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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gas Tax Cuts Could Take ISP Troopers Off Roads

Idaho State Police officials today told lawmakers that if they have to absorb the loss of gas tax funding by this time next year, they won't be able to pay anyone to patrol the roads.

The loss of gas taxes would allegedly force ISP to lay off 204 people, including 123 troopers, plus numerous officers and dispatch personnel. Here's the Spokesman-Review story.

Two People Hit By Trains In Two Seperate Incidents

Is it a full moon or something? Yesterday, not one, but TWO poeple were hit by trains in North Idaho.

The first happened early yesterday morning when Rathdrum police found a man lying next to tracks near the Mill Street crossing. He had severe head and back injuries and told officers a train had struck him, but wasn't able to elaborate due to his injuries.

Then, just before 10:00 last night, Idaho State Police say a woman was hit and killed by a train at the intersection of West Prairie Avenue and North Idaho Rd. That woman was allegedly lying on the tracks, although police haven't been able to determine why.

I'm usually warning people not to try to beat trains across the tracks, but I guess that doesn't apply to either of these cases.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Second Study On Transporatation Fees & Taxes To Be Conducted

Idaho is going back to the drawing board for a study to determine if owners of heavy trucks and cars are paying their fair share for roads. An earlier study suggested heavy trucks underpay and owners of cars and pickups pay too much in transportation fees and taxes. Problems with data suggested the study might not be valid though, so it was scrapped in 2007.

Now the state is going to try again, only using different study methods.Here's the story.

4th Street Reconstruction Entering Phase 2

Coeur d'Alene's 4th Street Reconstruction Project enters its 'second phase' tomorrow, June 30th. Phase two construction will begin at the alley north of Lakeside Avenue and proceed north to Foster Avenue. It includes grinding of the asphalt and replacement of the stormwater utility, curb and gutter, and electrical utility.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

'LightLane' Gives You Your Own Bike Lane

Start saving your money folks, because I can envision a lot of people running out to buy this little gadget. The gadget blog Gizmodo says this new product called 'LightLane' will be available soon. Using lasers affixed to your bicycle, the LightLane projects a virtual bike lane around you, letting cars know their boundaries and, hopefully, making riding safer for you. It's got it's obvious flaws, such as the fact that it probably isn't very visible during daylight hours, but all in all I think it's pretty cool. No word yet how much 'LightLane' will cost but I'm sure it won't be cheap.

Transit Center Open House Tonight

Don't forget that our Transit Center Location Study open house is tonight. Swing by the offices of The Land Group, Inc., 611 E. Sherman Ave. in Coeur d'Alene, anytime between 4-7 p.m. and let us know which proposed location for an intermodal facility you prefer.

Low Bids Mean Record Amount Of Maintenance

A record amount of Post Falls streets could get much needed maintenance this year, due to construction bids coming in much lower than expected. The city plans to have a record 8.6 miles of chip- and fog-seal placement done as a result.

Here's more.

Fourth Street Businesses Need Customers

Coeur d'Alene residents- don't forget to frequent your local businesses located on Fourth Street. Those businesses need customers now more than ever, since a construction project has the street torn up and a detour takes people to the next street over. Most realize it will be worth the trouble when done, but say the construction is causing them some hard times now. Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

We're Done Retreating Now

So I'm happy to report that we all made it through the first annual KMPO/SRTC staff retreat with no deaths, injuries, or even cuts or scratches. Centerplace was nice enough to let us use one of their rooms, where we not only had some fun but also figured out some ways we can

work more effectively, work better with other agencies and jurisdictions, work better with each other, and how we can serve our 'clients' (other agencies, local electeds, the public, etc.)better.

One thing I'm really excited about is that Glenn agreed to let us take 'field trips.' We talk to all the area jurisdictions on a daily basis about their projects, but ask me about the NSC and I'm pretty fuzzy on a lot of the details. Same with some of our planners and some of the area bike paths. So we decided to take periodic field trips where we either ride a local bike path, take a hike or a walk through a park or neighborhood, or even take a drive through an area of interest. This will make us better prepared to answer questions when we're out in the public.

Oh yeah, and he also said we can grow vegetables on the deck if we do it on our own time. Whoo hoo!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Scrapped Study Dug Up Again

As talk continues of raising vehicle fees to address a huge shortfall in road funding, a 2007 state study that was scrapped has been dug up through a public records request.

The study says that car and pickup users are overpaying about 10%, while all trucks are underpaying about 10 percent. Some people disagree though.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Transit Center Study Public Meeting This Thursday

A reminder that KMPO is hosting an open house meeting this week to collect public input on three possible locations for an intermodal facility. This new 'transit center' will be used as a park and ride by users of Citylink, Greyhound, KATS, and other public transportation providers, so we want to know where you feel would be the best location for it.

The open house is Thursday, June 25 from 4-7 p.m. at the office of The Land Group, Inc., 611 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene. Because it is an open house format, there will be no formal presentation, meaning you can drop by anytime during the meeting hours. Here's more information on the Transit Center Location Study.

KMPO Closed On Wednesday

If you've got business to conduct with KMPO, better do it today or you'll have to wait until Thursday. The office will be closed all day tomorrow (Wednesday) for a staff 'retreat.' Rumor has it we're getting a dunk tank and taking turns trying to knock the boss into the water. I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen though. KMPO will reopen at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

Monday, June 22, 2009

775 Pages Of Transportation Bill Reading

Chairman Jim Oberstar and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee late last week released the full 775-page transportation bill text. Jeff in our office is looking it over to glean the highlights, but if you don't want to wait, or need something to help you sleep at night, here's a link to it.

City Dwellers Healthier Than Suburbanites- Because Of Sidewalks

No matter which country you're in, new research finds those who live in an urban neighborhood are twice as likely to be physically active than those in the suburbs. According to a San Diego State University study published in this month’s American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the biggest single factor influencing physical activity around the world is accessibility to sidewalks. Here's more on this study.

Naked Bicyclists Crash Fremont Parade

The weather was a little chilly on Washington's west side this weekend, but that didn't stop a bunch of people from getting naked and getting on their bikes. The tradition of naked bicyclists crashing Fremont's annual Solstice Day Parade is alive and well. Here's the story and video from the Seattle P.I. Spoiler alert though, there's no gratuitous nudity so if you were just going to watch to see naked people, don't bother.

Friday, June 19, 2009

10 Things Gas Stations Won't Tell You

Did you know that paying for gas with your debit card could possibly lock up some of your money for several days? Or that you may not be getting as much gas as you paid for? According to this article from MSN, 10 Things Gas Stations Won't Tell You, you're rolling the dice everytime you gas up.

Government Way To Close Monday

Government Way, east of U.S. 95, will close Monday, June 22, at 6:30 a.m. for reconstruction of the U.S. 95/Government Way intersection as part of the U.S. 95, Idaho 53 to Ohio Match Road project.

The Government Way access to U.S. 95 will remain closed until July 31 to facilitate the relocation of underground utilities, upgrade storm drains, and realign the pedestrian/bike path. New traffic signals will be installed, and Government Way also will be realigned.

The $13 million project will widen and realign U.S. 95 from Idaho 53 to Ohio Match Road. It's expected to be complete by September 2009.

No Change In ITD Leadership, US 95 Bottleneck Called 'Stupidity'

The Idaho Transportation Board wrapped up a two-day board meeting yesterday without taking any action. That means they’re not making any change in directors, despite repeated rumors surfacing that ITD Director Pam Lowe would be leaving.

Another subject that came up was the Garwood-to-Sagle project and the bottleneck that will result if it's not extended two miles south. One board member called the situation 'stupidity.'

Here's more from the Spokesman-Review's 'Eye On Boise' blog.

CDA First In Idaho To Adopt Complete Streets Policy

Coeur d'Alene is featured in this month's 'National Complete Streets Coalition' newsletter as being the first in Idaho to adopt the Complete Streets policy.

At the May 5th City Council meeting, the Coeur d'Alene City Council adopted a complete streets policy to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.

From the Coalitions e-newsletter: “The adopted policy addresses streets, bridges, and public transportation stops in the community, with specific policies for rural areas. The City's Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee aimed to have a long-term planning tool to facilitate accessibility for bicyclists and those with disabilities, as well as general multi-modalism. Councilman Goodlander commented that the policy is an opportunity for the city to move into the future, when cars are not the only way to travel.”

You can view Coeur d'Alene's Complete Streets policy here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bicyclists- Should They Stop Or Yield At Stop Signals?

The debate is on once again over at the Spokesman-Review's 'Huckleberries' blog; whether bicyclists in Idaho should stop at stop signs and signals. Currently, they're only required to 'yield' at them, but a lot of people think this is unsafe and not responsible. Either join the debate here or just let us know how you feel about it.

Congressman Oberstar's Proposed Fix For The Highway Trust Fund

Who would have thought that congressmen have their own blogs? Well, at least one does. Congressman James Oberstar is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and is apparently a blogger. Today, he
posted this thread about his proposed highway reauthorization bill that will replenish the Highway Trust Fund. The report on this comes out tomorrow and is allegedly 800-pages long. I've got Jeff Selle in our office resting up to read it tomorrow, so we'll fill you in after we get a look at it and an idea of what it contains.

West Side Weeks Away From New Mass Transit System Readiness

In just a few weeks, the west side's Sound Transit will begin a new light-rail service; from the downtown Seattle bus tunnel to Tukwila. It's the first part of a new mass transit system, and according to 'The Stranger' newspaper, it's really cool. A warning about this article, 'Seven Things We Learned While Riding Light Rail for the First Time' though; there's one bad word in it, and it's right off the top. As always, we don't condone bad language here at KMPO.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Crash Ties Up Highway 41

Find an alternate route if you use Highway 41 between Seltice Way and Mullan Avenue on a regular basis. A four-vehicle traffic accident is blocking traffic there right now.

The accident happened about 8 a.m. and caused at least one minor injury, according to law enforcement dispatchers.

Woman Practices Backing Up- Right Into House!

Think you've got an embarrassing story about learning to drive? At least you didn't back into a house. That's what happened to a 30-year-old Coeur d'Alene woman who has her learner's permit and was practicing her backing skills yesterday. Sounds like she needs more practice. Here's the story from the 'Coeur d'Alene Today' blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Public Meeting Next Week To Get Input On Location Of Transit Study

This is the first of many reminders I'm going to give on this subject; KMPO will host an open house next week to collect public input on three possible locations for an intermodal facility. This new 'transit center' will be used as a park and ride by users of Citylink, Greyhound, KATS, and other public transportation providers, so we want to know where you feel would be the best location for it.

The open house is Thursday, June 25 from 4-7 p.m. at the office of The Land Group, Inc., 611 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene. Because it is an open house format, there will be no formal presentation, meaning you can drop by anytime during the meeting hours. Here's more information on the Transit Center Location Study.

Gas Prices Rising Again

Gas prices are once again rising at a record pace. The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is almost $2.70, up 16 percent in the last month and more than 60 percent since the first of the year. And it's still rising. Here's more from Q6 News.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Form Of Transportation- The Powered La-Z Boy

We've seen powered coolers, porta potties and pretty much everything else. But here's what I've been working on in my garage for good old dad for Father's Day.

Officer Reminds Us Of Rules Of The Road

Sergeant Christie Wood of the Coeur d'Alene Police Department wants to remind you, whether you're a driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist, about the rules of the road.

With Ironman right around the corner, and the nice weather bringing people outside in droves, Wood says it's imperative that bicyclists and motorists follow traffic laws to prevent unnecessary accidents.

Here are some reminders of Idaho law regarding bicyclists from the 'Coeur d'Alene Today' blog.

Ironman Street Closures Coming

This is early warning that this Thursday, June 18th, between 1:30 and 2 p.m., street crews will begin to set in place the barricades and detour route for this upcoming weekend's Ironman.

Southbound traffic into downtown will be detoured onto Lakeside Avenue to 2nd, 3rd or 5th, etc., to reach Sherman Avenue.

Westbound traffic will be detoured southbound onto 2nd and Front Avenue, then loop around onto 4th Street and exit on Lakeside or north on 4th Street.

2nd Street at Sherman will be closed to northbound traffic.

The 3rd Street boat trailer parking area will be closed June 17th, and re-opened June 28th.

For more information, please call 769-2233.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Car d'Alene Will Detour Traffic This Weekend

You can expect some slow and detoured traffic through downtown Coeur d'Alene this weekend; the annual Car d'Lane car show is this Friday and Saturday.

Friday night's festivities feature a parade of cars from 6-10 p.m. Sherman will be closed at 15th so that the cruise can go west on Sherman, north on 4th, west on Indiana, south to Sherman, west to 8th, then continue the loop until 10 p.m.

On Saturday, Sherman and Lakeside will be closed from 2nd to 7th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to enable classic cars to be displayed for the public to view.

Meeting Will Ask Public For Opinions On Transit Center Site

Three possible sites for a regional public transportation hub have emerged from a long list and will be available for public comment at a meeting coming up later this month. KMPO's Ryan Stewart has been spearheading this project and talked to the Coeur d'Alene Press yesterday about the locations under consideration.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Writer Angry That Off-Road Tax Money Going To Road Building & Repair

Outdoor enthusiasts are angry that the state of Idaho is allegedly reneging on a deal made 37 years ago that put their gas tax refund money to work paying for trails, boat launches, and other off-road facilities.

An editorial in today's Spokesman-Review explains the deal and why the writer feels it's irresponsible for the legislature and Governor Otter to divert that money for road building and repair.

Read the editorial, then give us your opinion- should law makers leave the off-road money alone or are the roads bad enough that this step needs to be taken?- SL

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Anyone notice anything wrong about this picture? This was taken by KMPO's Executive Director Glenn Miles at the Hayden Lake public boat launch last weekend. Oh well, maybe the sign is there specifically so the sheriff has a place to park?- SL

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

CDA Bike Cops Hit The Streets Downtown

The Coeur d'Alene bike officers are on the beat once again. Each year, eight officers patrol the downtown area on bicycles, becuause that's where 90% of calls to law enforcement come from during the warmer weather. And as far as I'm concerned, you couldn't get a much sweeter gig, unless you were one of the cops who patrols area lakes on jet skis. Here's more from the Coeur d'Alene Press.- SL

Interactive Bike Map Launched Online

There's a new kind of bike map out these days. Seattle's Cascade Bicycle Club has
launched an online mapping tool that gives the public, including in Kootenai County, a place to report bicycle collisions, hazards and thefts, and look at trends.

Since the map went online a couple weeks ago, more than 125 people have registered and reported 30 collisions in Seattle alone. People have posted where road hazards
exist for cyclists in cities in Washington and six other states, although there hasn't been any information input for North Idaho yet that I could see.

So be the first in our area to register. Here's the link. Get going and let us know the challenges you face when bicycling.- SL

Monday, June 8, 2009

Students Rewarded For Perfect Attendance With Bikes

220 fifth-graders from the Coeur d'Alene, Lakeland and Post Falls school districts have brand new bikes, thanks to their school attendance records.

Parker Toyota-Scion and Horace Mann Insurance awarded students with perfect attendance the green Huffy mountain bikes. Students also couldn't be tardy or leave early. Wow, that's impressive considering I can't ever seem to get to work on time anymore.

Here's the Coeur d'Alene Press story.

Lake Fernan Property Deeded To City For Walking Area

The Coeur d'Alene area could soon be getting another lakeside walking area like Tubbs Hill. Three longtime Fernan residents deeded 50 acres overlooking Fernan Lake to the City of Coeur d'Alene last week, to make sure it stays accesible to the public. Here's more from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Streets To Close For Fun Run

Keep your eyes open in the area of West Lakeshore and Rosenberry tomorrow. The 'Running into Fun' run will be held there. The event is a short fun run for children. The route is from City Park along West Lakeshore to the end of Rosenberry (Dike Road) and back. These streets will be closed during the event. Be alert for runners from 9:30 am until 11:30 am.

Writer Says Disabled Spots Abused

Coeur d'Alene Press Letters To The Editor
HANDICAP PARKING: Not for the able-bodied

Handicapped permits are for the person who is handicapped, not "able-bodied" family members/friends.

An able-bodied person using a handicapped permit that is not issued to them and who parks in handicapped parking is concerned exclusively with oneself without regard to others. This also includes having the handicapped person sitting in the car while the able-bodied person runs into the grocery store, etc.

If your handicapped passenger is not going in with you, you must park elsewhere. Too many times we see an abuser using these permits at a grocery store, golf course, church, exercise facility, etc., etc. When a person who actually is handicapped and needs that parking space can't find one.

You know who you are.

Hayden Lake

I've seen lots of people without permits park in disabled spots, but it never occured to me that people with handicapped family members would abuse this. So does anyone know, does this happen a lot?

Task Force Announces First Meeting For June 30

An eight-member legislative task force created as part of a session-ending transportation funding deal between Gov. Butch Otter and lawmakers will meet for the first time on June 30 at 10 a.m.

The panel is charged with identifying alternative funding sources for the Idaho State Police and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, which are scheduled to lose millions in gas tax funding on July 1, 2010. That gas tax money will be shifted to road work.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Getting To Know The Trail Of The Coeur d'Alenes

If you're like me, you're dying to call in sick and go hiking, camping, biking, etc. because of this uncharacteristically nice weather we're having. (Just kidding boss man). If you give in to this urge, but aren't sure where to go, the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's is calling your name. Here's an article I wrote for the Coeur d'Alene Press about a new guidebook that will take you from start to finish on the trail.- SL

Local GM Dealers Confident Sales Will Rebound

Despite General Motors declaring bankruptcy just a few days ago, Kootenai County GM dealers say they're confident sales will rebound. In fact, at Knudtsen Chevrolet, sales were up in recent months, compared to over the past year. Here's the article from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Post Falls Days Coming Up This Weekend

Post Falls is the place to be this weekend. Cancel your other plans right now and plan to attend Post Falls Days this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, June 5,6, and 7 at Q'emiln Park.

There will be live music, a big wheel race, a carnival, and a fishing derby.

If you're trying to get anywhere else around town on Saturday though, you may need a detour. The Post Falls Days parade is Saturday at 11am on Seltice Way. I couldn't find a map of the routes though, or anything saying whether roads would be closed. Can anyone help me out here?... let me know if you have info on the parade route. Thanks!

Here's more info on the other events going on as part of Post Falls Days.- SL

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Citylink Numbers Up Significantly- Again

Citylink numbers continue to rise. Except for the rural route, new numbers just released show that ridership has increased significantly on all other routes between May of 2008 and May 2009. Here are the latest numbers.

Plant-Based Jet Fuel Only Year Away; According To Airline Companies

A plant-based jet fuel could be only a year away from hitting the market, according to Boeing and other airline companies. An editorial in the Spokesman-Review today talks about a jet fuel made from a weed called camelina that delivers better mileage and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Here's the editorial.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Citylink Transfer Point Moving

The Citylink northern bus transfer point in Coeur d’Alene is moving tomorrow. The old transfer point behind the cinema parking garage at Riverstone has become progressively more congested over the last couple of years, and is no longer suitable for efficient transit use.

So, beginning at 5:40 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday), Citylink buses will stage at a larger site further down Riverstone Drive located on the south-west corner of Riverstone Drive, close to where it joins Seltice Way. This location is a two acre site which is well lit, and has space to park 35 vehicles comfortably.

Starting tomorrow, all passengers bound for Post Falls, Hayden, State Line, Fernan, Coeur d’Alene and Worley, will need to catch their bus at Seltice and Riverstone. The published departure times for these buses will remain the same. The rural bus service to DeSmet is unaffected by this change.

Idaho 57 Paving Project Starts

If you drive Idaho 57, you may have experienced delays this morning. The Idaho Transportation Department is warning that you'll most likely run into congestion in the area through the duration of a project to repave 19 miles of the highway at Priest River.

Crews started work today at the junction of U.S 2/Idaho 57 and will continue north. The old pavement surface will be removed, ground up, mixed with cement and recycled as a base for the highway. A chip seal will be applied over the newly-formed roadway base. A full-width asphalt overlay will finalize the paving operation later this summer.

Traffic is reduced to one lane. Work is expected to be complete this fall.

GM Files Chapter 11

As part of a plan to make General Motors more manageable and give a majority ownership stake to the government, GM today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

President Obama has a scheduled speech for around noon to address GM’s future and it's impact on everyday people. Here's more.

In the meantime, an letter to the editor in today's Spokesman-Review says the answer to saving GM is for the company to start producing an electric car that company managers originally said would never work. Here's the letter.