Padden lauds Spokane Valley win of grant for highway safety upgrades

A grant award announced today puts the city of Spokane Valley $5 million closer to moving ahead with a long-awaited road-improvement effort.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said the money will ultimately go toward constructing a railroad underpass where BNSF tracks now cross Pines Road (State Route 27). It also will contribute to the construction of a roundabout at the nearby intersection of Pines Road and Trent Avenue (State Route 290).

“These improvements are incredibly important to Spokane Valley and the surrounding region because they offer so many benefits: fewer collisions, less congestion, better emergency access, a boost to economic development and more,” said Padden, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee. “This grant is a big win because it provides the needed state match for federal funding. The grant now provides enough money for the project to begin.”

“Senator Padden’s efforts in Olympia were instrumental for Spokane Valley,” stated Spokane Valley Mayor Pam Haley. “This $5 million award from Washington state leverages $30 million of federal funds to deliver this important project. We look forward to working with all our project partners to begin construction as soon as possible.”

The $5 million grant was provided by the state Department of Transportation.

“We appreciate the help on this grant from the department’s Eastern Region office, especially Mike Gribner, the regional administrator for that office,” said Padden.

From a safety standpoint, Padden explained, the Pines Road-BNSF crossing ranks among the most serious road-rail “conflict” locations in Washington, as emergency vehicles can be delayed either by the rail crossing or the busy highway intersection. The same issues contribute to traffic congestion and have discouraged development of commercial property in the area.

Between freight and passenger trains, the BNSF crossing sees an estimated average of 67 train crossings daily, which can easily cause backups into the Pines Road-Trent Avenue intersection. The estimates are 2,400 vehicles delayed each day, due to the crossing being blocked for more than 3½ hours a day.

“Between the new underpass and the new roundabout, this will mean a huge improvement in the flow of traffic. Today’s announcement of funding puts it all one step closer to reality,” said Padden.