In a meeting where railroad-related issues dominated the agenda, things didn’t go off track until a question came up regarding hiring a consultant to study the Barker Road/Trent Avenue railroad crossing.
In a split vote, the Spokane Valley Council failed to reach consensus on the agreement, which would have begun the design process for a future grade-separation project. With Council Member Sam Wood absent, the motion stalled with a 3-3 tie.
“I’m concerned we’re spending money on something that may or may not come to fruition,” said Council Member Caleb Collier before casting his no vote.
The council had previously OK’d city officials to seek requests of qualifications from engineering firms to study ways to separate Barker Road from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks just south of Trent and there is currently a $720,000 federal earmark to do the work.
The city already has committed $300,000 in matching funds, and Steve Worley, the city’s capital improvement program manager, was back before the council to approve an additional $300,000 in order to move forward with hiring DEA/HDR to begin the engineering study. The project is just one of several long-gestating “Bridging the Valley” undertakings that would eventually grade separate dangerous rail crossings in the region.
The tie vote drew frustration from Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard, who said he would seek to bring the issue back before the council on an evening when there would be seven members present.
“I think if we let this go, we will never see Barker Road (completed),” Woodard said. “I don’t what it will take to bring it back…(but) without that engineering, we will never get that overpass.”
A similar engineering study request for the Pines Road/Trent crossing is slated for a future council meeting.
In other news, the council:
- amended its ordinance pertaining to false alarms for home owners and businesses that utilize security companies. While false alarms continue to be a problem for law enforcement – as they take resources away from officers’ other duties – the new program reduces false-alarm fees and eliminates the need to register an alarm system.
- authorized the city manager to finalize an agreement with T. LaRiviere Equipment for $1,681,000 to extend the Appleway Trail from Pines to Evergreen Road. The total project amount is $2.1 million, and federal funds cover nearly $1.9 million.
- agreed to purchase property east of Pines Road owned by Pinecroft LLC for $470,000 needed for the future Pines Road/BNSF grade separation project. The purchase was deemed necessary by city public works officials as the property owner had hoped to develop the land, but it will be needed one day in order to realign Pines for an eventual underpass at the crossing.
- heard a report from legal staff that there are concerns from the public regarding apparent deterioration of two bridges spanning the Spokane River owned by BNSF and Union Pacific railroads. While the city likely has little in the way of legal recourse – railroad operations fall under federal guidelines – the matter will continue to be monitored.