Two transportation items were stripped from the City of Spokane’s recently updated Comprehensive Plan. The Comp Plan guides Spokane’s growth over coming decades. According to the Spokesman-Review, the two items, one of which would affect all future road projects and the other centered on the Southgate Neighborhood, aren’t completely dead. The city is currently seeking new ways to address them outside of the Comprehensive Plan.
One item, the Ray-Freya Crossover, goes all the way back to 1966. It called for an arterial street to wind through Ferris High School and by its running track. The Southgate Neighborhood Council opposed the project and the City Council voted unanimously to strip the crossover from the city’s plan.
The council also voted in agreement to remove a section that would’ve allowed economically significant road projects to jump to the top of the city’s street work list and not be subject to the Complete Streets ordinance, which requires all street rebuilds to coordinate with Spokane’s bike and pedestrian plans. Opponents of the idea said it would allow developers to “cut in line” while leaving streets half-built without sidewalks or other elements outlined in the plans.
That’s not the final word on either proposal though. This fall, the city will conduct a “preferred alternative analysis” in the Southgate neighborhood to determine how best to deal with what the city perceives as traffic congestion on Regal Street. The analysis could find that no action is necessary, or it could bring the $4 million Ray-Freya Crossover back to life. Neighborhood leaders though are leaning toward traffic signal improvements at the intersections of Ray and Freya at 37th. Advocates say this would reduce impacts on Ferris, on Hazel’s Creek and be less costly.
The head of the City’s Planning Department says the change to the “project of significance” section came about because the section was misinterpreted as a way to avoid Complete Streets requirements. It was intended as a way to raise projects that rated poorly in the city’s ranking system but were still seen as economically significant by city staff. The city council would’ve had to approve adding any projects to the top of the list. Instead, the council will soon consider an economic development ordinance that will address this proposal to “provide an allowance for projects that are important to economic development.”