The federal government awarded Spokane County $14.3 million Thursday for a project to improve Geiger Boulevard in front of the Amazon fulfillment center being built just west of the city.
The roadwork will turn the two-lane paved road intended for limited traffic into a three-lane asphalt road with a center turn lane and an adjoining 10-foot shared-use path similar to the Centennial Trail.
A traffic signal will be installed at Geiger’s intersection with Hayford Road, and roundabouts will be built at the Medical Lake and Grove Road interchanges, replacing the stop signs. A new bridge will also be built across Interstate 90, paralleling the existing one at the Medical Lake exit, with vehicle lanes and a shared path.
The project will “deliver long-lasting connectivity to Spokane County and the City of Spokane’s developing industrial lands, and will support further economic activity and development in the region,” according to the county’s website.
The road project is directly linked to Amazon’s 2.5 million-square-foot warehouse, which the county said is “expected to substantially increase the number of vehicles, especially heavy trucks, along Geiger Boulevard and connecting I-90 facilities.”
The federal money comes from the BUILD grant program, or the Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development grants. Formerly called TIGER, the program has delivered $248 million to support 17 projects in Washington state since its creation in 2009 in response to the global economic collapse. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., helped create the Obama-era program.
“This is a major win for the greater Spokane region,” Murray said in a statement. “As local infrastructure needs evolve with Spokane’s steady growth, federal investments in projects like Geiger Boulevard will upgrade our roads and prepare our communities for the future. I’m proud to see our work in Congress pay off for Spokane-area residents and business.”
The Amazon fulfillment center, located on an 80-acre parcel at 10010 W. Geiger Blvd., will employ about 1,500 people.
Goods will be shipped to the new fulfillment center by truck and plane. Working in conjunction with a robotic system, employees will fill orders from Amazon customers worldwide.
The Spokane fulfillment center will ship smaller items – ones that fit into bins the size of a microwave, said Lauren Lynch, an Amazon spokeswoman. Larger items such as bikes, canoes and furniture are shipped out of a different type of Amazon fulfillment center. It is expected to open in 2019.
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