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Holiday drivers willing to fill tanks, empty wallets

Gasoline prices may be hitting records every day, but Americans still don’t want to give up their Memorial Day weekend road trips.

According to AAA, 38.3 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home this weekend, with 32.1 million of them doing so by car.

Both are increases of almost 2 percent over last year.

Better fill up that bank account before filling up the tank.

The nation, Washington, Idaho, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene all hit record highs for gas prices on Friday, and the tab is expected to increase this week.

In Spokane, the average price Friday of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.31, according to AAA. In Coeur d’Alene it was $3.20.

The night has 1,000 eyes

It may be dark, but it’s still possible to see whether motorists are wearing their seat belts at night.

Law enforcement officers will be out in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas at night this week and next checking to see that you are buckled up.

The goal is to reduce traffic deaths, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Mark Baker.

Of the 2,366 people who died on Washington roadways from 2001-2005, more were killed during the hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. than from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., he explained.

“What’s troubling about that is there is less traffic during the night than during the day,” Baker said.

After dark is also when people engage in more risky behavior, including speeding and driving impaired, he said.

Because it’s harder to see seat belt violators at night, only 15 percent of seat belt tickets were given at night last year.

State troopers will overcome the visibility problem by stationing observers throughout Spokane County. They will point out scofflaws to other officers in pursuit vehicles who will then issue tickets.

Seat belt patrols are also planned by other law enforcement agencies, including Post Falls and Moscow police.

Keep off

Heavy trucks better stay away from the Appleway Bridge near Stateline, Idaho.

Spokane County has imposed weight restrictions because the steel supporting it has deteriorated.

The bridge used to be the highway crossing over the Spokane River at the state line.

The county is seeking federal funding to replace it, but construction won’t take place until 2010 at the earliest.

Slow going


Interstate 90 has been reduced to two lanes in each direction in downtown Spokane for the viaduct repair project. Speed limits are reduced.

The only downtown exits remaining open are eastbound Maple/Walnut, eastbound Division (for southbound traffic only), eastbound Hamilton, westbound Second Avenue, westbound Hamilton, westbound Division. On-ramps remaining open are eastbound Browne, eastbound Hamilton, westbound Maple.

In Idaho, I-90 is reduced to one lane in each direction from about Mullan Road to Exit 22 at U.S. Highway 97 as crews work on the Blue Creek Bay Bridges.

The speed limit has been reduced to 55 mph and vehicle widths are limited to 14 feet.

North Spokane

Maple Street is closed from Northwest Boulevard to just north of Wellesley Avenue through June.

Wellesley is reduced to one lane in each direction at Ash and Maple streets.

Garland is closed between Ash and Maple.

Sharp/Sinto Avenue is closed from Haven to Fiske. Fiske Street paving is also under way between Boone and Mission avenues.

Strong Road is closed from Rustle to Indian Trail Road through June 15.

South Spokane

29th Avenue will be one lane in each direction between Southeast Boulevard and Freya Street through the end of the month while a water main is installed and the roadway is repaved.

The street is closed between Ray and Freya.

Northbound U.S. Highway 195 is reduced to one lane in several places between Spangle and Hatch Road.

North Idaho

Government Way is under construction in Hayden between Honeysuckle and Wyoming.