April 2, 2011 in Washington Voices

Indiana plan expanded

By The Spokesman-Review
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

Members of the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club unload their boats at the Centennial Trail Spokane River access on Mission Avenue near Flora Road last month. The access will remain open this summer during the construction of the planned extension of Indiana Avenue, where the city plans to build a roundabout.
(Full-size photo)

Spokane Valley road engineers have added a pathway and a connecting street to the design of a planned extension of Indiana Avenue to address concerns raised by Greenacres residents.

Public Works Director Neil Kersten presented those changes to the Spokane Valley City Council Tuesday. The council had postponed a vote to award a bid for the road project after listening to issues presented by residents. “We made a mistake by not having a public hearing on this project,” Kersten said.

The city will add a 10-foot-wide pathway on the north side of Mission so residents can use it to go to and from the trail head. “It makes access to the Greenacres community much better,” he said.

Kersten said he met with the owners of Appleway Florist, which has greenhouses on Mission just west of Flora. They had complained about having only one-way access in front of the property. In response, engineers have added a two-way connector street that will link the eastbound and westbound sections of the new road, which form a one-way couplet before the two halves rejoin at a new roundabout at Mission and Flora.

The connector will feed directly into the Appleway Florist property’s driveway. Traffic will also be allowed to make a left turn while driving east to go into another driveway on the property. “They seem very satisfied with that solution,” Kersten said. “I think we’ve solved all the issues with Appleway Florist.”

City staff received approval for the changes from the Transportation Improvement Board, which is supplying a grant to pay for 80 percent of the project. Centennial Properties, which owns the majority of the land the new road will cross, also donated additional right of way to allow for the construction of the connector street.

Centennial Properties is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

Even as these changes were in the works, Greenacres residents gathered at the Centennial Trail access at Mission on March 25 to discuss their concerns about continued access to the trail during construction.

“We’d like to do whatever we can to protect this access and protect this right of way,” said John Patrouch. “One of our concerns is this new access we’ve seen on some maps.”

Many things residents are worried about can be traced to a preliminary development map prepared by Centennial Properties. The map did not show Mission and did now show the current trail head, leading neighbors to believe the road and trail access would go away.

Access to the trail from Mission is not considered a formal trail head, said Riverside State Park Ranger Chris Guidotti. There is no parking, and right now people park along the gravel portion of Mission before it dead-ends at the trail. Even though it is unmaintained and unimproved, it does show up marked as a trail head on access maps, he said.

Centennial Properties Vice President Bob Smith said his company has no plans to ask the city to vacate Mission so it can be used for development. “That street will still go in there,” he said. “That’s not going away. That’s not our street. We haven’t even talked to the city about vacating. People are just jumping to conclusions that are not accurate.”

The drawing people are worried about is just a concept, he said. The company looked at what uses are allowed on the land and drew up an informal plan. “You try to build in how they might work,” he said. “We have nothing that’s solid.”

People have also said they don’t like the couplet design of the street. Smith said Centennial wanted the road designed that way rather than a “racetrack” type of street that would give fast-flowing traffic a straight shot into the residential Greenacres area.

“By taking the traffic and moving the traffic through curves would automatically slow that traffic down,” he said. “That’s why we did it.”

The city also has the option to improve the Mission trail head, Kersten said Tuesday. The city owns a 60-foot swath of land and the current road is much narrower than that. Official parking could be added in and the road could be paved or left as gravel. “There’s a lot of room on either side,” he said. “We could lay out a couple of different options.”

The improvements cannot be paid for by the grant for the construction of Indiana, Kersten said. “It would have to be funded from city funds,” he said. “It’s not part of the original scope of work.”

Councilman Bill Gothmann said he was in favor of adding the improvement to the list of projects the city would like to build. “I don’t want other higher priority things to fall off because we get excited about a certain project,” he said.

Mayor Tom Towey also liked the idea of upgrading the trail head. “Like Bill said, we need to put that in perspective,” said Towey.

Overall the council seemed satisfied with the changes made to the project and didn’t raise any new concerns. A vote to award the construction bid for Indiana project is scheduled for the April 5 meeting.

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