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Sullivan strategy approved

During Sullivan Road bridge replacement construction, the Centennial Trail that runs under the bridge will have a roof placed over it. (Jesse Tinsley)
During Sullivan Road bridge replacement construction, the Centennial Trail that runs under the bridge will have a roof placed over it. (Jesse Tinsley)

Under plan, park area should be doubled

The city of Spokane Valley has reached an agreement with Riverside State Park, the Spokane River Forum and the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club to minimize and mitigate impacts to Sullivan Park and the Centennial Trail during construction of the Sullivan Bridge replacement. The City Council voted unanimously to approve the plan during Tuesday’s council meeting.

The contractor will use a portion of Sullivan Park as a staging area during construction, said senior capital projects engineer Steve Worley. In order to make up for the temporary loss of open space, the city will add to the west side of the park. “We are proposing to create more open space than currently exists,” Worley said.

The Centennial Trail, which passes under the bridge, will have a roof placed over it so it can remain open except for brief periods when construction or demolition is taking place directly above. “We will provide detour routes during those brief closures,” Worley said.

As part of the mitigation, there are plans to build a river access trail that will start at Sullivan Park, cross under the bridge on the north shore and end near a current informal river put-in used by kayakers and rafters. The steep river bank that is currently being eroded because people are using it to get to the river will be restored. “Everything the contractor disturbs as part of this project must be restored,” Worley said.

When new open space is created for Sullivan Park, a second picnic shelter will also be built. The new space will remain after the contractor leaves the park and restores the area used during construction. “When the project is over we will end up with a park area that is more than doubled in size,” he said.

No date has been set for the start of construction. The city is still looking for grant money to help pay for the estimated $19.5 million price tag.

In other business, the council also voted to create an I-90 business route stretching from the Sprague Avenue exit to the Barker Road exit. Mike King of NIA Black spoke in favor of the concept. “It will have a direct impact and benefit to the business community on the Sprague Avenue route,” he said.

Councilman Ben Wick noted that the $60,000 cost would come from the city’s newly created capital projects reserve fund intended for large projects like the Sullivan Bridge and park development. When the council voted to create the fund, both Wick and Mayor Tom Towey objected, saying that previous dedicated reserve accounts had been used for other projects over the years. While those projects were good projects, Towey said, having one large fund made it too easy to empty it a little at a time.

“It’s another one of those good projects,” Wick said, referring to the business route designation, which he ultimately voted against.

The council also voted to begin a University Road overpass study. There has been talk for decades about erecting an I-90 overpass at University Road, said traffic engineer Inga Note. In recent years the discussion has included a bike/pedestrian overpass. The study will look at the area between Pines Road and Argonne Road and how to improve access and traffic flow. “It doesn’t have a lot of ways in and out,” Note said.

Councilman Arne Woodard expressed concern about spending money on the study when there were more important projects to worry about. Woodard said he wasn’t in favor of doing the study if it would take away from the efforts to build overpasses over the BNSF railroad tracks. “I know we have quite a list of major projects,” he said. “I really think we’re jumping the gun here.”

Wick said the city received a grant for the study and only has to pay $33,711 of the $216,000 cost. Wick lives in the area that will be studied and agrees it can be a hassle to get in and out of the neighborhood. Doing the study will help the city move forward, he said.

“It doesn’t bind us to anything,” he said.

Woodard was the only council member to vote against doing the study.