January 8, 1998 in Washington Voices

City Asks Developers To Help Fund Road Expansion With Developers’ Donations, City Could Widen Indian Trail Road To Five Lanes Rather Than Following Its Current Plan Of Just Three Lanes

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Indian Trail area developers must decide by next Thursday whether they want to donate land and money to help the city widen Indian Trail Road to five lanes, or let the city to go ahead with its three-lane plan.

“It now appears to us that a three lane design will adequately accommodate the transportation needs of that area,” wrote Gale Olrich, acting director of city planning and engineering services, in a letter to the developers.

“Clearly a five lane arterial will benefit your proposed land uses,” Olrich wrote.

The notice was sent to developers Dave Black, Harlan Douglass, Joseph Delay, Rod Plese and Bill Tombari Jr. All own commercial or residential property along Indian Trail Road between Kathleen and Shawnee Avenue.

To widen the road to five lanes, the city requires developers to dedicate land, slope easements so retaining walls won’t be required, and a total cash contribution of about $580,000.

Without cooperation from developers, the city will move ahead with its plan to widen the road to just three lanes.

“That letter was a surprise to me, we already had an agreement with the city on widening it to five lanes,” says developer Rod Plese.

Plese said developers reached an agreement with the City of Spokane last spring.

“It was a done deal,” said Plese. “Then, all of sudden the city couldn’t get one of the landowners to agree and they lost their federal funding.

“Now they want to renegotiate all over again,” he said. “Now they are asking developers to give up land.”

Dick Raymond, design engineer for Indian Trail Road, said there were conversations with developers last spring about widening the road to five lanes. But, when the Interim Urban Growth Boundaries were drawn, the city traffic department reviewed the road plan and decided only three lanes were necessary.

Don Ramsey, city traffic engineer, said their studies show that the three lanes, with extra turn lanes at signalized intersections, will be adequate to handle full build-out of the Indian Trail area.

At full build-out, Ramsey said there will be a moderate amount of traffic on the road, about the same as there is now.

Developers will likely be required to widen the road at entrances to their developments when they build.

Dennis Beringer, city real estate manager, said the city had verbal agreements to buy land from Tombari, Black and Plese to widen the road to five lanes.

However, representatives for Douglass made demands in exchange for right-of-way that the city couldn’t meet, he said.

Douglass, who owns property on both sides of Indian Trail, filed a lawsuit against the city last year claiming the design of the five lane road would prevent access and reduce the value of his land.

Without the last piece of right-of-way, the city ran out of time and the federal funding was lost.

“If they (developers) want the five lanes, then they will need to cooperate,” said Beringer.

Plese said the road widening is long overdue.

“The City of Spokane is years behind on this thing. They have to do something for the people out here,” said Plese. “Instead, it’s been one hurdle after another.

“We should have had a five lane road out there in 1985. Why are we doing just enough to get us by now? We need to think beyond five years, we should be planning for 2008,” said Plese.

“Whoever wants five lanes should help pay for it,” Raymond said.

Developer Leif Sorenson is in the process of developing the 300-home McCarroll East subdivision on the east side of Indian Trail.

Three years ago, the city hearing examiner approved the project, contingent on funding being available to widen Indian Trail Road to four lanes.

Sorenson has already agreed to contribute $721 per house to the city for road and intersection improvements and isn’t being asked to contribute more.

“Sure, three lanes could work, but five lanes would be a lot better,” said Sorenson. “Right now you can’t get on the road in the morning and evening.

“If they are going through the trouble and expense of widening the road to three lanes, why not go all the way, look at it long range, and widen it to five?

“Spend a little and make it a lot better,” he said. “It’s to everybody’s benefit to do it right in the first place,” he said.

“Residents out here worked so hard to delay construction until the road was widened,” said Sorenson.

The Indian Trail Neighborhood Plan, adopted by the City Council two years ago, calls for widening the road to four lanes with a wide outer lane on one side for bikes. It also mentions a landscape strip, and a sidewalk or soft path for pedestrians.

The Indian Trail neighborhood council is expected to discuss the widening project at their regular meeting next week.

“Three lanes will inconvenience residents. We’ll have to wait in traffic line while each developer tears up the road again to construct their individual sections,” said Denise Arnold, chairman of the neighborhood transportation committee.

“On the other hand, having three lanes might also slow development,” said Arnold.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: NEIGHBORS INVITED The North Indian Trail Neighborhood Council meets next Thursday at Woodridge Elementary school on Shawnee Avenue from 7 to 9 p.m.

This sidebar appeared with the story: NEIGHBORS INVITED The North Indian Trail Neighborhood Council meets next Thursday at Woodridge Elementary school on Shawnee Avenue from 7 to 9 p.m.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email