POST FALLS - Next up on Post Falls' quest to create a downtown: Spokane Street.
The north-south corridor from Interstate 90 south to the Spokane River bridge will receive a makeover featuring raised landscaped medians, a pedestrian/bike trail on the west side, gateway monuments at both ends, decorative lighting and on-street parallel parking.
The improvements will start late this summer with traffic signals at Fourth and Spokane next to City Hall. The rest of the $2.2 million project funded by the Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency will be done starting next spring.
"We want minimal impact to traffic and don't want to tear up Spokane Street in two different construction years," said Matt Gillis, project engineer for Welch Comer Engineers.
"It's like ripping off a Band-Aid quickly instead of slowly."
The project is the latest aimed at creating a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly city center, Gillis said.
"Fourth Avenue was improved when City Hall was built and this is another effort to create a downtown for Post Falls," he said. "We've received a lot of feedback from a variety of people that should make this a successful project."
On-street parking on the east side of Spokane in a portion of the corridor originally wasn't part of the plan, but was later added based on public input.
Gillis said 10 to 12 parking spots on the east side between First and Railroad are planned. He said the corridor is chopped up with the railroad that passes through, and approaches and alleys that need to be kept open. There will be no parking on the west side.
"We're putting in parking spaces where we can get them," he said.
Diagonal parking was not chosen because that would have required right-of-way acquisition to maintain the needed street width and added to the project cost.
City officials have said the parking could be removed in the future if the increased traffic on Spokane Street warrants it.
The high-tech signals at Fourth will be coordinated with existing and future signals farther north on Spokane Street to prevent traffic jams as much as possible, Gillis said.
Some details on the project such what the lighting and gateway monuments will look like will be approved by the project's technical advisory committee (TAC) consisting of city, urban renewal and business leaders.
"The TAC will help shape the direction of the project," Gillis said.
Sub-consultants on the project are Verdis and Trindera, which will work on aspects such as landscaping and lighting.
The corridor will be five lanes in portions and three lanes in other parts.
"We want to control the speed of traffic, but also still allow it to get through (without too much delay)," Gillis said. "It's the only river crossing in Post Falls, so we want to let traffic through and keep it safe."
Property purchases to create pocket parks on the west side of Spokane in the Post Falls Landing project are being explored. The parks would be at the base of the water tower and at the Centennial Trail crossing.
"We're designing them into the project so they're ready to go and on the shelf if and when right of way is acquired," Gillis said.