Outdoors

Spokane’s High Drive project to be unveiled

After public criticism of initial proposals sent them back to the drawing board, city of Spokane engineers are ready to present a new plan for the $6.8 million High Drive street project.

The project, scheduled for construction next year, affects homeowners along High Drive from 29th Avenue to Hatch Road.

It also impacts a larger crowd: sweethearts who stroll along the road for the sunset views, hikers, cyclists, dog walkers and runners who flock to the 25-mile trail system along the South Hill bluff.

The city will unveil the revised design in an open-house meeting on Thursday, 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., at the new Jefferson Elementary School, 123 E. 37th Ave.

High Drive is the last of the major street improvement projects designated in the $110 million street bond approved by voters in 2004, said Jan Quintrall, the city’s director of business and development services.

She said enough money is left over from the major projects to fund smaller street improvements in each of the City Council districts.

The High Drive project is funded by $2.9 million from the street bond for repaving plus $3.9 million from various grants and outside sources to include curbs, sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping, a water main replacement, improvements to storm drainage and other features.

Proposed changes to parking and access to the bluff trails fueled much of the criticism toward the three early proposals.

“The free money from grants came with guidelines, and pretty soon there were additional features coming at the cost of what’s really needed,” said John Schram, a member of the Comstock Neighborhood Council and board member for Friends of the Bluff.

“Basically, there was too little road and too many ideas. A showcase project’s goal should not be an excuse for overdesign with an 8-foot sidewalk and 3-foot planting strip that eliminates close to 80 percent of the parking.”

Plans for a sidewalk on both sides of the road have been scaled back to just one side, Quintrall said, noting one of many changes the redesigned project includes in response to public opinion.

Bike lanes are planned for both sides of the street.

Early plans would have forced most of the parking away from the bluff, requiring people to cross High Drive with their dogs, strollers and bikes when they came to recreate, Schram said.

Although details won’t be revealed until Thursday, an overview by city engineers says, “Parking will be available, plentiful and nonintrusive.”


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Rich Landers

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