January 23, 2012 in City

Getting There: City faces slippery, uphill battle

Not even ticket threat can get some cars out of plows’ path
By The Spokesman-Review
 

In the wake of last week’s snowstorm, Spokane City Hall sent out an email Friday about parking on residential streets and arterials.

“The city’s Street Department needs your help,” it read. “Our crews are doing their very best to clear snow and create wide travel paths. However, the amount of vehicles parked on some streets is making this very difficult.”

It also noted that “tickets may be issued for vehicles that remain in the way.”

For several years, officials have been asking for compliance with the policy that requires drivers to move off main streets during plowing. In residential areas, drivers are permitted to park on one side of the street so the trucks and graders can clear a wider and safer path. The designated side switches each winter.

Good luck.

People are mostly unaware of this rule, despite news coverage and publicity over the years. And getting people to move their cars when the street is clogged with snow and it’s cold outside won’t be easy. People are creatures of habit, and they get attached to their spots.

The threat of $30 tickets might help, but City Hall would have to issue hundreds of tickets across the city to send a message and get effective compliance.

Maybe the city needs a larger public relations campaign than it undertakes each year.

Maybe it could send out an army of workers or volunteers to go door to door to nicely ask for compliance.

Traffic alignment

Spokane County officials are working with residents near Whitworth University to devise a new traffic alignment for the arterial serving that area.

More than 200 people attended a meeting with county officials at Brentwood Elementary School this month.

County engineers want to decrease traffic accidents along the route, which comprises North Wall Street, Waikiki Road and Mill Road from Whitworth Drive to Bellwood Drive.

County Commissioner Todd Mielke said the plan is being modified to meet residents’ concerns while still improving safety.

A four-lane arterial would continue to be striped from Wall Street to Whitworth Drive.

It would then be reduced to a three-lane corridor with a center turn lane from Whitworth Drive to Bellwood. That would allow for left-turn lanes at busy intersections. The arterial would widen to a five-lane road with a left-turn lane north of Bellwood.

Spokane in recent years has restriped a number of arterials with the three-lane configuration, down from the four-lane alignments. The center lane is used for turns.

Bridge design

A public meeting on the design of a Sullivan Road replacement bridge is planned for Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at CenterPlace Regional Event Center, 2426 N. Discovery Place.

Spokane Valley engineers and design consultants will be on hand to go over preliminary plans and to hear from the public.

Bridge appearance is a major element of the meeting, but designers also want to hear about traffic and business-access issues during construction.

A $19.7 million southbound bridge will replace the aging span that last year was posted with weight restrictions. A temporary fix under way now will allow those restrictions to be lifted.

Bus technology

Spokane Transit Authority is working on technology that would allow buses to extend green-light phases so they can run up and down busy corridors more efficiently.

STA officials said the capability is among a series of technological features that will be employed on buses in about two years.

The “smart” buses also would have tracking systems to allow passengers to know exactly when the next bus will arrive at their stops. The information will be available on mobile devices.

STA is working with the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center to establish policies for the extended green lights.

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