transportation

Washington State Department of Transportation

Drivers in Eastern Washington are likely to see plowing delays during snow events this winter due to staff shortages at the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The delays will likely be concentrated on more rural roads, but the entire region may experience delays during heavy snow events, said Washington State Department of Transportation’s Eastern Region Administrator Michael Gribner.

Rebecca White/SPR

 The Spokane Transit Authority could start capping bus fares to the cost of a daily, or monthly pass by this time next year.

The fare capping system is apart of a larger set of changes designed to reduce cash payments at bus stops and improve equity.

Brandon Rapez-Betty, the communication and customer service director at the Spokane Transit Authority, said fare capping will allow customers to swipe a card, or an app on their phone every time they ride the bus.

Spokane Transit Authority

Spokane’s rapid transit bus project, the City Line, was scheduled to launch in May. Supply chain issues triggered by the pandemic will push the start date back to 2023.

The City Line is designed to operate more like a street care than a traditional bus route. A key component of that plan is new bus stations.

Brandon Rapez-Betty, the director of communications for the Spokane Transit Authority, said the agency needs about 2,000 linear feet of tube steel to build the bus stops along the route.

That material isn’t currently available due to supply chain issues.

CREDIT COURTESY OF SRTC

Washington State is receiving more than $47 million in American Rescue Plan funding for public transit infrastructure projects, which includes one project in Eastern Washington and five in Western Washington.

According to a news release Friday from the Department of Transportation, the projects include $5.8 million for the Central City Line Bus Rapid Transit project in Spokane.

Spokane Transit is offering free rides to people who need help getting to a Covid vaccination appointment.

The agency says, from now until June 12, it will offer door-to-door rides as an incentive with a second free ride a few weeks later if the vaccine recipient receives a dose of Pfizer or Moderna.

People who take advantage of this will ride on S-T-A’s paratransit vans. The agency says up to three passengers will be aboard, sitting at least six feet apart. Passengers must wear masks while onboard.

Fully Electric Bus Unveiled in Spokane

Mar 18, 2021
Courtesy of SRTC

The Spokane Transit Authority has unveiled a 60-foot electric bus that might remind people of the city's defunct street car system.

“It’s meant to operate like a streetcar in other cities,” Brandon Rapez Betty of Spokane Transit said. “It’s so much more affordable and it’s a lot more flexible to accommodate our downtown events like Bloomsday and Hoopfest.”

He said the bus was also designed to invoke the image of a train, with a dark front fading to lilac. He said it’s much quieter than the diesel engines most of the current buses have, and releases zero emissions.

Courtesy of Spokane Transit

Spokane Transit Authority is getting a $23 million lifeline in the form of emergency funding from the federal government for funding lost from the Covid virus.

 

The money from Congress was authorized under the Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security Act and it comes at a good time.

Spokane Transit has suspended bus fares temporarily while the county deals with restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus.

The agency’s ridership is way down in this ‘stay-at-home’ time. Passenger numbers are about a third of normal. The number of people riding the paratransit vans is one-fifth of normal.

Permanent Offense

Washington initiative sponsor Tim Eyman is back with another ballot issue this year and once again it deals with car license fees.

Eyman is proposing Initiative 976, which would, once again, lower the annual vehicle fee to $30.

Wheelchair Rider Embarks on Cross-State Trip

Aug 13, 2018
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A Port Angeles, Washington man who is advocating for more and safer open-road options for disabled travelers has begun a cross-state journey.

Ian Mackay began his trip in his motorized wheelchair in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on Sunday. He traveled the Centennial Trail to Spokane and then left for Davenport this morning [Monday].

Regional transportation agencies are hopeful talk from the White House about making major infrastructure improvements will allow them to tackle some big projects.

The Washington State Transportation Commission is looking for drivers to participate in a program that might help determine what could replace the state’s gasoline tax.

With the increase in alternative fuel vehicles, like electric and hybrid, and a tendency for modern machines to get better gas mileage, state officials are looking for ways to make sure state revenues for roads don’t diminish as less gasoline is sold in the state, and less money comes in from the state’s gas tax.

The Little Engines Could - If They Get the Money

Jul 30, 2015
Railroad, Jay Inslee
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

Like many of Washington State's roads and bridges, most of the state's short line railroads are in bad shape - plagued with tottering bridges, deteriorating road beds and rails that are too light to support increasingly heavy loads.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will sign a new two-year budget into law Tuesday, just in time to avert a partial government shutdown.

Washington’s gas tax would go up nearly 12 cents per gallon to fund road projects under a deal struck between Democrats and Republicans.

Odd Pricing is Normal for Gasoline

May 21, 2015

If you walked into a supermarket and found milk priced by the gallon at $3.46 plus 9/10ths-cent, you'd be astonished. But at the gasoline station next door, you think nothing of seeing fuel priced with 9/10ths of a penny at the end.

A wide majority of the Washington Legislature voted to raise the maximum speed limit from 70 to 75 miles per hour.

Another piece of a marathon North Idaho highway improvement project should be completed by next fall. For about 15 years now, Idaho transportation department planners have been trying to straighten and widen US 95 between Coeur d'Alene and Lewiston.

Idaho’s long stretches of open highway could be testing grounds for driverless cars under a bill the state Senate passed Thursday.

Spokane Wants Seat At Tesoro Terminal Discussion

Mar 2, 2015

Tesoro Savage wants to ship crude oil from the Port of Vancouver, Washington, which the city has come out against. Now, the city of Spokane wants in on the conversation. Last Friday Spokane Mayor David Condon filed an intervention petition with site evaluators in the state. The Energy Facility Sight Evaluation Council (EFSEC) coordinates the licensing for facilities like power plants and shipping terminals.

STA bus stop
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

Spokane Transit Authority will be asking voters to approve a sales tax increase in April to help fund an ambitious series of transit improvements. The STA “Moving Forward” plan calls for 28 new projects. Among them, new high performance lines with more frequency that will serve Cheney, a central-city line to Spokane Community College, 75 new passenger shelters, a West Plains Transit Center to serve Airway Heights and Medical Lake, and buses operating later in the evening.

STA CEO Susan Meyer says they did some intense surveying of the public to come up with the plan.

Upstart BC Port May Swamp Puget Sound Ports

Dec 15, 2014

The people who manage Washington's major ports and highway systems see a growing threat to their import business - a tiny port far to the north in British Columbia. Asian shippers have learned the fastest route to move their goods to the U-S midwest and east coast is the rapidly growing port of Prince Rupert in northern BC.

Failing Old Bridges to be Torn Out and Replaced

Dec 15, 2014

A couple of shaky old deteriorating bridges in Spokane County will be torn out and replaced. Good news for drivers, but it means the dilapidated old spans are among the worst in the state. Under a state-managed part of a federal highway bridge program, the Ritchey Road bridge over Deep Creek and the Monroe Road bridge over Dragoon Creek will both be replaced.

Replacement of the Ritchey Road bridge should cost about $1.5 million; the Monroe Road structure about $1.2 million.

Another business has chosen to relocate to the facilities at Spokane International Airport. Aero Flite Inc is a company that operates and maintains air tankers used to battle forest fires. The company will be moving its operations to the industrial park adjacent to the airport, and occupy a 30 thousand square foot hanger and 25 thousand square foot business office.

It’s the latest addition to the airports 7000 acres. SIA spokesman Todd Woodard explains the reason behind the company relocating here.

Town Officials Mull the Cost of Quiet Trains

Nov 18, 2014
oil train
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

A tale of sound and fury is playing out in Sandpoint Idaho - the sound coming from the blare of train horns - the fury, from irate residents whose nerves are frayed and jangled. Two major rail lines run cheek by jowl through Sandpoint because of the funneling effect imposed by topography. And the number of trains rumbling through town is increasing - meaning the ear-shattering sound of train horns is increasing as well - night and day.

Transit Expert Gets Spokane Leaders Moving

Nov 11, 2014

Transportation officials in Spokane want other community leaders on board with expanding public transit. So, on Monday the Spokane Transit Authority held a leadership summit on their 10 year plan “STA Moving Forward”.

STA brought in Jarrett Walker of Jarrett Walker and Associates, who was a consultant for Spokane transportation plans in the 1990’s. Walker says the future of transit in Spokane hinges on the balance of funding for urban and non-urban routes.

Ideas Sought for State-Owned Railroad

Oct 27, 2014

The State of Washington is asking eastern Washingtonians to do some brainstorming about how to run its railroad. The state Department of Transportation is not just about roads and bridges and traffic cameras.

Since 2007, the state has owned nearly 300 miles of track in eastern Washington, most of it sloughed off by big railroads as they consolidated and got rid of unprofitable branches. But the lines were important to grain growers - thousands of them - to get their crops to market.

oil train
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday said state and federal governments need to take swift action to prevent and respond to oil spills, and prevent oil train explosions. One rail carrier says it is working to ensure that oil trains are safe.

Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

Railroad officials say they want to eliminate a bottleneck for rail traffic in the Inland Northwest. They have plans to build a second railway bridge in Northern Idaho. Scenic Sandpoint, Idaho is situated adjacent to Lake Pend Oreille. Currently there is one railroad bridge crossing the lake and heading into Sandpoint, but BNSF says the time has come to build a second adjacent bridge.

Gus Melonas: “We're looking at fifty trains a day and they funnel through this area on the bridge, and if there is an issue with this bridge, that means trains back up in both directions.”

Military Radar Touted for Wildlife Safety

Sep 15, 2014

A Boise high-tech company thinks it can help solve an old, low-tech problem - road collisions between vehicles and wildlife. The Sloan Security Technologies Company is talking with Idaho Transportation Department and Blaine County officials about installing mobile animal radar detection systems on a bad stretch of highway near Ketchum.

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