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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Getting There: Liberty Lake trail getting upgrades

State grant will help pay for widening, safety improvement

The popular hiking and horse trail at Liberty Lake Regional Park will undergo a series of improvements starting next week.

The trail will be closed to the public during the work from Oct. 22 through Oct. 27.

Part of the work involves blasting rock to create a safer and wider path near Liberty Creek Falls, said Paul Knowles, park planner. That section of the trail is steep and rugged. The work will create an easier grade.

Other work is planned at the lower end of the creek.

“Our goal is to create a sustainable trail tread that will need little or no maintenance,” Knowles said.

The county obtained a $36,800 grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office to help finance the work.

Matching money and volunteer labor is being provided by members of the Washington Trails Association, Backcountry Horsemen and the Lands Council.

Knowles said the lower portion of the trail has been rerouted away from Liberty Creek after beavers built structures that caused the water table to rise, leaving the former trail too wet to use.

Members of the Backcountry Horsemen have offered to build a new bridge over the creek in the rerouted lower section.

Lands Council staff are providing and installing native plants to restore the old trail bed to a natural condition.

The popular trail has two trail heads – one at the park campground and another for mounted trail users off of Idaho Road.

The seven-mile loop takes users through a stand of old cedars at mile 2 and then to the falls at mile 3.5.

Marine patrol best in state

The Spokane County sheriff’s marine patrol has been named the best by the state.

The county’s Marine Law Enforcement Unit is the program of the year for 2012, according to the Boating Programs Office of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

The award was given during a conference of marine units held in Spokane last week.

Despite budget cuts in the Sheriff’s Office, the marine unit has kept up a strong boating safety program, with a 73 percent increase in boat inspections from 2008 through 2011.

The unit also was able to replace its fleet with two new patrol boats and personal watercraft through local funds, grants and corporate support.

Two marine deputies and a supervisor get help during the boating season through a rotation of other trained officers within the Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Valley Police Department.

Waikiki, Mill reopen

The county has reopened Waikiki and Mill roads after a lengthy construction project to improve the route. Work includes a new traffic circle at the intersection of Waikiki and Mill.

Portions of the arterial have been converted from a four-lane configuration to a three-lane system involving two through lanes, a middle turn lane and two bike lanes. That is intended to make the route safer.

Inland Asphalt Co., of Spokane, was the contractor on the $1.78 million job.

Closure prompted delay

The decision to postpone reconstruction of Francis Avenue from Division to Haven streets until 2013 came after Mayor David Condon eliminated the city’s real estate office and staff. The closure of the office stopped right-of-way acquisitions.

Work narrows I-90 near pass

Travel over the east side of Snoqualmie Pass could be slow going this week.

Interstate 90 is being reduced to one lane in each direction through 7 a.m. Friday so that crews can prepare the freeway for winter.

The closure is from Hyak to the vicinity of Keechelus Dam, where the freeway is being widened to six lanes in a multiyear, $551 million project.

Drivers should expect slow traffic and possible delays, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Two miles of the wider freeway is expected to open after the work is completed.

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