Tuesday Am Recap 6/18/13: U-District Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge

It was the public outcry that wasn’t. For two weeks a local radio station has beat the drum against the University Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge. The bridge, which has been identified as an economic development priority for the University District medical campus as far back as 2001, was the main subject of last night’s meeting. The Council was considering an action to allocate $1.3 million dollars of state money–no local funds–to the engineering of the bridge. Normally this would have been an afternoon consent agenda item, which is typical of most actions for receiving state or federal grants, but Councilman Fagan moved it to the evening legislative agenda. I was expecting a big turnout of anti-bridge folks, but nobody showed up. The only people who spoke against the bridge were Council regulars who are generally against, well, most everything.

In support of the project there was a steady stream of people including WSU, GSI, The East Spokane Business Association, the U-District Redevelopment Agency, and numerous concerned citizens and business-owners.

I have supported this project for years and was happy to do so again. In the short term the engineering money will create local jobs through several subcontractors, with the promise of many more when it is finally constructed. It will create a link over the longest unbroken stretch of train tracks in downtown Spokane and divert pedestrians and bicyclists away from one of the County’s most dangerous intersections at Sprague and Division. It’s about Spokane demanding its fair share of economic development dollars from the State. Too often the west side of the state gets more resources from Olympia than they should. Spokane deserves those resources too. Government’s role in helping bring more jobs to East Spokane should be providing good infrastructure to help spark investment. This bridge falls squarely in that category. It will be a vital link from the U-District to the Lower South Hill hospital and medical area.

The Council voted 6-1 with only Councilman Fagan dissenting. In his remarks Councilman Fagan cited uncertainties about Obamacare as the reason he opposed the project.

In other business the Council voted to create a downtown parking meter revenue fund that will take parking proceeds and re-invest them in downtown enhancements, including streetscape improvements and public safety. I was happy to bring forth an action in December of 2011 that paved the way for this re-investment in downtown. This passed unanimously, as did the rest of our agenda including: an update to the fire code and three minor street vacations.

One item was voted down unanimously; a local improvement district that would have removed over 20 trees and had only one known supporter.

Council recap, Downtown

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