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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Next phase of freeway work is a real blast

Short-term closures of U.S. Highway 395 near the Little Spokane River will occur over the next several weeks as construction workers set off explosives to excavate the site of an interchange with the new north Spokane freeway.

The blasting started two weeks ago to build the connection between the freeway and U.S. 395 in the vicinity of Wandermere Road. It is expected to continue for about another month.

Traffic is being stopped during each of the blasts.

“They stop traffic for safety reasons and in case something flies out into the road,” said Al Gilson, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation in Spokane.

The excavation work is part of construction of foundations for two bridges connecting the freeway with U.S. 395. Workers also are drilling 140-foot-deep shafts to anchor bridge piers on bedrock.

Wandermere Road is closed on its south end during the work. Access to the area served by the road is now from the north only.

Graham Construction and Management Inc. in Spokane is the contractor on the $37.5 million package to complete a four-lane divided section from Farwell Road to U.S. 395 at Wandermere.

The two-mile section is the northernmost leg of the North Spokane Corridor. It is expected to open in fall 2011 and connect with a 3.7-mile, two-lane segment that opened in August between Freya Street near Francis Avenue and Farwell Road.

The current project includes lowering of U.S. Highway 2 so that the new freeway can pass above it, as well as construction of an interchange there. U.S. 2 traffic is currently detoured onto temporary lanes near Farwell Road.

The highway lowering includes installation of a new arched culvert over Peone Creek. Flyover bridges connecting the freeway won’t be completed until traffic on U.S. 2 is routed off the detour and onto the lowered roadway.

Plans call for eventually linking the 10.5-mile freeway with Interstate 90 in east Spokane. The southern half of the route would cost an estimated $1.6 billion to build, a job that may take 20 years to complete, in large part because of high cost.

The so-called north-south freeway has been a community issue for nearly 60 years.

Season of caution

The state DOT is reminding motorists of ways to stay safe during winter driving.

Here are the agency’s top 11 tips:

Clear snow and ice from all windows.

Don’t try to out-drive conditions.

Leave plenty of room for stopping.

Stay at least 200 feet from plows or deicing trucks. There may be sand flying from the back of the truck.

Never pass a snowplow on the right side where snow is being pushed and where wing blade may be located. The road behind the plow is better than in front of it.

Don’t get overconfident in a four-wheel-drive vehicle or with studded tires.

Watch out for icy bridges in all winter conditions.

Turn off cruise control.

Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do.

Don’t follow too closely.

Slow down.

For more information on winter driving, go to

Idaho fees going up

Fees for many motor vehicle services in Idaho will increase Friday.

The higher fees were approved this year by the Legislature to generate more money to maintain and restore state highways and modernize the Division of Motor Vehicles’ computer systems.

The changes will bring in about $13.1 million. Fees for 18 motor vehicle services, including driver’s licenses, vehicle titling and driving records, are going up. Many of the fees have not increased for more than a decade.

Effective Jan. 1, costs for a standard Idaho driver’s license (Class D) will range from $15 to $55, up from $12.25 to $45.

Vehicle title certificates will increase to $14, from $8. Costs for motor vehicle and driver’s license records will increase to $7, from $4.

State identification cards will cost $10 instead of $6.50.

All fee increases may be viewed online:

•Driver licensing fee changes: dmv/DriverServices/ DLFees.htm

•Motor vehicle fee changes: dmv/Important Notices.htm

•Full text of the fee change legislation: www.legislature.idaho. gov/legislation/2009/ H0334.htm