Gonzaga University is joining other large organizations in the Spokane region to offer complimentary bus passes.
Faculty, students and other staff will be eligible for the free passes starting in mid-September.
The program through Spokane Transit Authority provides participants with a pass card that is swiped at the driver’s pay station.
Gonzaga officials said the bus passes are part of the university’s effort to control the amount of greenhouse gases created by university-related activity.
Participants will be able to track their personal efforts to reduce pollution.
“Transportation is a significant component of our carbon footprint. As individuals and as a community, we can make a significant positive impact in our daily commutes. This program will provide real incentive for people to make changes that will go a long way toward our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Jim Simon, GU’s director of sustainability.
More fatal crashes tied to pot use
Marijuana use is increasingly showing up as a factor in fatal crashes in Washington.
A new study announced last week by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission showed that the number of drivers in fatalities who tested positive for marijuana increased by 48 percent from 2013 to 2014.
This occurred after years without an increase in the percentage of fatal crashes involving marijuana.
The study said 60 percent of drivers in fatal crashes were tested for drug use from 2010 through 2014. Of those drivers, 20 percent tested positive for marijuana, or 349 drivers.
But testing positive for the presence of marijuana does not prove that the driver was impaired by the drug at the time of the crash, the commission said in a news release.
The new study looked at the number of drivers in fatal accidents who had higher levels of the drug in their systems, an indication of impairment.
In 2010, half of drivers in deadly crashes who tested positive for marijuana had what the commission called an “active” level of the drug at the time of the crash.
That number increased to 65 percent with active levels of marijuana in 2013, and to 85 percent in 2014.
“With this data we are finally able to see who was high during the crash versus which drivers had used marijuana in the past few days,” said Staci Hoff, the commission’s data and research director. “The answer in 2014 is most of them were high.”
Of those drivers who were high, half of them had enough marijuana in their systems to be legally impaired.
In addition, half of the high drivers were also under the influence of alcohol, the commission said.
The largest increase in marijuana positive readings involved men ages 21 to 25. That group went from 6 percent testing positive to 19 percent in 2014.
The full study is expected to be released in September.
Regional road work
Around the region, road construction and maintenance work will continue to create traffic restrictions.
Ruby Street, the northbound leg of U.S. Highway 2, will have lane restrictions at Indiana Avenue and North River Drive for installation of handicap sidewalk ramps.
Southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 195 from Interstate 90 to Excelsior Road are still under repair with single-lane traffic at construction locations. In addition, the stretch of highway undergoing the work now has a 45 mph speed limit.
Repaving work on Trent Avenue from Sullivan Road to the Idaho state line is still causing traffic restrictions from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning. Pilot cars are guiding alternating lines of vehicles.
Pavement maintenance is also causing delays on Mt. Spokane Park Drive east of Bruce Road with pilot vehicles guiding alternating traffic.
Shoulder sweeping on I-90 from Sunset Hill to Barker Road will cause lane restrictions this week.
Also, maintenance is underway on I-90 bridges near the Medical Lake interchange, causing the freeway to be reduced to a single lane in each direction.
On Spokane city streets, the intersection of Wall Street and Main Avenue is closed today for paving and should reopen by Tuesday.
The closure involves Main from Post to Howard streets and the northbound lane of Post at Riverside Avenue.
Wall Street from Main to Spokane Falls Boulevard remains closed.
Among the more recent projects, Rowan Avenue is closed from Driscoll Boulevard to Alberta Street until October for reconstruction.
Around the Valley
In Spokane Valley, Argonne and Mullan roads have construction projects and traffic restrictions.
Mansfield Avenue between Pines and Houk roads is seeing lane restrictions with traffic controlled by flaggers at times during work on the street and utilities.
Montgomery Avenue from University to Dartmouth roads continues to have narrowed lanes.
The paving project on Trent Avenue extends to Sullivan Road, which also has lane reductions north of Wellesley Avenue.
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