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Drop in for an update on the corridor

Mon., Sept. 22, 2008

Initial leg of project to be ready in a year

A year from now, drivers should be able to use the first completed leg of a North Spokane freeway between Francis Avenue and Farwell Road.

The current construction schedule calls for completion between June and August, said Larry Larson, project engineer for the state Department of Transportation.

“It could be open as early as July,” he said last week.

Two years after that a second leg is expected to open from Farwell Road to an interchange at U.S. Highway 395 in the Wandermere area.

On Thursday, residents can get a new look at the latest progress and talk with engineers doing the design work at a drop-in open house. The event is set for 5 to 8 p.m. at Northwood Middle School, 13120 N. Pittsburg St.

In addition, the project’s Web site has a computerized aerial flyover and narrative describing the work. It can be seen by following the links from

The open house will focus on one of the most complicated pieces of the project - the freeway’s crossing of U.S. 2 north of Farwell Road.

Plans call for dropping the level of U.S. 2 so that it passes beneath the freeway in the area of Shady Slope Road. The work includes construction of six bridges, walls, earth moving and culvert installations.

“It’s going to have some major impact on traffic,” Larson said.

The initial leg from Francis to Farwell begins at a roundabout traffic circle at Francis and Freya Avenue. It will initially be a two-lane, 60 mph highway capable of being expanded to six lanes when the full, limited-access freeway from Interstate 90 to Wandermere is completed.

Work along Market Street includes construction of a tunnel for a BNSF Railway line, which is finishing with a back-filling operation. The tunnel was built with concrete arch segments made by Central Pre-Mix Pre-Stress Co. in Spokane Valley.

The second segment to open in 2011 from U.S. 2 to Wandermere is going to be a four-lane highway, according to Al Gilson, regional spokesman for DOT.

Funding is not yet available for the more costly construction from Francis to I-90. Overall plans call for a widening of I-90 through the East Central Neighborhood where the North Spokane freeway will connect just west of Thor Street.

According to Gilson, department staff will answer questions about the overall project and construction details, and real estate representatives will be there for property questions. No formal presentation is planned for the drop-in meeting.

So far, the freeway project has been allocated $532 million dating back to 1990 with the full cost expected to exceed $2.1 billion. With inflation, the project cost could soar to $3.3 billion under a 20-year build-out plan, officials said.

Funding is coming in part from a 5-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase approved in 2003, and a second gas tax and fee package adopted in 2005.

Four-year program

The public will get a chance to comment on Tuesday on a four-year transportation improvement program on road, street and bridge projects.

A meeting is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. at the office of the Spokane Regional Transportation Council, 221 W. First Ave.

The agency is located on the third floor of a historic Northern Pacific train depot now called the Intermodal Center.

Included on the request list are projects such as Spokane’s proposal to tear out the existing Post Street Bridge and replace it with a pedestrian-utility bridge and Spokane County’s proposed widening of Bigelow Gulch Road.

Work schedule

Intermittent lane closures along I-90 are expected this week between the Latah Creek Bridge and Argonne Road to allow for storm drain cleaning along the inner median. The work will take place between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Residential paving along Third Avenue and adjacent streets has been completed. Crews are going to be putting on finishing touches, which could cause some obstructions over the next few weeks.

Starting today, Broadway Avenue will be closed between Havana and Freya streets, and Alki Avenue remains closed at Freya as part of a project to realign Broadway at Freya. That work is a preliminary step to construction of a new lower-grade bridge on Freya just north of Broadway.

Strong Road from Five Mile Road to Maple Street will be closed until Friday, but a detour is posted.

Monroe Street between Boone and Mallon avenues will be closed during nighttime hours this week so a new sewer service can be installed as part of the YMCA/YWCA construction.

Northwest Boulevard will have crack sealing work again this week between Assembly and Alberta streets.

Broadway Avenue from A to Oak streets also will have crack sealing work under way.

North Five Mile Road from Berridae to Waikiki roads will be under construction. Delays are expected.

In Post Falls, paving on Mullan Road from Idaho Street to Highway 41 will resume on Wednesday through next Monday. Delays and access restrictions are expected.

Mike Prager can be reached at (509) 459-5454 or mikep@

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