A long-awaited traffic improvement project in east Spokane gets under way on Tuesday with construction of an overpass for Havana Street across BNSF Railway lines.
The city of Spokane has long wanted another reliable north-south route in the important industrial sector of the city.
For years, drivers have been forced to wait for trains to clear the crossing, making Havana Street between Broadway and Trent avenues an unreliable arterial route. The crossing is located north of the Spokane County fairgrounds.
Graham Construction and Management Inc. in Spokane won the $7.9 million job.
The project was nearly $3 million under an earlier engineer estimate because of a currently competitive bidding environment and lower material costs.
“Many of our bids are coming in way lower than our estimates,” said Ann Deasy, city streets spokeswoman.
When completed in spring of 2012, the 483-foot concrete bridge will have four lanes and sidewalks. The outside lanes will be striped as shared-use lanes for automobiles and bicycles.
Havana will be closed during construction, forcing traffic to detour to Fancher Road to the east.
Some motorists have been using Havana when it’s not blocked by trains as a detour for the Freya Street Bridge reconstruction to the west. Freya should reopen later this spring.
The Havana overpass is being financed in part from the Washington State Freight Mobility Board, as well as with state transportation improvement funds.
The federal government, city, BNSF and Spokane Transit Authority are also contributing to the funding pool.
In addition to the bridge project, the city is improving Havana Street between Mission and Trent avenues.
Freeway segment bids below estimate
State transportation officials said they think they are going to save money on another big construction project in Spokane.
Bids were opened last week on a 3.7-mile segment of the North Spokane Corridor between Farwell Road and Freya Street.
The bids were all below the estimate of $27 million, but state officials did not immediately release the amounts because they were reviewing the bids in advance of naming a contractor.
The project involves construction of southbound lanes adjacent to the currently opened two-way segment on what will become the northbound lanes. Five bridges are included in the project.
Work to watch for
•Work is also under way in Airway Heights for new crosswalk islands and overhead warning signs to help pedestrians cross U.S. Highway 2.
Lane closures are possible during the work.
•The county bridge across the Pend Oreille River at Usk, Wash., is being repaired this season with traffic reduced to one narrow lane. A traffic signal was set up to control traffic 24 hours a day. Wide loads are being told to detour.
•Bridge repairs on Interstate 90 from Stateline to Post Falls have slowed traffic considerably since the contractor shut down one travel lane in each direction last week.
The stretch of freeway has a reduced 45 mph speed limit for about six miles, and it was taking about 17 minutes to drive through the work zone during commute hours last week, said Barb Babic, public involvement coordinator for the Idaho Transportation Department.
Babic said the pace may pick up as drivers get accustomed to the restrictions. “People need to give themselves a little extra time, but they are getting through,” she said.
•Traffic on Broadway Avenue from Oak to Elm streets is being rerouted onto College Avenue while a contractor installs a storm water system that will treat the water on site rather than send it into the city’s storm sewer system.