A local planning commissioner examines a map of the area.

Every four years, SRTC is required by the federal government to update our long-range transportation plan, Horizon 2040. The plan was accepted by the SRTC Board in 2013, so we will be updating it in 2017. Before that though, SRTC staff is trying to get an idea on what has changed locally in the past four years, such as new trends (self-driving cars, electric vehicle highways, etc.), planning methods, land use ideas and rules, and more. We are doing this by sitting down with members of the public in a series of “roundtable” discussions with various groups.

Yesterday we met with members of local plan commissions, including the Liberty Lake, Millwood and Spokane County commissions, and heard some pretty interesting things. Here is a sample of what we heard:

  • There are more single-family households than households with children in Spokane County now. One plan commissioner pointed out the houses on the market today are too big for single people.
  • In 1976, Spokane County had the largest percentage of single-family homes in the country (which means there were few multi-family homes such as apartments).
  • Oil prices in 1950 were the same as in 2000.
  • Make STA bus rides free. A half-full bus costs just as much to run as a full bus.
  • At $300 million, a light rail line isn’t such a crazy idea when you consider what it will cost to complete the North Spokane Corridor ($1.5 billion total).
  • We should be moving oil via pipeline rather than train.
  • The North Spokane Corridor (NSC) is going to bring industry and all the vacant land along it will fill up.
  • The NSC would have been built years ago but there was a “Stop the Corridor” coalition in the 1960s that didn’t want the freeway because it feared it would split the Gonzaga neighborhood and cause economic hardship, similar to what happened in the East Central neighborhood as a result of the construction of Interstate 90.
  • I90 was constructed so that the off-ramps would force people into downtown rather than away from it.
  • Southeast Boulevard was originally planned to connect to a bridge that would go over I90.
  • Downtown is hopping at night now, where it didn’t used to be.
  • Why not combine Fairchild Air Force Base and Spokane International Airport since SIA controls all the air space anyway?

More roundtables will be held throughout the summer and fall and we will present what we learned to the SRTC Board in approximately November. After that, the information will be used to shape the update to Horizon 2040 as we get to work on it in early 2017.

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