On Dec. 10, the city of Spokane website stated “the railroad bisects the University District.” That assertion implies there is a problem to be solved. However, there is no connectivity problem here.
The business district on the south side of the railroad, directly south of the Washington State University area, is home to many thriving small businesses, most doing business unrelated to university activity to the north. The construction of a towering “iconic sense of place” bike/foot bridge would do little for those businesses, and would be navigated mostly by weekend exercise seekers and summer tourists. The planned bike/pedestrian bridge will be of little use during cold weather and does not warrant the multimillion dollar gamble that it might spur development.
Here is a better plan: Extend Martin Luther King Jr. Way parallel to the BNSF tracks, under the Hamilton bridge, to join up with North Erie Street. Pave, curb and light North Erie Street and its forgotten railroad underpass. This would facilitate auto, bike and pedestrian traffic to Sprague Avenue and First and Second avenues (in all kinds of weather).
The area to the south of this railroad underpass and east all the way to Freya holds greater potential for an increase in investment and development.