The greenest grass in town can now be found along Sprague Avenue in Spokane Valley.
With the majority of a $1.2 million stormwater project between Thierman and Park roads near completion, the aesthetic aspects of the project are now under way.
Of the total cost, the city is spending about $166,000 to beautify the half-mile strip of the westbound side of the split-lane thoroughfare.
After reducing the road from five lanes to four, the extra space was used to put in grassy areas and trees between driveways.
Steve Worley, senior capital projects engineer for the city, said the grass is more than just aesthetically pleasing.
As water runs off the roadways, it is now funneled through the grassy areas, called swales, where the grass and soil act as filters before the water goes into wells and the aquifer.
“Treating it through grass is a very, very effective way of cleaning the stormwater,” Worley said.
Improved sidewalks, complete with ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, were also part of the project. In several areas, the previous sidewalks had utility poles in the middle of the concrete. The newly poured sidewalks now skirt the poles.
Worley said safety was a concern, especially for people with disabilities. With the fifth lane of the road removed, there is also more of a buffer between traffic and pedestrians.
Since construction began in mid-September, lane use has been reduced to three or two lanes in the area. Worley said all four lanes should be open in two weeks as crews leave for the winter.
In the spring, he said, crews will return for the last phase of the plan, a $334,000 asphalt resurfacing project on the same stretch of road.
Worley said the city received a grant for $667,000 to pay for a chunk of the $1.2 million project. The rest is coming from stormwater and road improvement budgets.
With this project, City Council saw an opportunity to improve the look of that area of town, Worley said. Several maple-type trees have been planted between the approximately 40 new concrete driveways. However, the primary focus was the swales and irrigation.
“This project does protect the aquifer by treating the runoff,” Worley said. “That’s where our drinking water comes from.”