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

Getting There: Bridge best choice for Centennial Trail crossing at Mission

The best way to get Centennial Trail users across busy Mission Avenue in northeast Spokane would be a new pedestrian bridge rather than a tunnel under Mission.

The bridge emerged as the preferred alternative after more than a year of study on how to improve safety for trail users.

Earlier this month, the Spokane Park Board voted to endorse the bridge. The board asked that the bridge not reduce the already limited parking at Witter Pool in Mission Park.

The proposed $2.1 million project will now be submitted to state and federal transportation agencies for grant funding, said Grant Wencel, the city of Spokane’s bike and pedestrian coordinator.

A new pedestrian bridge would be similar to the Centennial Trail crossing over Hamilton Street at Gonzaga University, he said.

However, the proposed bridge would be set at an angle running from the north side of Witter Pool to the northeast corner of Mission and Upriver Drive.

The improvements are seen as critical because Mission at the trail is a high-volume arterial street. Two other busy arterials – Perry Street and Upriver Drive – and the BNSF Railway line all come together near the trail crossing at Mission Avenue.

A consultant, an advisory committee and members of the public participated in the development of the preferred alternative.

David Evans and Associates was the consulting engineer.

“I think we really came out of it with the best alternative in my mind,” Wencel said.

Eight alternatives were examined.

In addition to seeking funds for a pedestrian bridge, the city will also ask for $220,000 to make safety improvements at the existing crossing at Mission.

Building a separate tunnel for the trail to go under the BNSF tracks south of Mission would add $1.3 million or more to the project cost.

Thanksgiving travel expected to decline

AAA said it expects holiday travel over Thanksgiving to decline by 1.5 percent from last year.

A total of 43 million U.S. residents are expected to travel at least 50 miles during the holiday period.

AAA said the reason for the decline is uncertainty stemming from the sluggish economy.

Extra patrols will target impaired drivers

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission last week announced that its annual effort to catch impaired drivers during the holidays will begin with extra patrols from Wednesday through Jan. 1.

The commission provides funding to local and state law enforcement agencies to place extra officers on the road to watch for impaired drivers.

From 2008 through 2012, the death toll from crashes attributed to driving under the influence averaged 49 people each year in the state.

The target for the campaign is no deaths.

Mount Rainier park highway gets nod

State Highway 706 in Mount Rainier National Park has been selected as one of the top 10 most picturesque drives in the U.S. by Country magazine.

The highway on the south side of the park wends through ancient forests, through meadows and along deep canyons. It carries tourists to Paradise on the south slope of the mountain.

Holiday alerts

STA buses will operate on a limited holiday schedule Thursday.

Drivers near Manito Park are asked to watch out for Turkey Trot participants on Thursday from 9-10:30 a.m.

River Park Square will have special traffic controls with flaggers on Friday from 2-8 p.m. and Saturday from 1-7 p.m.

Intersection set for season

The intersection of Market Street and Francis Avenue has been set up with a new configuration that will continue through next winter.

Both streets are reduced to one lane in each direction through the intersection.

Left turns are not allowed from Market onto Francis. But left turns off Francis and onto Market are allowed.

Right turns are allowed at all four corners.

Corridor extension underway

Work has started on a $15.4 million construction contract to prepare the North Spokane Corridor for extension to the south of Freya Street.

Apollo Inc., of Kennewick, was chosen for the job, which will include construction of two freeway bridges to cross over Freya.

In addition, the job involves realigning BNSF Railway tracks near Francis Avenue.

The work will also extend the Children of the Sun bike and pedestrian trail, which is part of the freeway project, from the vicinity of Freya to Hillyard, a distance of about a mile.