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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!!