River users may have noticed some changes that were made this week to the area used to access the north shore of the Spokane River next to the Barker Bridge.
In a cooperative project, both the city of Spokane Valley and the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club are paying for improvements to allow easier access to the river.
The city did some grading to fix the slope of the access and moved bollards from the top of the shoreline next to the bridge down closer to the water line. With the bollards up by the road there wasn’t enough room to park and unload kayaks, said senior engineer Steve Worley. “It gives more room for the car to park so they can load and unload their stuff, and keeps them out of the roadway,” he said.
The grading was necessary because some dirt was left behind after the bridge construction was completed, Worley said. River users complained that the access was steeper and there was a sharp dropoff at the water’s edge. “We went out there and took some elevation shots and then compared it to the original ground elevation,” Worley said.
The city was on the hook to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 to restore the site to its previous condition because the extra dirt wasn’t noticed until after the city had accepted the bridge work as complete, Worley said. “That contract is closed,” he said. “We made a mistake accepting it the way it is. You hate to admit that you made a mistake, but in this case we did.”
The contractor the city hired to do the improvements, which are all above the high-water mark, had to wait until there was two days of dry weather to avoid having dirt wash into the river.
Terry Miller of the Canoe and Kayak Club was glad to finally have the work done. “Pretty soon we’ll have a real access,” he said.
The club came up with plans to use $3,500 in membership fees to pay for improvements as well. The group wanted to put in a 10-foot pathway down to the river, hydro seed the bank and add native plants. “The club has also pledged to keep these watered for the first two years,” Miller said.
Miller’s group has been in discussions with the city for years about river access at the site, dating back to when construction plans for the new Barker Bridge were just beginning. In response the city moved where the bridge would be built in order to maintain access. Now Miller said he believes access will be even better than it was before.
“It’s been a long battle,” he said. “This is probably more than I expected. The city said they would put it back to the original condition, which was just a path going down. It’s more than we had originally hoped for.”