The north Spokane freeway may be a nice quiet stretch of concrete to drive, but it isn’t saving anyone much time.
Traffic has been sparse on the 3.7-mile section since it opened on Aug. 22 between Hillyard and Mead. It is the first leg of the long-awaited freeway.
But is the 60 mph route any faster than the old way of going?
Last week, we performed a time test to see.
We drove two vehicles to the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and Mount Spokane Park Drive.
I drove one of them and staffer Mary Beth Donelan drove the other.
We both departed the traffic light at the same time.
I turned left and took Market Street southbound through Mead, slowing down to about 25 mph through the old town site and stopping only briefly at a pair of traffic lights. I arrived at a strip mall at the northwest corner of Market and Francis Avenue in nine minutes and 50 seconds.
Donelan went south on U.S. 2 to the intersection of Farwell Road.
There, she waited more than a minute for the left-turn light to turn green.
She had to wait another 15 seconds for a construction flagger at the onramp to the freeway on Farwell Road a short distance east of U.S. 2 (also known as the Newport Highway).
She also had to wait for traffic at Freya Street and Francis, just south of the southern terminus of the first freeway leg. She had to wait again for the light at Market and Francis.
She arrived in the parking lot at 10 minutes and 45 seconds, nearly one minute slower than the old route through Mead.
However, it appears the freeway would be faster than Market Street for motorists going from Farwell Road and U.S. Highway 395 at Wandermere to Bigelow Gulch Road for the connection to Argonne Road going into Spokane Valley.
Officials said they expect completion of the new freeway from Wandermere to Farwell Road in 2011 to create more travel options for motorists and ease congestion on existing North Side routes.
Northern repaving costing drivers time
Repaving work on U.S. Highway 395 from Spokane County northward through the Chewelah area continues, and has been causing delays of up to 20 minutes for motorists. The work is under a pair of contracts and is expected to continue until later this summer, transportation officials said.
Drivers should expect having to wait at each of the two construction zones. Traffic is limited to one lane at a time with alternating groups of vehicles allowed to pass the work areas.
Similar repaving work is also being done on U.S. Highway 2 southwest of Newport and in Newport. Paving was scheduled for the city of Newport last week. Expect delays there as well.
Blasting brings lane restrictions
A water project along U.S. Highway 2 from Sunset Boulevard to Spotted Road should cause lane restrictions along the highway for the next six to eight weeks, with short-term traffic stops expected during blasting operations.
Closures at Highway 195 intersection
Construction of a new right-turn exit lane for southbound traffic on U.S. Highway 195 at Cheney-Spokane Road is under way, and the paving work could lead to short-term temporary closures of the intersection.
Road improvements continue in Valley
Improvements to the intersection of Sprague Avenue and Evergreen Road in Spokane Valley are nearing completion. Regular traffic movement should be restored on Tuesday.
Also in Spokane Valley, Bettman Road between 13th and 14th avenues will remain closed for sewer work through mid-October.
In addition, 44th Avenue between Farr and Van Marter roads is expected to remain closed through the end of September. Drivers must use detours.
Perry open at 37th
South Perry Street is now open at East 37th Avenue where crews have been rebuilding 37th from Perry to Regal streets.
Outer areas teem with projects
In unincorporated areas of Spokane County, Strong and Five Mile roads remain closed for construction with only local traffic allowed. Bigelow Gulch Road may have lane restrictions. Wandermere Road from U.S. 395 to Hatch Road is also closed for sewer work.