Spokane Journal of Business

Downtown Spokane Partnership seeks gateways consultant

Beautification projects could gear up in spring at high-traffic off-ramps

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The Downtown Spokane Partnership is seeking requests for qualifications for a design project that would beautify land around off-ramps from Interstate 90—often called gateways, says Marla Nunberg, the organization's vice president.

The DSP, in partnership with municipalities and other organizations here, expects the project to be planned and ready to implement by next spring, Nunberg says. Sites for new landscaping, signage, and other improvements still are being determined, she says, but likely will be high-traffic areas near the off-ramps, such as at the Maple Street exit.

DSP is the grant administrator for the project, along with Visit Spokane and Spokane County.

The project, to be paid for with a $256,000 federal surface transportation grant, will cover all design work and part of the construction costs, and some municipalities will contribute money to the effort. The organization might seek out additional funding for implementation from the Spokane Regional Transportation Council, she says.

Last year, the DSP met with representatives of local cities along I-90, Visit Spokane, Spokane County, and others to brainstorm ways to improve highway signage and city entrances, or gateways.

"This is really one part of the bigger puzzle," Nunberg says, pointing to cities working independently to beautify or add signs to high-traffic areas, such as work by the city of Spokane on Division Street. Late last year, the city awarded a $1.6 million project to Colvico Inc. to add electronic message boards at several spots along the arterial. Work is continuing on that project.

Nunberg says the consultant likely will work with individual cities and towns, such as Spokane, Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, and Medical Lake, to come up with welcome signs that would appeal to those specific municipalities. Some that have recently done work on some of their own gateways, such as Spokane and Spokane Valley, still will be included in the plan, she says.

Request for proposals are due at the end of August, she says, and the organization expects to select a consultant shortly thereafter. The planning process is expected to start this fall, she says.

"It's kind of an aggressive timeline, but we have a lot of people getting excited about getting this project off the ground," Nunberg says.

DSP, founded in 1995, is a nonprofit organization that aims to improve downtown Spokane. It's funded through a combination of membership dues, grants, contracts, and private foundations, among other sources. The organization has more than 65 members.

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