The stretch of U.S. Highway 2 from Mt. Spokane Park Drive north to Day-Mt. Spokane Road has become hazardous for drivers because of traffic congestion.
Residential and commercial development in that area has increased the amount of traffic and the number of left and right turns.
In a 10-year period ending in 2013, that section of highway has seen 269 accidents.
The Washington state Department of Transportation is proposing a series of measures to slow traffic and increase safety.
Raised islands in the median would control or eliminate turns, one of the principal causes of accidents.
A roundabout would be built at Day-Mt. Spokane Road to slow traffic and regulate turns.
Paving of Yale Road would allow for circulation off the highway.
About $5 million has been earmarked for the improvements for what state traffic engineers call access management.
“It’s a challenging balance to address safety and business and driver needs,” planning engineer Charlene Kay said.
The changes are considered a lower-cost option at a time when transportation spending statewide is being constrained. An earlier proposal to build a high-speed bypass has been dropped.
State engineers have reached out to users along the corridor to get their input on the proposed changes.
“There was overwhelming interest in reducing speed along the corridor,” Kay said.
A speed limit of 45 mph is proposed. Lane widths would be reduced from 12 to 11 feet and new sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes would be installed. The crosswalks would be equipped with flashing lights to stop traffic when a pedestrian is crossing.
A final draft is expected in three months and will be taken to a community meeting for additional comment. About 80 people attended a meeting earlier this month to review the current proposals.
The $3.7 million roundabout at Day-Mt. Spokane Road is seen as a key piece of the project. It would cause southbound traffic to slow down before it enters the zone that’s dotted with development. The roundabout also is effective at distributing traffic in different directions, Kay said.
The roundabout will have a radius that will be sufficient for freight trucks.
Turning channels would be built at Walker Avenue, Lane Park Drive and Moody Road.
U-turns would be allowed at Mt. Spokane Park Drive.
New flashing lights would be installed near Deer Road to warn drivers that the traffic light at Mt. Spokane Park Drive is going to turn red. A similar flashing light has been installed at Farwell Road.
A second phase of the traffic project will look at the stretch of U.S. 2 from Day-Mt. Spokane to Elk-Chattaroy roads.
Pay-by-phone parking expanding
Pay-by-phone street parking is being implemented in the downtown Spokane area after a test period on 41 meters near City Hall and Riverfront Park.
To use the system, drivers need to download the QuickPay application to their smartphones. The app is available at spokanecity.org.
The system is set up to prevent drivers from staying at the same meter for more than 15 minutes beyond their time expiration.
Feds funding work on bridges, floods
Spokane County has been awarded $2.7 million in federal funding to replace two bridges. They are on Ritchey Road over Deep Creek and the Monroe Road Bridge.
Also, the town of Spangle will get $264,000 to do flood control work along Spangle Creek.
In Lincoln County, $2.8 million in funding was approved to replace the Miles Creston Bridge.