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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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STA’s smart buses getting computer tech

Spokane Transit Authority is getting ready to launch the newest phase of its smart bus program.

Starting next month, STA will deploy 10 buses equipped with sophisticated computers that will set the stage for improvements in how buses operate.

Twenty-seven drivers are being trained by five of their STA peers on how to use the smart bus technology.

Implementation will occur in phases so that by early next year, riders will be able to check on the Web, by phone or tablet, to find out when the next bus will be arriving at their stop.

STA’s website will be optimized for mobile use. Regular telephones or cellphones can be used to dial up a computerized phone system. All of those platforms will provide real-time information on bus arrivals.

New bus stop signs are currently being installed. Each of the signs will have a four-digit code number that can be used to identify the stop where arrival information is sought.

STA believes the new service could be of great value during snowstorms or other incidents where buses are prone to fall behind schedule.

The smart buses will automatically announce a stop when requested. They’ll also allow for computer-aided dispatching by operations headquarters. Onboard computers will provide an exact location of the buses while they are rolling.

New passenger counters will log riders when they board and when they get off, information that will help the agency in providing efficient service.

The lighted route signs on the outsides of the buses will automatically change when the bus goes to a different route number.

Part of smart bus technology has been in place for years – new electronic fare boxes and security cameras.

“I think this is a huge step forward,” said Spokane City Councilman Mike Allen, an STA board member.

He said he has the bad luck of having missed his bus by about 30 seconds. Having real-time arrival information will help him avoid that problem, he said.

County replacing Bruce Road bridge

Drivers in northeast Spokane County are detouring around a closure of Bruce Road north of Peone Road. The county is replacing the small bridge that crosses Peone Creek. Work is going to last until late September or October.

Rock blasting will close I-90 near pass

Rock blasting on Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass is going to close the freeway for one hour each evening on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. The blasting work will start at 7:30 p.m. It is part of a multiyear project to widen the freeway to six lanes along Keechelus Lake.

STA buses on holiday schedule

STA last week sent out a news release to remind bus riders that the system is going to be on a holiday schedule today.

Car prowlings up on Centennial Trail

The thieves are out in force along trailheads to the Centennial Trail.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office on Friday reported that they had 16 reported vehicle prowlings last week at trailheads from the Idaho state line to western Spokane County.

Credit cards, purses, wallets, GPS devices, stereos and individual checks have been taken, according to Deputy Craig Chamberlin.

A tricky thief went into a checkbook and ripped blank checks from the back of the book so the victim would not realize someone was stealing from their account, giving the thief more time for forgeries.

Deputies recommend that you leave anything you are not carrying at home.

Adams Road upgrade set to begin today

In Spokane Valley, a project to upgrade Adams Road from Sprague to Fourth avenues gets started today and will last until about June 20.

Adams will be limited to local access around the clock, and access to adjoining businesses will be maintained.

The job involves new pavement, sidewalks and drainage improvements.

WSDOT opting for repairs vs. repaving

The Washington state Department of Transportation is taking a new approach to pavement repairs to try to stretch limited gas tax funds.

“Times have changed, and with less and less money available for highway resurfacing, we needed to find additional ways to preserve state highways,” the agency said in a news release last week.

A new “strategic preservation” system is being implemented. Rather than grind and repave larger sections of highway, the state is going to patch smaller problems first to extend pavement life.

Damaged pavement on a single vehicle track will be repaired with 40-inch-wide strips of new asphalt. Other repairs are crack sealing, chip sealing and rut infill.

“Repairing these small segments at a minimal cost allows us to defer the cost of the larger project for two or three years, or perhaps longer,” DOT said.

Highway work around the region

Work along I-90 in east Spokane from the Liberty Park interchange to Havana Street could cause ramp closures from about 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. this week. New illumination is being installed and an irrigation system is being replaced.

U.S. Highway 2 west of Spokane is seeing crews work on initial phases of repaving the highway from I-90 to Espanola Road. Intermittent lane closures are possible from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Friday in the vicinity of Flint Road, where a new traffic light is being installed. 

To the southwest, workers are repaving a portion of I-90 from state Highway 21 west of Ritzville to the Grant and Adams county line, a distance of 18 miles. The speed limit is reduced to 60 mph in parts of the project.

To the northeast, pavement crack sealing is underway on U.S. 2 from state Highway 211 to Newport.

Surface street projects, closings

In the city of Spokane, Southeast Boulevard from 29th Avenue to Regal Street is being closed Wednesday through Sunday for installation of a private water line.

Mission Avenue from Hamilton to Perry streets will have two lanes closed during reconstruction of Mission.

Rowan Avenue from Belt to Monroe streets is getting new sidewalks and handicapped ramps.

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