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

Getting There: Country Homes causeway will be replaced with swale

An asphalt causeway in the middle of Country Homes Boulevard north of Five Mile Road is going to be removed and replaced in a major construction project next year.

For years, the mile-long causeway has channeled stormwater runoff from Five Mile Prairie northward to a stormwater facility at Price Avenue and Wall Street and eventually to the Spokane River.

Spokane County has received a $1.75 million grant from the state Department of Ecology and will match it with another $580,000 of county funds.

The planned project from Excell Avenue to Carolina Way involves the installation of a biologically active infiltration swale that will remove pollutants from the water as it seeps through the soil and plant roots.

Soil catches oil drippings and other pollutants, and microorganisms within the soil are efficient at breaking those pollutants down naturally.

The swale will also allow for evaporation and water consumption by trees and other plants. This type of system is commonly called a rain garden.

Drip irrigation will keep the trees and plants alive during dry spells.

A subsurface pipe will be placed below the swale to convey excess stormwater and naturally occurring groundwater. Structures within the swale will prevent it from overflowing. County designers said the system should be able to handle a level of flooding that would be expected to occur once every 100 years.

The stormwater facility at Price and Wall was completed in 2008 to treat stormwater, but it doesn’t have the capability of handling the occasional large volumes. In addition, cracks in the asphalt causeway allow untreated stormwater to infiltrate down to the groundwater.

The causeway project will eliminate the unsightly weed problem, county officials said.

“By restoring the Country Homes Boulevard channel, we approach meeting the treatment requirements of today’s water quality standards,” a project flier given to neighborhood residents said.

County officials said they have heard concerns about risks to wildlife crossing the street to get to and from the swale, but engineers said they don’t believe that wildlife will move out of their better habitat areas along Five Mile bluff.

Room is being made for maintenance vehicles and snow piles.

Existing bridges will be replaced with new crossings.

Holiday bus schedule

Spokane Transit Authority buses will be on holiday schedule on Christmas and New Year’s Day. The bus frequencies will be reduced along with hours of operation. Holiday service is the same as Sunday service.

Airport reminders

Spokane International Airport is reminding holiday travelers not to wrap any gifts in both checked or carry-on luggage. Those items will need a security check.

In addition, the airport asks travelers to check flight schedules before going to the airport. That can be done by calling your airline or going to Inclement weather may cause flight delays.

The airport also asks that drivers stay with their vehicles when dropping off or picking up passengers at the terminal doors.

Ice sensor system tested

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Center for Atmospheric Research are working on a new system to help snow plow crews do a better jobs locating icy roadways.

The system is being tried in Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Long Island, N.Y.

It combines land-based sensors with satellite and weather information to give crews a better idea of where icy conditions occur.

“Motor vehicle accidents involving wintry conditions and other hazardous weather claim the lives of more than 4,000 people in the United States and injure several hundred thousand each year,” a news release from the atmospheric research agency said.

Flaggers out at mall

Flaggers will be out today, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the parking entrance to River Park Square on Spokane Falls Boulevard downtown. The left-hand lane will be dedicated to shopping traffic.

Travel expected to be up

AAA estimates that 94.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their homes during the current holiday period. That is an increase of 0.6 percent from 2012, when 94 million people hit the road or caught planes.

The increase may be partly due to the midweek holidays, which offers a greater number of travel options for people, AAA said in a news release.

The travel estimates are based on poll sampling.