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Getting There: Speed limit lower around city parks

With school letting out for summer, Spokane crews will start posting 20 mph signs near many Lilac City parks.

This week they’ll lower the speed limits along Chief Garry, Mission, Lincoln and A.M. Cannon parks. The week of June 16, the same 20 mph signs will be posted at Hays, Audubon and Comstock parks, streets spokeswoman Ann Deasy said.

“Our kids are out there having fun,” police Officer Teresa Fuller said. “They are probably thinking about getting to the park more than they are about traffic. That’s why we lower the speed limits.”

It’s a good time for parents to remind children about taking proper precautions when crossing streets, Fuller said.

“And we need to remind parents to go over with the kids about the proper rules of crossing streets. They should cross at the crosswalk and watch for cars.”

Hearing planned for 97

The Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization will host a hearing Tuesday in Harrison, Idaho, to discuss potential work on State Route 97, which follows the eastern shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Staci Lehman, spokeswoman for the planning organization, said officials sent out 2,300 surveys to adjacent landowners about what they wanted done with the curvy stretch of roadway.

“It’s pretty much the whole stretch,” Lehman said of the study area. “It’s pretty ugly.”

Always a difficult road, it’s gotten worse as the lake has attracted new developments that have added many more commuters.

“We are getting complaints about trucks flying through too fast, or (commuters) are getting stuck behind trucks that can’t get up the grade,” Lehman said.

The surveys asked residents whether they wanted major changes, such as blasting and straightening, or minor safety improvements, such as installing guardrails, widening corners and clearing vegetation.

“They wanted the minor improvements. But they pretty much want them everywhere,” Lehman said. “Then we went to the safety team, and they went mile post to mile post and came up with recommendations for every mile and the costs.

“It’s quite a list.”

Transportation employees will present 44 display boards so residents can walk from station to station and talk to different staff members about the recommendations. The open house will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, at Harrison Elementary School, 13030 E. O’Gara Road.

One wild card to the discussion is ferry service that would provide an alternative for some commuters.

“There are not a lot of alternatives,” she said. “Ferry service is possible, but it depends on how soon funding can be obtained.”

Rum runners beware

Just as Lake Coeur d’Alene floodwaters have receded enough to allow boaters to hit their throttles, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation announced Friday that it will work with sheriff’s departments to organize intoxication checkpoints throughout the summer.

“Removing impaired boaters from the waterways is a critical element in creating a safe, enjoyable recreational environment for the public,” Randy Herman, who coordinates boating law enforcement for state parks, said in a news release.

All boaters passing through the checkpoints will be subject to safety inspections to assure they have the proper number of life jackets, working fire extinguishers and flotation devices that can be thrown. In addition, boat operators will be checked for alcohol impairment.

The requirement for those who operate boats is the same for those who drive cars: a blood-alcohol content of less than .08.

More Wall headaches

The only thing more inconvenient for local commuters than the Wall Street closure in Spokane is a corresponding Wall Street closure a few blocks north in Spokane County.

County leaders will host a public hearing today at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the project and how to avoid the construction that will start June 23 and include closures from Greta Avenue to Hawthorne Road.

“We always look at what everybody else is doing. If we can coordinate our projects with them, we will,” said Paul Lennemann, Spokane County construction engineer. “In this case, we felt the Wall project south of Francis didn’t really affect the traffic where Wall and Monroe come together.”

Wall will be closed from Greta Avenue to Country Homes Boulevard for two weeks starting June 23. It will be closed from Country Homes Boulevard to Hawthorne Road for three weeks after June 23.

The project will repave Wall and improve some sewers after the old asphalt comes up, Lennemann said.

Tonight’s hearing is in the Fellowship Hall at Country Homes Christian Church, 8415 N. Wall St.

Other street construction

Engineers still have not given a definite date as to when Ash Street will reopen and Maple Street will close north of the Maple Street Bridge to Northwest Boulevard. The Wall Street project is also progressing ahead of schedule, but no date has been given as to when that street will open from Wellesley to Francis avenues, Deasy said.

Areas to avoid

“Traffic obstructions on Division Street should ease somewhat this week, as crews are expected to complete work on a water main at Wellesley and Division sometime Tuesday night.

But Division commuters will still face lane restrictions from an unrelated state project to install electric cables along Division from Houston Avenue to North Foothills Drive, until the project is completed sometime in September. That project is causing single-lane closure from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and two-lanes closures from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“Relief is coming this week for drivers on U.S. 395 at Dragoon Creek, north of Spokane. The paving work there should be completed and crews simply need to stripe the new lanes, said Al Gilson, spokesman for the Washington state Department of Transportation. Construction has been reducing four lanes of traffic down to one, sometimes causing significant delays.

“Crews have almost completed grinding the pavement on westbound lanes of Interstate 90 from Coeur d’Alene to the state line. Weather permitting, they may start paving operations this week, said Barbara Babic, spokeswoman for the Idaho Transportation Department.

“People need to remember the speed is reduced to 55 mph,” Babic said. “And, wherever work is being done, the interstate is reduced down to one lane.”

“Cheney-Plaza Road south of Cheney should be closed another two weeks as crews complete bridge work, Lennemann said.

“ In Spokane Valley, Argonne Road between I-90 and Montgomery Avenue will be reduced to one lane for northbound traffic from 8 a.m. to noon today and Tuesday for reconstruction.

Flaggers will direct traffic, Spokane Valley spokeswoman Carolbelle Branch said in a news release.

“ Several other projects, including Appleway, Barker Road, Sullivan Road at Mission Avenue and the Trent Avenue Bridge between Pines and Evergreen roads will all have lane restrictions this week.


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Ethics Commission: Mayor David Condon honest in handling of Frank Straub questions

UPDATED: 8:09 p.m.

The final complaint targeting Mayor David Condon for his handling of the ouster of former Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub was unanimously dismissed by the city’s Ethics Commission on Wednesday, who said the complaint was fueled by opinions, not facts or evidence presented by former City Council President Joe Shogan.