Biking down Riverside Avenue will soon be a breeze.
The city is embarking on a major repaving project on Riverside Avenue this summer, smoothing out what is currently one of the bumpiest rides around – in a car or on a bike.
As part of the repaving project, Riverside Avenue will be reduced from four lanes to three lanes, making extra space to accommodate a bike lane on each side.
The bike lanes will weave behind Spokane Transit Authority bus stops, a design meant to ensure separation between bicyclists and buses. They’ll also remain outside parking spaces, providing an extra buffer between cyclists and the flow of traffic. Much of the stretch of bike lanes will be painted green, making them even more visible to motorists.
It’s a change that will be welcome to cyclists.
Aren Murcar is a planner at SCJ Alliance and commutes by bike to its downtown office on Riverside Avenue and Washington Street.
“Even though it’s not like it’s not a super high speed road, it’s one of those roads people take a lot of turns on and off of, so navigating it on a bike – in addition to the pavement not being great – it can be a little unpredictable,” Murcar said.
The project consists of two pieces – a basic restriping from Monroe Street to Wall Street and a complete resurfacing of the asphalt between Wall Street and Division Street.
The most traveled stretch of the road – near Division Street – gets fewer than 10,000 daily trips from motorists, according to Kyle Twohig, the city’s director of engineering services. Further west, the road is even more lightly traveled.
Those numbers are well within the bounds suitable to make Riverside a three-lane road, Twohig said. In parts, the road will have one lane each for east- and west-bound traffic, and a middle turn lane.
“The street, as you’ve seen out there, is in very rough condition,” Twohig said.
The city will build STA stops on the south side of Riverside Avenue, while the STA will build the stops on the north side of Riverside. The north side of the street is part of the upcoming City Line and the work will be paid for with federal funds.
“I’m really excited about Riverside and the Central City Line. It’s all going to help connect everything so much,” Murcar said.
While the city is ripping up road surface, it will dig beneath and replace a water main that dates to the early 20th century.
Sections of the road will be fully closed during the six-month project, but city officials believe there are adequate alternate routes to handle Riverside Avenue’s traffic during those stints.
The estimated cost of the entire project is $5 million.
Riverside Avenue is just one of several major roads receiving attention from the city this year. It’s also embarking on a $9 million rebuild of Thor and Freya streets as well as repaving projects on Monroe Street and Illinois Avenue.