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Rail Underpass Plan Insulated From City Vote Work On $10 Million Project Expected To Begin Next Month

Spokane County will complete work on the Argonne Road underpass regardless of the outcome of an incorporation vote, the county engineer said this week.

“That project is going to need to go ahead no matter what happens,” Ron Hormann said Wednesday.

The fate of other county road projects in the Valley isn’t so certain if residents vote to form their own city on May 16.

Construction on the $10 million underpass project is expected to begin next month.

The underpass is designed to allow traffic on Argonne to pass beneath the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks at the Trent intersection.

Right now, traffic delays are frequent at the intersection because nearly 30,000 cars and 60 trains per day travel through there.

Part of the intersection is within the boundaries of the proposed city of Spokane Valley.

If a new city is formed, the county could turn the project over to the new government.

Hormann said that’s not likely.

Because the design and other preliminary work is under way, and because of the complex nature of the project, it makes more sense for the county to see it through, he said.

“We may have to have contracts with the city to perform work in their jurisdiction or something like that, but I see us completing the work,” Hormann said.

That may not be the case with the replacement of the Harvard Road bridge or the formation of a road improvement district that would pave some roads in the area of Broadway and Fancher, he said.

The county is likely to leave those projects to the discretion of the new city should it form, Hormann said.

County plans call for replacing the Harvard Road bridge in 1996 and for creating the road improvement district later this year.

The fate of a commuter road in the southern portion of the Valley doesn’t look good regardless of what happens.

The South Valley Arterial, which county commissioners approved last year, is likely to be scuttled by the city or rescinded by commissioners Steve Hasson and Phil Harris after the incorporation vote.

Many in the incorporation movement oppose the road, which would stretch from the Sprague Avenue Interstate 90 interchange east to University Road.

So do both Hasson and Harris, who joined the commission after it voted 2-1 over Hasson’s objections to approve the road.

The two commissioners have said they will review that decision some time after May 16.