A new arterial route on Altamont Street and Ferry Avenue opened Tuesday, serving the growing industrial area in east Spokane.
The roadway swings under a Union Pacific Railroad underpass on Altamont and turns east to eventually connect with Freya Street and at a traffic light at Alki Avenue.
The roadway includes two warning systems for loads too tall to fit under the 11-foot-2-inch underpass. They are the first warning systems of their kind in Spokane County, officials said.
The warning system uses laser beams and LED flashing lights to warn drivers of tall trucks that they are going to crash if they go through the underpass.
The roadway with curbs and sidewalks winds through the site of the former Playfair horse race track, which is being redeveloped as the 40-acre Playfair Commerce Park.
Lawrence B. Stone, president of the Stone Group of Companies, said the road was constructed with all private money from his company holdings.
Stone threw a big party to cut the ribbon for the new street, supplying box lunches and shaved ice treats, with a backdrop of rock music. Several hundred people attended.
“I am proud of what we are doing,” he said in an interview.
Stone said he had to convince the state Department of Transportation to preserve the Altamont interchange on Interstate 90 and then get city officials to let him use the underpass just north of Sprague Avenue.
He said the Altamont underpass will preserve access in east Spokane from north to south when trains might be blocking grade crossings from Napa to Park Road, including Freya.
Jim Hanley, an owner of Acme TV Home and Office at the Tin Roof, said the street marks “a significant improvement in East Central” Spokane.
The city, under then-Mayor Jim West, bought the defunct race track property in 2004 for $6.3 million as a possible location for a new sewer plant, but that was before county officials chose an old stockyard site along Freya to the east for the new plant.
Playfair Commerce Park LLC bought several large parcels in about 2014 where Stone’s SCAFCO steel stud systems plant is located.
Four buildings are occupied, including the SCAFCO plant and offices.
Tuesday’s event was at a warehouse that is under construction.
Mayor David Condon called the development and new street “a big deal.”
He said the commerce park already has some 400 workers earning family wages.
The taxable property value of the park is $40 million, he said.
The extension of Altamont provides a new route for emergency vehicles, Condon said.
A privately funded arterial “is extremely rare,” Condon said.
Stone, who supports land stewardship, used ponderosa pines in the landscape strips along the new street.
Mike Peterson, executive director of the Lands Council, said Playfair Commerce Park is a good example of urban infill that makes use of existing infrastructure.
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