A study of traffic using the U.S. Highway 195 corridor between Hatch Road and the interchange with Interstate 90 has led to a final report that recommends 26 projects to improve traffic flow, increase safety and add connections in an area that has seen steady growth in recent years.
The proposed improvements will not only benefit cars; several new trails are proposed to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists.
The study was a collaboration between the Spokane Regional Transportation Council, the Washington State Department of Transportation, Spokane County, the city of Spokane and Spokane Transit Authority.
The first public meeting to get input on needed changes was held in February 2020 and more followed online.
In addition to recent growth in the area, several new developments have been proposed. Many roads in the area don’t connect to Highway 195, leading to congestion on the few roads that do. There are also limited crossings over Latah Creek, and the steep hills present other connection challenges. Many drivers head east on Interstate 90, and the merge lane is short.
The goal of the list of projects is to connect streets and neighborhoods in the Highway 195 corridor and use those connections to send traffic to the West Plains, the South Hill and downtown Spokane using routes other than the highway, and in turn reducing congestion on Highway 195 and at the 195/I-90 interchange.
People should not expect new connections to be made to Highway 195, which is designated as a limited access corridor, said Ryan Stewart, principal transportation planner at SRTC. “It’s been purposely designed that way,” he said. “WSDOT has made it clear that they won’t allow more access there.”
There are five main goals when considering future projects: current and future safety, maintaining mobility for local and regional trips, accommodating the transportation needs of planned development, increasing walking, biking and transit options and identifying practical and affordable projects in a reasonable timeline.
Stewart said members of the community made clear in their feedback they wanted more options for pedestrians and bicyclists, not just cars. A Spokane Transit Park and Ride lot was also high on many people’s wish list.
Previous long-range transportation plans attempted to address the issues in the Highway 195 corridor, but the projects proposed there were expensive, Stewart said.
Stewart said he’s hopeful the Inland Empire Way connection to Cheney-Spokane Road will be easily feasible.
“We have a feeling from discussions with the city and WSDOT that it won’t be difficult to complete,” he said. “It’s not cheap, but I think it’s a better solution, especially for enhancing connectivity.”
No potential funding sources were identified in the report, and the proposed projects will have to compete with other local road projects for available funding, Stewart said. That means it’s not possible to know right now when the projects might be completed.
“It all boils down to funding,” he said.
The proposed projects fall into three categories: near-term investments, key investments and supporting investments. Near-term investments could be completed within five years, key investments are larger and more complex projects and supporting investments are designed to further local road connection and be implemented once future development occurs.
U.S. 195/I-90 ramp metering – Retime the ramp meter on the eastbound Interstate 90 onramp to make merging safer.
Northbound U.S. 195 travel time signs – Install travel time signs that include travel times on multiple routes to encourage the use of local roads instead of the U.S. 195/I-90 interchange during peak travel times.
U.S. 195/16th Avenue intersection – Allow only right-in, right-out turns on west 16th Avenue to encourage drivers to use Lindeke Street to connect to Sunset Boulevard.
U.S. 195 acceleration/deceleration lanes at 16th Avenue – Build a deceleration lane south of 16th and an acceleration lane north of 16th to allow traffic to merge more safely while getting on and off Highway 195.
U.S. 195 and Hatch Road East widening – Widen the road to separate westbound left-turning vehicles from vehicles turning right onto 195.
Inland Empire Way connection – Build a new northbound only connection between Cheney-Spokane Road and Inland Empire Way. This would include moving the northbound on-ramp to 195 from Cheney-Spokane farther north and adding a ramp meter.
Lindeke Street and Inland Empire Way connection – Connect Lindeke to Thorpe Road west of Highway 195 and create a two-way connection between Inland Empire Way and Cheney-Spokane Road east of Highway 195. This includes adding a bridge and closing the west leg of the 16th Avenue intersection with Highway 195. The south J-turn at Thorpe Road would also be closed after the Lindeke extension is complete.
U.S. 195 and Meadow Lane Road J-turns – Construct J-turns at the intersection to eliminate left turns.
U.S. 195 and Hatch Road J-turns – Construct J-turns at the intersection to eliminate left turns.
Qualchan Drive extension to Meadow Lane Road – Build a frontage road parallel to Highway 195 by extending Qualchan Drive. This includes adding a multiuse path next to the new road to connect the Eagle Ridge neighborhood to the commercial area near the Cheney-Spokane Road interchange.
Marshall Road improvements – Make Marshall Road a collector street between Thorpe Road and 44th Avenue. Design standards call for a paved two-lane road with sidewalks. Safety improvements would be made to the Fish Lake Trail crossing.
Qualchan Drive/Cheney-Spokane Road bicycle and pedestrian connection – Build a multiuse path next to Qualchan Drive.
Qualchan Drive extension to Marshall Road – Extend Qualchan Drive to Marshall Road and include bike lanes and a sidewalk. It would require a bridge or an underpass at the BNSF Railway line.
Meadow Lane to Hatch Road connection – Connect Meadow Lane Road to Highway 195 just north of Hatch Road once future development occurs between Highway 195 and Moran View south of Eagle Ridge.
Thorpe Road improvements – Make Thorpe an Urban Minor Arterial between Grove Road and Highway 195 by adding turn lanes or a two-way left turn lane and accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Thorpe Road undercrossing improvements – Widen the sidewalk on Thorpe Road from the Canyon Bluff Apartments driveway to Fish Lake Trail.
STA Park and Ride – Create a new Spokane Transit Authority Park and Ride lot at a to-be-determined location.
Cedar Road realignment – Create a new arterial about ¾ of a mile south of the current Cedar Road intersection with Cheney-Spokane Road that would connect the two roads with a new roundabout.
Hallett Road to Marshall Road connection – Build a new road to connect Hallett and Marshall roads. The road would cross two active BNSF Railway lines and the Fish Lake Trail.
Bicycle connection to the West Plains – Connect the Fish Lake Trail to the Trolley Trail Conservation Area by using Department of Natural Resources property.
Traffic control at 57th Avenue and Hatch Road – Install either a traffic light or roundabout at the intersection.
Hatch Road multiuse path – Build a new multiuse path next to Hatch Road between Highway 195 and 57th Avenue. Hatch Road is a popular route for bicyclists despite the narrow width of the road.
Multiuse path west of Highway 195 – Create a new path to connect the proposed Latah Glen development and existing mobile home park to the commercial area surrounding Yoke’s Fresh Market.
Marshall Road improvements – Make Marshall Road a collector street between 44th Avenue and Cheney-Spokane Road by creating a two-lane paved road with shoulders. Sidewalks would be required as new development goes in.
Connect 44th Avenue to Inland Empire Way – Extend 44th Avenue to Inland Empire Way to create a second access point to the manufactured home parks west of Highway 195 and a second access point to Department of Natural Resources land.
“Right-size” Cheney-Spokane Road – This could include adding a two-way left-turn lane, adding bicycle lanes, adding a multiuse path or reducing the number of lanes to one in each direction.
Correspondent Nina Culver can be reachced at The Spokesman-Review.
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