The Spokane Valley City Council has selected a final design for the Barker Road grade separation project after input from residents and the business community.
The council Tuesday voted unanimously to move forward with a design that includes a three-leg roundabout 200 feet north of the Trent Avenue and Barker Road intersection.
The $19 million project – which would replace an at-grade intersection at Trent Avenue and the BNSF rail tracks with an overpass – faced obstacles over the past two months.
The council previously chose the roundabout design on Jan. 30, but state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, introduced an amendment to the Senate budget in February that would have prevented the city from receiving state grant funds, citing safety concerns with the roundabout.
However, the city and legislators reached an agreement to remove the amendment if the council allowed additional public input on the design. The city held three meetings in March to discuss the project’s history and six design alternatives.
Most residents and members of the business community testified in favor of the roundabout.
Greg Repetti, MultiCare Valley Hospital CEO, said a lot of work has gone into the design. He lived in a county in Colorado that replaced every traffic stop with a roundabout over a 10-year period, and traffic flowed much better after the changes.
“Fixing this (at-grade crossing) is really important to the growth of the Valley and economy,” he said.
Tammy Yager, Waste Management public sector manager, said change can be hard, but it’s important the project moves forward to increase safety of the intersection.
“I live in the area, and I avoid that intersection like the plague, especially when I’m on my motorcycle,” she said.
John Hohman, Spokane Valley deputy city manager, said the community meetings helped form the basis of moving the project forward.
“I think that was a very good thing to draw the public out and have those discussions,” he said.
Highland Estates developer Jack Kestell said for the past four years he lobbied heavily for the diamond interchange that contained an access road into the development.
“As you know, I’m very concerned about having access to Highland Estates, and we’ll just continue to try to work towards that,” he said at a March 16 meeting.
Hohman said discussions are ongoing with Kestell, Spokane County and the Washington Department of Transportation about adding a fourth leg to the roundabout that would extend north on county-owned land, but it’s currently not included in the design.
“There is potential that, at some point, our design effort could be amended to include that leg in the project, but it’s a little too premature at this time to know if that’s going to come to fruition or not,” he said.
Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney said the county is aware of concerns about adding the fourth leg to the roundabout.
“We’re listening to all these concerns and looking at what we need to do for a funding model going forward,” she said, adding that she’s in support of the roundabout. “I think for safety and economic development it’s imperative that this interchange gets built.”
The city will vote on a design contract at an April 10 council meeting.
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