Spokane County won’t plow the two-mile-long road leading to the Spokane Valley Mall because the developer hasn’t completed all the work needed to qualify it as a county road.
But developer Raymond Hanson contends the county took over Indiana Avenue before the mall opened last August. He threatens to sue to recover any money he spends maintaining the four-lane road.
On Saturday, ice and snow caused a noninjury single-car accident on Indiana just west of the mall.
Fearing more accidents, the Washington State Patrol closed the road, which links the mall with both Sullivan and Pines roads, from 10 p.m. Saturday until about 9 a.m. Sunday.
Saturday’s accident could be the last the WSP investigates until road ownership is resolved.
“We don’t investigate accidents on private property unless it’s serious,” said WSP Sgt. Chris Powell. “The rules of the road don’t apply.”
Those rules include the 35 mph speed limit, which is posted on official county signs. Sheriff’s deputies were told Monday that until it becomes public, Indiana is off-limits to “self-initiated enforcement” such as radar speed traps, said Cpl. Jim Speaks.
“If there’s a crime, we’re going to respond,” said Speaks. “We have an obligation to the citizens of the county.”
Speed limit or not, drivers still can be cited for reckless driving and other infractions, he said.
Speaks said he didn’t know whether tickets his officers already have issued to speeders would stand up in court.
Dennis Scott, the county’s public works director, said the road built by Hanson Industries is safe. Otherwise, “we would not allow it to be opened,” he said.
The work that remains is relatively minor, including solving some drainage problems. But it’s county policy not to accept - or maintain - roads until all the work is completed, said Scott.
“If we start doing the maintenance, there’s no incentive for (developers) to start doing the work that needs to be done,” said Scott, who predicted the county and Hanson will reach an agreement making the road public by the end of the month.
However, Hanson’s response suggests that resolving the issue may be more difficult than Scott thinks.
“It was built on (county) property to their specifications” and adopted by the county in July, Hanson said.
Saturday’s closure didn’t affect stores at the mall, which had closed for the night. But people leaving “Titanic” and other movies had to wait in “a long conga line of cars,” said Kenya Williams, a manager at Act 3 Spokane Valley Theaters.
Hanson has hired a private contractor to plow the road, if necessary.
“We’ll bill the county” for any money paid the contractor, Hanson said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Who owns Indiana Avenue
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