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Road grants approved

Hearings will discuss lessening impact on Sprague

The Spokane Valley City Council decided Tuesday to accept two road construction grants and not to apply for a federal grant for two proposed trail projects.

The city was recently notified that it was awarded two of seven grants it applied for with the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board. A grant of $792,000 will help pay to connect Mansfield Avenue east of Pines Road to Mirabeau Parkway. The city has already received a federal grant for the project plus nearly $200,000 from developers. The city’s share of the project is just under $100,000.

The second TIB grant of $3 million will pay to reconstruct Sprague Avenue from Evergreen to Sullivan roads with the city chipping in $775,000 plus $100,000 in design costs. The Sprague project is a “rapid action” project and the contractor must be given notice to proceed by May 18, said senior engineer Steve Worley. “If we do not meet those dates for this project, the money is automatically rescinded,” he said.

Construction on the Mansfield Avenue project will probably take place in 2013, he said.

City staff is planning to hold a public meeting on the Sprague project to get input on how to proceed with the project in order to minimize the disruption to businesses along Sprague, Worley said. “We know this is going to impact traffic,” he said. “It’s very difficult to do a project of this size without impacting someone.”

Councilman Arne Woodard asked if the Sprague and Adams intersection would be replaced with concrete. That intersection isn’t in bad shape and there are no plans to put in concrete, Worley said. “It would lengthen the time for the project.”

The council nixed applying for the trail grants during a discussion on available capital project funds. Staff had suggested last week that applications could be submitted to get funding for the Spokane Valley-Millwood Trail and Greenacres Trail, both proposed for old railroad rights of way. Woodard said there is only $800,000 left in a fund usually used for matching funds for grant projects and one of the trails would require about that amount in matching funds. Woodard said he couldn’t see spending that much of the money on a single project. “We have some other projects that are halfway in the works,” he said.

“Street preservation is the number one goal for me,” said Councilman Chuck Hafner. “We’re falling behind now.”

Councilman Dean Grafos suggested funding a few capital projects in 2012, including a study on railroad quiet zones at Vista and Park roads north of Trent, landscaping swales on Sprague Avenue, landscaping at University Road and Appleway Boulevard and an entry sign near Appleway and Thierman Road.

“Of course, that’s in addition to the temporary fix on the Sullivan Bridge,” Woodard said. Councilman Bill Gothmann said he liked the list of projects. “I’m concerned that we don’t neglect the (street) preservation,” Gothmann said.

The city can pay for the swales on Sprague with stormwater money, but the other projects couldn’t be paid for with the city’s street preservation money, said finance director Mark Calhoun. “The trick is to figure out how we’re going to pay for them,” he said.

Grafos urged moving forward with the projects as soon as possible because of the favorable bidding climate. The city can’t afford to wait until street preservation is fully funded, he said. “We’re going to end up doing nothing again next year,” he said. “I don’t think we can just sit here. It’s going to be years until we solve the street preservation problem.”

Gothmann said he favored moving ahead with the quiet zone study. “It’s the first step,” he said. “If you don’t take the first step it will never get done.”

In other business, the council also discussed the design of the entryway sign near Appleway and Thierman and how much landscaping should surround it. Council members seemed to favor an option that included several trees and a grassy area in front of the sign, but they were concerned about the estimated cost of $113,000. That option is more fully developed and includes a new sidewalk on the south side to “create a nice visual welcome,” said Parks and Recreation Department Director Mike Stone.

The Spokane Valley Arts Council has also expressed interest in donating a piece of art for the site, Stone said. “This is going to be our front door,” he said. “This is quite a large space.”

A second design option with less landscaping would cost an estimated $89,000. “Whatever we do, we need to do it right,” Hafner said.

Woodard suggested using volunteers to help lower the cost. “We could do an awful lot of things on that site,” he said.

During the meeting the council voted unanimously, with Mayor Tom Towey absent, to approve allowing enclosed recycling facilities in mixed-use, regional commercial and community commercial zones.

A second unanimous vote approved a quit claim deed to transfer ownership of a portion of Brown’s Park at 32nd Avenue and Pines to the city. The land had been given to the Spokane Valley Fire Department by Spokane County in 1977 for a new fire station. The station was never built, said Deputy City Attorney Kelly Konkright. “They have no intention of using this property,” he said.

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