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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Getting There: New greenway planned for downtown Spokane along Pacific Avenue

The corner of Pacific Avenue and Division Street is a challenging crosswalk, and the Spokane Regional Transportation Council is considering adding a proposed project, the Pacific Avenue Greenway, to its list of priority projects.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
The corner of Pacific Avenue and Division Street is a challenging crosswalk, and the Spokane Regional Transportation Council is considering adding a proposed project, the Pacific Avenue Greenway, to its list of priority projects. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The area of Pacific Avenue between Howard and Sherman streets in downtown Spokane may be getting spruced up in the near future now that the Spokane Regional Transportation Council has proposed putting it on its updated Transportation Improvement Plan.

The proposal, from the city of Spokane, is to build a neighborhood greenway on Pacific Avenue and two blocks of alley between Howard and Sherman. In that area, Pacific crosses both Browne and Division streets, which are busy arterials. There are marked crosswalks at those intersections.

The proposed Pacific Avenue Neighborhood Greenway would install traffic signals at Browne and Pacific, and Division and Pacific. A bike lane would be added between Browne and Division. Bumpouts, which extend the sidewalk into the street at intersections to slow traffic, would be added in some areas. Decorative planters, trees and street lights would also be included in the project.

The goal of the project would be to provide a safe walking and cycling route through downtown to the University District that is south of the railroad tracks, according to proposal documents submitted to the SRTC by the city. According to the city, a concerning “pedestrian collision pattern” currently exists where Pacific crosses Browne and Division, despite the flashing crosswalk signs that were installed.

If the estimated $5.2 million in funding is acquired, the project could begin construction in 2026.

Transportation Planner Kylee Jones said updating the four-year improvement plan happens regularly. Projects are eligible for the SRTC’s plan if they receive federal dollars or are regionally significant, Jones said, but have to go through a lengthy public engagement process at the local level before the projects are added to the regional plan.

“We’re not just picking randomly,” she said. “It’s really quite a process to get on the list.”

The SRTC is a metropolitan planning organization that receives an allocation of federal construction money each year. That money is distributed to local projects that are scored, ranked and prioritized by a board made up of representatives from Spokane County and city governments.

The money isn’t just for roads and bridges, however. There are also trails, bike lanes and other improvements on the improvement plan. “All modes are considered,” Jones said.

In order for a project to be included in the plan, it has to have secured some funding, Jones said. Once federal money is allocated, it starts a 10-year clock during which time the project must be completed.

Several other new projects are being proposed for the updated improvement plan that is now open for public comment. They include intersection improvements at U.S. Highway 195 and Meadowlane, the Fish Lake Trail connection to the Centennial Trail, a shared-use path along the Sunset Highway between Deer Heights and Royal and full reconstruction of Wellesley Avenue between Freya and Havana streets.

The proposed improvement plan also includes an additional $6 million for Bigelow Gulch improvements and $2.6 million for right-of-way acquisition along south Barker Road for road improvements.

Several of the proposed amendments include an increase in the amount of money approved for several projects that already were included in the plan. Some of those increases are likely due to increasing construction costs, but the adjustments are also normal, Jones said.

“That’s pretty typical as you get close to the construction phase,” she said. “A lot of these projects were designed and planned years ago. Those were estimates.”

More information about the plan update is available at srtc.org. Comments can be submitted by Saturday via email at contact.srtc@srtc.org, by phone at (509) 343-6370 or by mail at SRTC, 421 W. Riverside Ave. Suite 500, Spokane WA 99201. The board meeting during which the updated plan will be considered is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Work to watch for

Commuters who use the Monroe Street bridge to get downtown should look for other options beginning Monday morning.

The road will be reduced to one lane in both directions between the bridge and Broadway Avenue for a grind and overlay project. The $700,000 project will replace failed pavement and install curb ramps compliant with federal law.

The work is expected to last until late October. Look for heavier traffic on other bridges into downtown as a result.

Crews will also be repaving residential streets in the Five Mile and Audobon-Downriver areas. Dell Drive between Five Mile Road and Woodside Avenue, and Sutherlin Street between Rowan and Bismarck avenues, will be repaved starting Monday.

Riverside Avenue work downtown has also shifted. Riverside is now closed between Bernard and Stevens streets for reconfiguring of traffic lanes and replacement of a water line.

Motorists hoping to reach Spokane Falls Community College from the west should be aware of road closures. Whistalks Way is closed between Government Way and River Ridge Boulevard through Sept. 9 for apartment construction.

A back-to-school block party will close Hoffman Avenue between Market and Haven streets in Hillyard on Monday.

The two inside lanes of eastbound Interstate 90 between Geiger Boulevard and Maple Street interchanges will be closed for night work to fix potholes through Wednesday.

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