Getting There: License fees will improve city roads
$1 million approved for citywide projects
The first Spokane street maintenance jobs financed by a new vehicle license fee will be getting under way across the city in the next few weeks.
The City Council last Monday approved about $1 million in a pair of contracts for the work.
Each of the council’s three districts will get a share of the spending to ensure equitability for vehicle owners who are paying the $20 supplemental fee on annual licenses.
The council last year formed a special transportation benefit district to add the extra money for street and sidewalk work and upkeep.
The fee raises about $2.5 million a year.
The money is on top of a voter-approved street bond dating back to 2004.
Spokane Rock Products Inc. won the contract to repave three segments of arterial roads for $447,800.
Work is slated on Cook Street from Empire to Rich avenues; Woodside Avenue from Five Mile Road to Lindeke Street; and 18th Avenue from Thor to Freya streets.
In the second contract, Shamrock Paving Inc., of Spokane, will get $542,300 for a series of chip-seal jobs to apply oil and crushed rock to residential streets.
The chip-seal program is relatively new to Spokane, but is widely used by Spokane County and the state Department of Transportation.
In northwest Spokane, Princeton Place and adjacent residential streets south of Joe Albi Stadium will get the chip-sealing.
In the northeast part of the city, Mayfair and Lidgerwood streets from Bridgeport to Empire avenues and Kiernan and Providence avenues from Division to Addison streets will be chip-sealed.
On the South Side, Wall Street from 14th to 18th avenues and 15th, 16th and 17th avenues from Lincoln to Bernard streets will be part of the work.
Councilman Mike Allen said he wants the street department to do similar jobs to determine whether it is less expensive to use departmental staff rather than hiring a contractor.
Street Director Mark Serbousek said he is planning a comparison.
City crews in recent years have been repaving arterials, including North Hamilton Street and North Foothills Drive, as part of the city’s overall maintenance plan.
Coal trains report
A report prepared for the Western Organization of Resource Councils estimates that coal shipments through the Northwest will increase from 5 million tons this year to 170 million tons in 2022.
Shipping that coal will bring up to 63 trains a day through Spokane a decade from now, the report said.
A large share of the coal will travel on the BNSF Railway main line from Sandpoint to Spokane in trains as long as 125 to 150 cars. That’s more than a mile long.
The rail segment from Sandpoint to Spokane is often called “the funnel,” according to the report.
The increased traffic brings concerns about costs to communities in case of a spill, the report said.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber recently called for an environmental impact statement on the shipments because of concerns about water quality, risk to protected fish species, coal dust emissions, air pollution and creation of greenhouse gases. Also, the governor cited potential delays to the public at grade crossings.
The report is titled “Heavy Traffic Ahead: Rail Impacts of Powder River Basin Coal to Asia by Way of Pacific Northwest Terminals.” The Spokane City Council also has asked for a study.
The coal is being shipped from Wyoming and Montana strip mines to China to fuel its expanding economy.
New bridge deck
The Columbia River Bridge at Kettle Falls on U.S. Highway 395 will be getting a new deck as part of a project that starts July 23.
The existing pavement is pockmarked from numerous patches since the bridge opened in 1940.
Drivers will be limited to one lane with traffic controlled by a temporary signal.
The contractor is planning 20 overnight closures – from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. – as crews pour the new concrete surface.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission last week announced that Extraordinary Moving LLC was fined $3,000 for operating in the state without a permit.
The company was ordered to stop operations in Washington.
The commission agreed to waive $2,700 of the penalty after two years if the owner, Todd Gillhoover, complies with state requirements.
Movers in Washington must charge proper rates, carry insurance and keep their vehicles maintained for safety, the commission said.
The Transportation Security Administration held a graduation ceremony last week at Spokane International Airport for TSA officers who completed an eight-month training program in homeland security studies through a partnership with Spokane Community College.