Mayor Nadine Woodward, center, speaks to the media Thursday near the south landing of the University District Gateway Bridge about the city of Spokane’s planned construction projects for the summer. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
City officials outlined plans for the 2021 construction season on Thursday, but as any recent Hamilton Street motorist can testify, it’s already well underway.
Mayor Nadine Woodward was flanked by city leaders on Sprague Avenue as she heralded $70 million in new and ongoing public infrastructure projects across Spokane planned for this year.
About $40 million of the work will be on new construction while the remainder is budgeted for ongoing projects. All of it will be a boost for the local economy, as Woodward said that every $1 million in infrastructure investment equates to about 20 jobs.
“If you add it up, that’s as many as 1,400 good-paying jobs at a time when we need it more than ever,” Woodward said.
The crown jewel of the city’s 2021 infrastructure agenda is the rebuild of Sprague Avenue between Division and Grant Streets. It’s the first major work in that area in more than a century and will require the complete closure of Sprague Avenue.
This is the final phase of a yearslong investment in the street. It was originally slated for completion last year but was delayed as city leaders worried about leveling a double-whammy on businesses already dealing with the economic ramifications of COVID-19.
In recognition of the impact the work will have on Sprague Avenue businesses, which will remain open despite the street closure, Woodward implored people to support and patronize them.
The University District Public Development Authority is chipping in $4 million toward Sprague Avenue’s rehabilitation, which begins April 19. It’s the largest investment the University District PDA has ever made, according to its CEO, Lars Gilberts.
“We’re grateful to be able to invest in this, and hopefully we’ll see more housing, more businesses coming online in the months and years to come,” Gilberts said.
Work will begin this year to fill in the gap in the Centennial Trail between Boone Avenue and Summit Boulevard to Pettet Drive and West Point Road in the West Central Neighborhood. Although the planned route irked some neighbors, city officials have found broad public support for the project.
The city will create a 10-foot- to 12-foot-wide trail along where the Centennial Trail is already marked with signs, but no path actually exists.
Kyle Twohig, the city’s director of engineering services, said the new path will be a “real gem” for the Centennial Trail.
Elsewhere, a new sidewalk will be installed on North River Drive between Division and Washington streets, which will lead directly into the east entrance of Riverfront Park.
Numerous improvements on Hamilton Street will continue apace this year, with work already underway on installing four-way left-turn signals at the intersections with Indiana Avenue and North Foothills Drive. Several other intersections on the notoriously left-turn-challenged street received upgrades last year.
In Riverfront Park, the city’s replacement of the Post Street Bridge will begin in earnest. It started last year with the reinforcement of the bridge’s iconic arches, but 2021 will see the beginning of demolition of the remainder of the bridge.
Just up the river, repair work will begin this year on the north suspension pedestrian bridge in Riverfront Park.
The city will also continue the buildout of the South Gorge Trail through the Peaceful Valley Neighborhood, which will not be interrupted despite work to stave off a nearby landslide on Clarke Avenue.
As always, the city’s streets department also has a full slate of grind and overlay work scheduled.
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