Spokane County and Washington State officials celebrated the completion of Bigelow Gulch-Phase 3 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event marked a milestone in the mammoth Bigelow Gulch/Forker Road Urban Connector Project. The project began in 2005, and has been completed in stages, with the 1.5 mile section of Bigelow Gulch being the most recent. The entire transportation corridor is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023.
Spokane County Engineer Chad Coles commented on the necessity of the project, given the increase in both passenger and freight traffic and projections that traffic volume will continue to grow. “It bears repeating that safety is critical to public transportation....this is a public safety project. Since the late 90s, this corridor has seen hundreds of crashes resulting in property damage, injuries…and sadly, several fatalities. The old, narrow roadway was never designed for the current volume of traffic – and our projections indicated would continue to increase in the years to come,” Coles said.
The final phases of the Urban Connector will be completed in the next couple of years. In 2022, Forker Road will be realigned to the south and bisect East Valley School District property. Spokane County Public Works has been collaborating with district administration on the design plan and additional safety features. The road will then be connected to Sullivan Road, providing easier access to the industrial area east of Spokane Valley and Interstate 90. In 2023, Weile Road will be realigned to connect with Phase 1, just east of the Spokane City Limits.
This will provide better access to the distribution and manufacturing area east of the Spokane City Limits and the North-South Freeway.
Beginning in 1997, Spokane County saw daily traffic increasing on Bigelow Gulch and Forker Roads, especially truck and freight traffic. The combination of traffic volume and freight traffic on a narrow, curvy roadway had led to a high number of crashes, resulting in property damage, injuries, some of them were fatal. To make Bigelow Gulch safer and reduce traffic congestion, Spokane County proposed developed a plan to improve the roadway and, when finished, provide a traffic corridor from north Spokane to Spokane Valley.
For several years, the Bigelow Gulch/Forker Urban Connector Project has steadily progressed in phases that have straightened and widened both Bigelow Gulch Road and Forker Road to meet the objectives of improved safety, reduced traffic congestion, and support state and regional freight mobility initiatives.
Funding for the project has been provided in part by the U.S. Department of Transportation-Federal Highway Administration, Washington State Department of Transportation, Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board and the County Road Administration Board, which provided a majority of the funding for Bigelow Gulch-Phase 3 ($6-Million).
For more information, go to www.spokanecounty.org/2724/Bigelow-GulchForker-Rd-Urban-Connector.
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