November 22, 2010 in City

Getting There: Hotel developer seeks stoplight near GU

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Developer Jerry Dicker is teaming up with owners of the former Burgans Furniture store at Division Street and Boone Avenue to convert the 1918 structure into a three-story hotel with three restaurants.

Dicker, of GVD Commercial Properties, said he hopes to capitalize on the need for lodging for visitors to Gonzaga University.

But visitors on foot would have to cross Ruby Street, a busy, four-lane arterial that serves as the main northbound highway route through Spokane.

Dicker has asked engineers for the city and the Washington State Department of Transportation to let him pay for a stoplight at Ruby and Boone so that his guests could walk safely to and from GU.

The state has told him no, at least for now.

A traffic study financed by Dicker showed that the proposed hotel would generate approximately 80 pedestrian crossings between 1 and 5 p.m. on weekdays and more than 200 during events such as GU basketball games.

“We are going to be attracting people,” Dicker said.

A letter from WSDOT indicated that the expected foot traffic was not enough to warrant putting in a traffic light at Boone since the main light for the area is just one block north at Sharp Avenue.

Harold White, traffic engineer for WSDOT in Spokane, said the proposed light does not meet uniform federal guidelines. He said the city is separately undertaking a study of traffic and pedestrian issues along Division and Ruby that may have recommendations for the area. “Let’s see what that study tells us,” he said.

Dicker has letters of support from Gonzaga University officials and the University District Development Alliance.

“We believe the signal is a much needed addition to the neighborhood,” Marty Dickinson said in her letter from the alliance.

But WSDOT countered that the light at Sharp Avenue was close enough to serve hotel pedestrians.

Dicker said he thinks people will risk making the four-lane crossing without a traffic light and that he fears someone will be killed.

Traffic moving north on Ruby often exceeds the 30 mph limit in the area, he said, and a traffic light at Boone would add no more time to the drive north since drivers already stop for the light at Sharp.

Division and Ruby in that area carry 45,000 vehicles a day, and the state wants to ensure efficient movement of traffic, White said.

Dicker spent more than a year trying to negotiate with the city and state, which has held up the hotel conversion, he said. Plans call for completing the $12 million project in 2012.

Burgans closed in 2008.

“Our goal is to create a nice hotel that’s a good contributor to the University District,” Dicker said. “We are going forward with the project anyway.”

Dicker recently redeveloped the former Rodeway Inn at 901 W. First Ave. into the Hotel Ruby, a medium-priced boutique hotel that is themed to the arts and entertainment district near the Davenport Hotel.

DUI emphasis

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission is helping finance another “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed” enforcement effort to get impaired drivers off the road.

This year’s campaign begins Thursday and runs through Jan. 2, and will involve nine agencies in Spokane, Whitman and Pend Oreille counties locally.

Impaired driving contributed to nearly 11,000 deaths nationwide in 2009.

Second Avenue done for season

Temporary lane striping was placed on Second Avenue in downtown Spokane last week while the reconstruction project’s completion is being postponed until spring.

The contractor on the reconstruction from Howard Street to Sunset Boulevard ran out of time to get the final 2-inch layer of asphalt laid before cold weather arrived.

Traffic lights also were reinstalled last week.

A debate over designating a dedicated bike lane on Second will continue through the winter.

Closures and slowdowns

Wandermere Road will be closed today in the vicinity of U.S. Highway 395 to allow for construction of twin bridges that will serve as the interchange for the North Spokane Corridor.

Also, lanes may be restricted on U.S. 395 near Hatch Road to allow extra room for hauling loads to the construction site.

Elsewhere, the state is making repairs to the Interstate 90 interchange bridge at Tokio in Adams County northeast of Ritzville. Eastbound traffic is reduced to a single lane.

On U.S. Highway 195, work is under way to upgrade sections of guardrail near Rosalia from Cashup Flats to state Highway 271. As a result, some portions of the highway will be reduced to one lane of traffic with flaggers directing motorists.

Spokane Valley projects

In Spokane Valley, Broadway Avenue is now open from Moore to Flora roads.

Conklin Road is now open at Broadway with lane restrictions through Wednesday.

Dora Road between Sprague Avenue and Appleway will be closed through next Monday for utility work.

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