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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Washington dropping mandate to replace license plates

The Washington state law that requires vehicle owners to buy new license plates after seven years is being rescinded in favor of letting owners keep their plates for as long as they want.

Starting Jan. 1, it is possible for owners to keep their plates even when they buy a new vehicle.

Under current law, an owner has to pay $24 to buy a new license plate in the seventh year of registration of the same vehicle.

Under the new law, the new plate is required only when the purchaser needs one.

The seller has the option of keeping their old plate and transferring it to another vehicle for a $10 fee. The result is a $14 savings.

Also, if the vehicle title is transferred within a family with no money being exchanged, the new owner can keep the same plate.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said most owners change vehicles more frequently than once every seven years. As a result, the state will gain revenue in plate sales.

Lawmakers didn’t stop with that.

Currently, licensing subagents are allowed to collect a $5 fee on registration renewals and a $12 fee for new registrations involving a title.

Vehicle owners have been able to avoid those fees by going to the county courthouse to obtain a new or renewed registration. The fees have not been charged for owners relicensing by mail or online.

Under the new law, the same fees charged by subagents are going to be charged by the auditor’s office, which will eliminate the savings for owners who license directly through the county.

“Now, we are not cheaper,” Dalton said.

The change in licensing fees is already in effect for vehicles with registration expirations after Dec. 31.

Dalton urged owners to reconsider making a trip to the county courthouse under the notion that they could save money. Instead, it may be more convenient to go to a subagent or use mail or online services.

The fees do not apply to boats. However, they do apply to trailers used to haul boats.

Here’s part of the law that ought to bug vehicle owners in Eastern Washington: The additional money from the fees will be dedicated to the state ferry system.

Lawmakers are also nailing snowmobile owners. The cost of registration went up by $10 in September, and it will go up another $10 next September.

Open house will cover U.S. 2 safety

Traffic on U.S. Highway 2 north of Mount Spokane Park Drive has increased 9 percent in the past decade. As a result, the number of accidents related to traffic congestion has increased, according to the state Department of Transportation.

On Dec. 16, the state will hold an open house at Mountainside Middle School, 4717 E. Day-Mt. Spokane Road, to consider low-cost safety enhancements.

The open house will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

DOT representatives will be on hand to explain some of their ideas and to hear suggestions from residents. The study area runs from Mt. Spokane Park Drive to Day-Mt. Spokane Road.

CdA unveils plans for corridor

The city of Coeur d’Alene last week unveiled a draft master plan for land use improvements along a corridor running from Independence Point northwestward to the Riverstone development.

The master plan encompasses about 40 acres of land at Independence Point, parking near the Museum of North Idaho, Mullan Avenue, Memorial Field and Bureau of Land Management property from River Avenue to Riverstone.

Developments along that land generally require provisions for public uses, according to city officials.

More than 100 people attended an open house last week to view the latest proposal and to comment on the ideas.

The plan could go to the City Council as early as April.

To view the master plan, go to

Traffic lights getting upgrade

In Spokane, the city is going to replace traffic light control mechanisms at six intersections because of ongoing failures in the 1990s equipment.

The old video detection systems were installed to control phases at the signals based on traffic demand.

The city plans to spend $131,000 to buy new systems that use radar and are more reliable in detecting a vehicle at the stop line waiting for the light to go green.

The six intersections are at Euclid Avenue and Market Street; Garland Avenue and Market; Freya Street and Sprague Avenue; Freya Way and Trent Avenue; Newport Highway and Northpoint shopping center; and Regal Street and Southeast Boulevard.

Spokane endorses street design guide

The city of Spokane has endorsed the urban street design and bikeway guidelines of the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The guidelines will be used in new street and pedestrian projects across the city, Councilwoman Candace Mumm said in a news release. She credited Councilman Jon Snyder with pushing for the guideline adoption.

She said the guidelines foster “safer and more comfortable riding conditions. The designs are proving effective in reducing car-bicycle crashes, lowering injuries and death rates in the communities” where the design standards are being used.

In addition, the League of American Bicyclists has recognized Spokane with a bronze-level bicycle-friendly community award.

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