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

DOT will present two options for North Spokane Corridor at workshop Wednesday

Construction on the North Spokane Corridor river crossing, one component of the ongoing freeway project, is expected to begin in the spring of 2023 and last through the 2025 construction season. The work is likely to cause delays and disruptions on both sides of the Spokane River.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The final decisions regarding how the North Spokane Corridor will connect with Interstate 90 in the East Central neighborhood are growing near, and highway planners are seeking public opinion.

There are two major proposals under consideration, and both are centered around South Altamont Street. Each will be presented during a community workshop Wednesday hosted by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The workshop is scheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. at the Hive, 2904 E. Sprague Ave., in meeting rooms A and B.

Construction crews have been building the 10.5-mile highway for years. When complete, the freeway will route traffic to and from I-90. It is anticipated to ease congestion on the city’s busy north/south arterials and provide safer, faster travel for commuters and truck traffic.

Construction on the I-90 connection is expected to begin in 2025.

According to the Department of Transportation, the corridor will shorten travel time between Wandermere and I-90 by 12 minutes.

The designs to be discussed Wednesday, dubbed Alternative 1 and Alternative 2, will accomplish the same goal, but with different costs and different impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods, according to both proposals.

Alternative 1 is estimated to cost about $25-$30 million less and have a smaller effect on the East Central neighborhood, but bring larger traffic impacts, according to the proposal. Alternative 2 is more expensive and complex in design, but would have a greater long-term impact on traffic.

“They’re both very similar in design; the main difference is going to be the Hamilton on-ramp eastbound to I-90,” Department of Transportation spokesman Ryan Overton said.

Alternative 1 would keep the existing Hamilton Street exit onto I-90 eastbound. Alternative 2 would divert Hamilton Street traffic to Third Avenue, through a roundabout at Altamont Street and then onto an I-90 eastbound entrance.

“Alternative 1 keeps a lot of the on-off ramps the same, but you are losing a connection with the eastbound Altamont Street connection to I-90,” Overton said. “With Alternative 2, we disconnect Hamilton street from I-90, but you have an on-ramp at Altamont. I think that’s the big tradeoff between these.”

According to Overton, the designs are much simpler and smaller than those of 10 to 20 years ago.

Much of the $1.5 billion freeway project is already complete. Interchanges along the corridor will be located at Wellesley and Trent avenues, in addition to the finished interchanges located at Francis Avenue and Freya Street, Parksmith Drive, U.S. Route 2 and U.S. Route 395.

The public will also have the opportunity during the workshop to provide input on a potential westbound I-90 off-ramp to Altamont Street, among other things.

“There’s a ton of public feedback,” Overton said. “A lot of this design has been through engaging with the public and hearing from key stakeholders and hearing what they want. That’s what we want out of this: a design that works for everyone. That’s our ultimate goal for this.”