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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Studies Show Interesting Conclusions About Cell Phone Use

Two new studies regarding cell phones and texting have come out this week, with some very interesting conclusions.

The first says that laws banning texting have actually caused collissions to increase because people are hiding their phones while texting, causing them to look down, instead of at the road. Here's more on that study.

The second study says that more young people are waiting to get their drivers license- because of their phones. Teens apparently spend so much time talking, texting, twittering and Facebooking each other anymore that they don't need to drive to each other's homes or the mall to hang out. You can read more here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mark Your Calendar For Two Public Meetings

Okay folks, mark your calendars because I've got a busy October planned for you. That's because we've had a busy couple months getting together some planning documents.

- This Friday, Oct. 1, the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) 2011-2015 goes out for public review and comment. The TIP is a funding program document that lists federally and non-federally funded transportation improvements proposed by jurisdictions to be undertaken in Kootenai County in the next five years.

There will be a public meeting to provide folks like yourself an opportunity to view and submit comments on the TIP on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at Post Falls City Hall from 4-6 p.m. I'll post more info on that as we get closer to that date.

- We have also recently completed a major update to the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). The MTP is a long-term 'blueprint' for transportation improvements over the next twenty years.

A public meeting will be held for that document on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at the Idaho Transportation Department office in Coeur d'Alene from 5-7 p.m. I'll also post more information as we get closer to that date.

Links to both documents will be posted as well as soon as they are available to the public.

Idaho 54 To Close Wednesday and Thursday

Idaho Highway 54 in Athol will close temporarily Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 29, 30) as repairs are made to the railroad track crossing the highway.

The highway will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. both days. A detour will be in place, using Clagstone Road and Old U.S. 95. Flaggers will help guide traffic around the work area.

Crews will remove and replace the crossing planks on both main lines.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Senator Proposes Another Texting While Driving Ban

An Idaho Senator is trying another attempt at banning texting and driving. Even if it doesn't pass though, the City of Coeur d'Alene says it will enact it's own law against texting while driving. Here's the latest from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Bike Facilities and Winter Driving- It's What's Happening

The Idaho State Patrol is teaching people to drive in winter weather and downtown Spokane is getting a bunch of new bike lanes and 'sharrows.' Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Potholes For Poverty Program

So there's a giant pothole on your route but the jurisdiction in charge of it hasn't gotten around to filling it. What do you do to save your car's allignment and your bike's front tire? If you live in Tigard, OR, you call the 'Potholes for Poverty' program and a private company will come out and fill it, as long as you make a donation to charity.

Read more about this program and tell me if you would make a donation to charity in order to get your favorite pothole filled.

KCATT Meeting Tomorrow

The monthly Kootenai County Area Transportation Team (KCATT) meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 8 a.m. The meeting is at the Idaho Transportation Department District One Headquarters, 600 W. Prairie Avenue, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83815

Here's a link to the agenda. Check it out and if anything jumps out at you, feel free to attend. All KCATT meetings are open to the public and there is a public comment period at each one where you can put in your own two cents.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Concerts Expected To Snarl I90 Traffic

You may want to avoid I90 near Stateline tomorrow. A day of concerts at the Greyhound Park and Event Center is expected to cause some traffic backups on the freeway. Their are nine seperate concerts, starting at 2 p.m. and goubg until 10 p.m. Traffic delays are expected to last from 1 to 2 hours following each concert.

Here is what you can expect from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Retreat Is Over, We're Back To Work

I'm happy to report that we're all back from our staff retreat and there was only one injury. Sylvia suffered some road rash on her elbow during the 'Office Olympics' but is expected to recover just fine.

Apparently being outside on a sunny day turned us all into kids, as the chase to catch this uninvited guest ensued. Unfortunately for Hoppy here, it ended up with him minus one leg. If you're worried about us squandering your tax payer dollars though, don't worry. That was just during break time. We did discuss our work plan for next years, as well as goals and priorities.

Our reward for our hard work? Not only a free lunch, but also these 'medals' (to tie in to the office olympics of course) that Jenny, Steve and I made with Jenny's shrinky dink kit. That thing on the right is the first medal I attempted. Turns out the toaster oven was turned up too hot.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Mess With The Government Moose

Mayor Larkin sent me another picture of yesterday's wildlife visitor to Post Falls City Hall. I'm not sure who sent it to him, but the orginal sender had this message attached: Ok, by popular request, here’s the photo of the people running as the moose charged them. Brave fellow deserts his female companion and darts around the building while she hot foots it across the street. Score: Moose 1, Chivalry 0.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Commissioners Approve Controversial LIDs

The East Side Highway District commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to approve three controversial local improvement districts (LID) in Coeur d'Alene and Harrison, totaling more than half a million dollars.

The reason they are controversial? Being LIDs, they require homeowners who would benefit from the improvemetns to contribute to the project cost. And that has some people angry, saying it's being dictated how they should spend their money.

On the other hand, commissioners say the LIDs are crucial to the preservation of the roads and there's no other way to fund their repair.

Here's the latest from the Coeur d'Alene Press. What do you think- did commissioners 'force' these improvements on residents or is it just a non-traditional way to get needed repairs done when there is no funding to do so?

We're Retreating Tomorrow- Office Will Be Closed

Just a heads up that the KMPO office will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday, for our second annual staff retreat. No, we won't be going anywhere exotic such as a tropical island or rejuvenating, such as a spa. Budgets are tight these days you know. We will be retreating to a nice 'neutral' setting where we can hash out our differences- I mean discuss our goals for the future and learn about team building.

We'll be back in the office Thursday morning, more eager than ever to help you.

Bullwinkle Apparently Had Some City Business This A.M.

This just in- its safe to go back to Post Falls City Hall now. Mayor Larkin just reported that a sizeable bull moose has wandered off after spending his morning at City Hall enjoying breakfast. The good news is that City workers won’t have to prune some of the shrubs or flowers. And even more good news, he won't be paid union rates for the pruning he did.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mini Parks Pop Up Around CDA

Coeur d'Alene celebrated 'PARK(ing) Day' on Friday. The event is a national one where artists, activists and citizens temporarily transform parking spaces into public parks and other social spaces.

Kootenai Environmental Alliance partnered with local residents Friday to take over parking spaces in downtown Coeur d'Alene, including Front Avenue, Fourth Street and Sherman Avenue. Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Bridging The Valley Project Comes Closer To Construction

The 'Bridging the Valley' series of transportation projects is closer to becoming a reality in North Idaho. Funds to conduct preliminary work for the intersection of Highway 53 and Pleasant View is pretty much lined up, which gives new hope for the project.

Here's an article from the Coeur d'Alene Press with the lates and here is the Bridging the Valley website in case you want more information.

Riders Say 'Thanks' To City

The new bike lanes on 15th Street saw their first organized group ride this weekend. The Coeur d'Alene Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee organized the ride as a way to say "thank you" to the city council for a job well done.

Here's the story from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Goofy Transportation Laws

On a whim, I was looking at the Dumb Laws In Idaho website this morning and found a couple relating to cars and bikes. I didn't confirm these because its just for fun and everything on the internet is true, isn't it?

For instance, the site says that in Coeur d'Alene, if a police officer approaches a vehicle and suspects that the occupants are engaging in sex, he must either honk, or flash his lights and wait for three minutes before approaching the car. Anyone know if this is true?

And in Eagle, ID, bicycles are not allowed on tennis courts. Makes sense to me.

The Bizarre Driving Laws website also had some interesting content such as it being illegal to drive while blindfolded in Alabama (thank goodness!) and it's unlawful to transport dead poultry along Kansas Avenue in Topeka, Kansas. Who would have known.

With the grey day outside, I just thought you might need a grin.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Property Owners Not Happy About Proposed LID Projects

The East Side Highway District is proposing paying for three transportation projects through local improvement districts (LIDs), but some property owners in the district say this is just another way to tax them.

Hearings will be held this Saturday on the Sunnyside Road LID, a Burma Road (in Harrison) LID, and an LID on O'Gara Road in Harrison. The cost of the LIDs would be split among owners of parcels that access those road sections.

Here's a description of the projects and more information from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

What do you think? In an economy where there is just no money for projects like this, are LIDs a good way to get the work done or is it unfair for the property owners involved?

I90 Lane Reduction Causing Serious Backups

I've been hearing a lot of complaints from people about westbound I90 at the Idaho/Washington border. The freeway is reduced to one lane there until next Thursday, Sept. 23 and it's causing some long backups. The closure is in place to provide for the installation of the in-lane 'Weigh-In-Motion' equipment that is part of the weigh station also being construction there.

Traffic has been so backed up that you may want to avoid it if you can. Of course, you can't jump off at Stateline anymore, but you can always exit I90 at Pleasant View in Post Falls and take Wellesley over to Washington, or the back way to Liberty Lake.

15th Street Celebration Bike Ride

15th Street in Coeur d'Alene, from the Centennial Trail on Mullan Avenue to north of Cherry Hill Park, was recently striped for bike lanes. To celebrate, you're invited to join other bicycling enthusiasts for a ride to celebrate safe bicycle routes. The ride is this Saturday, September 18th, at 12-noon.

If you'd like to take part, meet in the upper Coeur d’Alene Library parking lot just before noon.

From the parking lot, cyclists will ride to 15th Street, and then go north to Cherry Hill where they will meet up with the North Idaho BMX Association. The association will have refreshments for the bike riders.

For more information, please contact Monte McCully, Trails Coordinator, at 292-5766.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I90 To Get Third Lane From Sullivan To Barker

The ride could get a little smoother for those of you who commute to Spokane for work on a daily basis. The Washington State Department of Transportation announced yesterday that work will begin next spring on a third lane in each direction on I90 from Sullivan Road to Barker Road. Here are the details from the Spokesman-Review.

I drive this stretch pretty regularly for work around 5 p.m. Pretty much every day I do, there is a bottleneck just after Sullivan Road where the freeway is reduced from three lanes to two lanes. There are often fender benders there as well. While I support this project because of the safety aspect, there are many people who believe an extra lane encourages more people to drive cars instead of finding alternative ways to commute. What are your thoughts on this particular project?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Driver Who Hit Bicyclist Kills Self

Here's a story that's really tragic for two families.

A driver who hit and killed a bicyclist was so distraught that he shot and killed himself at the scene. The crazy part? The bicyclist he hit was a friend he had been celebrating a birthday with earlier in the evening.

Sign Up For ITD Bike/Ped E-Blast

For the average non-government, non-transportation person interested in bicycle and pedestrian issues, it's a challenge to keep up with legislative happenings, education/training opportunities, and other information. The Idaho Transportation Department is making it easier with a monthly 'E Blast' you can sign up for though.

So if you're interested, click here and you can sign up to receive a monthly email highlighting legislative updates, education/training opportunities, funding updates and other timely bits of information related to bicycle and pedestrian mobility.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rock Creek Bridge Work Starts Monday

The Rock Creek Bridge on U.S. 95 near Worley will be repaired beginning Monday, Sept. 13. Work is expected to take about two months.

Construction crews will be repairing the approaches to the bridge for both north- and southbound lanes. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in both directions across the bridge, and will remain that way until the project is completed. Lane reductions will be in effect on nights and weekends.

The speed limit will be reduced to 50 mph. There will be no restrictions on commercial truck traffic.

The work on the bridge is part of the original project north of Worley that widened U.S. 95 to a four-lane, divided highway with an interchange at the Idaho 58 junction.

Apparently Many Drivers Have Forgotten That The Left Lane Is For Passing

My former pet peeve about local drivers is that so many of them won't get over and let you merge when you try to enter the freeway. I'm moving on from that though. My new pet peeve is people who drive in the left lane- sometimes barely going the speed limit.

I had noticed it in the past, but hadn't really thought that much about it until some friends in town from Western Washington recently pointed it out to me. Since then, I can't count the times I've been stuck in a stream of traffic in the left lane while some clown in the lead does 58 miles per hour and won't change to the middle lane. So this is my campaign to get the word out- CHANGE LANES. Tell your friends please.

Styrofoam Used In Bridge Project

I always joke that I'm too poor to put insulation in my house, so I'm stuffing styrofoam cups inside my walls. Well it turns out someone actually IS using styrofoam for something. Apparently the attributes that make styrofoam undesirable-
a long lifespan, not biodegradable, and clogs landfills- also make it an appropriate material for a bridge project in southeast Idaho.

Here's the story from the Idaho Transportation Department's website.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CTAI Asks You To Comment On Task Force Recommendations

The Public Transportation Subcommittee of the Governor's Transportation Taskforce recently made recommendations for funding options to support Idaho's public transportation needs. The specific funding options to be supported and recommended by the subcommittee are:

1. User Fees & Fares
2. Local Option Sales Tax
3. Local Option Resort Tax
4. Local Option Real Property Tax
5. Impact Fees

In addition to recommending those options, the subcommittee also recommended local communities meet regional plan requirements before adoption of any or all of these funding options.

Both recommendations are a step in the right direction, but a few more steps are necessary for local communities to utilize these tools to fund public transportation needs. The Governor's Task Force for Modernizing Transportation Funding now needs to include these funding options in their full report to the Governor. And the State Legislature needs to approve legislation that would allow local communities the ability to utilize any of these funding mechanisms.

The Community Transportation Association of Idaho wants you to let the task force members know how important it is for your community to have such tools. You can do this by sending a comment by clicking here. So start working on those comments.

Put Your Seat Belt On Or Pay The Price

Starting Friday and continuing through September 20, Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies will be conducting seat-belt emphasis patrols as a way to reduce the number of injury accidents in Kootenai County. They will stop drivers for moving violations and ticket anyone not wearing a seat belt.

Kootenai County’s 2009 compliance rate for seat belts was 82%. The state average was 79%.

Obama Proposes $50 Billion Infrastructure Investment

I meant to post this yesterday and just ran out of time. Could someone talk to the boss about getting my other job duties reduced? Anyway, President Obama just announced a budget proposal that includes a $50 billion investment in roads, transit, rail and airport runways. The move is part of a larger proposal to stimulate the economy and create jobs in the short term.

So what would the $50 billion fund? Here are the details. After reading the article, let me know your thoughts. Do you think this will stimulate the economy? Create more jobs? Make people angry?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Education Corridor Could Get New Traffic Accesses

Some changes may be in store for those accessing the education corridor. A new traffic plan has been proposed to ease traffic flow and reduce congestion near Northwest Boulevard and Mullan Road. That plan includes four roundabouts.

An open house will be held Wednesday to gather public input on the proposed changes.
Here's more info from the Spokesman-Review.

Citylink Numbers Go Up AGAIN

Another record month for Citylink in August. Here are the numbers.

ITD Asks For Comment On Public Involvement Plan

The Idaho Transportation Department has just released a draft of their Public Involvement Process Plan (PIPP). The PIPP is inteded to provide and document the direction for public involvement activities conducted by the department. The objectives of the plan are to maximize public involvement opportunities during the tranpsortation planning process and maintain contact with interested citizens and key stakeholders throughout the process of developing plans.

To see if you think ITD can accomplish this, check out the draft PIPP here. There are instructions there on how to submit comments if you have any.

State Highway System Report Available Now

The 19th Annual Report of the Performance of State Highway Systems (1984-2008/9) is now available. The report tracks the performance of state-owned roads of the United States from 1984 to 2008, with some recent information (fatalities, bridge condition and travel) for 2009. Eleven indicators make up each state's overall rating and cover highway expenditures, pavement and bridge condition, urban congestion, fatality rates and narrow lanes.

The study is based on spending and performance data submitted to the federal government by state highway agencies. Here's a link if you want to read the report.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

KMPO Board Meeting Today

Oops, I completely forgot to post KMPO's Board meeting agenda earlier this week.
Well here it is. Hope this doesn't cause you any inconvenience.

Meetings are open to everyone, so if you see something on the agenda that catches your eye, come on down and sit in on the meeting. The meetings are held in the Post Falls City Council chambers at 408 N. Spokane Street.

ITD Rolls Out Commercial Aimed At Young Men

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) received federal money to educate young male drivers about the dangers of not wearing seat belts- and they're doing it in an eye-opening fashion.

ITD released a commercial on YouTube entitled “Faceplant”. It was launched on the internet because of fears it may be too graphic for regular television. The commercial was provided to ITD at no cost by the National Traffic Safety Administration.

Younger, male drivers tend to behave in more unsafe ways behind the wheel. Data shows that teen drivers are the most likely demographic to not use seat belts and, from 2005 to 2009, 383 of the 614 males killed in auto accidents in Idaho were not restrained.

So here is the commercial. View at your own risk because it is kind of disturbing.

Atlas Bike Trail In The Works

The Atlas Bike Trail project is in swing in Coeur d’Alene. Construction of the trail is part of a larger goal to loop together three popular riding routes along Atlas Road near Interstate 90.

The Coeur d'Alene Bicycle and Pedestrian Blog has an update on the project.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Task Force Says Trucks Not Paying Enough- But Doesn't Want To Raise Truck Fees

Governor Otter’s transportation funding task force met yesterday and voted to accept a new state-commissioned cost-allocation study showing car owners are overpaying for Idaho roads while heavy trucks underpay. The catch 22? They expressed strong reservations about raising fees for trucks.

Here's an article from the Spokesman-Review on the issue.

Holiday Closures Coming

You've got today, tomorrow and Friday to get your government business done before the holiday weekend. After that you have to wait until Tuesday.

ALL government offices, including KMPO, will be closed in observance of the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept. 6.

Also, roadwork will be suspended from Friday until Monday so as not to tie up holiday traffic.
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.