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Students envision Palouse’s new track

Mon., Oct. 19, 2009, midnight

Teams of students from Washington State and Eastern Washington universities are asking for the public’s help in their efforts to visualize what renewed rail service on the Palouse might look like some day.

They’ve posted a survey on the Web and are asking people to participate in ideas for the future.

The project, known as “Powering the Palouse,” seeks to restore existing railroad lines from Spokane to Pullman and Moscow and establish new facilities around stops in Rosalia, Oakesdale, Garfield and Palouse.

Professor Bob Scarfo at WSU Spokane said the students see potential for transit-oriented development in aging agricultural communities through a combination of passenger and freight rail movement.

Rail can provide an alternative to auto transportation and potentially open older farm towns to relocating retirees and residents seeking small-town life.

The design concepts are included in degree work at WSU’s Interdisciplinary Design Institute and EWU’s business management program.

Similar student projects have been undertaken in Spokane’s Hillyard neighborhood and the University City area in Spokane Valley.

In a letter to Idaho congressman Walt Minnick, Scarfo said the Palouse project could become “an investment in this region’s short rail lines as the backbone to a healthier, vibrant economy that can be quite self-sufficient in the approaching times of resource scarcity, aging society, and personal and economic losses due to deteriorating health.”

To participate in the survey, go to passenger_rail.

Concrete slows Hillyard project

A two-part project to renovate the Market Street corridor through the historic Hillyard business area hit the curb last week.

Concrete that was poured for new curbs in front of the multistory buildings was too low, so it had to be torn out and re-poured.

The building entrances along the block between Queen and Olympic avenues have different elevations, and some of the sidewalk slopes from the buildings were too steep to meet current codes, city officials said.

Councilman Bob Apple said the curbs initially were 6 inches too low in some spots.

The problem was ironed out last week and new concrete was installed, slowing the project by possibly one week.

Merchants have been eager to see the work completed to get shoppers back into their businesses.

Market will open today to southbound traffic between Garland and Wellesley avenues. When completed in a few weeks, the project will bring new pavement to Market from Francis to Garland avenues.

CdA celebrates improvements

A ribbon-cutting to celebrate completion of improvements on Fourth Street in Coeur d’Alene will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. at Fourth and Montana Avenue.

New asphalt, storm water lines, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and wiring are being installed along with new light poles, street trees and public art as part of an effort to create a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood district north of downtown.

Emphasis patrol in effect

Spokane County sheriff’s deputies and Spokane Valley police have started an emphasis patrol to increase driver safety around commercial trucks.

Operation Safe Driver will run through Saturday and will include enforcement on seat belts, vehicle equipment, passing, failure to yield and following too closely.

I-90 lane closures expected

The state reports that the eastbound inside lane of Interstate 90 from Maple Street to Argonne Road may be closed for work through Wednesday.

Also, the inside eastbound lane may be closed on Thursday near the Medical Lake interchange.

Work may also reduce the eastbound Hamilton Street offramp to one lane through Thursday.

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