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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

511 Upgraded To Give Personalized Info

Idaho's 511 telephone system has just been upgraded. It now gives callers the ability to identify theyir location, select the transit provider they want to use, and be connected directly to that provider to get schedule and route information. So next time you're going somewhere, give it a try. You just have to dial 511 to reach the service.

Cheap Parking Vs. Expensive Parking

There's a divergence of opinions in today's 'Opinion' section of the Spokesman-Review. First I found this letter from a gentleman from Coeur d'Alene angry about having to pay for parking (and in his defense $40 IS pretty stiff for parking in downtown Spokane):

Finding a place to park at the recent “Get Motivated” seminar was almost impossible. But if you were lucky enough to get a spot, the price could be steep.

At 9:30 a.m., it seemed every place was either filled or blocked off. I circled the Arena two or three times, and then out of the corner of my eye saw a space at the YMCA facility. The gate was down and Lady Luck was on my side.

I returned at 4 p.m., only to see a blocking exit bar. There must be a mistake. I pushed the “help” button and was told to read the screen. It was $40 for a six-hour period. I couldn’t believe it. The situation was akin to a predator setting a trap for its prey. I had an appointment to make so a credit card cleared the way. Would I go back to the Arena for a similar event? As Poe’s Raven said, “Never more.”

Bill Fitzgerald
Coeur d’Alene

Then I came on this Smart Bombs article about how free parking is bad for our country. The article talks about how the prospect of a cheap parking space compels many drivers to methodically circle downtown streets in search of a metered space. This increases congestion, wastes fuel and makes downtowns less inviting. Not to mention that high parking prices encourage many people to use public transit rather than pay the going price.

So what's your take? Cheap parking to encourage people to come downtown and shop, thus increasing tax dollars and improving the local economy or steeper parking prices to reduce congestion and encourage commuters to use public transit? I'm obviously playing devil's advocate here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

ID Seat Belt Usage Down

A survey conducted for the Idaho Transportation Department says that seat belt use is down in the state.

About three-quarters of Idaho motorists regularly wear seat belts while driving, which is down from 79% in 2009. Southwest Idaho drivers and passengers buckle up the most with a 93.2% use rate, followed closely by those in north-central Idaho where the seat belt use rate is 87.4%.

The survey showed that seat belt usage for pickup truck occupants at 68% continues to be substantially lower than belt usage for either passenger cars at 80% or vans and sport-utility vehicles at 82%.

Gas Prices Falling For Holiday Weekend

Good news for those of you planning to travel over the Labor Day weekend; gas prices have been falling recently due to a plunge in wholesale gasoline prices earlier this month.

The national average price is $2.68 for a gallon of unleaded according to AAA. That's about 6 cents a gallon less than a month ago and 7 cents less than on the Friday before the July Fourth weekend.

AAA also says West Coast drivers pay the most for gas - between $2.79 and $3.54 a gallon. The cheapest gas is in Texas, the Gulf Coast states and parts of the Midwest, where prices range from $2.43 to $2.52 a gallon.

Analysts believe prices will continue to drop in September, when the roads will be left mainly to commercial vehicles and commuters.

Highway Striping Underway

This time of year is when crews generally re-stripe area highways, so the Idaho Transportation Department wants to give you a couple reminders:

- Always assume the paint is wet. The paint used at this time is latex (water-based) and temperatures and humidity affect drying time. If it looks wet, it probably still is wet.

- Stay in your lane. Do not weave in and out (driving on the painted lines) or try to pass. Spraying equipment will pull over when traffic backs up as soon as it is safe to do so.

- Alter your route to avoid crossing over newly painted lines. If you must cross a painted line, cross it in a manner that limits tire exposure to the paint. Additionally, the faster the vehicle is traveling increases the distance wet paint will be thrown.

- If you get paint on your vehicle let it dry. The paint is latex based and the dry time is short. If it cannot be washed off immediately, and entails only small specks, it is best to let it dry and carefully flick it off later. Large spots or areas of paint will probably require professional removal.

Striping operations will continue into the fall, or as weather permits.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bicyclist Hit By Truck

A 14-year-old Coeur d'Alene boy was hurt when he collided with a car while riding his bike on Government Way yesterday.

According to the Idaho State Police, the boy was in the northbound lanes near Hanley Avenue when he collided with a pickup that was exiting a driveway onto Government Way. Because of that, the truck was moving very slowly. The bicylist was not wearing a helmet. He was taken to Kootenai Medical Center for treatment. It's not clear what his condition is this morning, or if the driver will face charges.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kootenai County Emphasis Patrol This Weekend

Starting this weekend, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department is conducting an impaired driving emphasis focusing on alcohol and drug impaired drivers. From August 27 to September 7, Kootenai County Deputies will conduct emphasis patrols at various locations around the County.

In 2006, there were 110 impaired driving fatalities in the State of Idaho. Over 41% of all Idaho fatalities were the result of an impaired driving crash and 69% of those killed were not restrained. In 2007 there were 197 fatality accidents and in 2008 there were approximately 175 fatality accidents in the State of Idaho. Last year, more than 41 percent of Idaho's 96 highway fatalities were the result of an impaired driving crash.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Website Lets You Vote On Opinion You Agree With

So here's a cool website
that Bike to Work Barb sent me. It's where a panel of 'insiders' discuss issues and you are allowed to vote on who's opinion you agree with. Today's article asks if it's still possible to promote new bicycling and walking options in harmony with vehicular traffic. There are ten 'answers' to the question in ten essays that express varying opinions by experts in the field. Take a look and cast your vote for the opinion you most closely agree with.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Traffic Jam Is 60+ Miles Long

Some friends that drove home from my house to western Washington complained about getting stuck on Snoqualmie Pass for several hours yesterday. All I had to say was, at least you weren't stuck in a traffic jam for NINE days. Because that's how long a bunch of drivers in China have been stuck, and they say it will be a couple more days before the mess is cleaned up too!

The jam stretches for more than sixty miles, is caused by construction, and has 400 police officers patroling the situation 24 hours a day. Here's the story from, but I have to warn you, my blood pressure went up just reading this article.

Team Up With School Officials To Get Kids To School Safely

With school getting ready to start again, the Idaho Transportation Department wants to remind parents and school staff of it's Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program. The program helps communities support more children walking and bicycling to school to combat problem such as obesity and other health issues and air pollution from parents dropping kids off at school in vehicles, when they could have walked or ridden their bikes.

Childhood obesity has increased more than fourfold among children ages 6 to 11 since the 1970s. SR2S is designed for children from kindergarten through eighth grade, including those with disabilities, who live within walking and biking distance of school.

If you're interested in how to get more children to school under their own power in your neighborhood, ITD officials ask you to contact your local school officials and parent groups. There is also more information on Safe Routes to School on the ITD website.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Report Says Idaho Lost More Jobs Than ARRA Provided

A new analysis of the 2009 federal stimulus package shows that job losses have outpaced jobs created by the program in Idaho.

The report says Idaho’s workforce dropped by 14,600 employees since February 2009.

Here's the story from the ''.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fido Doesn't Belong In The Driver Seat

I love my dog and all and she definetely goes in the car with me, but on my lap?? Never! Besides the fact that she's too big to be a lapdog, that would get in the way of texting, smoking, and playing with the radio. Just kidding, I don't do any of that while driving, but a new survey conducted by AAA says a LOT of dog owners drive with their dogs in their laps, and do some even more risky things.

Here's the article from the Coeur d'Alene Press. Take a look and let me know if you partake in any of these dangerous behaviors. I think the worst I've done is try to drive into a pole and kill us all one time when my emotionally unbalanced cat Bob mysteriously got out of his carrier during a car trip.

Seems As Good A Place As Any To Crash

The Spokesman-Review's 'Huckleberries' blog reports that there's been a collision between an automobile and a bicyclist. That's the bad news. The good news is it happened at the entrance to Kootenai Medical Center. Seems ironic, huh?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

US 95 Traffic To Switch Lanes This Friday

The Idaho Transportation Department says two-way traffic will switch this Friday (Aug. 20) to the new northbound lanes on U.S. 95 from Wyoming Avenue to Idaho 53.

West Lancaster Road will be closed and Lancaster between U.S. 95 and Government Way will be re-opened. East- and westbound Boekel Road also will be re-opened.

Crews have finished the two-lane northbound section and median. Construction on the southbound lanes will begin Monday, Aug. 23.

The speed limit will be reduced to 45 miles per hour at all times through the length of the project corridor.

The project is funded with savings from federal highway stimulus projects bid earlier this year. The project is expected to be finished by this October.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Trail Goes Through Heart Of Burn Area

Want a fun way to teach the kids about history, without them even knowing that they're learning something? Take them for a ride on the Route of the Hiawatha trail and stop to read the signs.

The signs commemorate the 1910 Fires in Idaho and Montana, and make the ride not only beautiful and fun, but interesting too. Here's an article from the Spokesman-Review about the trail and its' connection to the fires.

New Site Estimates What You're Paying For Transportation Monthly

Holy cow, I'm bleeding from my eyes! I just used the new
Abogo website that gives you an estimate on what you pay in transportation costs per month, based on the neighborhood you live in. My estimate was $1045, hence the bleeding from the eyes. It said the regional average is $826 though, which still is a lot of money.

The site takes into consideration factors such as car ownership, car use, and transit use. The site draws on nine data sets, mostly from the U.S. census, that include density, average commute time, commuters per household, and a transit connectivity index. It also calculates greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation.

All you have to do is get on the site and type in your address and the magic number pops up. Here's the site again. Check it out and let me know how much it says you're paying for transportation.

Friday, August 13, 2010

County clears the way for impact fees

After back-to-back hearings on Thursday night, the Kootenai County commissioners passed one of two measures that would allow for impact-fee funded improvement projects, aimed at helping taxing districts accommodate new growth.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the Capital Improvements Chapter of the county Comprehensive Plan.

The amendment doesn't enact Capital Improvement Plans (CIPS), or projects to help districts improve their services, but simply expedites the process to update those plans.

"This is just an amendment to the Comp Plan to clean the process up," said Commissioner Todd Tondee.

The officials also voted unanimously to table deliberations on the more controversial issue of the night, the Kootenai County Development Impact Fee Ordinance.

The new law would create development fees to fund only growth-related projects for highway districts, EMS, fire districts, the sheriff's department, the jail, and the county Parks and Waterways Department.

Read the full story here

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nettleton Gulch Water Main Replacement Project Begins August 16th

The City of Coeur d'Alene will close a portion of Nettleton Gulch Road for a water main replacement project on Monday, August 16th, at 7:00 a.m. Eastbound vehicles will be detoured at 19th Street and westbound vehicles at Maple Leaf Road. Local access will be maintained. The street should be reopened by 5:00 p.m. on September 10th.

The purpose of the project is to replace an outdated water main that currently lies at the base of the road across private property. For more information, please contact the Water Department at 769-2210.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hey, Who Approved This?

I need a vacation. Yeah, I know I just got back from one, but I need another. I'm not sure how I talked the boss into another one so soon. Maybe it was that full body tremor I developed over the past couple months. Doesn't matter, he approved it.

Anyway, I'm out of here at close of business tonight, so Jeff Selle in our office will be your fill-in blogger. He has to blog on top of his other duties though, so won't crank out as much content as me most likely. He loves comments though, so oblige him and give lots of comments. And enjoy your week.

Stimulus Money Pays For Street Tree Project

The City of Coeur d'Alene has started a new project to trim or remove dead and diseased trees causing a danger along public streets- and it's being paid for with federal stimulus money.

The project started on Monday will repair or remove 200 trees throughout the city.
Here's the story from KHQ news.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Citylink Numbers Continue To Increase

Where is Citylink finding all these people? I mean it's great, but the amount by which their ridership numbers are increasing each month is incredible.

Here are the numbers from July.

Wow, who'd a thunk it?

Bike agenda spins cities toward U.N. control, candidate warns

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are "converting Denver into a United Nations community."

"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor's efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes "that's exactly the attitude they want you to have." Read more here

Otter Dismisses Gas Tax Cut Proposal

Gov. Butch Otter has dismissed Democratic challenger Keith Allred’s proposal for a 3-cent cut in Idaho’s 25-cent-per-gallon gas tax and a corresponding hike in fees on heavy trucks, saying it shows “a lack of leadership and credibility.”

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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Custom Plates Cost State

Those custom license plates you see are actually costing Idaho money. The state is losing about $3 per plate in fact.

Here's the story from the

KMPO Board Meeting This Week

KMPO's monthly Board meeting is this Thursday, August 5 at 1:30 p.m. at Post Falls City Council Chambers, 408 N. Spokane Street. Here's this month's agenda.

If you see anything that interests you, feel free to attend the meeting. Board meetings are always open to the public and there's a public comment item on the agenda so you can say your piece too.

As gas prices continue to soar...

Photo by:
Hindu devotees travel on the roof of a train after participating in Guru Purnima Festival in Mathura, India. Guru Purnima Festival is celebrated by paying tribute to teachers by disciples or students.

I predict if we build light rail into Spokane, our trains would look like this at rush hour...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Task Force Suggests Raising Gas Tax

A panel investigating how to shore up Idaho highway funding ranks boosting the gas tax by a penny as its top pick. The Transportation Funding Task Force says the hike, from 25 cents, would raise $8.2 million annually to bolster road and bridge maintenance.

Here's more from 'Financial News USA.'

Why Not Electric Planes?

Electric cars are very common these days- so why not electric planes? That's what Boeing thought, and now they're working on a concept airplane that is propelled by turbine engines and electric motors.

Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

KMPO MTP Too Big To Email To You

So I made a mistake in the last KMPO newsletter. KMPO is in the process of revising it's Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), which is the long-term plan for transportation in Kootenai County. It's a HUGE document. In the last newsletter, I wrote that I was starting a distribution list to email the document out to those who are interested when a draft is ready.

Well, turns out that the MTP is too big to email. So what we're doing instead is breaking it up into sections and posting it to the KMPO website. It's not there yet though, so I'll post something when the draft is available.