By DAVID TELLER
Construction may soon start on the Spokane-Cheney Road intersection on U.S. Highway 195 after U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) secured funding in the Transportation Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill for the 2010 fiscal year.
According to a news release from the senator in Washington D.C., Murray secured $9.7 million for Eastern Washington to improve road safety and regional transit to support local construction jobs and community services. Of the funding secured, $2 million is allocated for safety improvements on the Highway 195 intersection.
“These funds will help make the dangerous Cheney-Spokane Road Interchange safer for our commuters and families,” Murray said in the news release.
“I think it's a great step in the right direction,” Latah Valley business owner Debi Hamel said.
On Jan. 17, Hamel's daughter, Lorissa Green, a Cheney High School student, died from injuries in a collision when she was hit broadside by a southbound pickup. The effort to get the changes approved was initiated as Washington State House Bill 2225, which is also called the Lorissa Green Project.
Hamel, a Cheney-area resident, testified at a state transportation budget hearing last March and praises the yet-to-be completed changes, but said the funding opens other doors. She said the funding means the whole stretch going from Interstate 90 south can be deemed a dangerous highway and that would increase the potential for federal funding.
Washington State Department of Transportation conducted a study in 2002 to examine improving Highway 195 from Hatch Road to Interstate 90, which included overpasses at all intersections. The estimate at that time hovered around $120 million. From January 2005 to January 2009 there has been 27 collisions, 13 of them resulting in injury and one a fatality, which was the Green collision.
“There has been an explosion of development there without any infrastructure improvement,” Al Gilson, spokesmen for the Department of Transportation said.
Hamel remains steadfast to see to it that better changes are made. She said she plans to, “take this all the way,” to getting overpasses at all intersections added to the stretch of road. She said turn lane revisions are not enough.
“I want the whole corridor fixed,” she said.
David Teller can be reached at email@example.com