Crews begin Cheney-Spokane Road safety improvements

SPOKANE, Wash. - Four years ago 16-year-old Lorissa Green was killed while trying to cross the southbound lanes of Highway 195 at Spokane-Cheney Road. Today, big changes are coming to improve safety along that stretch of road.

That intersection will get a new diamond interchange to help with safety and flow.

Highway 195 was built in the 60's and over the years the area has exploded with businesses. However the department of transportation hasn't had the funding to make needed changes to the highway, until a deadly crash and mother's push for change.

"For me it's always going to look the same, you know, when I drive through it," Debi Hammel said.

It's been four years since Hammel's world turned upside down. On January 16, 2009 her daughter Lorissa Green turned left onto Highway 195 at the Cheney-Spokane Road, was T-boned by a pickup truck and killed.

The memories are still fresh., but over the years, Hammel has turned her tragedy into good.

"It's a lot about learning to relive, you know trying to figure out the positive things in life," she said.

Hwy 195 construction project

She's advocated for changes at the intersection where her daughter died and now, four years later, construction crews are finally hard at work on an $11 million project that will completely change the current flow of the Cheney-Spokane intersection.

Four new on and off ramps will be built and will connect to a bridge, which means drivers won't have to make left turns or cross busy traffic on 195.

"It will really increase the safety aspects of this area, so people don't have to make those tough decisions on is that gap long enough, how fast is that car moving," WSDOT spokesman Al Gilson said.

Nearby businesses, like Chaps Restaurant, are excited to finally see the project come to fruition.

"I think from a safety standpoint from the community, it's an excellent project that's underway," Gina Garcia at Chaps Restaurant said.

The new interchange won't bring Hammel's daughter back but may save another family from heartache.

"I feel better for my own kids that are driving," she said. "Accidents happen everyday but it definitely will lessen that."

The project is expected to be finished by the end of the year. During parts of construction, there will probably be some lane restrictions and temporary closures in the vicinity. The department of transportation is urging people to drive safely and slowly during the construction period.

WSDOT hopes to improve the five mile stretch of Highway195 from Hatch Road to I-90 with new interchanges or crossing overpasses, but right now they only have funding for the Cheney-Spokane Road intersection.