With 10 years of road fixes nearly done, city taking new tack
A $117 million program to fix the worst of Spokane’s city streets will come to an end this year, 10 years after voters agreed to a property tax increase to pay for it.
Mayor David Condon said he is not yet willing to seek another bond issue to create a follow-up street program.
He pointed out that the bonds sold to finance the projects over the past decade won’t be paid off until 2024.
He said he prefers a new city engineering program that seeks to combine utility and street reconstruction to make existing funds go further.
New projects are likely to include pedestrian improvements, street amenities, bike lanes and utility work.
For example, the city is going to install a new 1.5 million-gallon stormwater retention tank this year at Underhill Park, requiring major excavation to make room for the tank.
Dirt is being hauled to the former Playfair horse track for storage. The city has owned the Playfair land for the past 10 years. Heavy trucks hauling the dirt are likely to cause damage to six blocks of Hartson Avenue, which will be repaved after the job is finished. The funds will come from the stormwater utility.
A $4 million project last year along Crestline Street on the South Side used a combination of funding sources for a new water line, stormwater infiltration areas, sidewalks, curbs and new pavement. The project saved $1.2 million over the cost of doing each element separately, said Marlene Feist, city spokeswoman.
“We realize that people want us to get a better bang for the buck,” she said.
Street stormwater retention facilities are going to become a more common installation in future years, creating the opportunity to rebuild streets where those facilities are built, Feist said.
A project called Link Spokane is bringing together different departments at City Hall with a goal of creating what Condon calls a three-dimensional look at city streets.
Planners are rewriting the city’s capital facilities plan to establish new goals for the combined projects.
Three public workshops are set for next month on the concept. The first will be from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 4 at the Division Street entrance to NorthTown Mall.
A second workshop is on Feb. 6 from noon to 6:30 p.m. at Southside Christian Church, 2934 E. 27th Ave.
The last workshop will be on Feb. 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at River Park Square.
For more information, go to spokaneplanning. org/link.html.
Major street projects remaining from the 2004 bond issue are Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline streets, at a cost of $2.7 million, and High Drive from Hatch Road to 29th Avenue, for $2.3 million.
The Francis project was delayed from last year. It is scheduled to begin in April and finish in mid-August.
The High Drive project will include stormwater facilities and sidewalks as well as pavement. The work should begin in late May and extend at least until the end of September. That job may last into the 2015 construction season.
In addition, the city’s Citizens Streets Advisory Commission has recommended several smaller projects to use remaining street bond funds. The choices were based on a street rating system developed by the city.
The projects are Addison Street from Columbia Avenue to 525 feet north of Dalke Avenue, at a cost of $274,000; Calispel Street from Wellesley to Queen avenues, for $329,000; eastbound Mission Avenue from Hamilton to Perry streets, for $329,000; and Lincoln and Monroe streets from Eighth to 17th avenues for $1.3 million.
A year ago, the citizens commission reported that more than 88 miles of city streets were repaired under the bond issue.
Need to cut in? You’re welcome
Are Washington drivers becoming more polite?
A new survey conducted for PEMCO Insurance shows evidence that Washingtonians see their fellow drivers as becoming more courteous over the past year.
From 2012 to 2013, Washington’s politeness index rose from 139 to 144 points based on polling.
In Portland, the politeness index remained unchanged at 146 points.
The poll also showed that older drivers are apparently more tolerant of aggressive driving.
Those over 55 reported seeing an average of 6.7 aggressive driving acts a month. Those 55 and younger said they see 10.4 aggressive acts each month.
To learn more about the PEMCO poll, go to pemco.com/poll.