Spokane County roads were on the menu at a lunchtime meeting of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee last week.
Glenn Miles, transportation manager with the Spokane Regional Transportation Council and Chad Coles, an assistant engineer with Spokane County, provided an overview of upcoming capital projects, funding sources and projected impact on area motorists at the Oct. 28 gathering attended by around a dozen representatives from the chamber, including two former mayors of Spokane Valley, Diana Wilhite and Mike DeVleming.
Coles described the list of proposed 2011 projects in the county’s six-year transportation improvement plan – totaling just over $18 million – as “a fairly aggressive schedule.” The list includes upgrades to Farwell Road ($2.97 million); continuing work on the Appleway Bridge at the state line ($3.38 million) and the second and third phases of the Bigelow Gulch project, from the urban boundary to Weile and from Weile to Jensen ($5.19 million).
Coles said while most of the funding is in place for next year’s schedule, some of the funding “is not quite in line,” though county officials remain optimistic.
“We have a lot of good indication that we will have the money for these projects,” Coles added.
The scroll of funding providers next year includes federal and county resources as well as the Washington State Parks Department which will allot $356,000 for the realignment of the Centennial Trail at Gateway Park.
In 2012, the agenda features five major projects including the final stages of the Appleway Bridge ($243,000) and further work on Bigelow Gulch ($2.97 million) for a total of $5.56 million.
Miles discussed SRTC’s prioritized list of “regionally significant transportation projects” over the next 20 years, an inventory that includes the North Spokane Corridor, lane additions on Interstate 90 between Barker to Harvard and the Sullivan Road Corridor.
The Washington State Transportation Commission requested that each of the state’s 39 counties put together a similar list of 20 projects over the next two decades. The Washington Department of Transportation also compiled an outline of capital priorities.
“This was an attempt to find out which projects are important to each region,” Miles said.
In addition to overseeing the work on Sullivan Road, the city of Spokane Valley is named as the sponsoring agency on the second phase of a Sprague Avenue resurfacing project, estimated at $2.2 million. The city will also coordinate the development of the Spokane Valley Trail, a pedestrian/bike path with a pricetag of $4.4 million that is designed to weave from Millwood through Spokane Valley.
Other pedestrian projects in the SRTC report include the University District bike an pedestrian bridge and the Fish Lake Trail, phase 3 – both coordinated by the city of Spokane.
Miles said SRTC is seeking feedback from groups like the Valley Chamber and Greater Spokane Inc. in order to establish a general consensus on the region’s transportation agenda.
“The goal is that when we go to the Legislature – and eventually, Congress – we’re speaking with a unified voice,” Miles said.
DeVleming, an employee with Vera Water and Power who has served on the chamber’s transportation committee before and after his time on the Spokane Valley City Council, said the update on regional roads proved informative.
“I’ve always said public safety and transportation are the two most important responsibilities of government,” he said. “People always demand better roads, but they don’t always want construction and they don’t want to pay for it. I think when people see where their tax money is going, they understand.”