Parking hot issue in 14th Avenue restoration

The city of Spokane is getting ready to renovate 14th Avenue from Monroe Street to Grand Boulevard. The renovation is one of the street projects paid for by the 10-year street bond voters passed in 2004.

Fourteenth Avenue is a major east-west route on the South Hill, intersecting with Monroe Street just before it becomes Lincoln Street, and also with Bernard Street and Grand.

In response to complaints from street users, the Spokane Fire Department and some property owners along the street, city traffic engineers suggested eliminating all parking on the north side of the street as part of the renovation project. The Cliff-Cannon Neighborhood Council opposes removal of street parking, which the council considers a traffic-calming feature.

“We have been dealing with parking issues along 14th for some time,” said Mark Serbousek, director of Spokane’s street department at the Planning Community and Economic Development Committee’s meeting Monday. “People park illegally on the planting strips. Driveways are blocked.”

Parking is not allowed on the south side of 14th Avenue though signage is spotty.

Serbousek said in some places 14th Avenue is only 26 feet wide, allowing for two 13-foot-wide lanes. Adding a 7-foot parking lane leaves just 9 feet for the travel lanes. “It doesn’t meet our lane standards,” Serbousek said.

Traffic engineers went door-to-door to survey property owners along 14th Avenue between Monroe and Grand. They found that most wanted the parking eliminated for safety reasons, and that most homes have off-street parking.

“We wouldn’t have pressed ahead with this if we didn’t feel like we had overwhelming support,” Serbousek said at Monday’s meeting.

The Cliff-Cannon Neighborhood Council adopted a resolution March 5 opposing the removal of parking on the north side of 14th Avenue.

“If they get rid of the street parking, then we want another traffic calming measure put in,” said Patricia Hansen, who serves on the neighborhood council’s executive committee. The council has been promised input into the development of a residential neighborhood parking removal policy as far back as 2011.

Hansen rallied several members of the neighborhood council to come to Monday’s meeting.

“We knew it wasn’t a time for public testimony, but we wanted to be there to remind the city that we are opposed to this,” said Hansen.

At the meeting, a recommendation was made to have more neighborhood meetings about traffic calming and parking along 14th Avenue, before any changes are made.

In the meantime, the beginning of the 14th Avenue restoration project has been postponed from March to the middle of June, wrote Marlene Feist, the city’s utilities communication manager, in an email: “We wanted to make it easier on students, parents and teachers traveling to and from Roosevelt Elementary School, so all significant work will wait until school is out.”

Feist added that the city wants to use 29th Avenue as an east-west detour when 14th Avenue is under construction. “Our plan is to have Monroe/Lincoln reopened to full traffic, as well as 29th Avenue, before we begin on 14th Avenue.”

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