Spokane County commissioners have approved an agreement with the city of Spokane Valley to pay for design of a connection from a proposed roundabout on Trent Avenue to the Highland Estates neighborhood.
With a 3-0 vote Tuesday, commissioners agreed to pay for work by Spokane Valley’s engineering firm, David Evans and Associates, to design the connection extending north from the roundabout on county-owned land as part of the Barker Road/BNSF grade separation project.
The Spokane Valley City Council selected a final design in March for the $19 million project, which will replace an at-grade intersection at Barker Road and the BNSF tracks with an overpass.
The council chose a design with a three-leg roundabout at Trent Avenue and Barker Road after a series of community meetings to discuss six design alternatives. Council members opted to forgo adding a fourth leg into Highland Estates, pending discussions with the county and state Department of Transportation.
County Engineer Chad Coles said county officials want to ensure it’s possible to build a fourth leg on the roundabout.
“This (agreement) was a way to make sure that happens,” he said.
To move forward with design, Coles said, the county needs approval from Spokane Valley before meeting with David Evans and Associates for cost estimates.
“We don’t anticipate it being a large financial commitment,” he said. “We just want to make sure the connection can happen. We are open to ways to get there, but no money has been set aside for that construction.”
Highland Estates developer Jack Kestell said at a March community meeting he lobbied heavily for state and federal grants to fund a previous diamond interchange design at Barker Road and Trent Avenue that included an access road into the subdivision. The diamond interchange design was rejected by the Spokane Valley City Council in 2017 because of its $36 million cost.
A new design, which included a roundabout, was drafted by David Evans and Associates later that year.
A majority of Highland Estates residents were happy with the grade separation project, but wanted a connecting road into the neighborhood, Kestell said. With the proposed connection from the roundabout to the neighborhood, it will dramatically improve safety, he said.
“The roundabout will slow traffic and enable a continuous flow of traffic. It will improve line-of-sight distances. It’s a big deal for safety,” he said. “Virtually everybody I’ve talked to is in favor of this improvement.”
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