Planning for an electric trolley bus line through downtown Spokane jumped several steps last week with a decision to extend the proposed line to Spokane Community College.
The Spokane Transit Authority board of directors voted unanimously for the extension on Thursday.
Now, the line would run from Browne’s Addition on the west, through the downtown area to Gonzaga University and on to SCC.
In a second decision, the board authorized STA staff to look at electric propulsion options.
STA is considering charging stations at terminals rather than hanging electrical wires across the route. Two types of charging will be examined, including one in which the trolley pulls over an electric plate to take the charge. The technology is relatively new, STA officials said.
Using a charging system would cost less money. A consultant estimate showed that trolleys using overhead wires would cost $75 million from Browne’s Addition to Gonzaga.
By comparison, an inductive charging system would cost $57 million for that segment and $72 million with the extension to SCC.
In a third decision, the board authorized its staff to request from the Federal Transit Administration that it be allowed to enter the project development phase.
STA is eligible for an 80 percent federal grant. Once the agency is accepted into the project development phase, any local money spent on planning or design can apply to STA’s 20 percent match.
A trolley bus line is seen as a way to draw more passengers to transit and provide faster service to major destinations.
The central city line is part of a broader program to create high-performance transit lines on the Spokane area’s busiest routes.
The STA board approved moving ahead with a new phase of public input on what it calls STA Moving Forward.
Construction of the new lines would require voter approval of a 0.3 percent increase in sales tax.
Proponents say public’s transportation choices are changing, and that younger people today are more likely not to drive a car.
Heather Svanidze, a Whitworth University graduate, said having a good transit system has become a draw for young people.
“It’s something we need to concentrate on if we want to keep our kids in Spokane,” she told the STA board.
No-crossing signs upset neighborhood
Spokane City Councilwoman Amber Waldref and some of her constituents in the Logan Neighborhood are unhappy with the city’s installation of signs prohibiting pedestrians from crossing Mission Avenue at some of its side streets east of Hamilton Street.
Crews recently finished repaving the eastbound lanes on Mission from Hamilton to Perry Street.
As part of the project, the neighborhood requested and got a handicapped-accessible, marked crosswalk with ramps at Superior Street, and that new crosswalk is in place. It was financed by money from the red light photo ticketing system.
But the city traffic department subsequently installed no-crossing signs at adjacent intersections where the crosswalks are not marked. Similar signs have gone up on Division Street on the North Hill and along Hamilton at GU.
Waldref said she doesn’t think the street department should have the ability to decide where the no-crossing signs are posted. She is planning to introduce a resolution requiring the city street department to develop a policy and consult with the City Council before restricting pedestrian use of unmarked crossings.
The resolution also requires that the no-crossing signs on Mission be taken down and that the city street department stop putting those signs up in other locations until the new policies are in place.
North Huetter Road closing for months
In Kootenai County, a major east-west route on the Rathdrum Prairie will shut down today for a two-month widening project.
One mile of West Prairie Avenue, from North Huetter Road west to North Meyer Road, will be closed until Oct. 1 so it can be widened from two lanes to five lanes.
Traffic will shift north onto West Hayden Avenue. After Oct. 1, one lane in each direction on Prairie will be open as work continues into the fall.
The project will continue the wider design of Prairie from Huetter Road east to U.S. Highway 95.
The Post Falls Highway District project is mostly financed by federal funds. Interstate Concrete and Asphalt is the contractor for the $2.7 million widening work.
High Drive makeover first phase begins
In the city of Spokane, reconstruction of High Drive begins today from 29th Avenue to Bernard Street. The $8.8 million project will be done in two phases, with the second phase from Bernard to Hatch Road next spring. It involves new pavement, stormwater facilities and utility work.
Ray Street at 20th Avenue has reopened to traffic after a two-week closure for stormwater utility construction.
Arthur Street has reopened following construction at Second Avenue.
Highway projects around the county
Repaving work continues on U.S. Highway 2 in the vicinity of Airway Heights from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day through Friday. Intermittent lane closures during those hours are expected near Flint Road.
On U.S. 2 north of Spokane, another repaving project is underway during those same hours from Chattaroy Hills to the Pend Oreille County line.
Interstate 90 is being repaved from Barker Road to Stateline from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Appleway paving will close lanes
In Spokane Valley, paving work is planned to start Aug. 4 on Appleway. The roadway will be reduced to two lanes during the work from Thierman to Park roads.
Progress Road from Wellesley Avenue to Forker Road remains closed through Friday for reconstruction work.