January 6, 2009 in City

Weather, more motorists slowing traffic

By The Spokesman-Review
Traffic:Street cameras

Highway information:Idaho | Washington | Montana | Oregon

Plow updates: City of Spokane

Traffic is moving on Interstate 90 in Spokane after a pair of crashes slowed it down this morning.

Major arterials are clogged with motorists and moving slowly. Monica Harwood, manager of the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center, said a pair of crashes on I-90 in the vicinity of Argonne Road and Broadway Avenue slowed traffic on the freeway starting about 8:20 a.m.

As motorists sought alternate routes, other arterials became clogged with traffic.

Authorities said traffic problems were primarily due to the end of the winter holiday and vacation season as well as about half of the region’s schools being back in session, including Spokane Public Schools.

Traffic was tied up around schools with parents dropping children off, and some buses arrived late.

Northwest Spokane also saw traffic backups during the mid-morning period.

County Engineer Bob Brueggeman told Spokane County Commissioners today that crews have shifted resources to widen both primary and secondary arterials in unincorporated areas.

In addition to widening major streets, crews are working to find and clear storm drains in advance of the expected street flooding from warmer temperatures expected for later this week. They are also clearing out staging areas next to schools for students and busing operations, Brueggeman said.

“The down side is that as we move stuff back, driveways are going to become exceedingly plugged,” he said. “So we are going to have some upset homeowners.”

County crews are using existing maps that show the drains and overlaying that information with fire district maps that show the location of fire hydrants.

“We are not going in to clean all the hydrants out,” Brueggeman said. “That’s not our focal point. We are just trying not to pop them off.”

Washington state highway crews were working to reopen roadways in the Pullman and Colfax areas. State highways 23, 271 and 272 had just one lane open for emergency and local traffic only, state officials said.

In addition, Highway 27 from Pullman to Garfield and had reduced lane widths.

U.S. Highway 2 at Stevens Pass was closed for avalanche danger and control. I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass was reopened today following avalanche control that blocked traffic earlier. Spokane police reported that a snow plow struck a parked car this morning, and sent out an alert asking owners to move or at least clear off the tops of their vehicles.

Spokane Transit Authority buses were moving this morning, but several routes have detours because streets have become so clogged with snow that buses cannot get through.

Check the STA Web site at www.spokanetransit.com/ for areas affected by detours.

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