City working to secure funding for U District Bridge

City working to secure funding for U District Bridge

SPOKANE, Wash. - The University District Bridge would be a pedestrian bridge that spans the railroad tracks west of Sherman Avenue at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and connect to East Riverside south of the tracks, but some people think it's a bridge to nowhere.

The bridge has been in the planning stages for quite some time but the funding to actually construct the bridge hasn't been nailed down yet.

Early designs show an expansive bridge that spans 370 feet across the BNSF railroad tracks and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The city has already bought a business along Sprague Avenue to connect the bridge to Sherman Avenue.

The project is designed to connect the U District to Sprague and pave the way for revitalization in the area.

So far the city spent $3.1 Million, provided by the state, for the design and right of way purchase. The city says bids for project haven't been received but the construction range would be between $6.6 Million and $7.9 Million.

"Majority of it typically comes from a state or federal source either at 80 or 87.5-percent there and the rest comes from a local source, typically for road projects we have the arterial street funds to cover that cost," said Katherine Miller, principal engineer for the City of Spokane.

In this project university district revitalization area funds would be utilized.

"But basically the taxes raised in the U District area or UDRA boundary instead of going to the state the state has allowed it to come back to the area to be used for seed money like for this bridge," Miller said.

Opponents of the bridge have called it a bridge to nowhere. Others say the cost is ridiculous. Some question why anyone would want a bridge that connects to East Sprague.

Washington State University however said it's perfect for students in the health science field to commute to and from the hospital district and have been working with the city on design and bridge upkeep.

"Safety and security, those kind of access issues as it relates and what role WSU will have maintaining the bridge on a day to day basis in conjunction with the city," said Rusty Pritchard, senior project manager of Facility Services for WSU.

The city said it will soon be shovel ready for the project and is now waiting on financing.

"We're competing on a regional and national level so it's a great project it's just a matter of how we complete with other projects," said Miller.

The city will host a public workshop for anyone interested in finding out more information on the bridge. For information on the bridge click here.