Former railroad span now links office park, Centennial Trail
October 1, 2012 - Updated: 2:47 p.m.
Bill Kessler, of Spokane, has a new shortcut to get to the Centennial Trail.
Kessler, who travels on foot, was heading to a ballgame Friday at Mission Park when he crossed the Spokane River on the historic Iron Bridge.
The city in September opened the bridge as a spur off the main Centennial Trail about two blocks north of Trent Avenue at Superior Street.
“It’s nice,” he said of the view from the old railroad span. “It’s definitely more convenient.”
The new bridge trail crosses the Spokane River in an area where the riverbank is lined with willows and other greenery, giving the trail user the impression of being in the wild. The view from the bridge is one of the best on that stretch.
Upstream is the active BNSF Railway bridge and downstream is the Trent Avenue Bridge.
A connector trail on the southeast side of the river leads to Erie Avenue.
The Iron Bridge was used by the Union Pacific Railroad until 1973, when the railroad gave up its tracks through Riverfront Park to make way for Expo ’74. It now shares the BNSF rail line that passes through downtown Spokane on the rail viaduct between First and Second avenues.
Redevelopment of the bridge as a trail extension was originally a cooperative project between the city and the developer of the Iron Bridge Office Park on the east side of the river.
The city obtained a state recreation grant and federal money to finance an $822,000 construction contract with Wesslen Construction Inc., of Spokane.
Concrete was poured onto the bridge deck and then covered with a layer of asphalt. New railings were added and the underside was cleaned and painted to keep lead paint from flaking off and falling into the river.
Talk about redoing the bridge as a trail connector dates back to 1998.
A dedication ceremony is planned for Thursday at 6 p.m. at the bridge.
North Spokane Corridor ceremony planned
The last piece in construction of the northern half of the North Spokane Corridor will open Tuesday following a ceremony to recognize the accomplishment.
The Parksmith interchange in the vicinity of Mead was paid for with savings on other portions of the project, officials said.
It is part of the 5.7-mile corridor from Freya Street north of Francis Avenue to U.S. Highway 395 at the Little Spokane River.
The opening ceremony will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Parksmith Road and the freeway’s southbound ramp. Access to the event is from Market Street.
Attending dignitaries will include U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.; and Secretary Paula Hammond of the Washington State Department of Transportation.
A parade of classic cars will be part of the opening.
Funding for the project came from a federal economic stimulus grant.
The North Spokane Corridor will eventually connect with Interstate 90 in East Spokane, making it a 10.5-mile freeway.
Some funding remains to be spent on preparations for building the more expensive southern half of the freeway, estimated to cost about $1.3 billion to complete.
Work has started on building a temporary grade crossing on Francis Avenue at the BNSF tracks. Crews are building approaches to the crossing, which is already in place.
When the approaches are finished, workers will close the existing bridge on Francis and replace it with a longer bridge that will allow the new freeway to pass beneath it.
WSDOT officials said the opened segment is already saving truck drivers 15 to 20 minutes in travel time, avoiding 29 traffic lights on the Division Street route.
Rock removal near Snoqualmie Pass
I-90 between Hyak and Price Creek Sno-Park will close from 6 to 7 p.m. each night from tonight through Thursday so crews can remove rock from slopes along the construction project near the snow shed east of Snoqualmie Pass.
Blasting work has been suspended because of fire danger.
Cameras are now monitoring drivers and tickets are being issued to speeding violators. The cost of the tickets, sent to the registered owner of the vehicle, is $137.
Airport parking garage ramp maintenance
The parking garage at Spokane International Airport is getting maintenance work this month, forcing temporary closure of the two helix ramps.
The south ramp will close starting today through Oct. 14. The north ramp will close from Oct. 15 through 29. The resurfacing work will be finished by Oct. 31.
WSDOT seeks bids for interchange
Elsewhere, WSDOT is seeking bids for construction of a new interchange at U.S. Highway 195 and Cheney-Spokane Road, a project that will increase safety for drivers going through what has proved to be a deadly intersection over the years.
Work on 29th Avenue nears completion
Reconstruction work should wrap up by Friday on 29th Avenue from Bernard Street to Grand Boulevard. The $2.7 million project is part of a 2004 voter-approved street bond.
Wall Street at Plaza reopens to traffic
Wall Street on the east side of the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza has reopened to traffic, following reconstruction to improve bus service in the downtown area.