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Riverfront Park work quickly taking shape

Redevelopment of Riverfront Park is taking shape as construction reaches a midpoint on the south bank.

A new and larger home for the Looff Carrousel, a rebuilt Howard Street Bridge, a new Recreational Ice Ribbon and a rebuilt Rotary Fountain are the major projects behind the fences along Spokane Falls Boulevard and Post Street.

On Tuesday, parks officials gave a tour of the construction site, now a maze of trenches, footings and building shells.

The work is being funded by a $64 million, voter-approved park bond in 2014.

Officials said they hope to have the south bank features done and opened by spring.

The new Howard Street Bridge has its piers and deck in place and is waiting for the top surfacing as well as electricity.

“You can see most of the structure is done now,” said Leroy Eadie, park director.

The bridge will have “step-down” features over the river to give parkgoers a more intimate view of the water. The width of the new bridge is about the same as the old one, but it was aligned to become part of a main promenade from south to north through the park.

In addition to moving people back and forth across the river, the $7.2 million bridge will become an outdoor event space.

“It is unlike any bridge,” Eadie said.

During construction, workers found that the riverbed under one of the piers was deeper than expected, so the pier had to be redesigned. Even so, bridge work should be finished by this fall.

The new $9.4 million Recreational Ice Ribbon, which will replace the ice rink in the historic U.S. Pavilion, is also taking shape.

It will feature a meandering path of ice around the southwest corner of the park next to the Bloomsday runner sculptures. The main building will serve not only ice skaters but will also provide a venue for events. Several natural gas fire pits are being installed, including a skate-in pit that will offer a warming spot during cold weather.

Eadie pointed out that the line of London plane trees along Post and Spokane Falls Boulevard was retained to provide a natural buffer and park feel next to City Hall and River Park Square.

The ice ribbon project also includes maintenance on the SkyRide over the lower Spokane Falls.

The outer shell of part of the new Carrousel building is now out of the ground and shows the basic outline of the larger space to provide a more exciting show for Carrousel riders.

Glass walls will let riders see the water.

The Carrousel itself will be on the same footprint as before. The $10.2 million facility will have restrooms, a gift shop, party rooms and storage. During construction, the horses and other animal figures are undergoing restoration.

In front of the Carrousel on the riverbank will be a new boardwalk and plants suitable for the riverbank. The more natural walkway will replace the pavement.

The plantings are also intended to be a barrier to keep people safely back from the water.

The Rotary Fountain is being upgraded with new pumps, pipes and other components in a $950,000 project. The above-ground fountain will not change, but the workings below ground will be completely revamped. It should be completed by spring.

The next phase of work starting next spring will be a regional playground on the north bank. About 30 percent of the park design is done.

At the same time, work will start with selective demolition in and around the U.S. Pavilion with construction planned through 2019.


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