Monday, May 20, 2019

Long-term closure of Wellesley Avenue coming as North Spokane Corridor progresses

By Ryan Overton

Change is good, and it's continuing for the North Spokane Corridor as construction ramps up with the second phase of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BSNF) railway realignment project.
Here's the site of the second realignment of BNSF railroad tracks in Spokane.

The biggest change will be the closure of east-west roadways that are in line with the future US 395. Several closures will be permanent, including Bridgeport, Fairview, Cleveland, Grace, Marietta and Jackson avenues. This means the only options for drivers in the area to cross east and west will be Francis, Euclid, Carlisle and Upriver Drive.

Another big change is the three-year closure of Wellesley Avenue from Market to Freya. This happens to be the only central crossing between Francis and Euclid for the Hil­lyard and Morgan Acres neighborhoods. When Wellesley closes later this year, residents will drive approximately a mile north or south from Wellesley to find a suitable crossing to travel east or west.

Wellesley is slated for completion in late 2022, with the goal of opening a new stretch of the NSC between Freya and Wellesley, adding approximately 1½ miles of new freeway.

Construction takes time, and in Spokane the winter months from late October through March make it very difficult to work year-round. Battling snow and frozen ground puts us into a winter shutdown each year, which leaves a short window to be pouring concrete and moving the earth.

On top of that, one piece of the puzzle still has to fall into place.

That puzzle is to realign the BSNF railway to make way for the NSC. This project is expected to begin construction in late summer to early fall. Crews will then work to move the tracks away from the NSC corridor and construct the new alignment and overpass over Wellesley Ave.

A 3D rendering of the completed Wellesley interchange reconstruction project.

While the realignment continues on the BNSF track, 2020 will bring several new projects including the paving from Columbia Street to the Spokane River and beginning of construction on the raised roadway over the Spokane Community College parking lot. This is a huge milestone, as it will be very visible to the public, and the first project to start on the south side of the Spokane River.

Once the BNSF track has been moved, construction will begin on the Wellesley interchange, overpass, and connecting ramps. The current design includes two roundabouts for both on and off ramps.
East-west travel will have some adjustments during the next phase of the North Spokane Corridor project.

It will take roughly two years from start of construction to complete the Wellesley Avenue interchange, and it will be well worth it. The added roundabouts and wider roadway will make travel through the area much smoother and easier for drivers.

If you would like to learn more about the upcoming closure of Wellesley Avenue, the North Spokane Corridor or the Children of the Sun Trail, please join us for an open house Thursday, May 30, from 6-8 p.m. at the Northeast Community Center, 4001 N Cook St, Spokane, WA 99207.


John T. said...

How will these realignments and both short & long term closures affect delivery of emergency services to affected neighborhoods (in terms of immediate response times), and how will emergency mass egress from core population areas in Spokane/Spokane Valley be affected (short & long term)? "Short term" meaning during construction phases for road and rail infrastructure. "Long term" being after the current projects are completed. Post project, how will future foreseeable road and rail infrastructure projects affect traffic flows (vehicular and rail) in the new facilities as compared to existing facilities?

WSDOT said...

There is a detour route for when Wellesley is closed that the City approved for emergency services. Currently, emergency services (fire/ambulance) have indicated they don't use Wellesley as one of their routes due to its current less than desirable condition. Emergency services have also been brought along on the permanent closures that are coming and have accounted for it in their response planning.

John T. said...

WSDOT's response marginally addresses only a small (short term) aspect of the preceding comment. Will a more complete and substantive assessment of short and long term effects become available for public review soon?

Tim said...

Carlisle is very narrow with parked cars on both sides. Closing Grace is a bad idea, and should be re-thought.

WSDOT said...

Dear Tim,

Both Grace and Carlisle are currently through streets to Market. When the North Spokane Corridor is built through the area, Grace will close as a through street to Market only. Grace will remain open from Ralph St. east through the residential neighborhood. The section of Carlisle that is a through street to Greene/Market St. does not allow for parking on the roadway so there shouldn’t be any cars in this corridor. The reason Carlisle will remain open is because the North Spokane Corridor will be a raised freeway at this point to cross the Spokane River. All roads that are listed as permanent closures are just where the North Spokane Corridor crosses. Hopefully this clears up any confusion.

Jason said...

Closing Grace is a great idea! As someone who lives in the neighborhood I can't wait to see the constant flow of traffic on Grace and Freya that shouldn't be there be routed through proper roadways instead of side streets. Especially considering how few vehicles ever stop at the stop sign at the Freya intersection. It will be especially nice to be stuck behind a semi truck that is trying to climb that hill in the winter time when they had no business being there in the first place.

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