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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Trees along I-90 set to come down

Decades-old greenery, which officials say poses safety risk, will be chipped into mulch for new landscaping

Trees along I-90 between Division and the Hamilton interchange in Spokane are large enough to present a danger to motorists in case of a crash. The trees will be removed and replaced with shrubs. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Trees along I-90 between Division and the Hamilton interchange in Spokane are large enough to present a danger to motorists in case of a crash. The trees will be removed and replaced with shrubs. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Landscape trees along Interstate 90 east of Division Street are coming out.

Planted nearly 40 years ago, the trees have grown to a size that makes them a safety hazard.

They were originally put in to beautify the freeway around the Sherman Street overpass, where the lanes pass between a series of concrete retaining walls and rock bluffs. About 40 maples, pines and other species line the freeway there.

In some cases, the trunks have grown to larger than four inches in diameter, a size that creates a serious hazard to high-speed traffic, said Al Gilson of the state Department of Transportation.

The trees are also within the designated “clear zone” area, which extends 29 feet on either side of the fog line based on the 60 mph speed limit there, he said.

The larger trunks could conceivably withstand impact from an out-of-control vehicle, raising the risk of serious injury.

In contrast, highway signs are designed to break away if struck.

The state Department of Transportation is planning to remove them in the next few weeks and replace them with shrubs such as serviceberry and Oregon grape, which do not develop stout trunks and will not pose a traffic hazard, even as they mature.

The removed trees will be chipped on site, and the chips will be placed back into the landscape beds to create mulch.

Similar projects have been undertaken along Interstate 5 in Olympia and Vancouver and along Interstate 705 in Tacoma, among other locations.

Free film addresses light rail

On Thursday at 6 p.m., the Magic Lantern Theatre at 25 W. Main St. will be screening a free documentary on light rail transit.

The event is being put on by the Inland Empire Rail Transit Association, which is promoting the idea of building light rail in Spokane and Spokane Valley.

The 50-minute documentary will be followed by an open forum on sustainable transportation and land-use options for the greater Spokane region.

Donations are also being sought by the organization for its efforts to advocate rail transit.

Get ready for rumble strips

More and more of Washington’s two-lane highways, including several in the Spokane region, are getting centerline grooves that act to warn motorists when they are crossing into the oncoming lane.

The continuous groove is cut into the centerline with perpendicular ridges. The groove creates a buzzing sound when a vehicle tire goes over it. The sound and vibration can be easily sensed.

Starting today, installation of the centerline rumble strips will begin on three stretches of highways regionally.

They are U.S. Highway 195 from Dry Creek Road just north of Colfax to Cornwall Road near Rosalia; U.S. Highway 395 from Loon Lake to Colville; and state Highway 902 from Salnave Road on I-90 to the Medical Lake interchange on I-90, with the exception of its route through Medical Lake.

The grooves have proven to be a low-cost method for reducing accidents in which a motorist crosses into the oncoming lane, Gilson said. The three projects are being done by North Star Enterprises Inc., of Liberty Lake, on a bid of $314,000.

Commercial to close street

In downtown Spokane on Tuesday, the northbound side of Post Street between Riverside and Main avenues will be closed from 3:30 to 8 p.m. for video production for a commercial.

I-90 slows near the pass

Drivers using I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass are reminded that lane construction in the Easton and Cle Elum area is slowing traffic between 2 and 8 p.m., creating up to two hours of additional travel time. The slowdowns are the greatest for westbound traffic on Fridays and Saturdays and eastbound traffic on Sundays.

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