Spokane Valley engineers are moving forward on a City Council mandate to preserve city streets. But there wasn’t unanimous agreement last week by council members that the right roads are getting the city’s attention.
At their May 15 study sessions, council members parsed through projects being initially done after the decided several weeks ago to set aside $2.8 million for street-preservation work. Council Member questions ranged from why city arterials were getting preference over residential streets to how come Sprague Avenue west of Argonne didn’t make the list. Some also wondered why Poe Asphalt was getting some of the jobs without going out to bid.
City staffers said the answer to all three questions basically comes down to money.
Taking up the topic of Poe, City Manager Mike Jackson said street preservation falls under the purview of the company’s existing street-maintenance contract and the work will be done more quickly.
Council Member Chuck Hafner pointed to a list of 27 streets that are in need of preservation work, and all are in residential areas, that “we’re not doing anything about.”
Worley said it was his understanding that the council wanted the arterials done first.
“Obviously there are more street-preservation needs than there are funds that are available,” he said.
Council Member Dean Grafos expressed disappointment that Sprague Avenue in the area of Auto Row had not been given a higher priority during the first go-around of projects.
“It’s the gateway to our city,” Grafos said, adding that the car dealerships bring in a sizeable portion of sales tax revenue to the city coffers. “Sprague Avenue is in worse shape.”
Worley said he is hopeful that a grant through the Spokane Regional Transportation Council could be secured for the Sprague work, thus allowing for more city dollars to be used for other roads that may never receive grant funding.
“How many years are we going to chase those grants?” Grafos wanted to know, adding that that it won’t be too much longer that Sprague could need “a complete reconstruction” that could take several weeks to complete.
“We’re looking to spread the money around,” Worley said, adding that the width of Sprague makes it to be an especially expensive project. “We didn’t think you wanted to focus on just one street.”
Council Member Ben Wick said he is content with the list city staff has put together now. Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels agreed.
“You postpone any longer, the bottom line is it’s going to cost you more money,” he said.
With the council consensus to move forward with the Phase I of projects, city staffers said they would have an update on the cost to improve Sprague at a later date.