Several ideas for easing traffic and improving air quality along the busy Hamilton Street corridor were presented to Logan-area residents Tuesday.
The study, compiled by the Spokane Regional Transportation Council, was requested by the city of Spokane in anticipation of a number of projects planned in the area.
“The city wanted us to take a look at this from a holistic point of view instead of one project at a time,” said Glenn Miles, SRTC transportation manager.
For the first phase of the study, 18 traffic scenarios along Hamilton, between North Foothills Boulevard and Trent Avenue, were analyzed using current traffic numbers.
The alternatives have now been narrowed to a half-dozen options.
They will be studied using projections based on growth management, Gonzaga University expansion, development at Riverpointe Higher Education Park, changes in bus routes and population increases.
The alternatives will be studied with and without the proposed Trent realignment.
Trent cuts through the 48-acre Riverpointe campus and administrators are pushing for it to be moved south before thousands of expected students arrive in the next decade.
One of the most popular alternatives presented Tuesday, diverted traffic from Hamilton, closing access from Second Avenue, and turning Second and Third into two-way streets. Capacity of the offramps at Division and Browne were also increased in the model.
‘This alternative is very beneficial to air quality,” said Eve Nelson, who researched pollution impacts of each alternative.
The study wasn’t expanded to research the impact on downtown or other north-south streets if traffic is diverted from Hamilton.
During a meeting last summer, neighbors asked traffic engineers to research ways to reduce conflicts between the neighborhood and cars. They want a more walkable neighborhood and cleaner air.
The SRTC team will meet with the neighborhood again this summer.
Other alternatives discussed included a “jug handle” scenario, where cars would be routed in a loop through neighborhood streets, to prevent left turns at Hamilton and Mission.
“The jug handle has no merit. It carries traffic past housing,” said Kathleen Stevens, co-chairwoman of the Logan Neighborhood Council.
Other alternatives included widening the street, adding turn lanes, or removing traffic signals. All of the alternatives would result in more air pollution.
Some less traditional ways of managing traffic were considered and rejected, including tollways and roundabouts.
Turning Hamilton into a tollway wouldn’t work because of the large number of access points.
Roundabouts, also called traffic circles, are used widely in Europe, and at a few locations in Spokane, including Browne’s Addition and on Glass Avenue in the North Hill neighborhood.
Roundabouts slow traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street, but are hazardous for bicyclists, said Don Ramsey, city traffic engineer.