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Bridge Closure Causes Issues For West Plains Residents

Photo by Lexi Alex Biggs

An old wooden bridge that has been closed by Spokane County for being unsafe is causing headaches for some residents of the West Plains.

The Euclid Road wooden bridge is owned by BNSF Railway. County engineers declared it to be unsafe about a month ago.

Since then residents have had to use a detour, Newkirk Road, to reach their homes.

Lexi Alex Biggs is one of those who has to drive the bumpy, washboarded, gravel road. She describes as an “old wagon road.”

“There’s big potholes. It’s dangerous. The road is a narrow road. There’s steep turns and inclines, and people are trying to get around trucks. We have trucks that go by here all the time. It’s crazy,” Biggs said.

The road is also the only access for a U.S. government facility called the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, which employees a couple hundred people. That additional traffic has put even more stress on Newkirk Road.

Since BNSF owns the bridge, it’s the company's responsibility to replace it. BNSF spokeswoman Courtney Wallace says the firm is looking at what it will take to do that.

“We are currently in the process of working with a contractor to scope the process. Getting the scope put together will help determine the preliminary design and the cost estimate, so we're working through those steps right now,” said Wallace.

Spokane County Engineer Chad Coles says he plans to meet with the BNSF consultant next week, but it’s probably going to be some time before the fix even starts.

“It’s really hard to come up with a construction schedule. All we can do is go off of our construction experience and it’s hard for me to imagine we would have a new structure in place this year,” Coles said.

He says it is possible that the county might need to do some work on Newkirk Road in the meantime.

“There’s some gravel road stabilization techniques that we have been doing and we still could do this year," he said. "We could look at changing the surface type which is a more extensive process, which would take longer, and making it a paved road."

Coles says he has had discussion with the federal facility representative as well about its concerns, including additional plowing of snow on Newkirk Road during the winter.

In the meantime, the county is planning a public meeting to take input and give residents a better idea of plans to take care of the issue. They hope to decide on a date for that meeting in the next few days.

Burlington Northern is a past financial supporter of Spokane Public Radio.


Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.