September 1, 1995 in Nation/World

Judge Rejects Lincoln Street Bridge Lawsuit One Of Two Legal Challenges To Project Dismissed

By The Spokesman-Review

The controversial Lincoln Street bridge moved closer to crossing the Spokane River on Thursday when a judge dismissed one of two legal challenges to the project.

Superior Court Judge James Murphy threw out attorney Stephen K. Eugster’s claims that the city had failed to adequately address the project’s environmental impacts.

“The court said the city had fully complied with” the state environmental protection act, said Stan Schwartz, an assistant city attorney.

“This is a significant decision relating to the Lincoln Street bridge project and the ability of the city to move forward,” Schwartz said.

Eugster could not be reached for comment.

Building the bridge could change downtown dramatically, making way for more green space, changing traffic patterns and setting the stage for redevelopment projects such as River Park Square, city officials say.

“It’s a critically important issue that will eliminate lots of problems, including permitting alterations in traffic,” said a beaming James Sloane, the city attorney.

Eugster also is challenging the use of park property for the project, and that issue should be decided before year’s end, Schwartz said.

Irv Reed, the city’s director of planning services, said he hopes to begin design of the $23 million bridge immediately. Construction would take all of 1996, with completion “optimistically” set for 1997.

Federal taxpayers will pay about 80 percent of the project’s cost, with the remaining 20 percent coming from local and state taxpayers.

Plans call for the bridge to align with Lincoln Street, carrying northbound traffic to the Sinto Avenue area. Long-range plans call for running the street up Wall and Post to Francis, with Monroe carrying southbound traffic.

The Lincoln Street bridge would replace the aging Post Street bridge, which would be removed.

The Post Street bridge was built near the turn of the century, and its curves never were meant to handle today’s traffic, Schwartz said.

Critics of the plan say the new bridge would destroy the beauty of Spokane Falls. Proponents say it would ease growing north-south traffic congestion.

Eugster has three other lawsuits pending against the city.

Those suits include a challenge to the use of federal money for a downtown redevelopment project, the way taxes are levied in the downtown parking and business improvement area and the siting of the regional compost plant.

, DataTimes

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