October 22, 2012 in City

Getting There: Five Mile Prairie Pathways plan OK’d

Plan will guide bike, pedestrian accommodations
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Two years of work by residents of Five Mile Prairie has resulted in a comprehensive plan for developing bicycle and pedestrian pathways.

The plan acknowledges the challenges of creating safe routes on roads that were built to serve a largely rural area.

“Our community input revealed there are several key routes that a significant number of Five Mile residents see as a high priority for improvement to create safe walking and biking,” a Five Mile Prairie Pathways report says.

Spokane County commissioners last week approved a resolution accepting the plan as a guide to future development.

The plan recognizes the difficulties of building bike and pedestrian lanes along the narrow country-style roads built decades ago. It calls for bike and pedestrian routes connecting the top of the prairie with the services and neighborhoods below.

Cedar Road on the east approach is an example of the challenge.

“Cedar is a critical hillside transportation corridor, connecting the hilltop neighborhoods with major destinations below,” the report says.

“Yet it is extremely narrow and steep with severe blind curves and relatively heavy fast traffic. To make matters worse, paving is poor so drivers are often dodging potholes. Without widening, the route is not suitable for bicycles or pedestrians.”

Austin Road is unpaved and narrow, but it connects with the newer Quamish Drive. Because traffic is lighter, it is a more suitable route for walkers and bike riders. The west end of Strong Road is steep and unpaved but would make a great connector to the Indian Trail neighborhood below the prairie.

Five Mile Road on the south approach to the prairie is now the only suitable bike and pedestrian access up and down the prairie bluffs.

The plan calls for building safer routes on the prairie itself, including Five Mile, Strong and Johannsen roads, especially near schools and Sky Prairie Park.

Johannsen Road at Prairie View Elementary School is a top candidate for major improvements. “At present, most of the road lacks even basic shoulders for walking, making it an unsafe route to school,” the plan said.

A speed zone in front of Five Mile Prairie School at Strong and Five Mile roads and crosswalks on Five Mile Road are recommended. Bike lanes and sidewalks are sought in that area.

Lincoln Road between Five Mile Road and F Street needs a sidewalk, and Cedar Road from Chaucer Avenue to Johannsen needs to be widened, the plan says.

The pathways planning group said improvements will be built in phases over coming years, with safety as the top priority.

Grand plans for Francis

Delay in reconstruction of Francis Avenue from Division to Market streets until 2013 was not due to layoffs in the city real estate office, said Jan Quintrall, director of business and developer services.

Rather, the city decided to seek federal grants for installation of an intelligent transportation system, which would provide for traffic monitoring cameras like those along Interstate 90. The federal government requires independent appraisals and other acquisition techniques before it will approve grant requests, she said.

The city hopes to leverage its $4.7 million plan for the street improvements into matching grant money, Quintrall said.

Wall Street now two-way

The conversion of Wall Street from a one-way to a two-way street from Third to Riverside avenues should be finished by today. The $484,000 project will improve shuttle bus service in the downtown area.

Bridge on 395 closed for work

The Columbia River Bridge on U.S. Highway 395 at Kettle Falls will be closed tonight as well as on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following mornings for work on a new bridge deck. A detour is on the Northport-Flat Creek Road and state Highway 25.

Lane changes on Interstate 90

New westbound I-90 lanes east of Snoqualmie Pass were scheduled to open last week in a section that is being widened to six lanes along Keechelus Lake.

But eastbound traffic will be reduced to a single lane of travel this week for bridge work at South Cle Elum Way.

Panel seeks advisory members

The Spokane Regional Transportation Council is seeking new community members for its transportation advisory committee, which provides input on policies.

For more information or to apply, call Staci Lehman at (509) 343-6387 or go online to srtc.org/tac_page.html.


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