Spokane Journal of Business

Financing sought for downtown street projects

SRTC asks for $780,000 from state to design Howard, Post amenities

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The Spokane Regional Transportation Council has recommended to a state transportation-funding board that the city of Spokane receive two grants for design of pedestrian amenities along Post and Howard streets.

In one of the requests, the city asked the state Transportation Improvement Board for $430,000 to designand partially pay foramenities such as benches, trees, and ornate lighting on Post between Main and Second avenues, says Jerry Sinclair, a senior city engineer. The project is estimated to cost a total of about $825,000 to design and complete, with the remaining funds likely coming from the citys transportation budget and a local improvement district to be formed of property owners along the street, he says.

In the second request to the Transportation Improvement Board, the city asked for nearly $350,000 to pay for design of a project to help transform a portion of Howard into a green street that could accommodate pedestrians, cars, and perhaps even an electric trolley.

The SRTC reviewed and prioritized grant applications for city and county pedestrian improvements such as sidewalks and trails, then passed seven of them on to the state Transportation Improvement Board, where they will vie for a share of federal money the state has been allotted, says Glenn Miles, SRTCs director. He says the seven projects that were forwarded include work on trails near Liberty Lake and Fish Lake and sidewalks along Nine Mile Road. He says the two downtown projects ranked high among local priorities, and he thinks they should have a fairly good chance of receiving funds from the state board, although some of the other projects probably would have an even better chance of being approved.

A decision on the grant applications is expected this spring, Sinclair says.

The pedestrian improvements between Main and Second on Post, which currently is a one-way southbound street downtown, would be part of a larger project that would convert it to a two-way street and add a bike path and curbside parking, Sinclair says. The grant application says that if Post is improved, it could serve as an enhanced entryway to downtown.

The Downtown Spokane Development Plan that was prepared last year promotes pedestrian-friendly green streets, says Michael Edwards, president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, which helped formulate the proposals for Post and Howard. Cities around the country are discovering, however, that downtown streets also must be vehicle friendly to attract people, so the proposal for Post included returning it to two-way car traffic, he says. Also, allowing two-way traffic on Post could connect the Davenport Arts District with downtowns retail core more effectively, he adds.

Howard Street

The downtown plan also says that Howard could serve as a pedestrian-friendly link between the downtown core and busy parts of the city to the north and south. To the north, the plan says, Howard could serve as a link to public facilities, such as the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, across the Spokane River from the city core.

To the south, the plan says, Howard could serve as a link to Spokanes medical district. The plan says the corridor might include pedestrian-friendly features and a trolley that would serve both as a means of transportation and as an attraction.

In the current application for design money for Howard, the city has asked the state for almost $350,000, which it would match with another about $50,000 to study design of improvements on Howard between Fourth and Mission avenues, Sinclair says. Some of the improvements suggested in the downtown plan include a park-like public square at the northwest corner of Howard and Riverside, where a building that formerly housed J.J. Newberry Co.s and Lamonts Apparel Inc.s outlets stands, plus outdoor art, decorative lighting, plantings, sidewalk furniture, and plazas, as well as the public trolley.

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