For more than 30 years, the eastern section of an old railroad right of way in the heart of Spokane Valley has sat unused.
Spokane County bought the land in 1980 for a major sewer interceptor.
Today, Appleway Boulevard occupies the property between Interstate 90 and University Road. To the east there is nothing but rocks, grass and scrub.
Now, the city of Spokane Valley is seeking funding to turn the unused portion of the old line into a community trail. They are asking the public for help in deciding how the trail should be built.
A community workshop is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. on March 11 at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave.
The session will focus on the stretch from University to Evergreen Road.
“We have roughly 100 feet (wide) of right of way to put a 12-foot (wide) trail on,” said Steve Worley, construction project manager.
The land previously was the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, commonly known as the Milwaukee Road. It provided a Spokane link off the former main line, parts of which are now the Route of the Hiawatha Trail in North Idaho and the John Wayne Trail in Washington.
Spokane County commissioners last year approved an agreement allowing Spokane Valley to build the trail, as long as the project takes into account the possibility of future utility or transportation needs.
Worley said city planners see the trail as an opportunity to create a linear park on the south side of the Sprague Avenue business strip.
He said the city envisions businesses reorienting toward the trail to serve trail users.
“We see this as an opportunity for redevelopment,” he said.
The trail would create a much safer route for bicyclists, who currently use Sprague Avenue, Worley said.
The city is seeking grants for what is estimated to be a $1.8 million project.
Already, a segment of trail was installed along Appleway from Tschirley Road to the city limits at Hodges Road adjacent to the roadway. That is considered to be the first phase.
The second phase is the segment from University to Evergreen, the subject of the March 11 meeting. The third phase would be from Evergreen to Tschirley, linking all three segments.
Worley said the city wants public input on the alignment and location of the trail within the right of way; types of landscaping; access points; amenities such as benches, lighting and bike racks; and measures to enhance safety.
City officials have heard concerns from adjacent property owners and others that the trail will attract vandalism and crime. But trails on old rail land in other communities have largely been regarded as positive improvements.
Worley promised that once the Spokane Valley trail is built, the city will be committed to maintaining it as an asset for the community, even if that means getting law enforcement officers to keep an eye on it.
“We are going to make this trail as safe and inviting as we possibly can,” he said.
Starting today, crews will be putting down new lane stripes on Francis Avenue east of Market Street, where a new overpass bridge is under construction.
The contractor on the job needs additional room, so the temporary roadway will be reduced to one lane in each direction through the construction zone.
The Washington State Department of Transportation said delays and congestion are possible.
The new 455-foot bridge will replace the old 160-foot span and allow both the North Spokane Corridor and BNSF Railway trains to pass underneath it.
Work is under way on a new interchange on U.S. Highway 195 at Cheney-Spokane Road.
Area dignitaries and community members are planning a ceremonial groundbreaking at the project site at 11 a.m. on March 14.
The work was approved by lawmakers after a 16-year-old girl was killed in an accident at the intersection in 2009, a death that triggered a public outcry for fixing a location that has been the scene of other serious accidents over the years.
Selland Construction, of Wenatchee, is the contractor on the $11 million job.
Ferry piece shipped
The largest component of the MV Sanpoil, the new ferry under construction for the Keller crossing on Lake Roosevelt, is being shipped from Oregon to Grand Coulee.
The central section of the hull, measuring 116 by 22 feet, is leaving the Foss Maritime yard at Rainier, Ore., and being shipped at night to the Crescent Bay boat launch near Grand Coulee Dam, where it will be assembled.
The new ferry should be ready to sail by midsummer, officials said.
Electronic traffic updates
The Washington State Department of Transportation is inviting members of the public to sign up for electronic traffic updates and warnings.
To get the messages, go to wsdot.wa.gov and click on the link to email and text updates. From there, you can set up your own customized account.