A makeover of the South Hill’s scenic High Drive would feature about 100 parking spots, skinnier driving lanes, wide sidewalks along the bluff and bike lanes if a city plan unveiled Thursday night is adopted.
The plan is the city’s second stab at finding the right blend to renovate one of Spokane’s signature streets. The first attempt met major opposition from the neighborhood.
“High Drive is a gem to Spokane. We all take visitors there for a drive,” said Jan Quintrall, the city’s director of business and development services. The city’s goal is to retain the character of High Drive but make it more of a neighborhood street.
High Drive, lined with pricey homes, is a destination for walkers, bikers and sunset gazers, as well as hikers and mountain bikers who use the extensive trail system on the west-facing bluff.
Making all user groups happy will be difficult, Quintrall said.
High Drive will be the last big project funded by a $110 million street bond approved by voters in 2004.
Quintrall said the city listened to feedback and made major changes that were released to a packed public hearing at Jefferson Elementary.
The project is divided into two phases, the first from 29th Avenue to Manito Boulevard and the second from Manito Boulevard to Hatch Road, just east of Rocket Market.
The entire stretch would get a 6- to 8-foot-wide sidewalk on the bluff side; currently there are no sidewalks on High Drive.
Not everyone is happy to see them put in.
Criticism included those who said sidewalks weren’t part of the original street bond plan for High Drive, and that people could walk just fine in the street.
Others welcomed sidewalks, saying the high volume of speeding traffic, including semitrucks, makes walking along High Drive dangerous and crossing it pretty much impossible.
Many asked for a traffic study and for better enforcement of the speed limit.
The proposed renovation would narrow traffic lanes from 20 feet to 11 feet.
The narrowed lanes will act as a traffic-calming measure, but they also mean the city will take less of residents’ yards to create the new bike lanes and sidewalk. Houses on the bluff side of the street could lose 2 to 3 feet of their yards.
At the first meeting about the High Drive project it was found that semitrucks are not allowed on High Drive south of 29th Avenue, but the restriction is not posted.
“Only local delivery trucks are allowed,” Quintrall said. “We are working on correcting the truck route signage.”
Two intersections – at 29th Avenue and at Hatch Road – are of particular concern to people who live there.
Roundabouts had been considered for intersections at 29th Avenue, Manito Boulevard and Grand Boulevard, but Quintrall said they don’t appear to be a good solution, adding that especially the Hatch Road and the 29th Avenue intersections need to be studied more carefully.
The city wasn’t ready to disclose where any crosswalks would be.
The cost of renovating 2 miles of High Drive will be $6.8 million, which includes landscaping, the replacement of a water main, and stormwater mitigation below High Drive and on the bluff to avoid overflow into Latah Creek. Funding comes from both the 2004 street bond and various grants.
The final design of High Drive is expected to be ready in February. Construction will begin in early spring and be completed in phases through fall 2014.
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