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

Survey: East Sprague respondents support pedestrian bridge construction, fewer travel lanes

Property owners and business people on East Sprague Avenue agree: They want fewer lanes on the road.

A recent city of Spokane survey found that owners on Sprague between Bernard and Scott streets want change when the road is remade next year. If city engineers heed the survey’s results, the stretch will look similar to the design of Sprague’s complete renovation about a mile east that opened in the fall.

The part of Sprague being renovated fronts the bicycle and pedestrian bridge under construction that will connect to the University District. The tall arch supporting the University District Gateway Bridge was recently completed, and the bridge is expected to be complete in September.

Besides the preference to remove a travel lane in each direction and add a center turn lane, the survey respondents showed overwhelming support for construction in 2019.

Doug Trudeau, who owns Trudeau’s Marina at Sprague and Spokane Street, said his family has owned some form of “boat business” on East Sprague since 1948, when his grandfather opened a shop rebuilding outboard motors.

Trudeau is supportive of the city investment in the roads, but said he worries that not all factors were considered when the city began asking people what kind of street they want.

He pointed to the construction of a five-story, 150,000-square-foot Catalyst building by Avista just down the street. The work is scheduled to begin in September, with completion expected in April 2020, and will house three degree programs and 1,000 students from Eastern Washington University.

“Should we really be road dieting?” he said, referring to what he said will be greatly increased traffic, more need for parking and more people getting on and off the bus, which could backup traffic. “There are concerns.”

Bill Grimes doesn’t share Trudeau’s worries.

As a planner who owns Studio Cascade, a planning and design company at the intersection of Sprague and Sherman Avenue, Grimes said he’s supportive of taking the lanes down to three and welcomes the more people he anticipates it and other changes will bring.

“I’m excited about it. Investing in the streetscape is great,” he said.

Grimes and his wife, Lucy DePaolo, have filed preliminary plans with the city to build a mixed-use, multistory building on land they own near the bridge. Initial plans show a ground floor, 1,500-square-foot retail space with nine apartment units above, for a total of 8,000 square feet.

Grimes said the “complex space” the city envisions for this part of town should reinvigorate the industrial, close-in part of town without changing its character. He did hope to see more residential units built in the area.

He said he hoped the street would be more walkable while maintaining its status as a “localized thoroughfare,” likening its future to South Perry Street and Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

“A parking problem is a good problem to have,” he said, adding that the area could become a place that would appeal to his 20-year-old son, who doesn’t want to rely on a car for transportation.

“The kind of environment this is shaping up to be is perfect for him and people like him,” he said.

The city survey also heard from people who don’t own property or a business on the stretch of Sprague affected by the work. In all, 145 people responded, 16 who had ownership along the street.

The overall results showed strong support for reducing the lanes of travel, from a four-lane road to three. Seventy percent of survey takers agreed that three lanes are preferred. On-street parking would be maintained on both sides of the street.

The city also asked if it were reasonable to increase on-street parking on wider side streets with angled spaces. Nearly 90 percent of respondents said it was. The streets that may get angled parking are Pine, Cowley, Grant, Hatch and Scott.

Phase one of the Sprague Avenue projects rebuilt the road between Helena and Stone streets for $4.3 million. Phase two, which was the subject of the survey, will take place in 2019. Between those two sections, from Helena to Scott, the city will do grind and overlay work this year.