The sweeping bridges over U.S. Highway 395 north of Wandermere will come to life with traffic on Wednesday with the opening of the northernmost segment of the North Spokane Corridor.
Completion of the two miles from U.S. Highways 2 to 395 will connect to the already opened segment north of Francis Avenue.
“It’s exciting because that means we are going to have over five miles of high-speed connection,” said Al Gilson, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation in Spokane.
A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The event is open to the public and can be reached by taking the northbound on-ramp from Farwell Road.
Those who attend will get to drive the route afterward.
The route will be opened to all traffic a few hours after the ribbon cutting.
Currently, the opened section of the corridor draws an average of 7,000 vehicles a day.
WSDOT engineers said they believe traffic will likely increase to 14,000 or 15,000 vehicles a day after the new segment is opened.
It is possible that an increasing number of long-haul trucks will start using the route rather than Division Street, Gilson said.
The connection from the NSC to Interstate 90 is on the Market-Greene-Freya corridor.
The work on the new two-mile segment was completed by Graham Construction and Management in Spokane under a $38 million contract.
Work is continuing for several more months on the southbound lanes from Freya to Farwell and an interchange at Parksmith Road.
A roundabout to serve southbound traffic at the Freya interchange is also under construction.
Bids are being sought for construction of a new overpass bridge for Francis and realignment of BNSF tracks to make room for the next leg of the freeway from Francis to the Spokane River.
However, only partial funding for that segment is available.
Spokane officials are hoping that the Federal Highway Administration will approve a $19 million jobs grant for additional work on the next segment, Gilson said.
So far, about $600 million has been spent on the project, and another $1.3 billion is needed to complete the freeway to I-90, which includes major upgrades to I-90 through east Spokane. The total NSC distance will be 10.5 miles.
NSC lane closures
The North Spokane Corridor’s northbound and southbound lanes will be closed tonight and Tuesday night from 9 p.m. until as long as 4 a.m. the next day for installation of an overhead sign. Traffic will be detoured to Market Street.
New TDC head
E. Susan Meyer, chief executive officer of Spokane Transit Authority, has been elected to the board of the Transit Development Corp.
The TDC is a national nonprofit educational and research organization that identifies, prioritizes and provides guidance on public transportation research, the STA said in a news release.
Al French, chair of the STA board, said Meyer’s election will put her in a good position to implement the latest strategies and technology in transit.
Intercity bus line
The Idaho Department of Transportation and Community Transportation Association of Idaho are considering an intercity bus line from Bonners Ferry to Boise to start in 2013. For more information, contact CTAI Executive Director Heather Wheeler at (208) 344-2354.
Lower speed limit
A 20 mph summer speed limit is now in effect along East Mission Avenue at Valley Mission Park. The slower limit is posted to protect park users crossing the street at the park.
I-90 lane closures
Westbound I-90 at Freya will be reduced to two lanes on Wednesday from 9 a.m. until as late as 3 p.m. for light pole replacement and landscape maintenance.
The second phase of construction on Sprague Avenue will start today with work moving to the south side of Sprague between Sullivan Road and the 14900 block of Sprague. Sprague will be reduced to one lane in each direction.
Also, on University Road, curb lane closures are likely through the construction project from Fourth to 16th avenues.
Maintenance of state highways in rural areas is under way this week and may cause delays. Crews are doing crack sealing on U.S. 2 from Wilbur to the Grant County line, where recessed pavement markers are also being installed.
Work is also scheduled on state Highway 21 from state Highway 260 to the vicinity of U.S. Highway 395 and state Highway 27 from Rockford to Garfield.
Blasting at the pass
I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass will close for an hour for blasting work on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. In addition, rolling slowdowns are possible during work hours.
Concrete rehabilitation work from Easton to Big Creek will also force nighttime closures of lanes, leaving one lane open in each direction. The closures will run from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.