A long-awaited improvement to U.S. Highway 195 in southwest Spokane is getting started.
A contractor is setting up construction signs this week and preparing for a $6.4 million project to build a new interchange at Cheney-Spokane Road.
The current intersection has been the site of numerous accidents, including the death of a 16-year-old girl in 2009.
A community outcry after that fatality prompted state officials to find money for safety improvements. A southbound exit lane from the highway to Cheney-Spokane Road was built as a temporary fix in the year following the accident.
The Legislature approved funding for a full interchange two years ago.
The new interchange will eliminate crossings and left turns on the high-speed route, where 86 accidents occurred in just over a 10-year period at Cheney-Spokane Road.
Transportation officials said the growing volume of residential and commercial traffic in the area has caused the intersection to exceed its capacity for safely handling traffic.
Selland Construction, of Wenatchee, was awarded the contract for the interchange, which will include an overpass and new on-ramps and off-ramps. State officials said the project could be finished later this year.
The new interchange is part of a long-range plan for improvements to the highway, which connects Spokane with Colfax, Pullman and the Lewiston area.
The Washington State Department of Transportation has sought to preserve U.S. 195 in Spokane as a divided freeway corridor without traffic lights.
Other proposed improvements include an underpass at 16th Avenue, an overpass at Thorpe Road, and interchanges at Meadowlane and Hatch roads, plus collector road construction. The total cost is estimated at $71 million, according to the Transportation Department.
In an effort to reduce stormwater flowing into the Spokane River, the city of Spokane is planning to dig up Monroe Street just north of the river to install pipe for a new stormwater diversion system.
Water flowing down the hill north of the river will be collected and sent to a holding tank just east of Monroe on Kendall Yards property.
The city and the developer of Kendall Yards are working together on the project. Stormwater from Kendall Yards will also go into the tank.
City officials said water will be dispersed to park and open spaces and dry wells in the Kendall Yards development to the west of Monroe. Currently, stormwater from the street flows directly into the Spokane River.
The $1 million project, financed partly through a state ecology grant, is going to start in April and be finished by July.
Monroe Street will be closed for about two weeks in June prior to Hoopfest weekend as part of the excavation for the system, city officials said.
New traffic cameras are now operating on Division Street and U.S. Highways 2 and 195. Drivers can check the cameras for traffic, accidents or road conditions 24 hours a day.
They are part of a growing network of cameras across the Spokane region.
Cameras are also available in Idaho. Go to 511.idaho.gov and click on cameras under the “highways” menu.
Pines lane restrictions
Union Pacific Railroad crossing improvements may result in southbound lane restrictions or detours this week on Pines Road just north of Interstate 90.
The restrictions will start Wednesday and continue through Jan. 23, according to the Transportation Department.