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Proposed Appleway Trail draws interest

The Spokane Valley City Council chamber was packed Monday with people eager to hear more about the proposed Appleway Trail. They asked questions, pored over maps and voted on amenities for the two-mile section of trail along the former Milwaukee railroad right of way between University and Evergreen roads.

The public meeting drew everyone from avid cyclists to a bus full of residents from a retirement facility located along the proposed trail.

Resident Mary Henson said she grew up on Fourth Avenue in Spokane Valley, right near the proposed trail. “I’m really super excited about this land,” she said. She now lives near Bowdish Road and frequently walks and bikes on the Centennial Trail. Henson is eager to have a new trail in the heart of the city. “I will use it to get from one end to the other,” she said.

The top amenities people wanted along the trail were benches and restrooms. Others getting votes were bike racks, play areas, community gardens, picnic shelters and pedestrian lighting. Henson said she would like to see a play area she can take her grandchildren to, as well as historical signs.

The city is already looking at how to get trail users across busy streets. Early plans call for Bowdish and McDonald roads to have pedestrian crossings with flashing lights, similar to a crossing on Hamilton Street near Gonzaga University. The crossing at Pines Road would have what is known as a HAWK signal, which would remain dark until a trail user pushes a button.

A portion of the trail from Tschirley Road to the east city limits was put in when the city reconstructed Appleway Avenue and is complete, Senior Capital Projects Engineer Steve Worley said. A third phase of the trail is planned between Evergreen and Corbin roads. Once complete, there will be bike lanes and a trail stretching from the eastbound Sprague exit off Interstate 90 all the way to Liberty Lake, Worley said. The route is intended for commuting as well as recreation.

The city wants to create a linear park, not just a trail. The city has applied for a grant to pay for 86.5 percent of the trail and construction could start this fall if the city is awarded the grant, Worley said.