August 6, 2007 in City

Smooth sailing on I-90

By The Spokesman-Review
 

It took two summers and $13 million, but the Interstate 90 viaduct through downtown Spokane is now open and as smooth as a baby’s rear.

OK, maybe not that smooth, but the deep ruts are gone and with them the wrinkles that have been furrowing commuters’ brows since construction began in May.

“We’re pretty thrilled by the quality of work. It’s a really smooth ride,” said Robert Blegen, a Washington State Department of Transportation engineer.

Downtown traffic signal timing should be back to usual today with the opening of all downtown freeway ramps, and signs indicating alternate routes will be removed by the end of the week.

Midspan

Washington ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to deficient bridges, according to the conservative think tank, the Reason Foundation.

With 24.55 percent of its bridges deficient in 2005, according to the group, Washington ranked 27th.

Idaho was number 13 with almost 19 percent of its bridges rated deficient.

Bridge cynicism

West Side politicos are speculating that last week’s Twin Cities bridge disaster could boost a Puget Sound-area tax measure to raise money for $16 billion in transportation projects there, at least according to a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

It wouldn’t be the first time fear has been cited as a factor in transportation tax proposals.

In 2005, some conspiracy theorists accused the Washington State Department of Transportation of loosening rocks to cause slides that covered Interstate 90 just before an initiative to repeal a 9.5-cent gas tax increase hit the ballot. The gas tax wasn’t repealed and rocks continue to slide onto roads.

Bicycle lane funding

Spokane City Council will consider a proposal tonight to allocate $50,000 for bike lanes on Southeast Boulevard as part of a repaving project.

The street is considered a key bike route in the city’s comprehensive plan but has not always been treated as such.

A recent project to add a turn lane to the center of the roadway near its intersection with 25th Avenue created problems for cyclists. It eliminated the bike lane there.

Walkable ‘hoods

An online mash-up with Google maps rates addresses based on the number of schools, shops, restaurants, parks and other amenities within a one-mile radius.

A look at area locales showed they ranged from “driving only” areas to “walkers’ paradises.”

Spokane City Hall scored 98 out of 100, making it such a paradise. Scoring in the “very walkable” category were the Coeur d’Alene Resort (77) and Spokane Valley City Hall (72).

Next on the chart, with some walkable locations, was Post Falls City Hall (68).

Woodridge Elementary (49) in Spokane’s Indian Trail neighborhood rated a “not walkable,” and with scores of 25, Lake City High School and Bowdish Elementary were “driving only.”

You can check out your address’s rating at www.walkscore.com.

The site even rates a few celebrity (and fictional celebrity) addresses.

The Soprano family’s suburban New Jersey house gets a “driving only” score. Guess they really did need those huge SUVs. And Paris Hilton’s address gets a “very walkable” designation. Bet she doesn’t even walk out to get the mail.

Slow going

I-90

•Eastbound I-90 will be reduced to two lanes Thursday from 4 a.m.-noon.

North Spokane

•Crestline Street is closed from Illinois to Wellesley.

•Ash Street is closed from Francis Avenue to Northwest Boulevard.

South Spokane

•Northbound U.S. Highway 195 is reduced to one lane in several places between Spangle and Hatch Road.

•Southeast Boulevard is closed from Perry Street to Fourth Avenue.

•Crews are working on the traffic signal at Grand Boulevard and 25th Avenue; expect delays.

Spokane Valley

•Highway 27 is reduced to single-lane traffic near 46th Avenue from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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