In the Inland Northwest, the old joke goes, there are two seasons: winter and construction.
With the abundant rain this summer, locals are still waiting for winter to officially end, but the wet days haven’t stopped contractors from busting up streets.
Across Spokane and into the Spokane Valley, commuters are running a frustrating gauntlet of flaggers, broken concrete, heavy equipment and excruciating delays, especially as they navigate on north-south arterials. The work is long overdue – and some of it is a result of the $117 million street bond approved by Spokane voters last year. Meanwhile, in Coeur d’Alene, work crews are demolishing the busy Government Way bridge over Interstate 90, adding to the congestion on the nearby highway crossings on Northwest Boulevard, U.S. Highway 95 and Fourth Street.
Nothing’s more irritating on roadways than bottlenecks, detours and backed-up traffic, unless it’s inconsiderate motorists who cut in line as they approach work zones. With proper focus, however, local motorists can reduce low-level road rage as the construction work continues this summer, spilling into fall.
Rather than check watches, drum fingers and rev engines, drivers should consider the dramatic improvements that await them when the work is done, chief among which is the scheduled Sept. 19 reopening of Spokane’s Monroe Street Bridge after 2½ years of restoration work.
Sometimes, road and bridge reconstruction provides the spark that leads to revitalization.
In Coeur d’Alene, the relatively new freeway interchange at Northwest Boulevard/Ramsey Road was the key to redevelopment of the city’s eastern entrance. From an inadequate eyesore lined with weeds, the interchange was widened and landscaped to provide a pleasant entrance for eastbound travelers and spur development along Northwest Boulevard beginning with John Stone’s Riverstone project at an old mill site on the southwest quadrant of the interchange.
On the freeway through Coeur d’Alene this week, travelers have dealt with the frustration of being rerouted onto congested Appleway, around the demolition of the Government Way bridge. Again, motorists can keep their cool if they reflect on the positive. They should appreciate, in particular, governmental entities and contractors who schedule construction work at night to reduce the disruption for daytime commuters.
Spokane residents have the greatest reason to gripe and be grateful at the same time. They find themselves stuck in an ever-changing maze of destruction and construction. Simultaneous work on several of the city’s north-south arterials prevents them from finding easy alternative ways around the jams. However, when the work is done, Spokane will enjoy the new street network that will replace embarrassing civic ugliness, potholes and crumbling streets.
“Nothing good happens without sacrifice,” South Hill resident Kay Anderson told The Spokesman-Review recently.
Be patient. Today’s road construction frustrations soon will give way to community pride.
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