The Howard Street Bridge – actually comprised of three spans over the Spokane River, Havermale Island and Canada Island – was the first route across the river, connecting the north and south parts of Spokane. A rickety set of bridges opened in 1881.
The first span to be replaced was over the south channel in 1892. It served for almost 40 years before being declared too dangerous to use. The city planned a new bridge that would be made of reinforced concrete, laid with streetcar tracks and able to handle any load headed to the industrial warehouses and shops on Havermale Island. The new bridge, costing $36,500, opened in January 1931.
Washington Water Power, the forerunner of Avista Utilities, paid for one-third of the cost because the company owned much of the nearby land and asked that the new bridge have a smaller water footprint so it didn’t disrupt the flow of water to WWP’s Upper Falls generating station intake.
The 1931 bridge is now being dismantled and replaced at a cost of $4.7 million as part of the Riverfront Park redesign. The park plan indicates the center span, a steel structure sometimes called the “blue bridge,” also will need to be replaced soon, which could cost another $5 million. The north leg is OK for now.
Workers will demolish and rebuild picnic shelters and playgrounds in 2017. Current building schedules indicate the redesign will be completed in early 2019.
– Jesse Tinsley
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