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Getting There: State designing upgrades for I-90

Mon., May 16, 2011

Extra lanes, improved interchanges planned for Barker-to- Harvard section, once funds ready

Big freeway improvements take so long to plan and build that state engineers have already started design work on improvements to Interstate 90 from Barker to Harvard roads even though there is no money to pay for it.

Last month, the Washington State Department of Transportation held an open house in Spokane Valley to talk about design concepts for improving the Barker-to-Harvard stretch. Nearly 100 people turned out.

WSDOT spokesman Al Gilson said engineers were still studying comments so they can incorporate some of the ideas into their plans.

“This part of I-90, as it exists today, was designed and built in the early 1950s, when Liberty Lake was home to lakeside cottages and small neighborhoods,” Gilson said.

WSDOT engineers want to add an additional lane in each direction from the west side of Barker Road to the vicinity of Harvard Road.

The two interchanges would be reconfigured to improve access and traffic flow.

An overcrossing and ramps would be removed at milepost 294 at Greenacres to improve the flow on the main line.

A concrete median and storm water treatment would be added. The storm water ponds would improve the quality of runoff seeping into the ground and eventually the aquifer, source of the region’s drinking water.

Electronic connections and signs would be added as part of the Intelligent Transportation System. Lighting would be improved.

The estimated cost is $85 million.

For more information, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i90/spokaneidahostline/ and click on the Barker to Harvard Design Concepts link in the upper left corner of the page.

That Web page shows several design concepts for each of the two interchanges at Barker and Harvard.

Peddling a different commute

Bike to Work Week has already started, but today is the kickoff breakfast at Riverfront Park at 7 a.m.

More bicycle riders will be out this week, so drivers need to be extra cautious.

Morning energizer stations will be operating on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 a.m.

A ride of silence is planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The ride of silence is a worldwide event to honor those who have been killed or injured on public roads and highways. It is intended to raise awareness of the need to share the road. Riders are asked to go no more than 12 mph.

The 3.4-mile ride starts at the southeast corner of Riverside Avenue and Howard Street.

For more information about the ride of silence, call Jeanna Hofmeister at (509) 742-9372 or visit jhofmeister@visitspokane.com.

A wrap-up party for the week will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Friday at Steam Plant Grill.

For more information about bike events, go to spokanebikes.net.

Group sponsors fitness events

Summer Parkways Spokane is putting on three events in different neighborhoods this year after two successful outings along the Howard Street Corridor last year.

They will be 6 to 9 p.m. June 22 in the Comstock/Manito Neighborhood; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 24 in the North Hill Neighborhood; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 14 in the Northwest Neighborhood.

The events feature non-motorized wheeled transportation and exercise stations along the four-mile routes. They become community fitness celebrations.

For more information, go to summerparkways.com/about/.

West Side picks up rail funds

High-speed rail improvements on the West Side got another boost last week when the state of Washington announced it will get an additional $15 million for the Amtrak Cascades service between Portland and Vancouver, B.C.

The money comes from funding that had been set aside for Florida but was rejected by political leaders in that state. The money is part of the economic stimulus package adopted by Congress in 2009.

That brings Washington’s total for rail funding to $781 million. The newest money will go for improving existing chokepoints in the main rail line used by the Cascades service.



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