Local news

Transit game allows public to test budgeting priorities

People who want to comment on the future of transportation in Spokane have the option of playing a new online game to make their views known.

Should Spokane push for completion of the North Spokane Corridor? Should it seek widening of Interstate 90 between Barker Road and the Idaho state line? What kind of bus system or rapid mass transit is best for the area?

Should the region concentrate on maintaining and preserving existing roads rather than expanding the road system?

How should projects be funded?

These are questions posed in the budget-like game expected to go online later this week at www.spokanetransportationvision.com. The game, which offers a novel approach to gauging public opinion, will be online for about three weeks.

“The player picks what level they want to be taxed at, and that dictates how much they have to spend,” said Staci Lehman, public information coordinator for the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.

The player chooses the priority projects within their preferred level of taxes and fees.

The game is part of a broader effort to assess community sentiment and establish a “Unified Regional Vision” for Spokane transportation for the next 30 years.

The plan will gauge public sentiment about potential increases in taxes, including creation of a countywide license tab, collection of a local gasoline tax or upping sales taxes for transportation, among other options.

For example, a registration tab fee of $45 a year on vehicles up to 6,000 pounds would yield up to $24 million a year.

Officials said large projects in the future are likely to need substantial local funding to qualify for state and federal dollars.

But the public might well be in the mood for keeping a lid on the existing tax base and using the money for maintenance, Lehman said, adding that the game is designed to identify that sentiment.

Nonmotorized transportation is included in the plan, too.

Players who complete the online game will be eligible to win a TomTom portable GPS device.

Results will be incorporated in a consultant report on a proposed vision, which is expected in December.

A public meeting on a draft report and implementation plan is set for Dec. 9. The SRTC board could approve the vision plan early next year.

The plan would be used to guide future transportation choices and would be part of the documentation needed to qualify for funding grants.

Project nearing completion

The city of Spokane has some good news for drivers in northwest Spokane: The months-long reconstruction of Northwest Boulevard from Alberta to Maple streets is nearly finished, and the boulevard should reopen soon. An exact date was not given.

Work in Spokane Valley

In Spokane Valley, a project is under way to build a pedestrian pathway and bike lanes by widening 44th Avenue from Woodruff to Sands roads. Brief lane restrictions are expected during the work, scheduled to last until Friday.

Also in Spokane Valley, Herald Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues, Robinhood Avenue between Crossbow Court and Woodruff Road, and Oberlin Road between 11th and 12th avenues will see brief daytime closures for work projects this week.

Lane restrictions

The Monroe Street eastbound on-ramp to I-90 will have lane restrictions tonight from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and again on Friday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. to repair damage to support columns on the I-90 viaduct there.

Trent slowdown

This week, state Highway 290, also known as Trent Avenue, between Sullivan Road and the Idaho state line will see traffic reduced to a single lane, with flaggers directing traffic. Crews are placing recessed lane markers in the highway. Delays of up to 15 minutes are possible.

Keep safety in mind

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week and National School Bus Safety Week.

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