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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Lane Changes Sprague Avenue Interchange Realignment And Other I-90 Projects Starting This Summer

Improvements to Interstate 90 are scheduled to begin this summer with the realignment of the Sprague Avenue interchange and the addition of two lanes to a portion of the freeway.

Eventually, as many as four new lanes will be added to a three-mile stretch of freeway between the Havana and Argonne interchanges. Changes also will be made to Fancher Road, Sprague Avenue and Park Road before the four-stage project is completed several years from now.

Costs for the entire project could total $62.5 million.

Rebuilding the Sprague interchange and construction along the eastbound stretch of I-90 will cost about $14 million. Related work on the intersection of Fancher and Sprague is expected to cost $1.5 million.

An exact starting date for construction will not be set until a contract is awarded. The first two phases of the project are expected to be completed by the fall of 1998.

The work is not expected to dramatically slow traffic on the region’s busiest highway, which carries 105,000 cars past the Sprague interchange each each day.

Al Gilson, state Department of Transportation spokesman, said two lanes of I-90 will remain open in each direction during construction.

“It should not impact traffic a whole lot,” Gilson said. “Traffic should continue to flow the way it is now except for people gawking.”

The first phase of the project begins with work on the intersection of Sprague and Fancher, through which westbound traffic entering and exiting I-90 will eventually travel. Improvements there will include widening the intersection and completing its north leg, installation of new traffic lights and sidewalks, new concrete lane approaches, and improvements to the storm water drainage system. The work is scheduled to be completed this fall, Gilson said.

When that work is finished, crews will shift their attention to adding a through lane and a merging lane to the eastbound side of I-90 from just east of Havana to the Broadway interchange. New four-lane bridges will be built over Sprague and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, also going eastbound.

Work on realigning the eastbound off-ramp at Sprague also is expected to begin late this summer. The new ramp will allow motorists to make a more gradually sweeping exit from the freeway, eliminating the sharp curve at the bottom of the existing ramp.

The new off-ramp will temporarily connect to the existing ramp below the curve. Eventually, it will flow onto First Avenue and continue east as part of the county’s proposed Valley couplet project, Gilson said.

County engineers are studying a couplet plan that would route eastbound traffic along a new four-lane, one-way stretch of First between Thierman and University roads. Westbound traffic would run along Sprague, which would be converted into a four-lane, one-way street. An environmental impact statement on the $16 million couplet is scheduled to be finished this spring. Construction could begin in the year 2000.

To eliminate I-90’s eastbound bottleneck at Sprague, the realigned interchange will not have an eastbound on-ramp. Instead, eastbound motorists will use the newly finished portion of Thierman to enter the freeway at Broadway.

Westbound motorists who exit at Sprague will be funneled through the intersection of Fancher and Sprague. There, they will be shuttled onto Sprague or continue north on Fancher.

A time line has not been set for work on the final two phases of the I-90 project, during which additional westbound lanes and ramps will be build.

“Our ultimate goal is to follow project, project, project,” Gilson said as he patted a map detailing the work.

Meeting that goal depends on the state Legislature. Funding for the final two phases - a combined $47 million - is not yet secured.

Reps. Mark Sterk and Larry Crouse, the Spokane Valley Republicans who were instrumental in getting funding for the first two phases, are pushing a plan that would pay for the completion of the freeway work, Gilson said.

“Right now everyone is putting in their requests and we’re in a state of flux,” Crouse said by telephone from the House floor.

Additional work that remains unfunded is planned on I-90 between Havana and Argonne.

That includes a $22-million plan to add a through lane and a merging lane in each direction between the Broadway and Argonne interchanges, and build a five-lane bridge over I-90 at Park Road.

The final phase, a $25-million plan to complete the freeway work, would include adding a westbound through lane and a merging lane between the Broadway and Sprague interchanges, building four-lane, westbound bridges over the Union Pacific tracks and Sprague, constructing a new westbound off-ramp leading onto Fancher, and connecting to the county’s Valley Couplet.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo Map of area

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Have a say Public comment is being accepted through March 6 on the Interstate 90 work. Comments can be mailed to: Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47696, Olympia, WA 98504-7696.

This sidebar appeared with the story: Have a say Public comment is being accepted through March 6 on the Interstate 90 work. Comments can be mailed to: Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47696, Olympia, WA 98504-7696.

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