May 2, 2005 in City

Who knew that ”U” was so confusing?

By The Spokesman-Review

Tickets from Kent, tickets from Wallace, tickets from Michigan – for more than a decade Evelyn Ungaro has been getting notices about unpaid parking tickets from places she’s never been before.

And the kinds of tickets also amazed her. Ungaro has dealt with tickets for Bobcats and tickets for overweight vehicles.

“One said they were going to pull my car off the highway because I don’t have a heavy use permit,” she said.

Ungaro drives a 2001 two-door Subaru. A call to the Washington Department of Licensing revealed a likely solution to the mystery.

It’s the letter “U.”

Ungaro owns one of only about two dozen vehicles in the state bearing a license plate with just one letter, said Department of Licensing spokesman Brad Benfield.

It’s a vanity plate she chose because it’s the first letter in Ungaro.

Problem is, “U” in ticket-writing scrawl can look an awful lot like “V,” a plate owned by an unknown Kirkland resident, or even a really messy “J,” the sole letter on a plate owned by someone on Camano Island.

Then if the ticket isn’t paid, the jurisdiction in question may erroneously come after Ungaro. So should Ungaro give up her plate?

At least one of her friends has tried to convince her to do just that, but it would mean giving up the fun she has when people yell “Hey U!” at her as she drives down the street.

And she’s just not willing to do that.

Still, Ungaro has a message for ticket writers: Improve your penmanship.

Crestline rehab

Work starts today on a $2 million project to reconstruct Crestline Street between Wellesley and Francis avenues.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane in either direction.

Work is expected to continue into July.

Market and Nevada may be better north-south travel options for the next few months.

It’s legit

Some of you may be grilled in the coming weeks about your travel habits.

Don’t worry. It’s for a good cause.

The Spokane Regional Transportation Council is surveying 5,000 Spokane and Kootenai County residents about the details of where they go and how they get there during one weekday.

The SRTC will be conducting the surveys for about six weeks and will use the data to model regional travel habits. Those models will be used in turn to plan transportation improvements.

The company hired to perform the surveys will separate personal information from the travel data to maintain confidentiality.

People will be randomly sent letters about the survey, then called to ask if they are willing to participate. Each participant will then keep a travel diary for one day.

Fair warning

The Spokane Police Department’s traffic unit will be conducting emphasis patrols this week near the intersections of Wellesley and Belt, and Division and Queen.

They will be looking for people running red lights and not wearing their seat belts. Don’t give them a reason to give you a ticket.

Slow going

Interstate 90 on- and off-ramps will again be an issue this week.

The Third Avenue project downtown will necessitate the following closures: Today and Tuesday the westbound Lincoln off-ramp will be closed from 8 p.m.-6 a.m.; both the westbound and eastbound Division Street off-ramps will be closed from 8 p.m.-6 a.m. Thursday; and on Friday the westbound and eastbound Browne Street on-ramps will be closed from 8 p.m.-6 a.m.

The westbound I-90 Freya exit remains closed this week as are the westbound on- and off-ramps at Evergreen.

You can take the eastbound ramps at Mullan and Argonne Thursday, but watch out for flaggers. The lights won’t be operating.

Southbound Division Street will be reduced to two lanes today just north of the Division Street Bridge.

Government Way will be reduced to one lane in each direction starting today for work on a water main between Hartson and Sandy Ridge avenues. Howard Street is scheduled to be closed today between First and Second avenues to make way for a construction crane.

Spokane County plans to restripe Market Street between Magnesium and Lincoln roads this week, so there may be some lane restrictions there.

Oh, and one last thing: Take that bathroom break before the westbound I-90 Sprague Lake rest area if you’re heading toward Seattle Tuesday. It will be closed from 5 a.m.-5 p.m., and it’s another 44 miles to the Schrag rest area.

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