April 18, 2011 in City

Support for road and transit fixes wanes at wallet

Survey finds taxes less popular than projects they’d fund
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Background and the latest updates

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Vision for Spokane transit

A new draft of a Spokane Unified Regional Transportation Vision and Implementation Strategy is open for public comment until May 9.

On the Web: spokanetransportationvision.com

Comment may be made by email at contact.srtc@srtc.org, by phone at (509) 343-6387, or by mail at SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane 99201.

Transportation projects enjoy wide public support in Spokane, but that support drops when people are asked if they would pay specific taxes for them.

A survey of 353 respondents in early March showed more than 90 percent support for road and transit improvements.

Eighty percent think that completing the North Spokane Corridor is important, while 56 percent agree with building a high-performance transit network.

But when respondents were asked about paying for improvements, the support wasn’t nearly as strong. Only 31 percent supported increased property taxes, while 55 percent said they would support a small local-option sales tax, according to the survey conducted on behalf of the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.

Increasing the sales tax for transit, which may be needed to build a rapid transit system, had only 39 percent support in the survey.

Support for taxes went up when community benefits, such as economic growth and job creation, were explained.

The survey by Moore Information Inc. of Portland was part of a yearlong effort to define the Spokane region’s vision for future transit improvements.

Nearly all of the region’s big-ticket projects drew majority support, including transit. In addition, the survey showed public backing for making land development fit the region’s transportation system.

It also showed support for the environment when it comes to transportation development. The idea of building “complete streets” with sidewalks and bikeways is favored, too.

“There was kind of something for everybody in it,” said Staci Lehman, spokeswoman for the transportation council.

A separate online game with public responses showed even stronger support for bikeways, trails and a new rapid transit line downtown.

Hundreds of public officials, community leaders and citizens have participated in developing the vision, which was compiled through MIG consulting firm.

Now, a new draft of a Spokane Unified Regional Transportation Vision and Implementation Strategy is open for public comment until May 9.

The draft goes up for review before the transportation council board May 12 at 1 p.m. on the third floor of the Intermodal Center at 221 W. First Ave.

Adoption by the board could come as early as June 9.

The draft plan calls for coordinating transportation and land-use planning; focusing projects for economic benefit; developing integrated transportation; providing sustainable choices; and keeping livability as a priority.

The rubber will really meet the road when the SRTC board implements the vision as part of its criteria for awarding federal grant money to Spokane-area projects, Lehman said.

Bike to Work events planned

Bicycle riders in Spokane and Kootenai counties are gearing up for the annual Bike to Work Week on May 15-21 and bike month in May.

The Kootenai County Bike to Work Committee is planning a kickoff ride, moonlight ride, movie and wine tasting night, a team bicycle event and a wrap-up celebration during the week. Bike shops will give free bicycle checks.

For more information, go to the city of Coeur d’Alene parks department webpage at cdaid.org. Follow the links to parks, then trails and then Bike to Work.

In Spokane, the organization that promotes the annual bike events has changed its name to Spokane Bikes. This year, it is emphasizing May as a full month of bike riding in addition to the tradition of Bike to Work Week.

To register or learn more, go to spokanebikes.org. Bike to Work Spokane is on Facebook and Twitter (Bike2WrkSpokane).

I-90 rut repairs begin

Work to repair rutted pavement on Interstate 90 west of Maple Street will involve lane restrictions starting as early as this week, the Washington State Department of Transportation said.

Traffic will be reduced to two lanes in each direction to provide room for the construction at Latah Bridge and other overpass sections.

On I-90 to the east, nighttime travel could be reduced to one lane in each direction through a widening project from Sullivan to Barker roads. The freeway is being expanded to six lanes.

On the North Side, lane and speed restrictions continue around the North Spokane Corridor project.

Hatch Road upgrades start

Work starts today on reconstruction of Hatch Road from 43rd to 57th avenues. New curbs, sidewalks, a bike lane and turn lane are included in the $515,000 project funded through a voter-approved street bond in 2004 and the federal economic stimulus act of 2009.

Road work details online

With so many big road projects under way this season in Spokane County, local agencies have set up a website to keep drivers informed about locations, detours and construction scheduled: www.spokaneroadfix.net.


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