Spokane County and state officials celebrated completion of a $9.4 million interchange project at Bigelow Gulch and Forker roads on Tuesday.
The interchange project straightens and widens Bigelow Gulch Road by adding two traffic lanes as well as an overpass to eliminate a blind intersection at Bigelow Gulch and Forker.
The interchange is one of six significant phases in the $68 million proposed Bigelow Gulch-Forker Road Urban Connector project to improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and support freight mobility from the North Spokane Corridor to Spokane Valley.
Spokane County Commissioner Al French said the interchange will help meet needs of the business community by tying the Spokane Industrial Park to north Spokane and Canada.
“These improvements and the other improvements yet to come in this corridor will not only be safer but faster than going on I-90 and even up through the north-south corridor when that’s built,” he said at a Tuesday afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The county noticed an uptick in daily traffic on Bigelow Gulch and Forker roads, especially truck and freight traffic. The traffic volume along the narrow, curvy roads led to a large number of collisions – including five fatal crashes.
More than 7,047 vehicles a day travel along Bigelow Gulch to Forker, and that number is expected to increase to 13,700 by 2040, according to the county.
Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney said the northeast industrial area and the Spokane Industrial Park in Spokane Valley are growing, so improving safety along the corridor is important.
Project funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation-Federal Highway Administration, Washington state Department of Transportation, the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board and the County Road Administration Board.
Two phases of the corridor will be completed in 2019: the stretch of Bigelow Gulch between Argonne Road and the interchange, and the realignment of Forker to Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley.
The entire urban connector project is scheduled for completion in 2022.
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