SPOKANE, Wash. — A long-awaited pedestrian plaza opened in downtown Spokane on Friday. 

The City of Spokane first announced in 2016 that it was in the design stage on a multi-million dollar storm water tank in the middle of downtown and the plaza located along Spokane Falls Boulevard. 

In October 2019, the city announced it was nearly finished with the $180 million project to keep overflows from combined waste and stormwater sewers out of the Spokane River. These overflows happen when it rains a lot and the water overwhelms the pipes. 

The plaza sits over a 2.2 million-gallon underground storage tank that holds excess water until it can be sent to the wastewater treatment plant for processing. 

Efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 slowed down final work at the plaza, the city said, but it will be ready to accept visitors on Friday. 

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Before any of this, it was Native Americans who took care of the river. They protected the waters and because of that, statues can be found at the plaza honoring that history.

“We do have a nod to the history and culture of that region,” said Spokane Public Works Director of Strategic Development Marlene Feist. ”It was very important to the Spokane Tribe.”

The spring weather has presented the perfect time to visit the falls.

Heavy rain has raised the water levels and the runoff has created a stronger roar.

”Our folks who monitor river levels say we should peak this weekend so it’s a great time to see the falls and the river from that new vantage point,” Feist explained.

The city is reminding people to observe social distancing in the space, wear their masks and avoid touching items like handrails. 

The plaza offers multiple viewpoints of the river and art representative of the importance of the Spokane Tribe to the region, among other features.

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