Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane Regional Transportation Council gives nod to newest transportation program

$304 million to be spent on 96 projects in county

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The Spokane Regional Transportation Council has rolled out its 2015-to-2018 transportation improvement program for Spokane County, which contains 96 projects totaling $304 million. 

Anna Ragaza-Bourassa, a senior transportation planner with SRTC, says that the program contains many different kinds of projects, such as new construction, preservation, bridge replacements, public transit improvements, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements.  

“Basically, any transportation project in the Spokane region that receives federal funds or has regional significance is required to be in the program,” she says. 

Ragaza-Bourassa says the projects usually are funded through a combination of federal, state, and local dollars. Projects that are regionally significant usually include those that widen roadways or add lanes, she says.

“It links back to the air-quality regulations that we are required (by the Clean Air Act of 1990) to abide by,” she says. “Projects…that add capacity is kind of the easiest definition,” she says. 

All the funding listed in the program has already been secured, Ragaza-Bourassa says. 

“We’re not allowed to have possible funding in there,” she says. 

One of the largest projects listed in the program is the North Spokane Corridor, Ragaza-Bourassa says. Three separate projects pertaining to the corridor are listed, including a $5.3 million project to grade the road from the Spokane River to Francis Avenue and $2.1 million in improvements to the Wellesley Avenue and Freya Street intersection. 

The program also includes $3.5 million for the completion of the Appleway Trail project, which is currently in the first phase of construction, Ragaza-Bourassa says. 

“Other than that, there are a lot of preservation projects, either reconstructing or resurfacing the roadway to keep it in good condition for future use,” she says. 

One such project listed in the plan is an $8 million reconstruction of 37th Avenue from Regal Street to the east city limits, slated for 2016.  Another is a just over $5.1 million reconstruction of the Monroe-Lincoln couplet, from Eighth Avenue to Main Avenue downtown. 

Once the program has been approved, it’s up to each local jurisdiction to decide when to start the projects, Ragaza-Bourassa says. 

“They’re required to obligate the funds, which basically means they’re approved to use the funds, but they don’t always use all the funds that year,” she says. “They can obligate funds in January, and use some in 2016.”

All the projects in the program are consistent with the organization’s long-term transportation plan, called Horizon 2040, Ragaza-Bourassa says. 

“In a sense, it implements the (Horizon 2040) plan,” she says.

Katie Ross
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Reporter Katie Ross covers manufacturing, hospitality, and government at the Journal of Business. An outdoor enthusiast and snowboard fanatic, Katie is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University.  

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