Residents brace for bustle
Narrow and quiet, Conklin Road was never a thoroughfare homeowners pictured would lead directly into the parking lot of a big-box store.
Next year it will be connected to two.
When they open, Lowe’s and Kohls on Broadway Avenue together will be bigger than the Super Wal-Mart next door. And many of the 4,750 cars expected to file into their parking lot every weekday will cut through a Spokane Valley neighborhood between the stores and Sprague Avenue.
“We all feel like we’ve kind of been given the shaft on the whole deal,” said longtime resident Linda Rockhold.
While packing up a recent garage sale beside Conklin, she and her neighbors waved to kids riding bikes in the street as they described how much they expect the area will change.
Although Conklin is considered a residential street and the city has no immediate plans to upgrade it, the shopping center will double the volume of traffic during the busiest hours of the workweek. During Saturday’s busiest hour for traffic, the number of cars will jump from 105 to more than 500, according to a study for the project.
The study also predicts traffic will back up at the Broadway stop sign on Saturdays enough that the city will consider the intersection to be technically failing.
“It just takes everything away from the kids,” said Jan Wold.
The streets in her section of Veradale don’t have sidewalks, and she said she’s afraid many people will have to curtail their evening strolls or send their children somewhere else to ride their bikes.
One of the shopping center’s driveways lines up directly with Conklin. A quarter-mile to the south, the city plans to install a light at Sprague to help manage the new traffic.
“It has been anticipated on our part that Conklin would eventually become a collector,” said Spokane Valley senior engineer Steve Worley.
The city’s 20-year comprehensive plan envisions the street as an arterial, though the six-year road plan does not yet include the upgrade. After sewer is installed there next year, it will be repaved at its current width.
City Council is reviewing its development code and eventually will discuss how Spokane Valley should require developers to offset the traffic impact of projects.
“It’s always a shock when you have commercial (establishments) move across the street from you,” said Mayor Diana Wilhite.
It can be hard on people, she said, but things change. Evergreen Road, for example, transitioned from residential to all-commercial zoning. The street is very different, but Wilhite said the property held by remaining homeowners is worth substantially more.
The property for Lowe’s, Kohls and a row of other shops is being developed by Pacland of Seattle for Black Enterprises, which is headed by David Black of Tomlinson Black Real Estate.
The stoplight at Sprague will be paid for by the developers, along with the developers of the Shelly Lake subdivision and a few other projects that chipped in to a fund earlier. The shopping center also will install wiring for an eventual light on Broadway.
Like all developments in Spokane Valley, the city will require the builder to improve only half of the road in front of the project. The result will be a four-lane Broadway in front of the stores.
“So much of the eastbound traffic drops off” after Wal-Mart, a single lane in that direction will work, said Spokane Valley senior traffic engineer Inga Noted.
Running utilities to the site will require cutting into the existing roadway so many times that the city offered to pay to repave it using money set aside to repave streets after sewer projects.
Broadway between the project and Flora Road will remain a two-lane street, though the city has plans to upgrade it to three lanes.