DOT picks route for freeway
North-south artery would run near Market-Greene
Marlene MehlhaffApril 24th, 1997
The Washington state Department of Transportation finally has released its preferred route for the long-proposed north-south freeway, which would carry traffic between Interstate 90 on the south and both U.S. 2 and U.S. 395 north of Spokane.
DOT says it has selected a route for the high-speed, limited access highway that would run just east of the Market-Greene corridor. Its preferred route is highlighted in the projects final environmental impact statement, which was approved by the Federal Highway Administration earlier this month. That approval doesnt guarantee the freeway will be built; little money has been appropriated for the project so far.
The south end of the proposed new freeways preferred route would be a connection with I-90 just west of the Thor-Freya interchange. As the new road headed north, it would cross over part of the parking lot at Spokane Community College and then over the Spokane River. Through Hillyard, it would follow the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad corridor and continue north toward Mead.
At about Hawthorne Road, the freeway would start to swing to the northwest. It would run north of Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp.s Mead Works smelter, which is on Hawthorne, then intersect with U.S. 2 just south of Farwell Road and go on to link with U.S. 395 near Wandermere Golf Course.
The Market-Greene route beat out another alternative DOT had been considering. That alternative would have placed the thoroughfare just east of and roughly parallel with Havana Street. On the freeways northern end, DOT also could have chosen an option under which the new road would have cut across toward U.S. 2 south of the Mead smelter, rather than north.A first phase of workConstruction on the first phase of the freeway project could get under way as soon as 1999, and portions of the project could be open for use in five or six years, the department says. The first phase of work would include building the multilane highway between U.S. 395 and U.S. 2 at the north end of the route, DOT says.
Funding for design work on that first phase is included in the transportation budget proposal that is before the Legislature, DOT says. In addition, the project currently is part of a special funding category that, if renewed in the Legislature this year, would result in more dollars for the project, the department says. Also, the freeway may be eligible for federal funding as well.
The approximately 10-mile-long freeway could carry around 150,000 vehicles a day with minimal congestion, the DOT says. It would cost $875 million in 1995 dollars to build. Taking inflation and the anticipated 20-year construction period into account would bump the total bill to around $2 billion. DOT says the road likely would be built in many phases, each costing between $20 million and $30 million in 1995 dollars.
Other, less expensive options exist for constructing the road, DOT says. For example, for $365 million, the road could be built with at-grade, signalized intersectionsinstead of freeway-style interchangesbetween Trent Avenue and U.S. 395. Connection to I-90 would be made via arterials in use today. Right-of-way purchases still could be made for the entire project, and the road eventually could be upgraded later to connect with I-90 and to include the freeway-style interchanges, DOT says.
The entire project, including additional lanes on I-90 to route traffic between I-90 and the freeway, would displace about 500 residences, including single-family homes and apartment units, and 110 businesses.
The 900-page final EIS for the freeway is being printed, and DOT expects to have it available to the public by the end of the month. The EIS process took six years and cost $3 million to complete.