It’s too little road for too many people.
Two-lane Barker Road in eastern Spokane Valley is a victim of population growth. It cuts through an expanding residential area south of Interstate 90 and a booming industrial area to the north that includes a large Amazon distribution facility.
On Sundays, Valley Real Life church has to hire an off-duty police officer to direct Barker Road traffic.
“Pretty much throughout the day every day it’s busy,” said Jeff Sevigney, facilities lead for the church at 1831 S. Barker Road. “When we built the facility in 2008 there wasn’t nearly as much traffic.”
The road needs work to reduce congestion, and last week Spokane Valley learned it’s getting more money to pay for it.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., helped secure $3 million for Barker Road as part of Congress’ $1.5 trillion spending bill. The money will cover part of the cost of widening the road between Mission Avenue and the city’s southern limit near Eighth Avenue and Saltese Creek.
In the big picture, $3 million is a small part of a roughly $50 million plan to improve Barker Road. State and federal grants are helping the city pay for the work.
In addition to widening, the project includes a bridge over the railroad tracks near Barker and Trent Avenue, a Barker-Trent roundabout and a handful of intersection overhauls.
Even if the $3 million only pays for a fraction of the project, the money’s an unexpected win for the city, elected officials say.
“Grants like this help us get things done a little bit faster,” Spokane Valley City Councilman Ben Wick said.
Councilman Rod Higgins explained that Barker Road needs to handle heavy truck traffic. It can’t do that properly until it’s widened.
Getting the work done sooner won’t just benefit business and industry – people who drive it most every day would get a safer and more efficient Barker Road.
The road’s known for brutal traffic jams.
“You’re backed up four to eight blocks,” Councilman Arne Woodard said. “It doesn’t matter where on Barker, from Mission Avenue all the way down to Eighth.”