The city of Liberty Lake is one step closer to adding another bridge across I-90 and connecting the two sides of the city. Spokane County commissioners unanimously approved allowing Liberty Lake the right to build across county land Tuesday.
The Henry Road bridge, which has been in the city’s plans for years, would connect Mission Avenue and Country Vista Drive and is the first road the city has built. All the roads in the city were built by developers and Spokane County before the city was incorporated in 2001. The project, which will be built by the Washington State Department of Transportation, would improve traffic flow in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake.
The project will span I-90 and a thin slice of right-of-way owned by Spokane County. When leaders were planning the project, it did not include Ridgeline High School, which is being built on the south side of Liberty Lake. Selkirk Middle School, which is now open, was recently built on the north side of I-90.
The project was delayed a few weeks after Commissioner Al French raised concerns that the city’s proposal could jeopardize plans for a sewer line and high-capacity transit, which could be buses or light rail.
To avoid the sewer line conflict and preserve future transit plans, the plan was slightly adjusted so the future path for high-capacity transit would be away from any sewer lines, enabling the site to be used for future transit. Liberty Lake has also agreed to maintain the site.
Liberty Lake City Manager Katy Allen said the commissioners’ unanimous approval was one step in several the city needs to complete before the bridge can be designed and built.
“We can keep moving all the pieces,” she said.
She said the next step is to negotiate an agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation. The project’s target completion date is 2022.
French said he’s still looking at two possibilities for additional funding to help plan the bridge that would accommodate buses or light rail: the Spokane Regional Transportation District and a special taxing district within Liberty Lake.
“Either funding mechanism allows them to move forward,” French said. “They don’t have to wait for anything at this point, they can just move forward with the project.”
The bridge will be one of two crossing I-90 inside Liberty Lake’s city limits and is one of several projects related to crossing I-90.
The city’s first bridge, Harvard Road, will be widened along with improvements to the I-90 access ramps. Barker Road in Spokane Valley also will be improved, possibly with a roundabout.
This story was updated on August 26, 2019 to reflect that the Henry Road Project is being built by the Washington State Department of Transportation and Liberty Lake is assisting the agency.
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