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Cabbies get green light for a $2 fuel surcharge

Mon., Aug. 11, 2008

Cab fares have hit the gas.

Licensed taxi cab drivers have received approval from the city of Spokane to begin charging an extra $2 per trip to offset high gas prices. City Councilman Bob Apple said the city, which regulates the taxi industry, recently voted to allow drivers to charge the extra $2 as long as the new fee is posted inside the cars.

Larry Boyd, a taxi owner and president of Spokane Owners Drivers Association, said the increase has been unpopular.

“They are not happy about it, but they are seeing these surcharges in about everything they do,” Boyd said. “They understand it.”

About 18 years ago, Boyd said, he spent $11 a day to put gas his cab. “Now I’m spending $65 per day in gas. Small mom-and-pop businesses are closing because people aren’t going out and spending like they did. This is all about gas.”

Interchange work begins

Work has begun to relieve congestion at the interchange of Pines Road and Interstate 90.

“It’s taken a while to get everything up and scheduled,” project engineer Ken Knutson said in a news release. “But when it’s done, traffic will move more smoothly and safely through that area.”

Commuters on Pines frequently get backed up past Mission Avenue, Spokane Valley spokeswoman Carolbelle Branch said in a news release. The project will change the way westbound drivers enter and exit I-90 at Pines.

As a result, freeway ramps at the north end of the overpass will be closed and traffic redirected to modified ramps at Montgomery Drive and Indiana Avenue, Branch said. Eastbound traffic along Montgomery will be rerouted onto Mansfield Avenue by a new roundabout at Montgomery and Wilbur Road.

Beginning today, Pines Road will be reduced to one lane in each direction weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Drivers are encouraged to use alternate routes.

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Unhappy Trails

Work will continue the rest of the month to repave Trails Road from Hayford Road to Aubrey L. White Parkway.

“By Labor Day weekend, we should be done,” said Spokane County construction engineer Paul Lennemann.

However, traffic on Trails Road, which is just east of Spokane Raceway Park and north of Highway 2, should expect 20-minute delays weekdays and Saturdays during the work, Lennemann said. In an unrelated county project, Hawthorne Road between Waikiki Road and U.S. Highway 395 will be closed Saturday, Lennemann said.

Maple Street sugar

Maple Street may be complete from Boone Avenue south into downtown, but the northbound arterial won’t reopen until the entire section of Maple is completed to Northwest Boulevard, city engineer Ken Brown said.

The project should be done by the end of this month.

Today crews will pour concrete on the remaining portion of the intersection of Maple and Northwest Boulevard.

“That’s the biggest thing left. We will start paving (this) week,” he said. “We are pretty pleased about the progress.”

Driscoll, Hatch work

City crews have started lifting the pavement on Driscoll Boulevard from Cochran Street to the intersection with Assembly Street, south of Francis Avenue.

“It’s essentially closed, but there is circulation for local traffic except for when we are paving,” Brown said.

In addition to the work on Driscoll, which should last into October, crews will start today on the reconstruction of Hatch Road between 43rd and 54th avenues on Spokane’s South Hill.

The project will be done in two stages to facilitate access to Manito Golf Club. The city will continually update golf course officials, who will then give golfers directions on how to best access the course, Brown said.

“Hatch will be closed for about 40 days, or until about the first week in October,” he said.

North Spokane quagmire

Starting at midnight last night, traveling on the north border of Spokane got a lot more complicated.

Crews have shut down the intersections of Market Street and Francis Avenue, Francis and Freya Street, and the road in between, said Ralph Robertson, of the Washington Department of Transportation.

Signals will be replaced and the road repaved. Detours will direct east and west traffic to Magnesium Road, and Market Street traffic to Crestline Street.

Barring delays, that heavily used section of Francis should reopen Saturday, Robertson said.

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