17 April 2023 Michael A. Frucci, P.E. Acting Regional Administrator WSDOT Eastern Region 2714 N Mayfair Street Spokane, WA 99207
RE: Request to Coordinate Discussions on Funding Options for Hwy 195 Corridor
Dear Mr. Frucci:
Thank you for your letter dated April 10, 2023, regarding conditions along the Hwy 195 corridor addressed to Council President Beggs. First, we, the undersigned, appreciate your acknowledgment of the efforts of the current Spokane City Council to tackle this challenge. As you and many others well understand, the current conditions have been decades in the making and, unfortunately, have become pressing with increased development. There is more to do for all of us. We appreciate the continuing partnership with WSDOT to arrive at equitable funding that specifically address your infrastructure concerns. We sincerely regret that past administrations and councils did not address these infrastructure needs earlier, and frankly failed to provide any sensible mechanism to fund essential services and improvements for more than 20 years. Council recently adopted the SRTC study and recommendations for upgrading network connections parallel with Hwy. 195 so that we can reduce safety concerns and traffic volumes on Hwy 195. The City’s top priority is to re-establish a two-way connection with Inland Empire Way so that residents in Latah Valley can use that route to reach Downtown Spokane independent of Hwy 195, and Spokane Transit Authority can provide bus services. We hope to update our upcoming Capital Improvement Plan to reflect that priority. Implicit in your letter (and Mr. Gribner’s 2020 letter) is a continued request for a formal halt to development along the Hwy 195 corridor. We understand this, but at the same time are constrained by state law in our efforts to limit or suspend development in the area indefinitely, and by the broader demands to address the critical housing shortage. Unfortunately, those constraints are real and indirectly constrain WDOT in its options. For this reason, it is understood within the City Hall that sooner (rather than later) that WSDOT will need to act by whatever means necessary to keep the Hwy 195 corridor as safe as possible for all users under the current conditions, including limiting turns until the new network connections are established. Despite these challenges, we hope to continue our partnership with a meaningful investment in the City’s portion of the transportation system. The cost of these projects is prohibitive but much less expensive than an overhaul of the I-90 connection and bridge.
We ask that, the City and WSDOT work together to identify funding to begin the first phase of design and construction on the most critical elements that we mutually agree upon and are in line with the SRTC study that the Council approved last year. We would like to set up a series of meetings between Council Members, city staff, and WSDOT staff to set up a timeline and funding sources to expedite this process. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, __________________________________ __________________________________ Breean Beggs, City Council President Lori Kinnear, Council Member District 2 __________________________________ __________________________________ Betsy Wilkerson, Council Member, District 2 Michael Cathcart, Council Member, District 1 __________________________________ __________________________________ Jonathan Bingle, Council Member District 1 Karen Stratton, Council Member, District 3 __________________________________ Zack Zappone, Council Member District