Studded tires may have served drivers well during this particularly nasty winter, but the deadline is fast approaching for commuters to remove them. Otherwise, Washington area law enforcement officers may hand over a $124 reminder.
The annual deadline to remove studded tires in Washington is March 31. The deadline comes two weeks later in Idaho, but any commuters who cross the border into the Evergreen State have to follow the rules, Washington State Patrol trooper Mark Baker said.
“We realize that Idaho goes to April 15, and they may live in an area still covered with snow and ice,” Baker said. “It’s a case-by-case basis. But we try to encourage everybody to get them off by April 1.”
Of course, those dates could change with a weather emergency, said Al Gilson, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation.
“On occasion, we extend that deadline if there is extremely inclement weather on the mountain passes,” Gilson said. “But that decision is made at the very last minute by our state maintenance engineer in Olympia. It’s been several years since they’ve extended that.”
Barbara Babic, spokeswoman for the Idaho Transportation Department, said she can’t remember a time in the past 20 years when Idaho extended the April 15 deadline because of bad weather.
Idaho State Police Lt. Chris Schenck said drivers who don’t remove studded tires by the deadline face a $57 fine.
Gilson suggested that area drivers use all-season tires, which also tend to be less damaging to the roadways. “Then you don’t have to worry about changing them,” Gilson said.
Move on over
Speaking of fines, both Idaho and Washington require drivers to give room to emergency personnel who have made a traffic stop or are parked on the shoulder of area roads.
“We haven’t pushed it really hard, but it’s been on the books for about a year and a half now,” ISP’s Schenck said.
“We equip our officers with bulletproof vests and all the best gear we can,” he said. “But there is a greater risk of them getting struck by a car than getting shot. That is the primary emphasis of the law – the safety of the officers.”
If a trooper has a car pulled over on the right-hand shoulder, drivers in both states are required to change to the left lane on two-lane highways. Or, if that’s not possible, they need to move as far left as possible in their lane of travel.
The fine in Washington is $124, Trooper Baker said.
“We want them to change lanes if they can” such as on Interstate 90, Baker said. “They can’t always. But there is a lot of lane if you slow down.”
Rough road ahead
A five- to six-month project to improve Appleway Avenue between Tschirley and Hodges roads starts today in Spokane Valley.
Traffic may be limited to one lane in each direction, and the roadway may be rough during construction, city officials warned. They suggested motorists detour onto Sprague Avenue or I-90.
The four-lane road is to be rebuilt and widened. A center turn lane, a sidewalk and a separate bicycle path will be added.
More information is available under “Hot Topics” at www.spokanevalley.org.
More Valley disruptions
Also in Spokane Valley, county engineers continue to work on two major sewer projects that have closed many corresponding streets to all but local traffic.
The Grandview Sewer project has closures on Frederick Avenue from Bowdish Road to east of Perrine Road; Fairview Avenue from Wilbur Road to east of Perrine; Wilbur from Frederick to Grace Avenue; Perrine from Frederick to Grace; and Bowdish from Railroad Avenue to Frederick.
Also, crews are working on the Trentwood Sewer project with many similar closures.
The intersection of Heroy Avenue and McDonald Road is closed. Also, Heroy is closed from McDonald to Evergreen Road; Longfellow Avenue from Heroy to east of Mayhew Road is closed to all but local traffic.
Bridge work slowdown
Starting today, commuters will face daytime single-lane traffic and possible delays on Lindeke Street and nighttime construction on I-90 as state crews begin work on two bridge guardrail projects just west of Spokane.
Work will begin to add new “three-beam” guardrails on I-90’s Latah Creek Bridge and the Lindeke Street Bridge, which crosses over I-90 a bit farther west and up Sunset Hill, Gilson said.
“All of the I-90 construction will be done during the evening and overnight hours … and will not affect traffic during the day,” Gilson said.
That work will begin at 7 p.m. and end daily at 6 a.m., he said. Crews will be drilling, attaching new posts and installing the new guardrail, which should take about five or six weeks.
“During this time, drivers should expect eastbound or westbound lane restrictions with the inside or outside lane closed, depending on the work being done,” he said.
Farther west, crews will shut down one lane of Lindeke Street Bridge and use flaggers to control traffic. Motorists should expect daytime delays, he said.
That route connects Government Way and the Old Sunset Highway. The work on the bridge should be completed in a week or two, Gilson said.
Spokane city slowdowns
On Tuesday, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., crews will intermittently close Post, Wall, Howard and Stevens streets from Riverside to Main avenues to vehicles and pedestrians. The closure is needed for a film shoot.
Also, Boone Avenue from Maple to Ash streets will have lane closures and obstructions for the next two weeks as city crews install a water relay in preparation of the Maple and Ash rehabilitation project scheduled to begin later this spring, city streets spokeswoman Ann Deasy said in a press release.
On Tuesday, a presentation on the project to repave Third Avenue will take place at 6:45 p.m. in the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St. The public is encouraged to attend, Deasy said.
Staff writer John Craig contributed to this report.
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