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While construction work continues on the North Spokane Corridor north of Francis Avenue, more vacant homes will be torn down this fall in central Spokane to make room for freeway work that won’t be done until leaders figure out how to pay the $1.6 billion needed to complete it. This summer, the state Department of Transportation awarded contracts to tear down about 50 structures – mostly houses – in the way of the proposed expansion of Interstate 90 and ramps designed to connect I-90 to the north-south freeway.
As leaders gathered Tuesday to celebrate the start of a phase of North Spokane Corridor construction paid for by the 2009 federal stimulus package, state officials said they will be ready if President Barack Obama’s plan for $50 billion for transportation projects wins support. “We’re not sure what all is in that package, but you can bet that the state of Washington will compete and compete hard for those dollars,” said Paula Hammond, the state Secretary of Transportation, speaking at a ceremony held on what soon will be the southbound side of the North Spokane Corridor.
The theft early Thursday of fiber-optic cable lines left between 5,000 and 7,000 Comcast customers in northeast Spokane without television, high-speed Internet and phone services. Comcast crews restored services in the afternoon.
A 67-year-old business owner is suing the state, saying its unwillingness to buy his company – which is in the path of the north Spokane freeway – is forcing him to continue working because he can’t sell a business with such an uncertain future. Bruce Smith owns Petroleum Distributing Co. with his wife, Andrea Smith, 59. The state eventually will need their company’s property at 508 N. Fiske St., north of Interstate 90 near the Freya exit, in order to build the freeway.
Motorists on U.S. 2 northeast of Farwell Road are going to find big changes this weekend. Southbound lanes will be closed Friday through Sunday evening so that the contractor on a $55 million freeway project there can reroute traffic onto a new, lowered highway alignment.
The first of two meetings to update the community on progress on the north Spokane freeway will be today from 5 to 8 p.m. at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St.
With decades of studies, draft reports, public meetings and money shortfalls, Spokane’s north-south freeway has remained more of a concept than a road. Even the portion of the freeway that opened last year north of city limits is used by only about 4,000 vehicles a day – about a third of the traffic on the busiest portion of Garland Avenue.
On multiple occasions last year, untreated storm water from a north Spokane freeway construction site illegally spilled into Deadman Creek, a stream that flows into the Little Spokane River. The state Department of Transportation on Thursday acknowledged that there were violations, but it said the issue was addressed properly and that no illegal discharges have occurred since Nov. 30.
The Center for Justice’s Spokane Riverkeeper project is alleging that the state Department of Transportation has violated the Clean Water Act during construction of the North Spokane freeway.
The passage of President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill has dominated the news recently, but in Spokane a team of dedicated professionals has been providing medical services for the uninsured since 1991. Christ Clinic opened with the goal of reaching out to the working poor. And from the clinic’s inception, Dr. Samuel Palpant has offered his services. On March 11, the North Spokane Exchange Club honored his volunteer efforts with its annual Golden Deeds Award.
One person was noticeably absent from last week’s gathering to celebrate the announcement of a $35 million federal stimulus grant for the North Spokane Corridor. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., was not invited to the party.
Spokane’s long-sought North Side freeway got a boost on Wednesday with the announcement of a $35 million federal economic stimulus grant to pay for a 3.7-mile extension of the southbound lanes between Francis Avenue and Farwell Road. It was the only one of three grant applications from the Washington Department of Transportation to win funding in a $1.5 billion round of competition nationally.
A $35 million federal stimulus grant was announced this morning to extend work on a North Spokane freeway, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Short-term closures of U.S. Highway 395 near the Little Spokane River will occur over the next several weeks as construction workers set off explosives to excavate the site of an interchange with the new north Spokane freeway. The blasting started two weeks ago to build the connection between the freeway and U.S. 395 in the vicinity of Wandermere Road. It is expected to continue for about another month.
The holiday season is already here. The weather forecasters keep predicting a chance of snow. We actually had an inch or so here in Elk a couple of weeks ago. As Thanksgiving is just two weeks away, I thought maybe I should reflect on what I have been thankful for this past year. Like many of us in the Inland Northwest, I am always thankful for living in such a beautiful place. When I walk out in my yard, I am amazed by the scenery. Whenever we drive to the many wonderful neighboring scenic areas, I am happy to be close to so many options.
The construction of the north Spokane freeway isn’t occurring without some risk to public safety, which was demonstrated in a little-noticed event in the work zone last week. As part of the freeway construction, the state is lowering the level of U.S. Highway 2 north of Farwell Road where it crosses Peone Creek. The job involves excavation to build a new arched culvert over the creek that will be wide enough to allow wildlife to move back and forth beneath the highway.
The north Spokane freeway may be a nice quiet stretch of concrete to drive, but it isn’t saving anyone much time. Traffic has been sparse on the 3.7-mile section since it opened on Aug. 22 between Hillyard and Mead. It is the first leg of the long-awaited freeway.
A completed north Spokane freeway – sought for more than a half-century – would bring economic growth to the region as much as it would speed traffic across the city, business leaders say. The $2.1 billion project is already creating hundreds of jobs and could open the door to new business investment along the corridor, possibly on ample industrial land adjacent to the freeway route.