Changes are coming to the North Sullivan Road corridor this spring and summer as the city of Spokane Valley prepares to tear down and rebuild the west Sullivan Bridge that carries southbound traffic over the Spokane River.
City staff outlined the bridge replacement plans during a public meeting Wednesday at CenterPlace and also talked about plans to redo the storm drains on the bridge and repave Sullivan Road from just north of the bridge to Trent Avenue.
Senior capital projects engineer Steve Worley said the city has all but $4 million of the $19.8 million needed to replace the bridge. The city is seeking funding from the state, and Worley asked citizens and business owners to send letters of support to the state Legislature. Worley joked that they might pass the hat during Wednesday’s meeting. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’re hoping to get there soon,” he said.
The design of the new bridge is about 60 percent complete, and environmental permitting is under way, Worley said. Construction could start as soon as this fall.
This summer the city plans to expand Sullivan Park, which is located next to the bridge. The contractor will use the park as a staging area during construction, and the park must be expanded first so people can still use it. Some trees on the west side of the park will be cleared and grass and a picnic shelter put in, said project manager Craig Aldworth. “The river access will still be able to be used this summer,” he said.
The project to grind and overlay Sullivan Road will go out to bid in February, with construction scheduled to begin in April. In the first phase, the storm drains in the center of the road will be upgraded. The southbound lanes will close for paving first. “There would be at least one lane open each way all the time,” Aldworth said. The project should wrap up in May.
Once that is complete, the city will close some lanes on the bridge for about three weeks in June and July to retrofit storm drains on the east Sullivan Bridge, which is not being replaced. Currently, all the water from the bridge deck drains directly to the river. Pipes will be installed to direct water from the bridge into a swale. The project will be “minimally invasive” to the shoreline, Aldworth said. No grass will be planted and no trees will be cut down, he said. “It’s going to be a busy summer,” he said.
Once bridge construction begins late this year or early next year, all traffic will shift to the east bridge. There will be two lanes of southbound traffic and one lane of northbound traffic. “We’re not going to shut it down like we did Barker Road,” said CH2M Hill senior project manager Jim Dingfield. “The lanes will be narrower than what there is now, but it will suffice.”
The Centennial Trail will remain open during construction and pedestrians will still be able to cross the river. Tearing down the existing bridge and building a new one is expected to take two years.
Spokane Valley Fire Department Deputy Chief Andy Hail asked if river access would be improved during the construction project. The river isn’t easy to access there now because of a steep bluff, he said. “It’s a perfect deployment area for our tech rescue,” he said.
There are plans to put in a trail leading down to the river from Sullivan Park, Dingfield said. The design hasn’t been finalized, but the trail would likely end to the west of the new bridge. “I think we’ve ruled out having access to the east,” he said.
One man asked if the path down would be wide enough for river users. “Would you be able to get a raft in there?” he asked.
The path will be 6 feet wide, Dingfield said.
In recent years the city has been looking at redoing North Sullivan Road in concrete, which holds up longer under heavy truck traffic. That plan is still out there, but the city won’t have the funds to do that in the near future, said Public Works Director Eric Guth. “This is an interim step,” he said of this summer’s grind and overlay project. “It’s definitely falling apart and it needs attention sooner rather than later.”