Local news

Hillyard upgrades a short-term hassle

The Hillyard business district looks more like a war zone than a place to go shopping.

A series of projects is under way to rebuild Market Street and create a safer pedestrian environment.

The street is torn up, and workers are cutting deep holes to upgrade water service.

Business owners report that sales are down about 50 percent since construction started July 20.

But contractors are keeping street crossings open. Be careful. The going is rough on rock and dirt surfaces.

Maureen York, a North Side resident, and her out-of-town friend wandered into the United Hillyard Mall on a hot afternoon last week looking for a walnut table.

“We are fearless,” she joked about the street conditions outside.

While the torn-up street has discouraged local shoppers, tourists passing through Spokane are still coming to see what Hillyard offers among its six shops devoted to antiques and collectibles, said Deana Solomon, a mall owner.

In addition, construction workers are spending money for food and drinks at the district’s cafes.

Solomon said the economy already had chopped receipts by about 15 percent prior to construction. “We are all looking forward to having it done,” she said.

Many of the area business owners were prepared for a slow period during construction and hope the completion around Nov. 1 will bring new customers eager to see the improvements.

“It will revive Hillyard,” said Dave Griswold, chair of the Hillyard community development steering committee.

In fact, the Red Dragon restaurant is moving to the business area, and a new secondhand clothing store is opening.

Money for the $7 million in projects came from several sources, including a street improvement bond issue approved by city voters in 2004 and a pair of state grants.

New sidewalks and replica historic “acorn” street lamps will be installed. The sidewalks will be white next to the buildings and red adjacent to the curbs. Trowel lines will be pressed into the concrete panels to create frames for the annual community Chalk Art Walk event.

Motorists appear to have figured out routes around the construction. Northeast Spokane has been something of a minefield of detours this summer, especially since Freya Street south of Trent Avenue was closed for bridge replacement.

Crestline Avenue has collected much of the detouring northbound traffic, while southbound Haven Street remains open.

Volunteers to count bicyclists, pedestrians

The city of Spokane is seeking volunteers to count bicyclists and pedestrians around Oct. 1 for a study seeking to find places heavily used by nonmotorized transportation. This year will be the second count, funded with a state grant.

To volunteer, contact Grant Wencel, the city’s bike and pedestrian coordinator, at (509) 625-6694 or gwencel@ spokanecity.org. Volunteers can also contact the Cascade Bicycle Club at organizer@ cascadebicycleclub.org or (206) 957-0689.

New turn lane at Cheney-Spokane

The groundbreaking for construction of a new right-turn lane at U.S. Highway 195 and Cheney-Spokane Road is set for this morning at 11.

Area residents rallied and pressed for funding to improve visibility of the intersection by getting an exit lane built for southbound traffic turning onto Cheney-Spokane Road.

Vehicles slowing down to turn were causing visibility problems for motorists crossing the highway to make a left onto the highway from Cheney-Spokane Road.

Debi Hammel, the mother of 16-year-old Lorissa Green, who was killed there in January, will be at the groundbreaking along with community dignitaries.



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