Getting There: Ash Street construction begins
One of Spokane’s major southbound arterials will shut down today for a facelift.
Crews will close Ash Street from Broadway Avenue to Northwest Boulevard, forcing southbound commuters to shift to Monroe Street.
Not enough disruption?
Boone Avenue will be closed between Ash and Maple streets during the project.
When Ash reopens, Maple will be closed, said Ken Brown, principal construction engineer for the city.
“This is one of the bigger projects we will do this year,” Brown said. “The impacts will depend on your destination. Monroe will obviously be carrying more traffic.”
Delays are expected at first, he said.
“Usually, after the first couple weeks they find another way to get there and then the congestion on the detour route goes down,” he said.
The project may include the portions of Maple and Ash from Boone to the Maple Street Bridge, but that extension of the project has not yet been approved.
In addition to the closure of Boone between Maple and Ash, traffic at the intersections with Northwest Boulevard will be reduced to one lane between Walnut and Oak streets.
There are several reasons why crews completely close down Ash and later Maple, rather than half of each street at a time, Brown said.
“It allows the contractor to get in and get out. If you tried to do these projects half at a time, the work window would expand significantly,” Brown said. “We are sensitive to the impacts on businesses. But we believe if we tried to do it half at a time, it would be more impact because it would take longer.
“The other reason is safety. You don’t have traffic whizzing by your workers as they are trying to do this.”
The city followed the same model last year and the year before on northern sections of Ash and Maple. Construction meetings for businesses and residents along the project will be held at 8 a.m. on Thursdays at the Girl Scouts office, 1404 N. Ash St.
The Spokane Police Department will begin an emphasis patrol today to target downtown pedestrians who don’t obey traffic signals.
The department had dedicated two bike patrol officers to watch for pedestrians who don’t use crosswalks or who cross intersections without the proper signals. The added patrols are a response to requests from the community and a high number of pedestrian-versus-car accidents, said department spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.
“The first week will be education so they will be issuing verbal warnings,” DeRuwe said. “Starting the second week, they will start issuing citations.”
The penalty for jaywalking is $56. The emphasis patrol will continue through summer, she said.
More bike planning
Spokane isn’t the only public entity trying to rework its bike plan.
The Spokane Regional Transportation Council will hold an open house from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday at the SRTC office, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, to allow residents to review a draft of the new plan and make comments, spokeswoman Staci Lehman said.
The final Spokane Regional Bike Plan sets the goals of the region and prioritizes bike projects that have been identified by the public. It also includes ways to make the region’s roads friendly to bicyclists.
The open house is part of an effort to update the 1993 Spokane Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, Lehman said. A separate Pedestrian Plan is being developed through a partnership between the SRTC and the Spokane Regional Health District.
Anyone who cannot attend the open house can view the plan at www.srtc.org or by calling the council at (509) 343-6370. Comments can be submitted at the Wednesday meeting or e-mailed to email@example.com. Comments must be submitted by April 29.
Bike projects on block?
The Idaho Transportation Department Advisory Board will meet in Lewiston on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the department’s $200 million funding shortfall. Among the alternatives under consideration to address that shortfall, the board will discuss reduced support for the Transportation Enhancement Program.
Money from that program goes to pay for bikeways and pedestrian trails. The Idaho Conservation League has joined North Idaho businesses, the Kootenai Environmental Alliance and the cities of Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene to lobby state officials to keep funding in the program.
The board will not take public testimony at the meetings, said Sara Cohn, spokeswoman for the Idaho Conservation League.
“They will be allowing public testimony when they put out their state transportation plan in July,” Cohn said. “The main thing for us is to get the word out to the board that people enjoy these projects. Bikeways and pedestrian pathways … are great tourist attractions and make the community better.”
Emissions meeting set
The Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization Board will hold a special meeting at 3 p.m. Thursday to discuss vehicle emissions testing legislation recently approved by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.
The board will meet with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality at the Post Falls Public Library, 821 N. Spokane St., to discuss how the new legislation affects Kootenai County.
The discussion will include alternative measures that may eliminate the need for emission testing. There will be an opportunity for public comment, spokeswoman Staci Lehman said.