With the prospect of traffic tie-ups from construction on Interstate 90 this spring and summer, local officials are making plans for a public information campaign to help motorists negotiate Spokane-area roads.
The Washington State Department of Transportation and city of Spokane will team up with business organizations to spread the word on the best ways to avoid being stuck in traffic.
Three major projects are planned on I-90. Also, Division Street from Euclid to Francis avenues is going to be repaved.
In addition, the city of Spokane is planning major work on Second and Mission avenues in east Spokane, which will shut down two potential alternative routes for east-west travel.
The biggest bottlenecks are likely to be on I-90 near the Latah Creek Bridge and Sunset Hill, as well as two overpass bridges at Altamont and Havana streets in east Spokane.
Because those jobs involve major concrete work, there is no way they can be scheduled at night, said Al Gilson, spokesman for the WSDOT.
As a result, traffic will be reduced through the construction zones.
As it is, I-90 through east Spokane often gets congested during the spring and summer driving season, even without lane restrictions.
“It’s going to be a busy summer season,” Gilson said.
Agencies are creating a website for motorists. They will also produce advertisements and brochures, and they are working with event organizers to warn participants of the potential bottlenecks.
In addition, maps, newsletters and brochures will be circulated through the community.
Part of the effort involves identifying the best alternate routes and encouraging local drivers to use those.
The Downtown Spokane Partnership, Greater Spokane Incorporated and the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau are expected to participate in the effort.
A similar campaign in 2007 prevented I-90 through downtown from becoming jammed during reconstruction of the viaduct that year.
By reducing local traffic loads on I-90, there is greater likelihood that tourists and commerce will keep moving on the transportation lifeline.
The job on I-90 southwest of downtown involves repairing broken pavement and grinding down ruts caused by studded tires from the viaduct to Geiger Road. Acme Concrete Paving Co., of Spokane, is the low bidder at $7.8 million.
The job also includes overpass repairs at Abbott Road; replacement of broken concrete panels along the route; upgraded lighting and guardrails; and new signs.
Rebuilding the bridges over Altamont and Havana will cost $941,000 under a bid by Westway Construction Inc., of Medical Lake.
The state is also planning to widen I-90 from four to six lanes from Sullivan to Barker Roads. Acme is the low bidder at $14.9 million.
Work on all three freeway projects starts this spring.
Sending a message
The wrecked car of a Western Washington teenager who died in an accident last year is being taken to high schools in the Puget Sound area and shown to other teens as a warning.
The 19-year-old woman who was killed may well have been text messaging and driving when she crashed her Chevrolet Cobalt into a guardrail. Phone records showed that she was using her mobile phone at the same time as the accident, the Washington State Patrol said this week.
The car is being shown this week at Lake Washington High School where the DECA club has produced a project called “Don’t Let an LOL Become an OMG.”
A Lake Washington student, Shannon Bebee, was quoted by troopers as saying that most teens “don’t realize the risks they pose to themselves and others when they take their eyes off the road for even a millisecond.”
It is illegal in Washington to text while driving.
Traffic on Market Street will be reduced to one lane Tuesday and Wednesday nights so that construction material can be removed in the vicinity of Hawthorne Road. The work will occur from 7:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. both nights.