Spokane County jobs recovery in charts, recovery remains weak

This chart comes from the Calculated Risk blog and shows the impact of the Great Recession on U.S. non-farm jobs, compared to other recessions.  As of today, the US has recovered almost all of the jobs lost (see red line) and by the next update, next week, will likely have recovered 100% of the jobs lost.

EmployRecFeb2014

Spokane County has recovered just under half of the jobs that were lost. The Great Recession began in November of 2007. This chart shows non-farm jobs from January 2008 to the present.

Spokane County’s job recovery is very weak relative to the nation as a whole.

SMS53440600000000001_265454_1396052338773The chart comes from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Spokane Propaganda-style never goes stale!

The Pacific Northwest Qualifier Volleyball Tournament will host 603 teams at the Spokane Convention Center.”

But actually:

The teams play at one of three sites in the greater Spokane area: Spokane Convention Center, Eastern Washington University, and the HUB in the Valley

The logos of all three locations are prominent here. Don’t bring your own food to the Convention Center because apparently that’s dangerous; the other two venues allow you to bring your own food.

As reported here previously, the 2007 economic study attributed all of the economic benefits to the Convention Center.

“The annual PNW Volleyball tournament took place in 2012 at  Eastern Washington University, Liberty Lake HUB Sports Center and at the Convention Center. But the CH Johnson study (Table A-19, page 19) appears to attribute 100% of the 2007 Volleyball PNW economic impacts to the Convention Center and none to other venues. That does not seem right.”

But its right and proper when you use Spokane Propaganda-style to hide the decline in attendance. The last time the Spokesman-Review accurately reported on declining Convention Center attendance was back in 2005.

This story is obviously off limits. But apparently media’s shredding of their own credibility is not off limits, since that is what they are doing. Too bad.

This is not about whether the event is good or not (obviously its good!) or whether having the Convention Center in town is good or bad. This is about hiding the decline in attendance from the people of Spokane while repeatedly expanding the facilities. The most direct and honest objective measure of management success is – attendance – which is in a long term decline. But don’t tell anyone! Keep this a deep secret please!

 

Spokane Memorial Arena Attendance

Here’s the chart and the rest of the story at the link. All data comes from public domain sources including Eastern Washington University.

chart_2

Here’s the propaganda spin in the Spokesman-Review because, you know, this is Spokane.  Attendance trends are only hinted at in a single sentence near the end of the story where they write “Average attendance from 2008-2012 was just over 700,000 people, peaking in 2010 at 879,813“, giving the impression that attendance is growing, which is false. Nothing in the story disputes that attendance remains down over the long term in spite of numerous facility upgrades.

Patrick Jones of EWU says there may be higher spending than in 2010.   He must be hypothesizing per person spending has gone up (likely). But compare the 2010 attendance peak with 2012.  The writer appears to have taken this quote out of context to give the impression that the Arena is bringing in more money than in 2010 – but with one third fewer attendees. Since the Chiefs and Shock account for about 364,000 fans per year (more than half of the 2012 attendance), and they attract a mostly local crowd, this means locals account for a larger percentage of attendance than in 2010 during the national skating event. And that means less outside money is coming to town. Local money is mostly re-arranging spending from one local place to another.

We also see the drop in out of town visitors in the airport’s passenger usage trend – note the local peaks in 2007 and 2010 (Dec and Jan now show year over year increases and the recent trend may have bottomed):

2013NovSIA

The SR’s story reinforces a major point of this blog – distortion and exaggeration remain alive and well!

We were about to make some posts about the Spokesman-Review recently descending into propaganda mode, but they just made the point for us!  The SR scored their “own goal” by scoring a point for the other team :) Hilariously funny. 

The end of the story hints at what’s coming: the Arena is 18 years old and the PFD will need taxpayers to build an even bigger arena in spite of declining attendance. This propaganda piece is battle space preparation.

Can you guess which two years are the only years for which Arena economic impact studies were done? This is really hard but try to guess :)

Update: Like yesterday, a clarification based on feedback. This is not about whether there should be an Arena, or whether it is good for Spokane, or about taxpayer funding. This post is about:

  • Why is the decline in attendance at the Arena and other PFD facilities deliberately hidden from the public by the local press? (Today’s news story confirms this is deliberately hidden.)
  • What steps are management taking to reverse the attendance decline?

State legislature votes to defund Spokane-based Innovate Washington

Innovate Washington is the successor to SIRTI. It was largely defunded last year but continues on in a zombie state.

The House voted unanimously to end Innovate Washington by June of 2015. The Senate already voted in favor of a similar measure so presumably the differences between the two bills now get ironed out and finalized.

This blog has written extensively about SIRTI, its history, and its Board structure that had become disconnected from its mission du jour. SIRTI then evolved to become Innovate Washington and thence Zombie Innovate Washington.

Update: The Legislature has approved the shut down of the Spokane-based Innovate Washington agency effective June 2015 and the Governor signed the legislation. By law, Innovate Washington will be shut down.  The building IW partially occupies will be turned over to WSU-Spokane.

Spokane County employment data

Not Adjusted raw data and chart

Data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics

NotAdjChart

NotAdjData

Seasonally Adjusted data and chart

AdjChart

AdjData

Non-Farm Employment remains at about the 2005-2006 level with slow growth whether we use raw data or adjusted data. In the first chart, above, the 2nd peak for 2013 remains below the first peak. This lower second peak has been an indicator of a slowing job market in Spokane County in the past. We will not know if this is the case until much later in 2014 and perhaps it only indicates a temporary slowdown.

Spokane Transit Authority squandered taxpayer money on expensive buses

STA chose to buy hybrid buses in 2007-2009 to reduce costs. This decision apparently failed to deliver the cost reductions and here is why.

December 10, 2007:

STA probably won’t recoup the $211,000 price difference between each hybrid and its fully diesel counterpart unless fuel prices increase dramatically over the expected 15-year life of each hybrid.

March 24, 2009:

The acquisition of new buses, including the hybrids, will reduce ongoing maintenance costs for older buses as well as save on fuel costs.

December 9, 2009:

The 29-foot coaches from Gillig Corp., of Hayward, Calif., will get better fuel mileage and have reduced maintenance costs. The savings should offset their additional purchase price over the life of the buses.

How did that cost reduction work out?

March 10, 2014

The agency opted not to continue purchases of Gillig electric hybrid buses based on overall costs.

The STA bet on a high rate of gas price increases:

At today’s diesel prices [2007], each hybrid will save $90,000 in fuel costs over 12 years, Meyer said. If prices go up 80 cents per gallon, that savings would be $128,000.

Here is the fuel price forecast made by the Federal  Transit Agency in the year 2007:

The price of fuel in 2007 dollars is predicted to drop substantially over the next 12 years according to the AEO forecast

What actually happened with Diesel gas prices (chart from U.S. Energy Information Administration):

DieselPrices

Actual price change over the period is essentially zero.  We do not know if the hybrid buses achieved their claimed mileage or maintenance advantage.  STA acknowledges their overall costs were too high. Seattle found many hybrid buses had worse gas mileage than the diesels they replaced. Spokane’s probably did too as they were similar to the buses tested by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory which found worse gas mileage on the diesel hybrids than expected.

What the Federal Transit Agency determined as life cycle costs of diesel, hybrid and other bus technologies, as of 2007:

BusComparisonCosts

Per the Federal Transit Agency, hybrid buses always cost more to acquire, maintain and use (as of 2007 when the STA made their decision). The FTA points out that without subsidies from other taxpayers, expensive buses do not make financial sense.

The STA bet on higher gas prices and squandered taxpayer money. The data and research available in 2007 when the STA began its hybrid program all indicated higher costs for choosing the hybrid buses.

The hybrid choice was a bad management decision.

Now they want to buy expensive electric buses made in China because, you know, Spokane has money to burn! May be the electrics are good, may be not. May be they have invisible benefits that we can imagine make them a better deal. But can we trust STA to make the right decision?

Spokane institutions have serious management problems that are never addressed.

Sort of like the PFD‘s poor management that led to a steady decline in facility usage since 2000. In spite of taxpayers funding every expansion the PFD asked for and promises to deliver more visitors, more jobs and more attendance.

And may be Spokane’s media problems too: how are those news reports on the 13 year decline in PFD usage coming along Spokane media? Oh, dead silence.

Spokane retains its “Scam Capital of America” title

Read the in depth article by Daniel Walters at the Inlander. This comment is insightful:

Then Hansen gives Spokane the exact beats of flattery it yearns to hear

via The Wizard of Spokane | News | The Pacific Northwest Inlander | News, Politics, Music, Calendar, Events in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and the Inland Northwest.

That comment about the community’s desperately sought after flattery explains much – including the frequent exaggerations and lies told to promote Spokane. Flimflam goes far in Spokane, a city full of the gullible. The “Scam Capital of America” title will not be lost without a fight!

The community of Spokane has defined itself as the city of liars,  the gullible and authoritative sexual predators and institutional coverups. What a sad state of affairs. What an incredibly sick city.

Update: Good grief. This story just keeps going deeper and deeper. Daniel Walters is probably the most thorough and dedicated reporter in Spokane.

Spokane Public Market closing

Emphasis added:

“The market fell victim to a stagnant economy affecting vendor booth participants, public [and] municipal funding and customer traffic and can no longer operate due to existing financial burdens,”

via Spokane Public Market closing | KREM.com Spokane.

Updates 

The region’s sluggish economy kept business from growing and the parking outside the entrance is a paid lot. Older customers shied away because of a high number of transients in the area,…

via Spokane Public Market to Close Amid Flagging Sales

The Myth of SIRTI may finally come to an end

This column nails it – very well said: The Myth of SIRTI | Comment | The Pacific Northwest Inlander 

It [SIRTI] was always about a sales pitch. I recall one meeting when a former EWU president announced the latest “innovative” idea: It “promised” to create a new “high-tech” (it always had to be “high-tech”) company that in, say, five years would generate (pick a number) in revenue and (pick a number) new jobs. No evidence, just numbers, seemingly pulled out of a hat.

We’ve written a lot about SIRTI on this blog. Take a look. Shutting down this former funding gatekeeper would be a good thing. As a former Board member said, SIRTI did more to hinder economic growth than anything else.

December 2013 Employment Update for Spokane County

Data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics

BLS Seasonally adjusted non-farm employment. Overall seasonally adjusted non-farm employment is at about year 2005 levels. The down trend in the past couple of months is of some concern – see next chart and commentary, below.

BSL-SeasonallyAdjusted

BLS Not Seasonally Adjusted non-farm employment. 2013 finishes the year with the 2nd employment peak falling slightly below the first peak (the last column shows 4 “peaks” as the column includes 2012 and 2013). As noted previously – the 2nd peak is usually greater than the first peak when job growth is continuing. When the 2nd peak is lower than the first peak, the local job market is shrinking. You can see this in the chart below for 2001, and 2008-2009. The pattern is similar to the 2001 downturn.  Is this signaling a possible regional recession? Far too early to tell but we should keep a close watch on this.

BLSNotSeasonallyAdjusted

Here’s a chart that highlights the double peak and downturns in 2001 and possible downturn signaled in 2013 – the downturn of 2008-2009 does not need a highlight!

BLSNotSeasonallyAdjusted

 

Update March 2014. The BLS has updated its data and charts through January 2014. They revised their previous data and now show a slight increase in the rightmost peak, and that is good news.  Looking at recent peaks, job growth remains quite weak.

We are now in the annual cyclical downturn, with unemployment at 8.7%. Which is super high by historical standards.

BLS Chart non-farm, not-seasonally adjusted, through January 2014:

SMU53440600000000001_175822_1395892598541

Troubling Indicator for Spokane Job Market

Chart showing total non-farm jobs in the Spokane County MSA, not seasonally adjusted – from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BLSNotAdjusted2

Spokane’s job market has two employment peaks every year. During periods of growth, the 2nd peak is higher than the 1st peak. During declines, the 2nd peak is lower than the 1st peak.

Look to the right of the chart - 2013 is the first time since 2008 when the 2nd peak has declined from the 1st, signaling a possible downturn in Spokane employment.

Compare this to the State of Washington (from WA State Employment and Security Department) showing a steady trend of continued growth.

ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_TotalNonFarmEmploymentSeries1_UltraChart1_72

After the data is “seasonally adjusted”, the BLS produces this chart. Note the sharp drop off at the right edge of this chart, as if the local job market is crashing. That is a sharper drop off than occurred at any time except the first 3 months of 2009.

BLSAdjusted

The sharp downturn coincides with the latest expansion of the Spokane Public Facilities District’s (PFD) Convention Center.

Hopefully this trend will not continue in 2014 but it will be many months – perhaps the end of the year – before we know how this will turn out.

Action items

  • If you are thinking of moving out of Spokane in 2014, get your home on the market early this year.
  • If you are thinking of moving to Spokane, make sure you have a solid source of long term employment or income lined up before you arrive.

Spokane “Startup Weekend” November 15-17

“Startup Weekend” is coming to McKinstry Innovation Center Nov 15-17 | LaunchPad INW.

LaunchPad News – Celebrate Local Startups

LaunchPad, Connect Northwest and Startup Weekend Spokane present a free event for entrepreneurs, startups and anyone interested in learning more about the emerging startup scene.

We are celebrating the Top 25 Startups for a hang out at a cool location with one of the best downtown views: The 3rd Floor Coworking Center and Courtyard at the Seahorn Building in Steam Plant Square, 157 S Lincoln. The event goes from 5:30pm-8:30pm.LaunchPad, Connect Northwest and Startup Weekend Spokane present a free event for entrepreneurs, startups and anyone interested in learning more about the emerging startup scene.

[They left out the date but their Facebook page says it is set for October 2nd...X]

We are celebrating the Top 25 Startups for a hang out at a cool location with one of the best downtown views: The 3rd Floor Coworking Center and Courtyard at the Seahorn Building in Steam Plant Square, 157 S Lincoln. The event goes from 5:30pm-8:30pm.

Attendees will:

-Meet founders and representatives from top local startups

-Learn more about the upcoming Startup Weekend Spokane

-Get an update from past Startup Weekend winners and participants

-Connect with local service providers supporting the growing Startup Ecosystem

Appetizers, Beer and Wine served. See you there!

RSVP via Facebook or email to paul@launchpadinw.com

via LaunchPad News.

WSU’s Spokane Real Estate Report

The WSU Washington Center for Real Estate Research issues a quarterly report on real estate in areas in Washington.

The following quotes on general economic conditions are from the summary for the Spokane Kootenai area for the Spring 2013 report. Conditions may have changed since the Spring report. Their general thoughts on the Spokane economy are glum, at best, unfortunately.

  • Possibly seeing a net out migration of residents
  • Total employed is less than in 2006 – we should have 15,000 to 20,000 more jobs today.
  • Per capita income is about where it was in 2007.
  • Taxable retail sales trending around 2006 levels.

Link: The Real Estate Report – Spokane Kootenai Real Estate Research Committee. Quotes from the report:

DRIVER LICENSE SURRENDERS
The data makes a case for little change in migration to the county. There is certainly no increase of in-migration. Other data would indicate that out-migration has picked up. This sensitive indicator bears watching.
LABOR FORCE
The labor force is the same size as 2007. Total employment is 4 thousand less than the 2006 annual average. While there are kernels of positive results in the employment picture, the reality is that there should be 15 to 20 thousand more people working in this market.
PER CAPITA INCOME
Through 2011, real per capita personal income was less than the 2007 total. Projections for 2012 and 2013 would indicate some improvement. Projections by Global Insight indicate that total Personal Income is now over $18 billion and may approach $20 billion by 2015. Transfer payments from the Federal Government are still a big factor for the County (23%).
TAXABLE SALES DATA
Nice turnaround in 2012 but still below 2006 total. Contracting sales are running at 75% of peak. The County needs at least $280 million in new construction activity.

Washington State July unemployment rate increases slightly

The statewide unemployment rate increased slightly to 6.9%.

So far, Washington has recovered about eighty-three percent of the jobs lost during the recession.

via July unemployment rate inclines slightly, while jobs continue to climb.

While the State recovered 83% of jobs lost, Spokane County has recovered just 36% of jobs lost.

Data from WA ESD June employment table:

  • Lowest June employment during downturn was 206,100, highest June reading reached previously was 221,400.
  • A total of 15,300 jobs were lost between the highest June and the lowest June employment levels.
  • As of June 2013, there are 211,600 jobs for a gain of 5,500 since the lowest point. This represents a recovery of 36% (5,500 / 15,300) of the jobs lost.

Spokane County job growth is just under half that of Washington state.  No explanation has been offered as to why that is happening.

Spokane Home Price Index – relative home prices over time

“The House Price Index (HPI) shows changes in Spokane, WA single family home prices in logarithmic scale. The March, 1995 index value equals 100.  Updated Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Real estate forecasts, analysis, statistics and appreciation rates are provided below.”

Spokane Real Estate Market – Home Price Forecast | LittleBigHomes. (The web site does not define the source of home prices – we assume this is average home price whereas realtors and local news often use median home prices.)

Here are historical year over year appreciation rates for Spokane, from the above web site:

1983      4.83%
1984      19.24%
1985      -2.69%
1986      2.69%
1987      -2.76%
1988      2.44%
1989      6.85%
1990      12.55%
1991      9.13%
1992      10.89%
1993      9.06%
1994      3.75%
1995      5.72%
1996      -0.08%
1997      1.77%
1998      2.22%
1999      -0.57%
2000      1.81%
2001      4.54%
2002      3.40%
2003      3.90%
2004      11.09%
2005      19.17%
2006      13.15%
2007      5.87%
2008      -2.64%
2009      -6.61%
2010      -3.40%
2011      -5.58%
2012      -1.50%

2013 July Year over Year is -2.4% while 2013 cumulative versus 2012 is +1.7%.

Local news report uses an odd headline: “Spokane home sales have ‘recovered dramatically’ – Spokesman.com – Aug. 9, 2013″ based on unit sales up while pricing is down Year over Year for the month and barely up for the full YoY comparison.

Here is a comparison of Spokane versus Seattle, side by side, Spokane on the left, Seattle on the right.  These indices are a logarithmic scale, both adjusted to a 100-level index, and should be used only to compare relative price growth, not actual prices. Horizontal tick marks are five year periods. A steeper curve means higher or faster price appreciation. Original charts slightly different in vertical height and re-scaled to be equal in size.

Spokane                                                                                        Seattle

seattle-wa-december-1

What this shows is that Spokane home prices appreciate much slower than in Seattle (and we could find similar comparisons to other major cities).

This means moving to Spokane (or any slow growth economic area) can become an unexpected one-way ticket.

If someone sells a home in a metro area, moves to and buys a home in Spokane  (or any slow growing area), they will find that if they move back to the metro area, home prices at their destination will have risen much faster than those in Spokane.  Because of this, a move to Spokane can become an unintended one-way ticket as Spokane sellers’ equity gains do not keep up with the destination market home price appreciation.

If that does not make sense, consider an example.

Read more of this post

Spokane’s Potemkin Village Marketing Program

Years ago some one told me the Spokane Visitors Bureau put together a special map to avoid showing key visitors the run down appearance of much of Spokane. I thought he was joking.

He wasn’t joking – the map is for real and it’s called “Spokane City Drive“. The map weaves a path around the problems, potholes and empty buildings:

“We’re really concentrating, though, on how we pick the routes that we take them,” Kilday said. “Because there are days that traffic or construction or potholes all play a part into what we’re showing a meeting planner.”

Spokane develops strategy to sell itself to big conventions | KREM.com Spokane.

In the future they will show off the heated pedestrian/bike bridge as the centerpiece of Spokane’s economic prosperity and city of the future!

Because the link to the VisitSpokane’s City Drive map sure as hell goes no where (its’a dead link – ain’t our marketing grand?)

“Spokane housing market thriving so far”

Like totally booming! Spokane housing market thriving so far – Spokesman.com – July 4, 2013.

Let’s play “Let’s look at the data!”

2013SpoRealEstate

Source: Trulia.com for Spokane (city) only.

Sales are back to year 2000 levels and the median sale prices is back to 2005 levels! Break out the champagne! The market is “thriving” for sure!!!!!

The following data is available up through 2010 – by 2010, Spokane County was experiencing a net outward migration (more people moving out than moving in). Data comes from Forbes magazine “American Immigration” interactive online database.

2010MovingToFromSpokaneInset

Chart of industry sector growth (or loss) in Spokane County

This chart shows industry sector growth (or loss) in Spokane County, from 1990 to the present, with each sector presented as a percent of total employment.

The most notable items are that over approximately a quarter century, the growth sectors in Spokane are government (red line) and health care (blue line, at top), followed by “professional and business services”.  The goods producing sector (manufacturing and construction) has fallen considerably. Other major categories are flat to slightly down over this period.

This chart displays sectors as a percentage of total non-farm employment in Spokane County in order to show the change in sector size, over time, and independent of the change in population.

Bottom line:  The growth sectors in Spokane County are health care, government and transfer (mostly government) payments to individuals and the broad “professional and business services” category (see below). The combination of healthcare, government and transfer payment income accounts for about half of the personal income in Spokane County.

UPDATE: This post has been updated. The original chart inadvertently left out the “professional and business services” sector.

image002

All data comes from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

What is the “Professional and Business Services” category?

It is a broadly defined category of workers ranging from those we think of as professionals to lower skilled jobs including waste management and security guards. About half the workers in this broad category are high skilled and about half are low skilled workers. See bold faced number of workers, below (data from Washington’s ESD for Q3 2012).

The sector comprises three groups with the Spokane number shown next to each in bold.

  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: NAICS 54 (8,964 workers)
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises: NAICS 55 (3,064 workers)
  • Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: NAICS 56 (10,633 workers)

Historical data for the individual groups does not appear to be readily available so we do not know which of these groups are showing growth in jobs. The wages in the third and largest category are broadly about half or less than the wages in the first two categories.

This grouping also includes “Call Centers”, relatively low skilled, low wage jobs – a category that has grown strongly as GSI has extensively recruited call centers for Spokane. This suggests that the growth of this category may be weighted towards the low wage sector and not the higher paid, high skilled sector contained within the broad “Professional and Business Services” sector (I have not yet found official data to answer this question, though).

The definitions here are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector comprises establishments that specialize in performing professional, scientific, and technical activities for others. These activities require a high degree of expertise and training. The establishments in this sector specialize according to expertise and provide these services to clients in a variety of industries and, in some cases, to households. Activities performed include: legal advice and representation; accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services; architectural, engineering, and specialized design services; computer services; consulting services; research services; advertising services; photographic services; translation and interpretation services; veterinary services; and other professional, scientific, and technical services.

The Management of Companies and Enterprises sector comprises (1) establishments that hold the securities of (or other equity interests in) companies and enterprises for the purpose of owning a controlling interest or influencing management decisions or (2) establishments (except government establishments) that administer, oversee, and manage establishments of the company or enterprise and that normally undertake the strategic or organizational planning and decision making role of the company or enterprise. Establishments that administer, oversee, and manage may hold the securities of the company or enterprise. Establishments in this sector perform essential activities that are often undertaken, in-house, by establishments in many sectors of the economy. By consolidating the performance of these activities of the enterprise at one establishment, economies of scale are achieved.

The Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services sector comprises establishments performing routine support activities for the day-to-day operations of other organizations. These essential activities are often undertaken in-house by establishments in many sectors of the economy. The establishments in this sector specialize in one or more of these support activities and provide these services to clients in a variety of industries and, in some cases, to households. Activities performed include: office administration, hiring and placing of personnel, document preparation and similar clerical services, solicitation, collection, security and surveillance services, cleaning, and waste disposal services.

University District Pedestrian Bicycle Bridge

Cost is presently estimated at $14 to $16 million (the $16 m is in a document I received in email) for the University District Pedestrian Bicycle Bridge.  Three years ago, promoters sold this project saying the “bridge may cost up to $8 million” – but carefully leaving out the other associated expenses.

In three years, the price tag has doubled. 

Similar pedestrian bridges elsewhere cost in the $1/2 million to $4 million range.

To give that price context here are the costs of other bridges:

  • Replacement of the older half of the 339 foot Argonne Road Bridge over the Spokane River – $6 million (in 2004).
  • Rebuilding the Barker Road Bridge -$11.8 million
  • Replacing the west half of the Sullivan Road double wide automobile bridge spanning the Spokane River - $19.7 million.
  • Cost of temporary Interstate 5 Skagit River bridge replacement – $15.6 million.

Does $16 million seem appropriate for a pedestrian/bike bridge that will have diminished use in the coldest months of the year?

Update: As someone who likes to ride a bike, I support the concept. But a bike bridge costing $16 million, more than most automobile bridges in the area, is not supportable.

Update: Proponents defend the bridge expense by arguing its not just a bridge – its a $16 million municipal art project creating an icon that will make Spokane nationally and even globally famous. Students will choose to attend WSU-Spokane because of the bridge, they argue. It’s not just a bike bridge, its not just an art project, its a marketing program! Gag. See the comments to this for additional information.

Update July 9: There is a popular meme that the University District has a fast growing student population. However, the data that is available shows the combined student enrollment at GU and WSU-Spokane is flat to slightly downwards over the prior five years. This claim of a fast growing group of students is not true.

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