Arrow-right Camera
News >  Features >  Washington Voices

Lawsuit Payoff Helps Fund Street Improvements For Towns

Millwood will get new sidewalks, but taxpayers won’t pay for the entire project.

Rockford officials are considering a similar plan. New street lights, along with repairs to existing ones, are a possibility in Fairfield.

All three Spokane Valley towns plan to help fund those projects with the $5,000 each is receiving as part of a payout to cities and towns around the state with less than 5,000 people.

The money is part of $112 million paid to Washington and four other states by oil companies accused of price fixing during the gasoline shortage of the mid-1970s.

Fifteen states joined the federal lawsuit against Chevron, Texaco, Arco and Exxon when it was filed in 1977. All but Washington, California, Oregon and Arizona dropped out before the oil companies settled in 1994.

Washington’s share of the settlement was $13.5 million.

Giving some of the money to small cities and towns was an idea Spokane County residents came up with during one of four public meetings held around the state last spring, said Larry Roediger, state Department of Transportation grant manager.

“Each city will decide on their own how to use the money,” Roediger said. “But we specifically said it had to be used for transportation safety improvements.”

Among the suggestions the Department of Transportation made were increasing the number of traffic signs, painting stripes along roads and adding street and traffic lights, crosswalks and sidewalks.

Millwood officials decided the community would benefit most by using the money to help fund the planned repair and replacement of sidewalks west of Argonne Road between Liberty and Euclid avenues, said Eva Colomb, town clerk.

“A lot of them have been pitched up by tree roots,” Colomb said.

The cracking and dislodged portions of sidewalk are scheduled for repair sometime next spring. While the state money will not pay for the entire project, it will help soften the blow.

That’s also the case in Rockford, where the town council will consider spending its share of the money on building sidewalks from the middle of town to the ball park, said Carrie Roecks, town clerk.

Rockford officials would have to seek additional state grant money to build the sidewalks, Roecks said.

“Sidewalks are expensive,” Colomb said. “Every little bit helps.

In Fairfield, town officials also appreciated the money, which will most likely pay for new street lights or the repair of old ones.

“We’re a small town,” said town clerk Donna McLean. “We don’t get a whole lot of fuel tax money. Our street fund is always hurting.”

, DataTimes

Tags: finance