The future of regional transportation was brought forward to the Airway Heights City Council at its Monday, March 18 meeting.
Kevin Wallace from the Spokane Regional Transportation Council detailed plans for the proposed Horizon 2040 document, which seeks to upgrade existing transportation methods in the region. It also looks at the development future in the Spokane region, and plans a 20-year blueprint.
Wallace said the plan factors in multi-modal transportation, including bicycles, pedestrians, air and freight accessibility.
Two particular points emphasized by residents in the region, he said, were economic vitality, or how the region invests in transportation, and quality of life.
The first two of four chapters of the Horizon 2040 document are currently online. Chapter three will arrive in April or May, with chapter four coming in July.
Among the figures included in Wallace’s presentation was that the average family spends around $9,000 on transportation each year. Combining costs of housing and transportation, affordable areas in the county have shrunk down to a small few clusters along the I-90 corridor and the Spokane Valley.
Also included in the document is a plan to rehabilitate the 377 bridges in Spokane County. In 2011, 275 of those bridges were evaluated, and 21 were found to be insufficient. Also, 65 were marked as being obsolete, meaning they didn’t serve modern purposes, but could still work at lower load capacities.
Over a third of the bridges, 140, were built before 1962, with 26 being reconstructed in the past 50 years. Wallace noted the amount needed to fix bridges in the county was high, coming in at nearly $2 billion.
He also mentioned that the SRTC was heavily considering upgrading the Hayford Road interchange that leads to I-90. Traffic along the road has increased, and residential population south of I-90 at the Medical Lake exit has grown dramatically in recent years.
A final summary is expected to be published in August, and public comments on Horizon 2040 are expected in September or October.
The second public hearing regarding a transportation benefits district in Airway Heights was presented to residents at the meeting. Public works Director Kelly Williquette outlined details on how street repairs throughout the city could be aided by a small sales tax increase, which is currently proposed at 2 cents for every $10 spent in city limits.
A sales tax increase would mean that visitors to the city would share the financial responsibility in helping to rehabilitate roads. Highway 2 drives a large amount of traffic, and visitors, through the city.
Between 2006 and 2012 when surveys were taken, road conditions in Airway Heights decreased by an average of 25 percent.
“14th Avenue, in front of Yoke’s, has 5 percent lifespan left on it,” Williquette said.
The transportation benefit district requires at least five residents for a citizen advisory committee. From there, information will be published throughout the summer for city residents. Airway Heights residents will be able to vote on the potential increase in August later this year.
Interested residents can call the public works office at 244-5429 for more information.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.