Local news

Getting There: Transportation open houses this week

Meetings will cover regional plan, online game results

A yearlong effort to build a cohesive plan for transportation in the Spokane region is nearing completion, and the public is going to get another chance to comment.

Two open houses will be held Thursday at the Kress Gallery, behind the Food Court at River Park Square, 808 W. Main Ave. The drop-in sessions will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m.

A draft recommendation will be up for review along with results from an online game that drew comments from more than 1,000 Spokane-area participants.

That input was part of the mix of informed findings by a pair of consultants hired by the Spokane Regional Transportation Council last year.

Among the recommendations are:

• Encouraging mixed-use residential development along transit routes.

• Improving north-south transportation.

• Targeting freight infrastructure projects.

• Developing agreements among local governments to accomplish transportation goals cooperatively.

• Ensuring people in rural areas have access to services.

Respondents to the online survey said they wanted better connections to jobs through multiple modes of transportation. They also said they preferred lower-cost projects. There was a strong desire for environmental quality and pedestrian-focused projects.

A local gasoline tax was identified by respondents as their preferred method to raise additional money for transportation.

“The exercise was more than just a game,” SRTC Manager Glenn Miles said in a prepared statement. “It not only helped the everyday person understand the priorities and tradeoffs taken into consideration when planning for future transportation investments, it also helped determine public priorities and preferences when it comes to transportation infrastructure.”

The recommendations stem from an effort by city leaders three years ago to prioritize local transportation needs, in part to improve their success at attracting state and federal grants.

The Transportation Vision Project was funded with $350,000 from local government through SRTC.

West Plains study

An open house on the West Plains-Spokane International Airport Transportation Study will be on Tuesday at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino ballroom from 4 to 7 p.m.

The study looks at transportation improvements needed to accommodate expected growth in the area.

Roads, buses, nonmotorized transportation and safety issues are included in the study.

People can drop in at any time during the session and will have an opportunity to comment on recommendations.

A map of the study area can be found at www.srtc.org. Click on the projects link.

Charging stations

U.S. Highway 2 from Interstate 5 to the Wenatchee area is going to become the first National Scenic Byway with electric vehicle charging stations.

The state announced last week that it will install two or three fast (level 3) charging stations for electric vehicles along the 120-mile route, which can be used in conjunction with level 2 charging stations planned at several popular destinations.

The level 2 charging stations are being installed at Stevens Pass ski area, Leavenworth’s Sleeping Lady Resort and Icicle Ridge Winery, along with several locations in Wenatchee.

Washington state is also planning to install electric charging stations at Interstate 5 rest areas north of Vancouver and south of Blaine.

As many as 300,000 electric vehicles may be on the road in the state in 10 years, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Money for the installations comes from federal stimulus funds. The charging stations should be available by the end of the year.

DUI crackdown

The “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed” enforcement effort over the holidays resulted in 181 arrests for driving under the influence in Spokane, Whitman and Pend Oreille counties, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

The annual enforcement effort from Nov. 25 through Jan. 2 was a joint project of law agencies in the region. Statewide, the program netted 3,577 arrests for driving under the influence.



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