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Community members weigh in on proposed Barker Road roundabout

UPDATED: Thu., March 15, 2018, 10 p.m.

Traffic waits on Barker Road for an eastbound train near the corner of Barker Road and Trent Ave. Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Traffic waits on Barker Road for an eastbound train near the corner of Barker Road and Trent Ave. Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Valley community members voiced opinions on a proposed roundabout for the Barker Road grade separation project at a council meeting Tuesday.

Most testified in support of the city’s decision to include a roundabout in the project’s design, but others, including Highland Estates developer Jack Kestell and Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, had concerns about safety.

The project, which would replace an at-grade intersection at Trent Avenue and the BNSF rail tracks with an overpass, has faced a number of obstacles since the City Council chose a design on Jan. 30.

The City Council initially approved a design that called for construction of a roundabout 200 feet north of Trent Avenue and Barker Road. Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, introduced an amendment to the Senate budget Feb. 27 specifying the city could not receive state grant funds for the project if the roundabout was included in the design due to safety concerns shared by residents.

The City Council and 4th District legislators arrived at an agreement to remove that language, on the stipulation that the council allows for additional public comment on the design.

Padden said he appreciated that the council allowed additional public input.

“We think that’s very important,” he said. “We’ve heard from a lot of our constituents on the issue.”

Spokane Valley resident Laura Renz said she was involved in a near-fatal crash at the Barker and Trent intersection.

Renz said she typically doesn’t think intersections are dangerous, but that people don’t always pay attention at that particular intersection.

“And what happened to me is going to continue to happen to other people,” she told the City Council. “So I’m really glad to see all of the work you put into it, all of the different ideas. It was really informative, and I’m really looking forward to seeing some improvements there.”

Jack Kestell, who is the developer of the Highland Estates neighborhood north of the proposed roundabout, said the project should not be built without a north leg extending into the neighborhood.

“I think there’s some traffic movements that are going to be impacted where Del Rey Drive currently accesses Trent,” he said. “It may restrict movement at that intersection.”

Padden said that although there are concerns, he’s in support of the project.

“We know right now the industrial park is just about full. We know right now it’s difficult to ship product by train or by truck because there isn’t enough train equipment to handle all the demand,” he said. “So we’re in a great position to have that land.”

The city of Spokane Valley was awarded a $9 million federal TIGER grant last week that completes funding for construction of the $19 million project.

The City Council will vote on a design at a March 20 council meeting, and it plans to award a construction contract on March 27.


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