Spokane lawmakers say they plan to push back against proposed delays to North Spokane Corridor
State and local leaders have been planning to connect northern Spokane County to Interstate 90 for decades. In his proposed budget, Governor Jay Inslee asked for a pause in construction.
Local officials and the area’s legislative delegation have pushed back, saying a delay could slow development in economically depressed areas.
The North Spokane Corridor has been under construction since 2001.
Under the current plan it will connect US 2 and 395 to Interstate 90, will be completed in 2028.
Governor Jay Inslee has proposed delaying the project’s completion to the 2033-2035 legislative biennium.
Michael Cathcart, the City Councilman who represents Northeast Spokane and serves as chair of the area’s public development authority, said communities in his district need a completed corridor.
“It’s infuriating because this investment is really the largest incentive for economic development and, frankly, residential growth in Northeast Spokane because of its connectivity,” he said.
In a statement Friday Spokane’s delegation which includes Senator Andy Billig, the majority leader of the Washington State Senate, Representative Mike Ormsby, the chair of the Washington House Appropriations Committee and Representative Marcus Riccelli, chair of the House Healthcare Committee, said they won’t support any delays.
In an interview, Riccelli said pausing or delaying construction could jeopardize a recently funded bus rapid transit project as well as other planned development and investment in economically challenged areas of Northeast Spokane.
“It doesn't have my support, it doesn't have Tim and Andy's support,” he said. “I'll be working with my Republican colleagues, I don't believe it would have their support, and it doesn't have the people's support. I can't tell you the number of emails and calls of people who are concerned by this.”
A spokesperson for the governor’s office said in a statement that Inslee’s budget aims to prioritize existing contracts, legal obligations and interstate projects. He said the governor is open to conversation with legislators – who will make the final budget decisions.