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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Getting There: Tallying the transportation tab

Traffic rolls westbound on I-90 Tuesday, July 11, 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Traffic rolls westbound on I-90 Tuesday, July 11, 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

How much does transportation cost you?

Not just for personal expenses, like fuel, insurance, parking, maintenance and other incidentals. But altogether, for pavement, new bridges, transit lines and the rest?

Turns out, a lot. Not as much as housing by any stretch of the imagination. But take a look.

First, a disclaimer. It’s tough, probably impossible, to accurately tally how much each of us spends on transportation. Government funding is a complex beast, and it’s never a pay-as-you-go, pay-what-you-use approach. All of us contribute to a pot for the roads we all share. They’re a public benefit owned by everyone, much like the National Park System. Except we drive on them, beat them up, fight over them and complain all the time about how insufficient they are. But they’re ours and we love (or loathe) them.

Also, this isn’t meant to give an accurate rendering of what each of us pays, but a better understanding of what is spent on getting us around.

With that, hold tight to your wallet and read on.

First, if your family is anything like the average American family, you spend about 20 percent of your household income on transportation, according to the Federal Highway Administration. For a family earning the median household income in Spokane, that amounts to nearly $9,000 a year. That’s about $3,600 per person, since the average number of people per household in Spokane is about 2.5.

That’s a lot, but there’s more.

In 2014, federal, state and local governments spent $165 billion to build highways. Just highways. If every person in the country paid an equal amount, including children and the elderly, each one of us would’ve paid $517.89 for highway construction in one year.

In 2017, the city of Spokane estimates it will spend $9.7 million on streets, paid for by the 2004 street bond. It will spend an additional $43.9 million from the arterial street fund, revenue specifically for street operations and repair and maintenance needs, that is separate from the city’s general fund. The street fund is paid for in part by the voter-approved levy in 2014. The city will also spend $10,000 on paths and trails. That’s a total of nearly $53.6 million. Or $248.14 per person.

This spring, the state Legislature appropriated $8.5 billion in transportation funding over the next two years. So in a year, roughly, the state will spend about $4.2 billion dollars. That’s $568.74 per person.

According to Spokane Community Indicators, Spokane County’s expenditures in 2015 were $97 per capita for the maintenance and operation of roads in the county.

The Spokane Transit Authority estimates it will spend $69 million this year on operating expenses. About $10 million of that is covered by fares, and the rest is almost completely raised through sales tax. Not counting what the fares cover, that’s $120.24 per person.

Putting it all together, each person in Spokane – young, old, rich or poor – is accountable for $5,152.01 per year when it comes to transportation. Maybe sticking with horses and dirt roads would’ve been cheaper.

Got a transportation question you want answered? Write nickd@spokesman.com.

In the city

After two years of construction, 37th Avenue between Regal and Custer streets in Spokane is done. The $4.8 million project rebuilt the road, curbs and sidewalks, and added bike lanes and a 36-inch water main. It was funded through federal and state grants and loans for transportation, clean drinking water and utility upgrades.

Crestline loses lanes

Crestline Street between Euclid and Francis avenues will be permanently reduced to one lane in either direction. The conversion from four lanes to two lanes along the 2-mile stretch will include lane re-striping and sign installation. The $510,000 project is funded by a Washington state Department of Transportation traffic safety grant.

North Monroe improvements

Monroe Street from Francis Avenue to Wall Street is being improved with new crosswalks and pedestrian refuge islands. An existing crosswalk near Weile Avenue is being relocated to near Eastmont Way for better visibility.

The road surface will be improved through grind and overlay and traffic signals will be reconstructed. Stormwater infrastructure will be updated with catch basins and piping to deliver stormwater to new storm gardens, or bio-infiltration swales.

Bike paths will also be installed at the intersection of Wall and Monroe.

Street facelift

Grind and overlay projects are continuing on Assembly Street from Rowan to Francis avenues, and on Garland Avenue from Howard to Nevada streets. The work will remove the top layer of pavement and replace it with new layer.

New sidewalks

New pedestrian infrastructure is coming to the areas near Regal and Bemiss elementary schools and Shaw Middle School in north Spokane. Crews are working at the intersections of Regal and Rich, Garland and Cook, Empire and Stone and then proceeding on Stone from Empire to Bridgeport.

This $565,000 project includes new sidewalks, bumpouts, disabled-accessible curb ramps, storm drainage upgrades, pavement replacement and signage.

North Spokane Corridor work continues

The Washington state Department of Transportation has closed Marietta Avenue from Ralph to Greene streets for North Spokane Corridor work. The intersections are not affected.

Extra DUI patrols through holiday weekend

In Spokane, Whitman, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties, local law enforcement agencies will be canvassing the roadways in search of impaired drivers.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, impaired drivers were involved in incidents that resulted in 277 deaths and 371 serious injuries in 2016.

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