Construction of the North Spokane Corridor took a big jump forward in recent days with the installation of bridge girders at the future Wandermere interchange at U.S. Highway 395.
The work comes as the project timeline nears the one-year mark until completion of the northern leg of the north-south freeway route.
The state Department of Transportation hopes to open the segment between Wandermere and Farwell roads by the end of 2011.
“Bridge girders are going up as we are speaking,” Al Gilson, spokesman for DOT in Spokane, said last week.
The girders rest on piers that were drilled 160 feet into the ground.
Traffic through the construction zone has been limited to one lane in each direction on U.S. 395 for the past few months.
Opening of the Wandermere freeway segment will hinge on winter weather and how much crews can accomplish when temperatures drop below freezing.
A cold, snowy winter could delay the opening until early 2012 if concrete work shuts down, Gilson said.
While workers were erecting the interchange bridge at Wandermere last week, another crew was paving the southbound lanes with concrete in the vicinity of Northwood Middle School.
To the south, more workers were busy on the spaghetti-like interchange at U.S. Highway 2 where the former highway lanes have been lowered so that the freeway and interchange ramps can run overhead.
To the south of that, yet another crew was moving hills of dirt and rock to clear the way for completion of southbound freeway lanes between Farwell and Freya Street in Hillyard.
That portion of the project should be completed in early 2012.
“When they are completed in a year or so, we will have fully half of the North Spokane Corridor open,” Gilson said.
The 5.5-mile northern segment will link U.S. 2 and 395 with the Hillyard area at Freya Street just north of Francis Avenue.
Funding is being sought for the southern portion from Freya to Interstate 90.
So far, more than $550 million has been allocated to the 10-mile corridor, including a $35 million federal economic stimulus grant announced earlier this year for paving southbound lanes from Farwell to Freya.
In 2009, the state opened two-way traffic on what will become the northbound lanes of that same segment. The route has been seeing increasing use in recent months, DOT officials said.
Class focuses on winter driving
Idaho State Police are offering a free “road safe” class on Oct. 23 at 9 a.m. at the agency’s regional office in Coeur d’Alene, at 615 W. Wilbur Ave.
This is the eighth year that the popular class on winter driving and other safety techniques has been offered.
Class size is limited to 60 people. To reserve a spot, call the police office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at (208) 209-8620.
Plan assesses North Idaho needs
Also in North Idaho, the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization is holding an open house on Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. to give the public a chance to review and comment on a draft metropolitan transportation plan for the region.
The meeting will be held at the Idaho Transportation Department office, 600 W. Prairie Ave., in Coeur d’Alene.
“This is an important meeting as the document proposes how over $1 billion will be spent on transportation infrastructure for our area,” said Staci Lehman, public information officer for the agency.
The plan includes a list of projects that local jurisdictions and the state hope to build over the next 20 years, and it indicates the likely sources of funding.
The plan addresses bicycle and pedestrian mobility as well as vehicle travel.
Copies of the plan can be downloaded at www.kmpo.net. Printed copies can be picked up at the Spokane Regional Transportation Council office at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, in Spokane.
The Spokane transportation planning agency is providing staff assistance for the Kootenai transportation planning agency.