City expecting $2.5 million more from $20 tab tax
Spokane city officials have come up with what they believe will be an equitable way of spending a new $20 annual vehicle license fee to fix streets.
The Spokane City Council last week adopted a series of recommendations for spending the estimated $2.5 million that will be raised in the city with the vehicle tab money.
Five sections of broken arterials would be repaved; three segments of residential streets also would be repaved; sidewalks would be improved; and additional residential streets would get maintenance.
The projects will be spread across the city in an effort to show a large number of drivers what is being done with their money.
It wasn’t hard finding streets that need fixing.
“There are so many projects to choose from,” said John Covert, chairman of the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board that helped select the projects.
“That’s the one thing we wanted,” he said. “Let’s get projects all over the city so people can see projects in their neighborhoods.”
The work could create as many as 14 jobs a year, but it hasn’t been decided whether the city will contract or hire in-house crews. That will be a decision of the incoming administration of Mayor-elect David Condon.
The arterials slated for repaving are Atlantic Street from Boone to Sharp avenues; Maple and Walnut streets from Second to Fourth avenues; North Foothills Drive from Hamilton to Perry streets; and Northwest Boulevard from Olympic to Garland avenues.
In addition, three residential streets would be repaved. They are Cook Street from Garland to Rich avenues; Woodside Avenue from Lindeke Street to Five Mile Road; and 18th Avenue from Ray to Freya streets.
Also, several residential streets will have cracks sealed with asphalt to extend their lives, and three other residential streets will get coatings of asphalt emulsion and gravel to create a new driving surface.
Ten percent of the funding from license fees will go to sidewalk and pedestrian improvements.
Covert said the recommended work was taken from the city’s six-year street program. A citywide pedestrian plan under development will be used to guide selection of sidewalk and crosswalk improvements.
Funding for the program was approved by the City Council last winter under a state law that allows local governments to collect the $20 license fees through a transportation benefit district.
That action was taken after local governments in Spokane County failed to reach agreement on a countywide district.
“No one wants to pay more, but I don’t want to bounce down the streets either,” Covert said
Traffic deaths drop sharply in Idaho
Traffic fatalities are down in Idaho this year, but the Idaho Transportation Department said the number of deaths should be lower still.
Through mid-December, the state reported 158 fatalities, compared with 200 for the same time period in 2010.
“Our highway safety partners are committed to eliminating death and serious injury on all roadways in Idaho using enforcement, education, engineering and emergency response,” ITD highway safety manager Brent Jennings said in a news release.
Three out of four fatalities occur on rural highways. That should tell drivers they need to use extra caution on those types of roads.
Seat belts, sobriety, proper vehicle maintenance, defensive driving and slowing down in bad weather are ways to reduce risks. Also, don’t drive drowsy and don’t indulge in distractions such as phone use.
“Too many drivers take their attention away from driving and simply run off the road and overturn or crash into a fixed object,” Jennings said.
Idaho’s downward trend in fatalities follows a national reduction in traffic deaths across the country in 2010.
Officials hope to sustain the downward trend next year.
Road safety class set for Jan. 14
To help drivers stay out of trouble and alive, the Idaho State Police is offering another of its popular and free “road safe” classes Jan. 14 at 9 a.m. at the district office, 615 W. Wilbur Ave., Coeur d’Alene.
The class will teach drivers about staying out of trouble during winter and avoiding other hazards, such as impaired and aggressive drivers. The class runs about three hours.
Class size is limited to 60 drivers, so call ahead for a reservation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at (208) 209-8620.
Planning results online
Results of a planning workshop earlier this month on the University District and Sprague Avenue corridor have been posted at eastspragueredev study.blogspot.com under the citizen resources tab.
Also, results are at www.developingspokane.org/ tad/info/?id=1.
Those who participated in the survey showed a preference for encouraging urban village-style development. The study now moves to an alternatives analysis in January.
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