I had the pleasure of hanging out in the small town of Fairfield this past Saturday for their annual Flag Day celebration. I had a table in the vendor area at the event, to talk to people about our Metropolitan Transportation  Plan, Horizon 2040.

My secret weapon was this child-sized transportation system rug. It sucked the kids in and while they were playing, it left the parents with little to do besides talk to me. Diabolical, I know. But effective.

I got a good variety of input and thoughts too. It was a nice cross section of folks who live in Fairfield and provided perspective on small town transportation issues, people who travelled there for the day from Spokane and even a gentleman from the west side who said even he believes Eastern Washington gets overlooked when it comes to transportation funding.

Here’s a sampling of what I heard:

  • Toll the North Spokane Corridor to help pay to complete it.
  • Many of the smaller towns ‘fix’ their own transportation issues. For instance, if a large pothole develops, someone will generally use their own equipment to fill it and tamp it down.
  • Most people in Fairfield and the surrounding small towns commute to Spokane for jobs.
  • Teach kids in Drivers Ed about how to share the road with semis. I talked to a couple truck drivers who said their main problem is other drivers speeding up to pass them, then cutting in front of them and throwing on their brakes. It’s not easy for a semi to stop under those conditions.
  • Get rid of the split speed limit that says semis need to go five miles per hour slower than other traffic. This causes a bottleneck which can create dangerous situations.
  • Start a shuttle from Spokane through all the small towns as a kind of public transit.
  • The intersection on Highway 27 where you turn to go to Rockford needs a dedicated turn lane. People come around the corner and sometimes there is a big backup because someone is waiting to turn to go to Rockford. This is an accident waiting to happen.
  • Where 195 merges onto I90 put a dedicated through lane from south to east to reduce safety issues caused by cars trying to merge with freeway traffic.
  • Don’t put any more money towards studying lightrail. Instead use it to study how to create a transporter like on Star Trek.
Yes, I actually did get that last comment. It came from two gentlemen whom I suspect had been in the beer garden before talking to me. And apparently there is fun rivalry between Fairfield and Rockford. I pointed out that in the movie Space Balls, a spoof on Star Wars and Star Trek, a haywire transporter put one character’s head on backwords. One of those guys suggested we practice on Rockford residents in that case and the other said, “That would put their heads on right.”
Now I guess I have to go to Rockford to get their side of the story. 
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