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Spokane considers roundabout, traffic signal to help ease South Hill congestion

The City of Spokane is planning to make changes to several South Hill intersections.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Drivers on Spokane's South Hill know Regal Street can get congested.  

Shopping centers, restaurants, schools and apartments all add to the bumper-to-bumper traffic which is expected to worsen over the next 20 years as the region's population grows. 

The City of Spokane wants to encourage drivers to utilize an alternate and efficient route. The solution involves building a roundabout at 37th and Ray — a main arterial connecting the south hill to I90. Officials believe drivers would exit Regal Street sooner if traffic along 37th Avenue improved. 

According to a study recognized by Spokane City Council Monday, the roundabout would replace the four-way stop at the entrance of Ferris High School, right outside Kelsey Azure's front door. 

"It's news to me for sure. I mean, obviously we wouldn't be here if that happened," Azure said. 

That's because the roundabout would run right through her living room. Two or three homes would have to be demolished to make room. Azure and her neighbor both rent homes that are owned by the city of Spokane. 

"I deal with things as they come," said Paul Herrbach, who lives next door. "I'm not going to make it the end all but it's kind of a surprise." 

Roundabouts are becoming more common in Spokane, as the population booms. Spokane Public Schools told the City it's interested in the idea of building a roundabout outside of Ferris High School but also concerned as to "how well new drivers would be able to navigate it and yield to pedestrians." 

A report provided to Spokane City Council Members suggests creating an educational program targeted toward students. 

In addition to the roundabout, the City is also exploring the option of installing a traffic light two blocks east at 37th Avenue and Freya Street — another major arterial.

Spokane City Council members unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the proposal which will be added to the city's 20 -year street projects list. It's unclear when construction would begin.