Search This Blog

Monday, January 30, 2012

First Electric Car Charging Station Opens at NC Rest Area

 

The AASHTO Journal reported a story on the first electric car charging station that opened this month, in Alamance County's rest area located on Interstate 40/85 in North Carolina.  It is the first site in the US and has two charging stations.  The charging stations are Level 2, which means they can fully charge a vehicle in 6-7 hours and there is no charge for using them.
North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is continuing to work with private partners to investigate the possibility of installing more charging stations at rest areas in the future to include "Level 3" stations, which are able to fully charge a vehicle in as little as 30 minutes. 

Electric vehicles are definitely coming our way, it's just a matter of time.  Someday, I can see our gas vehicles totally going away, much like the 8 tracks we used to use. Most of our children don't even know what an 8 track is....or should I say, was?
 

Here is the link to the full story along with more pictures from Flicker


AAA Idaho Survey How Should Local Taxes Be Spent?

 

A current AAA of Idaho survey reveals growing support for legislative action that would give local option tax the authority for transportation funding purposes.  According to the survey, registered voters were given a choice of where and how the additional revenues from local option taxes could be used.

59% said that they would approve the use of sales tax receipts to help pay for road and bridge infrastructure.



19% said it should be used for public transportation, including buses, vans, and rails.

And 22% claimed to be undecided.


To see the full story by KMVT News see the following link:
http://www.kmvt.com/news/local/Show-Should-Local-Option-Taxes-Be-Spent-138303129.html

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Transportation Funding - Thinking Outside the Box - What Ideas Do You Have?


The need to fund transportation and the problems associated with it have been all over the news lately, especially with the upcoming transportation bill.  Everyone agrees that we need to maintain our existing infrastructure (roads and bridges) but the problem appears to be, who is going to pay for it?  Taxpayers appear to be tired of paying so much in taxes and have expressed they don't want to pay more.

So, I here's an idea, it's a different way of looking at it,  I am just throwing it out there, and is not the opinion of KMPO or any of KMPO's affiliate agencies or members.

-STATE FRANCHISED ESPRESSO STANDS LOCATED ALONG THE HIGHWAYS-
Having State Franchised Espresso stands located along the highway and freeways, with an enter/exit ramp solely for the purpose of the coffee stands, much like pulling off the highway to enter or exit a weigh station.  It would be a short jaunt off and back onto the highway. The state already owns right-of-way and some stands could be located within an existing rest area stop.  I realize the State, most likely, doesn't want to be in the coffee franchise business, but it would be a great source to generate additional transportation funding and it would provide additional local jobs at the same time. 

I heard yesterday, on talk radio, that the average American spends $1000 per year on coffee. If just 25% of Kootenai County's total population utilized the franchised espresso stands (based on that estimate), they would generate over $34,000,000.00 per year within, Kootenai County.  The investment for the stands would be minimal, compared to the amount of revenue collected, and if the money collected was used solely for transportation, to build or maintain infrastructure, the public would support it and they would be getting something in return.  It's a win-win situation.  And, what would be better than providing weary travelers, (local and long distance) with caffeine to wake them up?

Just an idea!  What's your thoughts?  Any opinions or other ideas???

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Making TUBBS Hill Wheelchair Accessible? How many people do you think would enjoy it?


The city of Coeur d'Alene's Parks and Recreation Commission is recommending the city alter the east side of Tubbs Hill to make the popular hiking trail more accessible for people with disabilities.

The changes would improve wheelchair accessibility on the downtown hill. The plan calls for work on around 1,500 feet of trail beginning at the east side entrance near the marina. It would smooth the natural surface and decrease slope grades on portions of the trail from 15 percent grade, down to around 5 percent.  The work would maintain a minimum width on the trail of 48 inches.
Most of it already meets that standard, said Doug Eastwood, parks director. They could add some retaining walls to the very narrow areas.  Trail work would use native soil, he said, and could expand the trail in parts to implement turnouts for wheelchairs. 
Below is the link to the full story from the CDA Press:
http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_1d685e65-02aa-5141-bc0a-8ff8b25cc499.html

Monday, January 23, 2012

DOT's, Local Jurisdictions and Other Emergency Personnel - Thanks for All Your Hard Work


Since driving back and forth on I-90, I've been seeing some crazy accidents.  I know the Transportation Departments (ITD &WSDOT), along with all the local jurisdictions, do their best to make the roadways safe for us (and if your reading this a HUGE "Thank you", along with all other Emergency Personnel, for "ALL" your hard work)!

When the temperature is below 32 degrees, or there is sudden freezing rain, the roadway could have black ice in spots.  I've seen multiple people go off the roadway, a few facing the opposite side direction of I-90, that would have went head on into opposing oncoming traffic, had it not been for the median safety cable preventing it.  Even with the best snow tires, it's best to slow down.  Which reminds me.... I love the Bridgestone Blizzacks (studless snow and ice tires) we purchased this year. I promised I'd report back, and now that I've actually had snow and ice to drive on, they seem to work great on ice.  I still slide somewhat on snow, but nothing works better.... than just Slowing Down....

ISAWS - "NEW" Idaho State Alert & Warning System - ISAWS.org

 

ISAWS stands for the Idaho State Alert & Warning System. Idaho's mass notification and public warnings to Idahoans in regard to emergency situations and disasters. This program provides
for any Idahoan, including those with special needs and/or with English as a
second language, to enroll for notification of emergencies and significant events
which might affect them via cell phone, pager, PDA’s, email, home phone, or
other specialty communication device (in most cases).
 
Why enroll in ISAWS?
The Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security has developed a valuable new source
for emergency information available to all Idahoans. This newly created system
allows the Bureau to use a wide variety of methods to contact Idahoans in case of
an emergency. This includes notification of impending severe weather situations,
missing children alerts (in most cases), natural and/or man-made disasters, civil
emergencies and events of statewide and national significance. Enrollment is simple
and Idahoans have their choice of how they would like to receive ISAWS messaging.
Enrollment is voluntary and you can choose notification via cell phone, email, home
phone, mobile devices such as PDA’s and pagers, or any combination of the
preceding. You may also choose between voice and text messaging, or both.
 
What if I have special needs?
 The system has been developed to alert Idahoans with special needs and/or with
English as a second language. Simply make note of your situation when you enroll. If you
wish to provide contact information for a caregiver, space has been provided for you to
do so.
 Enrollment in this valuable service is easy. Simply follow the "Sign Up" link above to enter your preferences and begin receiving emergency notifications. Your information is secure and not shared with any other organization or group (with the exception of emergency preparedness and response service providers for emergency planning purposes).
 
Go to: http://www.isaws.org/  to sign up and find out more information about ISAWS.
 
 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Speaking of Snow...What is a SNOTEL?

In case you ever wondered (like I did) what a SNOTEL is?  SNOTEL's are U.S. Department of Agriculture sites that measure snow powder across Idaho.  In fact, they exist in Kootenai County locally in the following cities; Rathdrum, Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene, Spirit Lake, Athol, Harrison and Worley.


 There are a total of 84 sites in Idaho, that measure snow depth, weight and water content.  Many also keep track of soil moisture, humidity and wind speed.  The data they collect is beamed through radio signals to a station in Boise, where it helps to determine how much snow melt they can expect in the spring.  Here is a link to an article in the Idaho Press on nearly everything you wanted to know about them. 
http://www.idahopress.com/news/snotel-sites-measure-powder-across-idaho/article_d650a982-41a1-11e1-b909-001871e3ce6c.html

Doug Clark's Snow Job Quiz, a multiple-choice exam, measured in igloos, designed to test your winter driving knowledge

Forgive me, I couldn't resist re-posting Doug Clark's quiz (Spokesman Review), after reading it in an article posted by the Idaho Transportation Department, in Today's News Briefs.  I think everyone deserves a little humor now and then! :)

Opinion: Spokesman Review
"The frantic scene I witnessed on the roads inspired me to create Doug's Snow Job Quiz, a multiple-choice exam designed to test your winter driving knowledge" link to original article by Doug Clark, Spokesman Review.  http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/jan/19/snow-unearthed-more-than-1-maroon-if-you-catch-my/
So please answer the following questions honestly. We’ll evaluate your scores at the bottom.


1. The term “snowbird” refers to …
        a. Those chicken-hearts who spend their winters in Arizona – 1 igloo.
        b. The annual influx of eagles at Lake Coeur d’Alene – 3 igloos.
        c. That middle-fingered salute you wag at idiots who can’t drive in snow – 5 igloos.

2. Becoming a Spokane snowplow operator requires …
         a. Years of professional driving experience – 1 igloo.
         b. The willingness to work all hours under extreme conditions – 3 igloos.
         c. A sadistic desire to turn every driveway entrance into an impassable avalanche – 5 igloos.



3. The bigger the snowstorm …
         a. The larger the shapeless mass on the TV weather radar – 1 igloo.
         b. The easier the forecast – 3 igloos.
         c. The more a TV weathercaster will act like a gibbering fool – 5 igloos.
        

4. The best implement for removing snow from a windshield is …
         a. A scraper specifically designed for the task – 1 igloo.
         b. A debit card or used McDonald’s sack – 3 igloos.
         c. Hit the “defrost” button. The faster you get going the faster things’ll melt – 5 igloos.

5. A good rule of thumb for snowy driving is to …
         a. Allow an extra 15 minutes to get wherever you’re going – 1 igloo
.
         b. Stay an extra car length behind the driver in front of you – 3 igloos.
         c. Reduce your speed 5 mph and text your friends about why you’re going to be so late – 5   igloos.

6. Every car should have a winter survival kit containing …
        a. A snow shovel – 1 igloo.
        b. Some food and a blanket – 3 igloos.
        c. One large empty coffee can – 5 igloos.

7. When driving in a snowstorm, stay tuned to local radio for …
         a. Winter weather advisories – 1 igloo.
         b. Street and school closures – 3 igloos.
         c. Additional hot air from blowhard Mike Fitzsimmons – 5 igloos.

8. A winter driver’s best friend is his …
         a. Quality snow tires – 1 igloo.
         b. Wipers that work – 3 igloos.
         c. Paid-up AAA membership – 5 igloos.


9. The best advice for winter driving is still …
         a. Only drive if you must – 1 igloo.
          b. Never drive faster than conditions allow – 3 igloos.
          c. Park your car and wait until spring – 5 igloos.


10. If your car suddenly loses control, you should?…
         a. Steer into the slide – 1 igloo.
          b. Tap your brakes lightly – 3 igloos.
          c. Scream “Holy %$^#!!” and reach for the coffee can – 5 igloos.

"A score of 10-25 igloos indicates you’re one of those overconfident know-it-alls the rest of us would like to push off a cliff.  Scoring 30 to 40 igloos suggests that if you’re not on Prozac, you should probably look into it.
If you scored a perfect 50 igloos, congratulations! You are definitely a Spokane- area driver.  Blink your lights and honk if you see Big Maroon coming. That should give me enough time to flip you the snowbird and swerve out of your way", Doug Clark, Spokesman Review.

GARVEE Funds PASS or FAIL? Here is an Interesting Article from Idaho Reporter.com

 


While the Idaho speaker of the House, Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, believes the remaining funds available for the road and bridge work financed in part by GARVEE Bonds could pass this session of the Legislature (after not making it through the 2011 Legislature), Senator Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, disagrees, seeing it as an uphill fight, likely to fail.

GARVEE (grant anticipation revenue vehicles or a GARVEE) are tax-exempt bonds to finance road improvements throughout Idaho. These road improvements, undertaken by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), are to be repaid from federal highway funds received over a 20-year period from the Federal Highway Administration and certain state matching funds. Of the initial $998 million in GARVEE bonds authorized, there is $143 million available to the state.

Senator Jim Hammond feels GARVEE will be a tough sell because of legislative reluctance to take on another program and because the funds are available due to borrowing from the federal government and he sees little support, including himself, for relying on the feds for the money.

Senator Hammond also worries if the federal funding level Idaho is receiving continues to decrease, then the state must take more money from operating costs to pay for those bonds, which, in turn, makes it tougher for the state to maintain what it currently has.
In addition, Hammond says there is sentiment among some in the Legislature who consider GARVEE bonding as an indebtedness to its citizens, putting them on the hook for monetary obligations years down the road.
If the Legislature does not approve additional GARVEE funds, how does the state deal with the need for not only road and bridge repairs, but also expansion and replacement?
Hammond said ITD has an annual budget amount and plans for maintenance of the most pressing problems with no funds given to an expansion of existing infrastructure. According to Hammond, projects will be looked at only in terms of maintenance. Expansion and creation will not be a priority. Infrastructure that is degrading and needs the most urgent care will be the projects the state plan focuses on using whatever funds are available.
“That plan,” said Hammond, “isn’t put together with any thought about GARVEE. That plan is put together just based upon priorities of maintaining our current infrastructure. It used to be that part of that of that plan would have been expansion—additional lanes, new bridges, etc. Now because of the diminished level of funding the total amount of revenue available is just intended to be for maintenance and upkeep of our current infrastructure.”

Here is the link to the original article by MitchCoffman with Idaho Reporter.com: http://www.idahoreporter.com/2012/senate-transportation-chairman-doubtful-garvee-funds-will-be-approved-by-legislature-video/

First Winter Storm January 2012

For those of us that drive long distances everyday, we have been fortunate having a mild winter for driving conditions, up until the past few days. Remembering to slow down and to not follow too close, will help all of us get to where we need to go safely. One accident and your stuck in traffic for a while. With a lot more snow in the forecast this week. Please remember to drive safely.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 MEETING SCHEDULE for Kootenai County Area Transportation Team (KCATT) & Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization Board (KMPO)

  
                  

KMPO Policy Board

1:30 pm

2nd Thursday of Each Month

Post Falls City Council Chambers
Post Falls City Hall, 1st Floor
408 N. Spokane Street, Post Falls, Idaho

K.C.A.T.T.

8:00 am

4th Tuesday of Each Month

Idaho Transportation Department
District 1 Headquarters
600 W. Prairie Avenue
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83815
January 5
January 24
February 9
February 28
March 8
March 27
April 12
April 24
May 10
May 22
June 14
June 26
July 12
July 24
August 9
August 28
September 13
September 25
October 11
October 23
November 8
November 27
December 13
December 18 (This is the 3rd Tuesday)

 
ALL MEETING DATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.




TOP 10 TRANSPORTATION ISSUES TO BE DISCUSSED IN THE YEAR AHEAD


AASHTO reported the top 10 transportation issues that are certain to be discussed and legislated in the year ahead.  Here they are:

1. Enacting a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill.
2. Managing in lean times -- how states address the problem of the nation's aging bridges, highways, and transit systems with stagnant or reduced funding.
3. Responding to and planning for natural disasters.
4. Reducing traffic deaths.
5. Increasing the visibility of transportation as an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign.
6. Generating new ways to fund transportation.
7. Advancing intercity passenger rail.
8. Engaging the business community in support of transportation.
9. Serving a growing elderly population, both rural and urban.
10. Responding to new stormwater reforms and other environmental regulations.

Here is the link to the full article: http://www.aashtojournal.org/Pages/010612year.aspx

Our federal and state legislatures haves a lot on their plate. We will keep you informed if they come up with any solutions. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

REASON - RUPE Public Opinion Survey Winter 2011 Results


Here is a survey by the American people in winter of 2011.  It's quite interesting and the survey rates: Barrack Obama's performance and well as other potential presidential candidates, prioritizing funding, as well as demographic information.

 http://reason.org/files/reason_rupe_transportation_poll.pdf

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

KMPO Board Meeting This Thursday - January 5, 2012 @ 1:30 p.m.

The monthly Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO) Board Meeting is this Thursday, January 5, 2012 @ 1:30 p.m. at the City of Post Falls, Council Chambers, 408 N. Spokane St., Post Falls, WA. The general public/citizens are always welcome to attend.
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.