Industrial growth along Interstate 90 southwest of Spokane is leading transportation engineers to take a serious look at interchange improvements at the Geiger Road and Medical Lake exits.
The arrival of Caterpillar Logistics off the Medical Lake exit underlines the need for better access to and from the freeway there.
The interchange was built in the 1970s and has a two-lane bridge crossing the freeway. In addition, it serves as the main route to Medical Lake on state Highway 902.
Traffic exiting the freeway encounters stop signs at the tops of the ramps, and half the traffic entering the freeway must make left turns in front of oncoming traffic.
“You have a lot of cross traffic,” said Al Gilson, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation in Spokane.
Industrial and commercial development to the south includes the major trucking firm Trans-System Inc., FedEx, Goodrich, Spokane Produce, Cummins Northwest, Inland Power and Light Co. and Freedom Truck Centers as well as service businesses and residences.
If local leaders are successful in attracting new businesses, the area could continue to develop industrially.
Of the two exits, the Geiger interchange is considered more functional because that exit has loop ramps for two of the four on-ramps. Those eliminate left turns from the overpass crossing.
However, a four-way stop at Geiger is close to the westbound exit ramp and is considered a design weakness.
Gilson said there is no money in the agency’s budget for designing, much less building, two new interchanges.
The Spokane Regional Transportation Council, which oversees transportation planning, has made improvements at the Medical Lake and Geiger exits one of its 20 top priorities for the Spokane region.
The estimated cost of the work is $15 million, according to the transportation council’s website.
Bike swap in works
Plans were announced last week for the first Spokane Bike Swap on March 24 and 25 at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center.
The Spokane Bike Swap team is working with Friends of the Centennial Trail to host the event, which organizers hope to hold annually.
Riders can put their bikes up for sale or shop the event for new and used bicycles and accessories. Local vendors will be at the swap, organizers said.
Shopping hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 24 and 9 a.m. to noon March 25.
People who want to sell a bike can expedite check-in by registering at SpokaneBikeSwap.com.
Bridge span reopens
The southbound portion of the Sullivan Road Bridge over the Spokane River was reopened to traffic Friday after work was completed to shore up the bridge so it can handle truck traffic.
Weight limits were imposed on the 1951 bridge in June after girders showed wear and hinge pins faced a danger of failing.
Metal reinforcements were attached to the girders and fastened to the bridge deck.
The city is planning to replace the southbound bridge with a $19.7 million project. About half of the money has been secured.
Citing the inconvenience and cost to commerce related to the weight restrictions, the Spokane Valley City Council decided to spend the money to fix the bridge until a replacement can be funded.
The city received a low bid of $156,000 for the reinforcement work.