April 23, 2012 in City, Idaho

Getting There: STA seeks U.S. funds to study Division line

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

The collection of businesses along the North Division hill is an eclectic mix of services and retail outlets, such as ethnic restaurants, bridal wear, rare coins and jewelry.
(Full-size photo)

Bus No. 25 on Division and Ruby streets carries a million passengers a year.

It is among the top-performing lines for Spokane Transit Authority, with average daily loads of 3,400 passengers on weekdays.

On weekends, it is not unusual to see full or nearly full buses when shoppers replace commuters.

Now, officials at STA are seeking a federal grant to study ways to turn that regular bus line into a high-performing one.

Last week, the STA board approved the $1.2 million grant request to the Federal Transit Administration to look at ways the route could be improved for a growing number of passengers.

The idea is to move them more quickly and efficiently with dedicated bus and business access lanes, prioritization at traffic lights, off-board ticketing or 10-minute frequencies.

Currently, the buses run every 15 minutes during peak hours.

Susan Meyer, chief executive officer at STA, said the Division route is a major people-mover and at the same time the land alongside has room for economic development or redevelopment.

Having a high-performance network would provide a transit underpinning for new housing, especially multifamily housing, jobs and commercial growth.

“It is an interesting corridor because it is so dense, but there is opportunity for business development there,” she said.

The STA board has endorsed a wider network of high-performance transit throughout the urban area, but Division is getting one of the first looks because it doubles not only as a major arterial, but also as a state and federal highway.

Actual investment in upgrades is likely to require some kind of new transit funding, either grants or an increase in taxes. STA has authority to ask voters for an additional 0.3 percent sales tax.

Meyer said any talk about a tax measure is premature for now, but STA wants to be ready to move ahead when the time is right, and that time might be triggered if federal dollars become available for high-performance transit projects.

Another corridor being considered for high-performance investment is a new downtown city line from the University District to Browne’s Addition.

An analysis of that route has now been completed, and it calls for using an electric trolley bus.

STA Plaza contract approved

The STA board last week approved a $199,000 contract with Modern Construction and Consulting Services LLC to remodel a portion of the second floor of the STA Plaza for paratransit training and service, a driver area and supervisor work area.

A recommendation to build a food court on the second floor has been postponed but remains under consideration, staff said.

I-90 concrete work resumes

Work resumes today on a project to repair concrete pavement on Interstate 90 from the Maple Street interchange up Sunset Hill to just west of the Geiger Boulevard interchange. Studded tire damage is being fixed.

Most of the work will be in evenings and at night when the speed limit will be 50 mph and lanes will be restricted. The daytime speed limit will remain 60 mph.

This is the second year of work on that freeway segment.

Bridge inspection at Kettle Falls

The Columbia River bridge on U.S. Highway 395 at Kettle Falls will be reduced to one lane on Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wide loads will not be allowed. The restrictions will be for bridge inspection. Work on the bridge is planned for this construction season, and that will cause restrictions and delays.

Idaho bans texting while driving

Idaho has now joined 36 other states in making texting while driving illegal. That includes reading, preparing and sending digital messages by cellphone. Violations will cost $85.

Inattentive driving has been and is currently a misdemeanor. The new violation is an infraction.

Open house on pedestrian plan

Spokane city planners will hold a final pedestrian master plan open house on Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt St. A presentation will be given at 6 p.m. 

The plan will prioritize the most important segments of sidewalks needed for transit, schools, parks, shopping and neighborhoods among some 650 miles of places where there are no sidewalks currently.

Mock crash planned at Shadle

A mock crash is planned for Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Shadle Park High School. As a result, Longfellow Avenue from Ash to Elm streets will be closed.

First Francis project under way

A project to rehabilitate and widen Francis Avenue from Freya to Havana streets is under way, the first in a series of projects on Francis this construction season from Division to Havana.

The $1.3 million project has forced traffic into a single lane in each direction.

When completed, that segment will have five lanes for traffic, including a center turn lane, along with sidewalks, bike lanes, and a stormwater collection and planting strip.


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