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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Birthday You Old Airbag!

Although perhaps not as influential as the seatbelt, the airbag’s contribution to vehicle safety is significant – and it's being recognized this week because it's the 30th birthday of the airbag.

Here are some airbag 'fun facts:'

- The first car to have an airbag was a Mercedes.
- The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) say airbags have saved more than 28,000 lives in the US alone
- The control systems for airbags have the processing power of the ‘supercomputers’ used in space exploration 25 years ago

Want to know more about airbags? You asked for it, from Traffic Technology Today.

Monday, November 29, 2010

No Bricklayer Required For This Brick Road

Our area has some really cool brick roads under the current pavement. Bricks are beautiful and durable, so why don't they make roads out of them any longer? Because it takes a huge effort to produce them.

The invention of a new machine that rolls out an almost 'instant road' could change all that though. Here's how the 'Tiger-Stone' works.

CDA Snow Removal Guide

With another storm on the way tonight, Coeur d'Alene residents may want to take a look at the City's 'Snow Guide' for a refresher on how snow removal works in the City.

The guide includes the system of prioritized roadways to be plowed/deiced first, how much snow must fall before snow removal efforts kick into gear, a discussion of 'problem areas,' and 'do's and don'ts.' For example, one 'do' is "Take it easy shoveling - it is hard work and has been linked to heart attacks." Good advice. That's why I fake a hernia every winter in order to get the neighbor to shovel my driveway.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Car Warming Up 'Borrowed'

You here it every year, DON'T LEAVE YOUR CAR UNATTENDED WHILE WARMING IT UP. Here's why: A Coeur d'Alene man recently caught up to his car as it was leaving his driveway, to be told by the young man inside that he was 'borrowing it.' Yeah, I've heard that one before.

Here's what happened, from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

No Recommendation From Task Force On Gas Tax

Eighteen months and nine meetings later, Gov. Butch Otter’s transportation task force still doesn't have a firm recommendation for transportation funding. That means no word yet on a gas tax increase.

The Idaho Reporter has the latest on the task force's lack of specifics.

Holiday Closures

A reminder that with the holiday tomorrow, all area government offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 25th and 26th. That includes KMPO.

Everything opens again at 8 a.m. on Monday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Holiday Nog If You're Driving

The Idaho Transportation Department just sent out their annual news release reminding you not to drink and drive over the holidays.

Idaho law enforcement agencies are conducting education campaigns and high-visibility enforcement patrols statewide searching for drunk or impaired drivers through Nov. 30. ITD's Office of Highway Operations and Safety is providing funds through a federal grant for the overtime patrol effort.

Last year, impaired driving contributed to 1,567 crashes on Idaho's highways and caused 65 fatalities.

Slow Going On Some Area Roads

It's kind of crazy out there on the roads folks. I didn't have any trouble getting to work, but my route is mostly on I90, which was pretty easy going. Ryan in our office got in just before 10 a.m. from a meeting and said that he had no problems getting around either, that Kootenai County has less snow than Spokane, but the wind is blowing more. He also said that the Coeur d'Alene Airport offices are closed due to drifting snow. The freeway was moving pretty smoothly he said, except for in areas where it was slowed down by plows.

It's not all smooth going out there though. Here's the Spokesman-Review's roundup of closed roads, wrecks and other concerns.

And here is the Coeur d'Alene Press' overview of things.

Roadkill Rules Changing

There's a glut of wild turkeys in my neighborhood. Every year I joke that I'm going to hit one with my car and cook it up for Thanksgiving (the joke part of that is me cooking- not hitting an animal with my car). Well, that may not be so farfetched anymore.

Idaho Fish and Game officials are developing new rules that would allow residents to salvage road kill wildlife. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission last week directed agency staff to research and draft rules that would allow public salvage for personal use and commercial salvage, such as selling pelts.

Existing state rules do not allow for personal or commercial use of accidentally killed wildlife. Earlier this year, Fish and Game officials opposed a bill that would have allowed the public to snatch up roadkill found along the side of the highway. At the time, the agency said it collected information about animals killed on roads to help determine the length of hunting seasons.

Most Wanted List- Of Improvements To Keep You Safe

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a list of critical transportation improvements they feel are needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives.

The NTSB is an independent agency charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents and promoting transportation safety. The Board investigates accidents, conducts safety studies, and evaluates the effectiveness of other government agencies' programs for preventing transportation accidents.

The Board develops safety recommendations, based on its investigations and studies, which are issued to Federal, State and local government agencies, and to industry and other organizations in a position to improve transportation safety.

Here are their most recent recommendations. Check them out and let me know if you agree with all of their suggestions. For instance, one item on their list is statewide sobriety checkpoints, which some people feel violates their right to not be stopped without probably cause. They also suggest 'reducing rear-end collisions through use of adaptive cruise control and collision warning system technologies.' Sounds great, but are the car manufacturers going to agree to something that will cost them more?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Group Releases Strategic Plan For Walking In America

America Walks, a nonprofit organization that leads a national coalition of local advocacy groups dedicated to promoting walkable communities, has recently released a draft strategic plan for 2011-2013. The plan includes three focus areas; creating a national unified voice for pedestrians, advancing and defending walking policies, and advancing Community-based campaigns that restore walkability in America.

The strategic plan is available for review and comment. You can take a look at it here. and email comments here by the deadline of December 3.

Here's the American Walks website in case you want to learn more about the organization.

Atlas Trail Dedication CANCELLED

Due to the glut of snow that's just been dumped on us, the Atlas Trail Dedication that was planned for tomorrow has been cancelled. The ceremony was to show appreciation for the folks who made the trail a reality, but it looks like you'll have to wait until next spring to show that appreciation.

Area Roadways Moving Slow

Idaho State Police have been responding to multiple accidents this morning, and approximately 30 crashes and slideoffs in the Coeur d'Alene area yesterday. And personnel at Kootenai Medical Center say they've treated an inordinate number of weather-related injuries. The 'Scanner Traffic' portion of the Spokesman-Review's 'Huckleberries' blog has this big list of traffic challenges.

And this article from the Coeur d'Alene Press sums up area conditions. Interestingly, the comments that follow this article call for cable barriers in the medians like much of Washington state has.

A reminder that if you commute to Spokane, it's a good idea to check out the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center website before hitting the roads. That way you can see conditions on I90 and other arterials and plan accordingly.

Friday, November 19, 2010

LaHood Proposes Cell Phone Blocking Devices In Cars

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says technology that automatically disables cellphones in cars could become mandatory. It's part of his 'Faces of Distracted Driving' campaign, which aims to make motorists aware of the dangers of using their phones while on the road.

Besides a few problems with the idea (how expensive the move would be to car manufacturers, passengers not being able to use their phones either, etc.), some people say this measure is extreme.

The author of this article at even compares it to outlawing the transport of alcohol in vehicles, if you were to compare the issue to the anti-drinking and driving campaign.

Blogger Calls Roundabouts A 'Fad'

A blogger over on the Spokesman-Review's 'Huckleberries' blog complained this morning that roundabouts aren't necessary in many cases and are just the current traffic 'fad.'

He does acknowledge that some make sense and commenters on the post point out the safety aspect of roundabouts, but 'Kootenai Conservative' implies that engineers are getting carried away. What's your take on roundabouts? There are undeniable safety advantages to roundabouts but do you think there are too many and they are just a fad or is the construction of several new ones in the area warranted?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

AAA Recommends Higher Fees For Heavy Trucks

AAA Idaho says registration fees for heavy trucks should be jacked up to cover the cost of damage they do to roads. That's the word today in response to a recent independent study concluding that heavy trucks aren't putting up their fair shrae in reltion to the damage they do.

Here's what AAA suggests, from the Idaho Reporter.

Who Needs High Speed Rail When You've Got High Speed Buses?

With the recent elections came a shift in the thought process for several states involving transportation. "All across the country, in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, the voters chose new governors who are opposed to diverting transportation funding to passenger rail," said Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker in a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "I believe it would be unwise for the Obama administration to ignore the will of the voters." Here's more on his push for roads, not rails.

Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich (R) asked the Obama administration for permission to repurpose $400 million in high-speed rail funds for highway projects. Kasich says Ohio doesn't need the project. But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Ohio would forfeit the money it doesn't use for high-speed rail.

When the state funds are rejected, LaHood said Monday night, they will be redistributed "in a professional way in places where the money can be well spent."

As always, though, The Onion has ferreted out a solution to this dilemma:
President Obama's proposed high-speed train system will be replaced with a fleet of buses that will rocket along highways at speeds up to 165 mph.

Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan

5th & Sherman Signal Going Bye Bye

The signal at 5th Street and Sherman Avenue will be decommissioned starting this week after stop signs are installed on 5th Street. A review by the city’s Engineering Department shows that the vehicle and pedestrian cross traffic is minimal and the signal is not really warranted. The signal is over 20 years old and does not respond to actual traffic volumes or movement, making it extremely inefficient.

Eliminating the signal will improve traffic progression on Sherman Avenue and improve the service to the side streets without compromising safety. A review of the intersection at 6th Street and Sherman Avenue revealed that the vehicle and pedestrian traffic is exactly the same as the 5th and Sherman intersection, and that there were very few accidents. Poles and mast arms will be completely removed on the corners that don’t have street lights, leaving just the poles where there is a street light on them. The “Walk/Don’t Walk” indicators will also be removed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bypass Construction Leads To Huge Archeological Dig

I know that Sandpoint isn't in Kootenai County, this story was too cool not to include on the blog.

Researchers are piecing together Sandpoint's history based on an archeological dig they're required to do because of the US 95 Bypass construction. And they've found some pretty interesting stuff.

Doug Nadvornick, a correspondent for NPR news, wrote this article for the Idaho Transportation Deparmtent's 'Transporter' newsletter.

CDA Leaf Pickup Update

Leaf pickup is in full swing in Coeur d'Alene this week. Crews currently are working their way east from 11th street to 15th street. Harrison is being used as a boundary to the north. This area should be completed by tonight, then they will move across 15th and work east of 15th street Sherman to Harrison.

Areas completed include South of Sherman, Fort Grounds, North and South of Forest Cemetery to Walnut Ave., and Government Way to 11th between Harrison and Sherman. If you're in one of those areas and still have leaves, that means you need to bag them and haul them to the transfer station.

While you're contemplating all that work, here's a nice video to watch from the City of Coeur d'Alene of their leaf crews in action.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One Interchange Could Hold Up Another

The Coeur d'Alene Press today published an article on the effect the Beck Road interchange could have on the proposed Greensferry Road interchange. The Press only publishes their front page stories on their website, and this wasn't a front page story, so instead of providing a link, you'll just have to read it here:

While one new interchange on Interstate 90 at Post Falls is slated to be built starting next year, another is in limbo because of it.

City administrator Eric Keck said the interchange at Greensferry Road, which has been in the works for about 10 years, is at a "critical crossroads."

He said the project won't gain federal approval based on traffic models that consider the planned interchange to the west at Beck Road near Cabela's.

Keck said hope for approval of a full interchange at Greensferry rather than just an overpass now rests with extending the traffic model year out from 2030 to 2035.

The City Council tonight will consider allowing the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization to perform more modeling for the Federal Highway Administration to consider when determining how soon the Greensferry interchange is justified. The cost for the modeling would be free, Keck said.

"As it stands, the full Greensferry interchange is in jeopardy," Keck said.

While reviewing both the Greensferry and Beck interchange proposals, the feds questioned why separate traffic models were used for each project, Keck said. The Greensferry model did not contemplate the Beck interchange when it was submitted to the FHWA earlier.

"The resultant work to update the model to tie in Beck Road created both a time delay and caused a traffic volume forecast that now indicates that the Greensferry interchange would not meet traffic thresholds that would warrant the incursion into the freeway system," Keck said.

Regardless whether the FHWA ultimately approves the Greensferry project with an extended modeling year, a full interchange will be delayed further, Keck said.

The city has already spent $350,000 on preliminary work for the Greensferry project and the Urban Renewal Agency another $168,000. The project is intended to improve mobility, emergency response and benefit economic development.

Keck said it's not a matter of if a Greensferry interchange or overpass is needed, but when. He said the FHWA acknowledges the local effort and support for the project and is willing to consider an extended traffic model.

And, before the city spends more funds on the project, the City Council is being asked if it wants to have additional modeling done in hopes of gaining federal approval, Keck said.

A full interchange has had the most support, but some officials now wonder if the project needs to be pared down to just an overpass, Keck said.

Meanwhile, with FHWA approval, construction on the Beck Road interchange near Stateline is expected to start in 2011 and be completed in 2012. It is being designed by Foursquare Properties, the Carlsbad, Calif., developer of the Pointe at Post Falls anchored by Cabela's.

Foursquare will recoup the cost of the estimated $28 million project through temporary suspension of state sales tax collections at Cabela's. The interchange is expected to increase business construction activity in the project.

In other business, the council will consider whether to allow Joe Dobson to apply for a 5-acre annexation for a limited commercial and multi-family project at the northwest corner of Chase and Poleline. Dobson's annexation for a single-family housing project was approved in 2008, but the plans were put on hold and have since been modified.

The council will hold an annexation policy workshop at 5 p.m. The regular meeting starts at 6 p.m. at 408 N. Spokane St.

Poll Says Respondents Would Rather Pay More For Gas Taxes

Results from a poll done by the Coeur d'Alene Press say that people would rather pay higher gas taxes than income taxes or lose some Social Security benefits. I wonder if that's because gas is something you can control how much you spend on. If money is really tight one month, maybe you take the bus for a while instead of driving, or cut out those trips to the store for two items.

Here are the results of the poll. Of the three options, which would you prefer? Higher gas taxes, less Social Security benefits or higher income taxes?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Morning Elk Sighting

This isn't the best picture because I took it with the world's worst cell phone camera just as it was getting light this morning, but it gives you an idea of the other critters out there who are also using our roadways. This was a herd of about 30 elk in a field out by Stateline. They were alongside the road, but started crossing right after I went by, causing delays for a couple cars behind me. So slow down out there, especially in the dark. There are animals crossing the road, and they don't really care if there's one of those 'deer crossing' signs up or not.

Traffic Death Count

The latest numbers are in and the state of Idaho has had 190 traffic deaths this year. Yikes folks, take it easy out there.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ready to Roll...

It looks like the State of Idaho is finally ready to let the megaloads roll:

-- photo and story source Spokesman Review

The Idaho Transportation Department issued permits Wednesday for the first mega-loads proposed for U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho, but the four giant truckloads won’t roll just yet.

The agency said it is suspending the shipments until after a hearing officer rules on a petition for intervention and hearings by residents and businesses along the route – a petition that is being vigorously opposed by ConocoPhillips, which wants to send the big loads of oil refinery equipment through Idaho to its refinery in Billings. The truckloads are so large they’ll take up both lanes of the two-lane highway, a designated scenic byway that runs along the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers.

Late Tuesday, ConocoPhillips filed a legal brief with ITD arguing against allowing anyone to intervene in the case and in favor of letting the company go ahead with the shipments. The four giant loads of oil refinery equipment already are at the Port of Lewiston. The Lewiston Tribune reported Tuesday that the first two loads already have been attached to semi-trailers. More Here

Shweeb- Its Like Monorail Only You Power It

So what's the future of personal transportation? A member of Spokane's Bicycle Advisory Board introduced me 'Shweeb' and thinks it could possibly be the next big thing. Shweeb is an integration of the monorail and the recumbent bicycle- kind of like our gondolas only on a smaller scale, and powered by you. So not only are you getting where you need to go, but you're also getting exercise doing it.

Currently Shweeb is only available as a ride at an amusement park in New Zealand, but it's creators think it could be built in a city somewhere as a public transit system. Here's the Shweeb website in case you want to contact the company to have one installed in your backyard.

And here is a video about how Shweeb works. It looks pretty cool, if you can get past the creepiness of 'Dermett' the show host, long enough to watch it.

What are the pros and cons you see about Shweeb? Think people would use it if it was built here or are we Americans too lazy and too in love with our cars?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

US 95 Switched To New Alignment

The Idaho Transportation Department has just put out word that traffic on U.S. 95, from Wyoming Avenue to Idaho 53, has been switched to the new two-lane southbound alignment.

The highway is now a four-lane divided highway from Interstate 90 to Ohio Match Road.

A new local road on the west side of the highway, from Bentz Road to Lancaster Road, also has opened to traffic. The new road, called Warren Street, provides access to Tobler Marina, Gargoyle Granite, Little Tree Storage, Curwen's Body & Paint and Joe's Sandblasting.

Access onto U.S. 95 from Bentz Road has been permanently closed. Lancaster Road and Boekel Road are fully opened to traffic. A traffic signal at Lancaster will be constructed next spring.

The highway and new local access road also will receive an additional layer of pavement next year, which will complete the project. The speed limit on this section of U.S. 95 is 55 miles per hour.

This $6 million project was funded with savings from federal highway stimulus projects bid earlier this year.

Ness Outlines ITD Reorg Plan

You've probably heard some of this before, but Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness recently outlined a realignment of the agency that aims to improve customer service, efficiency and accountability. It's also expected to save taxpayers at least $1.5 million over the next two years.

It's Ness' comments in this article from the Bonner County Daily Bee that interested me. For instance, “You show me anybody — any private sector company or public sector entity — that is bringing in the same revenues that they were 15 or 20 years ago that are surviving. You probably can’t find any.” Wow Mr. Ness. You mean business. And good for you.

Government Offices Closed Thursday For Holiday, But Not KMPO

Guess what tomorrow is? A federal holiday, that's what. That means all local government offices will be closed tomorrow, EXCEPT for KMPO. Not that we don't love our veterans, but somehow way back before I was here, staff chose to take a couple holidays as 'floaters' that we can use anytime. Like in the summer, which is when I prefer to have days off.

Anyway, while we can help you with your transportation planning needs tomorrow, local City Halls and other government offices and facilities will be closed.

Everything opens up again Friday morning at 8.

Strahorn To Remain One-Way At Least A Little Longer

We've been hearing complaints from some folks about the conversion of half a mile of Strahorn Road in Hayden to a one-way southbound street.

Despite the complaints though, City Council members are asking drivers to bear with it for a little while, then let them know how they like it after getting used to the change.

The change to a one-way street was made for several reasons. You can read about the pros and cons of it in this Coeur d'Alene Press article.

I haven't driven this section of Strahorn since it was changed to one-way. Have any of you folks? What did you think?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

SRTMC Helps Commuters Avoid Winter Driving Delays

I heard a four letter word on the news this morning. That's right. Snow. Is it too early to start saying 'Bah Humbug?' because that's how I feel. Snow if fun to play in- for a while- but driving in it gets old REAL fast. All those collisions, closed roads, slideoffs, etc. can really slow you down.

For those Idahoans that commute to Spokane (and I know there are a lot of you) there is a way to avoid all that mess. It's called the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) website. The site is high-tech and real-time with information for all of Spokane County. 24-hours a day you can watch over 70 live traffic cameras, read about incidents that are automatically updated as they happen, and be alerted to road closures and delays to plan your commute to avoid backups and dangerous areas.

SRTMC staff monitor the traffic cameras to identify any trouble areas and alert the proper authorities before a minor problem becomes a major backup. And they have a really cool new video wall in there (shown in the picture) that I think needs to be hijacked for a Super Bowl party. Unfortunately, no one listens to me around here.

New Road Name On Hold

Work is in progress to name a new section of roadway off Lancaster Road after Vernon Baker, the Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran from St. Maries who passed away this summer.

County Commissioners are running into some problems though; such as that most of the road is already named. Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Happy Birthday To Citylink

Happy fifth birthday Citylink! It's been a crazy ride, increasing from less than 10,000 riders in your first year to over 600,000 this year. That's a lot of growth! Hope you enjoy your birthday gift of five new buses, because we know you need them.

Here's how Citylink is doing on it's fifth birthday, from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Annual Roadkil Count Is Going Up

I drove a stretch of road out near Stateline last night that was probably about a mile long. I drove it again first thing this morning and saw some pretty gruesome sights that hadn't been there the night before. The roadkill toll in that one mile alone included a turkey, two deer, a raccoon and one REALLY big bull elk that must have left some serious damage to someone's car. I wanted to take a picture of the elk just for the impact but thought that might be too ghoulish.

My point is that its getting dark earlier and its that time of year when the animals come back down to feed, so maybe you want to slow it down in rural areas, especially after dark, and be observant out there.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Oberstar Replacement Could Be Boon For WA Transportation

One casualty of the Republican wins in last week's elections was U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The Minnesota Democrat was defeated in a narrow vote, which could have major implications in the transportation industry. Here's an article from the Dallas News about the turnover.

The presumption is that the ranking Republican on the Transportation committee, John Mica of Florida, will replace Oberstar as chairman. Mica not only helped secure funding for the North Spokane Corridor in past years, but is also reportedly a friend of Cathy McMorris Rodgers, which could be advantageous to our transportation situation.

New ITD Chief of Operations

Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness announced late last week that he'd hired a new chief of operations.

Paul Steinman will lead 1,300 employees that work in the department's highway operations, maintenance, construction and planning programs. He will assume his duties in December.

Steinman recently served as state construction engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation where he was responsible for a $3 billion annual highway construction program. Steinman also held a variety of engineering positions during a 20-year career at the Florida and Michigan departments of transportation. He is a licensed professional engineer in North Carolina, Michigan and Florida. Steinman has a bachelor's degree in engineering from Michigan State University.

Article Says Economy/Other Factors Are Moving More People Toward Urban Areas

Our 'sister agency' Spokane Regional Transportation Council, has been working on a Transportation Vision Project for almost a year now. The goal is to identify an ideal long-term transportation system for Spokane County, considering all modes of transportation.

This article from MSN backs up a lot of things we've heard here at SRTC during the course of the project. The article talks about how demographic shifts and changing values will increase demand for pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use communities in both urban and suburban settings. The particular 'shifts' the author is talking about include the growth of two-person households, the need for the aging baby boomer population to have better access to services, and the current economy allowing less people to buy homes, meaning more people will live in apartments than in the past.

There are always going to be people who want to live on their acreage away from others, but do you see this movement toward more urban settings or do you think it's just a fad?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Statewide Plan Open To Comment

The Idaho Transportation Department is looking for comments and feedback on a plan to improve safety, mobility and economic vitality. "Idaho On The Move" is ITD's long-range plan to enhance those areas. Over the next 20 years, transportation activities and projects that improve safety, mobility and economic vitality will be priorities.

The document contains information on management principles, investment strategies and implementation of the plan. Other subjects covered include the use of limited resources, the importance of partnerships with state, federal and local agencies, and providing exceptional customer service.

You can view the planonline here and submit comments via e-mail here.

New Legislators Coming To CDA To Talk Transportation

The North Idaho Chamber of Commerce (NICC) will host a legislative tour for all newly elected Idaho legislators and executive officers this weekend and one of the major focus areas will be transportation issues facing Idaho.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness will speak on the tour. Little, chairman of the Governor's Task Force on Modernizing Transportation Funding, will provide an update on the task force's work, set to be completed in December prior to the start of the legislative session. The task force is examining traditional and non-traditional ways Idaho can fund its transportation needs now and in the future.

Brian Ness, ITD director, will provide an overview and details of a plan to significantly realign the organizational structure of the transportation department. The decision to realign the department came after nine months of meeting with employees, elected officials and customers, and assessing how the department operates.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

October Citylink Numbers Down Slightly

The October number of Citylink riders is down overall from the previous month- but not by much. Citylink staff say they expected a drop of some sort when all of the kids were back in school (colleges included). They also suspect that part of the drop in numbers is due to some minor changes implemented in October that make late night wait times a tad bit longer. Here are the October numbers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ITD Being Overhauled

The Idaho Transportation Department is getting a major overhaul in an effort to cut the budget. New ITD Director Brian Ness says he plans to streamline the operation by cutting several management positions. The Spokesman-Review has the story.

Talk About Ironic...

What are the chances? You're dressed as a breathalyzer machine and you get pulled over for drunk driving. That's what happened to this Nebraska man over the weekend. It's not all that newsworthy but I thought it was funny considering the irony involved.

All CDA Your Snow & Plowing Questions Answered

Did you know that Coeur d'Alene names it's snowstorms and the first of this year will be named “Abracadabra?” Neither did I, but I like it. So why does the city name storms? And how long does it take to complete a citywide snow plowing? What is the Snow Gate Program? All very good questions that can be answered by this thread on the City of Coeur d'Alene Blog.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beck Road Interchange Gets Federal Approval

The Idaho Transportation Department has just sent out a news release saying the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the new interchange on Interstate 90 at Beck Road in Post Falls. Final approval of the Interchange Justification Report (IJR) hinges on completion of all environmental work for the project.

The IJR recommends a new standard diamond interchange that would accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists and improves traffic operations.

The project is the first in Idaho to use the State Tax Anticipation Revenue (STAR) program to finance a highway improvement project. The Idaho Legislature approved the STAR program in 2007. The program compensates developers who pay for interchanges or highway improvements that access new commercial/retail complexes.

The developer and its consulting engineering firm still must complete an Environmental Assessment and receive approval for a "Finding of No Significant Impacts." Once the environmental process is complete and approved, work will begin on design and construction of the interchange.

When completed, the state will assume control over maintenance and operation of the facility.

KMPO Board Meeting This Thursday

This Thursday at 1:30 p.m. is the monthly KMPO Board meeting. Here's the agenda. If you see anything on there you feel the need to know more about, feel free to attend the meeting. Everyone is welcome. It's at Post Falls Council Chambers. The Council Chambers are on the first floor of City Hall at 408 N. Spokane St.

Commissioners Uphold Controversial LID Decision

Despite citizen protests, East Side Highway District commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to uphold approval of three local improvement districts, which will match federal dollars for overlays in Coeur d'Alene and Harrison.

Commissioners say they understand the concerns of the residents who would have to contribute to the LIDs, but don't want to lose out on one-time federal funding that would cover a large chunk of the project costs. The Commissioners may not have the last word however. Here's the latest from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

BNSF Suing Kootenai County

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. is suing Kootenai County over new regulations proposed for the Hauser diesel refueling depot. The railroad says operations at the depot are governed by federal transportation law, and, as a result, counties lack the ability to impose their own rules.

Here's the latest from the Spokesman-Review.

Trail Maintenance Volunteers Needed

The City of Coeur d'Alene Parks Department is asking for your help this Saturday, November 6th to do some maintenance to the trails on Canfield Mountain.

Volunteers are needed to help 'soften' a few key switchbacks and to widen a narrow section of the trail. Tools will be provided, but bring your own gloves, rain gear, eye protection, and water.

The work starts at 9 a.m. so meet at the park. You can contact Trails Coordinator Monte McCully at 208-292-5766 for more info.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Arrangements Made So Bus Riders Not Left Out In Cold

Citylink managers have come up with a temporary solution to leaving bus riders out in the cold while they wait to transfer buses.

Due to a gap in the schedule, Citylink service is interrupted at Riverstone for 30-40 minutes. Drivers normally take a break there, asking riders to get off the bus so they can go get something to eat. With no shelter though, that can be a long wait in the elements.

Here's the compromise they've come up with, from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Airport Body Scanner Q & A

Because Spokane International Airport recently got body scanners, I thought you might be interested in some frequently asked questions, and answers, regarding the scanners. For instance, are there health risks associated with the scanners? How does the technology work? Is there an alternative security procedure if I don't want to go through the scanner? Are the images of you in the scanner saved?

For the answer to all those questions and more, here's an article from the Seattle Times.

Be Observant- Folks Are Out Cleaning Our Highways

The Idaho Transportation Department wants to warn you to be alert while driving area highways this fall, because there are a lot of people out cleaning up the roadways. Folks who take part in the 'Adopt-A-Highway' program are asked to clean up litter twice a year, usually in the spring and fall. That means now is the time of year when many of them are out.

There are 182 groups cleaning 329 miles of roadway on the state highway system in the five northern counties of Idaho. These volunteers save Idaho taxpayers thousands of dollars each year, by allowing ITD to use its limited resources to efficiently maintain and operate the state's highways.

In 2009, more than 1,900 participants spent approximately 4,000 hours picking up trash. That amounted to 3,461 sacks, or 120,645 pounds of litter. If you'd like to join them by adopting a highway, call Adopt-A-Highway District Coordinator Diane Dubos at 208-772-1297.

New Transportation Bill Moving Forward

Here's good news for KMPO, if it's accurate. USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood last week said he's received a green light from the White House to move on the country’s next 6-year transportation bill. That's good news because the last bill expired months ago, was extended a couple times, and expires again on Dec. 31, 2010. Many projects have been at a standstill, waiting for word on a new bill, as funding is pretty much tied up until then. It's hard to plan for the future when you don't have parameters to work with.

USDOT officials now expect to see a full reauthorization proposal from USDOT and the White House next February in the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2012. In the meantime, a 1-2 year reauthorization of the current transportation bill will probably be passed.

Here's more information from the 'Mobilizing the Region' blog.