March 6, 1997

County To Widen 57th From Perry To Palouse

By The Spokesman-Review


Spokane County’s road engineers are planning to widen 57th Avenue, the main east-west route along the southern fringe of the city.

County engineers said they recently received word that the project is eligible for $2 million in federal money to improve arterial streets. The county will add another $500,000.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 1998, after the county acquires right of way and completes design.

Currently, 57th Avenue averages 24 feet in width along the proposed route of the improvements, said Wally Pharness of the county Public Works Department.

In many places the street has narrow shoulders and no sidewalks.

Under the proposal, 57th would be widened to 62 feet, including sidewalks, between Perry and the Palouse Highway. It would remain a two-lane arterial.

Two 12-foot travel lanes would run on either side of a left-turn lane in the middle of the street.

On the outside of the vehicle lanes, the county would stripe two 4-foot-wide bicycle paths in each direction. Curbs and sidewalks would be installed.

Gary Nelson, plans and contracts engineer, said the street currently carries an average traffic load of 12,000 vehicles a day.

“That’s heavy for a two-lane road,” he said.

A lot of walkers, cyclists and joggers use the street now even though it isn’t wide enough for them to be safe, he said.

Some parts of 57th are bumpy and pitted because its construction dates back to a time when the road served a largely rural area.

In other sections the pavement has been improved where city sewers have been installed over the years.

County officials are now surveying the property to be widened to determine how much right of way needs to be purchased.

Landowners who have developed their property in recent years have granted wider street easements in exchange for development rights.

However, the county for the most part will need to buy street right of way on property where no development has taken place, Pharness said.

No buildings are in the line of the widening, so that should help keep down the cost of property purchases, he said.

, DataTimes

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