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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Getting There: Overpass freeway project’s next step

Bridge will be rebuilt at Francis Avenue

The next phase in development of the North Spokane Corridor will begin later this year with construction of a new overpass for Francis Avenue in Hillyard.

Money saved on construction of the northern segment of the freeway is being used to finance the overpass, estimated to cost $38 million.

The Washington State Department of Transportation expects to seek bids on the job in May and have the project under way by summer, said Al Gilson, spokesman for the WSDOT. It would be completed in 2013.

The existing four-lane span will be demolished and replaced with a wider and longer bridge that will cross BNSF Railway Co. tracks and the right of way for the freeway.

During construction, traffic on Francis will be diverted onto a grade crossing just north of the project.

The new bridge will have five lanes and extend 455 feet compared with the 160-foot span of the existing bridge.

In addition, the job involves reconstruction along Francis, Market Street and Freya Street adjacent to the freeway overpass.

Eventually, the partially built interchange on Freya north of Lyons Avenue will be expanded. It serves traffic off of Francis.

The Francis overpass is the first of six pieces that would get the freeway built from Freya to the Spokane River at a cost of $328 million. The projects are packaged in sequence so that construction can continue as funding becomes available.

The northern portion of the freeway from Hillyard to U.S. Highway 395 at Wandermere will be completed later this year. Federal economic stimulus money is paying for construction of the southbound lanes from Freya to Farwell Road.

A slow U.S. economy has allowed for favorable contractor bids in recent years. Money saved on the southbound work is being put into construction of the Parksmith Drive interchange for a combined total of about $36 million.

Total freeway funding to date is about $600 million, with $470 million of that coming from state gas tax collections.

Another $1.3 billion is needed to extend the freeway to Interstate 90 and build a new freeway system through East Spokane. Local and state officials are working on ideas for new funding sources.

Repair work to close one Sullivan bridge

Temporary repair work on one of two Sullivan Road bridges across the Spokane River will begin this morning.

Initially, traffic will travel in single file on each bridge before a detour is set up to push the traffic onto the northbound bridge.

Shoring work involving bridge beams on the southbound bridge will allow weight restrictions to be lifted. Spokane Valley is paying for the work to allow more efficient movement of truck traffic along the industrial corridor north of the river.

The city had a low bid of $156,000 on the project. Work should take about two months.

The city is also seeking funds to replace the southbound bridge at a cost of $19.7 million. The old bridge was built in 1951.

Emphasis yields 188 DUI arrests

A law-enforcement campaign to stop impaired drivers over the holiday season resulted in arrests of 188 motorists for driving under the influence in Spokane and Pend Oreille counties.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission said that was up from the 173 arrests made during the 2010 holiday period.

The campaign ran from Nov. 24 through Jan. 2.

Statewide, officers arrested 3,812 drivers for DUI.

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