Our Transportation Committee had a special guest from California at the March meeting, Nate Kaplan, from the rail advocacy group GoRail. We also got to see a presentation on the Bigelow Gulch – Forker Rd. corridor from Spokane County’s Traffic/Transportation Manager, Sean Messner. Kaplan introduced himself and his 15-year-old organization from Washington, D.C. to the Committee, stating that they are beginning to increase their presence in Eastern Washington – issues like Prop 2 and ‘Bridging the Valley’ have put Spokane County on their radar. Kaplan has presented himself and GoRail and an ally of our community with regard to rail/freight information and advocacy. Sean Messner’s presentation covered all 6 phases the County has planned for Bigelow Gulch – Forker Rd. improvements. This project, in its entirety, should be completed in 2020-21, and is broken up due to the difficulty of acquiring right-of-way parcels and the high cost of the project. This project has an estimated cost of nearly $65 million, with about $21 million left that is being pursued from State and Federal grants. The County is determined to get this project completed to help improve traffic safety in this corridor, one that has seen 750 crashes in the last 20 years. Further reasons for this being such a high priority of the County is to make this road accommodate an increasing number of commuter use, and the impending upgrade of this corridor from a T-2 to T-1, meaning WSDOT will recognize this stretch of road as one that supports the transport of over 10 million tons of freight per year.
We meet again upstairs in Longhorn BBQ on Thursday, April 26th, program TBD.