SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane City Council unanimously passed two resolutions on Monday night that will help move the city closer to finally replacing the Post Street Bridge.
The bridge has long needed replacing and last summer it was suddenly shut down when a structural analysis found it could no longer safely carry vehicle traffic.
Since then, only pedestrians and cyclists have been able to cross the Spokane River at Post Street.
The first resolution is a contract to KPFF Engineering, the firm that has been designing the replacement, for overseeing the eventual construction, which is slated to begin in the spring.
The second resolution allows the city to accept a loan from the state Department of Ecology for work on replacing the massive sewer line that the Post Street Bridge carries.
Before shutting down, the bridge carried on average more than 2,000 people a day from downtown near City Hall to the north bank hear the courthouse. Now, when added on top of numerous other construction projects in the area, the already months-long closure has certainly caused extra congestion.
"This bridge being closed to vehicle traffic, in combination with those other things, creates a little bit of a greater impact," said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.
Even while closed, however, the bridge has remained highly popular for walkers, runners, bikers and boarders. But even they will have to find a new place to cross, most likely the Monroe Street Bridge, once construction begins. That means hundreds of people per day will have significantly longer treks for more than a year.
The current goal is to begin work shortly after Bloomsday in May, and be complete by fall of 2021.
A lot of the bridge's original structure will be retained.
"We're going to keep this bridge looking pretty similar down below. So it'll still have that nice arch which reflects the arch that we're seeing in the Monroe Street Bridge, keep that nice aesthetic," said Feist. "Up [top] we're going to have some nicer railing, and more of a pedestrian and bicycle feel."
As with before, there will be just one lane of car traffic, going north across the river.
The replacement, Feist says, is also part of the city's larger effort to better connect downtown to the north bank.
Early estimates for the project put its cost at around $20 million.