Drivers picking up someone at Spokane International Airport have a new amenity to make the trip easier.
The airport last month opened a free new parking lot along West Airport Drive that is designated for cellphone users who are picking up passengers.
Drivers can pull into the lot and wait for a call from the arriving passenger when they are ready for pickup at the terminal curb. The parking lot is on the righthand side of inbound Airport Drive about a quarter mile from the terminal.
Todd Woodard, airport spokesman, said the 40-car lot is already getting a fair amount of use. Normally, there are eight to 10 drivers waiting for calls, he said. The lot is designed to handle vehicles pulling trailers.
He said cellphone lots have become a popular feature at most airports and are seen as a way to increase safety on access roads as well as providing a convenience for drivers and passengers.
The new lot replaces an older, smaller lot located on Flint Road just north of Airport Drive. That lot got little use because the location was obscure, Woodard said.
The Airport Board earlier this year approved a $281,500 contract with Half Moon Construction of Spokane for the lot. The design work was done by Storhaug Engineering of Spokane.
The cellphone lot is among a number of new public amenities at the airport in recent months.
Another popular new feature is a mobile website that is optimized for smartphone users at spokaneairports.net. Users can obtain real-time progress of flights and other information about the airport.
The airport also has been providing free Wi-Fi and free baggage carts.
A new temporary railroad grade crossing with crossing signals is now carrying traffic on Francis Avenue just east of Hillyard while a contractor rips out the old bridge that formerly carried Francis traffic east of Market Street.
The project to build a new, larger bridge is part of the next step of construction of the North Spokane Corridor in the Hillyard area. The new bridge will cross the rail lines, which are being rerouted, and the future freeway lanes.
Officials said drivers should expect occasional trains at the crossing, although signals and gates are there to prevent accidents.
Lights, gates on 271
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has approved $20,000 to pay for crossing gates and flashing lights on state Highway 271 near Oakesdale at the Washington & Idaho Railway line.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is providing an additional $32,000 for the project.
State officials said six school buses use the crossing each weekday, along with about 700 other motorists. Two freight trains travel the line daily.
What drivers think
A survey of Washington drivers showed 78 percent believed that they would be very likely or somewhat likely to get a speeding ticket if they were clocked doing 68 mph in a 60 mph zone.
In another question, 66 percent said they rarely or never drive as fast as 30 mph if the speed limit is 25 mph.
On a question about drunken driving, 64 percent said they would very likely get arrested if they drove while impaired, while 26 percent said it was somewhat likely.
The survey, made public last week, was conducted in 2011 and involved 1,100 respondents, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
The Washington State Transportation Commission is seeking public input on the need for new transportation revenue.
State residents can join a Voice of Washington State survey panel and take an online survey at www.voiceofwashingtonsurvey.org.
About 18,000 have participated in the survey. State officials are compiling new survey responses through Dec. 17 for a report to the governor and Legislature early next year.