Cheney Free Press -

 
 

By JAMES EIK
Staff Reporter 

Study shows transportation buildout in Airway Heights

 


More transportation planning was the focus at the Monday, Nov. 18 Airway Heights City Council meeting.

Spokane Planning Department’s Louis Miller went through the latest transportation study conducted by the department, which projects traffic out to roughly 10 years into the future.

“This began in earnest a little less than a year ago, after the annexation took place,” he said.

The plan not only focuses on automobile transportation, but freight and bicycle traffic as well.

Miller said the size of the West Plains study area was geographically similar to the Spokane Valley. The main differences are a smaller population, lack of arterial density and some infrastructure in the West Plains.

“This is seen by GSI (Greater Spokane Incorporated) as one of the hottest growth areas, and it’s even getting recognition from the state,” Miller said.

One of the more pressing issues involved in the transportation study has been the buildout of Spokane International Airport’s third runway, believed to be another 15 to 20 years away. The runway would cut right through South Hayford Road, requiring a redirection for the road. One draft shows it being rerouted west, with South Lawson Street built out to SR 902. That same draft also includes extending 21st Avenue east to create a minor arterial that would eventually connect with Highway 2 before the I-90 interchange on the Sunset Hill. Miller said the road would be a large boon to the area, increasing the potential to attract several aviation-related companies to the area, given the proximity and access to the airport.

Miller said the study from Spokane’s Planning Department wasn’t a part of the Spokane Regional Transportation Council’s Horizon 2040 plan yet. He mentioned, however, that there would be a cycle to update the SRTC plan in a couple of years, during which the study would be presented for inclusion.

A third public hearing on the 2014 budget took place at the meeting, reducing the $126,000 gap from the previous City Council meeting. City Treasurer Richard Cook said increased revenue sources and other transfers helped bring that down to an $8,000 gap, meaning the Current Expense fund was close to being balanced. The City Council later approved the first reading of the budget, which will be balanced by the second reading next month.

Also approved at the meeting was a maintenance agreement for the city’s generators. Public Works Director Kelly Williquette said Cummins Northwest would partner with the city to handle its several generators. Maintenance would be performed twice a year, along with any other kind of emergency work taking place.

Williquette said the city looked at doing the maintenance itself, but it wasn’t as financially viable. Airway Heights would have needed a load back tester and a full-time electrician on staff to meet standards.

The City Council also approved a letter regarding snow removal on Highway 2 that will be sent to the Washington State Department of Transportation. City Manager Albert Tripp said the DOT asked the city to begin removing snow in 2011-12. Up until that point, state highway plows had performed a courtesy by keeping their plows down through city limits. Tripp said the letter indicates Airway Heights’ intention to take on plowing beginning in 2014.

Also at the meeting, the City Council passed the second reading of its property tax, which includes a 1 percent increase, and bond levy for 2014.

Following the City Council meeting, a transportation benefit district board meeting was held to discuss the election results from earlier this month. As of Monday night, the benefit district proposition was passing 378-344, around a 52 percent passing rate. A letter will be sent to the Department of Revenue to begin collecting the additional sales tax in April next year to help reconstruct some of the city’s ailing streets.

“Thanks to the residents for realizing how important this is,” Mayor Patrick Rushing said before the conclusion of the meeting, noting that revamped streets will help attract additional businesses to the city.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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