North Spokane corridor wins $10 million grant
The North Spokane Corridor project is going to receive another $10 million in federal transportation funds to continue work on the freeway in the vicinity of Hillyard, government officials said this morning.
The money will pay for realignment of mainline and spur tracks of the BNSF Railway line in the vicinity of Francis Avenue and Hillyard and a one-mile extension into Hillyard of a pedestrian and bicycle trail that is part of the freeway project.
The initial announcement of the grant came from the office of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. Later, a joint press release from Cantwell; U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.; and Cathy McMorris Rodgers extolled the virtues of moving freight and traffic more quickly across North Spokane. They said the corridor will bypass 29 stop lights when finished.
They cited efforts by local leaders who visited federal officials to lobby for the money.
The grant was one of three requests from Washington state for funding under a continuation of an economic stimulus program known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or Tiger funds.
But it is just a small fraction of the $1.3 billion it will take to finish the southern five miles of the NSC from Francis Avenue southward to Interstate 90, where plans call for a new interchange and reconstruction of I-90 with feeder lanes through East Spokane.
Last week, the northernmost segment was opened from U.S. Highway 2 to U.S. Highway 395 at Wandermere, allowing unimpeded traffic at freeway speeds between Wandermere and Freya Street just north of Francis Avenue, a distance of 5.5 miles. A pair of roundabouts will serve the interchange at Freya north of Francis, the second of which is now under construction.
Also, work continues on the southbound lanes from Farwell Road to Freya. Two-way traffic currently is running on the northbound lanes, but that traffic will move onto its final freeway configuration once the southbound lanes are finished later this year..
Bids are being sought for construction of a larger replacement bridge for Francis Avenue to pass over the freeway lanes and rail tracks. Traffic will be routed onto a temporary grade crossing during demolition of the existing bridge and construction of the new bridge, expected to be finished in 2013.
The Tiger grant will pay for the next step in the process of moving the freeway toward the Spokane River.
However, funding packages needed to continue the work are not currently in the picture, officials have said.