Looking to help jump-start an economy roiled by the coronavirus, Spokane city officials laid out plans Monday to invest an additional $10 million in road projects.
The additional road maintenance is on top of the $70 million in construction projects already planned for 2020.
The projects will be completed in 2020 and 2021 and cover 15 miles of roadway in Spokane, twice the amount that was expected to receive maintenance during that stretch. About half of that work will be chipsealing, a surface treatment, while the other half will receive a more intensive pavement replacement process known as grind and overlay.
The additional $10 million, announced earlier this month but detailed for the first time Monday, will be drawn from the city’s arterial street fund and contracted to the private sector.
All of the projects tackled with the new $10 million burst already had been identified as a priority prior to the pandemic, but officials intentionally spread them throughout the city to offer benefit to residents throughout Spokane.
The work includes reconstruction of stretches of Indian Trail Road, Regal Street, Bernard Street and Freya Street.
Placing the $10 million investment in context, Spokane Public Works Director Scott Simmons noted the city has invested about $100 million over the past five years combined.
“Our citizens will notice the difference,” Simmons said in a statement.
Along with the new investment, the city will use a new approach to street maintenance that includes chipsealing of arterial streets. Previously reserved for use on residential streets, chipsealing involves laying down a layer of liquid asphalt that is topped with rock chips, a process city officials believe will better protect the roadway.
Although it takes on new capital projects every year as Spokane thaws from winter, the city has placed extra emphasis on its investment in infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic, looking to breathe life into the construction industry and keep people at work.
Those projects include the replacement of the Post Street Bridge.
“Our added street maintenance investment helps the traveling public and the local economy,” Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a statement. “Good-paying construction jobs are critical as we work toward recovery and maintaining the gains we’ve made in slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
The arterial street fund is separate from the city’s general fund, which is expected to take a hit from the economic downtown due largely to a drop in sales tax revenue.
“The money is there and it is available,” said city spokesman Brian Coddington.
The city is able to accelerate the projects due to reduced competition in the marketplace, as other projects in the public and private sector are put on hold, and due to the reduced traffic counts across city roads.
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