The city of Spokane hasn’t decided yet whether to give neighborhood residents and business owners a chance to test lane reductions that would result as part of a controversial planned North Monroe Corridor improvement project.
Marlene Feist, city of Spokane spokeswoman, says the city is still in the midst of gathering additional input from the public as well as business and property owners on the $4.1 million project.
Set to begin construction in 2018, the project would reconfigure a 1.1-mile stretch of Monroe between Indiana and Kiernan avenues from its current five lanes, with two in each direction and a center lane, down to three lanes, with one in each direction plus a turn lane. Additionally the project also would include widening the street’s sidewalks on both sides, adding curb extensions, and other upgrades.
Feist says the city has been considering a temporary striping project that would outline the project’s planned lane reconfigurations, but the idea may be losing some of its traction.
“We’d offered the idea of a temporary test project like that early on, and it seemed like a lot of people wanted to do that,” she says. “However, feedback so far indicates it would be costly as well as challenging, and as a result, fewer people seem as excited about it.”
Feist says a temporary striping project would likely cost between $300,000 and $500,000, and to be worthwhile, it would have to closely resemble the finished project’s lane configurations.
“Plans for temporary striping would move the curb lines quite a bit, and the parking bays wouldn’t be as wide as the final configuration depicts,” she says.
The temporary project originally was scheduled to be implemented later this spring and removed in the fall following further research on the area’s traffic flows.
Despite possible dwindling interest, Feist says the city still is working on improving plans for the temporary striping project, which it hopes to present to the City Council later in April.
“Right now, we’re still working on it, and ultimately, the City Council will decide whether the project moves ahead,” she says.
Some Monroe-area business owners have expressed concerns over several aspects of the overall North Monroe Corridor project, which city officials say is intended to improve safety, enhance the streetscape, and reconfigure traffic on the busy arterial.
Feist says the city held an informational open house in January to address some of those concerns, which was followed by an online survey designed to gain further public input on the project. She says to access the survey, people were first required to review a presentation outlining the project’s design and goals. They then were asked to answer about a dozen survey questions.
“Those surveyed were also asked where they live within the neighborhood, how they typically use the corridor, and whether they commute along the street as a walker, bus rider, or driver,” she says. “They were also asked whether they feel the project will balance commuter and business needs, as well as neighborhood vitality.”
Feist says the city received 680 survey responses, with nearly 69 percent of those surveyed saying they support the project as it’s currently designed.
Just over 65 percent of those surveyed agreed that the project will work to achieve a balance of safety and business needs, along with neighborhood vitality, she says.
Feist says the city is working to analyze the results of the survey further, and also has mailed an additional survey to business and property owners within the project area.
“Our elected officials requested we seek feedback from business and property owners, particularly concerning the proposed length of the project’s construction timeline,” she says. “We have mailed surveys to all of the businesses in the area and hope to achieve as close to 100 percent return response as possible.”
Feist says city officials hope to have collected all survey results by the end of April, so that they can present them to the city’s elected officials as soon as possible.
The North Monroe Corridor project began as a part of an Emerson-Garfield neighborhood plan that the City Council adopted in 2014.
The project has received three grants totaling $4.6 million, which are designated for use on pedestrian safety measures, including lane reconfigurations.
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