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Finding new bulbs for streetlights can be a shot in the dark

Imagine that every room in your home has unique light fixtures requiring different types of light bulbs.

Since some lamps were manufactured decades ago, spare parts may or may not be in production. Some will cost large sums.

Now picture neighborhoods instead of rooms, and you have what cities like Spokane and Coeur d’Alene deal with in maintaining streetlights.

Take, for instance, the 40-foot light poles in downtown Spokane, referred to by many as frog eyes because of their bulbous appearance. They were installed about the time of Expo ‘74.

“Sylvania stopped making the parts at least 15 years ago,” said Dave Shaw, traffic control supervisor for the city of Spokane. “If we didn’t have the spares, I don’t know what we would do.”

Shaw said the city has more than a dozen different fixtures lighting city streets. And that’s not counting those maintained by homeowners’ associations in certain neighborhoods.

The green, fluted light poles found downtown near the Spokane Club will be slowly replaced with newer versions. The light is no longer made, and recent repairs cost $800-$1,000 per light because of lead paint issues, Shaw said.

He said the city maintains some of its lights but pays Avista $1.8 million per year to keep up the majority. The cost includes electricity.

The same is true in Coeur d’Alene, with Kootenai Electric and Avista sharing the contract for two-thirds of the city’s lights, said Coeur d’Alene Finance Director Troy Tymesen.

Coeur d’Alene also has issues with some of its older lights.

“The globes just come and go so fast. You buy a globe today, and three months later they don’t make it,” said Tim Martin, Coeur d’Alene’s street superintendent.

Tymesen said Coeur d’Alene is trying to standardize lights as much as possible to simplify maintenance and reduce costs.

Neighborhoods and developers can choose to install different styles, but they must pay for their maintenance, he explained.

And lights where parts are slightly different than the originals, while not ideal, must be accepted, Tymesen said.

“Most people driving by wouldn’t be able to pick out a streetlight that has a different globe,” he said.

They do notice, however, when the lights are out.

Report street light problems by clicking on the street light utility link on Coeur d’Alene’s website at

In Spokane, people can report streetlight issues by calling (509) 232-8800.

This is the week

Tire shops will be busy this week as studded tire users race to remove the tires by the April 1 deadline.

Washington law only allows studded tires from Nov. 1-March 31.

The fine for ignoring the rule is $101.

Idaho allows studs until April 15, but anyone crossing the state line into Washington is subject to Washington laws.

Blue Creek Bay work

The Idaho Transportation Department begins work next Monday on a project to rehabilitate the Interstate 90 bridge over Blue Creek Bay.

The $2.2 million project will reduce travel to one lane in each direction and temporarily reduce lane widths to 14 feet.

Crews will first work on the eastbound lanes.

Bicyclists will be detoured to Timothy Lane and Yellowstone Trail Road.

The work should be finished by Oct. 1.

One more thing

As if ridding yourself of all metal, meticulously transferring your shampoo and other liquids/gels into appropriately sized containers and figuring out which shoes are most easily taken off at security weren’t enough, federal transportation officials have another thing for air travelers to think about – batteries.

Beware the battery, warned the U.S. Department of Transportation last week. It could cause an in-air fire if improperly stored.

DOT officials urged fliers to keep spare batteries in original packaging, cover loose batteries with insulating tape, put batteries into individual cases or bags, and only pack them in carry-on luggage.

Getting There has a simpler idea.

Leave any personal items at home and go to the airport in a hospital gown and flip-flops with your I.D. taped to your forehead.

Just buy what you need at your destination.

Or maybe you could just drive.

Slow going

The left lane of Ash Street is closed from Garland to Wellesley avenues for water main work.

On the South Hill, 29th Avenue is reduced to one lane in each direction between Regal Street and Southeast Boulevard.

Washington Street is closed during the day between Buckeye and Indiana avenues.

Freya Street is closed from Market to Gerlach, and Regal Street is closed near Market for sewer work.

Qwest work on Division Street will create restrictions this week and next between Mission Avenue and Mansfield Avenue. Mission Avenue also will be affected just east of Normandie Street.

Several streets are closed in the area of Evergreen Road, Valleyway and Best Road in Spokane Valley for sewer work. Springfield, Alki, Nixon and Valleyway are all closed from Evergreen to Best; Nixon is also closed from Best to Calvin; Bannen Road and Bolivar Road are closed from Sprague to Valleyway; and Calvin is closed from Main to Nixon.

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