SPOKANE, Wash. - Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on Spokane's newest road, but you won't be able to drive your car on it for several more months.
The extension of Martin Luther King Way, near Spokane's University District, has run into a legal road block.
The City of Spokane has a big court fight on its hands and drivers in East Spokane are jammed up in the middle of it.
It's a good looking road as construction projects go. The city has painstakingly planted mature trees and landscaping that matches the grown-in look of Spokane's blossoming University District.
“To allow some of that traffic to get off Spokane Falls Boulevard, make it more pedestrian friendly, and allow the core of campus to really have a campus feel,” said Marlene Feist, City of Spokane Communications Manager.
The new MLK extension has lots of sidewalks, will link to the Ben Burr Trail, and add two lanes of traffic in an area that up until now a hangout for marmots.
The goal is to achieve greater connectivity through the University District area, and to provide alternate paths through that part of the community. Those new paths will include the University Gateway Bridge, which is also now under construction.
But when it comes to cars, the extension of Martin Luther Way has hit a temporary dead end.
The project needs 3,000 square feet of Brown Building Materials' parking lot, so the new road can link up with Trent Avenue. And the owner doesn't feel the city is offering him a fair price for his land.
“We're waiting for one final piece of right of way on that,” said Feist. “It's basically a condemnation procedure and we have a hearing on that in October and then we'll be able to move forward.”
The work that's already been done represents the lion's share of the road extension. It won't take a lot more pavement to link MLK Way with Trent Avenue, but until a judge decides how Ron Brown can be fairly compensated for a slice of his parking lot, this $3.9 million project is a very pretty road to nowhere.