It’s been a headache for motorists for decades. Traffic is currently stopped about three hours a day for trains. And it’s been more than just a little bit dangerous to navigate at times.
But by in the next few years, that could all be over.
On Tuesday, the Spokane Valley City Council unanimously agreed to move forward with improving the Barker Road/Trent Avenue intersection, which has always been further complicated by railroad crossing just south of the intersection. While a contractor has yet to be chosen – that’s planned for April – the design is set to include a three-leg roundabout and an overpass over the tracks.
“This is one hell of a fine job, folks,” Mayor Rod Higgins said after the vote was taken. “We won.”
The arduous process preceding Tuesday’s vote included numerous public meetings, countless grant applications and rejected plans that included an earlier diamond design that had been favored by some, including 4th District Rep. Matt Shea.
The project is expected to cost $19 million, which got a huge boost earlier this month when a $9 million TIGER grant, championed by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, was secured through the federal Department of Transportation.
“The city led the way in securing 50 percent of the project’s funding through local and state sources,” McMorris Rodgers stated at the time. “This grant will greenlight this project to move forward.”
After weeks of testimony, most seem in favor of the roundabout design.
“The roundabout has been shown to be the most cost-effective measure for traffic control,” Bill Helbig, city engineer, told the council.
Further discussion will be had on possibly adding a fourth leg of the roundabout that would be accessible to the north, serving unincorporated Spokane County and the Highland Estates area.