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

Getting There: Notable transportation projects in 2017

Virgin’s Hyperloop One just set a speed record of 240 mph at the world’s first full-scale hyperloop testing facility in the Nevada desert.

Officials in the White House say they’ll release President Trump’s long-promised $1 billion infrastructure proposal in early January.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin spaceflight and aerospace company is growing with the recent purchase of 31 acres of agricultural land in King County for $14 million.

The Dutch city of Utrecht just built a new parking garage – with spaces for 6,000 bicycles.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the SELF DRIVE Act, laying out a framework for autonomous vehicle regulation.

Needless to say, the future of transportation is big, wild and fantastic.

But before we go too far down the road of what’s next, let’s review what’s happened locally in the world of transportation.

The Spokane Regional Transportation Council released a year-in-review report, which listed 10 projects or programs the agency funded in 2017 for a total of nearly $23 million. The transportation agency is made up of elected officials and planning experts from around the region and is responsible for doling out federal funding for regional projects.

The largest of the projects, by far, was the $6.8 million work to rebuild 37th Avenue from Regal to Custer streets. The city of Spokane completely rebuilt the road and utility infrastructure and added bike lanes, curbs, landscaping and new parking for residents. South Hill residents were confused about how to drive on such a smooth road with no ruts or potholes to avoid.

In second place, the $4.8 million Division Street Gateway between Third Avenue and Spokane Falls Boulevard. The beautification project, also run by the city of Spokane, constructed improvements to the entryway to the city from I-90 and improved the curbs, ramps, sidewalks, lighting, landscaping and provided artwork. Visitors were surely agog.

Another city project takes third place, with the creation of the paved Barnes Road, from Strong Road to Phoebe Street. The old dirt road was finally given a modern surface, with sidewalks, swales, landscaping and bike lanes. The folks of Five Mile Prairie breathed a sigh of relief and promptly went shopping on Indian Trail.

The other projects were:

    The Eastern Region ADA Project, a state Transportation Department project to construct disabled-accessible ramps across the area, for $2 million.

    The Appleway Shared Use Path from Pines to Evergreen roads in Spokane Valley, for $2 million.

    Rebuilding the intersection at Sullivan and Euclid with concrete and the lanes realigned, for $1.75 million.

    Spokane County’s project to resurface Monroe Street from Francis to Greta, and improve traffic and pedestrian signals, for $1.5 million.

    The Appleway Preservation Project, also a Spokane Valley project, to resurface the major roadway, for $1 million.

    Deer Park reconstructed West Crawford, for $472,000.

    The Safe Routes to School Program for the Spokane Regional Health District received $115,000.

Other notable projects of the year, at least from my perch, include the beginning of construction of the pedestrian and bicycle bridge in the University District, the new roundabout in Airway Heights near the Spokane Tribe Casino and the complete renovation of East Sprague Avenue.

Lastly, who could forget the closed lanes and rerouted traffic caused by the work on the city of Spokane’s stormwater tanks? Or the lane reductions on I-90 all through Coeur d’Alene? Joy.

What do you hope to see in 2018? Light rail connecting Spokane Airport to Coeur d’Alene? Maybe a bicycle highway? Or do you seek the simpler things in life, like a new parking garage downtown?