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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Attention Freemasons And Rockhounds- ITD Has New License Plates For You

All you Freemasons and lapidary fans out there (what the heck??) two new specialty license plates go on sale in Idaho on Friday. I couldn't find a sample anywhere online of what they look like, but the new plates promote the charitable activities of Freemasons and awareness of earth sciences and lapidary education (the art of polishing, engraving, or cutting precious stones and gems).

The new license plates join about 40 other special interest options that allow Idaho drivers to financially support non-profit organizations.

From the sale of each license plate, all but $13 is deposited by the state treasurer into the non-profit organizations account.

The new plates can be personalized with up to five letters and/or numbers. The cost to personalize the plates is an additional $25.

Personalized and sample plates are only available directly from the Idaho Transportation Departments Boise office by using this link.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Knew I'd Seen The Grim Reaper At City Hall

I don't know who Gontram Architects are but they're some funny guys who want to wish you happy holidays with this fun video. I'm not going to say anything else, as to keep myself out of trouble here.

Lowe Files Adds Another Claim To Her Case

Former Idaho Transportation Director Pam Lowe, whose wrongful-termination lawsuit against the state is now pending in federal court, filed an amended claim today adding an additional claim to her case: that ITD hired a male to replace her and is paying him over $20,000 a year more than they were paying her.

Here's the story from the 'Eye on Boise' blog.

When new Director Brian Ness was hired, ITD said they offered him more pay than Lowe because he negotiated a salary that’s a substantial increase from his former salary in Michigan. Do you think this is a fair practice or should there be a set sarting wage for the position as well as 'step increases', just like in most other government positions?

Montana Has Killer Roads- And Not In The Good Sense

Turns out that our neighbor state, Montana, has some of the deadliest highways per mile nationwide. There were almost 22,000 crashes in the state of Montana last year, killinhg 229 people. Why though? Is it the aging infrastructure? The steep corners and grades? Or the people who drive at ridiculous speeds, even at night?

Here's the answer from KECI News out of Missoula.

Highway Signs Are Made To Last 10 Years- Please Don't Shoot Them

If you're the clown shooting highway signs in Idaho with a paintball gun, the Idaho Transportation Department asks you to stop. In a news release sent out yesterday, ITD officials say they've seen an increasing amount of signs with paintball damage along state highways in the past several months.

The paintball stains are not only costly to tax payers - who will pay the bill to replace thousands of dollars worth of signs- but has the potential to create hazardous results. The paintballs damage the reflectivity of signs, which makes them easier to see at night. While the signs appear normal during daylight hours, they are hard to see at night when they have paint ont hem.

More than 70 signs were recently replaced at a price of $7,000+. And that tab doesn't include the liability risk if someone gets in an accident.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Closures- Again

A reminder that it's another short week so get your government business done early. All government offices will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1 and many will close early on Thursday.

The Questions You Never Thought To Ask About Your Car and Driving

Ever wonder how the gas pump nozzle shuts itself off when the gas tank in your car is full? Yeah, I never have either. Until I saw this article on MSN. I guess I just never thought about it. It's relatively simple though, and pretty impressive considering the 'technology' behind it has been around for 50 years. Impressive because there really wasn't technology back then.

This article also answers some of the other questions you've come up with while driving but never thought to actually ask. Anyone have anything that wasn't covered in the article?

Public Transportation Roundtable Next Week

KMPO's Roundtable group meets next week, on Friday, January 8 from 8:30-10 a.m. Here's a look at the agenda. If you see anything on there that interests you, you're welcome and encouraged to attend the meeting. Roundtable meetings are open to the public.

The Roundtable meets quarterly. Its' purpose is to promote continued coordinated planning and development of public transportation services within and through Kootenai County. The meetings are more exciting than that description makes them sound, so come check it out if you have any interest at all in public transportation.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Eagle Watchers Causing Traffic Havoc

The Idaho Transportation Department just sent out a news release saying that the Idaho State Police will issue citations to motorists who interfere with traffic along Idaho 97 when watching migrating bald eagles. The birds gather every year near Coeur d'Alene Lake, drawing hundreds of human fans to watch them, and create havoc with road conditions.

Parking areas and pullouts are available on a limited basis along Idaho 97 on the eastern shore of the lake where bird watchers can safely pull off the highway. Motorists have been stopping and blocking traffic, which has prompted the state police to step up traffic patrols and issue citations. Inattentive drivers and cars suddenly stopping create a serious safety issue on the highway.

Anyone wishing to view the bald eagles should use designated parking areas, such as Higgins Point, or identified pullout areas. And slow down and pay attention when travelling around the lake.

Spokane Man Sues Idaho Over Accident

A Spokane man has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the state of Idaho for injuries he says resulted from a crash caused by potholes on Interstate 90 in North Idaho.

Here's the story.

I don't remember this when it happened, or the conditions on I90 at the time so it's hard for me to judge whether this suit is right or wrong. ITD officials say there's nothing they could do to fix the situation because of the weather though. From reading this article, do you think the accident victim should win this case or did ITD do everything they could to prevent something like this from happening?

Transportation Bill Extended Again

Those of you who are observant have probably already noticed that Dec. 18 has passed. What’s the significance of the date? For the non-transportation groupies out there, that was the expiration date for the extension of SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users), the funding and authorization bill that governs United States federal surface transportation spending.

So what does that mean? Are we without a bill that provides funding for transportation projects now and all construction projects will grind to a halt? No, that won’t happen. On the 18th, the ‘Omnibus Bill’ was passed, which extended SAFETEA-LU AGAIN until September of 2010.

Why should you care? Because we KMPO's sister agency, Spokane Regional Transportation Council, partnered with the Rails to Trails Conservancy on the ‘SmartRoutes’ project to try to get Congress to double the non-motorized transportation budget from $4.5 billion to $9 billion in the next federal transportation budget. If that happens, when they finally get around to reauthorizing the bill, there will be more money available to build bicycling-friendly facilities like bike lanes, trails, paths, etc.

In the meantime, a couple other bills are expected to be voted on in January that relate to transportation. Jeff Selle is KMPO/SRTC’s Manager of Government Affairs. After Congress reconvenes in January, he says he’ll write up an entire analysis of everything going on right now that involves transportation.

So, if you’re one of those people who gets that holiday letdown feeling after the holidays, just know that you have that to look forward to.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cost Of Driving In ID Going Up

The Idaho Transportation Department sure knows how to ruin my good holiday spirit. They say that, beginning in 2010, it will cost more to drive in Idaho because fees for many motor vehicle services are going up. Here's what some of the new prices will be.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays From KMPO. Here's Your Card

Here's Your PC holiday greeting from KMPO:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wish.

And here's your not-so-PC greeting, which stars some of the KMPO/SRTC staff and Glenn Miles as Scrooge.

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Idahoans Expected To Travel Less This Holiday Season

According to AAA, Residents of Idaho are expected to travel less than they did a year ago this holiday season, despite a forecast increase nationwide.

AAA expects an overall 4.8% decline in travel totaling 50 miles or more from home in the Mountain region, including Idaho.

That stacks up to a projected 3.8% increase nationwide, to 87.7 million people. The projections are based on a survey of 1,350 households in mid-November, along with past trends and other factors.

Analysts say the drop in Idahoans travelling is because the recession has been felt more acutely in this region.

Travel was also relatively robust in the region during last year's holidays, making the year-ago numbers hard to beat.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lily and Bob, Your Days Are Numbered

Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog, like Lily (pictured), is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle.

But the new book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" is offending many pet owners. Here's a link to this VERY interesting article. I wonder if that book has recipes for chow-mix dog and a really fat, shorthaired cat named Bob...

What do you think... is this going over the line in the name of being 'environmentally friendly' or is time for mandatory neutering of cats and dogs and limiting how many pets people can have?

Holiday Closures

A reminder that if you have government business to do, you'd better get it done today or tomorrow because we're all going to be at home in our bunny jammies the rest of the week. All government offices are closed on Friday, and most shut down early on Thursday for Christmas Eve.

All offices open again on Monday morning at 8 a.m.

Work will be suspended on all Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) highway construction projects statewide for the Christmas holiday, except in special circumstances.

Monday, December 21, 2009

ITD Recognized As 'Good Place To Work'- By Women's Group

Is it ironic that a place that JUST got a woman on their Board for the first time in their history was recognized for being a great place to work by the 'Women In Transportation' group?

The Treasure Valley chapter of the women's group says the Idaho Transportation Department is a pretty good place to work. WTS cited the department’s outstanding leadership and its record of support for women in the transportation industry as reasons for the award. I'm not sure former ITD Director Pam Lowe would agree, after claiming that the fact that she's female played a role in her firing, but it's good to hear that ITD backs it's female employees.

Here's more on this award from the ITD website.

Need A New Jersey For Bicycling?

Need a new jersey for bicycling? Here are some funny, yet applicable ones, that may get your point across to aggressive drivers. Here's where you can buy them if interested.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Needs Something That Says 'Stop!,' Only In A Friendly, Attractive Way

Thanks to Joe at the Spokesman for sending us this little treat. Joe hit the nail on the head with this one. I swear I've actually worked with those people.

Stop signs are one of the many things we take for granted. Sometimes it's hard to believe they're a relatively new invention and someone actually 'invented' it. This video is a fun look at what it would look like had the stop sign been designed by committee.

Now For The LaHood Pick Of The Day

On Facebook Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was touting this report from the Safe Routes To Schools National Partnership on how Safe Routes to School initiatives protect children walking and bicycling.

I've started my own campaign to get Mr. LaHood to visit our area, so if you're part of a Safe Routes To School program let me know what you're doing to make things safer for kids and maybe I can figure a way to use it as bait for Mr. LaHood.

CDA Bike/Ped Committee Launches Blog

Congratulations to the Coeur d'Alene Pedestrian & Bicycle Committee, which has just launched it's own blog. The blog hosts discussions and articles on everything pedestrian or bike related, such as bicycle safety, Safe Routes to School, Rules of the Road, pedestrian access for the disabled, public transportation, the future of pedestrians and bicycles in Coeur d'Alene, and other items of interest. Here's a link to check it out.

Annual Highway Report Out

Which state has the most efficient state-owned highway system? According to the 'Reason Foundations' 18th Annual Highway Report, it's North Dakota. Which states have the worst-performing highway systems? Hawaii, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island, and Alaska, according to the report. And how many bridges across the country are deficient or functionally obsolete? The report says 25%.

Want to read the whole report now? You should, because there are a lot of other interesting gems like those in there. Here's the link.

Apparently Getting Hit By A Prius Doesn't Cause A Lot Of Damage

Thanks to blogger Holly, I have just discovered the lure of the Craigslist 'Best of' ads. I can't put a link because some of the ads contain inappropriate references for this blog but here's one useable gem I found on there:

You hit me with your Prius

Date: 2009-07-25, 3:23PM PDT


Me - Bicyclist, heading to jury duty on 10th Street, Friday at 8:50am.
You - Prius driver, crossing over two lanes, hitting me with your car and speeding away.

I was hoping we could catch up for a cup of coffee, so I could get your views on the environment, and strangle you.

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Transportation Secretary LaHood On The Daily Show

Here's a little mid-week treat for you; Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on the Daily Show with John Stewart. It's interesting stuff; they talk about taking Amtrak to beat the fog, Obama's Stimulus package, and the next big thing in transportation, which LaHood says will be high speed rail and which the audience seemed to like. The pneumatic tube item isn't a bad idea either, I'm going to start working on that in my garage.

In the meantime, I'm hearing that LaHood wants to take a tour of 'rural America.' I'm starting my own campaign to get him here. We're not necessarily rural, but we are surrounded by rural lands when you consider the palouse, the west plains area, much of Idaho and on east to Montana. And we have a unique Metropolitan Planning Organization setup here where we provide transportation planning for two counties, using one staff.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Ray LaHood
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Chrysler Sets Company Policy Against Texting

Chrysler has jumped into the texting-while-driving fray. They'r the first automaker to set a corporate policy that specifically prohibits anyone driving company-owned vehicles or texting with company-provided cell devices while driving personal vehicles. Here's the story, direct from the Chrysler blog.

Four Car Accident Kills Two

A four-vehicle accident on I90 in Post Falls last night took the life of two teenagers and injured four other people. Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mr. Heat Meiser Coming To Visit

It looks like the Heat Meiser will be joining us this week, melting all that snow. If you think driving was a pain today, just wait until tomorrow. We're expected to get more snow tonight, then it will turn to rain and turn this 3-5 inches of snow into piles of slush. Someone in the office said it would be like 'driving through mashed potatoes tomorrow.' And while it seems merely inconvenient to drive in slushy conditions, slow down a little as the slush can throw you all over the place.

Cheap Gas At Stateline On Monday Nights

Normally I'd never drive out of my way to buy cheap gas because you pretty much burn what you save just to get there. It's only about 5 minutes out of my way to go to the gas station at Stateline though, where they were selling gas for $2.29 a gallon. That's right folks! It's a Monday Night Football promotion so don't think you can go there and get that price today. But you could try next Monday.

Lowe Case Moved To Federal Court

ITD Director Pam Lowe’s wrongful-termination lawsuit against the state is being moved up to federal court. The state had the option of either defending the case in 4th District Court or removing it to federal court.

Here's more on this story from the Spokesman's 'Eye On Boise' blog.

Fewer Expected To Travel By Air This Holiday Season

The Air Transport Association of America is predicting fewer travelers will board planes to get to where they're going this Christmas. The decline in air travel is being blamed on the economy. Here's the story from the Seattle Times..

Monday, December 14, 2009

FTA Money To Fund CDA Tribe Transit Center

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on Friday announced that $32 million will be spent on 100 transit projects on tribal lands. $15 million of the money will come from 'Public Transportation on Indian Reservations' funding from the USDOT and the other $17 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

FTA staff reviewed 152 proposals for projects and selected 100 to fund- including one Coeur d'Alene Tribe project- a transit center. Right now, we're working with the Tribe to determine if that money has to be used on Tribal Lands, or if it could be used to construct a transit center in the Riverstone area in Coeur d'Alene. I'll keep you updated.

In the meantime, here's the news release and the entire list of projects to be funded.

A Cautionary Tale About Buses

Watch for bus riders
Letter to the Coeur d'Alene Press Editor

One evening as the snow started my teenage sons and quite a few of their friends rode the Citilink bus to a birthday party. They ride the bus system all the time, it is a great benefit for our community. Not long after I told all the boys to behave but have fun, I get a phone call from my oldest son. He was frantically crying, something he rarely does. I knew something was wrong. He says, "Mom, Jamie got hit by a car, I think he's dying." I hang up with him and head towards Super 1 in Post Falls.

I didn't know what to expect when I got there. The boys were all upset, scared and angry. Jamie, was laying on the concrete, being helped by the paramedics and a wonderful Good Samaritan, all I got was her first name, Brandy. Jamie was taken to KMC.

The police officer told me that there will be a crash report, but no charges. At this point I was just wanting to take care of my son. Who, thanks to God, has no major injuries. His shoulder and knee will probably never be the same, but he is alive and did not have a brain injury.

But, now that I know my son is okay I'm a bit concerned for the safety of others getting off and on the buses. No, they are not school buses with the stop sign, but drivers, people are getting off the bus. The woman who hit my son, drove around the stopped bus. Then to top it off tried to leave the scene before the police arrived. My older son stopped her from leaving!

The next time you are driving past the Citilink bus that is at a stop, remember that there are going to be pedestrians getting on and off the bus and you should watch for them. And riders, remember that not all drivers are paying enough attention to realize that a stopped bus means people walking.

Post Falls

Some Items Regarding Snow

- Not only did it snow last night in some areas, but it's expected to do so again tomorrow. If you commute to Spokane for work, be sure to check the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center website for road conditions for heading out on them. You can watch live traffic cameras on the site, and check a map of your commute route for anything that might slow you down such as traffic accidents or slick roads.

- I got about 1 1/2 inches of snow at home last night, but the roads were pretty much clear by the time I got to Trent. And the freeway was just wet so the going was pretty easy. By the time I got downtown, there wasn't snow, wet roads, or anything. Just goes to show the little 'micro-climates' our area has.

- Blogger Holly from Olympia says it snowed there last night, about an inch, and there is a little ice on the roads, but nothing too scary. The funny part- the schools there delayed the start of the school day for two hours as a result.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bids Coming In Consistently Under Estimate

The winning bid on the project to widen US 95 north of Hayden came in way under estimate. $6 million under engineer's estimates in fact. And that's happening a lot lately with many area projects. Apparently the bad economy is forcing contractors to work for less and keep the price of materials stable. Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

ITD Makes Bold Move- Appoints Woman To Board

Idaho Governor Butch Otter did something yesterday that's never been done- he appointed a woman to the Idaho Transportation Board! Here's the article from the Spokesman-Review.

Does anyone else have a hard time believing that we're in the 21st century and there's never been a woman on that board?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

30 Year Mayor's Only Regret- Transportation

Thanks to Gail for sending me this video about one remarkable Mayor of a Canadian city who has been in office for 30 years! Mississauga is the ONLY city in existence that is debt free. And Mayor Hazel has a lot of other accomplishments under her belt as well. Her only regret? That they didn't build their development around transportation and are now struggling to develop a public transit system. The video is a little long and the reporter kind of cheesy but it's interesting to see what a city can do with some planning.

KCATT Agenda Available

The agenda for next week's Kootenai County Area Transportation Team (KCATT) is now available. Here's the link. Feel free to attend if you see anything on the agenda that interests you. The meeting is next Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 8 a.m. in the meeting room at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library at 702 E. Front Ave.

Please note this is the last KCATT meeting that is scheduled to meet at the Coeur d’Alene library. Beginning next month (January 2010) and for the remaining 2010 year, KCATT will meet at the ITD District 1 Headquarters located at 600 West Prairie Avenue in Coeur d’Alene.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IPH Meeting Materials Available

If you weren't able to attend the Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) meetings last week in Pullman, Sandpoint, or Spokane Valley, but are curious as to what happened at them, all the meeting materials are now posted to the IPH website.

The IPH Transportation Study is a project to establish the Inland Pacific Region as a multi-modal global gateway to increase international commerce. It is a partnership comprised of public and private sector representatives from Idaho and Washington.

While you're checking out the meeting materials, I recommend you browse the rest of the site to find out more about the project.

KMPO & KCATT Dates Set For 2010

It's official; dates have been set for KMPO Board and Kootenai County Area Transportation Team (KCATT) meetings in 2010. They are as follows (so mark your calendar):

January 7
February 4
March 4
April 1
May 6
June 3
July 1
August 5
September 2
October 7
November 4
December 2

January 26
February 23
March 23
April 27
May 25
June 22
July 27
August 24
September 28
October 26
November 23
December 21

Idaho Drunk Driving Deaths Up From 2007

New federal data suggests that all but 10 states have seen a decline in drunken driving deaths- and Idaho is one of the ten states that hasn't. In fact, the rate of drunk driving deaths in Idaho has increased from 2007 to 2008.

Here's the story from Seattle's KIRO TV.

So Idahoans- what do you feel contributed to this increase in drunk driving fatalities?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Legos Teach Kids About Transportation

This is pretty cool. Area students are learning about math, science, engineering- and transportation- through playing with legos! It's not just playing though, they're competing to be the champion when it comes to robotics. And one group of kids are even putting what they learned to use on the Centennial Trail. Here's the article.

KCATT Meeting Moved This Month

This is early notice that the meeting date of the Kootenai County Area Transportation Team has been moved this month. Normally, the meeting is held the fourth Tuesday of each month. Because the fourth Tuesday of December fell on the week of Christmas this year though, it was agreed to hold it a week early, on Dec. 15. It will still be held at the regular time; 8 a.m. An agenda isn't available yet but I'll let you know when it is.

Students Looking For Bike Rack Designs

The Inlander reports that a group of students in the Resort and Recreation Management Program at North Idaho College has launched an initiative called WeCycle, to promote bicycling and raise the profile of the bicycle in the city.

As part of the initiative, they’re asking artists to submit designs for between 15 and 20 bike racks, which would be installed along the Centennial Trail in May. The racks would be provided free of charge to the city.

The only requirements are apaprently that the designs be all-metal, safe and that they use a 36-inch square base as their foundation. If you're an artist interested in this, call (208) 290-5318.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Letter Writer Wants Longer Yellow Lights

Coeur d'Alene Press Letter To The Editor:

I write this letter to the editor hoping that it will reach the eyes of whichever authority has jurisdiction over the traffic signals at the 95-Prairie intersection. Surely I am not the only one who thinks this issue needs addressing. It has to do with the length of time the signals show yellow before they change to red.

Traveling south on US 95 at the Prairie Ave. intersection: The yellow signal lasts approximately four seconds. I timed it for five cycles. The times ranged between 3.46and 3.88 seconds.

In four seconds a car moving at the posted speed limit (45 MPH) travels 264 feet, 66 feet per second.

According to the Idaho Driver's Handbook: At 45 MPH it takes 101.5 feet to react to the light changing.

It takes an additional 114 feet to bring the car to a stop. A quote from the handbook: "Total minimum stopping distances with perfect 4-wheel brakes on the best type of road surface under favorable conditions."

I wish to point out that for all intents and purposes, the 215.5 feet allotted amounts to a panic stop, and not the type of stopping drivers should be faced with in normally reacting to traffic signals.

The 101.5 reaction distance does not factor in the judgment time necessary to calculate your distance from the limit line, weather factoring, whether the stop can be made safely or any other of the multitude of calculations necessary to safely stop the vehicle. The allotted 101.5 feet only provides for the reaction time for a panic stop. The 114 feet stopping distance applies only to a panic stop.

The foregoing indicates that four seconds is an insufficient amount of time to bring a car to a safe stop if the car is 264 feet or nearer to the intersection when the car is traveling at the posted speed limit of 45 MPH. Even one additional second or five seconds total would be a vast improvement.

Dalton Gardens

Um... I'm not really sure where to go with this. Do you agree/disagree? Are you surprised that Mr. Barbieri did this much research to write a letter to the editor?

You Can Still Get A Rebate On A New Car

You can still get a deal on a car, even if you don't have a clunker to trade in. But you've only got until the end of the year to use the New Car Tax Rebate, so if you were thinking about buying, now may be the time. And buyers are needed because, unlike the Cash For Clunkers Program, not many appear to be taking advantage of this program.

Here's more information on this little-known program from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Avista To Remove Trees On Hazel Avenue

According to the 'City of Coeur d'Alene Today' blog, Avista will be removing some trees along Hazel Avenue at Cherry Hill. Like many street trees, the trees that will be removed are growing into the overhead power lines.

Not only is Avista removing the trees, but they are donating $1,000 to Urban Forestry for replacement trees.

Task Force Won't Propose Road Fixes

Governor Otter's transportation funding task force met this week, but it won’t be proposing any road fixes in the upcoming Idaho legislative session as the group is apparently bogged down with defining the need for road funding. Here are the details from the 'Eye On Boise' Blog.

SRTMC Website Outage Planned For Sunday, Monday

This is your notice that, if you commute from Idaho to Spokane for work, you're going to have to rely on your own wits and street smarts to get to work on Monday morning, as the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) cameras will be down that morning for some upgrades.

The live traffic feeds will be taken down Sunday morning (Dec. 6) and are expected to be back online by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, in time for the evening commute.

The SRTMC site, at, is a high-tech website with real-time, customizable information for the Spokane area. 24-hours a day you can watch over 40 live traffic cameras, read about incidents and events that are automatically updated as they happen, and check construction updates in order to plan your commute around upcoming construction projects.

The SRTMC is expecting to bring almost 30 new camera feeds online by early 2010. That includes three on Appleway in Spokane Valley, four along the North Spokane Corridor, and over 20 on the Maple/Ash Corridor. In order to support these additional camera feeds, a new video switch must be installed, which accounts for the outage.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Correction To An Earlier Blog Post- And Its From The Top

I'm always open to corrections or updates on this blog, so if you see something you have additional info on be sure to let me know. That's exactly what Todd Solomon did recently. And noticing his email address, I was curious and looked him up on line. According to an online bio I found of Todd Solomon, he's the Online Community Manager for President Obama's Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, managing the Secretary's blog (, online presence (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), and new media strategy! How cool is that? Good to know someone is noticing the work us little guys do. So here's his message:

FYI, just wanted to let you know that the Star-Telegram,, from which The
Olympian got the article referenced by your blog post "LaHood Wants To
Raise Federal Gas Tax," has corrected its story as below.

You'll see that--whether or not it's a good idea, Secretary LaHood did
not endorse it. He only said that it's up to Congress to hash the
funding out, and adjusting the gas tax is only one of the options they
can use.

I think it's great that the Kootenai County MPO are following this and
so many other stories so closely. Your citizens are probably better
informed than most on transportation! Hope you're also following the
Secretary's blog ( and @RayLaHood Twitter
account. And, if you really want to, you can also fan the Secretary on

Hope you guys can get to one of the Reauthorization Listening Tour stops
when the Secretary gets out west.

Star-Telegram Correction
"Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Congress should debate a range
of options on funding transportation needs, including indexing the
federal gas tax. He did not endorse any option. Information about his
remarks was incorrect Tuesday in an article about the North Texas
Transportation Summit."

Citylink Numbers Up Again

Citylink had a down month in October for some reason, but judging from the latest numbers released just yesterday, the numbers are on the rise again.
Here are the latest ridership numbers, from November.

What Did We Do Before Facebook?

So guess what I just did? I just became a fan of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Facebook (I can do this as I'm blogging at home today because using Facebook at work is obviously a no-no). I'm hoping this will mean I get updates from the man himself delivered directly to me, and I won't have to check his blog quite as often anymore. If you would like to check his blog though you can use this link. And if you would like to become his fan on Facebook click here. You have to give the guy credit for being proactive.

IPH Meeting Draws Variety Of Community Members

I'm doing my blogging late today because I spent all morning in the Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) meeting this morning at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley. If you're not familiar with the IPH Transportation Study, it is a project is to transform the Inland Northwest into a hub for commerce, vital to the global economy. Sound like a stretch? Well it's not; because of its central location, the Inland Northwest is perfectly positioned to be a key link to competitive commerce in the northern hemisphere.

Besides SRTC, there are several agencies partnering on this project, including Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Idaho Transportation Department.

Those jurisdictions this week hosted three forums to get input from the public in Pullman, Sandpoint, and Spokane Valley. And people seem to be interested; over 30 people attended the Pullman meeting, about 12 in Sandpoint, and just over 50 at today's Spokane Valley meeting. And they came from a variety of backgrounds. At today's meeting alone, we had representatives from the railroads, the City of Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene, Avista, Jobs Plus, the Davenport Economic Development Council, Eastern Washington University, a couple of everyday citizens, a delegation of three from Trail, B.C., and a ton of other people. And they all had different perspectives about what we need to do to take full advantage of the potential economic development opportunities associated with international trade.

We're in the process of compiling the meeting notes and results, and will have those on the Inland Pacific Hub website sometime within the next week. The good news is that this gives you that time to go through the IPH website and get to know the project a little more. Happy reading and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

LaHood Wants To Raise Federal Gas Tax

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says Congress should consider raising the federal gas tax for the first time since 1993.

LaHood pledged to work with Congress on passing a five-year transportation bill in 2010. The current problem is that although about $500 billion in highway, bridge and transit needs have been identified, the federal gas tax — 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline — can't generate that much revenue.

Here's the story from The Olympian.

ITD Sued Over Traffic Accident

A Bonner County woman is suing the Idaho Transportation Department over a traffic accident she claims was caused by a faulty traffic signal. Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

CDA Gets Lands Grant

The City of Coeur d'Alene has just gotten word from the Idaho Department of Lands that they've been awarded a $6,465 Community Transportation Enhancement (CTE) grant. The city's Parks Department applied for this grant to plant 44 trees and 15 shrubs within the Seltice Avenue right-of-way between the parking lot at Northwest Boulevard and the stop light at Riverstone Drive. The trees and shrubs will be planted between the street and the Centennial Trail in early May.

Drinking Boxed Wine, It's The New Way To Reduce Vehicle Emissions (Or Something Like That)

John Tesh annoys the heck out of me. I just wanted to get that on the record before I pass on something I heard on his radio show. Why was I listening to his show if I don't like him? Well, I was flipping through the stations the other night when I heard something about switching to boxed wine that caught my attention.

So I just got on John's website and found this intereting factoid, and just in time for your holiday consumption too: "These days a lot of respected wineries are doing away with the glass bottle because manufacturing and shipping them is expensive and wasteful. According to the Wine Group, the largest wine company in the world, using boxes instead of glass bottles is equivalent to taking 25,000 cars off the road every year!"

So thank you Mr. Tesh. I can overlook your smarminess for one day to pass that on. Now go out and get yourself some boxed wine (or boxed sparkling cider for you non-drinkers).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Church Coalition To Pay Parking Tickets

Some Boise drivers may be getting their parking tickets taken care of. A Christian coalition will pay off up to $10,000 in tickets as a way to apparently show 'God's grace.'

Yeah, I'm not really seeing the connection to grace and parking tickets either but I'm betting a lot of people with parking tickets won't even care if there is a connection.

The money to pay the tickets comes from anonymous donors and area churches.Here's the story.

KMPO December Board Agenda Available

The monthly KMPO Board meeting is this Thursday, Dec. 3. You can check out the agenda by clicking here.

As always, if you see something of interest on the agenda, you're welcome to attend the Board meeting. It starts at 1:30 p.m. in the Post Falls Council Chambers at 408 N. Spokane St. in Post Falls.

And just a note, we had originally planned to move KMPO Board meetings back to the ITD offices after HVAC work was completed there, but it has recently been decided to continue to hold those meetings at Post Falls City Hall through 2010.

Monday, November 30, 2009

This Hello Kitty Bike Is Calling My Name

Here is blogger Holly's response to this thread yesterday: You're acting like a little kid who sees a pretty pink bike she wants and is dreaming of Christmas Day. My advice is... Get a bike on Craigslist that is actually not a POS then paint it pink and have Hello Kitty decals added to it. If you spent that much on a used bike you'd have yourself a super sweet ride.

Besides that, you're used to riding Giant Cooter (our Commute Trip Reduction bike), so this bike will not even begin to ride that nicely. Bottom Line... Friends don't let friends buy bikes from Target (or any other variety store for that matter, including Costco.) :)

Okay, she's got a point there; I'm like a crow with shiny objects. Sigh...

The back wheel on the Huffy is bent and since it's a 15-year-old bike and a Huffy it's not really worth paying to have it replaced. However, I do need something to ride, so I was thinking I should start looking around for a bike. And I was going to ask for opinions on what to get on this blog. That is, until I saw that beauty above.

That's right folks, that's a 1 speed women's cruiser Hello Kitty bike. Only $369 at Target. It's got alloy rims, a padded spring set, front and rear fenders, comes 85% assembled (how the &^%$# do they determine 85%???), and the best part; it's hideously pink and has Hello Kitty all over it.

Being government employees, we don't get Christmas bonuses, but if someone wanted to drop a hint to the boss about how I need a new ride to get to meetings it wouldn't hurt my feelings at all. I'll see if I can return the favor at some point.

Transportation Funding Task Force Meets This Week

Governor Butch Otter’s transportation funding task force will hold its third meeting this week. At this Wednesday's meeting in Boise, a national consultant and former Utah transportation director will make a presentation about transportation funding across the country.

The task force is in the midst of an 18-month study of options for adequately funding transportation in Idaho. It’s scheduled to report back to the governor by December of 2010.

You can see the full meeting agenda and other info by clicking here.

IPH Public Meetings Start Tomorrow

With everything else going on, I've somewhat neglected the latest project we're partnering on, the Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) Transportation Study. The IPH is a project to establish the Inland Pacific Region as a multi-modal global gateway in order to increase international commerce.

Your ideas and strategies are needed to reach that goal, so we (all the agencies involved in this study including the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Idaho Transportation Department, KMPO, and Spokane Regional Transportation Council) are hosting three public meetings this week to introduce area business leaders and the public to the IPH. The forums will gather input on transportation infrastructure necessary to drive economic growth. The meetings are at these dates and locations:

Tuesday Dec. 1, 2009, 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) Event Center
1825 Schweitzer Drive, Pullman, WA

Wednesday Dec. 2, 2009, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Sandpoint Community Hall
204 S. First Ave., Sandpoint, ID

Thursday Dec. 3, 2009, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, WA

For more information on the IPH study click here. Or you can read an article about the study in the Bonner County Daily Bee by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Just In From ITD

Work will be suspended on all Idaho Transportation Department highway construction projects statewide for the Thanksgiving holiday, except in special circumstances.

There may be work on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but that is expected to be only minimal when compared to typical project work.

Some of those very rare conditions in which work may continue on a holiday are:

- If crews are not working on the roadway open to the public,
- If the road is already closed and all traffic is using a designated detour,
- In an emergency situation where the roadway has been damaged and requires repair,
- On roads with very low traffic volumes, or
- On accelerated projects with compressed work schedules in order to reduce long-term impacts to the public.

Don't Forget To Review The Regional Non-Motorized Plan

This is a reminder that if you have comments regarding the draft Regional Non-Motorized Transportation Plan KMPO recently developed, you need to submit them by the close of business next Tuesday or forever hold your peace. Or at least until we do an update anyway.

The goal of the plan is to create a non-motorized transportation system to increase walking and bicycling for transportation, as well as address the needs of area pedestrians and bicyclists.

It can be viewed by clicking here or by calling 1-800-698-1927 for a hardcopy. Comments can be submitted by clicking here, but they're due Dec. 1 so get going.

Gas & Weather Expected To Stay Stable Through Weekend

So what gives? I've been buying gas for $2.49 a gallon in Coeur d'Alene for at least a couple days now, but when I needed to buy it in Spokane the other day it was $2.82 a gallon! I know Washington has a gas tax that Idaho doesn't, but it's not big enough to make a 33-cent a gallon difference!

Besides the difference between states, AAA says gas prices will stay stable throughout the holiday weekend. The weather is supposed to be pretty mild too, which means more people will be taking to the roads. Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

It's A Blogging Holiday

Just some advance notice to let you know there's probably going to be a lapse in blogging for at least a few days. Being government workers, we have Thursday and Friday off as holidays. Because I'm on a 'flex' schedule though, I also get Wednesday off. Whoo hoo, five days off in a row! I may get a wild hair and blog from home but it depends on how I feel. That picture of Mr. Potato Head usually sums up how I feel after a holiday spent with the extended family, so I'd hate to commit to anything right now. Talk amongst yourselves in my absence.

Lewiston Police Take Hard Stance On DUIs

This story is in Lewiston but I still feel it's relevant as this could be the trend. Lewiston Police say they're ramping up their stance against drunk driving from now on and may even forcibly take blood samples in some suspected drunk driving cases! Here's the story.

I know blood will only be taken forcibly in extreme cases, and I'm just as against drunken driving as anyone else, but the whole taking blood by force thing kind of creeps me out. My understanding is that people who refuse a breath test automatically have their license suspended. I would think that's punishment enough. I worry that this could be abused and eventually the guy who had one beer after work and drives home with a blood alcohol level below .08 will be harrassed and have his blood 'stolen.' Am I paranoid? Probably, but I like my blood. Am I overreacting? What do you think?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Walker Killed By Truck Was Pedestrian Advocate

I've been following this story since last Thursday when it happened but hadn't blogged about it until now because it's not in Kootenai County. Considering the circumstance though, I think it's applicable to this blog.

It turns out that a Sandpoint man who died after being hit by a pickup was an advocate for pedestrian safety. Here's more from the Spokesman-Review.

I've Heard Of Naming Hurricanes- But Snowstorms??

I was in Coeur d'Alene yesterday running some errands and actually saw a snowplow! I figured it had to be heading to an outlying area since the roads in town were just wet. Turns out, it could have been the City trying to be proactive though.

On the City of Coeur d'Alene Today blog, CDA Street Superintendent Tim Martin explains what they're doing to get ready for future snowfall. And by the way, did you know those crazy folks in CDA actually name their snowstorms? Neither did I. Here's the story from the man himself.

ITD Explains Ness' Salary Increase

Wondering why Idaho’s new transportation director is being paid $22,000 a year more than fired Director Pam Lowe? According to ITD, it's because the department negotiated a salary that’s designed to be a substantial increase from Brian Ness’ current salary in Michigan.

Ness will be paid $165,000 a year. Here's why ITD felt they had to give him such an increase.

Plan Accordingly- Holiday Closures Are Coming

A reminder to get your government business done early this week, as all government offices are closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

That includes KMPO, Coeur d'Alene City Hall, Post Falls City Hall, the Idaho Transportation Department, etc., etc. Everything opens again Monday morning, Nov. 30, at 8 a.m.

In the meantime, the four days off gives me time to deal with the flock of 30 turkeys that have taken up residence in my neighborhood. This is the view out my front window every morning, only usually there's a lot more of them. Don't they know they're supposed to be laying low this time of year?

35 Worst Cities For Pedestrians

Transportation for America has just released a new study on which U.S. cities are most dangerous for pedestrians, and God forbid if you have to walk anywhere in Florida! The top five worst cities for walking are in the sunshine state.

The good news though is that I didn't see any Washington or Idaho cities on the list.

Here's the top 35 worst cities for walking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

ITD Winter Driving Tips

The Idaho Transportation Department asks you not to get too crazy near their snowplows. When driving near snowplows keep a few safety tips in mind:

- Remain two car lengths behind plows for every 10 mph you drive. Sand being spread by trucks can damage your vehicle.

- Do not pass a snowplow unless it is absolutely necessary. If you must pass, do so only when you can clearly see the road ahead. Do not pass on the side where the plow is spraying snow. If you do, the snow's force can knock your car out of control.

- Do not cut back immediately in front of a snowplow truck. The plow blades are often covered with snow and can be difficult to see.

- Do not brake suddenly if you are traveling in front of a snowplow. The heavy vehicle cannot stop as quickly as an automobile.

- Do not abandon your car unless it is absolutely necessary. However, if you must, leave it as far off the road as possible. Abandoned cars can interfere with the road clearing process and can be extremely hazardous to snow removal equipment and the operators if they are hidden or buried by snow.

- Be aware of potential icy areas such as shady spots, bridges, and overpasses. Since they are exposed on their undersides, bridges and overpasses are deprived of ground warmth and freeze more rapidly than the roadways leading to them.

ITD Upgrades 511 System

With winter here, the Idaho Transportation Department is enhancements its 511 Traveler Services system to help you safely navigate changing highway and weather conditions. Among the changes:

- A simplified route-reporting process that enables callers and Web site users to select a portion of a highway for information retrieval. In the past, telephone callers had to listen to a report for the entire length of a specific highway even when they only wanted to check a short segment.

- Event locations will be reference by their distance to cities and towns, rather than mileposts or lesser-known geographic points, in order to make it easier for telephone users to locate road closures and other events

-The website now includes Google Map technology that provides terrain or satellite imagery and a number of other graphics-based features.

- And for those of you with 'handheld devices' like fancy schmancy cell phones, ITD this year introduced a new Mobile Web option that provides road reports and camera images. To access the reports, enter in the Web address of your mobile browser.

BNSF Depot Gets Approval

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe refueling depot in Huetter received a nod of approval from the Kootenai County commissioners yesterday. Commissioners voted unanimously that the depot is in compliance with the conditions the officials set when they passed a conditional use permit for the facility in 2004. Here's the story.

ITD Director Salary Released

According to the Idaho Transportation Department, theire new state transportation director, Brian Ness, will be paid $165,000 a year. That’s $22,000 more a year than the salary of the previous director, Pam Lowe, who made $143,000.

What Would It Take To Make Our Area Into A Hub For Global Commerce?

That’s the question posed by a local transportation study we're partnering with several other agencies on. The Inland Pacific Hub (IPH) Transportation Study is a project to establish the Inland Northwest region as a multi-modal hub in order to increase international commerce.

The IPH is a very large-scope project, both conceputally and geographically. It covers ten counties in Washington (Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman) and nine in Idaho (Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce and Shoshone).

Because the study area is so big, we have created a new website to reach all the people in those areas that are interested or may want to be involved. So, while it may sound far-fetched for Eastern Washington/North Idaho to be the ideal inland port, the area is actually perfectly situated and has many economic development opportunities already in place. Check out the Inland Pacific Hub website to see why.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ITD To Use Lasers To Avoid Car-Animal Accidents

When I heard that the Idaho Transportation Department is going to use lasers to try to keep animals from being hit by drivers on a stretch of US 95 near Moscow, the first thing I thought of was the sharks with lasers mounted on their heads from Austin Powers. Cool, they're going to equip game with lasers so they can shoot back at cars approaching them too fast! Uh, not quite. Turns out it's a system where lights flash when deer, elk, moose or other animals pass through laser beams focused along shoulders of the highway.

The system is supposed to give travelers an extra chance to avoid a collision. While it's not as cool as large animals that shoot laser beams, it's still pretty cool. I want some in my neighborhood.

ITD Names New Director

Idaho has named a new transportation director, this time an administrator from Michigan’s Department of Transportation who holds both an engineering degree and a master’s degree in public administration. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

AAA Expecting More Holiday Drivers This Year

AAA is predicting more people will drive to see family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday than will fly. They say reduced airline capacity, added charges, and lingering economic worries will prompt travellers to choose a cheaper way to travel.

However, in a sign that the economy may be improving, Americans are expected to travel long distances in bigger numbers than Thanksgiving weekend 2008, the AAA says.

In the Pacific Northwest, 4.6 million are expected to travel for Thanksgiving, an increase of more than 8%- much higher than the national growth rate.

AAA said the number of people who will travel 50 miles or more away from home during Thanksgiving is expected to grow to 38.4 million this year, up 1.4% from last year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Can You Imagine A Bus With A Bunch Of Dog Heads Hanging Out The Window?

Would you let this adorable face on the bus if you were a driver? How could you say no? This is Fergie, who belongs to our IT guy Tony. And if some people in Idaho have their way, dogs like Fergie would soon be allowed to ride buses with their owners in cities like Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey.

Mountain Rides Transportation Authority is seeking public input on whether dogs should be allowed on its buses. Here's the article from the Idaho Mountain Express. And be sure to read the comments. There's some good stuff there about how dogs are better than snot-nosed kids any day, etc.

So how about it Citylink? Can I bring my Lily on the bus? What do you think, should dogs be allowed on buses in North Idaho?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Secretary LaHood Talks Complete Streets

The Complete Streets Coalition apparently has an in with the big dogs. Several members of the National Complete Streets Coalition and Transportation for America participated in a meeting yesterday with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The topic was how Complete Streets can create a safer environment for pedestrians and other road users.

Here's an article about the meeting from the Complete Streets website.

Pam Lowe Files Amendment To Suit... And Stands In Front Of Attorney's Office

So despite the gravity of the situation, this picture cracked me up when I saw it on the Spokesman's 'Eye on Boise' blog today. It's Pam Lowe posing in front of her attorney's office. Ummm... okay. Is that supposed to scare the state of Idaho into settling with her? Just thought it was kind of weird...

Anyway, the latest on the Lowe vs. ITD case is that she filed an amended complaint today to the whisteblower complaint she filed last week, saying the fact that she's female played a part in her firing. Here's the article.

CDA/Hayden Area Gets New Kind Of Traffic Signal

There's a new traffic signal in town. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) this week is installing new signals throughout Coeur d'Alene and Hayden that are known as flashing yellow arrow left-turn signals.

According to ITD, the lights offer several advantages over the old left-turn signals:

- They're safer - A national study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration demonstrated that drivers made fewer mistakes with the new signals than with traditional left-turn-arrow signals.

- They're more efficient - The new signals provide traffic engineers with more options to handle variable traffic volumes.

- They're more consistent - Motorists will see the new signals in every state because the signals are being introduced throughout the U.S.

If you're curious to see the new signals in action, just take a little drive up to either US 95 and Idaho 53, and Garwood Road or in Coeur d'Alene, there's one in use at the Ramsey Road intersection at the Kroc Center.

Electric Cars- Maybe Not The Wave Of The Future?

In response to my thread about the new electric cars that will be available soon, blogger 'Canada Guy' suggested
this article that says going to all electric cars is neither feasible, nor possibly beneficial to the environment.

Interesting reading. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ITD Contract Getting Close Scrutiny

Allegations by former Idaho Transportation Department director Pam Lowe are causing scrutiny of a huge contract with two engineering companies.

Lowe says both the firms were major contributors to Governor Otter's campaign, and when she tried to trim the contract in order to trim her budget, she was fired.

Here's the latest from the Magic Valley Times-News.

Fog Slowing Things Down & Causing Accidents

Slow down out there, 'cause the fog is causing accidents again. The National Weather Service says visibility is less than a quarter-mile in some places and the heaviest fog is along the Interstate 90 corridor from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene.

Temperatures below freezing also have increased the risk for slippery roadways, forecasters said. There have been several accidents reported, including a couple in the West Plains area.

You should probably plan to leave early tomorrow morning as well, as snow is expected to fall. Yes, I said snow. Now I'm going to curl up in the fetal position under my desk and stay there until spring.

Drunken Walkers Cause Large Amount Of Accidents

Yesterday, blogger Holly commented that, when she was taking training on serving alcohol in restaurants, she was told that 10% of alcohol related injuries involving vehicles and pedestrians are actually a result of the walker being intoxicated, not the driver. I found that to be an interesting statistic and wanted to find out more. Well, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), drunken walking is somewhat of a big problem.

According to an article in the CDC's 'Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,' (yikes, there's a facinating read) pedestrians account for 14% of all motor-vehicle–related deaths. And statistics for 1982 show that 39% of those walkers involved in a fatal accident were at or above a BAC of .10 percent.

Here's the report, and it includes lots of charts and graphs in case you're like me and have a short attention span.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Not Safe To Do Anything Drunk Anymore

Have you seen this yet? It's video of a drunk woman in Boston who fell onto the tracks in a subway station. Scary stuff. Jeez, all this time we've been hearing how dangerous it is to drive drunk, but no one's said anything about riding the subway drunk.

Cool New Electric Cars Hitting Market Soon

I shouldn't be letting this secret out, but the gas station at State Line next to the El Patio restaurant has gas for $2.49 on Monday nights during the Monday night football game.

While that helps me trim the budget a little, I still resent the new boats and other toys I'm buying for the gas company executives and their families.

Some well-known names may put an end to our gas headache though- at least a dozen new electric or hybrid cars are expected to hit the U.S. market within the next few years.

There is a drawback though- while you'll be saving on gas, the price of the car might make up for it. Here's the story on the new electrics from the L.A. Times.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fatal US 95 Accident Under Investigation

Idaho State Police continue their investigation today into a head-on crash that killed an Athol man yesterday on US 95 and caused a major traffic backup.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Holiday Closures

A reminder that, while KMPO employees will be slaving away behind our desks tomorrow, that's not the case for many public agencies.

Both Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls' City Halls will be closed tomorrow (Wednesday) for Veterans' Day. Other city offices and facilities will be closed as well. Everything will be back to normal again at 8 a.m. on Thursday though.

Jaywalkers- Falsely Accused?

You see them more and more often lately, and drivers curse their existence. Jaywalkers are blamed for everything from accidents that injure walkers and drivers to global warming. Yet, one writer says jaywalkers aren't as bad as they're made out to be. Blogger Holly sent me this article from Slate in their defense.

So what do you think? I've seen some pretty crazy dashes into traffic in the downtown area but I think I've seen more cars almost hit pedestrians who had the 'walk' signal.

ITD Strategizes On How To Reduce Traffic Deaths

The Idaho Transportation Department is on a mission- a mission to reduce the number of fatal accidents on the state's roadways.

ITD sponsored an all-day workshop last week that included discussion and strategies to improve safety. Their goal is to get traffic-related deaths down to less than 200per year.

Here's the article from the Idaho Press Tribune.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Local Transit Ridership Numbers Drop For October

Well here's something new. Citylink just released their October ridership numbers- and they're down across the board. Citylink ridership has been increasing every month for over a year, until now. Every route except for the Link route saw less riders in October than not only the month before, but also the previous October. Here's a look at the numbers.

I've also heard that KATS' numbers are down as well. Any opinions on why the drop in public transportation use last month?

Drivers Not Happy About Making U Turn

Property owners and tenants along US 95 are irritated that they're being asked to make a U Turn.

Until the Idaho Transportation Department can get a frontage road constructed next year, drivers on US 95 near Ohio Match Road say it's just not safe to make the U turn ITD recommends they make to head south.

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

Move Your Toys Off The Street Please

The Coeur d’Alene Police Department asks that you move your boats, trailers, and inoperable vehicles off of city streets in preparation for the annual leaf pickup and upcoming snow removal.

Here's why, from the 'City of Coeur d'Alene Today' blog.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Former ITD Head To File Suit Today

Former Idaho Transportation Director Pam Lowe is expected to file a wrongful termination suit against the State of Idaho today. Lowe says she filed a tort claim previously claiming sexual discrimination and political cronyism and the state ignored it, leading to filing the suit today.

Here's the latest from the Spokesman-Review.

CDA City Hall Shuttin' Down For Veterans Day

You have one less day next week to do your government business in Coeur d'Alene.

City Hall will be closed on Wednesday, November 11,for Veterans Day. Other city offices and facilities will be closed as well. Everything will be back to normal again at 8 a.m. on Thursday though.

Citylink Asks Rural Residents How They're Doing

Last week Citylink held a meeting in Coeur d'Alene to gather public opinion on the quality of service they're providing. Next week they're taking their show on the road to make sure they hear from everyone, including people in rural areas.

The meeting is next Monday, Nov. 9 from 4-6 p.m. at the Benewah Wellness Center at 100 'A' Street in Plummer. Everyone is welcome, so stop by and let Citylink staff know how they're doing.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Citylink Meeting Gets Several Requests From Public

Remember that meeting Citylink hosted last week to get feedback from the public on how they're doing as far as providing service to the community? Well, I have the notes from the meeting right here and they definetely got feedback. All in all though, it sounds like it was a possitive meeting.

The following requests were submitted:

- Move the bus stop at Sherman and 11th in Coeur d'Alene westward to an empty lot at 9th Street or decommission it altogether. Citylink staff said that a solution to this dilemma could be made by moving the bus stop east toward the corner of 12th Street by Petersen’s IGA and agreed to look further into the issue.

- Move the stop at Government and Hanley in Coeur d'Alene 20 yards to the north, as the riders at the current stop have to trample shrubbery to board the bus and, as there is no room to place a bench at this location, bus riders are using the telephone junction pedestal to sit on, which damages the phone wires. Citylink staff said they would consult with the City Engineer, but would recommend that this change be instituted.

- Move the stop at Seltice and Ross Point in Post Falls a little eastward toward Hebron Way, in order to have room to install a bench at the stop. Citylink agreed to review the proposal in detail but said this seemed like a favorable solution.

- Staff from the Coeur d'Alene Planning Department asked that Citylink bear in mind during future planning that Neider Avenue is in the process of being extended westward and that a large number of Multi-Family Dwelling Units (MFDU’s) will be erected along that thoroughfare in the next year or two. This means more people will be catching the bus in that area.

- Coeur d'Alene Councilman Bruning asked that Citylink consider the St. Vincent de Paul Campus in any future route expansion plan, and explore the possibility of inserting a bus stop at Government Way and Harrison to help St. Vincent de Paul clients.

- It was asked if there was likely to be a bus stop installed at the Regal Cinema in Riverstone, and why the stop was moved away from that location in the first place. Citylink staff responded that the Beebe Street transfer site was never meant as a permanent location for buses to stage. Construction at the site over the years made it unsuitable for transit operations. Riverstone found Citylink an alternate temporary site, until Kootenai County can build a permanent bus station in the general area. It was felt that placing a bus stop at the cinemd would encourage bus passengers to park their cars there, instead of at the temporary lot.

Would You Buy Car Insurance By The Mile?

The way, and amount, you drive is changing. With the emphasis on greenhouse gases, pollution, and congestion lately, there is going to be a strong push in the very near future to get people to drive less. Along with that change may be a change to the way you buy car insurance as well. Economists are predicting that you will be buying insurance by the mile very soon, instead of as a blanket policy.Here's an article from MSN Money, and believe it or not, this isn't a new concept.

I kind of like this idea. Not only does it encourage people to drive less and ride the bus, ride their bike or walk more, but it also gives them a financial incentive to do so. What do you think?

Jumping From Moving Trains- A Bad Idea

This is common sense for most of us, and most of us would never be in this situation, but just as a reminder NEVER jump from a moving train. A man did just that near Bonners Ferry and it killed him. Here's the story.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Here's A New Law Enforcement Tool- Have Drunk Drivers Report Themselves

I realize that people do stupid things when drunk, but this one takes the cake. A woman actually called the police- to report that she was driving drunk. Now she's facing DUI charges. At least she's honest I guess.

Here's the rest of the story.

ITD Plow Drivers Train On Virtual 'Video Game'

Here's something pretty cool; according to a news release sent out by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), snowplow operators are being trained by something that resembles a video game.

The 'truck simulator' has computer-generated video flashed across three large screens the size of front and side windshields. Trainees sit in what looks like the cab of a truck and operate machinery similar to a typical snowplow vehicle.

Beginning snowplow drivers start off at a lower 'level' with the roads straight and without much hazard. For more experienced snowplow operators, the digitized video is fraught with obstacles -- such as maneuvering around abandoned vehicles.

I guess it's better than on the job training.

I90 Slow Downs Near Pinehurst

If you drive I90 through the Pinehurst area, you may see some slow downs and delays over the next two years.

Idaho Transportation Department survey crews will be surveying the area from exit 43 to exit 48, to complete plans for the replacement of the two bridges and reconfiguration of the eastbound on-ramp. After surveying is done, work begins in 2010 to complete the project and will last two construction seasons.

Here's more information.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Couple Ideas For Area Bus Stops

Got an old defunct bus and a bus stop with no shelter at it? We may have a love match! Designer Christopher Fennel is making bus shelters out of old buses. Here's more pictures and information on his one-man movement to provide cool, recycled bus shelters.

And while we're on the subject of bus stops, I'm using this platform to launch my campaign to place burn barrels at bus stops. This is actually Jeff's idea but I'm running with it. It's only November, but when we were waiting for the bus last night, we passed the time by complaining how cold it is. Jeff mentioned how great it would be if we had a burn barrel to stand over while waiting for the bus and- wa la- an idea was hatched. So what do you think, are you behind me on this?

Fog Slowing Down Morning Commute

It's slow going out there because of the fog. According to the National Weather Service, the abrupt changes in visibility are creating hazardous driving conditions. In some areas, the water on the roadway is freezing and making for slick conditions.

The fog is expected to dissipate after 10 a.m.

Tweetin On A Jet Plane

I heard this song on the radio this morning and it made me laugh. It's in reference to the pilots fired from their jobs last week for using their laptop computers in the cockpit and overshooting their landing target by 150 miles. It's an epidemic- it's not just texting in cars anymore, but now tweeting on planes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I found this picture while digging around the internet and thought it was funny.

KMPO Board Meeting Coming Up

The monthly KMPO Board meeting is this Thursday, Nov. 5 and there's a little of everything on the agenda. Here's a link to the agenda if you want to take a look. Board meetings are open to everyone, so if you're interested, plan to attend. The meeting starts at 1:30 pm in Post Falls City Council Chambers at 408 N. Spokane Street, in Post Falls.

Non-Motorized Plan Available For Review and Comment

It's been a long road (please excuse the pun), but the final draft of the Regional Non-Motorized Transportation Plan is complete and available for review and public comment.

The goal of the plan is to create a non-motorized transportation system to increase walking and bicycling for transportation, as well as address the needs of area pedestrians and bicyclists.

The plan can be viewed by clicking here or by calling 1-800-698-1927 for a hardcopy. If you view it online, please be patient as the file is somewhat large and may take a few minutes to download.

Comments can be submitted by clicking here. The public comment period ends Dec. 1, which gives you 30 days, so I don't want to hear any excuses that you didn't have enough time to look it over.

J-U-B Engineers Earns Bicycle Friendly Business Award

Congratulations to J-U-B ENGINEERS, Inc.! The local company was one of only three businesses in North Idaho/Eastern Washington recognized as 'Bicycle Friendly Businesses' by the League of American Bicyclists.

The Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program recognizes socially responsible businesses that promote healthy, happy, and green workplaces (and I've met those guys at J-U-B; they're definetely happy). BFB businesses make bicycle friendliness a core element in the workplace and use innovative tools to promote bicycling as an easy and fun option for transportation and recreation. For instance, J-U-B provides showers and indoor bike parking for its' employees. Way to go J-U-B!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Geological Site Gets A Little Attention

Recognize this sign? That's probably because you've driven past it for years. Do you know what it says though? I didn't until recently. I've lived off of Trent near the Idaho-Washington border for over ten years and had never stopped to read this sign about the Purcell Trench until just recently.

So I was somewhat surprised to see this article in the Spokesman-Review about it today.

Monday is Leaf Raking Day

Better get stretched out and limbered up because Monday you can start raking your leaves into the street in Coeur d'Alene for the city's annual leaf pick-up program.

Officials are asking that, because leaves can plug catch basins and storm drains, you keep leaves on your property until Monday, November 2nd. When you do rake them into the street, please rake them one foot away from the gutter line to allow for water drainage.

Actual leaf pickup starts the following Monday, Nov. 9. Due to weather conditions, equipment malfunctions, and unforeseen circumstances, city crews are unable provide a precise schedule of where leaf pick-up will take place. Pick-up will start south of Sherman Avenue and move north.

Here are some tips from the City of Coeur d'Alene regarding 'Leaf-Fest 2009:'

· Have your leaves out by November 2nd.
· Please move cars off of the street if at all possible during leaf pick-up.
· Keep the leaves about one foot off the curb line to facilitate stormwater flow.
· Be alert for leaf pick-up equipment traveling through your neighborhood.
· Keep a safe distance away from leaf pick-up heavy equipment.

· Bag the leaves.
· Mix branches, rubble or other refuse in with the leaves.
· Miss the deadline… we only have time for one pass!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gas Station Owner Wants To Prosecute Drivers Who Got Cheap Gas

A couple of drivers in Athol got off cheap the other night- or maybe not because now the law is looking for them. A malfunction at a gas pump at the Cydco Food and Fuel caused some people to only be charged one cent per gallon for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. Four people got cheap gas. Two showed up during the day to pay the difference and two didn't. Now the owner of the gas station wants to press charges against the two that didn't.

Here's the story from KREM 2 News.

I have a hard time believing the two drivers who didn't pay the difference can be prosecuted for this. What's your opinion? Should they be charged with petty theft or was it one of those incidents of being in the right place at the right time and the gas station owner should just suck it up?

Citylink Public Meeting Reminder

A reminder that Citylink is holding a public meeting next week to get your input on their job performance.

Citylink is a partnership between Kootenai County, the State of Idaho and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. The Tribe continues to evaluate the needs of the fixed-route public transportation service in Benewah and Kootenai Counties. So, they're asking you for feedback regarding bus routes, bus stops, bus accessibility and any other information pertinent to the transit system.

The meeting is next Monday, Nov. 2 from 4-6 p.m. at the Coeur d'Alene Library, 702 E. Front Ave.

The meetings is free and open to the public, so if you've got something to say, go do it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's KMPO Newsletter Time Again

It's been a busy October here at KMPO. So busy that I almost didn't get the October newsletter out in October. I scraped through and got it done though, although it may not be entirely accurate. Just kidding, of course its accurate; it's been personally picked apart by all 15 KMPO/SRTC employees.

So get yourself caught up on what we've been up to at KMPO by clicking here.

Public Transportation Roundtable This Thursday

A reminder that KMPO's quarterly Public Transportation Roundtable meeting is this Thursday, Oct. 29 from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

The purpose of the Roundtable is to promote continued coordinated planning and development of integrated public transportation services within and through Kootenai County. That's a mouthful.

Here's a look at the agenda. And yes, Roundtable meetings are open to the public so feel free to come observe.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Senate Aiming For 6 Month Extension Of Transportation Bill

'18 months' has been our mantra around the KMPO office for the past several months, but now we apparently need to change it to 'six months.' According to the blog 'CQ Politics' out of Washington, D.C., the Senate is scrapping plans for an 18-month extension of surface transportation law and is now working instead on a six-month extension. Here's the story.

Dog Causes Freeway Accident, Sheriff Says, "That Could've Happened Here."

Capt. Ben Wolfinger of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department sent the article below out to local media today in response to an incident here earlier this month that caused a lot of public outcry. A sheriff deputy shot a small dog to death on Interstate 90 in Post Falls after several attempts to catch it, as they were worried it might cause a vehicle accident.

Well, that's exactly what happened in the Boise area today; a dog running loose on the freeway caused a multi-car crash. Here's the story from Boise.

So did this incident change anyone's mind as to how the incident here should have been dealth with?