April 1, 2008 in Business

Walkers, cyclists to get new trail spur

By The Spokesman-Review

An old railroad bridge across the Spokane River is nearer to reopening, this time to provide pedestrians and cyclists access between the University District and the Iron Bridge office park.

Iron Bridge developer Kent Hull and the city have agreed to wash, partially repaint and re-deck the former Union Pacific bridge, which would open onto the Centennial Trial on the river’s west bank near Gonzaga University. The project, advocated for by trail proponents and area neighborhood groups, still requires funding.

“I think this becomes a big component of the whole trail system and it helps this critical mass, because this is like a magnet,” Hull said.

Dave Mandyke, city director of Public Works and Utilities, said an accord has “been a long time coming.”

“It’s a very nice proposal,” he said. “It’s going to turn something that’s pretty much an eyesore and unused into something that I think is a great project.”

If funded, the bridge work should be completed by next summer, Hull said. Iron Bridge LLC has retained national nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to seek grants, and Mandyke said the city is willing to act as an applicant.

Disagreement between the city and Hull, who said he’s paid more than $100,000 to commission design work and an engineering report on the city-owned bridge, centered on how to remediate its lead paint and pay for future maintenance.

Released in January, the study by HDR Engineering Inc. identifies two options: clean the bridge and partially repaint it, for about $475,000, or clean and paint the whole bridge, for $1.6 million. The city had preferred the latter.

Hull also has proposed developers, nearby neighborhood groups and other parties chip in to a trust fund to pay for maintenance.

The bridge closed in 1973 to prepare for Expo ‘74, according to the study.

“The overall condition of the bridge is very good considering the age of the bridge primarily because of Spokane’s relatively dry climate,” it says. “The bridge has undergone only minor rusting and corrosion.”

The bridge also would connect with trails on the roughly 20-acre Iron Bridge development.

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