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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Landowners face uncertainty as north-south freeway gets boost in funding

Stacey Jordan has been waiting two decades for an answer to when the state will take the property that holds his family-owned business. Industrial Welding, at 1203 N. Greene St., specializes in heavy equipment construction and repair and is in the path of the North Spokane Corridor. With the Legislature voting recently to increase the gasoline tax and spend $11 billion over the next 14 years on new transportation projects, he will get an answer. Included in that new spending is nearly $879 million to engineer, buy up real estate and build the southern portion of the corridor, also known as the north-south freeway.

Our Pick for Families: Farm Museum turns work into play

Families can dig into the past at the North Spokane Farm Museum’s annual play day Saturday. Displays and demonstrations will help people understand how much farming has changed, said Donna Weiss, a museum board member.

Transportation compromise bill passes House, heads to Senate

OLYMPIA – The Washington state House of Representatives passed a $5.1 billion transportation budget Wednesday, sending the compromise spending plan to the Senate, which could pass it before the first special session ends today. The bill is known as the “current law” transportation budget, using existing taxes and fees, to distinguish it from proposals that would raise the gasoline tax to pay for new projects. It passed on a 74-20 bipartisan vote, but not without some criticism from Republicans.

Federal official tours North Spokane Corridor

The Federal Highway Administration’s top official lobbied for passage of a $478 billion transportation bill while touring Spokane’s unfinished North Spokane Corridor on Wednesday. Gregory Nadeau, acting administrator of the agency, said that while the community has identified the freeway as a priority, there’s no long-term funding for the project or thousands of others across the country.

Gas tax hike closer

OLYMPIA – Transportation projects in the city of Spokane would get more money, but projects in Spokane Valley would get less, in the Washington Legislature’s second proposal to raise the state’s gasoline tax by 11.7 cents. House Democrats released a $15 billion proposal to hike the gas tax to raise money for road and bridge construction. Like the earlier Senate plan, it would raise gasoline taxes by 5 cents per gallon next year, 4.2 cents in 2017 and 2.5 cents in 2018. It would also raise weight fees on cars and trucks. Unlike the Senate proposal, however, it does not shift sales tax collected on transportation projects from the general fund into the accounts that pay for road projects. Instead it relies on nearly $1.3 billion in savings from “practical design” changes to existing road and bridge projects, which would be available to spend on new projects. House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn said the Transportation Department has had a tendency to “over-design” some projects in recent years, resulting in higher costs.

$7.7 billion Washington transportation budget gets House OK

OLYMPIA – The House approved a transportation budget Thursday that includes money to repave nearly 2,100 miles of state highway, repair up to 50 structurally deficient bridges and continue work on the North Spokane Corridor. “It’s a good budget for Eastern Washington,” Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, said before the budget passed on a bipartisan 78-19 vote.

House Transportation Committee urged to raise gas tax, vehicle fees during hearing

OLYMPIA – A steady stream of business leaders and local government officials urged a House panel to raise the gasoline tax and several other vehicle fees and spend the projected $15 billion on roads, bridges, mass transit and ferries. Although some listed highway or bridge projects that they think should be added to the proposed list, most speakers who came before the House Transportation Committee in the three-hour hearing said they supported an 11.7 cent increase in the state gas tax that passed the Senate earlier this month. The proposal also has higher fees for vehicle weights, drivers and a new $5 fee on each new studded tire sold after Jan. 1, 2017.

Inslee carbon tax plan would help complete North Spokane freeway

SEATTLE – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday proposed an ambitious cap-and-trade program to require the state’s largest industrial polluters to pay for every ton of carbon they release. The proposal, which also would pay for a significant portion of the remaining work needed to complete the North Spokane freeway, was part of a broader package that the Democrat said would help the state meet a 2008 mandate to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. It sets an overall limit on heat-trapping gases similar to a program that California launched nearly three years ago.

Study pushes benefit of $7 billion in road projects

OLYMPIA – Washington would get a major economic boost by finishing the North Spokane Corridor and some other major road projects worth $7 billion, a state business group said Tuesday. The state faces significant costs and problems if the Legislature continues to deadlock over some type of tax-funded roads package. A new study released by the Washington Roundtable looks at finishing the much-discussed and long-delayed corridor and five other large road projects that have been a part of every failed tax package considered by the Legislature in recent years. The Legislature has been unable to reach an agreement on any plan despite repeated comments from members of both parties that some major improvements are needed.

Shea, Arritola fight for 4th District

There was a moment in last week’s sole debate between state Rep. Matt Shea and his challenger, Josh Arritola, that summed up the race between the two Republicans. Arritola dispensed with a question regarding his disbelief in the human impact of climate change and pivoted to a recitation of fees connected to an off-road vehicle law Shea sponsored.

Plan for North Spokane Corridor, I-90 ramps worry East Central leaders

The current design for connecting the long-elusive North Spokane Corridor to Interstate 90 has some local leaders worried that traffic congestion would grow worse in east Spokane neighborhoods. The Spokane City Council last week asked the state Transportation Department to reconsider its plans calling for removal of an on-ramp and off-ramp from Interstate 90’s Altamont Street exit. The design for the proposed corridor project removes the ramps as a way to most efficiently move traffic along I-90, but neighborhood leaders say it could reroute traffic in a way that threatens development.

Judge dismisses Tapio lawsuit against WSDOT

Owners of a prominent business center say the long delay in finishing the North Spokane Corridor has cost them millions. But the claim made in a lawsuit by the owners of nine office buildings and the Wolf Creek Lodge restaurant at the Tapio Office Center, 104 S. Freya St., was rejected Wednesday by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno.

Library ties DIY events to exhibit on Great Depression

A library exhibit about the Great Depression aims to draw connections between the people who made do then and the people making do now. That’s why, along with exhibits of Depression-era artifacts and oral histories of people who lived through it, the Spokane County Library District is offering free classes on thrift-store treasure hunting, preserving produce, and repurposing old furniture or décor. The latter sessions, led by Kelly Lynch-Chevalier, aka “the Retro Vixen,” are called “Is That New? Make Cheap Stuff Good.”

Washington transportation package dies in Legislature

OLYMPIA – Washington drivers won’t see gasoline taxes rise 11.5 cents over the next three year. But they also might not see the Legislature come up with the money to finish the North Spokane Corridor or build several other “mega projects” many people think the state needs. An $8 billion transportation package that would have raised fuel and motor vehicle taxes and generated money for major road projects, maintenance and mass transit will not pass the Legislature this session, legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee agreed Wednesday. In doubt for a week, the package officially died with recriminations all around.

Senate proposal raises gas tax

OLYMPIA – The coalition controlling the Washington Senate released a $12 billion transportation package that would raise gasoline taxes by 11.5 cents a gallon over three years and finish several major projects, including Spokane’s north-south freeway. They said they have support from 13 of their members – half the ruling caucus – meaning they’d need 12 votes from minority Democrats to pass the package and 17 to approve the bonds necessary to pay for some projects.

Spin Control: Spokane community leaders take pilgrimage to Olympia

OLYMPIA – A delegation of more than 80 Spokane-area folks arrived here last week with their annual “agenda” – some might call it a wish list – of things the Legislature could do to make life better for the state in general and the center of the Inland Empire in particular. This annual trek to the capital, sponsored by Greater Spokane Incorporated, herds well-briefed leaders of business, political, education and civic groups through the marbled rooms and committee rooms and is the envy of many other cities and counties around Washington. It has prompted the sincerest form of flattery, imitation, from other communities, but many legislators still say Spokane’s full-court-press lobbying remains the best.

North Spokane Corridor prospects bleak, legislators say

OLYMPIA – Don’t get your hopes up for new money to finish the north-south freeway, a group of business, civic and political leaders from Spokane was told Wednesday. The chances the Legislature will pass a package of big highway and bridge projects funded by a gasoline tax are almost nonexistent.