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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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City plans to dip into reserves to engineer landslide fix in Peaceful Valley

The creeping march of soil on a hillside in Peaceful Valley quickly cost the city of Spokane time and money earlier this year.

The city expects to pull $200,000 from its reserves to cover the cost of engineering a solution to a landslide atop Clarke Avenue first noticed after a ferocious January windstorm.

While the immediate danger has abated, the headache it caused has persisted.

City officials will ask for the $200,000 in funding because the response exceeded the Engineering Department’s budget. Much of the spending has been on contracted services, as the city had to bring in geotechnical engineers to monitor the situation.

The funding request, made in front of the City Council’s Public Infrastructure and Environmental Sustainability committee, does not include the cost of whatever engineers determine to be a long-term fix. The city expects to make another funding request once a solution is finalized.

Fearing the potential for a significant landslide, the intersection of Clarke Avenue and Elm Street has been closed for months, after city officials determined the hill to its south poses a landslide risk.

In the days following the January windstorm, the city buttressed a retaining wall at the bottom of the hill with a mound of dirt.

Since the slippage was noticed, the city has also had a geotechnical drill installed at the site to give engineers a clearer picture of how deep the problem is.

City officials do not believe nearby buildings, including those at the top of the hill on Riverside Avenue, to be at immediate risk.

“The soil buttress we installed at the base of the slope, combined with our dry weather, has greatly diminished the rate of movement,” said Kyle Twohig, the city’s director of engineering services.

Conditions were much different in January, when strong winds followed heavy rains. Damage was seen not just on the Peaceful Valley hillside but in other parts of the city as well as dozens of trees fell and caused widespread outages.

Meanwhile, the city has marched ahead with construction on the South Gorge Trail project, carving out a small section of the trail that passes just beneath the hill that it will circle back to when the landslide is resolved.

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