Members of the Spokane Valley Business Association seemed receptive to a plan to put in stormwater swales along Sprague Avenue between Thierman and Park roads during their meeting Wednesday, but they directed pointed questions to Spokane Valley staff members about plans to reduce the street from five lanes to four and reduce the number of driveways. The road will also be repaved during construction.
In addition to filtering stormwater, the swales will help beautify that stretch of road, which is home to several vacant buildings, said Spokane Valley assistant stormwater engineer Ryan Brodwater. There currently isn’t any grass or landscaping in the area. “It’s a vast expanse of asphalt and concrete,” he said.
Spokane Valley Fire Department Deputy Chief Larry Rider questioned why the city planned to maintain a merge lane just to the west of Thierman near the department’s fire station. The lane creates problems because it ends abruptly and sometimes traps drivers, Rider said.
“I see people stopped there all the time,” Rider said. “Turn it into a swale and stick a tree in it.”
The lane was added when the land nearby was developed, said Spokane Valley senior capital projects engineer Steve Worley.
Brodwater said he has visited the businesses in the area and that while most like the plan, several have expressed concerns about the street trees blocking their signs. “The majority of them really want the trees,” he said. Brodwater said he is working on plans with each business owner. The city wants large trees but has to consider the needs of businesses, he said. “We’re really trying to find that balance point,” he said.
Some business owners have said they do not want trees in front of their building, Brodwater said, so the city is looking at using shrubs in some places.
“We want the trees to go in but we’re not going to ram them in to anybody and say you have to have a tree,” he said.
“Will this reduce the number of curb cuts?” said business owner John Carroll.
Some businesses have driveways that are 100 feet wide and others have multiple driveways, Brodwater said. “We are getting rid of a few,” he said. “We have to narrow some and get rid of some.”
Business owner Karla Kayley said she was concerned that narrowing the road would eliminate any possibility of someday switching the road back to two-way traffic.
“You’re limiting the future traffic patterns,” she said.
“From staff’s perspective the one-way, two-way issue is decided,” Worley said, referring to last year’s vote on whether to switch it from one-way traffic. “Right now there is no plan to do anything different with Sprague and Appleway.”
But it would be easy enough to move the curbs out in the future to make the road wider just like the curbs are being moved in now to make the road narrower, Worley said.
“This is the project now,” he said. “It does not prevent any work in the future.”
The city hopes to have the swale and paving project out to bid by August, said Brodwater. “We’re charging ahead as fast as we can,” he said.
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