Idea #10: Attract additional flights at Spokane International Airport

Spokane International Airport serves three million passengers yearly, but a majority of these passengers are routed through hubs like Seattle, Denver, and Las Vegas. (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

As a blog focused on solutions, #spokanerising is committed to developing ideas to help develop Spokane into a top-tier urban-designed, thriving, vibrant city of the same class as Portland or Seattle. Whether or not you agree with his politics, this dovetails nicely with Mayor David Condon’s stated goal of transforming our city into one of “choice.”

Yesterday, KXLY reported on their Facebook page that Delta would be adding seasonal flights to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International AirportToday, we suggest that the Spokane Airport Board and the Spokane City Council prioritize adding new domestic nonstop flights at Spokane International Airport.

While the Spokane market is indeed well-served by the combination of Alaska/Horizon shuttle flights to Seattle and the vast array of international and domestic flights available from there, it would behoove local government officials to look for ways to stimulate or subsidize additional nonstop flights to in-demand locations. Having a good number of domestic flights correlates with strong local business activity and economic growth. One can imagine the possibilities. Currently, a large number of barriers prevent companies from locating in Spokane. But new flights could eliminate some of these. For example, add nonstop flights to San Jose (which is closer than Oakland or San Francisco to Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook) and suddenly a world of technology investment becomes more possible. Add additional flights to Houston or Atlanta (the current Delta plan only adds one weekly Saturday flight) and international destinations become more in reach.

Somewhat arbitrarily, we believe that the region’s top priorities for increased air service should include the following:

  1. The conversion of seasonal service to Minneapolis and Chicago to full-time service.
  2. The addition of service to Dallas, Houston, and/or Atlanta.
  3. The addition of service to San Jose.
  4. The exploration of additional service to Los Angeles.
  5. The exploration of service to Canadian cities like Vancouver and Edmonton.
  6. The exploration of service restoration to Reno/Tahoe.

What about you? What’s on your wishlist for destinations? Where should Spokane International Airport be focusing its energy?

How to (temporarily) fix the empty lot at 3rd and Division

3rd and Division has sat empty, dilapidated, and decaying for more than five years. We might have a temporary solution. (PHOTO: Google Street View)
3rd and Division has sat empty, dilapidated, and decaying for more than five years since the Best Western Peppertree Inn proposal was abandoned. We might have a temporary solution. (PHOTO: Google Street View)

You heard it here first, folks: 3rd and Division is officially the worst intersection in Spokane. No, it doesn’t have the ruts and crumbling asphalt of High Drive and Grand Boulevard, but it does have an empty lot with extremely unsightly rebar and concrete, remnants of an abandoned low-rise hotel project which will be the subject of a future If It Had Happened post.

City leaders have repeatedly tried to entice developers to this site, starting with the original owners, who are presumed to have finally sold the lot in the spring of 2013. Naturally, 3rd and Division serve as a gateway to Spokane and the south end of the Division Street Gateway project, so it’s not surprising that the City is attempting to get more involved. But despite this interest, the site still sits, languishing further by the day. Literally nothing has been done to improve it in the interim, despite the fact that an extremely small investment could result in a much more pleasant intersection.

Here’s our short term solution: erect a temporary construction fence and set local artists loose. What do we mean? Check out some examples and a call to action after the break. We want to make this actually happen.

Continue reading “How to (temporarily) fix the empty lot at 3rd and Division”

Idea #8: A Dedicated HOV/Transit Lane on Division

(PHOTO: Greater Greater Washington)

Today we get specific in our run-down of our ideas for the greater Spokane area. We envision a dedicated HOV/Transit Lane on Division Street from downtown to the “Y” or even beyond. Such a lane could be implemented to improve traffic flow, lower emissions, and decrease commute times. With a virtual sea of lanes already in existence on Division, and with many vehicles carrying two or more passengers, the conversion of one lane could make a world of difference.

In other cities, such as Sunnyvale, CA and other areas of the Silicon Valley, similar HOV/Transit Lanes have been implemented in the right-most lane, with right-turns permitted from that lane. Other places implement the dedicated lanes in the left-most lane, targeting the facility toward commuters who must travel long distances on that street.

Either way, we suggest that an HOV/Transit lane be fully studied in order to determine the possibilities that it could offer in terms of reducing and calming traffic.

What do you think? Could an HOV/Transit lane make a difference in combatting traffic? Would it be beneficial to study this idea further? Would syncing the lights on Division be a better use of dollars? Let us know in the comments and in social media on Facebook and Twitter. We want to hear from you!

Link Spokane: An Integrated Approach to Planning

PHOTO: The Inlander

In 2014, the Spokane Comprehensive Plan, essentially the guiding document for all development that takes place in the city, will be extensively revised. As part of this major initiative, the City has unveiled Link Spokane, the integrated transportation and utility component of the Comprehensive Plan, in a surprisingly well-produced brochure.

The plan makes note of various “best practices” in comprehensive transportation and utilities planning, even citing such case studies as the Crestline project, which took place during the summer and fall of 2013. That project brought a new road surface, 36-inch water main, and various utilities and stormwater improvements and enhancements as part of the City of Spokane’s new integrative approach to investment.

In addition, the document addresses plans for transit enhancements, from bus rapid transit (which we oppose as a sole solution) to streetcars. Interestingly, it does not address the need for a major region-wide transit improvement like light rail, which was narrowly rejected by voters in 2006 in an advisory vote and has not since gotten much attention from groups outside of InlandRail. Still, light rail as a concept remains exceptionally tantalizing, especially given studies that show that bus rapid transit and other “non-fixed” transit modes result in less transit-oriented development than similar fixed modes, such as light rail, heavy rail, and rapid transit. Unfortunately, it seems that short-sightedness within the revised Comprehensive Plan will again rule the day.

To voice your concerns and express your support for regional light rail and city-wide transit and transportation investment as part of a holistic Comprehensive Plan, you can attend one of several drop-in community workshops.

  • Tuesday, February 4 from 4:00p-6:30p at the NorthTown Mall Division Street Entrance (Level 1)
  • Wednesday, February 5 from 12:00p-6:30p at Southside Christian Church (2934 E 27th Ave)
  • Friday, February 7 from 11:30a-6:30p at River Park Square on the Lakes

In addition, on Thursday, February 6 from 6:00p-7:00p, you can watch live on CityCable5 and call-in to voice your concerns.

We are a growing Spokane, and we deserve a transit system that understands these realities. It’s time for transportation investment that recognizes the potential that exists when bus rapid transit, light rail, streetcars, electric trolley buses, traditional buses, and all other modes work together. It’s time for us to build a better Spokane.

Shame on you, KHQ

A recognizable voice takes on a hostile inflection. Provocative questions are raised as questions appear on-screen. “More state funding is needed…but at what cost? And why does Spokane need this when STA routes are already in place?”

Barring the fallacious nature of that question (Who or what gives KHQ the authority to say that STA has sufficient route coverage? Isn’t that for STA and urban planners to decide?), it is clear the KHQ has overstepped its bounds with the promotion of this story. The role of the news media is to inform the public; not inform the public opinion. By taking a clearly anti-trolleybus stance in the run-up to Thursday, the station has chosen to pass judgment and deliberately influence the opinions of citizens. But their role as a news agency is not to tell viewers what is right or wrong. It is to tell viewers, clearly and precisely, the news. And only the news. Their job is to report, not to reflect.

Now, even if their main story finds that the trolleybus proposal is a good one that should be funded, a majority of their viewers, who do not watch KHQ Local News but do turn in for NBC primetime, will be under the impression that the plan is a bad one that should be tossed out. Simply because the promotional said as much.

We decry this shoddy communications tactic, and urge KHQ to make a full apology, post-haste. If you respect responsible journalism and envision a greater transportation future for Spokane than simply road improvements, we urge you to visit KHQ’s Facebook Page and leave a note in support of transit alternatives and opposing their ridiculous ad. And don’t forget to watch the story on Thursday and tell them what you think. The local media should not take sides in these critical debates about our city’s future. They should report the news. Only the news.

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Idea #2: Complete the Centennial Trail. For real this time.

It’s time to complete the Centennial Trail. That means that we need to fill in the gaps. And not just some of them. We should fill in all of the gaps and completely separate pedestrian and bicyclist traffic from motorists, even in Spokane proper. The resulting Class I trail would span nearly 70 miles across two states, one of the longest and most widely-used urban trails in the United States.

Idea #1: Green Bike Lanes

It’s time for green bike lanes to hit Spokane. While the city has been making great strides toward increased uses for pedestrians and bicyclists alike, each step forward has been marked by a half-step backwards; for example, Second Avenue was reconstructed without a bike lane, despite master planning documents stating that one was to be included. Regardless, green bike lanes would better demarcate the lane for cyclists and further reduce traffic speed.