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

Getting There: Spokane is taking a longer-term approach to neighborhood traffic safety

Crosswalks, like this one along South Palouse Highway, are among projects that have been installed through the city of Spokane’s traffic calming program over the years.  (Greg Mason / The Spokesman-Review)

The city of Spokane has launched a new program to reevaluate how it plans for neighborhood traffic calming projects.

City officials are looking to take a longer-term approach to planning traffic calming initiatives, using four-year planning periods rather than annually. Examples of projects funded and completed through the traffic calming program include bump-outs, crosswalks and median islands.

Each year, the process has started with requests from neighborhood councils to the city to address identified traffic issues in their areas, including speeding or unsafe crossings.

The city’s Integrated Capital Management department then reviews relevant data and traffic statistics to vet whether the problem is legitimate, said City Councilman Zack Zappone.

“That new process is looking at it more holistically,” said Zappone, who is on the Spokane City Council’s Traffic Calming Committee, “because every neighborhood is focused on just their issue, but neighborhood councils all on the same street might have very neighboring, similar issues. We weren’t looking at this holistically and we weren’t looking at this over time.”

Last week, the council approved a resolution to hire engineering company DOWL, LLC via a $600,000 consultant agreement to help develop the new program.

City officials will facilitate three neighborhood community meetings to provide more information about the revamped program and take feedback on ideas to make neighborhoods safer. The meetings are open to the community at large, not just neighborhood councils.

Zappone said the outreach will continue over the summer with a series of workshops.

“It’s really, let’s look bigger picture,” he said. “From that, they’re going to generate a list of projects in their neighborhood and other neighborhoods and look at what we can combine.”

Council President Breean Beggs said neighborhoods will be able to adjust and prioritize their lists if there’s an issue identified during a four-year planning period.

“It’s just that the presumptive four-year list will be there, and then it will be a matter of tweaking it,” he said, “as opposed to recreating a one-year list every year.”

To date, the council has approved 10 collections of projects, known as cycles, scattered through assorted neighborhoods. Cycle 10 was approved late last month with the council signing off on $6.3 million worth of projects.

The traffic calming projects have been historically funded through revenue collected by the city from red light and school zone camera fines.

Beggs said there have been instances where a neighborhood has submitted a proposal for a different block of sidewalk on a yearly basis due to the funding limits on project applications.

“If we had done that all at once, we probably could have done double the number of blocks,” he said. “To me, the exciting thing is the program has been growing, and we’re going to figure out a more intentional way to do it. … It should be way more cost-effective, which means we’ll get more projects done.”

Work to watch for

Post Street running from near Corbin Park to the Garland district will see curb work this week, causing closure of shoulder lanes.

The intersections of Post and Fairview, Park, Frederick, Euclid, Dalton, Alive, Cora, Kiernan, Providence, Garland and Walton avenues will see shoulder closures beginning Monday through the end of the month as crews carve new curb ramps for pedestrians. The work is part of an ongoing $696,000 project paid for with local funds.

Downtown work will close several streets starting this week.

Wall Street will be closed with detours between Spokane Falls Boulevard and Main Avenue on Monday.

Stevens Street will have alternating lane closures between Spokane Falls Boulevard and Main Avenue beginning Monday through Friday.

The westbound curb lane of Sprague Avenue between Freya and Greene streets will be closed with flagging beginning Monday through June 6.

Northbound Bernard Street between Sprague and Riverside avenues will be closed starting Monday for Palouse Power work. The eastbound curb lane of Riverside Avenue between Bernard and Browne streets will also be closed.

The Kendall Yards Night Market returns Wednesday for the summer, closing Summit Parkway between Cedar Street and Adams Lane from noon to 9 p.m. weekly.

Crack sealing work will cause lane closures and delays on the Ash and Maple couplet between Northwest Boulevard and Maxwell Avenue.

The Waikiki Road bridge over the Little Spokane River is undergoing a deck rehabilitation and traffic is being controlled by automatic signals. The bridge will be closed weekends with a detour in place until further notice.