With spring comes road construction season and the City of Spokane has a bunch of projects planned for this year.
Alert drivers already know that Second Avenue is down to one lane from Arthur Street to Division Street; this project is expected to be finished by early May. Also, between mid-May and early June, a few loose ends from last year’s Second Avenue construction project will be finished between Howard Street and Sunset Boulevard.
“They are putting on top lift (the final layer of pavement) and striping, it’s carryover from last year,” said Ann Deasy, public information coordinator for the City of Spokane.
The Second Avenue construction project will be finished in two phases.
“They grouped the two last phases together so, to citizens, it will look like two phases, not three,” said Deasy.
Among the road construction projects with the most impact is the Mission Avenue rehabilitation project, which will impact Mission from Napa Street to Greene Street.
“That one will run from mid-June to about mid-October,” said Deasy. Second Avenue should be completely back to normal by late July.
When the city begins working on a particular road construction project depends on many things, including when a contractor can do the job. Some of this summer’s projects are just going out for bid now.
Deasy said the city typically goes with the lowest bidder, which then must be approved by the City Council.
A lot of planning goes into each project.
“There are preconstruction meetings where they go over every little detail and figure out how long it’s going to take,” said Deasy. “Sometimes there are power poles that must be moved. Everything has to happen in a certain order.”
Commuters often ask why the city can’t do road construction work at night.
Deasy said a field engineer explained it to her this way: “To work at night you’ll need a lot of lights. When you are digging trenches at night and all the utility lines are laid bare, most of them are black making it very easy to cut one by accident.”
Paving can be done more safely at night and the city sometimes does put in a night crew, Deasy said.
The noise that comes with street construction often prevents night work in residential areas.
“You know that ‘beep, beep’ sound the trucks make when they back up? That can get pretty loud,” said Deasy.
Residential streets that feed into major arterials under construction are closed as work progresses, often leading to another problem: neighbors driving around or moving “road closed” signs.
“We put up those signs for safety reasons. There may be large holes in the street and you can fall into them,” said Deasy. “Construction equipment is heavy and loud and the operators can’t hear a car coming, and they don’t expect cars to be there.”
All inconveniences taken into consideration a smooth new road is usually popular in any neighborhood.
“People are usually really happy when it’s all done,” said Deasy.