While Sprague and Appleway are getting most of the revitalization attention, the need for more streets – particularly heading north-south – got a hard look at Tuesday night’s Spokane Valley City Council meeting.
The most pressing issue question: When is a new road necessary under the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan?
The need for more cross streets has been a standing issue ever since the couplet opened in 2001. Business owners, commuters and emergency responders have all said there simply are not enough ways to get from eastbound Appleway to westbound Sprague and vice versa.
As the council pressed forward with their review of the SARP – which is designed to bring a mix of businesses and housing to the busy corridor – Mayor Richard Munson wondered if so many new roads would be necessary when Sprague and Appleway are converted to two-way traffic between Argonne and University roads.
Scott Kuhta, senior planner, said the answer is a definite yes.
“There is still a need for better circulation overall in the corridor,” he said.
But Council Member Steve Taylor said he was more concerned about the impact on business owners who had to give up property and development opportunities as well as the city that will be forced to make the infrastructure improvements.
“How much of that street is going to be required?” he asked. “If you’re the first guy in, do you have to build the whole street?”
Elizabeth Grafos, a business owner on the Sprague corridor, wrote in a letter to the editor to the Spokane Valley News Herald that the road regulations “impose cross-streets, carving up properties in an arbitrary manner.”
It was an issue that was brought up again Tuesday when Munson pointed to a section of the map and questioned why two north-south streets would be built relatively closely in one section but not affect other properties.
“We do have some questions that have been asked, and we’re obliged to have some kind of answer,” Munson said.
City Attorney Mike Connelly said that whether or not a new street is constructed will have a lot to do with the “need caused by the development.” In other words, how much will traffic be affected if, say, a new townhouse were to be built.
Under the proposed SARP, new streets will be required when development exceeds maximum block size and if the impact of the development requires a new street. However, the plan also requires that businesses have public frontage.
Another issue that could determine how new north-south roads are built is if interest is revived in light rail. There would be a desire to limit crossings over the tracks, Kuhta said.
In the end, the council decided it would concentrate on the need for more north-south access over east-west streets. But it could take decades for any sort of comprehensive grid system to fully materialize.
“The effect on land owners is years and years away,” Munson said.