November 1, 2010 in City

Getting There: U District bridge may cost up to $8 million

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Building a bike and pedestrian bridge over a railroad line might seem like a straightforward project. It’s not.

The University District east of downtown is hemmed in by the BNSF Railway Co. main line, which runs along the south side of the Riverpoint campus east of Division Street.

College and city officials, along with East Central neighborhood leaders, for years have pushed for a pedestrian bridge across the tracks.

The proposal has moved to the design phase under a $400,000 federal transportation grant.

But here’s the hitch: The bridge has to be 26 feet higher than the rails.

That means it will have to be at least the length of a city block with ramps and possibly an elevator at one end. It could cost $8 million.

Two options are up for consideration, as well as three structural designs. An exact location also is being determined.

The public is now being asked to provide input on their preferences.

“There will be significant public interaction on this,” said Katherine Miller, senior engineer on the project for the city of Spokane. “We are encouraging everyone to give us feedback.”

For information, go to udbridgestudy.blogspot.com. A link to a public opinion survey can be found at the bottom of the page.

The first option would build a 290-foot bridge with an elevator on the campus side; the second option would be a 400-foot bridge with ramps at both ends.

The design could employ trusses, arches or cable stays, and is intended to be striking enough visually to become a landmark for the University District, offering expansive views of downtown and surrounding mountains, officials said.

Both proposals would be connected to Sherman Avenue, which provides an arterial link through east Spokane’s general commercial zone and runs on the east side of the city’s expansive medical community.

City leaders hope the commercial areas will be redeveloped with medical or high tech businesses, and new housing for students and workers.

An East Sprague Redevelopment Study has been launched at City Hall to consider new land-use standards.

Thus, the pedestrian bridge would become a link between the campus and an emerging employment zone.

A draft report is expected in March. The city still needs to find funding for the project, which could benefit from state and federal grants.

KPFF Consulting Engineers and LMN Architects, both of Seattle, and Taylor Engineering and Geo Engineers Inc., both of Spokane, are on the design team.

I-90, U.S. 395 work planned

The rutted pavement on Interstate 90 on the Sunset Hill southwest of downtown Spokane is going to get a shave next year.

Acme Concrete Paving Inc., of Spokane, recently won a $7.9 million bid to grind down the concrete surface to even it out from downtown to the Geiger Boulevard interchange. Some sections of broken pavement will be replaced as well.

The damage is caused by studded tires.

In another project, the state awarded a $4.7 million contract to Central Washington Asphalt of Moses Lake to resurface the southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 395 from the Hatton Coulee rest area to Ritzville next year.

The southbound lanes were the original highway before it was converted to a freeway in the 1990s with construction of northbound lanes.

North Side streets reopened

North Side drivers were pleased to find Wellesley Avenue from Assembly Street to Driscoll Boulevard reopened to traffic last week after a reconstruction project that included replacement of a water line.

In addition, Northwest Boulevard from Alberta to Maple streets has opened following reconstruction and installation of a new concrete intersection at Northwest and Cochran Street.

Maintenance in Airway Heights

Drivers are being advised to watch out for temporary lane and shoulder closures on I-90 and U.S. Highway 2 in Airway Heights for maintenance and construction projects this week.

Stevens Pass now on camera

Inland Northwest drivers who take U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass can get an advance look at road conditions on that route with the addition of a new traffic camera located in the Old Faithful avalanche zone west of the summit. It joins a new variable speed limit sign installed on the pass a year ago.

Snoqualmie Pass has five traffic cameras.

The cameras can be viewed by going to wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/.

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