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

Traffic light’s future up in the air

City weighing removal of signal at Sprague, Progress

The city of Spokane Valley is considering the traffic light at Sprague Avenue and Progress Road and whether to keep the pedestrian crossing. (J. Bart Rayniak)

The city of Spokane Valley is considering removing a traffic light at Sprague Avenue and Progress Road next summer when Sprague is reconstructed between Evergreen and Sullivan roads.

The construction project is being 80 percent funded by a state grant. “It requires us to make some upgrades to the signals and rewire them,” said senior traffic engineer Inga Note.

“It costs some money to do all these,” Note said.

The intersection is the site of a former Yoke’s grocery store. After it closed the amount of traffic using the intersection dropped. There are several businesses near the intersection and a post office is nearby.

“The volumes there do not meet the minimum threshold they are supposed to meet in order to have a traffic signal,” Note said. “We need to at least do an evaluation.”

A sign has been posted at the intersection announcing that the signal is being studied. Note said a couple of dozen people have provided input on the potential decision. Most of them are in favor of keeping it, she said, but some residents on Progress favor removing the light in order to reduce the traffic on their street, which is not designated as an arterial.

“A lot of people would like to keep it,” Note said. “I’ve heard from people who want to drive across Sprague. We are hearing from pedestrians and bicyclists.”

It’s easy to count the number of cars using the light but it’s not easy to count the number of pedestrians who use it, Note said. If the signal is heavily used by people on foot, it could justify keeping the light even if the traffic count is low, she said.

Note said she will likely make a recommendation sometime in January. “At this point I’m still taking comment on it,” she said.

Even if the signal is removed, it could be put back into place at some point in the future if a new tenant fills the grocery store, Note said. “It would depend on how much traffic they generated,” she said. “If we do take it out, we would probably leave all the signal foundations.”