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Relief For Clogged I-90 Artery First Phase Of $17 Million Spokane Valley Project Begins In Spring

Thu., Nov. 13, 1997

FROM FOR THE RECORD (Friday, November 14, 1997): Correction An article in Thursday’s newspaper incorrectly stated the estimated total cost for an Interstate 90 widening project in the Spokane Valley. The correct estimated cost in $59 million.

No more complaining about those bottleneck traffic jams on Interstate 90 in the Spokane Valley.

Starting next spring, the Washington state Department of Transportation will begin a $64 million project to widen I-90 into six lanes from the Custer Road pedestrian crosswalk west of the Sprague Avenue exit to Argonne Road.

Construction will start in May on the first 1.5 miles, from the eastbound lanes at the pedestrian bridge to the end of the Broadway interchange.

The first phase, estimated to cost $17 million, is meant to relieve hair-pulling traffic that squeezes from three lanes into two at the Sprague exit and then turns into a crawl at rush hour.

In mid-June, the eastbound lanes of that stretch will be closed. The westbound lanes will be turned into four, narrow lanes heading both east and west. Construction on the first phase should be complete in the fall of 1999, then the westbound lanes will be widened.

“This area continues to grow,” regional administrator Jerry Lenzi told 64 people at a public hearing Wednesday evening.

Transportation officials used the hearing at Centennial Middle School in the Valley as a way to introduce the public to the next three years of construction on I-90.

Those plans include:

Continued work on the Sprague Avenue interchange, which will eventually connect to the Valley Couplet. A new westbound on-ramp to I-90 will be built, along with a bike lane that will travel in a tunnel under the interchange to First Avenue. Construction of the $25 million project will begin in 1999.

Turning the east and westbound lanes between Broadway and Argonne into six lanes. Construction should begin in the spring of 1999. The cost is estimated at $17 million.

Money for the rest of the project is awaiting approval from the state.

Few citizens asked to speak at the meeting, but some business owners on First Avenue said they were worried the new Sprague interchange would affect their business.

“It will increase my exposure, but it might increase traffic congestion,” said Sandy Lizotte, who owns L&L; RV Sales and Service with husband Steve at the corner of First and Dyer.

The Department of Transportation plans to trim about 3,000 square feet from her property for the redesign of the interchange.

Despite her worries, Lizotte said: “Spokane needs this. For the traffic overall.”

Transportation officials agree.

In the 1950s, the department designed I-90 through Spokane to hold 60,000 cars a day. Now, between 100,000 to 115,000 cars travel on the highway each day.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo Map: Interstate 90 widening


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