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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Council decides corridor study will be put out for bid

At its last meeting of the year the City Council firmed-up its transportation goals for 2006, taking yet another look at revitalizing Sprague Avenue and re-evaluating some of its street-maintenance policies.

“There were a number of issues in that earlier study that need to be flushed out,” planner Greg McCormick told the Council Tuesday.

Consultants hired by the city did an economic analysis of the Sprague/Appleway corridor in 2004 and provided several recommendations to make the area more commercially viable. In next year’s budget, the city set aside $250,000 to outline more specific plans to develop a city center, change land-use policies and thin out the glut of strip commercial there now.

For that amount, planners said, a consultant could study the entire length of Sprague Avenue in Spokane Valley. Some on the council, though, were eager to look at something smaller in the short-term like a special zone for the car lots on the west end of the city.

“We want some actionable items,” said Councilman Dick Denenny.

Councilman Mike DeVleming said it would be a better idea to improve a smaller area and draw on the success from that for future projects.

Others on the council felt the study should encompass the entire street because the actual redevelopment project will be broken into phases anyway.

The council agreed to put the study on the complete corridor out for bid with what several in the city called an “aggressive” schedule.

Bids will be due at the end of January, with work on the study slated to begin in March.

The council also touched on another Sprague Avenue issue Tuesday as it heard a report from the Ad Hoc Sign Committee surrounding the signs along Appleway that list businesses on the other side of the couplet.

“The current signs are poorly maintained,” said committee member and Planning Commission Chairman David Crosby.

While bigger signs in a different color would be easier to see, he said, they would be expensive to put up. Making the block numbers bigger and putting them at the top of the sign also would help, Crosby said, but the committee’s final recommendation was to leave the signs the way they are.

“There’s nothing nuttier than driving around some of these areas and not having a clue what block you’re on,” said Councilman Mike Flanigan.

Other concerns included the legality of the city, and the county before it, maintaining the signs in the first place.

“The signs as they are up are probably illegal, but nobody seems to care,” said City Attorney Mike Connelly.

The council eventually decided to leave finding a legal sign solution to the consultant hired to do the Sprague study.

Also Tuesday, the council looked at its street master plan and new rules for contractors cutting into city streets.

In a separate item, the Public Works Department gave the council a list of estimated costs for the various road maintenance tasks now contracted to the county.

The city could hire companies in the private sector or buy its own equipment to do some of the tasks, in coming years. For now, though, contract negotiations are ongoing and talks of taking over any maintenance duties are preliminary.

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