October 25, 2010 in City

Hearing will explore trolleys, walking routes for city core

By The Spokesman-Review
 
If you go

A public open house on mobility in central Spokane will be held Tuesday from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at the WSU South Campus Facility, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Mobility in the central part of Spokane will be the subject of a wide-ranging public meeting on Tuesday at the city’s Riverpoint campus.

The possibility of high-performance streetcars running between the University District and downtown is one of the ideas under consideration.

The open-house-style meeting, which starts with a short introductory program, begins at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the WSU South Campus Facility at 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. and runs until 7 p.m.

Local officials are hoping to gather public input on the various ideas, including selection of the best routes for a streetcar or trolley.

Among projects getting an airing are:

• Construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the BNSF mainline and a new Martin Luther King Jr. Way to connect the existing Riverpoint campus with the East Sprague Avenue district.

• Improving Division Street to enhance its appearance as a gateway to the central city and to allow for greater movement of pedestrians across the street.

• Redeveloping portions of the commercial and light industrial zones along East Sprague to make room for expanding medical research and startup companies.

• Writing a new 30-year vision for transportation in the Spokane region through the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.

• Creating more pedestrian and bicycle ways in a pair of projects known as Smart Routes and Complete Streets.

“It will be fun to have the synergy of those projects all in one place,” said Susan Meyer, chief executive officer of the Spokane Transit Authority.

The STA is in the midst of planning a central city commuter line that could run on streetcars, upgraded buses or an electric trolley.

Several routes have been eyed to link downtown, the University District, Gonzaga University, hospital and medical facilities, Browne’s Addition, convention center and the county government campus north of the Spokane River.

Meyer said public comment from Tuesday’s meeting will help to narrow the options.

The STA is hoping to have a project ready for funding if and when the federal government makes money available for smaller mass transit lines.

Spokane likely would select a route with the greatest potential for riders and build that first, Meyer said.

The success of shuttles during two major ice skating events in recent years pointed to the value of a downtown mass transit line.

Any project would dovetail with a larger effort to build a high-performance STA transit network across major commuter lines.

I-90 blasting continues near pass

Rock blasting on Interstate 90 on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass is being done earlier and earlier as daylight wanes.

The blasting schedule is being moved from 6 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. today through Thursday.

The freeway is being shut down for safety for about an hour during each rock blast. The work is part of an expansion of I-90 capacity from four to six lanes along with installation of a full-width snow roof to protect the freeway’s most vulnerable exposure.

Be prepared for winter roads

The state Department of Transportation last week issued a call for motorists crossing the mountains to carry winter supplies.

They include traction tires and chains; emergency supplies of food, water, clothing and blankets; flashlight with batteries; traction sand; and a fully charged cell phone.

Vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more, singly or in combination with a trailer, must carry chains, and that includes larger pickups, SUVs, recreational vehicles and trucks with trailers between Nov. 1 and April 1.

Studded tires are permitted between Nov. 1 and March 31 in Washington.

Health promotion kicks off

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner will preside at a kickoff rally near the runner statues in Riverfront Park on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. for the start of a fitness promotion known as Step Up Spokane!

Leaders from across the community are expected to attend.

According to a news release, “Step Up Spokane! is a collaborative effort of companies and businesses dedicated to improving the health of our citizens.”

Altamont hill slated to reopen

There is good news for residents of the Altamont Boulevard neighborhood.

A contractor was expected to pave the Altamont Boulevard hill last week and have the arterial connector reopened by today. The paving also included Ninth Avenue from Hatch Street to North Altamont Boulevard.

Restrictions and slowdowns

U.S. Highway 2 between Hawthorne and Farwell roads will likely have lane restrictions during daytime hours through Thursday while maintenance workers replace reflective lane markers.

Also, DOT will be working on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on U.S. 2 westbound near the Spokane International Airport interchange, and lane restrictions are likely.

Yet more work will be done along I-90 from the Pullman highway to Sullivan Road through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


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