Local news

Cheney-U.S. 195 interchange opens this week

Drivers in southwest Spokane are undergoing one more inconvenience before a new interchange opens Friday at U.S. Highway 195 and Cheney-Spokane Road.

The overpass bridge is completed and three of the four ramps are nearly ready for traffic.

At 10 a.m. Friday, a ceremony is scheduled to mark the opening at the interchange. The public is invited. Several hours after the ceremony, the new interchange will open to traffic.

Construction of the $9.4 million interchange came after a number of serious accidents at the former intersection, including the death of a 16-year-old girl in 2009.

Work is being completed this spring after cold weather last fall stopped the project through the winter.

Drivers this week are being detoured to Qualchan Drive while crews finish the connection of Cheney-Spokane Road to the new ramp and overpass configuration.

“We’ve got to tie these ramps in properly” with additional earth work and paving, said Al Gilson, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation in Spokane.

After Friday’s ceremony, the southbound off-ramp will open along with both northbound ramps.

Major construction is still needed for the southbound on-ramp. That work was delayed to maintain a connection to Cheney-Spokane Road during work on the bridge and other ramps.

Now the contractor can close the old intersection and begin hauling fill material to the site to build the new southbound ramp, Gilson said.

“Three of the four legs of the interchange will open and the fourth one will be under construction,” Gilson said.

Selland Construction, of Wenatchee, is the contractor on the job.

Meetings will cover tax proposal

The city of Spokane has announced a schedule for a series of community meetings on a proposal to raise $5 million a year in property taxes and combine that with other funding to pay for street improvements. The measure would be combined with funding for Riverfront Park and go on the ballot in November.

The proposal refinances existing bond obligations and raises new money for improvements, including $60 million for parks, without an increase in property taxes, officials have said.

The meetings are Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Jefferson Elementary School; Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at West Central Community Center; May 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Lidgerwood Elementary School; May 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Southside Senior Center; and May 29 at 5:30 p.m. at Northeast Community Center.

Distraction added to ticket campaign

Law enforcement’s annual Click It or Ticket It campaign this year is being kicked up a notch.

In addition to officers watching for unbuckled drivers, they will target enforcement of distracted drivers, in particular those using cellphones while driving.

The campaign starts today and runs through June 1. Officers from Spokane, Whitman, Pend Oreille and Ferry counties are participating.

The enforcement is made possible through grants from the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission.

Last year, officers statewide cited 2,963 people for being unbuckled and 1,897 drivers for cellphone use.

Sprague, Argonne lanes closing

Work on Sprague Avenue and Argonne Road in Spokane Valley is causing lane restrictions through early July.

Sprague is being reduced to two westbound lanes around the clock from University to Herald Road.

Argonne is being reduced to one lane southbound around the clock from Broadway to Sprague avenues.

WSDOT crafting new strategic plan

WSDOT is working on a new strategic plan that agency officials hope will lead to improvements in the state’s transportation programs.

The initial step of setting goals will be followed by work to implement them.

The goals or priorities that were established are strategic investments, integration of modes of transportation, environmental stewardship, organizational strength, community engagement and smart technology.

“This is a shift in the way we do business,” Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said in a news release. “It pushes us to leverage our limited resources by engaging with communities and our partners. This will help us ensure we have an efficient and integrated multimodal transportation system that uses all available capacity.”

Group wants talks on area light rail

The Inland Empire Rail Transit Association is pushing for a new community discussion of light rail in the Spokane region.

The group said a system could connect communities from Spokane to Cheney and possibly northward along the North Spokane Corridor. It would stimulate growth along defined corridors and help manage future growth, according to a news release.

The group has a website at inlandrail.org.



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