Efforts to lower the speed limit on U.S. Highway 2 through Airway Heights and west Spokane are the result of increased commercial presence along the highway.
The Spokane City Council is considering a resolution tonight to reduce the speed on the highway from 55 to 45 mph from the Spokane city limits at Deer Heights Road eastward to a quarter mile east of Flint Road.
At the same time, work is underway to install a new traffic signal at Flint Road as part of a repaving project on U.S. 2 from Espanola Road to Interstate 90.
The council’s resolution states a 45 mph speed limit is more consistent with the changes in highway design, which will include construction of channels for turning movements.
“From a safety perspective and from a planning perspective, it makes sense to lower it,” said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, who is sponsoring the measure.
Derrick Braaten, city planner in Airway Heights, said it is possible that the speed limit on the east side of Airway Heights to past Flint Road could be lowered to 35 mph in the future.
For now, the east side of Airway Heights will have a 45 mph speed limit to the boundary between Spokane and Airway Heights at Deer Heights Road and then just beyond the Flint Road light in the city of Spokane.
The 35 mph speed limit in the older portion of Airway Heights will not change. The state Department of Transportation has signed on to the lowered speed limit and will install the new speed limit signs, according to the council resolution.
Repaving on U.S. 2 is currently being done from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. each work night from the west side of Airway Heights to the highway intersection with Espanola and Wood roads. Drivers may encounter single-lane alternating traffic directed by flaggers and pilot cars.
Delays are possible while work is underway west of Fairchild Air Force Base. Lane restrictions are likely during work on the segment from Fairchild to Airway Heights.
Ray Street closing for tank installation
Construction of a new stormwater tank on Ray Street near 20th Avenue will force a two-week closure of Ray starting today. The 1-million-gallon tank is being installed at a cost of $5 million. When finished, it will reduce the amount of raw sewage and stormwater that goes into the Spokane River during heavy storms or quick melt-offs.
Interstate 90, U.S. 2 work underway
Also on state highways, repaving work is continuing on I-90 from Barker Road to the Idaho state line from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Work on U.S. 2 north of Spokane from Chattaroy Hills to the Pend Oreille County line is also underway during those same hours.
Low federal funds may stall state work
The I-90 project is one of 43 projects statewide that could be affected by depletion of the federal Highway Trust Fund, which is forcing cuts in the amount of money available to state transportation agencies.
It is unclear whether the change in funding will cause the project to be shut down, officials said.
State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said in an email last week to all state transportation staff that “the fund faces potential insolvency unless Congress acts to prevent that from happening. This is a cause of concern for all states, and especially those that heavily depend on federal reimbursements to pay for transportation projects.”
She said the federal cuts will be proportional to all states and that Washington officials expect to maintain cash flow from the fund for the next four to six months.
“We remain hopeful that Congress will act in time to stave off more significant, long-term impacts,” she said.
Rural roads ranked among worst in U.S.
TRIP, a national transportation research group, ranked Washington as the 12th-worst state for the condition of its rural roads in a recent study.
The study said 22 percent of the state’s roads in rural counties are in poor condition.
Rural counties are those without an urban center with a population of 50,000 or more or lacking a commuting pattern into an urban county.
In a news release, TRIP said the report shows that “the nation’s rural transportation system, which is critical to the nation’s booming agriculture, energy and tourism sectors, is in need of modernization to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates and inadequate connectivity and capacity.”
I-90 will close for rock blasting
Evening closures of I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass for rock blasting will continue this week with tonight’s blasting work expected to cause a closure in excess of one hour.
A few weeks ago, a similar blasting operation closed the freeway for three hours, officials said.
The closures have mainly lasted for one hour and have occurred on Mondays through Thursdays. The closures this week will begin at 8 p.m.
The work is needed to remove mountainside to make room for widening of the freeway from four to six lanes.
High Drive section closing for upgrade
In Spokane, reconstruction of High Drive from 29th Avenue to Bernard Street will begin its first phase next Monday, forcing closure of that section of High Drive until October.
City officials describe the work as an integrated project that will involve pavement reconstruction, a new stormwater collection system and a water main replacement.
It is the first of two phases. In 2015, work moves eastward on High Drive from Bernard to Hatch Road.
The total cost is $8.8 million from city and federal funds.
Other city projects
Elsewhere in the city, street work near Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center will force closure of McClellan Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues and the intersection of Eighth and McClellan for water main replacement.
Southbound traffic will be rerouted to Stevens Street and northbound traffic will go to Cowley Street.
Division Street from Empire to Lyons avenues will have some right-lane closures so crews can fill in gaps in the sidewalks along Division.
Repaving continues on Grand Boulevard south of Sacred Heart; Francis Avenue from Division to Crestline Street; and Arthur Street from the I-90 overpass to Second Avenue.
Reconstruction of Mission Avenue from Hamilton to Perry streets is now complete.
Valley work ongoing
In Spokane Valley, repaving work continues on Sprague Avenue and some of its connecting arterial streets. Lane reductions are likely.
The intersection of Boone Avenue and Pierce Road will be closed today from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for water tap work.
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