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Staff Reporter 

Residential growth and transportation focus of ML planning


The Medical Lake Planning Commission heard two presentations at its Thursday, Nov. 21 meeting, detailing future transportation and residential development in the city and surrounding region.

Kathleen Weinand, an assistant planner with the city of Spokane, said the department has been going to cities throughout the West Plains and presenting a new traffic master plan to construct roadways

“We realized the site lacked certain infrastructure, especially with regard to transportation,” she said.

Weinand said the West Plains has seen some strong, steady growth in recent years, but that growth has left a largely rural transportation system out of date. For future plans and industrial companies, it’s incompatible. Most roads wouldn’t be able to handle several thousand additional vehicles each day.

“If our goal is to attract a lot of jobs to the area, we need roads that can handle those jobs,” she said.

In addition to revamped roads, having proper right-of-way guarantees will help expand the traffic network in the future. Specifically, the city of Spokane is looking at the next 20 years.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth in the last 10 years, and haven’t always asked for the right-of-way needed,” Weinand said.

One sticking point for the region has been the situation regarding Hayford Road. Spokane International Airport seeks to build a third runway in the next 20-30 years, right on top of the arterial. Commissioner Mark Hudson asked if it was a viable option for Hayford to be rerouted underneath the runway, similar to how it’s done at Los Angeles International. Weinand said the FAA likely wouldn’t approve of such a roadway design, given some security concerns.

Currently, the top priority is to build an arterial north of Highway 2 to allow some of the residential traffic to exit.

The total of all of the department’s short-term plans total $24 million. Short- to mid-term plans total around $35.4 million.

All projects totaled up over the next couple of decades come in around $1 billion, however most are in the process of being pared down to make costs more affordable in the long run. Given the limited amount of roadway construction funds available, some projects likely won’t come to fruition.

“SRTC (Spokane Regional Transportation Commission) says transportation funding will become even more scarce,” Weinand said.

Also at the meeting, the Planning Commission voted to recommend a zoning change for an undeveloped nine-acre residential parcel just south of Hallett Elementary. For the last several years, developers have been trying to market the property to companies that could build an apartment complex on the parcel. They say that’s been unsuccessful due to the parcel’s location, and hoped to turn it into a single family residential area instead.

Todd Whipple, a consultant for the project, said single family platting would allow for 40 to 50 lots. Water rights aren’t an issue, as there were originally 232 sites allowed, leaving the other rights available for future use elsewhere.

As part of the project, Jim Darby Drive would push through and connect with South Lefevre Street/SR 902.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the commission opted to not meet in December. Its next meeting will take place Thursday, Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. in the council chambers.

James Eik can be reached at


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