Five Mile Road, built to serve the farming community on Five Mile Prairie, is scheduled to get upgrades in 2016 so it safely can handle the increasing amounts of suburban traffic.
For years, residents of the fast-developing residential area have complained about the narrow, two-lane road that has served upscale homes there. Traffic improvements have arrived slowly while residential growth has been fast.
In 2009, Five Mile Road was improved on the hillside sections to the north and south. The segment from Lincoln to Strong roads remains in its historic condition.
The city will spend $3.7 million in 2016 to widen the road to include 11-foot travel lanes, bicycle lanes, sidewalks and stormwater infiltration from Lincoln to Strong roads. A roundabout will be added at Five Mile and Strong roads to increase safety.
Also, a turn lane will be added at St. Thomas More Way, and a new water main will go into the ground.
Spokane City Councilwoman Candace Mumm said the improvements are part of a long-sought plan to create a safer road network on the prairie.
“It’s time,” Mumm said. The widening on the approaches to the bluff has been complemented by new traffic light improvements at Five Mile Road intersections with Maple and Ash streets and at Waikiki Road, she said. In addition, a traffic light has been installed at Country Homes Boulevard and Cedar Road.
Mumm said the improvements will include a new section of roadway from Barnes Road in the north Indian Trail neighborhood to Strong Road at the top of the bluff. That will open a new route connecting the Indian Trail area with the North Side neighborhoods to the east of Maple and Ash streets, including the Monroe and Division corridors.
Expect record holiday travel
AAA said it expects a record number of Americans to hit the roads from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3.
The auto club said in its holiday travel forecast that its scientific research shows 100.5 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home, with 91.3 million people traveling by automobile.
That is a new record for holiday travel over the Christmas and New Year’s period, up from the 99 million people who traveled last year.
“Improvement in the labor market, rising incomes and low prices, including gas prices that remain well below last year’s levels” were cited for the robust travel prediction.
AAA said gasoline prices could fall below $2 a gallon as a national average by Christmas Day.
Spokane-area gasoline prices have been hovering near $2.25 a gallon recently in Spokane.
Flying? Give yourself more time
The Transportation Security Administration is advising Spokane air travelers to allow plenty of time to get to their flights because overall airport passenger traffic will be up by at least 10 percent during the holidays above normal traffic.
Allowing two hours to get parked, ticketed and screened is a good idea, especially for the first wave of flights leaving in the morning, said Lorie Dankers, TSA spokeswoman.
“We are going to be at capacity,” she said.
The busiest day will be Dec. 29, when 6,200 passengers are expected to pass through security. The period from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. will be the busiest.
The other busiest days will be Tuesday, Sunday and Jan. 2. The hours from 4 to 6 a.m. will be the most crowded, Dankers said.
To help alleviate delays, be sure to unpack your bags and repack them to make sure you aren’t carrying any banned items. Gifts should be in bags, not wrapped. Avoid wearing large metal jewelry.
Travelers with medical conditions or disabilities can prepare in advance by calling the TSA Cares toll-free helpline at (855) 787-2227. It is recommended to call 72 hours in advance of the trip.
Check traffic, roads on the Web
For travelers, the Washington state Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to check out websites for the latest road conditions and traffic volume predictions for major highways.
WSDOT offers online tools that predict when traffic will be the heaviest.
Moderate traffic volumes are expected over Snoqualmie Pass in both directions from about 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday.
Westbound traffic on Sunday could continue at moderate volumes through about 6 p.m.
The Washington State Patrol also wants drivers to equip their vehicles with emergency supplies, including water, a flashlight, batteries, a shovel, a cellphone, flares or orange markers, extra food, tire chains, an empty container, warm clothing or blankets, boots, gloves, a warm hat and traction sand.
Have the windshield washer filled before departing and make sure the battery, tires, wipers and other mechanical parts are in good working condition.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.