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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley grants include funding for signal at Trent Elementary

Spokane Valley officials said last week they’d received a grant to fund a new traffic light at Trent Elementary School.

The Washington Transportation Improvement Board approved money for the new signal at the increasingly busy intersection of Pines Road and Mirabeau Parkway. Trent Elementary, at 3303 N. Pines Road, is at the intersection.

The city said the signal will provide a safer crossing point for students going to and from the school, which is in the East Valley School District.

In addition, increasing numbers of commuter vehicles will be able to use the intersection more safely.

The new traffic light was one of three grant awards announced last week by Spokane Valley. The total state funding for the projects is $1.8 million out of a total estimated cost of $2.8 million.

In a second project, the city plans to build new sidewalks along Bowdish Road from Eighth to 12th avenues. On 11th Avenue, another new sidewalk will extend along the south side of the street from Bowdish to Wilbur Road.

This new pedestrian way will provide a safer route for children and parents at Opportunity Elementary School, 1109 S. Wilbur Road, in the Central Valley School District.

City officials said they hope having good sidewalks will encourage more students to walk to school.

The third project will provide new pavement and sidewalk curb ramps on McDonald Road from Eighth to Mission avenues.

The city already has received Transportation Improvement Board funding to convert McDonald from Sprague to Mission avenues into a three-lane road with bike lanes and a center turn lane.

Bike lanes are also planned for the stretch of McDonald from Sprague to 16th avenues.

In a news release, the city said, “The repaving will make McDonald Road safer to travel on for motorists and bicyclists. The new bike lanes will allow better access to the future Appleway Trail for bicyclists.”

Uber promotion targets partygoers

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission last week said it is partnering with Uber to get people home safely from bars and holiday parties.

Uber, the popular online ride service, is offering $20 discounts for riders making their first use of the service through promotion code RIDESAFEWA.

Extra enforcement patrols to stop impaired driving got underway in the region on Nov. 26 and will continue through New Year’s.

State funds rideshare programs

The Washington state Department of Transportation last week announced grants to support rideshare programs and other transportation alternatives in local communities.

In Spokane, the department awarded Frontier Behavioral Health $150,000 to support its care cars program.

In addition, $81,000 is going to fund a small bus for special mobility service from Davenport to Spokane and another $81,000 will replace a bus used for transportation in north Spokane County.

‘Secret Santa’ parking program

The city of Spokane for the second holiday season in a row is giving parking enforcement officers the option of randomly paying for free parking in the downtown area.

The free parking is given to drivers as they arrive at a parking spot and not for extending time on an expired meter. So when looking for a spot, watch for a nearby meter reader.

The “secret Santa” parking program runs through Dec. 31 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day except Sundays and Christmas Day, when parking is free.

Spokane eyes grant

Spokane city officials said they are thinking about joining a national competition for $50 million in funding for smart transportation improvements.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the competition last week in which one “smart city” will be selected for the money to show what kinds of innovations can help get people out of their cars and reduce carbon pollution.

Spokane has already embarked on a number of projects, including trails and bike lanes; traffic cameras and electronic reader boards; smart traffic signal systems; a proposed pedestrian bridge at the University District; improvements to the Spokane Transit Authority system; and a newly approved bicycle and pedestrian greenway on Cincinnati Street.

The federal government will award $40 million. The other $10 million is being put up by Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., which is dedicated to finding “smart solutions for some of the world’s biggest challenges,” according to the Vulcan website.

Barbara Bennett, Vulcan’s president and chief operating officer, said in a telephone news conference that automobiles account for 25 percent of U.S. carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.

She said the competition will encourage innovation to reduce the pollution, which is considered a major contributor to global warming.

“These kinds of programs can be very catalytic,” Bennett said.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said smart vehicle technology is just one component of a smart transportation plan.

He said a smart city might have better land-use planning, road electrification, intelligent transportation systems, urban transportation innovations and solutions derived from analytics.

Foxx said he wants transportation officials and communities to move beyond “20th-century thinking about technology and transportation.”

The winning city will be named in June.

Potholes are here

The early freeze this autumn followed by a period of mild rainy weather has given pothole season an early start.

Already, large potholes can be seen opening up around the Spokane area. Drivers should use caution to avoid them.

Leaf cleanup

In Spokane, the annual street leaf cleanup, which was delayed by the Nov. 17 windstorm, is now entering an important phase: clearing Browne’s Addition.

Because of the narrow streets, cars cannot park on north-south streets on Tuesday beginning at 9 a.m. On Wednesday, the cleanup moves to east-west streets.

Vehicle owners must make sure to get their vehicles off the streets to be cleaned or face having them towed.

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