Biff Bowen does not like studded tires or the damage they cause to streets and highways.
So a new sign posted at Costco’s tire department came as a pleasant surprise. Costco is no longer selling studded snow tires.
“I rejoiced,” said Bowen, who lives south of Spokane. “I’m glad that somebody is doing something.”
Costco’s corporate tire buyer Pat McClintock said the decision was made to be “environmentally responsible. Many manufacturers are moving away from studded tires because of the road damage they cause.”
He added that the tires can cause cosmetic damage to other tires during shipping. Plus, they just aren’t selling as well as they once did.
The Washington State Department of Transportation has been pushing people to replace studded tires with less damaging alternatives. The department estimates studs have caused $18.2 million in damage to the state’s concrete highways and freeways. Damage estimates aren’t available for asphalt roads.
Siped tires and tires with other kinds of gripping surfaces work as well or better than studded tires in snow, said Transportation spokesman Al Gilson.
From October 2006-April 2007 almost 20,000 people checked out the transportation department’s Web page on alternatives to studded tires. It can be accessed at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ winter/alternatives.
“You never want, as a retailer, to follow a trend down,” McClintock said of Costco’s decision.
People still want studded snow tires, said Randy Christian, manager of the Post Falls Les Schwab tire store.
Though other kinds of winter tires fare well on snow, studs can still outperform many of those alternatives on ice, he said.
Christian estimated that 65-75 percent of winter tires sold at his store have studs.
Even Costco isn’t fully abandoning studs. One brand of tires available at the chain is ready for stud installation. Customers will just have to get the studs somewhere else.
Scan that body
As if walking through the metal detector in stocking feet isn’t humiliating enough, air travelers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport are now part of a pilot project to test new body scanners.
The test phase is only using the machine to scan people who are pulled out of line for additional screening, but the Transportation Security Administration could someday use the scanners on everyone instead of metal detectors.
The machines have a local connection since they were developed in the Tri-Cities at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Doug McMakin, the scientist who worked on the project, was just given the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Homeland Security award for his work.
So far the TSA has only purchased eight “millimeter wave” machines, which use electromagnetic waves to create an image of a person’s body. Make that a very accurate image – flab and all. Think of it as a nudie picture and you get the idea.
The person’s face is blurred and the image appears in a separate location from where the screening is taking place. The images aren’t saved.
Still, maybe the pat down isn’t so bad.
Bike lane celebration
The Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board is inviting cyclists to celebrate the new bike lanes along Southeast Boulevard with a 10 a.m. ride on Sunday.
The ride will start at Fourth Avenue and Sherman Street and continue to 30th Avenue and Southeast Boulevard where riders can chat and buy coffee and pastries at Great Harvest Bread Company.
The city will host a grand opening ceremony for the street at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the parking lot of Cancer Care Northwest, 601 S. Sherman St.
County road closures
Spokane County will be making repairs on Bigelow Gulch Road and Forker Road Wednesday, weather permitting.
Bigelow Gulch will be closed from Argonne Road to Forker Road and Forker Road will be closed from Progress to Pleasant Prairie.
More Road Safe classes
The Idaho State Police’s Oct. 20 Road Safe class is full, but two more will be offered in November.
The classes are at 1 p.m. on Nov. 3 and 9 a.m. on Nov. 17. Both will be held at ISP’s office at 602 W. Prairie Ave. in Coeur d’Alene.
The free two-hour classes teach drivers better winter driving skills, how to deal with aggressive drivers and other road topics. Advance registration is required. Call (208) 772-6055.
•Crews will be cleaning out drains today through Thursday. Expect intermittent lane closures in areas between the Latah Bridge and Argonne Road from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
•The intersection of Crestline Street and Wellesley Avenue is scheduled to reopen this morning, but Crestline Street itself is closed from Illinois Avenue to Wellesley Avenue through Wednesday. Detours are in place.
•Country Homes Boulevard is closed to traffic north of Woodridge Road. Traffic is being detoured.
•Freya Street is scheduled to reopen today between Euclid Avenue and Liberty Avenue.
•Monroe Street is reduced to one lane in each direction on the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge.
•Expect traffic restrictions on eastbound Wellesley Avenue between Division and Lidgerwood streets.
•Five Mile Road is closed from St. Thomas More Way to Strong Road until Oct. 31. Traffic is detoured to Cedar Road as crews work on sewer lines and paving.
•Boone Avenue is closed just east of Ruby Street through November.
•In Browne’s Addition, Riverside Avenue is closed from Hemlock Street to the Marne Bridge.
•Hayford Road is closed south of Highway 2.
•Broadway Avenue is closed from Conklin Road to Flora Road through Friday.