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Argonne corridor getting upgrades

A lot of changes will be coming to the Argonne Road corridor north of the Spokane Valley city limits in the next few years. Spokane County engineers welcomed residents at a construction project open house at Pasadena Park Elementary School last week to give out information on upcoming construction.

The only project planned for this year is the replacement of the Bruce Road bridge over Deadman Creek south of Mount Spokane Park Drive. The road will have to be shut down and traffic will be detoured to Market Street via Peone Road and Mount Spokane Park Drive, said assistant county engineer Chad Coles. In addition to disrupting commuter traffic, the closure will affect a couple of farms located close to the bridge. “We’ve talked to those folks,” he said. “There’s not a lot of local traffic.”

Despite the inconvenience, Coles said the farmers are happy that the bridge is being replaced. “There are weight restrictions on the bridge, so it has been a real pain for them,” he said.

The bridge is old and the hardware connecting the concrete girders is broken, Coles said. “They’re not really attached.”

The road will shut down in mid-May and reopen sometime in November, he said. “It will take the full construction season,” Coles said.

Other construction plans on the horizon include the reconstruction of Bruce Road from Peone to Day-Mount Spokane Road in 2015, road preservation on Bruce Road from Stoneman Road to Peone in 2015 and reconstruction of Argonne from Wellesley Avenue to Bigelow Gulch Road in 2016. The projects have all received federal grant money, but some of the grants are being changed and the county might have to do them more quickly, Coles said. “We may have to move them up,” he said. “This is the latest that it would happen.”

Spokane County would also like to repave Argonne from Bigelow Gulch to Stoneman but doesn’t yet have funding for the $2.3 million project. A couple of unfunded sidewalk projects were presented to the public as well, in case Safe Routes to Schools funding becomes available. The sidewalks would be added to Wellesley Avenue on both sides of Argonne. “We’ll have to see how much money is in the program,” said engineer Bill Hemmings. “If there is (more) we want to be ready for it.”

Engineers are also in the design phase of a plan to route Centennial Trail traffic under the Argonne bridge that spans the Spokane River. “There have been a lot of accidents involving cyclists,” Hemmings said.

Resident Mary Melville said she was pleased to see the underpass plans. Centennial Trail traffic is supposed to cross Argonne at Upriver Drive, where there is a traffic light, she said. “A lot of people don’t, they ride their bicycles across the road,” she said. “We use the trail a lot. I think they have some great ideas here.”