Expect one Spokane Valley north-south corridor to get a bit skinnier next year.
Despite one council member’s hopes to stave off McDonald Road’s anticipated slimming transformation north of Sprague Avenue, plans for the arterial to go from four lanes to two with a center turn lane will go on.
The roadway will remain four lanes south of Sprague, and bike lanes will be added as the council approved the city’s six-year transportation Improvement Program, which the project will be a part of, on Tuesday night.
Grousing over the loss of four-lane configurations on busy Valley roadways is nothing new, going back as far as a decade when the switch was first made on a significant stretch of Broadway Avenue. But the benefits of the added buffers of bike lanes for pedestrians on sidewalks plus the improved safety of left-turning cars having a designated lane have made a difference, road engineers say. Still, there are plenty who believe four-lane arterials are the way to go.
“I can’t imagine what (McDonald) would be like if it’s on a diet of two lanes,” said Council Member Ed Pace. “Right now, at four lanes, it’s pretty busy.”
Pretty much like other streets where the change has been made in the city, answered temporary Council Member Bill Gothmann, who served in his first full regular council meeting since appointed to fill in for the ailing Bill Bates.
“The capacity should not be a problem at all on McDonald Road,” Gothmann said. “It’s well under 20,000 (cars a day).”
The council had previously approved the project and received a grant for the work, expected to cost $574,000. The city’s matching share will be $3,000.
Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard said he generally shares Pace’s disdain for the two-lane roadways – but said he agrees it’s a good idea on McDonald north of Sprague due to the abundance of multi-family housing in the area and pedestrians.
“Two lanes snarl up traffic more than you know they do,” Woodard said. “But in this little section it would be good.”