December 5, 2011 in City

Getting There: U.S. 195, others will get funding priority

State task force studies finances for transportation
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Construction of an interchange on U.S. Highway 195 at Hatch Road could join a list of high-priority projects for future transportation funding in the Spokane region.

The other high priorities are the North Spokane Corridor, Sullivan Road improvements, an improved arterial on Bigelow Gulch Road, widening of Interstate 90 from Barker to Harvard roads and maintenance of existing roads.

The Spokane Regional Transportation Council is working on a regional priority list that would be used in upcoming discussions of a 10-year, statewide transportation funding package.

Improving U.S. 195 in southwest Spokane has been under study and development for years, driven largely by the need for greater safety.

The proposed interchange and highway realignment would replace the existing Hatch Road crossing, which is controlled by a stop sign and turn lanes.

The long-term goal is to make the Spokane section of U.S. 195 operate like a true freeway.

An interchange at Cheney-Spokane Road has been funded for construction in 2012 and is among the list of proposed improvements on the corridor from Hatch Road to I-90.

The region’s proposed priority list also identifies an interchange at Meadowlane Road.

Should the state Legislature come up with a way to finance ongoing construction projects, then the U.S. 195 project could be in line for funding, officials said.

A new public survey by the Washington State Transportation Commission shows strong support for spending money on maintenance of existing transportation systems.

The commission also found that 59 percent of respondents would support raising some transportation taxes and fees while the support grew to 62 percent when benefits were explained.

A Governor’s Connecting Washington Task Force is working on recommendations for the 10-year transportation investment, and a proposal is expected to go to the Legislature next year.

Keith Metcalf, regional administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation, said any new spending package would likely go to a public vote.

Other Spokane regional projects on the proposed priority list are the Fish Lake Trail extension; improvements to I-90, Geiger Road and the Medical Lake interchange to serve the airport area; a high-performance trolley bus through downtown Spokane; a Spokane Valley trail that begins in Millwood; and state Highway 904 from Cheney to Four Lakes.

Also on the list are a West Plains transit center; a “smart bus” communication system; off-ramp improvements for westbound I-90 at Freya Street; a pedestrian overpass across rail lines at the University District; and Division Street “gateway” improvements.

Officials said all of the projects on the regional priority list would have economic benefit, in many cases by improving freight and vehicle flow on major routes.

Have your say in survey

Members of the public who want to participate in the WSTC survey of transportation needs and funding should go to voiceofwashingtonsurvey.org.

Already, nearly 10,000 residents have taken the survey, which will be available until the end of the year.

Results will be part of the study of future spending for transportation.

North Division workshop

A community workshop on the future of the Division Street corridor from I-90 to Sharp Avenue will be held on Tuesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Washington State University Bookie, 410 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.

The Division Street Gateway Project will focus on the sense of entry into the city, aesthetics, safety and overall performance of the corridor.

It will guide future transportation spending along the corridor and will address motor vehicle as well as pedestrian and bicycle travel.

Weigh in on Sprague

A public workshop on the University District and Sprague Avenue corridor will be on Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the South Campus Facility, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. at Riverpoint.

City staff and a consultant are working on land-use alternatives and concepts for street amenities.

The project is part of a wider effort to develop a University District Master Plan and is a companion project to the Division gateway project.

The $150,000 study aims to develop a green, transit-oriented land use and transportation plan for the Sprague corridor from Fiske to Pine streets.

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