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Getting There: North Monroe Street will get temporary striping for three lanes

UPDATED: Mon., March 6, 2017, 7:21 a.m.

The stretch of North Monroe Street from Indiana to the hill leading up to the Garland District is a mix of older buildings, thrift stores, restaurants and service businesses, shown Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. A proposed city traffic revision would narrow it to a lane in either direction and a turn lane in the middle. Many businesses are opposed to the plan and expressed their feelings with the billboard at lower right. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
The stretch of North Monroe Street from Indiana to the hill leading up to the Garland District is a mix of older buildings, thrift stores, restaurants and service businesses, shown Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. A proposed city traffic revision would narrow it to a lane in either direction and a turn lane in the middle. Many businesses are opposed to the plan and expressed their feelings with the billboard at lower right. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane city officials plan to put temporary striping on North Monroe Street to show how their proposed three-lane configuration would work.

The temporary configuration would allow residents and business owners the chance to test out the planned reduction of through lanes from four to two.

The striping would be installed late in the spring, then removed in the fall.

The plan is part of a $7 million project to reduce a segment of Monroe to two through lanes with a middle turn lane from just north of Indiana Avenue to the base of the North Hill.

Opposition from business owners and residents is causing city officials to take a cautious approach to what will become a major reconstruction.

The city plans to hire a contractor to install and remove the temporary lanes at a cost of $300,000 to $500,000.

The temporary striping will include markings for curb extensions at intersections to help pedestrians cross Monroe as well as wider parking spaces along curbs.

City officials will then study how permanent construction changes might affect traffic, including travel times behind Spokane transit buses.

The city also plans to talk with business and property owners about the project once they get a chance to see how it would work with the temporary striping.

A group called the North Monroe Business Association earlier this year warned most could “close or simply go bankrupt and over 500 jobs may be lost.”

A similar project on East Sprague Avenue has won support from that community.

City officials said they are looking at ways to reduce construction impacts on businesses. One idea is to shorten the project on the north end by three blocks.

As currently proposed, the three-lane segment would run from Shannon Avenue to Cora Avenue.

A shorter segment would go from Shannon to Euclid Avenue.

If the project is shortened, the city would eliminate plans for two uphill northbound lanes and one downhill southbound lane from Cora to Kiernan Avenue.

Also, city officials are considering installation of stormwater infiltration structures on east-west avenues in 2018 with street reconstruction being postponed until 2019. The idea is to reduce the amount of work to be done during reconstruction to speed up the project and reduce the length of closures on Monroe, said Marlene Feist, director of strategic development for public works.

Bidding to begin for Sprague restriping

Bids are expected to be opened on Monday for reconstruction on Sprague to make permanent the restriping from four to two through lanes with a center turn lane.

The job will be done in two phases, Feist said.

The first phase will result in a street closure and construction from Napa to Altamont streets. That phase is likely to run from mid-April to mid-July.

The second phase from Napa to Helena Street will result in the closure of Sprague for construction during the remainder of the work season.

ITD holding hearings

on heavier truck loads

The Idaho Transportation Department is holding three hearings this week on applications to allow heavier truck loads on major North Idaho highways.

Tractor-trailer trucks would be allowed to carry 129,000 pounds of removable cargo on certain routes compared with a current weight limit of 105,000.

Adam Rush, a spokesman for the ITD, said heavier loads would require a greater number of axles and wheels to distribute the additional weight across the road surface.

The advantage of allowing larger loads is to reduce the number of times a truck has to use the highway. That will reduce traffic congestion, Rush said.

Routes under consideration for the heavier load limits are U.S. Highway 95 from the Latah/Benewah county line to the Canadian border, state Highway 1 from Pioneer Road to the Canadian border, Highway 1 from U.S. Highway 95 to Pioneer Road, U.S. Highway 2 from U.S. 95 to the Montana border, U.S. 2 from U.S. 95 to the Washington border, and some small connections to U.S. 95.

The first hearing is 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at ITD headquarters, 600 W. Prairie Ave. in Coeur d’Alene.

The second hearing is 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Bonners Ferry visitor center, 7198 Highway 95.

The third hearing is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Community Plaza, 231 N. Third Ave. in Sandpoint.

Council urged to plant trees along roadways

Larry Stone, president of the Stone Group of Properties, told Spokane City Council members last week that open space next to roads and highways in the Spokane region should be planted with pine trees rather than grasses that can be overrun by weeds.

Stone enlisted the help of Gonzaga University to study the economic benefit of planting pine trees and reducing the amount of grass and weeds that require maintenance and herbicide application.

The trees would be planted far enough from travel lanes to not endanger drivers going off the road.

Associate GU economics professor Ryan Herzog said maintenance on pine trees is almost nothing.

Stone said he would like to see more pine trees used along the North Spokane Corridor. He said the trees ultimately are less costly.

Halme, Walker working on stormwater tank

Installation of a 2.3 million gallon storage tank at First Avenue and Adams Street is a joint venture of Halme and Walker construction companies.

The $16 million project got started last month and will not be finished until late in 2018.



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