The state Transportation Department has abandoned the idea of rerouting U.S. Highway 395 to Trail instead of Grand Forks, British Columbia.
That’s good news for residents of Williams Lake Road, near Colville. Dozens of them protested vigorously when the state announced last year it was considering rerouting the federal highway through their rural valley.
A draft 20-year plan, to be presented in public meetings starting today at Deer Park, recommends keeping the present route from Spokane to Grand Forks.
Williams Lake Road is a popular shortcut to Trail. It already carries more traffic than state Highway 25, which runs along the Columbia River north of Kettle Falls.
But Leonard Cash, regional Transportation Department planning engineer, said Grand Forks generates almost the same amount of traffic as Trail.
“There wasn’t a real compelling reason to make a change,” Cash said. “When we went into the thing, we kind of thought there would be.”
Increased traffic on Williams Lake Road could lead to its designation as a state highway. Traffic on the road could increase because of Stevens County’s plans to replace the Mill Creek bridge, removing load restrictions.
Cash said the department also may consider improvements to state Highway 25 to reduce the problem of landslides between Kettle Falls and Marcus.
Also, he said the department might consider improving the county’s Waneta Road from Northport to the Canadian border as a truck route to Trail. The 8-mile section of narrow, winding road is impassable to trucks, but the road on the Canadian side is relatively flat.
“Canada is very interested in that,” Cash said.
An improved road between Northport and the WanetaBoundary border crossing would allow trucks to avoid steep grades between the alternate FrontierPeterson crossing and Trail.
While the state’s draft study recommends keeping Highway 395 on its current route, a bypass of Deer Park and other improvements is proposed.
The four-lane Deer Park bypass would parallel the existing roadway a short distance to the west. A loop farther to the west was unacceptable to the community, Cash said.
The Deer Park bypass would be part of a recommended four-lane section from Spokane to Loon Lake. The draft report also calls for a four-lane section between Colville and Kettle Falls.
Other sections of the federal highway would continue to have only two lanes for the next 20 years, but turn lanes and similar improvements are recommended.
The draft report recommends consideration of a truck bypass on the west side of Colville as a “shortterm” improvement. The bypass might parallel the Burlington Northern railroad tracks, or it might use Washington Street.
xxxx Meeting today Transportation Department officials will answer questions about the report from 4 to 7 p.m. at three meetings. The first will be today at Deer Park High School; the second will be Wednesday at Colville Junior High School; and the third will be Thursday at the Chewelah Community Center next to City Hall.
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