After plenty of debate over future travel needs vs. the safety of pedestrians and children, the Spokane Valley City Council ultimately decided to keep Indiana Avenue at 25 mph in the Greenacres area.
The news was welcome to neighborhood advocate Mary Pollard, who has championed for slower speeds on the roadway along with Mission Avenue.
“This discussion is frustrating to me,” Pollard said before the vote on July 26. “I know this area.”
The council voted 4-3 to deny an ordinance that would have increased the speed limit to 35 mph on the new couplet that extends Indiana Road east to the Flora and Mission intersection. Pollard said she wanted to see speeds remain consistently slowed down to 30 mph for the entire length of roadway.
“This has some geographic problems that no other area has,” she said, citing the proximity to the freeway, the Spokane River, the Centennial Trail, access to shops on Sullivan and the Spokane Valley Mall, and to Greenacres residential homes. “Let’s have some respect for neighborhoods.”
Right now Indiana east of Sullivan restricts travel to 25 mph, a speed that was set when the street was a dead end. Indiana Avenue is 35 mph west of Sullivan (through the mall area) as is Mission east of Flora.
Inga Note, the city’s traffic engineer, said she and her staff was recommending a speed limit of 35 mph because that’s the speed cars are basically traveling now.
That answer, however, didn’t wash with City Council Member Arne Woodard, who said 35 mph is much too fast for the area.
“What are we, lunatics?” he asked, adding that police patrols should be stepped up to ticket speeding drivers. “I contend we’ve got to slow that traffic down.”
Council Member Brenda Grassel said she favored a more consistent approach to speed limits, and most similar roadways in Spokane Valley are set at 35 mph.
But newest Council Member Chuck Hafner said, “Whether or not we’re consistent, we have to look at safety.”
In the end, Woodard and Hafner joined fellow Council Member Dean Grafos and Mayor Tom Towey in voting against raising the speed limit. Grassel along with Council Member Bill Gothmann and Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels voted for it.
In other action, the council:
- Voted to table a motion to pay for an $82,551 study on whether or not a “quiet zone” should be established in the area of Park and Vista roads at the Union Pacific Railroad crossings. While residents have complained about the abundance of whistles and idling locomotives in the past, some have recently testified that the situation has gotten better.
- Agreed to seek more information on options about changing the eastbound Interstate 90 sign that signals the exit onto Appleway Boulevard. The sign designating the exit could be confusing to some, as it states the arterial as being Sprague Avenue. The issue will be taken up again at a future council meeting.
- Agreed by consensus to place draft ballot language for converting Sprague and Appleway to two-way between University and Argonne on the Aug. 9 agenda for a first reading. If approved then, a second reading would take place in a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 15, to put the estimated $6.4 million bond issue on the November general election ballot.
The council did not meet Tuesday this week in observance of National Night Out events.