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Spokane Valley approves signal at intersection of Sullivan and Wellesley

Spokane Valley city officials recently approved a design of a signalized intersection at Sullivan Road and Wellesley Avenue to improve safety and handle an anticipated increase in traffic.

The intersection near East Valley High School has been a safety issue with more than 13,000 cars traveling through it daily and 17 reported accidents in eight years.

The city conducted a study in 2014 that determined the intersection warrants a signalized five-lane or dual-lane roundabout.

Spokane County is planning a six-phase, $9.4 million project at Bigelow Gulch and Forker roads to alleviate traffic from north Spokane to Spokane Valley by widening and straightening a portion of the road as well as adding two traffic lanes and an overpass to fix a blind intersection.

The sixth phase of the project will connect Bigelow Gulch Road to the intersection at Sullivan Road and Wellesley Avenue.

Spokane County’s project calls for a new cul-de-sac at Progress Road, which will shift the majority of traffic to Sullivan Road. By 2040, traffic is estimated to increase to 23,000 vehicles per day.

When considering a roundabout or signal, the city looked at pedestrian safety, dependability, future transportation needs, public acceptance, ease of obtaining right-of-way and traffic control during construction.

The city conducted a public meeting attended by 75 people with mixed opinions and concerns about roundabouts near the high school as well as pedestrian safety.

A traffic signal was selected by the council because cost is lower and there would be less impact on traffic flow during construction. The city determined a signal could be constructed faster, while construction of a roundabout would require shutdown of both Sullivan Road and Wellesley Avenue.

The city has secured $1.3 million in funding for an interim signal, including $99,625 from Spokane County to purchase right-of-way for intersection improvements.

City officials have been coordinating with the county over the past year to have projects constructed concurrently in 2020 to minimize interruptions to the public.