SPOKANE, Wash. - It was more than five years ago that a young woman's death sparked change in the Spokane community. Now, that change is keeping drivers safer. It comes in the form of a new overpass for the Cheney Spokane Road on US 195.
Lorissa Green was driving northbound on 195 and took a left toward the Cheney Spokane Road, when she was hit and killed in January 2009. She was 16.
Her memory now lives in an overpass over 195 that makes it safer for drivers to cross the busy highway.
"I know that there will be no more accidents here. I know that people will be safe," said Lorissa's mother Debi Hammel.
Lorissa's mother Debi Hammel spent countless hours writing lawmakers hoping that change would be made. Five years later that change is nearly complete.
"That's a big job," Hammel said pointing at the overpass. "To see it finally come to an end and be closed was really nice."
"It makes me feel safer because I don't have to go through the same thing. I don't have to go through that intersection every day," Lorissa's brother Shane Hammel said.
The $9.5 million project turned the intersection into an interchange. On and off ramps, make it so no one has to take that left turn across 55 mile per hour traffic again.
Representative Kevin Parker says it was one of the first projects he worked on after taking office in 2009.
"It became the most meaningful legislative project I think I ever worked on," Parker said. "I think because it involved a member from the community, it involved a tragic death, a life cut too short, and at the end of the day we were able to do something about it."
During our interview with Debi, a bright rainbow appeared. It's a reminder Hammel sees every time it's raining near the site of Lorissa's death.
"We have a lot of pictures of the rainbow right here over the highway," she said.
Now Lorissa's legacy lives on if it's sunny or dark.
"I think it's really important for people to know that really great things can come out of tragedy and this is one of them," Hammel said.
Hammel says she hopes something will be done at other dangerous intersections along the busy 195 to reduce serious collisions.
The only part of the interchange that still needs to be finished is the southbound off-ramp. It's expected to be completed within a month.
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