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

Getting There: This week, spare a thought for the folks in orange

Road crews work on Mission Ave near Gonzaga University in Spokane on Monday, March 26, 2018. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

There’s nothing quite like a smooth stretch of pavement. Or a filled pothole, the one that’s been tormenting your shocks, struts and coil springs. Or how about that new sidewalk ramp or bike lane?

Well, we know who to thank for these tremendous transportation gifts, and this week offers the chance to show a little gratitude.

This week, starting today through Friday, is National Work Zone Safety Week. While motorists should always be extra vigilant when people are near traffic lanes, this week is the time to keep those orange-jacketed men and women in your thoughts, and keep those feet on the brake pedal.

The Washington State Department of Transportation, Spokane Regional Transportation Council, Spokane County Public Works and the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley have come together to remind motorists to slow down, follow directions and pay attention.

How hard is that?

Every year, Washington state has an average of 837 roadway work zone injuries. In 2017, according to WSDOT, there were 1,703 reported collisions either in a work zone or in a related back-up, 708 reported injuries and seven fatal crashes.

With that in mind, the region’s transportation agencies have a few suggestions in mind for drivers.

Slow down. I know. So tough.

Be kind. Again, another difficult goal when behind the wheel in traffic. Wave with all fingers.

Pay attention. Remember that you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle that weighs, on average, more than 4,000 pounds. That’s like riding a rhinoceros that can run as fast as a cheetah. And it’s made of metal. Get off your phone.

Lastly, stay calm. Expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible. And chill out. The vast majority of human history we had to walk everywhere. And now you get to go 60 mph? Lucky, calm you.

Sewage tanks still hit traffic

The city of Spokane’s work to stop polluted water from entering the river continues, with projects to build massive underground tanks rerouting traffic all over town.

The Adams Street project building a 2.4-million-gallon tank has reduced Adams between First and Sprague avenues to one lane. First is down to one lane eastbound in the southern most lane. Sprague Avenue is closed to all westbound traffic from Jefferson to Cedar streets. Eastbound traffic is permitted on Sprague from Adams to Jefferson. And eastbound Riverside Avenue will remain closed from Cedar to Jefferson.

The Cedar Street project, the building of two smaller tanks, has closed Cedar Street south of Bridge Lane to Summit Parkway.

The Liberty Park project, the building of a 2-million-gallon tank, continues, with traffic impacts on Fifth Avenue from Arthur to Perry streets and Denver Street and Celesta Avenue.

The Spokane Falls Boulevard project, building a 2.2-million-gallon tank by the downtown library, still has Spokane Falls Boulevard closed between Lincoln and Monroe streets.

Finally, the T.J. Meenach project, which will result in a 1.4-million-gallon tank east of T.J. Meenach Drive below Northwest Boulevard, has closed Grace Avenue from Alberta to Cochran streets.

Curb ramps in the northeast

Spokane’s work to build sidewalk curb ramps continues in the northeast part of the city. This week, crews will be working at Samson Avenue and Lacey Street; Hoffman Avenue and Lacey; Heroy Avenue and Regal Street; Hoffman and Regal; and Wellesley Avenue and Regal.

Mission work will switch

A pavement improvement project on Mission Avenue between Division and Hamilton streets is underway. The westbound lanes have been closed, with traffic detoured to Indiana Avenue, while the eastbound lanes are open. This week, however, depending on the weather, work will switch to the eastbound lanes.

In the county

Bigelow Gulch continues to have potential delays. Construction on Bigelow from Palmer to Forker roads will impact traffic during the reconstruction of the intersection. Bigelow from Palmer to Weile Avenue has a temporary signal. Drivers should be prepared to stop in both directions between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday through May.

Forker at Jacobs Road is still reduced to one lane, and will be through May. Flaggers may be present.

Keller Ferry out of service

The Keller Ferry, which crosses the Columbia River on state Highway 21, will be closed from Thursday to April 16. Motorists will need to use alternate routes.

The Keller Ferry ship, Sanpoil, will be out of service for hull repairs starting at 6 a.m. Thursday. Service is expected to resume at 6 a.m. April 16.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, vessel builder Foss Maritime of Seattle will repair a hairline crack located where the keel meets the vertical bulkhead near one of the propeller shafts. Ferry operators found the crack during a routine inspection.

City wants input on East Sprague project

East Sprague’s facelift continues.

The city is currently seeking public input on a project to renovate Sprague through the University District, which will reconstruct pavement, sidewalks and utilities. Sewer, stormwater and water utilities will all be updated.

The project stretches on Sprague Avenue between Bernard and Scott streets. According to the city, the pavement was last repaired in 1985 and some utilities were installed more than 100 years ago.

An online presentation of the project has images that show the options and alternatives, available at the city’s website. There is a public survey at the end of the presentation. The survey will be open through April 28.