Motorists on Sullivan got a bit of good news last week: The detour signs are down.
With last week’s reopening of the southbound Sullivan Road Bridge, weight restrictions – which had been in place since last summer – have been lifted on the structure.
The bridge had been closed since Jan. 9 so crews could make temporary repairs that would allow heavier vehicles – such as the larger trucks from nearby industries – to once more be able to make use of the bridge. But while the work prolongs the western bridge’s functional life for the time being, the 60-year-old expanse over the Spokane River still needs to be replaced.
Preliminary planning and design work is currently underway to replace the bridge. More importantly, about half of the estimated $19.7 million needed for the project has been received via federal sources distributed through the Washington State Department of Transportation and from the state Freight Mobility Investment Board.
Additional funding is still needed to make up the difference, and the city of Spokane Valley – after submitting an application last year -- did not receive federal 2011 TIGER III funding. The problem, as always, is too much competition for too little funds, said Mayor Tom Towey.
That once again may come into play as the city has submitted a request for 2012 TIGER IV funds.
“We have to be realistic,” Towey said last week, adding that there are other regional projects like the North Spokane Corridor that are in high contention for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery funds. “Even if we received the funding, it would be another two years before we could start working on (the bridge).”
At the end of last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation published a “notice of funding availability” for TIGER IV funds, and pre-application materials needed to be sent in by Feb. 20. Based on that information, the Sullivan Road Bridge project’s merits will be measured for eligibility. If it passes, the city will be informed and the final application will be due March 19.
Still, only $500 million is eligible nationwide. Divided up over 50 states – and the Sullivan Road Bridge replacement received the full $10 million in funding needed – that would use up the entire bucket of cash available for Washington.
“There are many worthy projects on the west side of the state,” Towey said.
However, city engineers feel that the bridge replacement is a “competitive candidate” for TIGER funding, however work must be ready to begin on the project by June 30, 2013, which is why preliminary design work is being done now.
While further information will be brought to the City Council in the future, if the city were to receive grant funding the city would have to provide $3.94 million in nonfederal matching funds. Since the city has received $2 million in state grant funds, that money would be used and the city would have to come up with the remaining $1.94 million.