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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Rising gas prices drive new interest in carpools

What concern for the environment won’t do, wallet worries will.

With average fuel prices near $3 for a gallon of regular unleaded, who can afford to drive alone anymore? More people are seeking out carpools in Spokane County to save a buck or two.

Spokane has 100 employers that are required by the state to run programs encouraging workers to get to work in ways other than by driving solo. Another 33 worksites do so voluntarily, said Aurora Crooks, who manages Spokane County’s commute trip reduction program.

And worksite coordinators who’ve had to cajole workers in the past are now having little trouble generating interest.

“Since the gas prices have gone crazy and increased, they said they had employees seeking them out,” said Crooks, who’s added several new companies to her roster of those looking at carpool, bus and other commuting options.

Crooks doesn’t have hard numbers on the phenomenon, but she’s been hearing lots of good reports from people like Mark Lidbeck, transportation coordinator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Lidbeck reports signing up 10 new people in the past two months and is now working to add two new vanpools.

“Everybody says, ‘Gee, with the price of gas, we’re looking for other ways,’ ” he said. “That’s the opening line every time.”

Regal behind schedule

What’s the opposite of the royal treatment? Dirt roads hardly seem “Regal.”

It’s enough to make some south Spokane residents want to stay home.

Regal Street construction between 38th and the Palouse Highway was late getting going both inside and outside Spokane’s city limits. And it’s late getting finished.

In the case of Spokane County’s portion (from about McDonald’s south), it likely won’t be done until next year.

The contractor has been having trouble hiring enough employees.

There will be a paved surface to drive over this winter, though, promised the county’s Bob Brueggeman.

The city’s portion was delayed by the installation of utility lines, but will be done by mid-October.

Mind your Monroe manners

Woo-hoo. After being closed for more than 2½ years, the Monroe Street Bridge reopened Sunday, which prompts a few Getting There rules for the next few weeks:

•No stopping midbridge to read plaques or gawk at the bison skulls.

•No honking at people who are going a wee bit slower to take it all in.

•And absolutely no testing the new railings’ ability to stop cars from crashing through.

Worse than winter

Be nice to friendly neighborhood truck drivers this week. He or she may be spending a lot more time on the road than usual.

With a few miles of westbound Snoqualmie Pass down to just one lane for the next few weeks, the driving there is more like standing still.

The lane closures were necessary to stabilize a rock wall that collapsed more than a week ago, killing three women when a boulder crushed their vehicle.

Washington State Department of Transportation officials are encouraging people to use other routes over the Cascades to avoid waits of up to three hours.

Slow going

The Department of Transportation is resurfacing Division and the Newport Highway from just north of Francis Avenue to Center Road. Most work will occur between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Maple Street is closed from Francis to Wellesley avenues, but work is expected to be complete by the end of the month.

Country Homes Boulevard is under construction from Cedar to Division. Expect detours.

Monroe Street delays may occur between Frederick and Indiana while crews seal the road.

Greene Street is restricted to one lane in each direction near Spokane Community College.

Mission Avenue will be closed from Perry to South Riverton starting Friday at 7 p.m. and continuing until 5 a.m. Sept. 26.

A detour is in place at Argonne Road from Old Argonne Road to Bigelow Gulch.

Park Road is under construction from Second to Eighth avenues.

The Palouse Highway is closed from Valley Chapel Road to Dunn Road. A detour is in place.

Hays Road Bridge between Kentuck Trails Road and Prairie View will be closed until next summer.

Expect lane closures on the Cheney/Spokane Road from Cedar to Marshall Road when crews are patching it this week.

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