Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Getting There: There are more places to park than you probably think

Parking motorists of Spokane, some facts that may surprise you:

There are 36,819 parking spots in the core of Spokane.

Parking occupies 30 percent of the city core, which includes downtown, the University District, the Gonzaga University area and around the hospitals to the south.

About 85 percent of the parking spots are in privately owned off-street lots or garages, leaving just 15 percent on the curb.

Of the 5,378 curbside, on-street parking spots, 30 percent are free or unregulated.

At peak use, about 56 percent of spots are occupied, which means at the absolute busiest times of day, there are still more than 16,000 parking spots available.

About 30 percent of commercial loading zones are occupied illegally at any given time.

There are at least 13 ways people can pay for parking, leading to a “confusing and challenging” experience for motorists.

The average cost of off-street parking is $2.65 per hour, while on-street parking runs about $1.19 per hour.

Diamond Parking manages more parking spaces than the city of Spokane.

The city collects $2.3 million a year in coin transactions from parking meters.

From 2005 to 2027, the city has paid and will pay between $1.4 million and $2.3 million a year to pay off debt from the city’s 2005 settlement related to the River Park Square garage controversy. River Park Square is owned by subsidiaries of the Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

The city of Boise has seven publicly owned and managed parking garages with 3,395 parking spots.

Spokane has no publicly owned garages.

There are about 250 million vehicles in the U.S., and upward of 850 million parking spaces nationwide.

Nearly 99 percent of automobile trips do not pay for parking directly.

American motorists spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for a parking spot, which equates to $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel and vehicle emissions.

It takes an average of eight minutes for motorists to find a spot in American downtowns, and 30 percent of city core congestion is caused by drivers cruising and searching for a parking spot.

A horse ring is still attached to the granite curb near the intersection of Main Avenue and Stevens Street in downtown Spokane, a remnant of Spokane’s past – before the personal automobile – when parking meant making sure the horse wouldn’t run off while you went to the apple store, to buy real apples.

Most of these statistics come from a study done by Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, of San Francisco. The company is in the midst of creating a new parking plan and strategy for the city by February 2019, which will be the first major review of the city’s parking system since 2011.

Other numbers are from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the National Household Travel Survey, Seattle-based transportation consultant Inrix, budget documents from the city of Spokane, and Spokane Historical.

Trent Avenue roundabout open

The roundabout on Trent Avenue opened last week with little fanfare.

The roundabout at Perry Street and Iron Bridge Way will act as the eastern end of Martin Luther King Jr. Way when the road is completed. When the road will be open is still unclear, due to disagreement between the city and the owner of Brown Building Materials about the road’s route through the store’s parking lot.

City officials anticipate MLK Way being done in October.

Costco roundabout flows

Some readers have reported a bit of confusion at the new roundabout north of Spokane near the new Costco on U.S. Highway 2.

At the Thursday lunch hour, however, traffic seemed to be flowing well. Only a few motorists seemed stricken with indecision. The others slowed and yielded to vehicles in the roundabout, and merging was smooth.

But once again, back by popular demand, here are the rules and ways of roundabouts:

  • Slow down and select the correct lane before entering the roundabout. If you’re turning left, get in the left lane. If you’re headed right, keep to the right lane. If you’re going straight, either lane will do.
  • Yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Wait for a gap, then enter the correct lane.
  • Use turn signals when exiting the roundabout. Drivers exiting from the left lane should be aware of other vehicles in the right lane, all of which are exiting, and use caution.
  • Yield to any pedestrians who might be crossing the road when exiting the roundabout.

State seeks input

The Washington State Transportation Commission has released an official draft of the “Washington Transportation Plan – 2040 and Beyond,” and is seeking public input.

The document explores the fast-changing landscape of transportation, which includes the electrification of vehicles, autonomous vehicles, ride-sharing and the push by transportation planners to crack congestion by developing a diversity of choices for commuters.

It also looks at the resiliency of the state’s transportation system in the face of extreme weather events and natural disasters, such as earthquakes. Finally, it examines the pressing question of how the state will pay for its expansive and aging system.

“We’re dealing with some big issues that are going to affect all of us in some way,” said Transportation Commission Chairman Jerry Litt in a statement. “Transportation affects every aspect of our daily lives. There are some hard choices in front of us and we need to make smart, informed decisions.”

The plan is the guiding document for the state’s transportation plans, and will help shepherd investments in local streets and roadways, state highways, transit, ferries, sidewalks, bike lanes, air, barge and rail. It also makes sure the state’s transportation policy addresses six “statutorily mandated” transportation goals: promoting economic vitality, mobility, safety, preservation, environmental health and stewardship.

View the draft plan at

East Trent repaving

Washington State Department of Transportation crews are repaving Trent Avenue from Perry Street to Mission Avenue. The grind and overlay project is part of the $20 million project to replace the decrepit East Trent Bridge, which is slated to begin in 2019.

Sunset Boulevard getting face-lift

Major work renovating Sunset Boulevard has reduced the road to one lane in each direction from Royal to Lindeke streets. The $2.5 million project will update the pavement surface by grinding the existing pavement down and overlaying it with new asphalt. When complete, the road will be reconfigured with three lanes. Two will be for traffic going uphill, and one for downhill. A new bike lane will be installed on the south side of the road.

Medical Lake work continues

Maintenance on about 6 miles of state Route 902 between Medical Lake and exit 272 on Interstate 90 is continuing.

The $1.8 million project consists of grinding an existing layer of asphalt on the road and resurfacing with hot mix asphalt. A roundabout will be constructed at the S.R. 902 and Craig Road intersection. Motorists should expect delays and one-lane, two-traffic control with flaggers from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In the Valley

Pines Road has been reduced to one lane in each direction through Aug. 20 to make its intersection with Grace Avenue safer. Grace is closed at the west end of the Grace-Pines intersection.

Mission Avenue between Flora and Barker roads will be closed around the clock with posted detours for street improvement work. It is expected to be completed Oct. 31.

New trail pavement

A new section of multiuse trail, which was paved this week, will act as a connector between the Centennial Trail in Spokane’s University District and the Ben Burr Trail in the East Central neighborhood. It runs along the south bank of the Spokane River under the Hamilton Street bridge.

Editor’s note: This article was changed on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 to correct information related to the River Park Square parking garage settlement.