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Argonne overhaul begins; traffic restricted for several weeks

Commuters who have North Argonne Road on their regular route might want to rethink things for the next few weeks. Spokane County started a major reconstruction project on Argonne between Wellesley Avenue and Bigelow Gulch Road on Monday.

“It is a full tear-out,” said Spokane County construction engineer Paul Lennemann.

Traffic is down to one lane in each direction. The southbound lanes are being ripped up first and all traffic will use the northbound lanes. Once an initial layer of pavement is down on the first side, construction crews will switch to the northbound lanes.

“Then we’ll top the whole thing at the same time,” he said.

Residents in the Northwood neighborhood are facing an additional challenge. Northbound traffic is not allowed to turn left on Columbia Drive, the main entrance to the housing development.

Northbound traffic will have to use Jensen Road to the north or Elton Drive on the south end of the development. At some points during construction Columbia Drive will be completely closed at Argonne and all traffic will have to use those secondary access roads, Lennemann said.

Left turns will be allowed in other areas, he said. “We have not restricted left turns into driveways,” he said. “We restricted Columbia Drive because there is so much traffic there.”

However, drivers making left turns will have to use extra care, he said. “They need to be very cautious of the workers in that construction zone,” Lennemann said.

Despite the traffic restrictions Lennemann said he doesn’t anticipate a lot of delays for drivers.

“Most of the traffic is light enough that it’s not going to cause too much concern,” he said. “People get organized and they can drive through pretty decent.”

On the first day of construction there was just one hiccup caused by a utility company doing some work in the road, Lennemann said. They rerouted traffic that had already been rerouted. “It was minorly confusing,” he said. But the utility work is now done and won’t be an issue, he said.

The project also includes the installation of a sidewalk on the east side of Argonne just north of Wellesley. “There are a few houses there on the east side on the corner right when you go up the hill,” he said.

The project is scheduled to be complete by Sept. 23. “It should be done quicker than that, but they are hedging their bets a bit,” Lennemann said.

Inland Asphalt is doing the job for $1.2 million, less than the county’s estimate of $1.7 million.