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North Spokane Corridor - History

Originally conceived of in 1946, it has taken more than 50 years of research, planning, legislation and public input to gain approval for the North Spokane Corridor (NSC).

Other North-South arterials exist in Spokane, including Division Street, Hamilton Street and the Maple/Ash couplet, but the NSC will be the first high-speed route to connect Interstate-90 with points north of Spokane.

This new corridor will bring a greater level of safety for the traveling public and provide an efficient route for the thousands of cars and heavy trucks that pass through Spokane daily.

The corridor also includes a separate pedestrian and bicycle trail system and reserves enough room in the median for future high capacity transit throughout its length.

The new corridor will take an estimated 10-20 years to complete depending on funding, but segments of roadway and trail will be opened to the public as they are completed in sequence.

• Spokane Traffic Survey of 1946.
• Analysis of parallel facility to relieve congestion on Division Street.

• Spokane Urban Highway Capacity Survey.
• Identified a need for additional river crossings.

• Preliminary Reconnaissance Report.
• Showed projected traffic volumes for route along Hamilton Corridor.

• First plans for North-South Freeway.
• Estimated cost $13 million.
• Division Street couplet investigated.
• Federal Highway Act of 1956 aurhorized the Interstate Freeway System.

• Supplemental Reconnaissance Report.

• Interstate Freeways prioritized over North-South Freeway.

• Division Street couplet revived using Ruby-Lidgerwood for northbound traffic. Estimated cost $283,000.

• Spokane Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (SMATS). Formed to fulfill requirements of Federal Highway Act of 1962.

• Division Street couplet dropped.
• Opposed by Lidgerwood citizens and Spokane School Board.

• SMATS and Department of Highways release “Corridor Study for North Spokane and North Suburban Area Freeway”.
• Recommended a North Spokane Corridor in the Nevada-Helena Corridor.

• Department of Highways completes the Liberty Park Interchange on Interstate 90.
• Directional interchange intended to interface with recommended Nevada-Helena Corridor.
• Citizens Against Residential Freeway (CARF) formed.

• Department of Highways Environmental Statement completed on Nevada-Helena Corridor. Formal hearing held in the Spokane Coliseum.
• Document never approved.
• SMATS transferred from State Department of Highways to Spokane Regional Council (SRC)

• Local legislators and citizens opposed to location of freeway.
• Legislators commission Havana Street alternative study.

• Effects of oil shortage were being noticed with gas tax revenues falling 20 percent.
• Funds for North Spokane Corridor deleted from State budget.

• “Legislative Study Havana Street Area Highway” completed.
• Four lanes estimated to cost $11 million. Report concluded that route should not be built in this corridor.

• Numerous studies completed resulting in various local arterial improvements.

• The Washington State Department of Transportation completes the Hamilton Street bridge.
• New bridge extends four to six lanes north to Trent Avenue.

• SRC began the “1985 Regional Transportation Plan Update” (TPU).
• Identified lack of a regional facility on the north side as a major problem.

• 1985 TPU approved by City of Spokane, Spokane County and Spokane Transit Authority.
• SRC requested WSDOT perform the “North Spokane Transportation Study – Short & Long Term Studies”.

• “North Spokane Transportation Study – Short Term Transportation Improvements” completed.
• Division Street couplet project recommended for construction.
• “North Spokane Transportation Study – Long Term Transportation Improvements” completed.
• Recommended building a North Spokane Corridor up the Market Street Corridor. Estimated cost $400 million. Recommended that an Environmental Impact Statement be initiated immediately for the selected Market Street North-South Corridor route.

• Special “Category C” funding approved for Division Street and North Spokane Corridor projects.
• Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) formed for Division Street project. Draft EIS scheduled for circulation March 1992.
• Estimated cost $22 million (1991). Lidgerwood Neighborhood resisting Lidgerwood couplet.

• IDT formed for North Spokane Corridor project.
• Hamilton Street corridor dropped by IDT August, 1991.
• Estimated cost $651 million (1991).

• Development of Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). When completed in 1995, the 900-page document is circulated to government officials, community groups, and is distributed to area libraries and government offices for the public to view.
• A formal Environmental Hearing was held at Shadle Park High School in September 1995, after which all public testimony and written comments received are incorporated into the document.

• New Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) Legislation and Environmental Justice policies take affect.
• DEIS reformatted to reflect new environmental documentation requirements as a result of changing laws and policies.

• On April 3, 1997, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is approved, and on November 20, 1997 the Record of Decision is issued by the FHWA setting the stage to design and build the North Spokane Corridor.

• Engineering studies and preliminary designs developed for the NSC north of the Spokane River by the WSDOT project engineering staff. This work further refines the corridor into a specific route and interchange locations. A Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) is created to document the effects of the design refinements when compared to the 1997 FEIS; Limited Access and Right of Way plans are developed; and a formal Design, Limited Access, and Environmental Hearing is held on June 29, 2000 at the Spokane Convention Center.
• As a result of extensive public involvement, no oral testimony received at the hearing. Limited written comments received and incorporated into the DSEIS.

• Washington State Legislature approves supplemental biennial transportation budget.
• Allocated $3.9 million for continued design work and $19 million to begin purchasing right-of-way. $1 million in federal funds allocated as part of the National Corridor Planning and Development Program.
• Final SEIS approved on September 18, 2000 and a Record of Decision was issued on November 13, 2000 by the FHWA. Design adoption on October 13, 2000, and the Findings and Order (Limited Access Plan) were approved by WSDOT on October 19, 2000 for the segment of the NSC north of the Spokane River.
• Land purchase in the vicinity of Hawthorne Road begins.

• Design refinements to the 1997 FEIS preferred alternative continue on the NSC south of the Spokane River.
• Limited Access and design hearing Spring 2003.
• August 22, 2001 – Groundbreak for North Spokane Corridor and the first project: Hawthorne Road to Farwell Road.

• July 2002 saw completion of first grading project on NSC from Hawthorne Road to Farwell Road.
• July 18, 2002 held Design and Limited Access Hearing for the Gerlach realignment portion of the project.
• Oral and written testimony were recorded and incorporated into the Findings and Order. Adoption of the Findings and Order was December 22nd, 2002.

• On February 26th, 2003, the Design and Limited Access Hearing was held for the portion of the project south of the Spokane River to Interstate 90, including the Collector Distributor along I-90.
• Oral and written testimony were recorded and incorporated into the Findings and Order. Adoption of the Findings and Order anticipated winter 2003-2004.
• July 1, 2003 the Washington State Legislature approves a gas tax increase of 5-cents per gallon. The NSC project received $189 million in funding.
• Allocated funding for two projects on the north end of the North Spokane Corridor. Result will be a drivable link from Francis Avenue to Wandermere. Anticipated start of construction is late 2003/early 2004.
• Design/Access Hearing for the Spokane River South Phase was held on February 26, 2003.

• Construction on the first “Nickel” project, Farwell Road Lowering and Bridges gets underway. The job entails the construction of four mainline and ramp bridges with Farwell Road lowered to pass under the structures. Major items on the contract are completed in June, 2005.

• Construction on the second “Nickel” project, Gerlach to Wandermere Grading, gets underway. This contract completes the basic freeway footprint in two segments to the north and south of the two jobs already completed. The Farwell Road Lowering project is completed in August, 2005.

• An environmental re-evaluation of the April 1997
Spokane River South FEIS document was approved in May, 2005 by the FHWA. The Findings and Order was adopted in July, 2005 and the final limited access was established in October, 2005.
• Construction of six bridges on the NSC starts with the Francis Avenue to US 2 Structures contract. 
• The Gerlach to Wandermere project is completed in September 2006.

• Construction on the Freya to Fairview/Grading and Structures project begins in mid-2007. This contract constructs bridges at Lincoln and Gerlach Roads, completes the earthwork between Freya Street and Fairview Road, realigns portions of Freya and Fairview Roads, and improves the intersections at Francis/Freya and

• Construction of the Freya to Farwell PCCP Paving project begins.  This contract paves the mainline northbound lanes with concrete between Freya street and Farwell Road.  
• Work also begins on the BNSF RR Tunnel contract. This contract constructs a 1300 foot precast concrete arch tunnel over the BNSF railroad tracks just east of the Market/Hawthorne intersection. This is the longest structure of its kind in North America.
•  The Francis Avenue to US 2 Structures project is completed in July 2008.
• In December work begins on the 7th contract, US 2 Lowering. The project builds 6 bridges and lowers US 2 to pass under the NSC.  This work will result in an interchange with US 2 and the NSC.

• On August 22, the ribbon is cut for the Francis Ave to Farwell Rd section and the 3.5 mile section is opened to the public with one lane in each direction, using the northbound side of the new freeway.
• The adjacent "Children of the Sun" Trail also opens on August 22.
• Work begins on the final Nickel contract, US 2 to Wandermere. This contract completes the NSC between US 2 and Wandermere and constructs an interchange with existing US 395. The US 2 Lowering and US 2 to Wandermere projects are expected to be complete in 2011, adding 2 miles to the 3.5 miles opened to traffic in Aug.

• September 2010 work begins on the NSC southbound lanes from Farwell Road to Freya Street.

• October 2011 work begins on the Parksmith Drive Interchange.
• November 16, 2011 The NSC/US 2 Interchange opens to traffic.
• Work begins on the trail connection to the Mead Community.

• Children of the Sun Trail Mead community connection is complete in May, 2012.
• On June 13, the US 2 to Wandermere section opens.  Traffic can now flow on the northern 5 1/2 miles of the NSC.
• October 2, 2012-the Parksmith Drive Interchange and the NSC/Farwell Road to Freya are opened.  The entire north half of the North Spokane Corridor is now fully completed.
• Children of the Sun Trail is also now open from Freya Street to the Wandermere Interchange.
• In October, work begins on the Francis Avenue Bridge Replacement project.

• In October, work starts on the BNSF Rail Realignment and Children of the Sun Trail Extension.
• On November 15, 2013, the Francis Bridge opens to limited traffic with one lane in each direction.

• Work continues on the BNSF Rail Realignment and Children of the Sun Trail Extension.
• On June 20th all lanes of the Francis Avenue bridge were opened to traffic.

• Completed BNSF Rail Realignment and Children of the Sun Trail Extension into Hillyard.

• Completed a roundabout at the intersection of Freya Street and Wellesley Ave. in the vicinity of the future Wellesley Avenue interchange.

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Over the past 20 years, well over 550 public meetings that included open houses, community group / neighborhood council presentations, and formal hearings have been held to gather public input and present the design and environmental aspects of this new facility. Numerous one-on-one meetings between interested citizens and WSDOT staff have been held in the WSDOT project and regional office as well.