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Spokane County opens new Euclid Road Bridge near Airway Heights

Spokane County Commissioner Al French [third from right] joins Fire District 10, Fairchild Air Force Base officials and others in cutting the ribbon on the new Euclid Road Bridge near Airway Heights.
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
Spokane County Commissioner Al French [third from right] joins Fire District 10 and Fairchild Air Force Base officials in cutting the ribbon on the new Euclid Road Bridge near Airway Heights.

Spokane County has opened a new concrete bridge on the West Plains to replace an old wooden span that was deemed unsafe and closed in 2019.

The new Euclid Road Bridge crosses over railroad tracks in an area north of Airway Heights. People who live in the area say they’re happy to finally see it built. For the last four years, they’ve had to traverse a dusty, bumpy detour road through the area.

“For all of those that have endured Newkirk Road for the last four years, I appreciate your patience. I know I’ve driven it, but not nearly as much as you have, and I’ve lost two fillings," joked County Commissioner Al French at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

French said two previous versions of the bridge, going back more than 100 years, were built by railroad companies. This one, he says, will be owned and maintained by the county. But it still required cooperation with the operator of the track underneath.

“In the big scheme of things, in Burlington Northern’s world, a bridge in rural Spokane County is not high on their list of priorities. It took an awful lot of energy and an awful lot of work from folks that I know and have worked with in the BNSF organization to keep this project a priority," he said.

The cost of building the new span was about $3.7 million. French says the railroad contributed some of that.

The old Euclid Road Bridge was judged by Spokane County in 2019 to be unsafe for vehicle traffic.
Courtesy of Spokane County
The old Euclid Road Bridge was judged by Spokane County in 2019 to be unsafe for vehicle traffic.

The original bridge was built by a railroad company in the early 20th century. That burned down in 1979. The next year Burlington Northern built another wooden span that was found in 2019 to be unsafe. The county ordered it closed.

County Engineer Kyle Twohig says the new span was built with advanced construction materials and reinforced guardrails. He said the roads approaching both ends were designed to have more gradual slopes.

Twohig says the project was a challenge because construction crews had to synchronize their schedules with approaching trains so as not to interrupt their journeys through the area. He says county road crews also had to continually maintain the unpaved detour roads that weren't built to handle such a high volume of traffic.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.