When the Spokane City Council approved a new $20 vehicle license tax in February, members added a provision that sets aside 10 percent of the collections for sidewalk work.
City staff members quickly realized they needed guidance in how to spend about $260,000 a year for sidewalks out of the $2.6 million in new street funding.
City planners are now seeking the public’s help in deciding how to spend the new sidewalk money. The result will be incorporated into a city pedestrian plan.
Last week, the first in a series of open houses at West Central Community Center was held to find out what people want in the way of pedestrian facilities, including trails.
More neighborhood meetings are planned, but have not been scheduled, said planner Dave Steele.
The city has 650 miles of streets that lack sidewalks. In addition, most residential areas do not have handicapped ramps at intersections.
The sidewalks alone would cost an estimated $100 million to build.
The city has been tackling the sidewalk deficit in recent years. In 2010, more than 23,000 feet of new sidewalks were installed, along with 650 new curb ramps.
Having a pedestrian plan would help the city win state and federal transportation grants for sidewalks, Steele said.
Planners already have created a map that identifies locations heavily used by pedestrians such as schools, parks, shopping areas and apartment buildings.
Then they compared that to locations lacking sidewalks, helping to create a list of potential priority areas for the new spending.
Steele said planners are suggesting a goal of building new sidewalks in 80 percent of the priority areas within five years, if that is feasible.
“Is that a realistic goal?” he asked. The city planning staff wants to set a goal that is attainable, he said.
The new pedestrian plan should be completed by the end of the year and will become part of the broader comprehensive land use plan in the city.
Written comments on the pedestrian plan may be made to Nikole Coleman-Porter, City of Spokane, Planning Services Department, RE: Pedestrian Plan Update, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, WA. 99201-3329.
I-90 lanes closing
New lane restrictions are going into place on Interstate 90 west of the downtown area.
Eastbound traffic approaching the U.S. Highway 2 interchange will be funneled into a single lane on the overpass at Abbott Road. The overpass bridge is being repaired.
Eastbound and westbound traffic will be reduced to two lanes at the Latah Creek Bridge near downtown.
State officials said the restrictions in both locations will be in place for months during the work.
The job involves grinding of pavement to remove ruts caused by studded tires.
Message sign on I-90
A variable message sign is being installed along the westbound shoulder of I-90 just east of Havana Street.
Crews have been working adjacent to the shoulder there.
Crossings getting LEDs
Two railroad crossings on highways in Lincoln County are being upgraded with a grant from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to the Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad.
New flashing light-emitting diode crossing lights are going in near Brace Road in Wilbur. In Almira, incandescent lamps in an existing crossing sign near Third Avenue are being upgraded with LEDs.
Grant upgrade begins
Another big Spokane city reconstruction project gets under way today.
Grand Boulevard from 37th Avenue to High Drive will be closed so that a sewer main, curb ramps and a new street surface can be installed.
The street reconstruction portion is being funded through a voter bond issue in 2004.
Fund for crash victim
A fund has been set up for a Liberty Lake woman who was badly injured in a head-on collision on Interstate 90 west of Spokane on April 24.
Jessica L. Sharp, 20, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where she was in stable condition late last week.
Sharp is undergoing surgeries for broken bones and is expected to remain there for some time, according to a family member.
A fund to help with uncovered medical costs was established in her name at Washington Trust Bank.
A 73-year-old man who collided with her was killed. He was going east in the westbound lanes, according to the Washington State Patrol. The accident was under investigation. Another driver was also injured.