Local news

Getting There: Francis Avenue tops street projects this year

The city of Spokane has a series of major arterial projects lined up for work this season, most of them financed through the $117 million voter-approved, multiyear street bond of 2004.

The biggest of the jobs is on the North Side, where a series of projects will see Francis Avenue torn up from Division to Havana streets.

Elsewhere, major work is planned on Lidgerwood Street, Euclid Avenue, 29th Avenue and Spokane Falls Boulevard.

Work on Francis Avenue should begin this spring.

The largest segment, from Division to Market Street, involves curb-to-curb renovation at a cost of $4.3 million and is being financed by the voter-approved bonds, which are repaid with property taxes.

On the east end of Francis, the city plans to contract a $2.2 million project to rebuild the segment from Freya to Havana streets.

Rather than using the street bond funds, the Freya-Havana segment is being financed with a state grant of gas taxes and local real estate excise taxes.

Work on that segment will start in April and be finished in July.

The new section will have two travel lanes in each direction, a middle turn lane, bike lanes and a planting strip.

Between the city’s two Francis projects, the state Transportation Department this year is removing the railroad overpass bridge just east of Market and replacing it with a larger bridge to accommodate the future path of the North Spokane Corridor.

During construction, a temporary at-grade crossing of the BNSF Railway tracks will be installed just to the north of the work site.

The cost is estimated at $38 million. Work will finish in 2013.

Elsewhere, Lidgerwood from North Avenue to Francis along with adjacent residential streets will be rehabilitated with new pavement at a cost of $1 million from the voter bonds.

Work there will begin in April and last until July.

On Euclid, plans call for replacing a water main and rehabilitating pavement from Crestline Street to Market at a cost of $1.9 million.

The combined project will use water department and voter bond funds. It will run from mid-May to mid-June.

On the South Hill, 29th Avenue from Grand Boulevard to High Drive will also get a new water main and pavement rehabilitation through water funds and voter bonds at a cost of $2.8 million.

In the downtown area, Spokane Falls Boulevard just east of Division to Sherman Street will be converted from a four-lane to a two-lane street with bike lanes and a landscaped median at Pine Street.

A federal grant is paying for that $950,000 job.

In addition, a historic iron railroad bridge over the Spokane River east of Gonzaga University is slated for conversion to a trail this summer after the project was postponed last year.

The bridge would connect to the Centennial Trail along the Spokane River at Superior Street and provide a spur route to the southeast side of the river. Recreation funds are being used for the job, estimated at between $600,000 and $1 million.

Few own hybrids

Hybrid automobiles are less common than people might think, according to a new survey conducted for PEMCO Insurance.

Fewer than 2 percent of drivers in Oregon and Washington said they own a hybrid. The vehicles operate on gasoline and battery power.

However, just over 50 percent of drivers in both states said they would consider buying one – they said their main consideration was price. Rising gas prices could motivate more people to consider the switch, the poll showed.

Freight office

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has proposed an amendment to the next transportation bill that would make planning for freight transportation a priority in government funding.

The amendment would create an Office of Freight Planning and Development within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The measure would require government entities overseeing different modes of freight transportation to coordinate efforts and to invest in the nation’s freight network.

Holiday patrols

Law officers in Spokane County will have extra eyes out on the road for the coming week in an effort to curb excessive drinking and driving over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

The patrols will continue through Sunday.

Last year, a similar emphasis patrol netted 74 arrests for impaired driving.

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