Spokane Journal of Business

Valley couplet would displace 75 to 95 homes

$16 million project could get under way in 2000, open in summer of 2001

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A 2.5-mile one-way couplet proposed along the Sprague Avenue corridor in the Spokane Valley would displace between 25 and 30 single-family homes, some 50 to 65 mobile homes, and a seven-unit apartment complex, according to a draft supplemental environmental impact statement released recently on the project.

Meanwhile, businesses in the project area have expressed concern that the couplet would reduce customer traffic along Sprague, which would serve as the couplets westbound leg, the document says.

If built, the $16 million couplet would run from Thierman Road, which is just east of the Interstate 90-Sprague Avenue interchange, to University Road. A new street would be built just south of Sprague to serve as the eastbound leg of the couplet.

That new road would follow a route parallel to Sprague on First Avenue between Thierman and Park roads. It then would sweep south and continue along right of way where Second Avenue would be if it were extended from Park to University. Both legs of the couplet would have four lanes for general traffic, and Sprague would have a fifth lane for buses and other high-occupancy vehicles.

A separate project, planned by the Washington state Department of Transportation, would provide the crossover road that would carry eastbound vehicles from Sprague onto the new eastbound leg of the couplet. That project is part of the overall I-90-Sprague Avenue interchange reconfiguration planned by the DOT, and also would provide a way to get vehicles exiting from I-90 onto the new couplet.

Currently, the couplet proposal is Spokane Countys preferred alternative for a project to alleviate traffic congestion in that part of the Valley, says Jim Haines, the countys program development engineer and manager on the project. The couplet is one of five alternatives.

A final supplemental environmental impact statement on the couplet is due out in June, and Haines says he expects the county commissioners to decide in August whether to go ahead with the couplet.

If the commissioners decide to go ahead with the project, design work on the couplet would begin, he says. On that schedule, construction of the project would start in the year 2000 and likely would be completed by late summer of 2001. The project would be paid for with $10 million already earmarked by the state for such a project, Haines says. The county also hopes to secure additional money from the state for the project and expects to pitch in the rest itself, he says.Increased trafficThe recently released EIS document confirms the need for additional traffic capacity in that area of the Valley.

By the year 2010, the existing through-traffic volumes at the Sprague Avenue intersections between Thierman and University roads are expected to increase 27 percent to 55 percent, the document says. In addition, motorists are expected to have unacceptable waits at several intersections if no additional capacity is added, the document says.

Spokane County would attempt to minimize the impact of displacements caused by the project as much as possible. The homes that would be displaced likely either would have to be razed or moved. The EIS says the county bought eight of the single-family homes along the route when they became vacant earlier.

In addition, it says that most of the mobile homes, which are located in three mobile home parks, can be moved. Unused mobile-home pads are available in another nearby mobile home park, and the county also is considering expanding to the south one of the mobile home parks that will be impacted by the couplet project.

As for the concern of businesses about reduced traffic volumes on Sprague, the document confirms that if the couplet were built, Sprague would experience a drop in traffic. However, it says, the couplet would carry more traffic than Sprague would if the project werent built, because the couplet would have more lanes and wouldnt be as congested as Sprague will become.

The increased traffic carried by the couplet should help offset a drop in business associated with a reduction of traffic on Sprague alone, the EIS says.

The county also could help businesses on Sprague draw customers from the eastbound part of the couplet through the addition of signs, similar to those found on the Division-Ruby couplet just north of downtown Spokane, the document says.

  • Marlene Mehlhaff

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