A project to replace freeway lighting in downtown Spokane is going to save the Washington State Department of Transportation a lot of money on energy and maintenance costs, at the same time giving drivers a brighter view down Interstate 90.
Outdated sodium vapor lamps are being replaced with light-emitting diode lamps, which use about 40 percent less power.
The work is causing a temporary inconvenience for drivers in both directions on I-90.
A portion of the job involves moving light poles from the shoulder to the center median between the Sherman and Arthur street overpasses. That has resulted in closure of the two inside lanes last week and this week from Sherman to the Liberty Park interchange.
Traffic slowdowns were common during peak hours last week and will continue through this week.
The project involves replacing or refitting 114 poles between the Liberty Park interchange and Latah Creek Bridge. Some of the lights date back to the original freeway construction in the 1960s.
“Some of them have been there for 40-plus years,” said Becky Spangle, the WSDOT engineer on the project.
Probably the most noticeable change will be the installation of five 100-foot-tall light poles at the Liberty Park interchange to North Hamilton Street. Each of those poles will be equipped with six separate lamps and will replace 36 conventional lamps.
The state has specified that it wants those light poles to come from a company called Holophane, a leader in LED technology.
Along the downtown viaduct, electrical conduit and connections are being replaced. Much of the electrical equipment was corroded and in danger of failing, Spangle said.
Northeast Electric of Woodland, Wash., is the contractor on the $2.4 million installation.
To install the center light poles, workers closed the inside lanes to make room for removal of the old median and installation of concrete foundations for each pole.
In addition to greater electrical efficiency, the lights have less need for maintenance. LED lamps keep working for an indefinite period of time, Spangle said.
Also, the 100-foot light poles can be serviced from the ground because the lamps are mounted to pulley systems.
Progress on Francis
Good news for drivers and business owners along Francis Avenue in northeast Spokane.
A contractor completed work last week on a rehabilitation project on Francis from Crestline to Haven streets. The job left several small retailers virtually stranded. One owner said his business dropped by more than half last month.
Work will now move to the segment of Francis from Division to Crestline. No start date was given last week for that project.
While the city rebuilds Francis in northeast Spokane, the WSDOT has two projects along the corridor.
The first involves construction of a new overpass bridge east of Market Street to make room for the North Spokane Corridor and BNSF Railway line. Slowdowns continue in that area, but the intersection remains open to traffic.
WSDOT engineers said they are awaiting bids from contractors on the next phase of the corridor: right-of-way preparation for the new freeway from Freya Street north of Francis to the Hillyard business area. That work should begin later in the construction season.
To the west, the WSDOT has a contractor improving curbs with handicapped ramps in preparation for a repaving of state Highway 291 on Francis Avenue west of Division. Repaving will be from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting on the northwest end of the construction area.
Elsewhere, workers are replacing variable message sign boards on U.S. 2 at Spotted Road and on I-90 at the Geiger Boulevard interchange and near Cowley and Custer streets in east Spokane.
A westbound sign board is being replaced near Pines Road and a new westbound sign board is going in just east of the Idaho state line.
Slowdowns are likely on I-90 near Four Lakes where overpass bridges are being repaired and repaved.
Starting next Monday, a repaving job is planned on Pines Road from 32nd to Trent avenues. The work will be done from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. However, installation of new sidewalk ramps could result in lane closures.
The Sunset Hill segment of I-90 may also have intermittent lane closures from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. as a contractor makes finishing touches on a pavement repair job that dates back two years.
Work continues on a new interchange on U.S. Highway 195 at Cheney-Spokane Road. Traffic on Cheney-Spokane Road is being detoured to Qualchan Drive.
On Cheney-Spokane Road, the county has a safety improvement project underway, and motorists are asked to watch out for construction workers.
To the north on Mount Spokane Drive, the state is allowing utility work adjacent to the highway, which will result in one lane being closed and traffic being directed through work areas by flaggers. Delays of 10 minutes are possible.
On U.S. 395 north of Wandermere, crews are installing recessed and reflective lane markers.
Bridge still blocked
In the city of Spokane, the Monroe Street Bridge will remain closed for one more week while crews install an underground tank to prevent stormwater from going into the Spokane River.
New message signs are going up on city arterials starting today.
The locations are on Division at Waverly Place, and Gordon and Joseph avenues; on Maple at Broadway and Dean streets; on Country Homes Boulevard at Cedar Street; and on Third Avenue at Adams and Bernard streets.
Reconstruction of Third Avenue from Division to Arthur streets will keep the street closed until October.
Sullivan, Sprague restrictions
In Spokane Valley, lane restrictions are expected on Sullivan Road between the Spokane River and Trent and on Sprague Avenue from Park to Thierman roads.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.