March 11, 2013 in City

Getting There: Francis Avenue overpass work under way

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Two construction projects on opposite sides of Spokane have potential for slowing traffic and creating hazards for drivers starting this week.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has narrowed Francis Avenue east of Market Street to one lane in each direction, which has been causing backups at rush hour.

To help move traffic along, the state is now planning to take away left-turn opportunities in all directions at the intersection.

The temporary traffic restrictions were needed to allow work to proceed on a new overpass bridge on Francis just east of Market. The new bridge will make room for the North Spokane Corridor and BNSF Railway tracks to pass underneath it.

“Traffic is going to be tight up there,” said Al Gilson, spokesman for the transportation department. “We would like people to take alternate routes.”

Gilson predicted that long delays are likely for drivers going through the Francis and Market intersection as well as the intersection of Francis and Freya Street.

Westbound drivers on Francis should also watch for flaggers at the existing BNSF crossing to ensure drivers don’t stop over the rail line while waiting for traffic, Gilson said.

Later in the construction season, the city of Spokane will close Francis from Crestline to Haven streets for reconstruction.

To the south, the construction of a new interchange on U.S. Highway 195 and Cheney-Spokane Road is going to result in a new temporary exit for southbound drivers on U.S. 195 turning right onto Cheney-Spokane Road.

The southbound exit ramp is going to be closed to traffic, causing drivers to slow down for a right-hand turn onto Cheney-Spokane.

Drivers should watch for construction vehicles and work activity as well.

Gilson said the route attracts a number of bicycle riders, who use the wide shoulder on the highway, but construction may limit their ability to get through the work zone. Bike riders should use extra caution, he said.

A ceremonial groundbreaking event will be held at the interchange construction site Thursday at 11 a.m.

Closed for repairs

The city of Spokane is kicking off repair work today on 29th Avenue from Bernard Street to High Drive. That stretch of 29th will be closed for the job, which includes replacement of a 12-inch water main.

The intersections at High and Bernard will remain open.

Also today, work is resuming to upgrade water lines in Eighth and Ninth avenues and a portion of Hatch Street. The intersection of Eighth and Sherman Street will be closed for about a week, city officials said.

Transit meetings

Spokane Transit Authority is holding a series of public meetings through early April on future transit improvements.

The next meeting is Wednesday at NorthTown Mall on concepts for improving transit service on the Division Street corridor.

The meeting will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. adjacent to Barnes & Noble.

STA is considering several major routes for future improvements in what it calls “high-performance” transit. The agency wants to hear from riders and other members of the public.

Separate meetings on the North Monroe to South Regal route will be March 20 at River Park Square adjacent to Nordstrom on the ground level. Those meetings will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

The route from downtown to Liberty Lake will be the subject of a meeting March 27 at Spokane Valley Mall next to the food court from 2 to 6 p.m.

An all-corridor open house will be on April 10 at Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St., from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Open house

Spokane County is holding an open house on Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Pasadena Park Elementary School on proposed improvements to Argonne and Bruce roads.

Plans call for repaving Argonne and Bruce; a grade separation for the Centennial Trail; sidewalk improvements at the elementary school; and intersection improvements at Argonne and Upriver Drive.

The county commissioners last week accepted grant funding for a series of paving projects, including Argonne from Wellesley Avenue to Bigelow Gulch Road.

The others were for the Bigelow Gulch connector to Forker Road; paving on Bruce north of Stoneman Road to Day-Mt. Spokane Road; paving on Farwell Road east of Market Street; and paving on the Palouse Highway from Freya Street to Jamieson Road. The Bruce Road Bridge is also scheduled for replacement.

Keller Ferry hull

The 116-foot-long main hull of the new Keller Ferry is making its trek to Grand Coulee from a Foss Maritime shipyard in Rainier, Ore., this week.

This morning, the Sanpoil’s main hull was scheduled to leave a rest area near Umatilla, Ore., on its way northward.

Omega Morgan, of Hillsboro, Ore., is under contract to move the ferry hull to Grand Coulee, where its pieces will be assembled.


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