
• Sixth Street south
• Seventh Street between Sherman Avenue and Front Avenue

Here's the rest of the story.

CDA Police To Tow Hazard Cars

Move it or lose it. Your car, that is. Due to a large number of complaints about abandoned and snowed-in vehicles, the Coeur d’Alene Police Department is towing vehicles that are a hazard to other drivers. And it's going to be spendy to get them back. Here's the story.

Anyone out there have a car they've 'misplaced' in all this snow?

Monday, December 29, 2008

2009 KMPO Meeting Dates Set

Dates have been set for KMPO Board meetings and Kootenai County Area Transportation Team (KCATT) meetings in 2009, and posted to the KMPO website. Here's a link for all you meeting junkies out there. And remember, all KMPO Board and KCATT meetings are open to the public.

US95 Study Open House Rescheduled

In case you haven't heard, our US95 Access Management Study Open House has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 6 from 5-7 p.m. at the Idaho Transportation Department District 1 Headquarters Office, District Conference Room, 600 W. Prairie Avenue, in Coeur d'Alene.

The meeting will be a chance to present recommendations that came out of the study to the public. If you're not familiar with the US95 Access Management Study Here's a link to the project page on the KMPO website. The study report is posted there, which includes the recommendations.

Besides Shovels & Snowblowers, Snowmobiles Also Selling Out

You can't ride them on city streets, but snowmobiles seem to be the new prefered mode of transportation. Local retailers say you wouldn't know the economy is bad the way people have been buying snowmobiles lately. ATV's are also selling like crazy. Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

P.M. Rush Hour More Dangerous Than A.M.

According to 'Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us', by Tom Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95), the morning rush hour is twice as safe as the evening rush hour, in terms of traffic accidents. That's because, when you're driving home in the evening, drivers are out shopping, picking up kids, etc. and not concentrating on driving as much as they should be. They are also more likely to have had a drink or two on the way home from the office.

So remember that on your drive home tomorrow and be especially observant.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snowzilla: Public Enemy #1 For Tying Up Traffic

KMPO in no way endorses this, but here's an idea from Ryan in our office of what you can do with all that extra snow in your yard: build a 'Snowzilla' snowman. Better ask the authorities first though, Anchorage officials have given the builders of Snowzilla a cease and desist order, saying so many people are coming to see the snowman that traffic has increased to the point of endangerment in the neighborhood and that the snowman itself was unsafe. Oh well, it's not like he's permanent.

ITD Wants Your Bike/Ped Thoughts

Most people aren't thinking about biking or walking right now, considering the weather, but the Idaho Transportation Department is. They're asking for your input on bike and pedestrian mobility through a survey.

Completing the survey will enable you to participate in establishing a new vision for non-motorized mobility within Idaho and provide needed insight to all agencies that make non-motorized mobility decisions.

Here's a link to the survey.

This Just In: KMPO Closure

Well we finally did it. We convinced the boss to let us leave the office for a couple days (although my ankle bracelet gives me a shock if I'm off the premises for more than 72 hours at a time).

KMPO will closed this afternoon (Wednesay), Thursday, and Friday. We'll be back and (hopefully re-energized) on Monday. I know I'll be feeling better after four days of dressing the cat up for the holidays.

Watch Where You Put Your Snow

In anticipation of businesses and individuals shoveling roofs, the City of Coeur d’Alene reminds citizens to remove snow shoveled off of roofs from alleys, sidewalks, and streets. With city crews working around the clock to keep roadways clear, and citizens trying their best to create pedestrian pathways during this record-breaking snow season, the city appreciates the extra help of citizens in this matter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

US95 Study Open House Rescheduled For Jan. 6

Due to the snow armageddon, we were forced to cancel our US95 Access Management Study Open House last Thursday. We have rescheduled it for Tuesday, Jan. 6 from 5-7 p.m. at the Idaho Transportation Department District 1 Headquarters Office, District Conference Room, 600 W. Prairie Avenue, in Coeur d'Alene.

The meeting will be a chance to present recommendations that came out of the study to the public. If you're not familiar with the US95 Access Management Study Here's a link to the project page on the KMPO website. The study report is posted there, which includes the recommendations.

Snow Removal Help For Disabled People

If you are disabled, or know someone who is, and need help clearing snow, the City of Post Falls would like to help. Here's a link to a form to fill out and submit requesting snow removal help. After the main streets are cleared, the City will do their best to get someone out to help you.

Has anyone used this service?

Area Trails Open For Winter Sports

So what happens to area trails when we get this much snow? Charlie Miller, Director of the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation, says the Centennial Trail is being plowed by the Coeur d'Alene Parks Department any day we receive more than two inches of snow fall. Monte McCully can be spotted most days at 6 a.m. doing his part. The Post Falls and Kootenai County sections of the trail are not being plowed, however.

The Prairie Trail is also being cleared, also by Monte, but Miller it looks like he's only been able to make progress as far as Woodland Middle School so far.

Miller says that both trails are great for cross country skiing and snowshoeing but he'd like to remind snowmobilers and ATV-ers the trails are for non-motorized use only.

Also, thanks Monte for all your hard work! And to the Spokesman 'Huckleberries' blog for the picture of the Centennial Trail above.

Holiday Closures

Here are a couple closures for this week from area government agencies:

- Coeur d'Alene City Hall and most other city offices and facilities will be closed this Thursday for Christmas. They'll be open again on Friday.

- Post Falls City Hall will be closed Christmas Day, Thurs., Dec. 25 and New Year’s Day, Thurs. Jan. 1.

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Holiday For ITD Crew Members

The Idaho Transportation Department just announced that their crews in north Idaho won't be taking Christmas day off; they'll continue around-the-clock winter maintenance operations.

In the five northern counties, there are 92 employees covering 1,846 lane miles of the state highway system. They are working 12-hour shifts and cover a road section at least four times per day, more often during storms.

I90 Condition Report From Someone Who Was Just On It

Just got an update on the condition of I90 from a consultant visiting our office from Coeur d'Alene. She said I90 is in great shape on the Idaho side, but as soon as you hit State Line, it all goes to heck. She said after that, the freeway is covered with compact ice and snow and the going is sssslllooowwww from State Line all the way to downtown Spokane. Consider yourself warned.

Free The Fire Hydrants!

The Coeur d’Alene Fire Department is asking for your help to remove the snow around fire hydrants. The Water Department will be out today cleaning around hydrants. However, they will not be able to get to all hydrants due to the sheer number of them.

A buried fire hydrant can cause a 3-5 minute delay in attaching fire hoses to the hydrant, which can mean the total loss of a business or home.

So adopt a fire hydrant; just shovel out roughly a three-foot diameter clearing around hydrants near your home or business. You don’t have to dig all the way down to bare soil, just a few inches past the hose caps so firefighters can get a hydrant wrench turned.

KMPO Is Back Open!

It took me 1 1/2 hours to get to work today, but I'm here! And glad to be here too. Was starting to get cabin fever and a little looney. I think my pets are glad I'm working today too, I was considering dressing the cat up in doll clothes just for something to do. Bob wasn't very happy about that.

Anyway, a couple things I observed on my death march into work this morning:

- The good news: people were taking it very easy on the freeway. I think we only got up to 40 mph, and I only saw two slide-offs. The bad news: Drivers weren't moving over to let people merge as they were trying to get onto the freeway at the on-ramps. This caused some scary moments.

- If you are stopping to help pull someone out of a snowdrift or their driveway, PLEASE get as far off the road as you can before getting out to hook up their car with your tow chain. One clown stopped in the middle of Harvard Road in Liberty Lake this morning to help someone. That's great, but he also left his door wide open, leaving no room for people to get around. They were going into the median, which bogged things down even worse.

- Thanks to all the people who took it upon themselves to plow public roads! A very nice man in a big pickup was plowing Harvard this morning when I came through.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Open House for US 95 Access Study Cancelled

Good morning everyone, The Kootenai County Metroploitan Planning Organization has cancelled a public open house for the US Highway 95 access study that was scheduled for this afternoon from 4-7 p.m. at Centennial Distributing in Hayden, Idaho. A new open house will be resceduled at a later date. Watch this blog for more information when it comes available.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Check The SRTMC Website For Accidents & Delays

Don't forget, on days like today, when the weather is making the commute to Spokane rough, check the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) website before heading out on the roads. The site shows accidents, delays, backups and any other incident that could cause you problems in Spokane County. You can also watch live cameras to determine the conditions of local roadways. Here's a link to the SRTMC site. And here's a video about the SRTMC that City Cable 5 put together for us:

Weather Causing Accidents & Delays

This morning’s snow has triggered rush hour accidents across the region, including several on Interstate 90. Take it easy, especially if you're heading into Spokane. Here's some of those accidents:

- Idaho State Police reported slide-offs and an accident partially blocking Interstate 90’s westbound lanes at Post Falls.

- A two-car wreck at the eastbound Freya Street exit on I-90 was slowing traffic in eastbound lanes toward downtown Spokane. Some traffic was taking the Freya exit and clogging Second Avenue.

- Another incident was reported at I-90 and Exit 277-A where the right lane was blocked.

- A refuse truck and automobile had collided on westbound I-90 at U.S. Highway 195.

- Traffic cameras showed vehicles on the freeway moving, but at some places such as Freya and Havana streets, it had slowed to about 25 mph.

Alternative Jet Fuel To Be Put To The Test

The Japanese are trying an alternative fuel in a commercial airliner they will test next month. Camelina is a biofuels crop that has received strong backing from Montana officials. It will be put to the test in January by a company out of Seattle and Boeing. Here's the story.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advocates Saying Disabled Parking Spots Being Abused

Advocates say that Idaho's parking-permit system is being taken advantage of by people who aren't disabled. 32,000 disabled parking permits and license plates are in effect in the state, but many disabled people say there are a lot more people than that parking in reserved spots. Here's the Idaho
Statesman story.

What's your experience? Have you seen people without a disabled parking permit or license plate parked in disabled spots? If so, do you say anything to them?

Cold Weather Causing Problems

The cold is causing problems all over North Idaho. Here's a roundup from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

ITD Crews Switching To Sand Due To Extreme Weather

The Idaho Transportation Department says the unusually cold temperatures are creating some challenges in keeping roads safe. Crews are using sand on the roadways instead of salt, as salt is less effective in extremely cold temperatures.

The problem with sand though is that it is easily blown off the roadway by traffic. State crews are working around the clock, seven days a week to keep the roads sanded. They cover a road section at least four times per day and will do so more often during storms.

So take it easy out there and remember that the roads may be even more slick than normal in the winter.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This Is A New One By Me

US95 Open House Reminder

A reminder to make room in your busy schedule this week for the US95 open house KMPO is hosting this Thursday evening from 5-7 p.m. We are completing a study on how to make US95 flow better, while still maintaining access to local businesses, and we'd like the people who drive it to come look at the recommendations that came out of the study. The meeting is at Centennial Distributing, 701 W. Buckles, Hayden, ID.

Here's more info on the study.

Drop In Santa Barbara Accidents Attributed To Hands-Free Law

I couldn't find the article when digging around on the internet this morning, but I heard a news story this morning that said traffic accidents have dropped by almost 40% in Santa Barbara County, CA since the hands-free cell phone law went into effect earlier this year. And fatal accidents dropped by 72%!!! Wow, those are some results. I'll keep digging and post it if I can find it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter Driving At Its' Best

This video is making the email rounds right now. I'm not sure where it's from, but I have a feeling we have some of this fun to look forward to this weekend. And if it does, don't be like the woman here who jumps out of her car. She could have been hit by another car.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gas Drops Below $1.50 Mark

That sign is no longer accurate, gas prices dropped below the $1.50 mark in Coeur d'Alene yesterday. I saw two stations along US95, one right off I90 and one in Hayden, that were changing their signs to say $1.49 as I drove past.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Citylink Numbers Down From Last Month, Way Up From Last Year

The November 2008 Citylink ridership numbers are available. They are down a little from previous months, but still a large increase from the same time last year.

Alan Eirls with Citylink says ridership numbers usually drop a little at this time of year each year, and this year there was the added element of very low gas prices to get more people back into their own cars. Here's a link to the numbers.

Do you ride Citylink?

US95 Access Management Study Open House

KMPO is in the process of wrapping up the US95 Access Management Study and we have some recommendations on how to make US95 flow better, safer, and maintain access to the businesses that we want you to look at. We're hosting an open house next week, Dec. 18 from 5-7 p.m. at Centennial Distributing, 701 W. Buckles Ave., Hayden, in the Warren K Industrial Park.

Here's more info on the study. If you can't make the meeting, or have comments, email them to us here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Are Pedicabs A Good Fit For CDA?

According to the Inlander, Spokane will soon be getting a new form of transportation; pedicab.
Here's the scoop.

I was thinking this would be perfect for Coeur d'Alene in the summer. Tourists could be pulled around downtown while enjoying the sunny weather and pretty views. Anyone want to start a petition to get Mr. Eggum to start up business in Coeur d'Alene?

ITD Disputes Criticism On Bypass

The Idaho Transportation Department says criticism about work on the Sand Creek Bypass are off base. Here's the story from the Bonner County Daily Bee.

Roundup For the Week of Dec. 8

North Idaho may be joining Spokane's Transportation Management Center network of online traffic cameras and Idaho State Police want to teach you to drive in the snow and ice. Here's what's happening this week in the local transportation world from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' Column.

Friday, December 5, 2008

For the most part, I hate winter because of what a pain it is to try to get around in the ice and snow. One thing I do like about the season though is that you get some beautiful sunsets, like this north Idaho sunset we experienced yesterday. Thanks to the boss man, Glenn Miles, for this picture.

Groups Call For Green Investment To Repair Economy

A report compiled by 29 of the country's biggest 'green' groups calls for green investment to achieve economic growth, such as investment in infrastructure like public transportation.

The list of actions and policies the groups would like President-elect Barack Obama to adopt stresses the need for an approach that unites environment, energy, and economic policies. Here's the story and a link to the document.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Slow Down On SH97, The Eagles Are Back

The eagles are back on Lake Coeur d'Alene, which means that if you drive State Highway 97, you need to be extra careful. When I've been over there in past years, it's a mob scene of people stopped in the middle of the road, parked with cars halfway in the roadway, and people running back and forth across the highway, darting between cars. SH97 is already a scary stretch of road, so slow down and pay attention.

Thanks to the Spokesman's Huckleberries blog for the eagle picture, by the way.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Otter Wants To Raise Transportation-Related Taxes & Fees

Gov. Butch Otter told legislators today that Idaho needs to raise its gas tax, increase car and truck registration fees, tax rental cars and more to fund transportation maintenance needs around the state.

Here's the story.

Selkirk Loop Gets Scenic Byway Grant

This doesn't affect us in Kootenai County, but I thought it was really interesting and wanted to blog about it.

Boundary/Bonner Counties found out last week that they got a scenic byways grant to continue developing a scenic route in partnership with British Columbia. The route of the Selkirk Loop is between Newport, WA, Sandpoint, ID, Bonners Ferry, ID, and British Columbia.

$114,800 in federal scenic byway funds will be provided for the project.

The Loop has a very impressive website with maps, business listing, photos, and even testimonials from people who have driven it and made a mini-vacation of the trip. Here's a link. I'll remind you again about this in the summer as it would make a nice trip for a long weekend. In the meantime, has anyone driven it yet?

Public Transportation In New York

I stumbled across this video called 'Public Transportation; It's Not So Bad' on YouTube. I had a hard time paying attention to the actual form of transportation in the video though because I was too busy looking at the amazing amount of graffiti on the buildings. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Airlines Say The Will Cut More Flights & Jobs

Executives of major U.S. airlines announced today they will be cutting more flights and jobs. Here's the Spokesman-Review story.

CDA Public Hearing Tonight On Parking And Other Fees

A proposed change to the price of parking for downtown and midtown businesses could mean fee increases for the residents of Coeur d'Alene.

A public hearing is scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. in the Community Room at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library on the proposed parking in lieu fee increase. The proposed formula would give midtown business owners the option of paying $5,000 per stall they couldn't provide customers at their business, while for downtown stores it would be around $10,000 -- a jump from the previous $1,500 cost.

A number of other increased rates could be ushered in too, including: First time police fingerprinting fees; fines for dog at large and having an unlicensed dog, garbage service fees, and water hook up fees.

Here's the story and how much those fines/fees could be increasing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

How About A Drive To Harrison?

I know we just got done with a weekend, and the next one is five days away. But here's a little something to help you plan what you're going to do next weekend. With the warm weather, the roads are still in good driving condition, so how about a road trip to beautiful Harrsion, ID? This upcoming weekend is the annual 'Winter Fest Celebration' in downtown Harrison. There are all kinds of events and fun for the whole family.

And while you're there, you can find out everything else going on in the area by checking out the South Lake Coeur d'Alene website. It's got listings of all kinds of entertainment happening in the area, upcoming educational classes, and even info on area tree farms where you can harvest your own Christmas tree. So have fun.