City gears up for Liberty Lake Road, roundabout work
By Craig Howard
The New Year will deliver a pair of major transportation projects to Liberty Lake – both of which feature a significant boost of state funding.
At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, City Administrator Katy Allen and City Engineer Andrew Staples provided an overview of the roundabout slated for the intersection of Mission and Molter as well as the impending overhaul of Liberty Lake Road. Staples said design work on each job is "around 90 percent done," with the bid process just around the corner.
The plan is to bundle both projects together and have the contract ready for council review by the March 1 meeting.
"By packaging these as one contract we have economies of scale," Staples said. "It will also make it easier to make sure the work is being done at the same time and the community and the contractor are on the same page."
The Washington Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) will cover 80 percent of the $580,000 pricetag on the roundabout and 78 percent of the cost on Liberty Lake Road, a sum of just over $1.2 million. Funds from the city's 3-percent utility tax on cable, phone gas, electric and waste management will take care of the balance.
The upgrade of Liberty Lake Road will include new pavement, medians, a pedestrian crossing, lighting, additional turning lanes and widened sidewalks. Staples said alterations to the traffic light at the intersection of Liberty Lake Road and Appleway – including the addition of a free right-hand turn onto the I-90 onramp – are expected to improve traffic flow at the confluence of the city's two busiest arterials.
"We're very excited to solve the traffic issues on Liberty Lake Road," Staples said. "This project is a continuation of the improvements we've already made on Appleway."
The roundabout at Mission and Molter is also meant to mitigate vehicle backup near the burgeoning Meadowwood Technology Campus. Some 600 new employees will eventually be in place at the new Comcast office now under construction at the site.
Staples said the roundabout will be an improvement to the current four-way stop that can lead to snarls in the morning and evening.
In response to concerns raised by Mayor Pro Tem Cris Kaminskas that roundabout construction would impact residential areas to the east, Staples said there will be an emphasis "to allow commercial traffic to move through more quickly."
The city is anticipating a three-month timeline on both projects with work beginning sometime this spring and wrapping up by early summer.
Allen noted that Greenstone homes had donated a parcel of 400 square feet to the city on the northeast corner of the intersection that is part of the project.
"We're going to have a season of construction," Staples said in summarizing the work ahead. "Both of these projects are going to mean very good improvements for our commuters."
In other city news:
• Council Member Keith Kopelson was appointed as the city's representative on the Spokane Transit Authority board, replacing Mayor Steve Peterson who will now serve as the alternate.
• Several residents from a neighborhood near Rocky Hill Park made their case for the city to vacate a 75 foot stretch of property behind the greenspace. One of the residents, Scott Carter, described the plot as "a nuisance" that is difficult to maintain and is not considered a positive element of the park. Council eventually approved a motion to turn the space over to property owners in order to make upgrades with the reimbursement going toward improvements at Rocky Hill. Timeline of the transaction is anticipated to be six months.
• Allen said the city has been working to improve efficiencies involving de-icing of local roads after a switch in contractors that took place last month. The city has collaborated with the state Department of Transportation to use a nearby de-icing storage facility.
• Snow and ice buildup has led to leaks in the roof at the Trailhead pro shop. Repairs to the interior of the building are expected to run between $10,000 and $20,000, Allen said. Work has also begun to reinforce the aging deck at Trailhead.
• Groundbreaking for the new K-2 school near Liberty Lake Elementary on Jan. 6 with luminaries from the city and Central Valley School District in attendance.
• Council approved the mayor's appointments of Gary Green, Jared Von Trobel and Stan Jochim as full-time, voting members of the planning commission. Council Member Bob Moore and Kaminskas were in the minority on the selection of Jochim based on an opinion that planning commission representatives should be required to live within city limits, a stipulation of those who serve on the City Council.
• Jennifer Tomlinson presented the city with a check for $5,000 toward installation of a scoreboard at the Liberty Lake Ballfields. The donation was raised by the Liberty Lake Field Team, a committee of 10 residents and the Riverview Little League. The goal is to have the scoreboard in place by July 4. Tomlinson also informed council that a new name for the facility – "The Diamonds at Liberty Lake" – has been recommended.
• Council approved the agreement between the city and SPVV Landscape Architects to complete the Orchard Park master plan and authorize Mayor Peterson to sign the contract.
• Gail Mackie of SpokAnimal gave a presentation to council on the agency's Guardian Angel program, a free service that provides support when pet owners are no longer able to care for their animals.
• The next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.