Drumming up traffic on Sprague Avenue and improving traffic flow in other parts of the city got the nod from the Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday.
Not all of the ideas, however, got unanimous consent.
First up, the council approved, in a 6-1 vote, to move forward with plans of establishing an Interstate 90 business route between Sprague/I-90 interchange to the west and Barker Road to the east. The idea is to attract potential tourists and other motorists to Sprague Avenue businesses who might otherwise zip past Spokane Valley.
In order to change freeway signage and add directional signs to Sprague that will direct motorists back to the freeway, it’s estimated it will cost the city $60,000 that will come from the capital reserve fund.
Council Member Ben Wick cast the only no vote, as he said he hadn’t heard a lot of requests – such as from the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce – for such a move.
Realtor Mike King, however, told the council that any idea to spur sales tax dollars is a good one.
“It will be a direct benefit to the business community,” King said. “I run into people all the time (from out of the area) who don’t realize that Sprague Avenue is the main street for the city of Spokane Valley.”
Council Member Arne Woodard said that members of the business community and chamber have “well supported” the idea of a business route.
Wick, however, remained skeptical as city staff members reported in October that business-route designations – the old, familiar, green-shield logo through municipalities – are not common anymore.
“They’re kind of being phased out,” Wick said. “It’s a good project, (but) for $60,000, will it make an impact?”
The council also approved spending approximately $34,000 in a budgeted city match for an approximate $250,000 study -- $216,000 coming in grant dollars – to analyze the feasibility and scope of an overpass at University Road over the freeway. While a bicycle and pedestrian overpass has been considered in the past, the study is expected to also look at the possibility of accommodating vehicles to alleviate north/south traffic on Pines and Argonne roads.
This time around it was Woodard who cast the no vote, citing other transportation concerns in the city.
“We’ve got some other priorities here,” he said.
Wick, however, said the grant dollars made this is worthy investment for the city.
“It just gives us more data,” he said. “It doesn’t hold us to anything.”
Finally, the council unanimously agreed with city staffers’ recommendation to have “de minimis” – or minimal -- impacts to Sullivan Park and the Centennial Trail whenever work is eventually done to replace the southbound Sullivan Road Bridge over the Spokane River.
Steve Worley, senior capital projects engineer, said the park and trail must remain accessible during the work. Plans are to increase the park’s open space by nearly double to the west while also constructing a new picnic shelter farther away from the worksite and access points to the river from the park.
“We think this is a system that will work well,” Worley said. “Hopefully, by the time we’re done, we will leave this park and properties even better than before.”