Engineers and project managers from the Spokane Valley Public Works Department met with business owners and residents Thursday evening to discuss the Sprague Avenue reconstruction project scheduled for this summer between Sullivan and Evergreen roads.
The project is still being designed, but right now the plan is to do the work in chunks. The first phase would be on the east end of the project and construction crews would do the westbound lanes and then the eastbound lanes. The west end of the project from Evergreen Road to just east of Adams Road would be completed in phase 2 and again the westbound and eastbound lanes would be done separately. During construction, traffic on Sprague would be limited to one lane in each direction with a center turn lane.
The road will be ripped up and replaced. Along the way crews will upgrade traffic signals, make the sidewalks compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act by installing ramps, and improve stormwater drainage. The project is expected to cost $3.8 million, 80 percent of which is being provided by a Transportation Improvement Board grant.
Construction crews will be required to leave driveways to businesses open during the project. “We want to be able to do it in a way that protects the business as much as possible,” said senior capital projects engineer Steve Worley.
The split between the two phases is midway between Adams and Progress roads. “During the different phases of construction, one intersection will always be open,” Worley said. The project was split into phases so the entire length of the road between Evergreen and Sullivan wouldn’t be under construction all at once, he said.
Many of the questions from the audience of two dozen people revolved around when the project would start and how long it would take. Work should begin in early to mid-May, said project manager Pete Fisch. Phase 1 should take between four and six weeks and phase 2 will likely last six to eight weeks, Fisch said.
Jennifer Johnson of Jennifer’s Auto Sales said that some recent road projects have lasted longer than planned. “Is your time frame feasible?” she asked.
Fisch said it is easy to determine how long the stormwater and sidewalk portions of the project will take, but delays are possible if something unexpected is discovered after the road is torn up. “I think they’re very realistic, but you’re digging underground,” Fisch said.
There won’t be firm dates available until after the project is designed and has gone out to bid, Worley said. Business owners will be notified of the start date and when their particular section of road will be worked on.
“How are we going to maintain the access to the buses, both east and west?” resident Margaret Mortz asked.
“Just like all our projects, we will be coordinating with Spokane Transit,” Worley said. “We haven’t quite got there yet.”
One man in the audience suggested having the construction crews work on the weekends to get the job done faster, but by a show of hands the business owners in the audience overwhelmingly indicated they didn’t like that option.
Tom Lewis, owner of Once Upon a Child, said he had concerns about customers being able to access his business. “My back to school is July and August,” he said. “If I miss that, I might as well close my doors.”
Fisch said Lewis’ store has two driveways and one will be kept open during construction.
“As long as one of them is open,” Lewis said. “If they shut both of them down, I’ve got eight angry women who work for me.”