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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane County spending $37 million on transportation construction this year

It’s summer, the time when temperatures rise, people head to the lakes, and construction crews work on Spokane County’s roads and bridges.

Spokane County is spending $37 million this year on transportation projects.

Those dollars will go toward sidewalks and street signs. They’ll cover the cost of fresh asphalt to extend road lifespans and pipes to handle stormwater. The money will pay for fixing bridges, crushing gravel, widening roads, suppressing dust, building walking paths and more.

The county is spending $16.9 million on urban road projects, which will mainly reconstruct and preserve streets.

Rural roads will get $6.4 million. Bridges and the West Terrace stormwater project will get $5.5 million a piece. The county is dedicating $1.8 million toward traffic safety improvements and $618,000 to pedestrian and cyclist pathways.

Spokane County only has to pay about $8.2 million of the $37 million bill.

The federal government is giving the county $18.2 million for 2022 transportation projects. Washington state will pay $7 million and other local funding sources are chipping in $326,000.

Some of the money won’t come from taxpayers. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Corp. is helping the county pay for a new bridge on Euclid Road.

Spokane County Engineer Matt Zarecor highlighted several 2022 projects that will cost more than $1 million each.

Spokane County Transportation Improvement Program 2022

Bigelow Gulch

Construction on the penultimate phase of Spokane County’s Bigelow Gulch-Forker Road Urban Connector will cost $6.7 million in 2022.

The county has broken the Bigelow Gulch project into multiple chunks and chipped away at the 8-mile, $75 million project for more than a decade. This particular phase stretches from Progress Road to Wellesley Avenue near East Valley Middle School.

Zarecor said the entire Bigelow Gulch-Forker Road Urban Connector should be done by the end of next year. After this construction season, the county will have to widen and straighten a hilly and curvy segment on Bigelow Gulch’s western side.

Federal funding has paid for a large percentage of the Bigelow Gulch project. For instance, Spokane County in June received a $6 million grant for Bigelow Gulch through the National Highway Freight Program.

Zarecor said the county has had success winning those grants because the road is a heavily used trucking corridor and has a lengthy traffic collision history.

“Safety’s always a huge part of how you get grant funds,” he said.

Euclid Road Bridge

Many West Plains residents will welcome construction on the Euclid Road Bridge, which crosses the railroad tracks north of Airway Heights.

That rotting wooden bridge has been closed since 2019, forcing some residents to take a lengthy detour. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Corp. owns the bridge, but recently agreed to an ownership transfer agreement with Spokane County.

BNSF will pay for most of the $2.6 million bridge demolition and replacement and the county will probably pay between $500,000 and $1 million, Zarecor said. Spokane County will own the new concrete bridge.

Craig and Thorpe intersection

Construction at the intersection of Craig and Thorpe roads near Fairchild Air Force Base will cost $1.5 million.

Craig and Thorpe don’t intersect at a clean X. Instead, Craig meets with Thorpe twice, forming two awkward Ts.

A driver wanting to continue on Craig across Thorpe has to stop, turn right, drive about 800 feet down Thorpe, then turn back onto Craig.

This year’s project will line up the unconnected sections of Craig Road, forming a traditional X. Zarecor said the new intersection will be safer and more convenient.

Lincoln Road and Columbia Drive

Lincoln Road in north Spokane’s Shiloh Hills neighborhood will be rebuilt between Crestline and Market streets for $1.4 million

Construction crews will do preservation and traffic calming work on 0.7 miles of Columbia Drive north of Boulder Beach between Girard Lane and Northwood Drive.