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City Shares Details of Monroe Street Construction Project

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City of Spokane engineers this week provided more details of their Monroe Street project, scheduled to begin next spring.

The city bills the project as a balancing of interests. It’s designed to narrow the street to slow traffic and make it safer for cars, but also for pedestrians and bicyclists. The goal is also to make the neighborhood more livable and to make it easier for customers to access businesses on the street.

Design engineer Jonathan Adams says the project will completely close Monroe Street from Kiernan Avenue at the top of the Monroe Street hill all the way south to Indiana from April until October. Adams told a public meeting at Knox Presbyterian Church last night that will allow the contractors to get the work done in one construction season, rather than stretching it out into two.

“So, some of the elements that are going to be included is going from five lanes to three," Adams said. "That’s going to provide wider travel lanes, wider parking. We’ll have additional on-street parking. We’ll have all new pavement. We’ll have improved lighting, both for the street and the sidewalk side of the poles. We’ll have transit improvements and upgrades at the stops. We’ll do some utility upgrades where needed. We have about four blocks at the south end where we’re redoing a water line and we have a lot of older water crossings that need to be updated.

"There will be wider sidewalks. There are bump outs at the intersections to reduce the crosswalk distance. There are going to be three crossings with rapid flash beacons. Those are set up to coincide with the new bus stop locations, which are at Montgomery, Grace and Dalton. There will also be street trees. There are some opportunities for additional elements, such as benches, bike racks, and those are only going to be put in based on property owner input," he said. 

Adams compared the Monroe Street project to the recent renovation along east Sprague, where a seven-block area was completely closed for about 5 1/2 months and traffic was detoured around it. The Monroe Street project covers an area that’s more than twice as long (18 blocks), but the city is trying to get it done in about the same amount of time. Adams says Monroe Street has far less underground work involved.

“We are going to split this project into two contracts," he said.

"We’ll have one contractor working on the south half with the breaking point just south of Grace and then another contractor working on the north half. Once we get into construction, we’re going to have each contractor focused on a smaller area, rather than the entire thing," he said.

"In the middle of the construction area, we’re going to keep a crossroad open east-west. The detour route is on Post, so the traffic will be routed on Indiana over to Post and then back over at Garland," he said. "So it’s a little more difficult to get to the businesses on the east side of the work, so we’re going to require one of those roads in the middle of each construction phase is open to east-west traffic. That may be most likely on a gravel surface and on some points it may be down to one lane with flagger, but it will be a consistent point of access for businesses and people trying to get to the east side of the project via the detour and vice versa.”

Spokane Transit will route buses to Post Street. Side streets will be kept open for customers to park and access Monroe Street businesses. The contractors will be required to have their employees park more than a block away to preserve parking areas for residents and for customers.

The city is assigning a construction relations manager to the project. She’ll be available to answer questions from business owners and the public during the project. The state is also assigning a staff member from its Small Business Development Center to work with Monroe Street business owners who have questions or are looking for help.

The city says the project will cost $8 million. It’s funded in part by three grants totaling $4.7 million to improve pedestrian safety in this corridor. It also includes $2.5 million the city will spend to put down new pavement.

Again, construction is scheduled to begin in April and last until October or so. You can go to the city’s website to read more about it and to see pictures of what Monroe Street will eventually look like.