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Friday, February 27, 2009

New Info On Stimulus Spending On Transportation In Idaho

It now appears that Idaho will be able to replace the Dover Bridge in North Idaho, purchase a much-needed maintenance management software system for the Idaho Transportation Department, and fix roads statewide with federal stimulus funds.

They won't be able to fund all eight of the state's high-priority “shovel-ready” projects, and pay off GARVEE bonds though.

Here's the latest from this morning.

Gas Prices Are Going Up, But This Is Ridiculous

A Spokane man thought he was paying $26 for gas in the Tri Cities the other day. Turns out, that stop for gas cost him a lot more- like $81,400,836,908 more.

Here's the story.

4th Street Is Getting All Prettied Up- Come Learn About It

Construction will start on 4th Street from the alley north of Lakeside Avenue to Harrison Avenue later this spring. To give folks an opportunity to learn about the project, an Open House will be held next Wednesday, March 4th, from 4-7 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers at 710 E. Mullan Avenue.

4th Street project improvements include: removal and replacement of all the paving, sidewalks, street trees, curbing, reconstruction of the storm sewer system, and upgrades to the water and wastewater facilities.

Additional improvements include: pedestrian bulbs at selected intersections, decorative concrete on the sidewalks, widened sidewalks, decorative street lights, and a narrower road section from Roosevelt to Boise. There will be trash cans, benches, and additional street lights.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some Bicycling Tidbits To Go With Our Survey

KMPO is developing a region-wide Non-Motorized Transportation Plan and we're asking for your input on it through a quick online survey. Click here to take the survey, then hit the link at the top of the KMPO home page.

In the spirit of improving and adding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Kootenai County, here are some interesting tidbits I found in the 'Idaho Bicycling Street Smarts' booklet:

- A flashlight strapped to the handlebar of a bike with a bungee cord is considered legal and sufficient for city use.

- In Idaho, after stopping at a red light, cyclists may proceed with caution after yielding to other traffic.

- It is legal for bicyclists to ride between cars in a traffic jam, but do so slowly and be observant to make sure no one is going to open their door while you are trying to pass.

- When riding a bike, cross railroad tracks, streetcar tracks, or raised lane-line dots at a right angle so that your front wheel doesn't get pushed out by them causing you to crash.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Transportation Committee Gets Otters First Two Transportation Bills

The first two bills in Governor Butch Otter’s six-bill transportation funding package came up for hearings in the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday, and while one passed unanimously, the other stalled.

House Bill 96, to repeal the ethanol exemption, cleared the panel. The other, HB 150, to add a $20 fee to every specialty license plate, provoked an array of questions from the committee. The panel voted unanimously to hold the bill, though Chairwoman JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, said it could be reconsidered once the administration provides more information.

Otter hopes to raise gas taxes, car registration fees and more to fund a big annual backlog in road maintenance in Idaho.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Take The KMPO Non-Motorized Transportation Plan Survey!

KMPO is developing a region-wide Non-Motorized Transportation Plan and we're asking for your input on it through a quick online survey. The plan will assist in the development of a bicycle and pedestrian network within the Kootenai region. It will identify policies, goals and projects, and opportunities to provide facilities like pathways, sidewalks, and bike parking.

The survey asks a variety of questions, such as how often you walk or ride your bike, where you walk or ride to, and what would get you to walk or bicycle more often. Click here for the survey, then hit the link at the top of the KMPO home page.

The survey is open to anyone who uses non-motorized transportation facilities (bike and walking paths, bike lanes, sidewalks and more) within the Kootenai region. You do not have to be a Kootenai County resident to take this survey.

Please complete the survey by March 13, and pass the word along to anyone you think would be interested in taking it. The more input we receive, the more complete of a plan we can put together.

Warm Up Your Typing Fingers, We're Going To Ask You Some Questions

Put your thinking cap on; tomorrow we're going to have some hard questions for you about how you would like to see Kootenai County's non-motorized transportation system developed.

We're writing a region-wide Non-Motorized Transportation Plan and are asking for your input through an online survey. That survey will be posted first thing tomorrow, so check here Wednesday morning before you do anything else.

In order to develop a Non-Motorized Plan that addresses the concerns, goals, and vision of the community, we'll ask a variety of questions regarding how often you ride your bike or walk to reach a destination, what would get you to bike or walk more often, and who should pay for biking and walking improvements, among other questions.

The information will be used to identify future project needs for improving walking, biking, and other forms of non-motorized travel within the region.

You DO NOT have to be a Kootenai County resident to take this survey if you use North Idaho's bike and pedestrian facilities (bike lanes, walking paths, sidewalks, etc.)

So check back tomorrow and we'll have the link to the survey posted for you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Coming Soon To Citylink Stops: Your Name On A Bus Bench


If you've ever wanted to have your name on a bench at a bus stop, start saving your money. KMPO's Public Transportation Roundtable has formed a subcommittee to explore what will be involved in getting benches placed at Citylink bus stops. The subcommittee is still working out some legal issues (such as questions about insurance and maintenance) but it looks like very soon groups and businesses will be able to 'sponsor' a bench for around $450. Each bench will have a plaque on it identifying the sponsor.

It's still early in the plans, so that's all the details we have at this point. Check back if you're interested though, I'll blog more when I have more info.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama To Nation's Mayors: 'I'm Watching You.'

Watch your backs mayors, President Obama says he's watching you. Obama warned the nation's mayors today that he will "call them out" if they waste the economic stimulus plan money.

Obama demanded accountability, from local government as well as his own agencies. He said the new legislation gives him tools to "watch the taxpayers' money with more rigor and transparency than ever," and that he will use them.

Here's more on this story.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gas Prices Reach $2 A Gallon In CDA

I was at a meeting last week about developing a Non-Motorized Transportation Plan for Kootenai County. When asked about some of the barriers to forming a fully-functioning bicycle and pedestrian system, one man raised his hand and said, "Gas prices are too low!"

I thought, "Well, that's a new one." After a year of listening to people complain about $4+ gas prices, I didn't really expect anyone to complain much when it dropped below $2 per gallon.

Well, prices have climbed back to $2 a gallon at a handful of stations in Kootenai County. While most people aren't complaining about it (yet), some do point out that it still hurts during a recession. Here's more from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Otter Delays Budget To Study Stimulus Options

Gov. Butch Otter says Idaho isn't going to spend any Stimulus Package money yet, they'll study how to spend it first. Otter said he will take until at least late March to study how Idaho should use its share of the $787 billion federal stimulus plan, delaying state lawmakers as they try to write the 2010 budget.Here's the story. Any feedback?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today's The Day

President Obama is slated to sign the Stimulus Plan today. Check back, we'll keep you updated.

Workshop To Discuss Mullan-Seltice Corridor

Coeur d'Alene's City Council will consider four plans tonight to reduce traffic congestion in the Mullan-Seltice corridor.

The workshop will be held at five, before the regularly-scheduled council meeting, to discuss the scope of the project, present future traffic conditions if no additional improvements are constructed, and present and discuss the four concepts.

Read on for all four plans.

Transit Center Study Underway

I'm pretty sure I've blogged about it before, but if I haven't, and you haven't heard, KMPO is conducting a Transit Center Study to determine the best location to build an intermodal facility to be used by Citylink, Kootenai Area Transportation System, Greyhound, and other transportation providers.Here's a story I wrote about it for the Coeur d'Alene Press.

My New Favorite Sign

Good thing it says 'Icy' underneath or I'd think it meant 'Beware of Dancers' or something.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another Chance To Say Your Piece

You've got chances to voice your opinion coming out your ears lately! And here's another one:

Public transportation planners with the Idaho Transportation Department will seek mobility ideas from citizens in Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Shoshone and Benewah Counties at a coordination meeting Wednesday, Feb. 18, in Coeur d'Alene.

The effort is part of a statewide initiative for mobility management that emphasizes moving people instead of modes of transportation.

The meeting will be at the AmeriTel Inn, 333 Ironwood Avenue, from 9 a.m. to Noon with an open house to follow from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Citizens, advocacy groups, transportation providers, human service agencies, and local leaders are encouraged to learn more about and take part in the discussion of mobility services for their region.

Topics will include commuter services to Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint and Spokane; rural park-and-ride lots near bus stations; and improvement of trails and sidewalks to meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

The regional meetings will be repeated within 60 days to include bicycle and pedestrian modes. To learn more of the statewide initiative called Idaho's Mobility and Access Pathway (IMAP), call (800) 527-7985.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Holiday Closures (And One Office That Will Be Open)

- City of Coeur d'Alene City Hall and services will be closed on
Monday.
- Kootenai County offices will be closed on Monday.
- Post Falls City Hall will be closed on Monday.
- Idaho Transportation Department offices will be closed
Monday.
- KMPO offices will be open, because we're dedicated to
our job and love what we do. Stop laughing!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Remove Infrastructure To Improve Traffic?

I blogged about this after the Obama inauguration last month, but now the journal 'Scientific American' is tackling it. An article in the January issue of the publication talks about how removing transportation infrastructure may actually improve traffic flow, instead of slowing it down.

On Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C. last month, all the bridges into the downtown area were closed. There were millions of people in town for the occasion, all trying to get to the same place. So was traffic horribly tied up for hours? No, everything actually seemed to flow better when people had to find an alternate to driving alone into the city core.

The Scientific American article talks about how engineers tore down a 6-mile stretch of highway in Seoul, South Korea and put a park in it's place. Was there mass hysteria, civil unrest, people driving through the park? Read the article to find out.

Glenn & Jeff's Annual D.C. Trip

While you and I are sitting here wasting away in our cubicles, KMPO's Executive Director, Glenn Miles, and Manager of Transportation Relations, Jeff Selle, are in Washington, D.C. with other area civic leaders for their annual trip to talk to elected officials about North Idaho's needs and priorities.

Glenn was kind enough to send us some pictures to show us what we're missing. Enjoy!




Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Agreement Reached On Economic Stimulus Bill

Members of Congress today reconciled the House and Senate versions of The Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act (more popularly known as the Economic Stimulus Bill) and it is expected to be signed by President Obama within days.

Here's the latest.

Ridesharing Gaining Momentum In Idaho

Membership in RideshareOnline in Idaho has increased from approximately 200 in May 2008 to almost 900 members last month!

The graph below shows the growth. Click on it to make it bigger. Here's more info on RideshareOnline. Do any of you folks rideshare? If so, tell us about your experience.


Big Turnout For Non-Motorized Plan Meeting

KMPO yesterday hosted a formational meeting of a non-motorized advisory group. This group will serve in an advisory capacity to the KMPO, providing recommendations on the development of a county-wide Non-Motorized Transportation Plan.

We were very impressed with the group that showed up! 38 people attended, from all different agencies and groups. We had everything from bike shop owners to government officials show up, as well as members of Idaho Smart Growth, school district employees, Safe Routes To Schools representatives, everyday citizens, a member of the media, and lots more.

The group had some great ideas too. I have been to a lot of these kinds of meetings, and usually you hear a lot of the same stuff over and over again. But this group had some very original ideas on what they would like to see included in a Non-Motorized Plan, what they would like the long-term outcome of the plan to be, what they perceive to be potential barriers to creating a great non-motorized transportation system, and what are some of the opportunities/resources already out there that we need to take advantage of.

This group will meet several times throughout the development of the plan, and will provide feedback through email in between. The next step in the development process is a public survey to help determine bike and pedestrian needs in Kootenai County. That will be coming out soon, so keep your eyes open for that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Senate Approves Stimulus Measure

The Senate today approved President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus measure. The 61-37 vote by the Senate was a key victory for the president but sets up difficult negotiations with the House, which passed a slightly different version than the $838 billion bill that was approved today.

Otter Proposes Transportation Plan

Governor Butch Otter today introduced a transportation plan- then urged lawmakers to pass it. The five bills that make up the plan would:

* Phase in a shift of funding for the Idaho State Police from the gas tax to state general funds, making the gas taxes that now go to ISP available for road work.
* Impose a 6% daily excise tax on car rentals.
* Increase the gas tax by 2 cents a year each year for five years.
* Increase car and truck registration fees over the next five years.
* Eliminate the current ethanol exemption, to save about $4.1 million a year.

Here's more on the transportation plan.

January Citylink Ridership Numbers Available

Citylink ridership numbers are in for January.
Here they are.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Another Non-Motorized Meeting

Statewide bicycle and pedestrian mobility planning results will be presented and discussed tomorrow (Tuesday) in Coeur d'Alene, to support the development of plans at the community, regional, and state levels.

In late January, people around the state expressed their preferred vision for non-motorized mobility statewide. Individuals interested in hearing the results of those discussions are invited to attend this public presentation.

Tuesday's forum will take place at the City Hall Old Council Chambers, 701 E. Mullan, Second Floor from 3-4 p.m.

Non-Motorized Transportation Plan Meeting

Tomorrow is the day. KMPO is officially kicking off the development of a Kootenai County Non-Motorized Plan by holding a formational meeting of a non-motorized advisory group. This group’s objective will be to serve in an advisory capacity to the KMPO, providing recommendations on the planning effort for the development of a bicycle-pedestrian plan.

The meeting is tomorrow (Tuesday) from 10:30 to noon at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library. Anyone with thoughts on what they would like to see as far as non-motorized transportation is welcome.

Daily Nonstop Service To San Francisco Coming To SIA

A new twice-daily nonstop service between Spokane and San Francisco will start this June through United Express and SkyWest airlines.

Flights will depart Spokane at 6 a.m. and 3:22 p.m., each arriving in San Francisco in less than two hours. Departures from San Francisco will be at 12:54 and 10 p.m. with similar flight times. Tickets go on sale Saturday.

The decision by United to expand its Spokane service came as a result of requests from business interests to improve Spokane’s connections with the West Coast and Asia.

San Francisco offers connections throughout the Pacific basin, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, Sydney, Seoul and Osaka, Japan.

Roundup For the Week of Feb. 9

Despite the poor economy, Spokane International Airport is going ahead with improvements. And the University of Idaho is getting some new vehicles- electric ones. Here's what's happening in transportation this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

My New Favorite T-Shirt

This is the new t-shirt I bought while in Olympia this weekend. No, that is not me modeling it, I got the picture off the internet.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Getting To Know Your CDA Street Department

Nothing is really jumping out at me to blog about today, so here are some interesting facts from the 'City of Coeur d'Alene Fact Booklet' to keep you busy until something else happens to get me excited about blogging:

In a typical year, the CDA Street Department:

- Maintains over 240 miles of streets
- Plows the city about 10 times (I'll have to check to see how that compares to this year, an atypical year)
- Maintains 70 signalled intersections
- Maintains over 11,000 street signs
- Maintains 225 crosswalks and 350 directional arrows
- Sweeps an equivalent of 1,500 miles of streets
- Sripes 120 miles of city streets twice each year
- Repairs pavement with 3,000+ tons of asphalt
- Constructs over 120 ADA 'PED' ramps (you know, the ramps at corners and crosswalks)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lobsters Need Love Too

Here's an update on President Obama's stimulus bill: It is currently bogged down in the senate due to a myriad of what GOP leaders are calling 'wasteful provisions.' Here are just a few of the add-ons they don't agree with:

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.
• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.
• $75 million for "smoking cessation activities."

The list goes on and on, including my favorite; funding for a lobster observatory in Maine. Here's more of the list.

Woman Charged With Homicide Because of Improperly Installed Car Seat

Spokane County prosecutors charged a Post Falls woman with vehicular homicide yesterday in the death of her infant daughter, because the baby's car seat was improperly installed.

We've warned you about everything else; speeding, roadkill, watching for bicyclists and pedestrians, the dangers of drag racing, etc. etc. So here's another one to add to your list; make sure you're installing car seats correctly. AND in the right seat. The woman in this story had the car seat in the front seat.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

US95 Study Recommendations On KMPO Board Agenda

The KMPO Board meeting is this Thursday, and one of the agenda items is approval of recommendations from the US95 Access Management Study. KMPO has been studying US95 from I90 through Coeur d’Alene and Hayden to address intersection safety and congestion problems and identify inexpensive solutions that can be implemented in the short term (within five years).

Study recommendations include adding and removing traffic signals, adding turn lanes, and restricting turning movements at various locations on the corridor. If approved by the KMPO Board, the study recommendations will be forwarded to the Idaho Transportation Board for approval.

Here is more study info and the study report.

If you want to sit in, the meeting is Feb. 5 at 1:30 p.m. at the Idaho Transportation Department District 1 Headquarters Office, District Conference Room, 600 W. Prairie Avenue in Coeur d’Alene.

This Guy's No Captain Sully


A revolt breaks out on a Russian airliner after a pre-flight speech leads passengers to conclude that the pilot is drunk.

The worst part- flight attendants and airline officials ignored the passengers' complaints, telling them it was "not such a big deal" if the pilot was drunk because "the aircraft practically flew itself." That's right folks, no need to take flying lessons; planes apparently do all the work themselves these days.Here's the story.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Another Vehicle-Pedestrian Accident

Another vehicle-pedestrian accident over the weekend, but this time it was a celebrity who was hit. Here's some cell phone video shot at the scene:



No word yet if Jack is going to be all right. Okay, he's a made up fast food character, and while their message is meant to sell food, mine is to remind you to be observant while out there walking (or driving), so don't be like Jack.

New Service Lets Trucks Drive By Scales & Inspections

I heard a commercial on the radio recently for a service that lets truck drivers bypass scales, inspections, and ports of entry by giving them an 'electronic inspection' as they drive by. Sounded interesting, so I thought I'd check it out on the internet.

The service is called 'PrePass' and it's currently being used in 29 states, but not yet in Washington and Idaho (although all the states that border Washington and Idaho are using it).

PrePass allows transponder-equipped commercial vehicles to bypass weigh stations and ports of entry by electronically verifying safety, credentials, and weight of commercial vehicles as they drive by.

Cleared vehicles continue on at highway speed, eliminating the need to stop which means greater efficiency for shippers and improved safety for all highway users. It didn't say what happens if you're not 'cleared.' Electric shock maybe?

Anyway, if you want more information or are looking to kill some time, check out thePrePass website.
Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Kootenai County, Idaho. Federal law requires urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people to have an MPO. KMPO was formed in 2003, to provide coordinated transportation planning within Kootenai county for the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and the Coeur d'Alene tribe.

KMPO's Board of Directors oversees KMPO for Kootenai County, ID. KMPO's Executive Director and Staff are responsible for day-to-day operational and administrative needs.